This foggy, frosty early-morning scene belies tragedy hidden in clear view. March 5 2012, will be remembered as the night almost 9000 residents of Wagga Wagga were forced from their homes by the worst flood since 1853 — nearly 160 years ago. Fortunately the city’s levee held and two months later its citizens’ lives have [...] Read more – ‘Frosty morning in Wagga Wagga’.
When country folk celebrate they do it with infectious enthusiasm, and the annual Xmas pageant at Oatlands was no different. But, when I first saw the fire engine, above, go past with its flotilla of go-karts following in a cloud of fumes I felt sorry for the young tykes driving them. Initially what I thought [...] Read more – ‘Country celebrations’.
Finding an overnight campsite in any city can be a bit of a problem, but I’m lucky that I have a fairly regular spot in Hobart right outside a friend’s house. Naturally I operate in stealth mode … curtains drawn and no lights after sunset. Normally a fairly quiet spot, it becomes a bit hectic [...] Read more – ‘‘Parking’ in the city’.
Revisited a favourite pub yesterday in Hobart — The Crescent — and had a lively session with some old friends (and don’t they look like everyone’s grumpy grandpa?). They were in a nostalgic mood, tuning in to YouTube for some jazz classics — on an iPad which Dave, the pub owner, had commandeered so that [...] Read more – ‘A modern twist for old codgers’.
Just spent a few days blobbing at Stanton, a lovely bed-and-breakfast establishment at Magra, north of New Norfolk … and yes, I camped as usual in Madam Plush. However, mine host Mark, has decided he has had enough of ‘clients’ and decided to return the property to being a homestead, and a major transformation has [...] Read more – ‘Stanton’s makeover’.
A high pressure system provided two days of welcome relief from constant wind and drizzle and also brought Lake Dulverton’s trout to the surface for some fine catches. Here’s the end of one epic battle with a light line and rod. The three-pound brown trout created an impressive whirlpool as attempts were made to net [...] Read more – ‘Fish fight’.
The whopper brook trout caught yesterday morning was given a honourable farewell last night in Terrance’s smoker. Just 20 minutes of smoking and a half hour of resting and served simply with Turkish bread (the only fresh loaf we managed to get in downtown Oatlands), a splash of lime juice and a cheeky young red [...] Read more – ‘Somebody has to do it’.
Arrived yesterday at a favourite campsite on the shore of Lake Dulverton to find the level has gone up to the highest it has been in 40 years. Could not fish because of the heavy south-easterly winds, but knew a high pressure system was on its way overnight. And I got an early view, at [...] Read more – ‘Early morning wake-up call’.
Many of the buildings along Oatlands’ High Street are lovely Georgian sandstone edifices, especially the old municipal and courthouse buildings. Unfortunately, some time in the 1960s ‘Progress’ arrived in this small Tasmanian town which in those days still embraced the Midlands Highway. One of the victims of the jackboot of progress was the local Post [...] Read more – ‘Ah … ‘Progress’’.
Its what you do when the weather is inclement and you have a new camera to play with. A quick sortie between wind squalls and showers, and a dozen or so clicks later you return home, fire up the computer and see what you’ve got. Here are two examples, both of which are only showing [...] Read more – ‘Its what you do …’.
This splendid wall of green overlooking the Meander River at Deloraine was taken through the back window of Madam Plush early this morning. With office views like this, and the gradual return of energy following the traumas of the medical dramas earlier this year, I am beginning to feel rather restless. A lot of ideas [...] Read more – ‘Wall of green’.
While waiting to board the Spirit of Tasmania ferry in Melbourne yesterday afternoon, the temperature sat above 33°C. It was also humid, and a large thunderstorm was building up in the west. I was not a happy camper, high temperatures and muggy weather did not suit me at all and I was looking forward to [...] Read more – ‘Back for Summer’.
Been camped next to the freezing snowmelt waters of the Ovens River near Bright for nearly a week and I am convinced it has restorative powers. True, the camp might simply have coincided with my ongoing recuperation, but I’m giving Mother Nature the nod. Read more – ‘Nature’s cure’.
Despite its ominous name Dead River Beach is a delightful, peaceful campsite on the Victorian side of the Murray River. It is a popular stopover for river travellers — lone kayakers, groups of schoolchildren on rafts, motley convoys of river craft travelling together, and the usual hoon or two in a beer-fuelled tinny. Behind the [...] Read more – ‘Dead River Beach’.
For decades I have made a living as a publisher, journalist, author, photographer, web designer and blogger. At the heart of all these ventures for the last quarter of a century were my Macintosh computers — starting with the Mac Plus in 1986 with its 8Mhz processor, 800Kb floppy drive and tiny mono screen. Over [...] Read more – ‘RIP Steve’.
From a distance, the wake coming across Numurkah’s Broken Creek looked like a snake at first, but its course was too direct. A platypus perhaps, but again too determined, and the platypi I had observed before always left a meandering trail. Grabbing a camera I trailed the creature as it cruised ahead along the bank [...] Read more – ‘Getting along swimmingly’.
Thought I’d head off about noon today, but was cut off at the pass. One by one, from mid-morning on, an amazingly eclectic collection of classic and vintage cars began to surround my Mt Franklin campsite. One that caught my eye was the 1927 Double-T Ford truck, above, that came from Kyneton. It started its [...] Read more – ‘Surrounded by the past’.
A geological pimple on the flat surrounding plains, the dormant volcano Mt Franklin, was a popular destination for miners from the surrounding goldfields a century or more ago. The cheerful group above, had come all the way from the gold mining village of Eaglehawk, 70km to the north, to picnic at Mt Franklin in 1908 [...] Read more – ‘A 1908 picnic party’.
I slept in a volcano last night — a first. Admittedly is was dormant, and had been for millions of years. This nearby copse of deciduous trees, above, belied the dormancy with its skeletal white trunks and carpet of white, bleached leaves discarded last Autumn. Mt Franklin is just north of Daylesford and Hepburn Springs, [...] Read more – ‘Camped in a volcano’.
Digging through my photographic files to find comparison shots of Lake Dulverton before the 2011 winter rains I found these two that show the heavy waterweed growth that is now totally submerged. They also revealed two potential new sports for the Olympic Games — the 100m dash on water, and syncronised ducking, below. Read more – ‘Avian Olympics’.
It has been a while, but finally I’m on the road again. For seven long months I was forced to hover near Hobart for various medical appointments, operations, and followups. I won’t bore you with the details (some of which I’ve talked about elsewhere in the Ghostgum Chronicles), but suffice to say I did not [...] Read more – ‘On the road again’.
In April 1861, the explorers Robert Burke and William Wills — sick, starving and desperate to survive — abandoned their surveying instruments and other ‘non-essential’ items in outback Queensland and continued south on their ill-fated journey. Almost 150 years later, in a discovery being proclaimed as the holy grail for Burke and Wills enthusiasts, a [...] Read more – ‘Paperweights and coat button polishers’.
Having recently celebrated two years of life on the road its time to sum up the journey so far. The short version: I wish I had launched this adventure at least 10 years ago. The long version: It would have been a lot harder to do back then considering the need to work and the [...] Read more – ‘Two years on the road …’.
Just weeks ago I posted this promise to myself: … I’m heading north before June. Well June has come and gone, and I’m still stuck in Tasmania, and as Robbie Burns said: The best laid schemes of mice and men Go often askew, And leave us nothing but grief and pain, For promised joy! The [...] Read more – ‘Of mice and men …’.
Life can throw a few hardballs every now and again, but today’s sunset at Sorell was a good omen. Remember the biopsy that was delayed that I mentioned at the end of this entry? Well, luckily for me my doctor wasn’t prepared to wait for me to get on the public list again and insisted [...] Read more – ‘A new beginning?’.
Roaring Beach on the Tasman Peninsula deserves its vocal reputation on days like this when strong southerly gales combine with southwesterly swells to send wave after wave crashing to shore. It produces a tumultuous white carpet, beautiful to watch, yet awe-inspiring at the same time. And the roar is constant, magnified by the cove’s unique [...] Read more – ‘Roaring Beach speaks’.
After another round of visits to the dentist (big, big, ouch financially) and doctor, I finally managed to escape the city in preparation for a visit to a very special place on the Tasman Peninsula. Here’s tonight’s office view where I’m parked on the edge of a 12-metre cliff which is just beyond the fence [...] Read more – ‘A welcome change’.
Here are three good reasons for wanting to head north before June. All were taken in Tasmania in June. That’s London Lakes in the Central Highlands above, and Lake Dobson in Mt Field National Park, below. And here’s what my windscreen looked like several days in a row last June. Read more – ‘Why I’m heading north before June’.
Camped at New Norfolk recently, I was surrounded by backpacking cherrypickers in their tents and whizbangs (Kombi-type vehicles with very noisy sliding doors). They’d be off early each morning and arrive back exhausted about mid- to late-afternoon. An hour or two of online activity, a quick meal, and off to bed they’d go. The few [...] Read more – ‘Adrien & Veronique’.
There I was, sitting quietly on a park bench nursing my still sore knee, when I noticed two young girls in bright orange jackets striding along the road above my campsite. Cars and a caravan arrived and the occupants all joined the two teenagers — Teagan and Olivia — for the last 100 metres. Apparently [...] Read more – ‘Everyday heroes’.
As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted … I’d been cruising across Tasmania for summer in big loops based around Hobart as I sorted out a number of medical appointments — annual checkup, dentist, optician, brain surgeon (just kidding … I think). Was booked in for a precautionary biopsy in late February, [...] Read more – ‘As I was saying …’.
Sometimes on the road I envy those earthly citizens who have been rooted for so long in an area that they can predict the weather with as little as a sideways glance at the sky. And, at my age, it appears I can no longer rely on aches and twitches in various body parts and [...] Read more – ‘A weather eye’.
Tasmania has a curious autumnal attitude. While it is a beautiful time of the year, with steady weather patterns which ensure lovely windless days with clear blue skies, along come Forestry Tasmania with their non-essential burnoffs. This ‘sunset’ is typical. A lovely day at New Norfolk suddenly goes dark with low-lying clouds of thick smoke [...] Read more – ‘Autumn sunset … not!’.
For want of a nail the shoe was lost. For want of a shoe the horse was lost. For want of a horse the rider was lost. For want of a rider the battle was lost. For want of a battle the kingdom was lost. And all for the want of a horseshoe nail. At [...] Read more – ‘For the want of a nail …’.
I recently found this oasis of retro charm while passing through Oatlands. All was spotless, and everything had its place. I missed a chance to talk to the owners, but I would not be surprised if they lived in one of these houses I spotted the next day in South Hobart. Read more – ‘Retro revival’.
Because of her bulbous ‘penthouse’, Madam Plush called for an unusual solar installation, and two years’ later the combination of flat and angled panels has proved a winner. The setup for Solar Freedom 1: 1 x Morningstar PS30M 30A regulator 1 x Sinergex 24volt 700W [1400W Surge] pure-sine wave inverter 1 x Sinergex 24volt 12A [...] Read more – ‘Solar Freedom 1’.
February 6, 2011, 2pm With the 80-litre Waeco fridge/freezer humming gently in the background, and the computers all being charged, I switched on the electric kettle for a cuppa, and glanced at the solar regulator. Would you believe, the solar panels were pumping in 16.4Amps — that’s 32.8Amps at 12V! The kettle dropped the battery [...] Read more – ‘Solar notes’.
The white quartz flank of New Harbour Point juts through the wild breakers stretching hundreds of metres out to sea. A setting sun gilds its reflective canvas, throwing it into cheerful contrast with the grey hulk of De Witt Island and the bleak swells queuing up for their death dance on Hidden Beach. For nine [...] Read more – ‘Tasmania’s Southwest National Park’.
When friends and family asked me why I was heading off to live, work and travel fulltime on the road, I referred them to this quote by G.K. Chesterton: The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a [...] Read more – ‘Why?’.
Earlier this day my friend Jim Hill had caught a beautifully-conditioned four-and-a-half pounder [sounds better than kilograms] which he passed on to my small group of fellow travellers. That caught everyone’s attention, including these curious swans, and various passers-by, all hoping to see another epic battle. It was not to be. But the next day, [...] Read more – ‘Curiosity got the swans …’.
The Bus aka Madam Plush appears to have a strong affinity for birds and animals. Dogs, cats and birds have all visited freely, but a truly unexpected trio came aboard at Campbell Town recently. Three welcome swallows flew in through the open door and had a good look around. When I got up to get [...] Read more – ‘Feathered friends’.
On assignment for a Sydney ‘foodie’ magazine when Japanese cuisine was still a rarity in Australia, I was lucky enough to be presented with this plate of sushi to photograph. How could you go wrong? No fancy angles or lighting needed. And best of all was the tasting after. I’ve been a fan of Japanese [...] Read more – ‘The art of sushi’.
Welcome to the first of a new series of mini-portfolios of worldwide destinations salvaged from a repository of nearly 90,000 colour transparencies filed away in six filing cabinets at a long-suffering friend’s home. They’re the carefully-culled selection of a four-decades’ long career as a freelance writer/photographer. Below is a small selection taken on assignment in [...] Read more – ‘Fitzgerald River National Park’.
What happens when a musk duck, above, accidentally surfaces directly underneath a laid-back Pacific black duck? A big chaotic splash … … and an ongoing bitch and moan from said duck. Just another bird story from Lake Dulverton, a favourite camping spot at Oatlands. Read more – ‘Bombs away’.
One of master luthier John Ferwerda’s violins starts to take shape in his Melbourne workshop. “The challenge of violin making,” says John, “is to create something new from a shape and concept that is hundreds of years old. “The design of a violin is eternal. “The skill lies in bringing the instrument alive … in [...] Read more – ‘A raw violin …’.
Fly-tying is a skill not mastered by many. It takes countless hours of observation, concentration, and deft manipulation of fur, feather and cotton, not to mention supple fingers and keen eyesight to achieve the tiny works of art. This small sample below also highlights the variation in size, colour and detail. Read more – ‘A fine art’.
Was hunting for a dump point in Campbell Town, Tasmania’s unofficial border town between the North and South, when I spotted this beautifully-weathered Kombi getting more than its fair share of explosive guffaws from passers-by. The lichen appeared to be doing a sterling job of holding in the windscreen. Read more – ‘I’m lichen this Kombi’.
Nature’s prime favourites were the Pelicans; High-fed, long-lived, and sociable and free. — James Montgomery, Pelican Island The first pelicans I saw today were in flight … about a dozen soaring effortlessly overhead in formation. Their necks curled back, and beaks jutting forward like sharp knives. They swooped and soared. Then came the landings on [...] Read more – ‘Pelican visit’.
A great office view and hard to believe I am camped barely two hundred metres from the heart of this lovely little town with a decidedly old-fashioned feel. The ‘shopping centre’ is a mixture of typical small-town one-storey businesses, and a disproportionate number of coffee shops [all good I say]. After the frenetic tourist trap [...] Read more – ‘Paynesville’.
A curious setting with level parking on a silt bank millions of years old. I’m camped on a southern edge of the Mitchell River delta — a classic form of ‘digitate’ delta which ranks as one of the world’s finest examples of this type of landform. That’s Paynesville, south-east Victoria, showing up at the bottom [...] Read more – ‘Eagle Point’.
Here’s one of my early test shots taken with my new Nikon Coolpix S8000, my replacement “always with me” camera. It is not much bigger than my ubiquitous iPhone, but it does come with a 10x optical zoom, a nice wide angle view, and macro-mode to .5cm. It has proved a bit quirky to use [...] Read more – ‘Make a wish …’.
My yearning to hit the road again was severely hampered for nearly a decade with a mysterious ailment which would flare up intermittently and cause bizarre swelling of various joints and the need for several ambulance trips, extended stays in hospital and time flying by as morphine dripped into my veins, and drains leaked crap [...] Read more – ‘The ‘Road Warrior’ — a little history’.
Bluey, my treasured 1973 Kombi, and home on wheels for a number of memorable trout fishing expeditions, photographic jaunts, and general road trips, is heading north to to Tasmania’s North Island — Australia. Bluey has been sold via eBay to a friendly Queenslander called Ray who is planning a series of 2-3 day trips. “Can’t [...] Read more – ‘Bluey heading north’.
More than 25 years ago I travelled the length and breadth of Australia to research three books. I travelled on commercial airlines, light planes and helicopters, in hire cars, battered outback Toyotas and Land Rovers, by camel and horse, on cross country skis, by hot air balloon, motorboats and yachts, on bicycle, in sea kayaks, [...] Read more – ‘The journey begins’.