My catch up with Mil yesterday ended up being a beautiful walk from Ritchies Mill to the Cataract Gorge Cliff Grounds. The weather was absolutely perfect for the walk, sun shining, not too hot and not too cold. The Cataract Gorge is a ‘must see’ in Launceston. Mil commented that it is not a place that they go anymore and I marvel at the complacency that you feel about a place when it is on your doorstep. I can easily say now that if I lived here, I would visit this place regularly. In reality I know that I would be the same as Mil and take for granted that the beauty would still be there when I made time in my busy life to enjoy it.
I was very thankful that I took my camera with me on our walk as the photo opportunities were abundant. The gorge was in flood with water washing over the public baths that I remember so well from my childhood. Surprisingly, despite the floodwater, which was very brown and must have been cold, there were children swimming in the pool with their parents watching on.
The majority of the people I saw in Launceston yesterday had shorts and t-shirts on; I remember well the desperation of living in a cold climate and shedding layers at every opportunity to ensure that you make the most of the weather. I feel sure that we who remained covered, like me, hail from warmer climes. I however must admit to the cat-like delight that warm sun elicits. Sometimes I wish I could purr.
The gorge is picturesque in any of its personas. The one that yesterday presented is wild, anything but tranquil but the location takes me back to my teenage years when the youth of Launceston would bask in the sun, preen, swim and preen some more. I was a strong swimmer in those day. We would enter the basin and swim across taking up positions under the natural waterfall that develops under the suspension bridge. We would sit with the water rushing over our heads, breathing in the natural pockets of air that the water flow produces. It’s in my imagination today as the flowing floodwaters mask my special spot.
I looked across the gorge to a spot that always held a degree of fear for me. The spot is called Hogs Bottom and the legend of my childhood was that no one had even found the bottom; it was so deep and dangerous. I remember distinctly my brother taking the leap of faith and jumping from the ledge over Hog’s Bottom (several metres up) but I don’t remember doing it myself. I can’t remember whether I was afraid of the height, the legend or my parents should they learn of my folly. I just remember good times, great times, carefree times when it comes to the basin, a lovely walk down memory lane.
We then walked back and visited the providore and art gallery at Ritchies Mill, another absolute must visit in Launceston, with fine displays of Tasmania art work and crafts on display and sale.
Last night I went to our wine tasting, a monthly event that started more than 27 years ago; a group of 16 friends who enjoyed each other’s company, enjoying lovely wines and a monthly get together. I was saying last night that we left Launceston 21 years ago and the group was incredulous; no surely only a year or two ago; surely you were here for longer than that. The lovely fact is that with that group it feels like we never left. Last night I learned that the group has the same arguments as they did 21 years ago (about whether you number each bracket of wines from 1 to whatever or whether you number the reds for the evening from 1, with the second bracket starting at 5 (if there were four in the first bracket).. It is still unclear whether the one that you like the most is number one or the one you like the least is number one….. In fact they stopped ranking a few years ago (maybe because they couldn’t decide). It’s not just the tasting though. This is a strongly opinionated group of colourful characters. They hold strong and diverse opinions about everything and friendly banter is a sport. I love this group of people with all my heart. Every time we come back to Tasmania we try to catch a wine tasting. They never disappoint.
Today I am being picked up by a lovely friend, J, and we are heading out for a road trip lunch to Piper’s Brook; looking forward to it, must move!