Wednesday, May 16, 2007
...and the beginning of a new adventure.
I loved the image below but realised when I had posted it that it was a bit blurred.
This photo is better and I now have it as my screen saver.
I'm not the best at photography and must admit I took this on a normal daylight setting though it was still quite dark.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
I didn’t know what time it was. I woke suddenly aware it was a noise which had startled me.
And there is was again. I knew at once that it was a ship’s siren.
I had heard that the Spirit of Tasmania sailed in every morning at 7.00 am and I knew from the sound that she was approaching the mouth of the Mersey River, returning to Devonport after her night crossing from Melbourne.
The room was black. The curtains had those heavy plastic-coated linings which didn’t allow a glimmer of light even though the car park outside was still brightly lit.
I found the switch and reached for my clothes. It was 6.45.
The siren sounded again - and it was nearer.
I knew that I didn’t have time to dress properly if I wanted to see it.
I pulled on my trousers, tucked my nightie into them, and pulled my coat on, zipping it high under my chin. It could be quite cold outside at this time of the morning. Joggers on – no time to lace them.
I grabbed the camera and room key and within seconds was down the corridor and out of the front door.
The B&B on Victoria Avenue was directly across the road from the River and at it faced east I could see the sky changing to accommodate the sun as it was about to rise at the point where Bass Strait ends and Tasmania begins.
I crossed the road quickly to the grassy bank and watched in awe as the modern ferry approached.
She sounded her siren again, for me I thought, as I was the only person waiting to welcome her.
She approached surprisingly fast sliding by smoothly and silently, creating barely a ripple on the rose-coloured sea – even the wild waters of Bass Strait were still asleep.
Would she reach her wharf only half a mile up river before the sun came up, I wondered?
I watched her pass and watched the sky change from red to gold and a dozen shades between and marvelled at the kaleidoscope of colours reflected in the river.
What a beautiful morning it was, and oh, what a beautiful sight.
Photo: Mouth of the Mersey, Devonport, Tasmania
You could easily imagine you were beside the Avon at Stratford in England - but you are not.
This group of buildings is part of a complex which includes a hotel and shops and it's in the centre of Tasmania's Launceston and two minutes walk from the Cataract Gorge.
Launceston is a city where everything is within walking distance.
And it is full of surprises.
Maybe it's some of Tasmania's buildings, like this church in the small town of Westbury near Launceston, which remind me of England and make me feel I belong in this part of the world.
Or is it that in Tasmania you can witness the changing colours of the four seasons? That is something I have missed in the part of Western Australia where I have lived for 27 years.
They also tell me it rains in Tassie - so I guess I have been lucky.
This is my second visit and once again I am blessed with blue skies.
The Spirit of Tasmania is of course the name of the ferry service which sails daily from Melbourne to Devonport on the island's north coast.
The voyage across Bass Strait takes about 10 hours.
I heard one of the locals describe the ferry as 'our highway to the mainland'.
But for me there is another spirit of Tasmania and I'm sure I am not the only person who has experienced it.
It seems that almost everyone who travels to the Apple Isle is attracted to it in a way they cannot explain.
It's hard to know if it's the friendliness, the clean green philosophy, the easy going way of life, the homeliness - but it is a feeling which grabbed me as soon as I stepped off the plane.
While driving around the state (of only 400,000 people) I kept hearing myself say, "I love it here".
You could be forgiven for thinking this picture was taken in Europe.
The photo is the resort hotel complex in the village of Grindelwald only 10 minutes drive from Launceston's CBD.
Grindelwald was the brainchild of Roelf Voss who, after visiting Switzerland, was inspired to create a Swiss-style village in the heart of the beautiful Tamar Valley.
The village began in 1980 with a 15 acre lake and a tiny lakeside chapel.
Today the houses, mostly on 2 - 5 acre blocks, sprawl over 1000 acres.
They are all unique in design but are all constructed in the typical Swiss style with high pitched roofs and wide eaves.
I stayed at Grindelwald on my first visit to Launceston only a few weeks ago.
It's located high up on the valley side and overlooks Brady's lookout (see below)
- and it's the place which drew me back.
With a climate comparable to northern France, and the hillsides decked with vineyards, the Tamar Valley is considered one of Australia's most desirable locations.