Our drive north to Stanley and the area called The Circular Head takes us through some beautiful country, much of it heavily in timber at various stages from clear cut land, seedlings, to mature Radiata Pines, and Blue Gums. Patty and I had visited a few of the small towns on the top of Tassie a few years ago, and so we revisit a couple (Boat Harbour, Boat Harbour Beach, etc), and see some new areas, like Table Cape, etc., on our way to Stanley. We also strike up a conversation with Eric, who is 90, and has been farming in the Table Cape area all of his life on land that was first farmed by his grandfather. He tells us proudly that his son now runs the farming operation, and he "assists" where he can. (It looked to us as though he was still VERY active!) He also told us proudly that he had relatives, and friends, from "all over the world" who were coming for his "official" 90th celebration in May.
We're zeroing in on Stanley and The Wright's now -- so let me take a minute to bring you up to speed on this great young family. In 1999, when Patty and I made our first trip to Australia, among other great trips, we drove from Adelaide, to Broken Hill, and across some outback/bush areas over to Coonabarabran, Nerang, Hinz Dam (to fish with Des!), and finally on to Brisbane. It was in Coonabarabran that we first met Mary & Bruce Wright, and at that time they had a baby by the name of Tabitha. Bruce & Mary were managing a Best Western Motel at that time, and we struck up a conversation (there's something new!) at dinner. They later invited us to join them for breakfast the next morning, in the kitchen, after their guests had checked out. We had a great time with them, have stayed in touch since, I visited them in 2001, and now we were to stay with them in their home in Stanley. Bruce (a former NSW policeman, and detective) has opened a Private Investigation firm there, and has been very busy representing large insurance firms throughout Tasmania. It is great to see them, and to meet their newest addition, Holly, who is now almost 2, while my old pal Tabitha is nearly 4!
So here we are in Stanley with this handsome young family. The first order of business is to"walk into town", check it out, note that the tide is out (way out!), as they have 16 - 18 foot tides here. Behind us is "The Nut" - a great tourist attraction, which features a chair lift to the top. Tomorrow, while the girls go off to do their thing, Bruce and I will climb that old thing! Stay tuned!
Now I should have the statistics for "The Nut", but I don't. (Maybe Bruce will send them to me!) Here's what I DO know. It's High, and it's steep! The following are a few shots from different perspectives. Ain't no easy way to climb it! These four shots give you a bit of an idea, both from up close (that's Bruce and Barney on the beach), and from a few kilometers away. Last is just our starting point, looking down, wondering if my gorgeous artificial knees would really prefer the chair lift. But, that ain't macho, and Aussie wannabes must be macho!! So we go!! (In fairness, though, I should also mention that Mary's Mother made the climb at age 75. Now there is a fit gal!)
I'd like to tell you that we took this baby in one big bite, never taking a breather! But you know better. Even my man Bruce, who is a pretty well conditioned young guy, didn't fight me when I called time out. I won't give you a blow by blow. Just a few shots along the way, and then from the summit! Unfortunately, the morning we climbed was a bit overcast, hence the less than great shots -- we were actually in the clouds.
Ain't no way we ain't making this climb - you're talking Mates here!
Now, we've worked up a powerful appetite. There's a very active fishing fleet in Stanley, and one of the things they do best is bring in crays! These are great tasting Lobsters to folks in the states (See Australia 2001 for the whole Cray story!). Anyway, we head for the local wharf where we can expose Tabitha to the Seaquarium, and where we can latch on to fresh crays!
Buying these cray is a little like going through the adoption process. They tag each one with a unique numbered tag, and you'd better have the tags and the paper work with you when you carry these boys home to cook 'em!
It was sure a great couple of days for those two smiling Aussie pretenders in the middle, and we are looking forward to our next hook-up with the Wrights, be that in the States or back in Tassie!
We're heading back to Devonport where we'll be catching The Spirit of Tasmania back to Melbourne tomorrow evening. We'll be hooking up tomorrow with Des & Vi for lunch at our now favorite pub in Devonport, The Elimata. So with a leisurely drive ahead of us today, we decide to re-explore some of those great little coastal towns. On the way out of Stanley, we see one of those beautiful Flowering Red Gum trees that are so common in so many Australian towns, and I think I've not yet shown you one. Anyway, as I get closer I notice that the bees are doing their thing, and if you look closely, you'll see them. Honey is a big business here, and beekeepers move their boxes to wherever the blossoms are to appear.
Next we come back to Boat Harbor Beach. A very pretty little community, and obviously a gathering spot for those who love the water. (Some of the stickers on the "Boat Harbor Beach Boys" Rig were pretty humerous!)
On our way in to the thriving metropolis of Penguin, we note that John Hull must have an investment going here. Patty has found herself another good mate (remember the polar bear in Newfoundland?) Penguin also distinguishes itself by being the only town we've ever seen that has gardens around its railroad tracks all the way through town!
The Feral Folks greet us as we roll back into Devonport!
But, more importantly, we get to see Des & Vi again before we leave Tassie, and we're a bit overwhelmed when they present us with a painting of Binalong Bay (really the view you see from their new home), done by a friend of theirs. What a wonderful way to be reminded of our great friendship with these wonderful people, and of the beauty of that part of Tasmania!
We wrap up Week 8 with our return overnighter on the Spirit of Tasmania. Kind of a pretty Aussie sky as we all wait to board "The Spirit". Also note the "Rotarians" who are returning to the mainland after doing a fund raising bike ride throughout Tasmania.
See you in Week 9 -- we're winding down!
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Now - you'll remember Foks and Margaret Westerbeek from East Devonport, Tasmania. Shortly after Patty and I arrived in Perth, on our way back, we received the following e-mail from them. Not only was the message particularly warm, but I thought the creativity was pretty impressive. Foks apparently was able to "lift" the picture of our Savannah home from another spot on our website, and use it to create the following, along with a picture of Patty and me that he'd taken, that Patty and I had not seen. Clever guys, these Friesans!!
Pretty Special Message from Pretty Special Folks!