As the locals call their state has a lot to see besides Hobart. This is the Tasman
Arch. The ocean (Antarctica is out there somewhere) has worked a crack in the Limestone
and expanded it to a cave. The coast has several of these expanded cracks, not all
with arches, but the day had dawned to light rain and we didn’t go far before returning
to the car.
We are on our way to Port Arthur. The penal colony where they sent the ones whose
prison was closing or had committed crimes in other prisons in Australia. The picture
is the earliest known.
Port Arthur started as a timber cutting camp in 1803 and expanded as other less efficient
prisons were closed. Church was mandatory and non-denominational until the Catholics
complained hard enough to get a priest sent in. They were only about ten percent
of the population but very vocal. About 12-13 hundred prisoners were here at a time
during its height. Nearly 70,000 prisoners went through here. In the late 1800’s,
after convicts were no longer sent to the far reaches of the British Empire it was
closed and became a tourist attraction. In 1895 and 1897 bush fires destroyed nearly
anything that could burn, roofs, floors, some wooden houses, docks, warehouses, etc.
Many buildings have not been rebuilt but just cleaned up.
The prison had a garden for the guards, officers and civilian workers to enjoy. This
Blue Wren held still long enough to get his picture taken.
Within the grounds was the “Separate Prison”. Not a separate prison but a building
with cells for separating prisoners, think solitary confinement back home. They spent
23 hours a day in their cell, 1 hour a day is spent, alone, in an exercise yard.
And they did not avoid church. They had their own chapel with rows of booths facing
the pulpit. The convicts would stand in a coffin sized booth separated by tall wood
panels from their neighbor. The panels are hinged so that the first convict goes
in and closes the panel behind him, then the next and so on. Kathy is in the last
booth in the second tier. The booths had a board over the head so that the convict
above you couldn’t see you. You were still alone and total silence was heavily enforced.
The administration felt that religion and solitary contemplation would help restore
them to the right path. But if that didn’t work and you deserved additional punishment
more than solitary confinement, there was a cell barely big enough to sit down in,
without any furniture, and without light of any sort, that was available for use.
For its day this was a progressive prison, although the methods have changed over
the years since then, they were changing then too and Port Arthur was a hard prison
but the administrators wanted the convicts to change rather than just be locked up.
We then headed back towards Hobart to Richmond where coal was discovered in 1802,
and with wheat farming became important enough that in 1823 they decided they needed
a bridge to get it all from Richmond to Hobart. So convicts were brought in and a
gaol (jail) built to house them while they built the bridge. No real engineer was
available and the bridge has sagged over the years due to poor footings. But it is
still in use, we drove over it before visiting the old buildings and tourist shops.
From Richmond we are going into the mountains of the northeast part of the state.
Most of the road is gravel and very twisty but the little car handles it well. We
are headed to Queenstown.
We are going to ride a cog train. This is mining area and to get the copper, gold
and silver to the port for shipping was very hard by wagon. So a cog railway was
built in the late 1800’s with a lot of convict labor to make the cuts through the
hills and fill in the valleys with picks and shovels.
A cog railway uses a third rail in the center that is toothed to mesh with a gear
on the bottom of the train. And we are going in First Class with Tassie sparkling
wine and High Tea.
The track achieves a 1 in 16 slope at its steepest. That is 1 foot rise in every
16 feet horizontal or 1 meter in 16 meters or .......
Mining is still done in the area but all ore is hauled by trucks and the train is
strictly for tourists.
Then it is on through more mountains and across rivers.
We cross on a ferry with the exorbitant price of $25 to cross 200 meters (yards)
of river to get to the road that leads to the “Edge of the World”.
The waves hitting this shore come all the way from Argentina, passing below South
Africa, inspiring Brian Inder to write this poem.
Later that day Kathy got out of the car and saw this on back fender.
Her shriek convinced anyone within a kilometer that she does not like spiders.
In the city of Launceston is a gorge that has a recreation area at the upper end
with tea house, pool, lawns and gondola cars. Along the side is a trail along the
cataracts and rocky cliffs.
In the calmer water young men are diving off the rocks to impress the young women
there. On the way out we saw lots of beautiful Hydrangeas.
We have been on the road several days and it has been many years since we have slept
on the ground instead of a raised bed. Yes, we have an air mattress but it is still
a climb to get to one’s feet in the morning. Maybe we’re getting old, or maybe we
aren’t as foolish as we once were.
Whatever, this is home for ten days.
We driven up to the NW corner and across the top of Tassie, now we are in the NE.
This is the Evercreech Forest (that is spelled correctly) with its huge White Gums.
This tree is about 3 meters (10’) in diameter and 90 meters (300’) high. There is
a boardwalk around the base so visitors can see it from all sides. As a retired forester
I have a special liking for special trees.
The trail is a boardwalk most of the way because the ground is very soggy. But it
is only a 5 minute walk from the parking area.
As we head down the east coast we come to the town of Bicheno. It has a small, but
fine, motorcycle museum. As active riders we have a special liking for special motorcycles.
On the beach there is no sand, just rock. And as the waves come in they rush up the
cracks and spout up at the end. Sort of a Tasman Arch in miniature. Today is very
calm and we had to wait quite a while to get even this small spout from the Bicheno
On down the road and suddenly we see this bridge off to the side. We u-turn and go
back. It is another, non-engineered, convict built bridge called Spikey Bridge. The
descriptive sign wonders why the spikes were put in the top. It suggests keeping
cows from falling off or maybe support for the mortar on top. I have the theory that
the guy in charge of the crew was from Scotland. We saw fences and bridges made from
rock in Scotland that had a similar topping of vertical rocks but they were dry stacked
We are now back in the Hobart area with an extra day to spend. Hobart is on the north
end of a bay with Port Arthur on the end of the eastern arm and Southport even farther
south on the western arm. This is as far south an one can drive in Australia. We
decide to go and spend the night and return to Hobart tomorrow.
Now it is playoff time for American football and our Seattle Seahawks have a game
today at noon. We normally keep track of the games with an app on my phone. It keeps
us updated on the major plays and scores but we cannot watch the game. We get to
Southport and have no phone signal. We ask about wifi and are told they don’t have
it. But they do have a TV in the bar and it turns out that it gets the channel that
carries American Football (as well as other popular sports around the world). So
we actually get to watch the game after thinking we would have to wait until the
next day when we got phone service to see if they even won, which they did.
We returned to Hobart, did our laundry, washed the car, turned it in and flew back
to Adelaide where we got the van out of long term storage and returned to our good
friend’s house in Lobethal.
As part of the engine change the South Australia state government wants to inspect
it. They sent a letter and I have to go through three different inspections before
I can have clear paperwork to sell it. I have had the van listed on eBay's Gumtree.com.au
and have some interested buyers. The first inspection is emissions ($140) and we
passed. The second is a numbers inspection, engine, VIN, etc. and we passed (free).
The third is a safety inspection ($253). The van is 32 years old and I feel it is
fine but I don’t know for sure. This is the most intense inspection I’ve ever seen,
after lights, horn wipers, etc it is put on a lift and the inspector looks all over
the bottom, pushing, pulling and twisting wheels, tie rods, etc. Then it is moved
to a roller machine where the tires are placed on it and while it is turning the
tires the brakes are checked and the weight for each tire. Then the tires are checked
for weight capacity. After an hour he gives me the results: they are only that the
utility box mounted on the rear bull guard has two bulbs out, 1 turn and 1 tail.
The van’s lights are visible beside the box and he passes the van with the requirement
that I fix the lights on the box. But I don’t have to take it back in for another
inspection! Between inspections 2 and 3 we had shown the van to the first prospective
buyer and he agreed to our full price. So we were very happy that the van passed
and we could transfer the title that afternoon. I gave the buyer the paperwork and
told him that this needed to be done and discounted the price to make up for it.
He said he’d do it.
Now we are without wheels and are leaving for home in four days. Our friend has loaned
me a motorcycle to run errands on and we are cleaning up paperwork after having spent
more than four months here, bank account, auto club, van insurance, etc. After four
months on four wheels it is a bit strange to get on two, particularly as his bike
is vastly different from ours. His is a tall dual-sport Yamaha and our is a low heavy
GoldWing. But I’m managing it.