Norm’s Tasmanian Trek 2019 – Episode Four

Friday 15 March 2019

Another slow start to the day, but this time because I was feeling the effects of all the exercise I indulged in yesterday. No, that’s not true. I just slept in.

But soon after my less leisurely breakfast than yesterday, I was off again. It was a cool but not cold start and a beautiful cloudless day for my return north. The drive from Dover as far north as Geeveston was just beautiful and thanks to some rain that they must have had that others hadn’t it was really quite green. I have got to like driving here on the quieter roads at my own pace and without too much hassle.

I enjoyed too the run around on the Channel Highway but found it less well endowed with spots where I could pull over and get any photos. It was a pity because there were plenty of attractive views but no easy way of capturing them. I can’t recall if you have trodden that path, for lack of a more apposite phrase, but it was well worth the marginally extra time it took and the lighter traffic. It might be more photographically accessible driving south, something I’ll try next time.

The upshot of my faster than planned trip was that I was going to get to Hobart too early to book in. But soon after joining the A6 about 8 km south of Hobart I spotted the sign for Mount Nelson. The Signal Station there was one of the places I planned to visit tomorrow, but asks he, what’s wrong with doing it today? So, I did and ended up not only with some great views but also a scrumptious seafood chowder with mussels, prawns, scallops, fish and Turkish bread at the “Signal Station Brasserie”. And as if that wasn’t enough, my partaking of it was from this window table on the veranda overlooking Hobart and beyond…

View from my lunch table at the Signal Station Brasserie, Mount Nelson, Hobart
15 March 2019

I have more photos taken from the Signal Station itself, but they turned out to be better in a panoramic format like this:

A panoramic view from the Signal Station, Mount Nelson, Hobart
15 March 2019

Still with some free time, I decided to cross off another destination on my Hobart list, albeit not a tourist attraction as such, the Lady Clark Retirement Village at Claremont. In my earlier searches, it was one of the rental-based ones that looked to me to be attractive. It is 15 minutes North of the city but even with Ingrid, just the drive through city traffic to get there was almost enough for me to turn around. But I hung in there and found it eventually after a couple of uncalled for early turn-offs of my not her choosing.
It is quite attractive but does not have the appeal that I thought it might from the brochure. One thing I think I’ve established is that I don’t want to live in a city anymore, so I’ve now crossed Hobart off my list. That is apart perhaps from Sydney-like cultural or entertainment visits to Hobart from wherever I am down south.

My accommodation in Hobart is at the RACV/RACT Hobart Apartment Hotel.  Very swish and priced accordingly but with included under-cover parking and, best of all, within walking distance of the Spiegeltent which you’ll hear about in the fullness of time, it was a good choice.

Dinner tonight only required a walk to and from the lift, so it was very convenient. Called “Charcoal” for whatever reason, the dominating colour of the restaurant and hotel décor is black. I had booked for 6:00 pm but probably didn’t need to because until 7:00 I was the only one in the restaurant.
I again had a window seat, but the view now was of Collin Street from one floor up. Not quite up to the scenic attraction of the Brasserie.

RACV/RACT Hobart Charcoal Restaurant Menu
15 March 2019

In almost a resumption of “foodie news” from earlier Travel Journal posts I took advantage of the two course special and indulged in an entrée of “Marion Bay chicken terrine, preserved lemon, rye, and pepita” and a main of “Cape Grim short rib, caramelised and charred onion, black garlic, and kale”. The chicken terrine was just beautiful helped not a little by being topped with a crispy piece of chicken skin a là pork crackling. The beef was truly beefy in both texture and flavour though I was less enamoured with the wilted kale and black garlic.

Tomorrow night I’ve booked at a seafood restaurant, the “Blue Eye”, close to the Spiegeltent, of which more later, and I’m looking forward to another Tassie fish meal – of which I seem to have had too few.
With tomorrow now relatively free I thought I might take myself north to Ross and thereabouts which featured in some of Carolyn and Tony’s earlier real estate searches. The towns/villages sounded attractive and it seems a good opportunity to take a look-see seeing I’m here. See?

Saturday 16 March 2019

An encouraging start to the day with an included cooked breakfast – even if there was no black pudding. But the Apple Juice was as fresh and good as it should be on its own island, and the light flakiness of the very large croissant would have gladdened any Francophile.

At 12° it was another coolish morning but, contrary to the forecast, not a cloud to be seen.

When I left at 8:00 for my “Midlands” sweep, I had the streets of Hobart pretty much to myself and it was a pleasant change from having to battle the traffic as I did yesterday.
While the Midland Highway is almost motorway standard for the first 40 or 50 km my good early and relaxed run was challenged by literally km of road works. All I now understand part of the 10 year and $500 million investment being made to bring it up to the National standard, whatever that is.
So, for the next 60 or 70 km there were at least four long sections with reduced carriageway widths and a fluctuating mix of 40, 60 and 80 kph limits.
None of this made for the relaxed sightseeing style of driving I have become used to – and had hoped for. A style of driving not shared by more than a few drivers whose tailgating was all the evidence I needed of their urge to overtake.
With the possible exception of the area around Colebrook, between Jericho and Richmond, the countryside is not nearly as appealing as I remember it. But perhaps that is more a result of the ongoing drought conditions than my suspect memory. Although not as dusty bone dry as parts of Victoria it certainly was browner than anything I had seen south of Hobart.

It was a relief to be able to get off the highway to visit Ross. With its lovely heritage buildings and tree-shaded streets, it was a welcome break. As a means of stretching my legs, I walked down one side of Church Street and back the other – as were a number of other tourists so inclined.
The busiest place was the Ross Village Bakery whose wares I might have sampled had I not had such a good breakfast. From the number emerging clutching brown paper bags with pies peeking out suggested that they may be worth trying on another visit.

On the return leg, I drove through rather than walked the main streets of Tunbridge and Oatlands but found neither as attractive as Ross. Then it was back to negotiating the road works until the turnoff to Richmond at Jericho. Needless to say, the road was not as wide or as good, but I was able again to slip into my more relaxed and sedate progression. A nice drive helped by more green spots thanks to those enormous lateral move irrigation systems and to vineyards around Campania closer to Richmond.

Richmond was alive and well and crowded and it was only with difficulty that I found a park so the I could take the photo I had promised myself I would of the “Bridge”. To do so without including pairs and groups of mainly Asian tourists was not easy and the results are such that I may have to try again at a less crowded time.

The much-photographed Heritage-listed bridge, Richmond, TAS
16 March 2019

It may be a beautiful and historic town but with my increasing aversion to crowds, of the two historic towns, Ross is more my sort of place.
Despite my moans about the road works and those drivers, I am glad I did do my “Midlands” sweep. And why? Because it confirms for me, that as a place to live the Midlands just cannot hold a candle to the Huon Valley.

The choice of the “Blue Eye” Seafood Restaurant for tonight turned out to be a good one, and not just by reason of its nearness to the Spiegeltent.
I had and enjoyed one of the day’s specials which just happened to be a dozen mussels in white wine, cream, butter, and parsley with crusty garlic bread. Harvested near Triabunna they were every bit as big and good as many of the New Zealand green-lipped ones that I’ve had.
And at only $19.50 I was able to add a Leatherwood Honey Panna Cotta with raspberry sorbet without breaking the bank.
It was a beautiful meal in, given the number of regular diners, a clearly very popular restaurant.

Then to the Spiegeltent for “Deluxe, Deluxe”. It was billed as a “Cheeky, Vaudeville-Inspired Variety Spectacular”, and it certainly lived up to that.
Playing to a packed house it was far and away the best and most professional of any show I have seen at a Spiegeltent and for which my ring-side seat was a real bonus. The acrobatics were truly spectacular as were some of the skits, but the key to its success for me was its seamless, now there’s an overused word, continuity. It really was non-stop fun.
I thoroughly enjoyed it and continued to do so even after the “gentle” climb home.

I plan to make a detour to the Russell Falls off my route to Lake St Clair tomorrow and can only hope that it has more water than did Lilydale.
But, if not, I can always take a photo of what’s behind the water when there is any.

I may be off the air for a day or two. There is no internet, nor I suspect mobile coverage at Lake St Clair but there is at Strahan. I’ll just have to see how I go.