Thursday, June 29, 2017


Tamar Lights

Tasmania's second largest city, Launceston, is on the Tamar River in northern Tassie. The Tamar is actually the estuary of both the North Esk and South Esk Rivers. These join at Launceston to form the Tamar. In the late 19th century, Launceston was the commercial capital of Tasmania and its port was busier than Hobart. The entrance to the Tamar has lots of reefs and there were lots of shipwrecks here in the early 1800s. Naturally, a series of lighthouses was built to guide ships into the entrance and along the narrow channel. On the east side of  the river mouth is the spectacular Low Head lighthouse, the third lighthouse built in Australia. The first tower here was built by convicts in 1833. It was replaced by this one in 1888. I really love these red-striped Tasmanian lighthouses. There is also a small channel marker light just below the big lighthouse. Further up the river there are 2 smaller lighthouses marking the safe channel. The  left hand image on the second row is of the middle Channel Light and the right hand image is of the She Oak Point Light. You can see both of these lighthouses in the left hand image on the bottom row. This image was taken from near the Low Head lighthouse. The last image is of the Low Head area taken from She Oak Point. The big lighthouse is obvious. The buildings on the river bank are the Low Head Pilot Station. This is the oldest Pilot and Signal Station in Australia and has been in continuous use since 1833. All of these lighthouses are easy to get to, there is sealed road all the way from Launceston.

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Thursday, June 22, 2017


Sinister Sarah Island

Our Macquarie Harbour cruise included a visit to Sarah Island. This was the site of one of the worst penal settlements in Australia. It only operated from 1822 to 1833 and was intended to hold the worst convicts and those that had escaped from other convict settlements. Although any convict escapee would have to first cross the cold water of the harbour and then battle through the dense rain forest and its snakes and insects (see my post below), around 20 of them did escape. Most were recaptured or died in the attempt. The most notorious one was Alexander Pearce. In September 1822 he escaped with 7 others, and survived by killing and eating the others before he was caught again. He escaped again the next year, this time with a young convict; again Pearce survived by killing and eating him. On 19 July 1824 he was hanged in Hobart for his crimes. Another group of convicts escaped in a ship they were building in the government shipyard and sailed across the Pacific to Chile. When the penal station closed, the convicts were transferred to Port Arthur (see earlier posts). Today the island is part of the heritage area. The only remains of the penal colony are ruins, some in roped-off enclosures with explanatory signs and many just slowly eroding away in the jungle.

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Wednesday, June 14, 2017


Fish Farms

During our Macquarie Harbour cruise we stopped for a couple of minutes at the salmon farms. Those dark discs that you can see in the photos are the tops of fish cages. In the bottom photo you can see the fish in one cage being fed. The spray is full of fish food and whatever medicines are needed. Naturally the gulls try to grab as much as they can. Because these farms are close to the Franklin-Gordon Wilderness they have been a source of some anger and concern, in case the farming impacts the World Heritage area. At present there is a limit on the number of fish that can be farmed and the effects on the heritage area is being closely monitored. It is not just gulls that the farmers have to cope with. The big danger is when they have to go diving to inspect the netting and repair any damage. The local seals and sea lions are keen to get at the fish inside the netting and have attacked several of the divers. I don't think it is a good job for small bears.

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Wednesday, June 07, 2017


Tassie Wilderness Cruise

Apologies for the break in postings, the Oldies have both been sick and I have had to be Nurse Bart for the past week or so. Anyhow, back to our Tasmania photos. One of the places that is a "must see" is the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park. This is one of the wildest places left in the world and is World Heritage listed. The original explorers of the area came upriver from Macquarie Harbour and into the rainforest looking for timber suitable for shipbuilding. They found it in the majestic Huon Pine. Some of these trees are over 3,000 years old and over 20 metres tall. The early logging, bushfires and later flooding of the rivers for hydro-electric dams severely reduced the number of big trees, but since the area was made heritage in the 1980s new trees are coming back. Our cruise from Strahan took us up the Gordon river to Heritage Landing where a boardwalk lets visitors see into the dense forest. Keen walkers can also start their treks into the national park here. Many of our cruise passengers got off the boat, went a short way into the woods and returned very quickly; the flies here are huge and love the taste of human flesh. If you intend to walk through the area, take plenty of insect repellent and cover as much of you as possible. Fortunately, small bears aren't bothered by big flies so Dad and I took lots of photos of the boggy ground, the ferns and mosses and the occasional Huon Pine sticking up through the low scrub. This forest includes some of the most ancient plants on Earth, surviving from the time of Gondwana. It is definitely worth a visit (provided you prepare for the bitey flies).

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