Trip to Tasmania.(January 2018).

It was 20 years ago exactly since  we first visited the north, north-west and southern regions of Tasmania,and as we had yet to explore the east coast and its many wonders, that led onto becoming our next holiday destination.

Initially, we had considered going over on the Spirit of Tasmania and take the car, however,  on doing the sums and realizing we would be losing a day each way, the decision to fly over and hire a car  was a good one.

Wanting to ensure not  to risk missing our flight on departure day, considerable extra time was allowed as major road works were underway between the ring road turn off and the Tullamarine freeway leading to the airport.

Well, you wouldn’t believe it, we had an uninterrupted and swift drive all the way from home to the long-term parking, found a car park almost at the entrance, the shuttle bus arrived within three minutes and the passage through check in went as smooth as one could wish for. Without a doubt, of all the traveling by air we have done, I was delighted how good fortune smiled on us all the way.

Once on board, buckled up and taken off, there was just enough time for a quick cuppa before we were ready to land in Launceston. Oh, how nice it was to arrive in such a small, easy to navigate airport where collecting our baggage, collecting the car and on our way to Bicheno that was about two and a half hours away through a beautiful meandering mountain range all on first class roads.

Our base was to be about a 10 minute drive before Bicheno at a place called “The Douglas River Cabin, so, before heading there we went straight for town to firstly have a look around and pick up some supplies.”

Below is a view of the beautiful beach on the approach side of town.

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Douglas River Cabin.

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From both inside and outside the cabin we had magnificent views of the Douglas River, the beach and endless countryside where sheep grazed.

Within walking distance, the property extended down to the ocean where the sand was soft and white and also it was possible to walk for hours through bush and grazing lands.

The tee-pee shape/s in the photo below were scattered along the foreshore and built by children from driftwood that had been washed ashore.

There were two days that were overcast and on one of those we headed north up to the Bay of Fires,mistakenly I had believed its name had arisen from the color of the Lichen on the rocks, but in actual fact it was named by an early explorer observing the many fires lit by the native population of a night cooking their meals.

Not far out of Bicheno one of its highlights was the Blowhole, an event that occurred when every wave came into shore rising up through a natural phenomena. A very popular spot for the tourists.

The Blowhole.

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The Mountains below are at Coles Bay and needed to be climbed to see the bay, and, if you were to continue on further up the walking track eventually you would reach the Wineglass Bay lookout.

 After a (grueling) hour plus trekking ,the magnificent view of Wineglass Bay could be enjoyed.

Whaler’s Hill located nearby Bicheno was a short and enjoyable climb up to the towns highest point where Whalers of old would look out to sea for the water spouts of whales. An industry that took whales almost to annihilation.

Whalers Lookout.

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Easy walk to the top.

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Another day we journeyed south down to the town of Swansea,a very old pioneer town with an array of historical buildings.

The Swansea School house (below)  now converted into a town museum and information centre.

Well worth a look for its historical information,old original class room and tribute to its soldiers that were lost in the great war.

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And, finally a lovely night out in town at the Seafood Restaurant over looking Bicheno Bay to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary.

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Our souvenir tea cozy from Bicheno!

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No Human Witnesses

There was a great annual gathering of all the birds, animals and insects at Upper Lurg to celebrate Christmas, after the humans had migrated to Melbourne.
The 25th December had arrived and the sun was just spreading its warm rays of light across the mountain tops into the rich valley of 5 acres covered in trees, flowers and a muddy water hole.
The Kookaburras were awake and excitedly laughed and called out “Come on the Suns up” lets party, in moments there was a great gathering of Cockatoos, Corellas, Blue Wrens, Firetails, Yellow Breasted Honey eaters, Swallows. A Black wallaby, a Golden Hare, Rabbits, an Echidna, Bluey the Blue Tongued Lizard and a Black Angus calf with his Wooly Lamb mate, to mention just a few who live in this little forest they call home.
Just inside the main gate in the middle of the gravel track stands a Giant Ant’s nest the home of the vigilant Red Soldiers that guard the bushland from unwanted invaders.

There is a large metal shed set amongst the trees and this year two men erected a veranda along one side this gives us shelter from the wind, rain and sun, the Swallows, smiling said this will give us a perfect structure to build our nests after collecting mud from the dam, for our next season’s chicks. The shed door had been left open, giving access to water from the dripping tap over the sink, and all the kitchen benches, furniture, tables and wood stove, and well stocked pantry what a wonderful Christmas this will be.
All the mums and dads brought along their babies from last Spring to celebrate and meet all the residents of the their common home along with food for the festive lunch, there were worms, grubs, grass seeds, insects, nuts from the gum trees plenty of porridge, weeties, cake, sugar, and a bottle of Port left in the open pantry that helped lift the spirit of all concerned.
But what about some music? several Field Crickets jumped on the back of the couch along with a few vocal Cockatoos, for the drum effect the Echidna rolled around in the empty four gallon drum, all the smaller birds, Blue Wren, Firetails, Willy Wag Tails danced to and fro through the limbs of the Red Flowering Gum which had been allowed to grow through the veranda roof.`
The Yabbies’ from the dam got a ride up on the back of the Blue Cranes from the dam and we filled the sink with water so they could stay and join in, one drank some Port and started doing cart wheels around the sink and pinching the females on their bottoms, we had to put him in the kettle for an hour or two till we could get him craned back to the dam.
There was great stories told about how and where to build various nests to raise the young, stories of the joy when the young hatched and when they could take to the wing and fly freely across the sky and land safely on the limbs.
The shed was decorated with local flowers some golden some red, pink gum leaves and dried Flowering Gum Nuts, the day was long and hot ,most of the young were tired and curled up together on the bed and were sound asleep even though the Cockatoos were screeching and complaining about the lack of cold Champagne.
It was a great Christmas enjoyed by all but now the shadows were lengthening time to go home and put the babies into their comfortable feather beds. We cleaned up the shed did the dishes swept the floor dumped all the rubbish. Then we sat for a while on the deck chairs reflecting on what Mark has done for us, this was a vacant bare 5 acres, he planted all these native trees and shrubs made sure they grew into the habitat were we could live and call home, he protects this oasis and asks only that we visit him, sing some songs, show him our dances and keep the balance and harmony of the bush.

MOVEMBER 2017


It was the last Thursday in December and again the OMNIcycle boys kept the tradition of the annual Movember ride from Diamond Creek to Melbourne City.

Due to predicted high temperatures up to 35* Celsius  Bill, Barry and Nick set off from the Marngrook oval in Diamond Creek at the earlier time of 7.30am to meet up with Steve and Bruce at the Eltham tennis court rendezvous. It was good to see Ken there also to see the boys on their way and also took charge of taking the start photos.

The riding was warm, as the min temp had not dipped below 22*C, but with a following breeze was reasonably uneventful with the usual stops and coffee around 10.00am at the Fairfield Campus coffee shop. From thereon it was a gentle ride down the Yarra through Collingwood and Burnley across the Morell Bridge to Alexandra Parade to bbq on the banks of the river.
Daryl……
….the 1982 Mercedes fired into action and loaded with BBQ goodies it headed into Mighty Melbourne along the banks of the muddy Yarra River in Alexandra Avenue South Melbourne, it was a very hot day 34c and windy.

Lady Florence, Lynda and Sir Daryl pulled up in the shade of some mighty oaks to be greeted by the ever vigilant southern sea gulls. It had been an eventual trip with no air conditioning and a car pile up on the freeway plus bridge repairs on Swan st.

With the river as our vista plus river ferries traveling to and fro we fired up the council electric BBQs ready for the hungry and thirsty 5 riders, that had ridden from Diamond Creek and Eltham in support of fund raising to help with research to reduce prostate cancer, they had at this stage raised $300, this is an annual event held in late November.

All the bike riders arrived safely at 11-30 to the aroma of cooked sausages onions and tomatoes, cold drinks were most welcome and food hungrily took a close second place.

With lots of hugs and handshakes followed by many photos we all enjoyed a very happy time together, but we had to get home, the riders headed to Jolimont station for their return train trip and the support group headed back home along the highways guided by Linda with her vast knowledge of the city pointing out many historical sites as we headed back via Ivanhoe Rosanna and Greensborough.

Where do I belong?

Where do I belong? For me this is a fraught question, as it is for many migrants.

When the migrant ship Australis slowly manoeuvred out of Cape Town’s docks in December 1974 and set off for the open sea I stood on the deck and watched as the majestic Table Mountain, under the shadow of which I had been born, receded into the distance. I felt an enormous sense of relief and I vowed never to return. Then the mountain disappeared over the horizon and I felt as if I had escaped from a prison. I couldn’t stand the place, with its racist, authoritarian government and its ultra-conservative, pious Afrikaners, who had as much compassion for people of colour as a predator has for its prey.

I have now lived in Australia for more than sixty percent of my entire life, so this is clearly where I belong, right? The places of my youth have changed beyond recognition, so surely I now no longer belong there. And yet, I am not always sure where I really belong. The place where one has lived as a child and as a young person is indelibly engraved into one’s psyche, regardless of the passage of time. Its tendrils retain a firm hold over the years. And so it is with me.

What is it that binds us forever to the places of our youth? It is the landscapes, the shape of the trees, the native flowers and birds and animals, the smells. It is the accents and the unique local sense of humour of the people. Even after forty years away my heart still soars when I hear Cape Coloured people speak their distinctive Kaapse Afrikaans, or when I hear the clicking sounds of a black person speaking Xhosa or Zulu.

A few years ago I borrowed my brother’s car and drove along the road between Gordon’s Bay and Hangklip, near my home town of Somerset West. The road winds its way between the ocean on one side and steep mountains on the other. As a young man I went there nearly every weekend, having barbecues with friends or girlfriends, snorkelling and sunbaking.

I spotted some wild proteas on the slope of the mountain, near the road. When I stopped and walked up the slope I suddenly smelled the aroma of the fynbos, the local vegetation, and was overpowered by the familiarity of the smells. I can’t even remember having ever registered these smells when I was young. I was so excited that I kept sniffing at the plants. Then I realised if anyone spotted me they would probably think I had escaped from a mental institution.

During the forty plus years that I have lived in Australia I have naturally grown to love the smell and the shape of the gum trees and I adore the sounds of the warbling magpies and currawongs. They have also become a part of my psyche.

When I was working at the Glen Waverley Library five years after I had arrived in Australia, I came across a book called Wild Australia: a view of birds and men, with paintings and drawings by the Australian artist John Olsen. His illustrations struck a strong chord within me and I realised for the first time the extent to which Australia had become “my place”.

At the time I was a complete ignoramus as far as art was concerned and I had never heard of Olsen. I wrote to him that same day and explained how I had struggled to come to terms with Australia’s animal and plant life and landscapes, which differed so much from that which I had grown up with. I told him his art work had captured the essence of Australia’s places and it had made me realise that I really felt at home in my new country.

Olsen responded:

John Olsen letter 11.2.80

Ironically, when I am traveling in South Africa these days and I see a eucalypt or a callistemon with its red bottlebrush flowers, I immediately long for “home”. Such is the ambivalence of my belonging.

A couple of years ago I caught up with Johan, a university friend, in South Africa. It was the first time I had seen him since I had left my homeland all those decades ago. We had lost touch with each other when I departed, but now we were overjoyed to meet again.

“It’s so good to see you again after all these years, Tiens. I had heard somewhere that you had gone to Australia and I’ve often wondered how you were going there and what you were doing.” Then he added, “So when are you coming home?”

And for a little while there I felt I was ‘home’.

The writer Gillian Slovo, daughter of a South African political refugee, described this ambivalence perfectly in an article in The Bookseller of 31 January 1997:

North London is where I’ve lived most of my life. But there are things about South Africa that feel more like home to me … I have to deal with the fact that, like most exiles, I am at home in two places, and a stranger in both.

My children do not suffer from the same ambivalence as their father. When my son Neil was six years old I took him and a couple of his little mates to the local swimming pool one day. They were all sitting in the back of the car. I overheard one friend asking Neil, “Why does your dad speak so funny?”

“How do you mean?’ asked Neil.

“He doesn’t speak the same as us Aussies.”

“Oh,” Neil replied. “That’s because me dad’s an Afro. And me mum’s a Pom, but me – I’m an Aussie!”

Seven OM:NI Seniors go to Town

It was 8-30 am Tuesday 31st October 2017 when we headed off by train to Flinders St Melbourne. the weather was fine and sunny, we arrived at the station and crossed the road to Federation Square and picked up our tickets for the Ferry ride down the Yarra River to explore Williamstown. We negotiated our fare with a lovely Chinese lady (Ching). After a hug and paying our fare we were informed the river was to high from overnight rain, a king tide and yesterdays strong winds the river water was too high to get under some up river bridges so we would have to walk downstream some good half hour to the Exhibition St ferry.

It was a lovely walk along the banks of the river we were soon spread out like Browns cows we were concerned we would miss the boat. However Mike hurried along and negotiated with the captain to delay his departure. There were a lot of passengers on board waiting to experience a Melbourne Historic River Cruise, the captain said if you fall overboard hold your arm aloft with a $5 dollar note in it and I will stop and pick you up. With a $100 note in your hand I will  pick you even quicker but no money in your hand I will pick you up on my return trip if you are still afloat. The captain gave us a running commentary of the history of the buildings both residential and wharves commercial development and current usage today during the one hour plus journey. One water front 3 level home sold recently for excess of $9 million, and across the river the early high rise government apartments rent out for $80 per week.

We went under the Bolte Bridge, the West Gate bridge were 27 men lost their lives during construction. The river was awash with large ships many laden with large containers many from china there were lots of jetties, many boats and yachts, old war ships.

We pulled into the jetty and alighted beside a mine sweeper, it was a short walk to the active township which still had some lovely early architectural buildings, what craftsmen they were back around the 17 and 18th century around the corner down Nelson St. We ambled along amazed at what there was to absorb and into the Seaworks Museum. We were even more astonished with the history of Williamstown and the early history of the sailing ships and learned that each state in Australia had its own navy prior to Federation.

 

Daryl enhancing his fish & chips.

Time to sample the temptation of the Piers fish and chips $10. Andrew had secretly eaten a cut lunch he had brought along but that never stopped him from enjoying the huge feast put in front of him. We said good-bye to Pauline (Oh yes, after the traditional Hug) she had looked after us so nicely. Across the road by only 2 minutes it was suggested coffee was in order but before we could leave we had watch Andrew devour a large portion of Apple Strudel and Cream – he was heard to whisper to himself I hope we don’t have to walk too far!

We walked half a kilometer past some lovely old and derelict home to get to the rail station and guess who was last there?

Williamstown is the last or first station depending on where you wish to go and the station reflects its age. A 20 minute wait and we were on our way to Spencer St Station back into the noise, chaos of modern Melbourne, and people everywhere like ants going every which way.

We jumped on board the Hurstbridge train, just managed enough seats for us all, we headed towards home via the underground loop, we laughed and discussed our experiences of the day,

We all agreed the day had ended too soon (5pm) and one by one we disappeared from each other’s company as we got to our various home stations.

Another great adventure in Marvelous Melbourne …. “Ken’s quote”

Williamstown in a day.

Thanks Daryl for another pleasant OM:NI day out exploring Marvelous Melbourne. Who was to know that the high level of the Yarra due to heavy rain, high tide and a little wind would mean that the Ferry couldn’t sail under the bridges? The long walk from Fed Square to Jeff’s Shed was a big step for some. Apologies to Andrew in particular. We should have taken the advice of the booking Lass and caught the tram down to Spencer Street. We made it however and enjoyed the trip and the commentary from the Skipper.
The Maritime Museum at Williamstown –staffed by volunteers,was excellent. Especially the 90 years old film of a sailing ship rounding Cape Horn in a wild storm. That such a film was made so long ago and preserved for us to see what sailors of that era had to endure was an eye-popping opener! The Guide was very good and quite hospitable.
What can I say about ‘barra and chips’ by Gem Pier? A typical OM:NI meeting over a meal.
Coffee in the main Street of Willy, watching with envy as Andrew devoured an apple strudel – with cream – followed by a stroll back to the train Station for the trip back home. A great day.

Athens, The Parthenon, Corinth, Mycenea, Olympia, Ionian Coast, Delphi & Meteora.

Finished our travel and had an amazing time in Greece, followed the incredible journey of the ancient Greeks and their monuments….Tom & Heather.

Meteora a rock formation in central Greece. The 6 Eastern Orthodox monasteries are built on immense natural rock pillars that dominate this area.

Cheers…Tom and Heather