Day 89: Longford – Freycinet – Longford – Sydney
We wanted to make the most of having Tim with us so we set off early from Longford back to the East Coast and the beautiful Freycinet National Park. I was hanging out to get painting, and the boys wanted to get in some hiking. We wound our way south through Epping Forest, Campbell Town then west on the Leake Highway through the beautiful Wye River State Reserve until reaching the Tasman Highway where we turned north towards Bicheno. Not far along the highway before the Coles Bay turnoff leading to the Freycinet National Park. The scenery changed frequently on the journey with pastoral scenes giving way to dense bushland, then back to vineyards, and finally the spectacular forests in the Coles Bay Conservation Area and Freycinet National Park, and the gorgeous bays and seascapes surrounding the park.
After some coffee and refreshments at the small Coles Bay township we parked at the Wineglass Bay carpark. I loaded myself up with all that I needed to do a small oil (well it took a few attempts when I would suddenly remember some vital requirement, back to the car to get missing item/s and back to the path). Eventually we set off heading upwards. After about 15 minutes we came across a viewpoint that suited me for a painting – I needed shade, a view, space to place paints, easel etc, and I waved the boys off and got down to work on a small oil overlooking Coles Bay while they went on to the famous Wineglass Bay where they even got in a swim!
Meanwhile I battled mosquitos, disappearing shade, curious hikers and eventually hunger to complete the work. Luckily, Steve and Tim were on their way back just as I was finishing so I was able to pack up the gear and have help carrying it and wet painting back to the carpark. This did require going against the flow as the walking track is one way – which I gathered was the case as people only passed on the way up, no-one was coming down. I was unable to advise hikers how much further they had to climb, and sadly I didn’t get to see the beautiful Wineglass Bay – one must suffer for one’s art sometimes!
When we had packed up the car we returned to Coles Bay to have lunch in a little park overlooking the bay and then returned to Longford to pack and catch the plane from Launceston to Sydney – tomorrow Steve and I were attending Dad’s funeral and at which I was one of the speakers. Tim stayed behind to look after the fort while we prepared ourselves for the day ahead, staying with our very dear friend, Marilyn. She and I have known each other since we were seven – a very long lasting friendship indeed.
Day 90 Sydney – Longford
A sad day. The service was held at the Northern Suburbs Crematorium, exactly a week to the hour from when Dad had died. Together with my brothers and step mother he had arranged to be cremated and placed next to our Mum who had died 34 years ago. Dad had lived a long life, had achieved much and was in a happy situation until the end, and the service reflected that. After a short introductory eulogy from the funeral director, my brothers Andrew and Jonathan, and my step-mother Joanne spoke about Dad’s achievements, relationships and life. When it came to my turn at the end, apart from some personal observations I read some of Mum’s poetry and words written by my three sons, Luke, Jasper and Vincent.
As a tribute to my Dad, Leslie Robert Free and my Mum, Margaret June Minette Free (nee Rutherford, and usually known as June) I will reproduce those poems and sentiments here:
On Waiting – Margaret Rutherford (June Free, 22/06/1952)
How poor the world’s in love, how starved of joy
It has forgotten the eternity
That lies between each tryst of girl with boy
The void, the gulf and ice black misery
Bounding the edges of a lovers’ lane –
So short a step from ecstasy to pain.
Because we have maybe some forty years
Of expectations store
Are intimate moments missed now worth the tears? –
Oh, precious all the more
That are the first, the promise of the next
The longest, fleetest and so much the best.
Love has no truck with patience, no denier
For withered wisdom’s sleek and silvered hairs,
Relative time’s its plaything; stars aspire
Only to light for lovers heaven’s stairs
For now must build, in crystal of the spheres,
The rock-firmed palace of our future years.
Written in the 70’s
When we were young and feckless
No monitor held sway
Our love was gay and reckless
Tomorrow eons away
Not age, upbringing, fashion
Could alter our intent
Our time was everlasting –
That time, how swift it went.
Written at time of her brother’s death in mid 70’s but seems appropriate now
In those they loved, unseen,
The dead live on –
No more we say of them:
“it might have been”.
Words from my sons, Luke in London and Jasper/Vinnie in Brisbane – unable to be here but wanted these words spoken in memory of their Granddad
Luke: I remember him as a very intelligent and sharp man, with generosity and a keen observation of life.
Jaz & Vinnie: Although we weren’t able to see Granddad as much as we wanted, when we did have the chance he was always kind, quiet, humorous and in general great to be around. Vincent specifically remembers sitting down and watching the tennis, the only time he actually enjoyed watching it! (Haha). Granddad was always interested in what was going on in our lives—though he often forgot what grade or age we were—and always made us feel welcome. We both regret not making more of an effort to see him more often, in the end the distance kept us from knowing him as well as we would have liked. It is so unfortunate that we weren’t able to know him as men, rather than just boys, which we will always regret.
At the conclusion of the service we had refreshments on site – it was lovely to see so many relatives and friends from the past – and I was able to introduce Steve to many who had not yet met him (we only recently married so he is quite new to the family). A champagne toast was drunk to Dad, people reminisced and then it was time to go – three trains and a plane later we were back in Launceston.
On the flight back we me the loveliest woman, Hannah Cooper, who together with her husband, also Steve, is part of a wonderful emerging community and educational performance art partnership RockSalt Arts. Check them out here (www.facebook.com/rocksaltarts)– you might want to have them at your community festival or engaging your school students in amazing dance and music creativity and performance. They are based in an artist colony in Poatina on the Western Tiers – where we happened to be going through the next day.
Day 91: Longford – Derwent Bridge
We awoke to a lovely sunny day and after breakfasting and packing up camp Tim and Steve hopped on the bikes to ride up to Poatina, 35 km away. I wanted to do a drawing of a lovely old windmill that we had espied on the Macquarie River a little out of town, so I trundled off in a different direction hoping that I would be able to park. Luck was with me, across the bridge was a large turning circle and parking area for ramblers and fishermen – indeed an unsuccessful fisherman was climbing over the stile (it was a very quaint spot) when I arrived. I gathered my gear, climbed the stile and found a suitable spot to get drawing. I didn’t have a lot of time as we had arranged to meet Hannah up in Poatina, so after a pleasant hour or so I started after the boys who I could see were pretty close to our first destination for the day.
Steve and Tim were waiting for me and when I got there we rang Hannah who together with her young son and daughter joined us shortly in the delightful Poatina Tree Gallery and Tea Rooms – what a delightful experience. Not much later her Steve,also joined us and we chatted convivially with them and the tea room owner, a very interesting woman who worked with governments and aid agencies overseas providing advice and support in devastated communities. When not contracted on such projects she and her husband live in Poatina and run the tea rooms – what a great life!
After that pleasant interlude we set off for Derwent Bridge with at stop in at the Wall and set up camp in a rest area adjacent the Derwent Bridge Hotel. Tim shouted us dinner that night and after eating our fill we turned in for the night to the pleasant sound of rain drops on the roof.
Day 92 Derwent Bridge – Strahan
The rain had cleared during the night and we woke to a magnificent crisp clear day. We took our time getting to Strahan with Tim and Steve sharing the driving. Our many stops included the Franklin River nature trail (where we filled our water bottles with ‘wild’ water), Donaghy’s Hill Lookout (fantastic views of Frenchmans Cap) and Nelson Falls (spectacular!). We will let the photos do the talking for what was a day of peaceful walks and amazing scenery.
We arrived in Strahan late afternoon – both caravan parks were very crowded and there had been a failure of the water treatment plant so the whole town was either boiling their water or using bottled water. After settling into a small unpowered site we discovered it was a thoroughfare to the beach and then had to boil the heck out of our dinner. Needless to say Strahan was not our most favoured place in Tasmania.
Day 93 Strahan – Savage River – Waratah
This was an exciting day for a variety of reasons…it started out with a rare ride for me with Steve to Zeehan about 40 km away. Well that was the plan anyway but it seems Steve had lost the ability to sense an incline and had said it was a flat ride…well ok, it wasn’t a major hill by any means, however, for me in my somewhat unfit state and with a pretty strong headwind, it was definitely uphill! About halfway there was some relief as we rode down to a river crossing and had a rest, but then the hill on the other side – nah, it was too much and my gammy shoulder was unhappy so we turned around to return to Strahan with the wind behind us. Tim in the meantime had seen on the Spot Tracker that we were coming back so came to meet us a few km out of town…terrific! I hopped off the bike and went to the passenger side to get in the car, but Tim was slow to unlock and suddenly I was struck with intense pain – some ruddy ants with particularly ferocious bites had got me! Well, the silver lining was that my shoulder no longer hurt at all! It was all very dramatic and Steve even thought I was screaming ‘killer bees’ – very strange. Thank goodness for Stingoes.
Onwards to the quaint town of Zeehan, once a thriving mining metropolis, that has now reinvented itself as a tourist destination. We whiled away a pleasant hour or so in a shop devoted to rocks and minerals and having lunch in a local park.
Our main aim for the day was to reach the small iron ore mining town of Savage River where the Goble family had lived for a year or so when Steve was eight and Tim two. Getting there involved a fair bit of dirt and a ferry ride across the Pieman River, after escaped convict and pastry cook Thomas Kent and not Alexander Pearce escaped prisoner and cannibal as Steve’s parents had told him. Unsurprisingly, Savage River had changed a bit over the last 40 odd years – all evidence of the town that Steve remembered was gone to be replaced by dongers and single men’s quarters. The views were spectacular, and we enjoyed the rest of the journey through the Tarkine down to the delightful town of Waratah where we were camping for the night.
The local council caravan park was situated in the middle of town next to a lovely lake that was home to platypus and at dusk we were lucky enough to see one as it swam around searching for food.
Day 94 Waratah – Launceston
Our time in Tassie was coming to an end – we decided to complete our tour by heading to Burnie before returning to Launceston to drop Tim off at the airport for his flight home. To begin our day we walked down to check out the beautiful falls over the road also in the middle of the town – gorgeous!
The falls used to power the stampers used to crush ore from the nearby tin mine that was formerly the source of wealth and employment for Waratah. The streets of the town once reverberated to the pounding of the stampers that worked continuously except for Sundays. It was a much quieter town that we visited! Nowadays there is a small stamper that had been used by a diehard miner in his retirement that has been moved and re-erected in town as an example of its heritage.
Lunch at the seaside at Burnie, a visit to the Makers Workshop (find out more here) and we were off to Launceston.
After a couple of weeks of trying I had finally arranged to meet up with my cousin Vicky who I hadn’t seen since we were about 15 or 16! We arrived with an hour or so to spare before Tim needed to be at the airport and enjoyed a drink and some reminiscing. Luckily for Steve and I, Vicky invited us to stay the night in their lovely character home before setting off early to catch the ferry from Devonport instead of finding a rest area to overnight. It was a welcome invitation and also gave us the opportunity to cook a meal in an oven in return for the hospitality of Vicky and her husband Philip Kuruvita – a well known and only ‘master photographer’ in Tasmania. After a convivial evening we hit the sack with an early alarm set so we could sneak out before dawn to be on the road in time to head back to the mainland on the Spirit of Tasmania.
Day 95 Launceston – Devonport – Melbourne
Not much to say: we made good time to the ferry, the weather was similar to our last crossing (smooth sailing), we enjoyed catching the latest Star Wars movie on board and were back to cousin Natalie’s in Parkville in by early evening. In the period between our stays at Parkvill, Nat’s sons had swapped living arrangements: instead of son number two Ben being in residence, son number one, Tom had replaced him. We all enjoyed a take away meal for dinner from one of the many choices available in this wonderful city of great food. Our Tasmanian adventure had come to an end.