Tasmania Day 15

What a superb day in Launceston! It must be around the predicted maximum of 24 degrees; there is more blue than any other colour in the sky and the gentle breathe of the breeze provides relief rather than any level of discomfort. I met an old friend, A, and we did the gorge walk again today, twice! The first time we went we get off road and did a small section that I believe was called the daffodil walk and found a tiny baby wallaby sitting by the path. Unafraid, it came towards us rather than taking flight. Clearly it had been fed by previous visitors!

We then proceeded to the area surrounding The Gorge Restaurant and found not one but two male peacocks strutting their stuff. Their show was spectacular and of course, I had left my camera behind because I had done this walk recently so we both took a number of shots on our phones (I’ll share one here when I work out how to get it off my phone!)

We had planned to walk to the basin and return and then walk further along the river but the perfectionist in me really wanted to get some peacock shots with my good camera so we walked back to our cars, picked up my camera and walked back. Of course, despite cajoling, the performance was over for today.

It was great to catch up with A, who has been reading my blog with interest. I was also very interested to hear her perceptions and perspectives so we both thoroughly enjoyed our day.

My time in Tasmania is drawing to a close (flying out in just over 48 hours). Coming back here has reawakened loads of memories, opened and closed a few old war wounds and overall given me a high level of acceptance and appreciation. It won’t be long before I come back again. I have way too much time to catch up on with people in this part of the world!

Tasmania Day 12

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!

Tasmania Day 6 – Launceston

I left Launceston in 1992, intending at that point to be gone for a year and to then re-settle and pick up our life where we’d left off. That didn’t happen and it is now more than 20 years since I called Launceston home.
My first stop today was at the cenotaph for the Remembrance Day service. There were only a handful of people there; I’d say less than 100 but it had all of the ceremony of bigger city events. I am not sure as I have gotten older why Remembrance Day and Anzac Day are important to me. I just know that they are. I have no personal connection to the armed services but feel an immense amount of compassion for those who do.

After the service I wandered the streets of Launceston briefly. The mind is a curious thing and I am quite used to chance sightings of people that I know when I come back home but today I found myself looking at the faces of ladies with young children, looking for familiar faces. I was a young mum when I left but certainly have not considered myself as a young mum for many years. My daughter is now the age that I was when I had her, so, in those faces, I was more likely to see her contemporaries than my own. It made me really think about what memories are and clearly, for me, they are significantly more about people than the more abstract aspects such as experiences or amazing sites.

Anyway, despite a lack of familiar faces, I thoroughly enjoyed my short jaunt into Launceston and am now sitting in a café at Deloraine. Deloraine, on the river, is half way between Launceston and Devonport, picturesque and lovely. I have had a lovely lunch. I so enjoy eating out alone. I probably enjoy it more with my trusty computer. My computer ensures that I don’t appear to be eaves dropping on those around me. I can’t tell you the content of their conversations but I do enjoy watching the interactions between people who are strangers to me. In my travels, I am drawn most to faces. I love to imagine the stories behind the lines on the faces. I love to watch pure joy on the face of a young child. It takes so little to elicit that reaction from a small child!

In my dream world, I would be a travel writer and photographer. I am guessing that I am not the only person with those aspirations and that many of we such dreamers create our own destiny by blogging.

I am now heading off to Penguin. Penguins are my favourite creatures and I have a sizeable collection of everything penguin. Penguins are loyal, dependable, resilient, adaptive, patient and charismatic. I have no doubt that if they weren’t quite so penguin-like, they would rule the world. I have a young (3yo) friend who shares my passion for penguins. My aim is to find her a penguin from Penguin and take a few photos to share with her.

It’s time for moving on!