Week 7 (Sun Feb 22 thru Sat Feb 28)
Now remember, I keep talking about all of the great young families we've had the privilege to meet, and enjoy. Since making that statement, you've had a chance to meet the McCormicks. Now you'll get a chance to meet Tony and Brett and Bron's brother, Kent, and his wife Tania, and their two spectacular youngsters, Alexandra (almost 5), and Stephanie (almost 3). Why do I keep doing this almost business? Am I getting almost old?
We meet at The Southgate Complex, downtown Melbourne, on The Yarra River. It's Patty's and my first time there. A great spot to meet. Complete with Buskers, and guests for tea!
--- and then they arrive! Ta Da!! Meet Kent, Tania, Alexandra and Stephanie!
What a great, and fun family this is! They are also good enough to take us down to the departure point for The Spirit of Tasmania, and to let us know that we'd be meeting Tania's parents in the morning, upon our arrival in Devonport! (For any of you who are having trouble following all this, it's a little like the double play combination of "Tinkers to Evers to Chance". This one is "Fisher to Barton to Westerbeek"!)
We have a great dinner aboard, and a good night's sleep, even though we have 20-30 knot winds on The Bass Straights, which is reputed to be one of the world's toughest narrow passages.
Good Morning, Devonport, and a warm Westerbeek welcome!!!
Meet Margaret and Foks Westerbeek, Mum and Dad of Tania, and hosts extraordinaire! Now most of us have had situations where you meet people, and click, it seems as though you've known each other for years, and where there's a complete comfort level immediately! That's the feeling both Patty and I had the moment we met in their driveway (and the great breakfast sealed it!!) Foks and Margaret emigrated from Holland to Australia approximately 45 years ago. Actually from the Friesian region, Foks's area of expertise was in designing and building commercial and residential heating systems. From the day he set foot on Australian soil in Devonport, Tasmania he was able to put this talent and skill to work. They are extremely proud of their three daughters, all of whom have excelled in their chosen areas, and of course just a twinge of pride in those two little granddaughters you just met above.
Now here's an important (to me) tidbit of information. If you look at the young man operating under Foks's watchful eye, you are gazing on Matthew Hockley of Tiger Computing in Devonport. Owned by another Dutchman, Gerry Van Eyck, Foks put me in touch with these folks after I'd about wiped out the website. Fortunately, I had the data on the hard drive of my laptop, but had totally lost the links for the website structure. Enter Matt, who remembered that he'd had a Microsoft course at University, and had some familiarity with the FrontPage software. After reviewing what we had, he managed to put together enough recall, and great instincts, and VOILA (I REALLY hate using French words these days, but --), he put me back in business.
Now those of you who are really bored to tears with this website may wish I hadn't happened upon Matthew, or for that matter, Foks. As for me, I'm grateful to them both! It also kept me in town long enough that we were able to coax Margaret to give us lunch. Now is that Aussie/Dutch hospitality? Two meals in 5 hours! We learned mid afternoon that the upload to the website would require hours after closing, so we elected to leave the computer, and drive on over to Binalong Bay on the east coast of Tasmania, near St. Helens, where our friends Vi & Des Charles, who had just purchased a home, were expecting us.. As some of you will recall, Des is my designated Aussie fishing guru, and all-around good Mate! Vi is his gorgeous Irish wife, who has been known to keep us both straight. On the way to Binalong Bay we drive through some beautiful Tassie countryside, and then hit the east cast around Scamander Beach. This is REALLY spectacularly beautiful country. Des & Vi greet us, and then Des gets right to work with his wok (say that one three times fast!), and puts on a great Thai stir fry!!
This guy is unreal! Now he whips up ham, eggs, tomatoes, etc, again on his outdoor cooking apparatus for breakie! (When Des does it, that is NOT a wimpy name for breakfast! Trust me!) Meet Binalong Bay, as we experienced it with our early morning walk on the beach, and , oh yes, our hosts, Vi & Des Charles, and their faithful companion, Mutley! Mutley, is a rare dog, indeed. Not only can he jump straight up (not out, but up!), but he is one of those very rare dogs that Patty really likes. He's quiet, and a gentleman at all times. I suspect that Patty sees a lot of me in Mutley! (Speaking of gentlemen, check out the chimney on the Binalong Bay hut that is home to two old guys who fashion themselves as the Australian version of Lemmon and Mathau.)
Now as much as Patty and I would just love to lay in at Binalong Bay, we are on assignment! Des is, actually, and he's the consummate good sport, and has asked us to tag along. An acquaintance of his has purchased 1100 acres of what was a game farm in east central Tasmania, and he would like to hire Des to bring it up to top standards, and manage it. Des is familiar with the property. (Des is actually a Tasmanian by birth, and there isn't much of this state he hasn't hunted or fished over.) There are two trout stocked lakes on the property, and we will stay in one of their cabins, and, weather permitting, try our luck this evening, and early tomorrow morning. Des just happens to have his Coleman canoe and trolling motor along! Surprise. Both of us just happen to have fly rods. An even bigger surprise! On the way down, we pass through more great Tassie country, beginning with St. Helens.
Then a stop at The Gala Kirk Uniting Church near Cranbrook that was built by Des's Great Grandfather in 1845 as a Methodist Church. Next is the plaque honoring Adam Amos, Des's Great Grandfather, and last is the Rev. Des Charles with his small but admiring flock!
We press on, unsure if Des's somewhat questionable connections with the powers above will help with the trout. (They didn't!) Good looking, pretty rugged country. A cool evening -- we DO need a fire!
We decide to test the trout.
Mate, 1st trout, 1st brown -- I am not at liberty to disclose who lost a helluva nice trout due to the fact that he had a little difficulty with an improved clinch -- a knot my grandsons can tie!
We went to eat, and to watch the possum play! While Mutley stayed on possum watch!
The next morning, Des & I are up and at 'em early, along with the black swans and their young, but the trout aren't having any! So, we elect to do what Des and I do best - - he cooks, I eat!
Stay tuned for more from "The Tassie Gang"! We hope to hook up with Des & Vi again before we leave "the land of two-headed people"!!!!!! Patty and I leave the rugged beauty of the Currawong Lakes area, and head for Strahan on the West Coast! On to Week 7 Continued.