Wednesday 3rd February 2016
We left the Bay of Fires and drove back south to St Helens to pick up the main highway, and followed it as it started to make its way west towards Launceston, Tasmania’s second largest city. We had no intention of going there, though, aiming instead for Beauty Point to its north, where we planned to visit the Platypus House and Seahorse World. Our anticipated meeting with Tasmanian wildlife happened somewhat sooner than expected, though, as we approached a bend to find an echidna making its way across the road. Fortunately we were going slowly and there was no traffic behind us, so Steve simply stopped to let it get safely across.
Halfway across... ...going well... ...made it. Phew!
A little further along the road we passed a sign telling us we were entering Dorset, which seemed strange so far from the one we know, and then we came across a huge rock painted to look like a fish. Goodness knows why, but it kept us amused.
An unexpected diversion came next, as we drove past a sign advertising tree sculptures in a nearby town. We turned off the main road and ten minutes later arrived in Legerwood.
The tree sculptures lined the side of the road.
Originally planted in 1918 as an ANZAC memorial, the trees had become dangerous, with branches in danger of falling off. It was decided that they should be cut down, but in order to retain them as a memorial, a chain-saw sculptor called Eddie Freeman was invited to turn them into sculptures. We were quite impressed that these figures had been achieved with a chain saw.
Our next stop, a scheduled one this time, was in Georgetown where we arrived mid-afternoon. We drove first to the top of the hill at the old signal station. There must have been a bush fire here some time recently as a large swathe of the trees on the hillside were brown. There was a stark contrast between the trees on either side of the road, which must have acted as a fire-break. From here was a magnificent view down over the Tamar River and the town.
It was sad to see these trees had been damaged by fire. The road seems to have saved the trees on the upper side of the road.
The view down into the valley to the Tamar River and beyond. Georgetown nestles on the banks of the Tamar River.
The signal station originally used semaphore to send messages about the arrival of ships upriver to Launceston.
The arms of the replica semaphore signal at rest. Codes were used to send messages quickly.
The position of each separate arm represented a code. The relay system of signals to Launceston.
The old... ...and the new, stand alongside each other on signal hill.
We drove down to the town and had a quick look around. On the foreshore we found some familiar-looking tree sculptures, some of which were done by the same chainsaw artist as the Legerwood ones.
Tree sculptures on the foreshore in Georgetown.
Memorial to William Patterson, HMS Buffalo, who landed 1804 to claim Van Dieman’s Land for King George III.
Looking north to the mouth of the Tamar River and Bass Strait beyond.
As we drove out of Georgetown we looked up to see the signal towers at their vantage point at the top of the hill.
To cross the Tamar River we now needed to head south along its banks until we reached the Batman Bridge. Built in the 1960’s, this is an impressive construction which involves a huge ‘A’ frame from which the bridge is strung, and which takes most of its weight. It is one of the world’s first cable-stayed truss bridges and the first in Australia. It is named after John Batman who lived in the area before moving back to the mainland to found Melbourne.
Crossing the Batman Bridge.
Once across the river, we turned north again to drive up the west side almost as far as Georgetown on the opposite bank, to a place called Beauty Point. This is where we planned to stay while we visited the Platypus House and the Seahorse farm.
An evening stroll along the beach at Beauty Point.