Hobart, to me, has layers of memories, like geological strata.

I'm writing this sitting at my friend Kelly's dining room table in Lindisfarne. From here I can see Mt. Wellington and her foothills - Mt. Nelson, Tolman's Hill, Chimney Pot Hill, Knocklofty, the Queen's Domain - and the Derwent River.

The Botanical Gardens form a patches of intense greens on the flanks of the Domain. My mother used to take me there in my pram when I was a baby. She was a keen gardener, and the pram had a space behind my seat which was handy for hiding pieces of exotic shrubs and trees. She always said she could grow anything from a cutting, and our garden in New Town proved she was right. (One pink rose was the size of a small cabbage, and I remember burying my face in the blooms, breathing their spicy scent and feeling the velvety texture of the petals.)

As a child I explored the banks of the Derwent and the Domain with Medlocks and Clinches.

As an adult I once received a marriage proposal there.

Over the last week I've been visiting my favorite places, and recording them for you, my readers. ...continue reading "Hidden Gems of Hobart"

2

...and I'm not writing about it. I'm sure there are enough people all over the blogosphere writing about Christmas, what it means, and what it means to them. This isn't a Christmas post at all, it's a post about some more of my adventures getting back to Hobart.

Hobart is technically my home town, but it no longer feels like it. I arrived here on Monday, and since then I've been looking at it through a stranger's eyes, and seeing the good, the bad, and the bloody awful. Hobart, and Tasmania as a whole, do not have a great deal in common with the wide open spaces I've traveled over the last two weeks and before that, when I was living in Perth. It reminds me more of Wellington, New Zealand, with gum trees. More on that later.

I ended last week's blog at Point Sinclair, a surfing beach at the Eastern end of the Nullarbour. Leaving there we lost a hub cap and the spoiler from under the front of the car, but it seems to function just fine without them. We'd been to the Eyre Peninsula on the way to Western Australia the year before, so we headed inland from Ceduna to Port Augusta on the Spencer Gulf. The day was warm, the weather perfect except for the winds which continued to blow up from the south. I'd hoped they would lessen as we went north but, if anything, they increased. ...continue reading "It’s the night before Christmas…"

5

We drove north from Albany, excited by the prospect of the Stirling Ranges. One of the many things I came to enjoy about living in Perth over the last year was the vast open sky, but although Perth has the Darling Ranges, I admit I was looking forward to seeing some mountains again. Showers turned to rain, clouds settled closer to the ground. Visibility decreased. We passed many signs promising excellent views, but all we saw was cloud.

The rain put to an end any prospect of camping that night. Our tent is showerproof, but this was far heavier than showers. A sign on the highway promised tent sites and beds, so we turned down a side road, and found the neat village of Ongerup which appeared to be completely abandoned. We drove around it until we found the caravan park, which showed no sign of life either. On the next circuit we found a General Store, and pulled up just as two men emerged. Their names turned out to be Noel and Luke, and Noel and his wife Pam had just bought the caravan park. Noel was a wool buyer by trade, he and Pam had owned many businesses, and were putting this one back on its feet. Luke, their son-in-law, was giving them a hand. That night we had comfortable beds in the caravan park manager's house, as they had their own house nearby.

We also found the local pub, which had the best open fire I'd seen since leaving Tasmania. The beer was pretty good too. Pictures of shearing championships decorated the walls, with the most recent dating from the early 1990s. The bottom had dropped out of the wool market about then. ...continue reading "Are we there yet?"

1

IMAG0310This will be a very short post.

I’m writing this in Albany, on the south coast of Western Australia. The weather is gloomy, the town is windswept. I’m sure it would be lovely on a bright summer’s day.

Julie and I spent our first night at Ironstone Gully Falls camp site, south of Bunbury. All it really had going for it was level ground and a long drop toilet, and the fact that it was free. We got the tent up despite the instructions, and found our brand new, self-inflating mattresses not long after darkness fell. I woke at 1:00am, convinced by the amount of light that it was morning, and groped my way through zipped-up doors and flaps to find a full moon setting behind the trees. A truly lovely sight, and well worth being woken for.

The Falls are no doubt worth seeing when there is water in the creek. None, however, when we visited, just some water-worn stones and a ten foot high cliff to show its potential.

Yesterday we went as far west as is possible and still be in Australia. We found a winery and bought a very pleasant Cabernet Merlot to go with our dinner. After wandering past the well-known vineyards of Margaret River and taking in the pretty little town, we headed to Augusta and the Cape Leeuwin lighthouse, where we saw the Southern Ocean on the left hand side and the Indian Ocean on the right.

Turning inland we drove through giant karri forests, and camped last night at The Shannon National Park. Sheer luxury after the night before, flushing toilets and hot showers (as long as we were prepared to light the fire under the hot water heater and wait an hour). The wait was worth it.

I’m writing this in a MacDonald’s, the Wi-Fi connection is not the best, and I have so much more I want to say about the nature of reality and fact versus fiction. Driving is great for helping those mental wheels turn. All will have to wait until a better internet connection.

Perth is two days, several hundred kilometres, and a different world away already.