Nancy’s 1994 Australian Quest Pt. 3

Nancy and Monica aboard a Qantas Airlines 737 in route to Hobart Tasmania, having departed Brisbane.  With their 4:05 afternoon arrival at the Hobart international, a brief stop at the Avis rent a car counter,  a 2 1/2 hour journey remaining on the days menu.  Travel-land Tours having secured accommodations for the two at the Kilmarnock Guest House in Launceston.  The 198  mile road trip was not without surprise,  for some reason,  just the name Tasmania seem to project an atmosphere of detrimental wilderness, but was soon discounted,  the two viewing vast areas of cropland irrigation and agricultural endeavors  during their drive north.

With their arrival in the city of Launceston, the third oldest city in Australia,  founded in 1804  as Port Dalrymple, the picturesque municipality seated on the many hills gazing down on the Tamar Valley.  The travelers finding a nights rest at  the Kilmarnock House, an 1805 historic town house having been restored to its Edwardian glory in 1985,   the two discovering the elegance and charm of an bygone era.   Their bay window suite beautifully appointed with authentic antique furniture.

The Launceston morning found the two on what was called a walk through history, a scenic designated walking tour in town and some of the outlying areas.  Their walk beginning,  viewing the old post office that was opened in 1891 , further along  the clock tower completed in 1903. The two coming upon  the custom house build 1888 and the town hall built 1864. Their walk continuing, including  St. Johns, the oldest Church in Launceston built in 1824, Albert’s Hall 1891.

After lunch, an excursion to the cataract gorge reserve. This primeval gorge,  2 miles from Launceston,  having been formed when the river cut a line through a volcanic rock fault in the ridge forming this magnificent landscape.  The South and North Esk rivers merge in the gorge to form the Tamar river basin,  it’s water flowing forty three miles to the Tasman Sea.  Their journey beginning at what was called the first basin, the two crossing on the Alexandra swinging bridge, first built in 1895 named after Queen Alexandra, consort to King Edward the seventh.  Once across, continuing on  a pathway known as the King’s Bridge-Cataract Walk, originally built by volunteers in the 1890’s. The walkway runs along the north bank of the gorge, clinging to the cliff.  The pathway offering excellent views of the dolerite columns along the cliffs,  with stairways up. Providing scenic overlooks.  Their visit coming to an end,  a final view of the Kings Bridge and the Tamar River basin.   This their final night at the Kilmarnock guest house.  The evening finding them observing some of the treasures in the shops of Launceston.

The morning discovering the two explorers traveling north up the Tamar valley, a tour guide stop at Sidmouth to view the historic Auld Kirk,  west Tamar Presbyterian Church,  built in 1845 by volunteers and convict labor.   Also on Auld Kirk road, an unusual lighthouse, the light said to be kept burning by the Presbyterian minister. Down the road a half mile from the church, crossing the Tamar river was the Batman Bridge, built between 1966 and 1968,  the first cable-stayed bridge in Australia.

Continuing their northern trek, Beaconsfield next on their agenda,  a visit to the Hart and Grubb,  Shaft Gold and Heritage Museum.   Gold was first discovered at Brandy Creek in 1869  its name changed to Beaconsfield.  serious mining beginning  in 1877 on the  eastern slope of Cabbage Tree Hill by the Dally brother,  the two discovering the motherlode, and with its unveiling , the area’s population soon boomed.  At its peak,  700 men were employed in the mine and 26 tons of gold was recovered, and  by 1881, there were 53 companies working the field.   Beaconsfield becoming the richest gold town in Tasmania.  The two entering the heritage center, viewing a spectrum of the past, a time line of the progression of the mining industry with a sprawling host of exhibits, not only mining equipment,  but production and processing apparatus and tools.   With another satisfaction fulfilled, the Avis rental with its two adventurers reached their norther apex, ensuing a 3 hour journey south, back toward Battery Point, a suburb of Hobart, and their tour booked  lodging reservations at the Cromwell Cottage.

The promo on the literature said,  Let’s talk about Ross.  Nancy and Monica were once again on the road,  curious to view what was in Ross to talk about.  The town was located  north, on the Macquarie River, a sparsely populated hamlet, less that a square mile in area.  Crossing over the river on the immaculate 1836 stone bridge, revealing it too was constructed by convict labor.  The two discovering that from 1803 to 1853 ,  parts of Tasmania served as a penal colony for the British Isles, with upwards of 73,000 men and women being incarcerated and used for involuntary labor.  Parking the car, their walking tour beginning at the entrance intersection island, its two statured monuments and a field gun, a depiction of the men who fought  in the Boer War and WWI.  On the corner, taking notice of the beautiful stone Uniting Church, its services starting in 1885, Its interior included blackwood pews and a ribbing ceiling of pine.  Passing the town hall with sandstone paving  and the Ross Post Office, still in use.  , their tour list addressing over 39 historic sites, the two agreeing that Ross had something to talk about.

Returning to Hobart and an afternoon visit to the royal Tasmania Botanical Gardens, situated adjacent to the Tasman Bridge, a five lane and Southern rail line bridge across the Derwent River.    the botanical gardens established in 1818,  the second oldest in Australia,   represented by the Anniversary Arch,  placed in the Gardens in 1968,  in recognition of  its 150th year anniversary.  The afternoon found the couple strolling the 34 acre garden,   enjoying the horticultural displays, and the manicured landscape setting.

t was their final day, Monica and Nancy journeying south to Geeveston, a small community and the gateway to the Huron  valley and the Tahune forest.  A brief stop in the small town to gather tour information at the forest and heritage center.  Exiting town, turning onto the two lane road, it soon became apparent that they had entered the portals of the Tahune forest, a 30 minute journey to the forest reserve center on the banks of the hear on river

Nancy and Monica crossing the solid concrete bridge over the here on,  starting their tour with the Pine Walk,  a  loop taking in the temperate rainforest located next to the River,  the walk having a marked pathway through the forest.   First coming upon the Huron pines,   one of the oldest living tree species in the world,  having been logged for over the past two centuries,  it’s propertied making it excellent for shipbuilding.   Most impressive were the size of the Eucalyptus Regnans,  better known as the Swamp Gum trees,  some towering over 300 feet.  Coming upon a viewing platform, the two able to survey the  bountiful wilderness and the river from an eagles height.  Continuing on near the river,  coming across a small picturesque rainforest waterfall,  the tributary on its journey to acquaint the here on river,    the two taking time to pause and absorb the pastoral grandeur of their surroundings.  Nancy not so much embossed by the free standing trees,  but more engrossed with the laden smaller species, and their never ending struggle with the aggressive rainforest ferns and undergrowth.  The explorers afternoon continuing, the scenic wonders never ending.  Finally taking notice,  the hour was waning,  it was time to return to reality.

The return underway, bidding the Tahune forest reserve a farewell,  the adventurist with another planned stop before calling it a day.   The town of Taroona was not far from their Battery Point abode,  and was host to one of two remaining Shot Towers in Australia.   The 157 Ft.  tower was built in 1870 by Joseph Moir,  and operated till 1964   Shot towers were used as a means to produce balls for firearms munitions. Workers at the top of the tower would pour molten led through a sieve. During the fall,  the led would begin to cool,  forming a round ball before its fall was terminated in an open pool of water.  The two stop not to impressive,  entering the gift shop, noticing,  but declining to traverse the stairwell to the top.

Continuing their drive to battery point along the bay highway,  viewing the harbor vista,  knowing their Australian quest was coming to an end.  a brief stop decision being made at the Sandy Bay Marina, the two getting out,  absorbing the atmosphere of their surroundings, a two mask schooner and a close up view of the boats at anchor, before continuing the 6 blocks to their Cromwell reside.   It was unsaid, but when packing that night, for their departure, it was almost like leaving an old friend.

It was an early morning awakening, Nancy and Monica having to return their rental car at the airport and a 6:30  Melbourne departure time.  As expected there was a layover in Melbourne,  the two finally boarding a Qantas 747 for their 22 hour non stop flight to Los Angeles.  Nancy settling in for the long journey home, a time to reflect on her Australian Quest, and the meaning of  undertaking,  acknowledging the land down under’s past and scenic wonders,  but coming to the conclusion the story is about the journey, not the destination.











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