Monthly Archives: January 2014

TG #12

Another fantastic four articles for you in Issue Twelve:

It’s generally not a good idea to jump off of mountain cliffs, but for some people its a way to experience the wilderness. Join Chris Sharples on another visit to Frenchmans Cap- this time to parachute jump from the summit.

Shutterbug Walkabouts shares another beautiful photo essay with us, this time focusing on the fine details of the Tasmanian coastline. From seashells to mountaintops, it’s a fine photo gallery.

The prolific and eminent historian Reg Watson tells us the globe-spanning story of politics and nationhood of Thomas O’ Meagher. This advocate for Irish independence was sentenced to death, but transported to Van Dieman’s Land. His story ends on a riverboat on the Missouri River- if you’d like to know how he escaped, you’ll have to read the story!

And Clementine Hauguenois, a painter and treeclimbing instructor from France, shares some of her watercolour images of the East Coast. Bright and vivid, these images have a palette that I’m sure you’ll enjoy.

Happy Trails!

— The Editor

A Watercolour Journey on the East Coast

While on tour from France, Clementine shares her unique perspectives of her travels on the sunny coast of Tasmania…

The Irish Exiles: Thomas Francis O’ Meagher

Thomas MeagherThomas Francis was one of the seven Irish exiles who came out to Van Diemen’s Land in 1849 on the charge of high treason and was transported aboard the Swift.

He arrived as an exile as did his colleagues, William Smith O’Brien, John Mitchel, Terrance Bellew McManus, John Martin and Patrick O’Donohoe. All of these were involved with the Young Ireland Movement, which had fermented revolution in 1848 in protest to British rule. Meagher, as he was then known, was arrested, tried, found guilty of high treason and was sentenced to death. This was commuted to transportation for life. He arrived in Van Diemen’s Land on October 17th, 1849.

When the exiles arrived at Hobart Town they were all offered a ‘ticket-of-leave’ on the provision that no one wandered or tried to escape from their allotted areas of living. They all accepted the ‘ticket’ except Smith O’Brien. He was soon sent to Maria Island. O’Meagher was confined to the district of Campbell Town. (By now, Meagher had adopted the suffix ‘O’).

Upon arrival O’Meagher jotted this paragraph down: “Twenty minutes rendered me fully conversant with the subject of my inquiry. A glance indeed was sufficient to inform me that this celebrated town consisted of one main street with two or three dusty branches to the left and at right angles with these a sort of boulevard in which the police office, the lock up and the stocks were conveniently arranged.”

He got to know the inhabitants of the township rather well and became one of their favourite citizens. He later mentions Campbell Town as the “fourth largest township in the island, after Hobart Town, Launceston and Oatlands.” He met an Irish widow named Kearney and became close friends with her. Kearny managed the hotel in the town and hailed from the county of Kildare.

Soon O’Meagher was moved to Ross, which he called, “a little apology of a town”. Here, he made friends with Father Dunne of St Johns, Richmond, and spent many a happy day with him.

It was at Ross that O’Meagher met Catherine Bennett. He courted her and it was not long before he decided to make this Tasmanian girl his wife. Subsequently, on February 22 1851, in Dr Hall’s house at Ross, they were joined in holy matrimony. Bishop Willson conducted the ceremony. They honeymooned at Lake Sorell.

Thomas found a haven at the lakes where he was free to secretly meet his comrades, O’Doherty, Martin, Mitchel and Dr McNamara. They had happy times together reminiscing and setting plans for the future. His enthusiasm for these secret rendezvous is clearly seen in an extract to Dunne where he says, “Hip, Hip, Hurrah! So three cheers for the lakes believe me my dear Father Dunne.” It was signed, “Yours very affectionately, T.F. O’Meagher.” They met many times at their treasured hiding place.

O’Meagher was by nature a patient man and endured his restrictions admirably. As the days progressed, however, Thomas became more and more restless, until eventually he simply could not tolerate the ever present confinement. His restlessness caught the eye of the watchful military. O’Meagher, himself, was aware of this but still made plans for escape.

It was a difficult decision to make. O’Meagher had to leave Van Diemen’s Land, which he loved, and his wife, his friends and his fellow exiles. He was very fond of Smith O’Brien who alone had defied the authorities. Escape operations went smoothly and according to plan for O’Meagher. He soon set sail for Waterhouse Island in Bass Strait where he spent ten miserable days until the Elizabeth Thompson picked him up. He arrived firstly at New York in May 1852. America at this time was still a very young nation and Americans were proud of the fact that their land was the ‘home of the free’. Any story highlighting defiance against foreign despotism ensured the sympathetic attention of the public.

Meagher Statue in Helena Montana

Thomas was quick to send word to his pregnant wife concerning his success and ask her to come and join him in America. Before his letter reached her, Catherine had their child, a son who died a short time afterwards. Outside the church of St John’s Catholic, Richmond is the grave of the O’Meagher child, Henry Emmett Fitzgerald, son of Thomas Francis and Catherine O’Meagher who died June 8th 1852. He was four months old and died from influenza.

With good intentions she left Hobart Town aboard the Wellington on the 5th February 1853 and set sail for London. From there she crossed to Dublin where she was met by 20,000 cheering people exalting her and her husband. It was a jubilant experience. Now it was time to undertake the last leg of her journey and set sail for the USA. She stayed there, but for a short time, returning to Ireland to live with her father-in-law, as she was suffering from ill health. Her reunion with husband Thomas, was not a success. In May 1854 at the age of 22 years she passed away shortly after giving birth to a second son, also called Thomas. Although the boy survived into manhood he never saw his father, even though they corresponded.

Thomas had publicly given allegiance to the US. Everything was going exceptionally well until he heard the news about Catherine. For a brief period of time he hid himself from the limelight, but still the generous American people granted O’Meagher many favours. He eventually became the Secretary of the Territory of Montana and later Acting Governor. Prior to this, he remarried to Elizabeth Townsend and saw distinguished service in the War between the States, obtaining the rank of Brigadier General in the Union Army.

O’Meagher died when he fell overboard from the steamer The Thompson into the Missouri River and drowned. One of Meagher’s acquaintances, Captain James Fisk, noted in his diary concerning the incident, “The Benton coach came in this morning bringing news of the drowning of Gen. Thomas Francis Meagher on the night of the first inst. He had been on board on one of the steamers to visit some of his friends – got on a spree – went to bed – was heard to get up and got out on the guards – a splash was heard – and the once brilliant and brave man was seen no more. Another victim of whisky.” To be fair, one must add that this report expressed only the opinion of the diarists as it was never substantiated that O’Meagher was in fact drunk.

The grave of O’Meagher’s first child in Van Diemen’s Land, was originally in the cemetery behind St John’s Church Richmond; because of erosion and the crumbling of the steep bank it was decided that the remains should be moved with the approval of the Health Department in the 1950s just in case the whole section collapsed and fell into the Coal River. The grave was removed to the present site. The original cedar casket still intact, though very powdery, was placed in a larger one and reinterred. A Justice of the Peace was present to witness the event.

Tombstone of Thomas Meagher's Son Richmond Tasmania

For a fuller account of the mystery of Meagher’s death, please consult Reg Watson’s book entitled, “The Life and Times of Thomas Francis Meagher”. More details at his website: http://members.iinet.net.au/~rwatson1/meagher.htm

On the Seashore – Part 1

With an eye for detail, Shutterbug Walkabouts take us for a visual tour of the seaside environment…

An Early Tasmanian BASE Jump

 Although I wrote this account in 1989, it has remained unpublished until now. In the intervening years, much has changed in the world of Building, Antenna, Span, Earth (BASE) parachute jumping- not the least of which has been the development of specifically designed parachute equipment.

Nowadays, it’s common for jumpers to use sites that an earlier generation of BASE jumpers might have considered crazy – ironic, given that during the 1980s most mainstream skydivers dismissed us BASE jumpers of that era as crazy.

 My jump described here involved the use of the standard skydiving equipment of the day with just a few changes to the parachute packing method to produce a faster, and supposedly more reliable, opening, together with a somewhat wimpy opening method known as a ‘direct bag’ deployment which was suited to an inexperienced BASE jumper such as I was. Nevertheless, it produced the same endorphin rush that contemporary BASE jumpers still enjoy (and probably greater levels of risk and terror – Ed). So, in the interests of reminiscence and self-aggrandizement, I have resurrected this dusty account of what I subsequently realised was the first BASE jump off Frenchmans Cap by a born and bred Tasmanian.

APRIL 1988 This adventure starts at 6.30am on a cold foggy Sydney morning. I’m standing on the parapet of Northbridge, looking down at the playing fields 55 metres below my feet. I’ve just seen Doug go, and now it’s my turn. My knees are shaking and it’s got nothing to do with the cold.

“Look at it”, I remember being told, “savor the experience, immerse yourself in it”. I take a deep breath, trying to calm my racing pulse and centre my attention. “Ready, set, go!” I spring out from the bridge, trying to thrust my chest out towards the horizon, arms and legs spread-eagled. This has to be the ultimate leap of faith.

Two eternal seconds of freefall, then I feel the familiar jolt as my parachute opens perfectly. Look at it, grab the brake toggles, quickly flare the canopy, and I’m skidding to a fast but safe landing on the wet grass. I’m ecstatic, jabbering with euphoria. I’ve just done my first BASE jump and I feel good, really good! (It was the endorphins, see?)

BASE (an acronym for Building Aerial Span Earth) jumping is a non-regulated, often clandestine activity. Part of its appeal lies in the fact that it is a less competitive, more individualistic activity than skydiving from aircraft. BASE jumpers need to be very self-reliant and capable of taking full responsibility for their own actions.

Since no two BASE sites are the same, just being there can contribute to the adventure as much as the leap itself. That’s why, although BASE jumping has been described as the ultimate urban adventure, one of Australia’s best BASE sites is found in the wilderness of western Tasmania: the 400 metre high overhanging east face of Frenchmans Cap.

JULY 1988 Heavy rain fell all day, grey and monotonous. We started in the pre-dawn darkness, crossing the Franklin River on the ‘flying fox’ with eerie torchlight glimpses of the boiling black floodwaters below. The Loddon Plains were awash. All around, rain-swept hills merged softly with the lowering grey clouds. Buried within our parkas and bent beneath oversize packs, we were three tiny wet figures lost in the expanses of a bleak and wild landscape. The long hours merged as we trudged stolidly through the downpour. The rain continued for several days after we reached the dry comfort of Lake Tahune hut, sheltered below the cloudy mass of Frenchmans Cap. We whiled the hours away. Doug was restless, unused to so much inactivity

. I wondered why I was here. With only one previous BASE jump, was I ready for Frenchmans yet? My 270 skydives were virtually irrelevant here. Simon and Doug waited impatiently for the weather to clear, making optimistic forecasts with a pathetic success rate. Simon, by then a veteran of 900 skydives and 40 BASE jumps, could be called “The Father of Frenchmans Cap BASE jumping”. He was the first person to jump the east face in 1986, and this was now his fourth jumping expedition there. Doug, at the time one of Australia’s most skilled skydivers, had 2500 skydives behind him, and had represented Australia in world competitions. Doug had already done another ten BASE jumps since we did our first one together at Northbridge in Sydney.

Tired of the hut, we wandered in the rain towards the scenic rock shelter of Davern’s Cavern. We sidled around steep bluffs and scrambled up precarious wet slopes. Rambling along ridge tops in the mist, we looked out over the deep forested valley between Sharland’s and Philips Peaks. Cliffs rose 200 metres or more above the forest, their tops disappearing in cloud and their bases strewn with titanic fallen blocks. Simon was tantalized, but sadly concluded that they were not jumpable due to the lack of safe landing areas. The weather slowly changed. In the secret depths of the night, a calm settled over the hut. I stepped outside – the massive bulk of the cliff gleamed in the starlight, its great jutting prow framed by a brilliant cluster of stars. It was too real.I shivered and crept back inside, to the warmth of my sleeping bag.

Dawn was clear and still. Soft tendrils of mist hung in the valleys. Gently curved ridges stretched away, silhouetted in the golden light. Great white quartzite ramparts towered over the still dark lake. The cliff waited. We climbed, up to the bleak North Col, and then along terraces of alpine herbs and ice-scoured rock. The wilderness spread out beneath our feet, its vista of mountains and dark forested valleys stretching vast and mysterious in all directions.

Beyond that distant horizon there was a world of crowds, regulations, conformity and mind-numbing mediocrity. But here and now, amongst these ancient echoing cliffs, our lives had a clear purpose. We were free – to be outrageous, to test our mortality on this uncaring rock. No rules or licenses governed us here, just our own judgment and boldness. We were totally responsible for ourselves.

BASE jumping is a blend of minutely detailed planning and preparation, and of an exhilarating leap into freedom. Each BASE jump must be individually planned according to the nature of the site. Sometimes a five hundred metre high jump site can be safer than a eighty metre site. Each jumper has the ultimate responsibility of assessing their planned jump – no rule book can give the answers. And a BASE jumper needs to be able to back off if the place, the weather, the equipment or the mental attitude are not 100% right. We stood on the launch point, contemplating the abyss.

Once you have rationally calculated you can do it, fear must end – its distraction can cause terminal errors. Once you are committed and off, a BASE jump is total flowing attention.

Doug, eager as ever, went first. A quick thrust forward and he was airborne, launching into a quiet, vacant nothingness so different from the noisy wind rush of an aircraft exit. The cliff exploded into view as his peripheral vision expanded, absorbing everything in a visual rush of heightened awareness. Four seconds of freefall, and as he began to feel the wind rush he came level with the rock we called “The Flake”.

He pitched his hand-held pilot chute and his parachute opened, a perfect on-heading opening, flying quickly away from the cliff.   Simon mentally prepared. When the moment was right he launched, quietly and precisely, arcing out from the cliff in perfect control. Four seconds of intense freedom, four seconds of eternity, and then he was under canopy, flying serenely across the jumbled rocky landscape. His jubilant cries slowly faded as he disappeared far below, to land out of sight on a grassy patch beside the lake.

I was left alone on the cliff top, a little numbed. I had seen something “impossible” done, another example of the human capacity for transcending our limitations. I picked up the empty packs. The air felt cold; my boots crunched on the sparse patches of snow.

Loose rocks rattled down the steep path as I scrambled back down to the hut where Doug and Simon were already brewing up a cup of tea. More bad weather followed. We sat in the hut reading, writing, playing cards and cooking huge meals. Bloated, we reclined on the floor listening to Doug’s tales of the world skydiving championships. Long hours passed away. We gazed out at the cliff, appearing now and then out of the mist and rain. Doug felt cranky, frustrated with the wind and cloud. He wanted another jump.

Packing a parachute in the narrow confines of the hut was not easy, but with some trouble it was done. We climbed again to the launch point, to stand in the mist with the cliff base only just visible and a 20 knot wind blowing. Simon decided not to jump. Doug chose to jump. Conditions were not ridiculous, only marginal.

As Doug took his stance on the launch point, Simon said to me “OK, if anything happens one of us will have to get down to him while the other gets the radio and medical kit!” “Thanks guys!” Doug thought as he launched into the thin mist. His parachute opened, but one of his brake toggles had released accidentally and the canopy was swinging around towards the cliff. His hands were on the risers while the canopy was still opening, and as soon as he saw the problem a quick pull on one riser brought it out of its turn. Doug now had to contend with the strong wind, and was battling to keep the parachute from backing up into the cliff. We watched; there was nothing else to do.

Then suddenly, vaguely through the mist, we saw the canopy collapse. “I’m OK!” Doug shouted. Between a rock and a hard place, but he’d landed safely in the scree below the cliff. Climbing back down, we met Doug on the terraces below the North Col. “I feel good!” he shouted across to us, “I feel real good!”

The expedition began to feel over. Simon and Doug had done what they came for. I had come to observe, maybe to jump, but conditions were far from ideal and it didn’t feel right yet. We decided to leave the next day. But Doug and Simon still had something special to try: a dual launch.

Conditions were mild the next morning as they left early for the mountain. I headed up to the col below the cliff, to see the jumps from another perspective. A 15 knot wind was blowing from the north, but up on the launch point conditions seemed quiet. They were tiny silhouettes upon the launch point, side by side above the oceanic wall of rock. With a rhythmic shout they launched simultaneously, momentarily suspended against the sky before beginning their downwards plunge. A brief sideways geek at each other, and they pitched their pilot chutes, one slightly above the other to stagger their opening heights and avoid a collision.

Doug’s canopy was open first, with a slight turn but a clean deployment. Simon was in a slightly head down position, but there was no time to correct it. His canopy deployed unevenly. His end cells were slow to inflate, and he found his canopy beginning to swing and turn uncontrollably. He still had plenty of height, but there was also the vast wall of rock only metres away. This was no place to fiddle with a malfunction; Simon acted. To our knowledge no reserve parachute had ever been deployed on a BASE jump in Australia up to that time.

So it was another first for Simon as he flung his small “tertiary reserve” sideways to allow it to inflate free of the main canopy. The reserve was a non-steerable parachute, drifting at the mercy of the wind. There was nothing to do now but wait. Simon yelled “I think I’m in trouble!” About seventy metres from the ground the relentless wind finally pushed him into the cliff. Several hundred metres away on the col I heard the sickening thump of Simon’s first cliff-strike.

Miraculously, he survived it – curled into a fetal position he presented his right side to the rock and bounced off again with nothing broken. Swinging under the reserve, he bounced off the cliff another two or three times before finally coming to rest on the scree only metres from the foot of the huge wall. Battered, bruised and alive, he sat beached with his two canopies spread around him. Doug was still airborne.

While Simon’s drama had been unfolding behind him, Doug had been riding the ridge-lift blowing up from the north side of the col. He was now trying to fly over the col to land beside Lake Tahune, but the headwind was too strong. He headed towards a sixty degree slope of scrub and rock with even steeper gullies beside and below. Landing fast and rough he thumped in and rolled backwards down the slope, finally coming to rest in a precarious head-down position. Delicately, he extricated himself.

The sore and bleeding pair crept back to the hut. Simon’s whole right side was bruised and swelling from his cliff-strikes, while Doug was suffering from an old knee injury which the heavy loads and rough landings of the last few days had inflamed. We packed and left the hut by midday. It was over … or was it?

Simon had a wicked gleam in his eyes … “It’s not over until the fat lady sings!” he said. Simon and Doug hobbled in slow aching pain to Barron Pass. We huddled on the pass talking about radioing for a helicopter. But as much as we enjoy flying, to need a rescue would have been to give up our responsibility for ourselves. We walked on, each at his own pace. There was pain – but there was a deep satisfaction too. Simon and Doug had tested their mortality on the mountain, and come away more alive than ever. Their cups runneth over; life was good.

This was why so much time, effort and even suffering was worth expending for those few seconds of rushing freedom: to know those brief seconds is to know an extra-ordinary freedom and exhilaration, to experience life to the limit. The most intense experiences always seem to be the briefest, the orgasms of existence. The ignorant view that BASE jumpers must have a death wish of some sort is only held by those who haven’t bothered to find out that BASE jumping is in fact a celebration of life’s richness and potential. We descended slowly through the dimming forest under our huge loads, each stoically silent and alone. Afternoon passed into night.

Our tiny lights illuminated a few metres of mud and tree roots; the wet, dark forest closed in all around. Hours into the night we finally staggered into the welcome Lake Vera hut. The final day was easier, the long flat plains passing at a slow steady plod. And so we reached the road. Then Hobart and party-time. The search for a singing fat lady. Simon and Doug stirring up the natives like the interfering mainlanders they were. And a fat lady was found to sing for us. It was over.

EPILOGUE – APRIL 1989

At last I’m standing on the launch point, with 400 metres of space yawning below my feet. A few hours ago I was pumping with nervous energy as I watched the others jump; now it’s me and I feel calm and ready. It’s really happening. I force the moment to its crisis and I’m off, plunging into the abyss. Time expands – I feel like I’m falling for four or five seconds, but really it’s less than two seconds before I feel my parachute snap open. Looking up, cliff and canopy fill the sky.

The parachute has opened ninety degrees off heading and is flying parallel to the cliff heading for a buttress only metres away. There’s no panic, just a calm instant awareness of the problem and I’m pulling the risers, turning the canopy away from the cliff. Exultant, I fly the canopy down to a soft landing on a grassy patch beside Lake Tahune. I walk slowly back to the deserted hut, deeply content as the endorphins kick in. Everything is beautiful. I lie back on the grass and dream as I wait for the others to follow me down through space.

TG #11

Happy New Year!

2014 has arrived, and with it, perhaps, finally, something resembling a warm summer.

The windy weather and the bright sunshine gracing the waterfront in Hobart today is a good reminder that we live in a dynamic environment of ecological disturbances….and also a spectacularly beautiful corner of the world.

In this issue, we start out with Rian Taylor’s handcrafted, high-tech aerial drone videography of Dunalley after last year’s bushfires. He helps us find a new perspective on the landscape, and helps us to see what devastation a wildfire can cause to human constructions.

We’re delighted to share our second historical article from Helen Webberley over in Melbourne– she introduces us to the landscape paintings and overland explorations of Piguenit. These images were especially delightful to view, in particular the one of Mt King William — as shortly after I type this I’ll be heading into the mountains to that very same region.

JD Fox shares an essay on memory techniques and recall with us, describing ancient and modern techniques that can be used to help you remember the things you encounter on your travels.

To round it off, have a good read of photographer Shane Walker’s ode to the island. Read it out loud, while sitting on the beach at sunset. It’s the first verse article we’ve ever run! The photos are a treat, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy them.

Here’s hoping that 2014 is even better than the last one.

Happy Trails!

— The Editor

Ode to Tasmania

 

Looking back when I was a kid,

On the places I have seen, this beautiful island called Tasmania,

It had to be a settler’s dream.

Places like Cradle Mountain & Lake St Clair National Park

With Dove Lake & a photogenic boat shed below,

One of Tasmania’s icons this mountain, best time to see it,

when its tops are covered with snow.

There is an Overland track,

That takes you all the way down, to Lake St Clair,

Many tourists enjoy this walk,

To take photos and fill their lungs with fresh air.

There is Cradle Mountain Lodge and a Visitor’s centre,

A great gallery up there too,

Waterfalls and helicopter rides, hey there is plenty to see and do.

Tasmanian has a lot to offer,

From seafood to fresh vegetables and fruit,

And award winning beers and wine,

All around Tasmania,

It is all at your fingertips,

Wherever you head out to dine.

Fill your Thermos, & pack your lunch,

You will be there in time for brunch.

50 miles of pastures green,

Best dairy country that you have ever seen,

Soon you will arrive at the Mole Creek caves,

About which every tourist raves.

You will see stalagmites, stalactites and pools of water clear,

Trickling streams that are made for dreams, it is a place I love so dear.

If you have a day to spare, and don’t know where to go,

Drive yourself to the Western Tiers and frolic in the snow,

Better still take your rod and cast yourself a line,

You might catch yourself a fish, now wouldn’t that be fine?

People come from far and wide and lots from near about,

To wet a line to pit their skills against the wild rainbow trout

Down the narrow winding roadways as the evening shadows fall,

Beautiful flowering myrtles and Huon pines standing tall,

The man ferns are a waving in the gently blowing breeze,

A parrot might be spotted as it glides between the trees.

 

 


In the little townships or up the Gordon River,

The stories of the convict days will leave you in a shiver,

There is always something different where they mine the silver and gold,

Nevertheless, no matter where you cast your eyes, there is beauty to behold.

 

 

 

When you come to Tasmania there is plenty to be seen,

Like any other place that you have never been,

So, do not just sit around and get yourself in a rut,

Drive along to Stanley and see the Stanley Nut,

It overshadows the hamlet like a giant monolith,

To hear people talk about it, you would think it was a myth,

One can stretch one’s muscles and walk up to the top,

Where as far as you can see the views they never stop,

Or you can be a bit lazy and go up in the chair,

But the main thing is you can say, “Stanley, I’ve been there!

Sheffield is the town of murals

It’s like a giant picture show

Paintings on walls, doors and windows

Everywhere you go

There are paintings of the olden days

That reminds you of the past

Like bullock teams and horse and drays

A boot maker and his last

It’s a lovely town to visit

And spend a couple of days

You can wander about the town

Or you could go to the maze

 

 

 

Lemonthyme Lodge is the largest real log cabin In the Southern Hemisphere

Where there is a temperate rainforest

And cascading water so clear,

To me this is a special place,

A place to come and unwind

Walk amongst the Sassafras trees

And see how many black cockatoos you can find

Or relax in a spa

And drink some champagne

While you overlook the forest

And listen to the rain

Behind Lemonthyme Lodge

There is a trail,

That leads you to Waterfalls

Called Champagne and Bridal Veil,

Feel the waterfall’s mist

So refreshing on the face

Lemonthyme forest would have to be my favourite place,

With beams of sunlight

Flickering on the man ferns galore,

And the breeze makes the bracken

Sway, on the forest floor,

And the birds sing, in the canopy above

While wallaby graze beside the track

No matter where you live

You will want to come back

 

 

South east of Deloraine

There is a forest called Liffey Reserve

Walk through lush forest,

On a track with many a curve,

The forest floor Is overcome by giant tree ferns

Follow the path to three waterfalls

As Liffey River twists and turns,

It has one of the most photographed waterfalls In this beautiful state,

With its clear fresh water, and shades of green

It’s the perfect bush walker’s dream

If it’s the bush you love to romp,

Why not check out Dismal Swamp?

A huge sink-hole filled with trees of Black Wood,

It’s far from dismal, it’s really rather good,

If you like to learn you can follow a guide,

But if you’re really keen, You can go down to the forest by a 110 meter slide,

Swamp creatures, crayfish and giant insects too,

Or why not stand on the lookout and soak in the view.

Another place I do boast Is the fishing port called Strahan

On Tasmania’s west coast

Take the cruise on the Gordon River

Where the water is like a mirror

Walk amongst the Huon Pine

Some of these trees are thousands of years old

Take a jacket or coat

As it’s usually wet and cold

As the Roaring Forties winds

Endlessly blow,

What is claimed to be the world’s purest air if you didn’t know

Tannin stained water

Meets the wild ocean

At the dangerous entrance called Hell’s Gate,

Where many a sailor has met their fate

Ocean Beach is a spectacular sight

Where you can watch the sunset turn into night

Ocean waves hit the sand

As the Roaring Forties make their stand

Churning the water into foam,

Thick as Brill cream on a barber’s comb,

 

 

 

See the ruins of Sarah Island

This was a convict site of living hell

Britain’s elite banishment place

So the history books do tell.

A place where tens of thousands

Of lashes were given every year

Most of the convicts lives

Would eventually end here.

There was even a mini- school

With a close up view of the floggings each day

I’m telling you This was no place for a holiday

Along the East Coast at Freycinet

Is a beach called Wineglass Bay

One of the world’s top ten beaches So they say

Powder white sand

So fine, it gently squeaks

The beach is sheltered, by the Hazards

Which are three mountain peaks

The water at Wineglass Bay Is a stunning colour of sapphire blue

Take a climb up to Mount Amos

For a better view

 

 

 

When you go down Hobart Way,

Port Arthur is the place to stay,

A convict settlement, in the early days

Where criminals were sent to mend their ways,

A church and prison made of rocks and mortar

Where many a convict was fed bread and water,

Then in more recent times,

The Port Arthur massacre made headlines.

Many were shot, some survived, it was much too late,

When helped arrived.

Port Arthur has got its own ghosts,

and things that go bump in the night,

I was too frightened to turn off the light,

Never the less its worth having a look,

The stories you will hear, you could fill a book.

 

 

 

Hobart is the second oldest capital in Australia,

Dating eighteen hundred and four,

Situated in Tasmania’s south

Rising up from the Derwent River shore,

See Local Tasmanian artisans at the bustling market,

Called Salamanca,

Or sit on the waterfront at Constitution Dock

Where yachts and fishing boats anchor.

Hobart is the home of Australia’s first casino,

It’s the icon of the city too,

Head on over to the roulette wheel,

Lay your chips on black twenty two,

Mt Wellington dominates the Hobart skyline

It looks spectacular when covered in snow,

While youre up on the mountain,

Go check out the rock formation The “Organ Pipes” lined all in a row

To the Northwest of Hobart Is Mount Field National Park

With its luscious green landscape

And man ferns and lichen covered bark

Here you will find a track To Russell Falls,

This cascades mountain water

Over ancient moss covered rock

Grab your camera, its well worth a shot.

Take a drive to the historic town of Richmond

A part of the convict trail

With its antique shops and Australia’s oldest gaol

Australia’s oldest bridge is here

It was built in eighteen twenty three

Made of sandstone and built by convicts

It’s a sight you got to see

 

 

When you arrive in Devonport

At the end of your trip

And you have three or four hours

While you wait for your ship

You need somewhere that you can go

That’s quick and easy to reach,

Half an hour out of Devonport

You can be at Baker’s Beach,

There is many a mile of nice clean sand

You can view the fauna that’s at hand

There are rabbits, wallabies and wombats

Everywhere you look

And there’s wild duck, terns and pelicans

A babbling in the brook

Or you can lie back in the picnic area

If that is how you feel

And light up one of the Barbies

And cook yourself a meal,

It’s all so quiet and peaceful

Not a sound to be heard

Except the mating call of a little blue wren

Or some other kind of bird,

So this is a bit of my State,

There is nothing on this Isle I do hate,

Whenever I leave this place to travel & roam,

I seem to always come back to Tasmania,

The place I call home.

 

Mnemosyne: The Storm of Memory

➤ The true treasure of one’s life is a collection of memories. Memories are the persisting form of instantaneous experience. Those memories are the raw material for the stories, the fuel that feeds friendships, and the stock for self-confidence. To some philosophers, your memories are your existence- what makes you an individual.

Mnemosyne, the Titan to whom the ancient Greeks attributed the aspect of Memory, is the mother of the Nine Muses- the female personifications of Arts and Sciences. Memory is literally the mother of human endeavour.

As you go through life, experiences and impressions surround you like a storm. Sensations like raindrops, and emotions like lightning bolts, are present in everyone’s life. Sometimes these raindrops sink into the ground and are lost, and sometime they are captured and used to water the fields of art and science. The lightning bolts can offer limitless energy if harnessed properly.

Memory, and the practices of conscious observation and active recall, provides a key for humans to make the most of the experiences and impressions of life.

There are many formalised techniques out there for improving your memory.

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An Artist in the Wilderness: Piguenit and the Australian Landscape

William Charles Piguenit (1836-1914) might have had a grim life in Australia since he was born in Hobart Town to a convict-father who had been transported to the Tasmanian penal colony. Instead, young William was fortunate that his mother valued education. She set up a school for middle class girls where she taught the most important subjects – French, music and drawing.

William lived and was educated in Hobart, and spent 22 years working in the Dep­artment of Lands survey office as a draught­sman. There was one great advantage from working in the survey office – Piguenit was perfectly placed to go on expeditions to the rugged inland of the Tasmanian islands. Certainly he was formally mapping the landscape, but he was also examining the dramatic and romantic views with an artist’s eye. Piguenit’s field diary, now held in Sydney’s Mitchell Library, recorded his excitement at the rivers, skies, mountains, trees and waterfalls.

Admittedly the only formal connections he had to art in these 22 long years were a] lessons from a Scottish painter living in Hobart and b] doing lithographic illustrations as part of the survey work.

In 1872 Piguenit resigned from his career as a public servant in the Survey Office to devote himself to landscape painting – he began making sketching and photography trips to remote mountainous regions in inland Tasmania. For a largely self-taught artist, Pig­uenit started to exhibit his works in the annual Sydney and Melbourne academy shows. But giving up his day job was a brave thing to do, even for an unmarried man – he didn’t sell many of his paintings until 1887 when the government bought six of his works on the western highlands, now in the Hobart Art Gallery.

Piguenit’s impressive work, Mount Olympus, Lake St Clair, Tasmania, source of the Derwent, was one of many pieces in which he painted the state’s natural landscape. His romantic goal was to evoke the sublime majesty through a combin­at­ion of earth, water and sky writ large, and human activity writ small. We need to focus on Piguenit’s painting of Mount Olympus because it was the first work by an Australian-born artist to be acq­uir­ed, in 1875, by the Art Gallery of NSW.

Walk to the West was a book published in 1993 by The Royal Society of Tasman­ia to celebrate the walk to the West Coast of Tasmania under­taken by William Piguenit, James Backhouse Walker and others. They left Hobart in 1887. The book was based on the diary by Walker, with careful explanations of Tasmania’s conditions and environment. The text was interspersed with plates from Piguenit’s paintings, made along the trip. And a map provided information of the West Coast landscape in the 1880s.

In 1889 Piguenit joined an artists and photographers camp in the Grose Valley in the Blue Mountains. And the very next year he settled in Sydney. Continued patronage by the Gallery in Sydney enabled him to tour NSW and Tasmania, providing fresh inspir­ation for his grand, sweeping landscapes. The Flood in the Darling 1890 was one of the enormous works painted by Piguenit when heavy rains half flooded inland New South Wales that year.

Like any good Rom­an­t­ic artist, Piguenit loved comb­ining the dest­ructive yet sublime powers of nature. This artist could have depicted the loss of animals, human life and rural architecture, yet he chose the post-storm calm. He depicted the vast expanse of sky, land and water as a celebration of the natural world and its elements.

I’m perfectly aware that not every art historian thought that Piguenit had a very important place in Australian art of the later 19th century. Christopher Allen (The Australian, 22/6/2013) believed that while the paintings were apparently about vastness, distance and sublime grandeur, they were in fact completely flat. They had no depth, no space and no rigour. Allen thought this criticism was even more evident when comparing Piguenit to his Heidelberg School contemporaries in Melbourne.

But did the Heidelbergers make Piguenit look old fashioned and prov­incial, largely because of the older man’s lack of formal education in art composition? I think not. If we had to reject paintings because of a lack of rigour, half the religious, historical and portrait paintings of the last 2000 years would be gone. In any case, Piguenit starred in two important elements: his magic silvery light and his glassy bodies of water.

Despite being in his 60s, Piguenit continued his successful career into the new century. In 1898 and 1900 he visited Europe, exhibiting at London and Paris. Back home he won Australia’s most prestigious landscape award, the 1901 Wynne Prize, for Thunder Storm on the Darl­ing. Then he was commissioned by the National Gallery of New South Wales trustees to paint Mount Kosciusko 1903. This was a maj­estic depiction of the continent’s tallest mountain. It was a perfect symbol for the importance of Australia’s Federation, just two years earlier.

This fine artist died in 1914.

References and Image Sources

A Passion for Nature: William Charles Piguenit in the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Collection, by Sue Backhouse et al, was published by the gallery in 2012. It shows the paintings and prints from the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, the largest body of the artist’s work in any collect­ion. And it is well worth viewing the Catalogue Raisonne published by Tony Brown in December 2012, also for the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery of Hobart.

Images:

Mount King William from Lake George, Tasmania / W.C. Piguenit Courtesy National Libary of Australia (Bib ID 358336 http://nla.gov.au/nla.pic-an2292677)

Tasmanian landscape / W.C. Piguenit Courtesy National Libary of Australia (Bib ID 324956 http://nla.gov.au/nla.pic-an2263618)

On the Craycroft [i.e. Cracroft], Tasmania / W.C. Piguenit Courtesy National Libary of Australia (Bib ID 358386 http://nla.gov.au/nla.pic-an2292673)

Mt. Olympus, Lake St. Clair, Tasmania, 1878 / W.C. Piguenit Courtesy National Libary of Australia Bib ID 354211 http://nla.gov.au/nla.pic-an2292634

Hawkesbury River with Figures in Boat : On the Nepean via Wikimedia http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:William_Charles_Piguenit

The Flood in the Darling via Wikimedia http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:William_Piguenit_-_The_Flood_in_the_Darling_1890.jpg

A Quadcopter View of the Dunalley Bushfires

— Filmed in  January, 2013

This is some of my video I took over a week of transporting supplies in and out of the bushfire areas near the Tasman Peninsula. The locations include Boomer Bay, Dunalley, Murdunna and Sommers Bay. I was invited by locals into many remote locations not visible from any roads and far from Dunalley to give people a better idea of the unseen damage inflicted by the fires in these areas and some of the miraculously close calls amongst them. I used a small quadcopter I built with a Gopro black edition that I fly as a hobby. I hope to give people an alternative perspective to the dangers of bushfires, how quickly they can get out of control and how little is left in the aftermath of a fire on this scale. Stay safe! Be prepared! You can learn more from the Tasmanian Fire Service website.