2019 Tas to Tim and Carol Spires
North past Bristleback Mountains to George Town
Just a month before our arrival the fields were still green here in Tasmania but as we drove northwards up the Midland Highway from Hobart, as you can see from the photos the only relief from the dry grass was where the monster irrigators had rolled slowly around the acres of border farmland. What was there for the animals to eat? How were the sheep surviving? The trees on the hillsides looked sparse, not exactly dense bushland, the effect as they reached the summits was to look like the bristles of a brush.
The occasional town like Ross provided a distraction with neat bungalows in their own patch, some with pretty fret work breaking up the severity of right-angled corners more typical of New Zealand. In Launceston we sat in the shade of street trees outside the Samuel Pepys Restaurant and chatted about the many Devonians and Cornish folk who came this way all those years ago and made Tasmania their home, renaming the topography to mirror their homeland, at the expense of the indigenous people and their culture of course.
Before crossing the Tamar we asked Mrs Google to find an old friend of Rob’s from Oakham, Tim Spires who settled out here with his wife Carol a few years ago. Mrs G took us onto a private road, up through the bush off tarmac, off smooth road, off rough track and to a dead end. So we took Mrs G back down to the main road, turned left and drove for a while, then found their home ourselves perched high above the lovely river Tamar with a deep shady veranda and set amidst flowering bushes and plants.
Carol’s three horses graze their spread of land which also gives them distance from the neighbours. As we sipped refreshing drinks and chatted two of the horses came for some TLC from Tim and their two dogs were never far away, enjoying the company of us strangers and us of them. Who would want to return to England from this paradise? Today (4th January 2020) Tim posted a video on Facebook showing the smoke haze over the Tamar River Valley, paradise suffers natural disasters too doesn’t it and you may have seen it.
5th January 2020
Remember my photos of Eden where we visited the Killer Whale Museum twenty eight days ago? Well most of the residents have run to the wharf as the fires close in on their township and they have now been ordered to leave under the state of emergency and vessels are being moved in to enable them to escape. You may have seen on the BBC News residents and holidaymakers driving their vehicles into the shallows of a lake to protect them and standing in the water looking back at the blazing shore and country beyond. Once the fire has moved through they can return to the charred and smouldering shore. The narrators of the video were referring to the fire as ‘she’, the fireships of the bush.
A helicopter was flying water to the hills near us today but at the moment the skies are blue and the mountains clearly visible. Yesterday we awoke to that now familiar smell of bush smoke and as the morning progressed Mt Wellington and its neighbours disappeared in smoke and we kept Zoonie closed up for the sake of our lungs. So either the fires are out or, more likely, the smoke is being blown the other way.
Ken and Bron are approaching Hobart after spending the night weathering 30 knot winds tied to the quay the other side of the Denison Canal. We had winds here in the shelter of the marina up to 38 knots.
Tomorrow Nial, our electrician is coming back on board to renew a very crunchy (corroded) crucial engine cable which must have been overlooked at the post ‘sinking’ repairs. It’s important to keep ahead of potential gear failures as far as we can as you can imagine.