Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Four-Wheel-Driving In Mt Field National Park, Tasmania

A guest post - by Luke Hine-Haycock
Saw Back Track Disappointment

Blue line marks the Saw Back Track
Having been told that the Saw Back Track was an extreme 4wd experience, a few mates and I decided to give it a go.

Sadly the track was a little disappointing for me, as I only found two challenging parts - the first one was a clay hill with a washed out step up in it and the second one was a muddy water hole.

Although the Saw Back Track was a little disappointing the Mt Field National Park area has a lot to offer and see.

Results of the clay step-up

Entry Requirements
From Bothwell we drove approx. 71km to the Mt Field National Park visitor centre, where we got the key and permits for the Saw Back track - a $300 refundable deposit was charged for the key.

Mt Field National Park visitor centre

 We had to fill out some permits to be able to get the key which required our licences and rego. numbers.

 A parks pass is also required to enter into Tasmanian National Parks.

The Camp
After we got our permits sorted we headed to Lake Pedder were we set up camp for the two nights.

There were a few good camping spots here with shelters and old BBQs, some fire wood was also supplied by parks and wild life, although we had taken our own.

There were also long drop toilets there and although they were clean, they were a little smelly.

The first thing we did once we picked out our camp site was set up the swags in the shelter because it had been raining on and off all day.

Dustin then got the fire going while Luke set up his Webber to cook everyone lamb roast for tea.

Getting the fire going

While the roast was cooking we decided to go for a drive around Lake Pedder for about an hour and when we got back we had a couple of beers while we waited for the roast to finish cooking, then it was time for tea.

 Exploring Mt Field National Park

It was lucky there was a shelter as we got some more rain over night.

 Saturday morning was a much nicer day and we were all pretty keen to go and do the Saw Back track and explore the old 1920s mining township of Adamsfield, where gold & osmiridium were mined.
Old Mining Huts

Some old mining artefacts can be found scattered around the huts.

After having a look at the ruins of the old mine township of Adamsfield, we came across a new timber shelter that looked to only be a few weeks old.

This was the perfect place to stop for lunch as it was that time of day.

There was a little creek with running water and a nice big grassy area with enough room to park all the vehicles.

Not long after lunch we had completed the Saw Back Track and were back on the Gordon River road, so we decided to take the drive down to the Gordon dam and check out the impressive concrete dam wall that is 140m tall.
Gordon Dam Wall

On our return back to camp we stopped in at Pedder Wilderness Lodge for a few beers and a game of 8 ball.

Things You Should Know

If you are planing on doing the Saw Back Track I would recommend that you book in advance, as this is a popular spot and the maximum number of vehicles in each group is six, although our group only consisted of five vehicles.

I am told that the Saw Back track is closed annually from June to October to prevent damage to the fragile mudstone soils.

You must ensure that all vehicles are free of mud before entering Adamsfield Conservation Area to prevent the spread of weeds and fungal diseases.

Vehicles including motorbikes and quad bikes must be registered and stay on formed tracks.


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Carving Out A Lifestyle

East Beach Tourist Park

 I popped in yesterday to meet the owner of the East Beach Tourist Park, at Low Head and discovered a delightful lady whose husband passed away around a year ago, leaving her to carve out a lifestyle with their developing caravan/tourist park.

East Beach Tourist Park at Low Head has a unique facade which attracts tens of thousands of visitors per year.  

The striking Macrocarpa wood carvings are the work of Eddie Freeman and was commissioned by the late Kenneth Plumstead, the previous park owner and is the largest privately owned collection of it's type in Australia. 

The park is now owned and run by Theresa, Kenneth's wife.

 With these exquisite tree carvings at the front door and East Beach and the Bass Straight at the rear, this park is the ideal place to spend a day, or a month, exploring the region.

East Beach, Low Head

East Beach looking to the east

The Western end of East Beach overlooking the
Low Head lighthouse precinct.
Just 40 minutes from Launceston, East Beach Tourist Park is located right on beautiful East Beach, at historic Low Head. It is only 5 minutes from all the facilities and attraction that George Town and Low Head offers ,  but far enough away to enjoy the peace and tranquility in a natural setting - perfect for the tourist to set up base and explore the historic region and further afield, while also ideal as a weekend escape for locals

The park's website contains dozens of photos of the park and surrounding region and is packed with information to both excite and guide you on your journey.

Be advised, however, that the site's contact links are currently being upgraded and those seeking advice or to make a booking should ring the park at +61 (03) 6382 1000.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Oatlands, Tasmania

History Set In Stone
Callington Mill, Oatlands

Your first stop, upon entering Oatlands, should be the Heritage Highway Visitor's Centre, in the Callington Mill precinct, where you can pick up a self guided tour map of the town along with a coffee and a snack.

Oatlands sits around 84 km north of Hobart and 115 km south of Launceston, about 1 km off the Midland Highway (you can see the windmill from the highway) and has a (2011 Census) population of 862.

The town has the largest collection of sandstone buildings in a village setting in Australia with 87 original sandstone buildings along the town’s main street.

Get details of the town, including accommodation, points of interest, emergency services, toilets and dump points as well as freedom camping locations at http://www.tasmania.grandpapencil.net/Heritage/oatlands.htm

Monday, September 21, 2015

Guide to Tasmania's freedom camping sites and caravan parks

Is The Dementia Really Setting In?

At 72 years of age, I have just discovered that getting older doesn't necessarily mean getting wiser.

"Catalogue Tasmania's freedom camping sites and caravan parks in a light to download, easy to use format", he said.
"There can't be that many of them - it will be fun", he said.

I have completed the first six, featuring 178 sites, of the eleven guide series, as listed below, on A Cheapskates Guide to Exploring Tasmania By Car.

Ideal for use with the FREE downloadable route map, this series of guides (in PDF) offers information on freedom camping areas and van park locations, pet friendliness and facilities.

Each guide is loosely based on routes in the downloadable map and run sequentially (as you travel), rather than alphabetically, for greater ease of use and include:

Devonport to Launceston and surrounds
Lists 29 sites ranging from National Parks through to commercial caravan parks. [PDF - 128 kb]

The Heritage Highway
Includes 24 sites [PDF - 128 kb]

Tamar Valley and the North East
There are 39 freedom camps and caravan park[PDF - 148 kb]

Tasmania's East Coast
Features 37 locations [PDF - 136 kb]

Tasmania's North West Coast
From Devonport to Arthur River, includes 38 freedom camping sites [PDF - 140 kb]

Tasman Peninsula and Port Arthur
Contains 11 freedom camping sites [PDF - 120 kb]

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Tiny Tasmanian Travel Teaser

I have decided to add a series of 'Tiny Tasmanian Travel Teasers' to A Cheapskates Guide to Exploring Tasmania By Car over the next little while, but first I have to learn how to use everything.

I don't mind home schooling, but I probably need a better teacher than me.

Attached is my first little (not brilliant) trial run.


The clip is of Launceston City Park, which is possibly the best park that I have seen, situated around 50 km from the cottage.

 This version was saved for Facebook and its definition - in full page - is less than ideal.

I have now almost worked out all of the bugs and ready to try the real ones.

Sourced from the new website, the clips will be on You Tube.

Friday, March 20, 2015

A Cheapskate's Guide To Exploring Tasmania By Car Part 2

A New Web-site
From Watership Down
I still smile when I recall the butcher's sign on his rabbits, around the time of the book and the movie, Watership Down that read , 'You have read the book ~ you have seen the movie ~  Now you can taste the cast ~ Fresh Bunnies only $X a kilogram'.

In my last post I talked about my new e-book, The Heritage Highway: A Cheapskate's Guide to Exploring Tasmania By Car, that was intended to be the first of a series of around seven.

 In Search of Reader Convenience

As I began to promote the e-book I noticed that there were just too many steps between me and the reader, making it difficult for both potential readers to access the work and for me to provide up to the minute information.

In order to offer ease of access to a growing body of work I decided to look at creating a web-site that had the flexability to  allow me to add new sections with no inconvenience to the reader.

A Vision Becomes Reality

As I watched my new creation come together I grew ever more excited with its look, its feel, its navigation, as well as its ability to match my original vision.

The planned series is transformed into a single, live and growing entity that can be used on most internet connected devices - and it is FREE so why not take it for a run around the block?

My New Web-site

You probably haven't read the e-book, but now you have free access to the new web-site (what you do with the cast is completely up to you), so if you are excited by the thought of exploring Tasmania, you cherish history and love to travel, please check it out.
~~~ It's FREE ~~~

Its content and live external links to the best data available make this site ideal for pre-planning your trip or use on the run as an on-demand tour guide.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Cat, the Catch and the Catastrophe

Reflections on a Past Life

The Highway between the cotage and Launceston
Some of you may have heard, but wild winds and extremely heavy rains have been lashing northern Tasmania for a few days.
As I sit warm, safe and comfortable inside the fortress that is 'the Lighthouse Keeper's Cottage', my thoughts have been with the many sheep and cattle that surround me.
Despite the fact that I will eat a few of them over my many remaining years, I can't help but feel a little sadness for them as they stand in their waterlogged paddocks open to whatever the wild weather throws at them.

The Cat and the Catch
The Port Macquarie Fisherman's Co-op
While thinking of these poor, wet animals, my mind turned to thoughts of a cat.
Living in the Northern New South Wales coastal town of Port Macquarie for many years, I would often supplement my diet by catching a fish or two from the wharf of the Fisherman's Co-op.
A half loaf of bread would provide me with all of my burlie and bait needs and life was good.
One day, as I  was landing a good sized bream, an old black cat seemed to just materialise beside me and very politely asked for the fish.
Because I am a bit of a softy, I complied with her wishes and as she was eating we had a bit of a chat.
I told her that, from then on, I would give her the first fish of the day and, somehow, each time the tip of my rod would bend with the first fish of the day, I would hear a quiet meow behind me.
Almost beside the Co-op building were two very old, run down, 2-story houses and I was eventually able to rent the downstairs of one of them that was, once, a boat-shed.
It was wonderful as it was in the centre of the town's restaurant and cafe district and fronted onto the wharf that housed the fishing and tourist boats.
It turned out that my landlady, who lived upstairs, owned the old black mumma-cat and that it decided to leave home when two other cats had been introduced.
The landlady had, for years, served the old cat breakfast and lunch at the Co-op and she (the cat) had found comfortable accommodation in the underground car-park of a nearby government building.

The Feline and the Frangipani
The frangipani
One day I answered the door to find a lady standing there with something wrapped in a towel in her hands.
My heart sank as she unwrapped a very sad, very wet cat and asked if it was mine.
I seems that, after harassing her for quite some time, some young males had kicked her into the river where, with an incoming tide, she became stuck under the wharf.
She was quite sick and as she wouldn't live with the landlady and her cats, I agreed to look after her.
She slept, wrapped-up, on my bed at night and on a bed behind the glass front door of a day, so she had the warmth all day.
She stayed with me for three days until one morning, as I was getting out of bed, my feet touched something furry and cold. Mumma-cat was dead.
In between the two houses there was a 'grassy knoll' housing an old, gnarled frangipani tree that thousands of tourists had gathered flowers from over many decades.
I found a spot under the tree and buried her.

The Boy the Building and the Bulldozer
Eventually the bulldozers devoured my home, the frangipany and old mumma-cat to make way for a restaurant and office space.
The complex was so desperately needed in the town that it was a massive three years after its completion before the first small space in the building was tenented.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Hobart Convict Gaol: A family connection

James: From Chartist to Supervisor of the Treadmill
Remainder of the gaol still stands
I recently took the opportunity to visit my brother - Keeper of the Family History - south of Hobart, spending a few inspiring days with him and his lovely wife.

We had to make the 40 km plus trip into Hobart and given that I have had little to do with much of the south of the state, was excited that we were going to visit the Old Convict Gaol where our Great, great grandfather had been the supervisor of the treadmill.

It seems quite strange to me that, having been heavily involved as an organiser with the Chartist Movement in England - an act similar to today's terrorism that was punished by long prison terms or transportation to Australia - he was able to secure a position as Supervisor of the Treadmill in Hobart and then Launceston.

Hobart Convict Gaol Layout
Hobart Convict Gaol Layout - click to enlarge
The Penitentiary Chapel and Criminal Courts are situated on a Hobart site occupied for penal uses from 1821 to 1983.

The complex, containing one of the most beautiful church towers in Australia, is of national importance.

By the late 1820s increasing numbers of convicts were placing stress on Hobart's convict accommodation, and a penitentiary, 'The Tench', was built (1827 /28) in Campbell Street - remains of which still stand today, along with some of the cottages across the road.

Peniteniary Chapel: Hobart
Peniteniary Chapel can be found at the
Corner of Brisbane and Campbell Streets
Overcrowding also affected Hobart's only Anglican church, St David's, and Lt-Governor Arthur directed the Colonial Architect, John Lee Archer, to design a second place of worship.

Archer designed a building to serve both convicts and free citizens, with 36 solitary confinement cells underneath as an adjunct to the penitentiary.

His design was cruciform, without a sanctuary, but with a nave, while the east and west transepts had floors tiered or sloped towards a central pulpit, visible to all three wings.

This clever arrangement allowed the free citizens to use the nave for worship, hidden from 'the uncouth gaze' of the (640) prisoners in the wings.

A prisoner looks at convict behaviour in Church
It is from the 'educated writings' of Linus W. Miller, a twenty-two year old American lawyer who was transported to Van Diemen’s Land as a state prisoner from Canada after becoming involved in the 1838 Canadian rebellion that we can gain a first hand insight into daily life of the convicts.

The following is just a small part of his description of convict attendance at Divine Service in the Penitentiary Chapel.

‘On looking about me, I could not discover more than twelve, among twelve hundred prisoners [sic] , who appeared to be taking any notice of the service. Some were spinning yarns, some playing at pitch and toss, some gambling with cards; several were crawling about under the benches, selling candy, tobacco, &c., and one fellow carried a bottle of rum, which he was serving out in small quantities to those who had an English sixpence to give for a small wine-glass full. Disputes occasionally arose which ended in a blow or kick; but in these cases the constables, who were present to maintain order, generally felt called upon to interfere. If any resistance was offered to their authority the culprit was seized by the arms and collar, dragged out of the church and thrust into the cells beneath.'

The Treadmill
The treadmill or 'everlasting staircase' was a penal appliance introduced in 1818 by the British engineer Sir William Cubitt (1785/61) as a means of usefully employing convicts.

The device was a wide hollow cylinder, usually composed of wooden steps built around a cylindrical iron frame.

My brother informs me that 'The Launceston Treadmill'  [where James also worked]  could accommodate up to eighteen men, who trod up and down on the spot, grinding wheat for the Government store. 

On the machine, the prisoners had to keep moving.  Every sixty seconds, a bell would signal the prisoner at the end of the line break. When the bell rang again, he would rejoin the line at the other end for a further eighteen-minute’s treading.'

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Targa Tasmania: Temco - George Town Prologue

Targa Tasmania 2014
1976 Ferrari 308 GTB,
Driven by Robert Gambino
Targa is a tarmac rally and dates back to 1905 in Sicily, where the inaugural “Targa Florio” was unveiled.

The event took its name from organiser Vincenzo Florio and each winner was presented with a plate bearing the Florio family crest.

The Italian word for plate is “Targa”, thus, the name.

Targa Tasmania 2014 is run over 2000-plus km, through 38 stages and featuring some 144 cars competing in 10 classes including:
Regularity,  Early Classic Handicap,  Late Classic Handicap, Classic Outright,  Early Modern,
Modern,  Showroom 2WD, Showroom 4WD,  Showroom Sports and  Modern Muscle Car.

I finally made it
2013 Lotus Exige S
Driver: Martin Duursma, Navigator: Marc Sobbel
Well, I finally made it to the George Town stage of Targa Tasmania after missing out for the past two years.

I had watched parts of the rally on TV over the years from New South Wales and shortly after returning to Tasmania in 2012, was really looking forward to catching the local stage live.

My brother, from the south of the state, had the opportunity to pop up for a visit on the same day and my decision to miss the race was a no-brainer.

Fortunately I managed to catch the Longford stage, that year.

 1955 Fiat Abarth 750

A 1955 Fiat Abarth 750,
with driver Jack Waldron and co-driver, Vin Gregory
I had the opportunity to chat with Jack Waldron, driver of the 1955 Fiat Abarth - left - after the event and found both he and the little car impressive.

Jack, Vin and Fiat have done 21 Targas together, and show no sign of stopping, or slowing down!

Their 1955 Fiat Abarth 750 is one of the true classics in the field, and a very realistic chance of taking Early Classic Handicap honours this time out.

This little car shows the incredible diversity of vehicles competing in Targa Tasmania that make the race most watchable.

You can find full details of the cars and drivers along with the stages and placements in the Targa Tasmania website at: 

So what happens when you get it wrong?
With over 2000 km of racing around some extremely tight circuits by highly competitive drivers, there are bound to be some dramas.

The photo, left, shows the remains of a Lamborghine driven by Jason White earlier in the year.

Targa official website talks about Jason White, saying:
'After a devastating week where he lost both his father and grandfather, reigning champion Jason White has bounced back to set the fastest time in the official Temco Prologue in George Town on the opening day of Targa Tasmania.

It’s been a tough year for White, whose $600,000 Lamborghini was burnt to the ground at Targa Wrest Point in February. But the local hope looked at home in his replacement Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9, finishing the 4.8 kilometre stage 2.8 seconds quicker than the man considered his greatest rival for the modern crown, Steve Glenney. '

Temco - George Town Prologue 2014
The George Town stage of Targa Tasmania was run over an approximately 4.8 km course, through the near suburbs and the town centre, generating a great deal of local interest - though I did feel a little sorry for the main street traders due to an almost complete lock-down for the race.

At the conclusion of the stage the cars and drivers gathered in Regent Square allowing fans to get extremely close-up and personal.

Like so many people there, I was like a kid in a lolly shop who had just recieved the weekly pocket-money.

So many photos - So little space.

George Town, Tasmania: The oldest town in Australia

The town centre of George Town from York Cove 
The photo, left, features our Regent Square with around a half of the CBD's shops in the foreground, on York Cove, with the Tamar River top left.

The road running bottom to top on the right leads to the Lighthouse Keeper's Cottage.

 George Town, named for King George III, is one of the older European settlements in Australia and was first settled in 1804 by Colonel William Paterson two years before the nearby city of Launceston - 50 km to the South (around 3 km from the cottage).

A town in north-east Tasmania, on the eastern bank of the mouth of the Tamar River, George Town had a population of 6,906 (as at the 30 June 2011) and is the regional centre of the George Town Council local government area, well served with a regional hospital, supermarkets and infrastructure along with two pubs.

It became the oldest town in Australia as a result of all older towns becoming cities.

Regent Square
Regent Square is the central public square in the grid-planned ‘George Town’ that Governor Lachlan Macquarie founded in 1811 to be the Headquarters for Northern Tasmania - a role it filled from 1819 until 1825.

Regent Square, George Town, Tasmania
 Such squares were a feature of the nine towns Macquarie founded in New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land in 1810 - 11. All were surveyed by James  Meehan, following Macquarie’s precise instructions on their layout.

Today only five of these squares are left and Regent Square and New Norfolk’s Arthur Square, in Tasmania, are two of the three squares to be intact within their original borders.

Sadly, the integrity of the square is currently under attack.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Gold, gold, gold! Fossicking at Lefroy

Lefroy: The six pub town

I have always found it rather interesting that the population and wealth of Australian historic mining areas seem to be always measured by the number of pubs (hotels) it had.

Lefroy sits around 15 km south-east of the cottage and 58 km north-east of Launceston. Originally known as Nine Mile Springs it was changed to Lefroy in 1881 after the visit by the Acting Governor, Sir Henry Lefroy.

It was a bustling town, which is said to have contained 5,000 people in its peak boom period of 1890-95. It was the fourth largest town in Tasmania,.

Gold was known to exist in the hills around Lefroy in the 1840s, but exploration was discouraged because of a fear that the convicts would find out and rebel.

Though now only a sleepy rural town with no retail activity at all, Lefroy had a race track, rifle club, cricket club and brass band. There were six hotels, three churches, a state and private grammar school, a masonic lodge and mechanics institute. The town had several shops, two butchers and a cordial factory. In 1907 the headquarters of the George Town Municipality was located there, remaining there until the 1930s.

Gold Mining At Lefroy

Mining endeavours at Lefroy were a series of booms and busts. The alluvial gold lay in the creek gullies and under the basalt rock on the eastern side of the field. But most of the gold lay in scattered reefs in the quartz rock which formed the base of the area.

 In the upper levels the gold was quite rich, but it was quickly exhausted and as shafts were dug deeper, the amount of gold diminished. Extraction was expensive because of water seepage, which required pumps, and the quartz rock had to be crushed in batteries of stamping machines, and then washed in sluices to extract the gold from the crushed rock.

In all, the Lefroy mines yielded £750,000 in gold, making the gold field the second richest in Tasmania, after Beaconsfield.

Gold Fossicking  At Lefroy
A tailings dump we have been picking through
Once commercial mining ceased, Lefroy slowly declined, its school and last church closing in 1954. Many of the houses were removed to George Town and Beaconsfield. Even so, prospectors continue to mine and fossick for gold in and around the old mine shafts, often finding enough to make it a profitable hobby.

My sons grew up in the Lefroy area and spent many hours picking through the tailings dumps and mine sites with limited, though exciting results including a number of smallish nuggets.

So What Did We Find?
With many hectares of scrub surrounding the mine and tens of thousands of tonnes of well worked tailings, finding gold is about as easy as striking a lottery win - a few small payouts but an extremely elusive jackpot.

From a material point of view, the total find during our four hour search consisted of an extremely small sliver of gold in a fissure in a chunk of bassalt. Cash value - zero.

The real payout, however, comes with the health giving beauty of the silent embrace of the surrounding forest. Real Value -  priceless.

Be assured that the gold is there and taking the time to have a look is well worth many hours of your time.

The Rehabilitation of Abandoned Mining Lands
The capping on one of over fifty shafts in the region
The Rehabilitation of Abandoned Mining Lands Trust Fund commenced a
remediation program in the 2005/2006 budget period to address public safety risks posed by abandoned mine workings on Crown Land at Lefroy, northeast Tasmania.

Over fifty open shafts and two adits were either capped or fenced during
this time for an approximate cost of $140,000.

The photo, left, shows the capping at the mine that we were fossicking at.
The Chinese In Lefroy
Chinese miners first arrived at Lefroy in 1870, originally brought in to work the mines at Back Creek. 

At Lefroy they panned for alluvial gold, and later picked over the tailings from the crushing batteries. They also made money from the other diggers through their market gardens and gambling dens, where fan tan was the main game. 

They were slower but steadier workers and were tolerated by the other diggers. In 1877 they opened a Joss House in Little China Town, which was in Powell Street. It remained there until 1904, when it was dismantled and removed to an unknown location.

You may also be interested in two items I have published in my site, Dear Grandpa Pencil, including:

Monday, March 31, 2014

'MV Parsifal' visits the Tamar River

Giant delivers Tasrail's new locomotives

'MV Parsifal' the largest car carrier in the world and the largest ship ever to call into Bell Bay, today navigated the winding Tamar River delivering Tassie's new Locomotives.

The 265-metre long 'MV Parsifal' spans nine decks with a cargo deck area the size of eight soccer fields with a draught of nearly 9 metres.

Just 35 metres shorter than the Eiffel Tower, with a ramp that can handle the weight of 100 elephants she has an anchor that weighs 9.2 tonnes and  an engine which has the horsepower of 180 cars.

Despite her gigantic size, the Parsifal will actually use 15 to 20% less fuel per transported unit compared to her predecessors due to her optimised hull shape and other energy saving features like the streamlined rudder design and duck tail which make her one of the most environmentally friendly ships in operation today. In addition, electricity will be produced from the exhaust heat on board thanks to an advanced turbo generator which has been installed in the engine room.

'MV Parsifal

One of TasRail’s 17 new TR class locomotives

Unloading at Bell Bay

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Oh Yes! The Views

Many readers have complained that there are not enough views from The Lighthouse Keeper's Cottage.

Views was intended as opinions really but I would be extremely selfish to keep the actual views to myself, wouldn't I. So here goes.

The cottage is blessed with two pointy ends each with its own special, calming outlook.
The first of these is the study/living room known for the production of Dear Grandpa Pencil, Views from the Lighthouse Keepers Cottage and Spot the Blog.


The second, but equally as important, is the kitchen known for the production of vast quantities of strong, black coffee.
It is from here that I intend to pursue my '160 km Challenge' despite the fact that the view is such that I often go into daydream mode and forget what I am doing as I look out.

You may recall from an earlier post that I have challenged myself to cook up a storm using produce, herbs & spices and sauces that have been sourced from within a radius of 160 km of the cottage.

I am currently researching the sources of the salt, pepper and sauce that I intend to use and I must tell you that I am extremely excited about the project.

The main aspects of the recipes that I will be making will be freshness, availability and great full flavours with the first attempt being a dish I will name 'Mushrooms Malcolm'.


The study/living room consumes most of my waking day and as I am working through the night I have the extra comfort of a large open fireplace on the other side of the room behind me.

When 'in vacant or in pensive mood' I simply turn my chair a little to the right and gaze out over this view of the Tamar River and the rolling mountains beyond.

Although there has been mainly good sunny weather since I arrived here the river and the mountain range beyond have their little moods and more, often chucking a serious tantrum.

Each of these moods, including the tantrums, are of equal beauty to me which is easy for me to say I guess as I work in front of the fire totally surrounded by rock walls of around 48 cm (18") thick.

The road you see at the front leads from George Town, my local shopping precinct, past me and on past another lighthouse to the Low Head lighthouse and pilot station (covered in a previous post) running for around 5 km all up.

My little Suzuki is in 5th gear for nearly the whole trip from the cottage to Georgetown which is a nice little money saver.

You will notice, in the picture of the river, a ship heading out to Bass Straight and beyond.
This vision acts as a stark reminder of the need for Tasmanians to source as much of their produce and other product needs as possible from within the state as anything from outside the state must come in by ship or aircraft.

Acting locally not only assists the state's economy but reduces the use of diminishing world resources utilised in the shipping of this freight.

Sonnets 29
William Shakespeare

When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man's art, and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts my self almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

Please sir I want some more

More views of the lighthouse keepers cottage

Good grief! Some people are never satisfied, are they?

You want more views so settle in with some popcorn and a drink while I attempt to satisfy you.

Before we begin I should warn you that I have a rather perverse fascination for where I live and go to some trouble to find out more about it.

She Oak Point Lighthouse and Middle Channel Lighthouse form 2 leading lights guiding ships into the mouth of the Tamar River on route to Bell Bay and Launceston.

My cottage is at the Middle Channel Lighthouse.

Navigation beacons were laid in the entrance to the river in November 1804 when the area was first settled.

In 1848, 2 stone towers were built, but were unlit and gave no assistance at night.

The 2 new towers were built in 1882, and first lit on 1st December 1882. The lights are 1197 feet apart and elevated 55 and 38 feet respectively.

Designed by Mr Harry Conway and built by J & T Gunn they housed lens built by Chance Bros.

The towers used sperm whale oil originally, but this was changed to carbide lamps.
Solid carbide was placed into a tank and water dripped onto it.

The keeper opened a valve and the resulting acetylene gas passed through a pipe to the mantle. There was a bit of a bonus here as the white carbide waste was used to paint the towers.

The last keeper was Mr Fred White who served from around 1928 and delayed retirement until the lights were electrified and automated in 1955.

The main duties of lighthouse keepers included warning ships by lighting the light when fog came up, as well as ringing bells every hour or shooting cannons.

Lenses had to be cleaned, gas cylinders changed, clockwork mechanisms wound and later, generators maintained.

Government Advertisements

I located this advertisement in the Launceston Examiner Thursday November 30 1882
and have added it for those of my readers who love lighthouses or general maritime history

-Notice is hereby given that, on and after the 1st day of December, 1882, two leading lights will be exhibited at She-oak Point, entrance to Tamar River.
The lights are 1197 feet apart, and elevated 55 and 38 feet respectively above the level of high water.
They will be visible nine miles from a ship's deck ' the high light being visible between the Bearings of S.E. A E. round easterly to N.N.W., and the low from S.E. I E. round easterly to N. A W.
The sailing directions by Staff-Commander H.J. Stanley, R.N., to be had at Maritime Board offices, Hobart and Launceston. E. M'. FIoueR. 234) Acting Master Warden.


No ordinary 'rain room' for us. This is a Bathroom complete with massive bath tub.

Mind you it does have its hazards as, the other week because I am a 'big boy and all better now', I said pooh to the convenient hand rail and just stepped out.

I went down like a school bag at Christmas and as I lay there on the floor all sooky I thought to my self 'That was a bit dumb, wasn't it.'

In the photo at the top the bathroom is at the furthest end of the building to the left.

From the kitchen you enter a foyer like area that houses the laundry with the loo to the left (That is the small window in the photo) and directly ahead is the bathroom.


Although there is not a great deal of space here for cooking it is still an absolute delight to work in, and it makes a magic coffee.

The kitchen sits behind the french windows in
the top photo and that whole area behind the lighthouse is north facing and catches the sun from first thing through to late afternoon.

It is here that I intend to establish a potted, or raised, vegie garden toward the end of winter.

It is in this little area that I get a lot of my exercise splitting the daily wood requirements.


Just as a matter of interest this is not my furniture or furnishings but I found it difficult to get a good pic.

Sadly the stove has a warped cook top and does not work as it would just fill the place with smoke.

It is sad because this is one of the better forms of wood heating as, with the open fire, a lot of the heat just goes up the chimney whereas with the stove the entire shell heats up and radiates out into the room. Oh well, you can't have everything I guess.

Behind the fireplace is my bedroom (Yes, there is a door) and both rooms catch the sun from its first rays each morning.


Well, here we are at the other end of the cottage and I will just move for a moment so that you can see it.

This end houses the workspace where this blog as well as spot the Blog and Dear Grandpa Pencil start their lives.

I chose the desk, even though it does not fit the style of the cottage, because it offers good work space while at the same time having a minimal visual impact.

I spotted the chairs at City Mission and at $30 each I just had to have them.

The seats are a slung leather and, like the desk, do not take up a load of visual space. And I love them.

For anyone who really knows me, you will note that 'Bunny' still helps out with the site.


When I am thinking or just relaxing I just spin the chair 180 degrees and move forward about three metres and I am in the relaxing department.

It is amazing what good music and a blazing fire can do for the creative process.

Connected to this room is what, I think, was meant to be the master bedroom but I have other plans for it.

I am going to turn it into a utility room serving a number of purposes.

Fitted with a click clack sofa/bed, a TV, small photographic studio and work table it will act both as the TV room and a guest room as well as serving my needs to make and photograph stuff for Dear Grandpa Pencil.

So there, that's it so you don't have to ask again.
Thank you for visiting The Lighthouse Keepers Cottage.

Red Bricks & Roses and The Old Moss Woman's Secret Garden

A tribute to the wonders of
'Old Moss Woman's Secret Garden

One morning back in around 2002 or 2003 I slung my legs over the side of the bed, lit a cigarette and started my first glass of Lambrusco for the day, or was that my last glass for the night?
My head was full of a short poem called Red Bricks and Roses.
It was just there whole and complete and I have no idea where it came from or exactly what it meant and it scared me more than a little.
I rejected it for months before finally giving in to it and publishing it on my site 'Dear Grandpa Pencil.'
As you will note from previous posts I have just relocated (3 months ago) from Northern New South Wales to Northern Tasmania.
The relocation was (is) incredibly important to me and as I was planning and saving for it I fell quite ill and was hospitalised.
The problem was alcohol related and some 9 months down the track I am only just coming good.
All a bit scary for this old Grandpa I can assure you.

When in vacant or in pensive mood

I turn to a magic potion called The Old Moss Woman's Secret Garden to gather my thoughts.
Now I'm not going to bang on about this magnificent work but if you have not visited it I advise you to do so and you will find the link on the right of this page.
The pictures in this post are a small example of the page's wonder.
I was visiting the page tonight and all of a sudden thought I had a brief insight into the rhyme and decided to share it with you.
I believe that there was a great chance that this sickness could have left me institutionalised for the rest of my life if, in fact, I actually had a life left.
But I will let you read it and decide for yourself.

Red Bricks and Roses

He lives in a place made of
Red bricks and roses,
They built by the side
Of a clear, stony brook.

Each morning he sits
And he thinks and he dozes,
And reads the worn pages
Of his favourite book.

Sipping the nectar
Of Burgundy vineyards,
Dreaming of journeys
That he never took.

Robin A. Cartledge