21 March 2019
A foggy morning though not particularly cold – which I guess is why it is foggy.
After another good filling breakfast to set me up for the day, I was all checked-out and off.
The first 40 km or so from the Lodge was on, perhaps not too surprisingly, Cradle Mountain Road. Of the roads I’ve travelled thus far this was by far the best maintained, thanks I guess to its being the route to one of Tasmania’s top tourist destinations. It was however not particularly scenic.
But after the turnoff onto C133, just north of Wilmot, suggested – or perhaps I should say directed – by Ingrid the next 30 km was better. As she has done on previous occasions, Ingrid took me on a convoluted country road but on this occasion instead of dense bushland, it was through the richly fertile agricultural land of an area called Castra.
Preston Falls, which I understand is on private land is reached by a series of steep but not impossible steps down, and through a lovely small pocket of rainforest. The Falls themselves were clearly suffering from the lack of rain in the area but were still worth the visit.
As was the case with all the Falls I’ve visited in Tassie, they must all be spectacular after rain.
A couple of locals who descended on the Falls as I was leaving, recommended I have a look at Penguin. I had originally thought I might get as far as Stanley but, although I didn’t have enough time to do that, I did have enough to have a look at the Penguin they were so enthusiastic about.
While an attractive village right on the beach, access is only over the freight-only railway line that runs from Burnie to Devonport. Having been spoilt with the ease of our access to Main Beach and others in Forster it was not a beach setting that could live in.
I moseyed further East, but the coastline and its sea/rail-side properties became increasingly less desirable. Still with time on my hands, I turned west again to the couple’s other recommendation, Burnie.
I knew there was a Bendigo Bank branch there and I hoped to make use of its ATM. I found Burnie easily enough though I had to resort to a shopping centre multi-storey car park in the absence of any available street parking. But, even with Ingrid’s help in walking mode, the Bendigo Branch bank eluded us. You’ll recall she did this to me before in Launceston when I was looking for the Museum.
I did, however, find a desperately needed public toilet and a Woolies where I could top up Eksy5’s tank and my dwindled banana and apple supplies.
I did not find the city of Burnie in the least bit attractive and not only because its inhabitants could easily have been shipped in from Taree about which I have similar feelings – or that’s how they looked.
One of the places on my list of “sees if you can” was “Home Hill” the former home of Joseph Lyons, his wife, Dame Enid and their twelve children.
The home is owned by the Devonport City Council but is managed by the National Trust.
It is only open for one-hour guided tours at 2:00 pm from Wednesday to Sunday so I thought if I stirred my stumps, I might make it in time. I didn’t, underestimating my driving time from Burnie because I wanted to have a look at what might be on the coast road between Burnie and Penguin. And despite the rail-line, that portion of the coast was more attractive.
But back to my Home Hill visit. I got there at 2:30 pm to be told by one of the volunteers that the tour had already started but that he would ask if I was too late. The guide, Penny, came to the door and said, yes, I was, but if I would like to join the Queensland couple for the second half of the tour, she would be happy to redo the first part for me. How nice was that?
It was a lovely home, large and surprisingly light for its time and full of family memorabilia. That it needed to be large became clearer when Penny explained that the couple had twelve children. Penny was an excellent guide, being as familiar with the house’s and the family’s history as if she had been a Lyons. Not knowing very much about Joseph or Enid for that matter, I learnt a lot in a short time and found it of real interest. An hour well spent.
And, yes, as you may have guessed if you hadn’t already known, Joe was a devout Catholic and Enid (although brought up a Methodist) converted to marry him. And according to Penny became even more devout than her husband. As you might expect, there were religious statues, paintings and crucifixes in almost every room.
This pleasant diversion meant that I arrived at the Ferry Terminal only 30 minutes before the gates opened for our 5:00 pm loading. As a result, I was in my cabin on Deck 7 again right at 5:15.
Although I had been able to access the Internet in my cabin on the trip down (and paid $20.00 for the privilege) I was unable to do so on the northward journey only to discover that access was only supposed to be available in the public areas. My first cabin, being quite close to the public areas, must have been in just the right place. I am not unhappy about internetting in public areas but to find a quiet spot where I could do my thing was just not possible on the Spirit of Tasmania. All of which may explain my doleful message that transmission would be interrupted.
Following Mortein’s good advice “when you are on a good thing stick to it”, I indulged again in the delicious roast pork with the requisite amount of crackling, roast potato, beans and broccoli. It was delicious, as were the tiny pavlovas.
And, before you ask, the trip was an even smoother one than last time – so sleep I did!!
22 March 2019
As anticipated the FILO rule applied and Eksy5 and I would have been amongst the last dozen or so cars to disembark, if that’s what cars do too.
Thank goodness for Ingrid. In the 7:00 am Melbourne darkness, I could never have found my way to the motorway I was meant to use to get out of the city without her. And she does it all with such aplomb. And, unlike another living navigator of recent memory, is infinitely patient with me when I either ignore her or turn earlier than she has directed!
Once out of the city and on to Sydney Road (aka Hume Highway) I soon became disenchanted both with the amount of traffic and a road surface that was very ordinary for an arterial route of this importance. So, after a couple of hours I detoured to Seymour for a comfort stop, a walk around the centre and a visit to Woolies to get my Coffee Milk Morning tea break.
From there I plotted a course avoiding the Hume Highway and enjoyed some good roads still – the Goulburn Valley and Midland Highways in particular. Ingrid however is “time-driven” and four or five times she tried to persuade me to return to Hume Highway and save xx minutes. But she also found me some interesting country roads on which there was little or no traffic.
I have to say, however, that someone should put the “climate change sceptics” in an un-air-conditioned bus and take them on a tour of the countryside. Today would have been a good day to do so not only because of the burnt fields but also the quite strong wind-blown dust clouds across the roads. It would too have been a day that farmers and “firies” both would hate.
At some point we had no option but to re-join the Hume Highway, but it had been good while it lasted. In the end the drive became a five hour rather than a three hour one but was none the worse for that.
At the Best Western Plus Albury Hovell Tree Inn (now there’s a mouthful) I have a large second-floor room with a balcony overlooking what is striving to be a green treed lawn. Parking is under the building and thanks to a lift I could bring my big wardrobe suitcase up to change my Tasmanian cool climate wear for that more appropriate to the summer-like days forecast for the rest of my trek.
Free and good internet access has also meant I was able to get my trek journal up-to-date and the delayed updates away. A good afternoon’s work.
The restaurant was serving only a Sunday Dinner Menu tonight because of a Public Holiday here. I could find nothing in the calendar so perhaps it’s an Albury-only one. The limited menu was fine and even this far from the coast I was still able to enjoy a fishy meal. In this case it comprised an entrée of Crumbed Calamari with Aioli and a main of Baked Salmon, grilled asparagus, new potatoes and myrtle thyme blanc. Both very good indeed.
Tomorrow I am Canberra bound and looking forward to re-visiting the National Gallery. And the reason for my visit is the Pre-Raphaelite Masterpieces from the Tate exhibition “Love & Desire”.
And wot? No photos. Not today I’m afraid. And there may none tomorrow either.
23 March 2019
I got away soon after 8:30 am and took advantage of the quite good diesel discount price here in Albury before hitting the road proper. As I wanted to get to Canberra in plenty of time for my Gallery visit, I had little choice but to brave the Hume Highway. I took a break at Yass, an almost quintessential Australian country town and one I hadn’t visited before, to get my morning coffee from Woolies and my McGuigan Red from BWS.
From there I headed straight for the gallery so that I could have the maximum amount of time there. Although I got to the Gallery at about 12:30 I then had to find parking. The National Gallery carparks were full but, on the off chance that the Portrait Gallery might have a spot in its underground one, we made the gentle descent to find we had a choice of twenty or more. The relief was palpable!!
Fortunately, it is only a short walk past the High Court to the National Gallery. “Love & Desire” was a terrific exhibition and one of the best I have seen.
The audio-visual guide had images and quite detailed descriptions of 20 of what I presume the curator’s thought were the best representatives of the 90 or so that made up the exhibition.
For me, there were some works that were included for I know not what reason but others that I thought should have been that were omitted. I guess that’s why I’m not a Gallery Director.
Standouts were, of course, “Ophelia” and “The Lady of Shallot” but one entitled “Work’ by Ford Maddox Brown that I had not seen or heard of was so full of characters as to be appealing. Depicting a group of labourers digging up the road for a new sewerage and drainage system it was as full of characters from the human and animal world as a Breughel.
Another that took caught my eye, perhaps because of the kilted figure was Millais’ “The Order of Release”. It depicts the wife of a rebel Scottish soldier, who has been imprisoned, arriving with an order securing his release. She holds her child, showing the order to the guard, while her husband embraces her, and his dog jumps up to welcome him back too.
I spent nearly three hours there and only gave in in the end because my legs and back were saying “enough, enough”.
But, having said that I didn’t think there would be any photos today, here’s one:
The four-metre high wax ‘candle’ sculpture, Francesco 2017, by Swiss artist Urs Fischer is continuously melting from the constant heat of a candle flame. The wick was only lit a week ago and will, over the next six months, according to the blurb, gradually melt into a mottled puddle all over the “refrigerator” plinth. You can just see the first drips close to his right foot.
At $1,000,000, which is what the NGA paid for it, it must be the most expensive candle in the universe.
The Best Western Garden City Hotel has seen better times. Having said that I was “upgraded” to a suite – but which scarcely qualified for such a grand description. However, it is very clean – just “tired plus”.
But the surprise of the evening was the in-house dinner. In a rush of blood to the head, and after having had more than a little seafood, I decided to try the ribeye. It was huge and beautifully cooked – as were the accompanying carrot, broccoli and truly buttery mash. I even braved the looks of other diners by gnawing on the bone. It was a Neanderthal’s delight.
As I have a little time in the morning, I am going to try and get on the first tour of Parliament House which longtime friend, Faye Heggie, for one, had recommended. It all depends on my waking and breakfasting in time and being early in the queue for the 9:30 am tour. We’ll see how we go…