Sunday, 27 November 2011

The North Coast of Tasmania

Stanley to Kelso


Stanley is famous because of the 154 metre

The Nut

rock known as “The Nut “ which is the stump of an old volcano and also the picturesque houses in the old town around the base of The Nut. The Nut (then named Circular Head) was first seen by western explorers in 1798 when a voyage around Tasmania was made to prove that it was an island and not attached to the mainland.

Stanley Town Hall Stanley NIce Building Stanley Old Bank

The Van Diemen’s Land Company established a settlement here in 1826 and the original store the built a few years later still exists.

VDL Store

It also has a clean and sandy beach which should be large enough for the most

Beach at Stanley

demanding of sand castles. Despite a red sunset last night which

Stanley Sunset

supposedly foretells of great weather to come, today is one of those days when it rains non-stop (11 mm of rain, it may not sound a lot but it is) and flooding becomes an

Wet Day

appropriate descriptor for the day. Hence we head for Launceston along the coast because it has a museum – always a useful way to be dry but not confined to the van.

Our view of Launceston is that it has little to recommend it but the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery (aka QVMAG) is an enthusiastic hive of activity with something for everybody between its town centre and outskirts building. Again, we are lucky in that a chance visit somewhere because of the weather takes us to a wonderful exhibition

Love and War Poster

entitled “Of Love and War”.

Back home s herman

Sali Herman (1898-1993), Back Home, painted in Sydney, 1946

The museum, describes the exhibition as “Love touches us all. During times of conflict it has played and continues to play, an important role in the lives of our servicemen and women, the sweethearts and lovers they left behind or those they met while serving. The Australian War Memorial's exhibition looks at the impact of war on these relationships and the ways in which Australian incorporated affairs of the heart into their wartime lives.”

The exhibition comprises memorabilia related to relationships from a number of wars - photographs. letters, personal accounts etc. Some of these are poignant, some tragic, some happy etc.

Love and War Letter

Some show the insecurities of wartime romance. The text in this letter starts:

“My dearest darling: Hello Iva 7 months today since we were joined and 3 months today since I came away and left you alone. It is not a happy life my dear, I cannot be happy without you. Iva I will return to you - just as soon as I possibly can and that will be wonderful just the thoughts of what returning to you means is wonderful. You have given me a lot darling and I cannot think how I should feel if I was to lose you or if someone else should partly replace me………….”

We are not allowed to take photographs of the exhibition so there is little to show here other than the few photos I took before I found out that I was not allowed to take photos!

Amongst the more conventional museum exhibits are a large number of stuffed animals once or currently found in Tasmania

Tasmania Devil Bustard
Tasmanian Devil Bustard


 Numerous dinosaurs and

1923 Alfa Romeo

vintage cars etc and because the museum

Iron Works

site was originally a railway iron works, some

Iron Works 2

remains of what it was like in the old days

Iron Works Transporter

complete with sounds and smells since many children today will never see heavy industry.

In the meantime it continues to rain, and the campsite we head for is waterlogged. This is a pity because it is known for the large number of indigenous species which come out on drier nights (wombats, possums, wallabies etc) and possibly is the only camp site which issues the advice “Do not be worried if you hear sounds from under your van in the night, wombats like to scratch themselves on the underside of your van” It is too wet for them to come out and we sleep soundly to the comforting noise of heavy rain on the roof.

Kelso to Coles Bay


What a difference a night makes, after heavy rain throughout the night, the morning brings

Kelso Pitch
note the rake in the table, it is there to scrape away wombat and possum poo before you walk around on the grass

bright sunshine and a warm day, although

Kelso Site

evidence of the heavy rain is everywhere with flooded areas of the campsite.

As we head east across the top of Tasmania,

Bush Trees-1Bush Trees

the landscape quickly returns to that which we


love most – tall thin trees, ferns, loud

Bush Rocks

birdsong, colourful rocks and hot day Australian forest smells.

It is this type of countryside where the satnav gets a bit confused. It evidences this by suddenly saying something like “turn right in 100 metres” when there is absolutely no chance of you doing that unless you want to drive off the road, up the hillside or into a river etc.

Sta Nav having problems

This picture of the satnav has us theoretically some 170 metres off the road in the middle of the forest. We are not (as this photo shows).

Sat Nav having problems

The reason for this problem dates back to the founding of Tasmania. Rough maps of the island were sent back to the UK and there the planners said “Build a road between Town A and Town B. The landscape looks flat according to the map you have sent me, so lets make it a straight road.” Of course, the landscape was not flat, they simply had not surveyed it and so they built the road the best they could between A and B with curves which followed the hillside. They never bothered however to tell the planners back in the UK and so officially the road is straight and this is what was translated into a map for the SatNav. We have learnt not to necessarily believe the SatNav although it is a most useful tool when driving here.

Wide Open Countryside 

Where the forests have been cleared, the landscape is flattish grassland with fields, almost like parts of the UK.

Rolling Fields

Country towns date back to the mid 1800s and some have not changed much since then.


Derby is a Classified Historic Town which dates from 1874 when tin was discovered in the area. At its peak, some 3000 people lived here, now there are around 300.

Derby Town Hall

The Town Hall looks as if it were built then

Derby Bank

as does the Bank

Derby House

although this house has been modernised, it still shows it history. The Church is a simple wooden structure


but interestingly the brick chimney is separated by an air gap to stop the heat of the chimney setting fire to the wooden structure.

Church Detached Chimney-1

Some of the original buildings are still managing to stand (just)

Derby old garage 

Eventually the coast appears but it is not just a coast, it is a spectacular coast with large clean bays

West Coast Sandy Bay

and at Bicheno

Bicheno Bay

a large bay which is also a harbour.

Freycinet Peaks-1

Freycinet National Park (our destination) is on the horizon with the characteristic peaks of it mountains as the landmark.

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