Tuesday, May 23, 2017


Hell's Gate

One of the largest harbours in the world, Macquarie Harbour, is on the west coast of Tasmania. It is nearly 250 square kilometers in area, but unfortunately it is not very deep so larger ships can't use it, most of the traffic being small cargo and timber ships. The first European settlement here was a penal colony which operated on Sarah Island from 1822 to 1833 (more on this in a later post). The entrance to the harbour is narrow and has very dangerous tidal currents and rips. It is known as Hell's Gate and has been the site of many shipwrecks. As there are 3 lighthouses marking the safe passage, we just had to make the trip through Hell's Gate. As luck had it, we had absolutely perfect weather, unusual for this part of Tassie, and our catamaran was able to take us outside the entrance for a look at Cape Sorrell lighthouse. This is the second-highest lighthouse in Australia. It has been operating since 1899 and is heritage-listed. There used to be three keepers' cottages and an engine shed here as well, but they have become ruins since the light was automated. Two small lighthouses on Entrance Island and Bonnet Island mark the safe channel through the "gate". Several tour boats operating out of the town of Strahan cruise the harbour. We went with one operated by World Heritage Cruises and it was excellent, taking us to the lighthouses, the old penal settlement and the Gordon River wilderness - more photos are on the way.

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Friday, May 12, 2017


Wagga RAAF museum

Just east of Wagga Wagga is the Forest Hill RAAF base. This is the site of the RAAF College and the recruit training school. All of the recruits for non-flying areas of the RAAF learn their trades here. The RAAF doesn't use the airfield any more, it is now the Wagga Wagga airport. At the entry to the base there is a Heritage Museum and a paddock with several preserved jet aircraft on display. The aircraft have been treated for outside display. They have the canopies blacked out, the engine intake and exhaust areas closed, and armament removed. That means that the visitor can get right up to the aircraft, with the exception of the F-111. Naturally, we had to stop here. Mum really likes aircraft that look like they going supersonic even when they are on the ground, so she enjoyed "close encounters" with the F-111 and Mirage III. Dad is more into the older classics, so he spent ages checking every little bit of the Sabre, Meteor and Canberra. This small bear likes all of them and you can find me in 3 of the photos.

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Tuesday, May 02, 2017


Kapooka Tragedy Memorial

Kapooka is an outer suburb of Wagga Wagga, New South Wales. Today it is home to Blamey Barracks, the training centre for Australian Army recruits. During World War 2 part of the Defence Force site was the Royal Australian Engineers Training Centre. On May 21, 1945, the worst accident in Australian military history happened here. 27 soldiers, most of them only 18 to 20 years old, were in a bunker being taught to prepare demolition charges. Something went horribly wrong and 26 of them were killed in an explosion. We visited the site on our last road trip and there is a simple, impressive memorial there. A rectangle of 26 trees and a series of explanatory signs surround the memorial site. Each tree has a small plaque at its base with the name, rank and age of a victim. A large rock has a memorial plaque on one side and on the other, rough, side the word UBIQUE. This is a Latin word meaning "everywhere", and is the motto of most Engineering Corps in British Commonwealth countries. Here is a larger image of the words on the plaque, I think they are sad, solemn and superb. We should never forget our history.

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