Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Tasmanian Winter

Folks from abroad have this idea that Australia is a place of eternal summers, beach days, and barbeques. Now, winter might not freeze the entire country over, but it can get quite cold! Tassie, in particular, has quite a harsh winter.

During the winter of 2017 I was mainly working on my fantasy books, so don't have any snowy Trooprock stories to share, but I do have a couple of pictures for you to gaze upon:

Bit of snow at Pumphouse Point

Yes, I am wearing thongs.

Our coolest selfie.

Rocky on a beautiful spring morning.

Friday, 23 February 2018

Strahan and the Gordon River

This post is about a place called Strahan. Now, if you're not from, or been to, Tasmania you probably pronounced that in your head as "stra han." That is how it's spelt after all. The correct pronunciation is actually "strawn." Welcome to Tasmania: home to Launceston, Frecinet, and numerous other places with bizarre names.

The West Coast of Tasmania is a beautiful part of the world. It gets quite a bit of rain and is covered in lush rainforest. Strahan is the biggest coastal town on the west coast, boasting a population of almost seven-hundred at the time of writing. You read that right. The west coast of Tassie is quite sparsely populated!

We visited Strahan on several occasions, (You can purchase Excelsior Leatherwood Honey for $10 a kg there!) but our most exciting trip was on the Gordon River Cruise.

This cruise commences from Strahan, and cruises through Macquarie Harbour. Traversing through the harbour, you'll pass some salmon farms and islands before reaching the river. Macquarie Harbour is big, and covers six times the area of Sydney Harbour!

The west coast of Tassie gets quite a lot of rain. A lot of that rain runs from the King William Ranges and into the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park. That water collects at the Gordon Dam, powers the impressive hydro system, then meanders through the rugged landscape towards Macquarie Harbour.

The landscape is absolutely beautiful. During the cruise, you'll hear commentary about the early settlers and how they went about harvesting timber. The famous Huon Pine was quite a big deal back in the day—and still is today—due to the fact it doesn't really rot.

On the return trip you will stop off at Sarah Island. Tassie is covered in historical penal settlements, and this island must have been one of the more harsher ones! Guides will take you around the island, telling you stories about some of the interesting individuals and how rough times truly were. The prisoners here used all that quality local timber to build some of the finest ships around back in the early 1800's.

The Gordon River Cruise is a good day out, and well worth checking out if you're in the area. The staff on the ship were all great, and the food and drinks were amazing!

Another quirky thing to see in Strahan is a play called The Ship That Never Was. We were unsure whether or not to hang around for the play on the day, but it was the perfect finisher for the ultimate Strahan experience. Funnily enough, the actors are the same guides that show people around Sarah Island! While acting out the tale of a failed escape attempt, the actors build a ship and involve the audience in all sorts of embarrassing, and hilarious, ways.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Bruny Island

With only a couple of hours driving south of Hobart you can find your way to the beautiful Bruny Island. The island is about 100ks long, with two distinct sections, north and south. They are connected by a long narrow sandy neck.
Before even coming to Tassie, my old man gave Jen and I a voucher for accommodation and a cruise on the island for a Christmas present, score us! 

When first arriving on the island, you'll come across a whiskey place. We were pretty hungry, so bypassed this location. Instead our first destination was the Bruny Cheese and Brewing company. We had some cheeses to snack on, and Jen grabbed a paddle of beers—I was the deso! The cheese went down alright, but the beer wasn't so great. The chocolate shop was also a massive let down—more of a fudge and novelty store like you'd find in the city.
This average start left us a little worried, we felt as though we were falling into a very generic tourist trap! Fortunately though, everything from this point on was pretty much awesome! 

Once we had checked into our cabin down in Adventure Bay, we went for a nice stroll along the beach and relaxed for the arvo. We decided to head down to the pub for tea. There's only the one pub on the island, but it's a bloody ripper of a place! 
We sank a few Moo Brews, then decided to share a big plate of local seafood. All the while, enjoying a beautiful sunset. It was a great one, so great that Jen took 27 photos of it! We chose this one (The one you can see on the top right) for the blog, but like most beautiful glimpses of scenery, the photo does little justice of the magical sunset.

The next day we set off for a hike. We weren't really sure of what—or where—to go, but we had an island to ourselves for the day! Nothing like exploring an island to keep yourself occupied. The hike went for a few hours, and took us up to a radio tower on the south island. Afterwards we checked out the "Jurassic Gardens" as they had Jurassic in the name, and I was hoping to see some dinosaurs. No dinosaurs, but some pretty plants and info on the geology could be found.

We brought our 5mm wetsuits along, and had pondered on going for some snorkelling. It was cold, and we sooked out, choosing to go look at a lighthouse instead. The Bruny Cape Lighthouse is pretty awesome, and I'd well recommend it. For only $10, you can go up the lighthouse on a tour. We were pretty forutnate, getting the lighthouse to ourselves with some absolutely spactacular views. Our guide—who I've forgotten the name of now—was awesome! Very insightful and knowledgable on the area. He did also warn that it is quite easy to rock up to Bruny as a visitor, then suddenly stick around and become a local!
As much as we loved the island, and this whole island state, I think the warmer weather will be calling us back to the mainland next year! 

Our final day in Bruny Island was the only one that we had a plan for. The day of our cruise! We went with a mob called Penicott Cruises. Departing from Adventure Bay, the cruise went for about 3 hours, educating us on the geology (especially dolarite), and the way the locals have interacted with the native flora and fauna. Andrew and Nick were the names of the blokes who took us around. They both had great knowledge, told a good yarn, and gave a good dose of tongue in cheek humour. The perfect type of tour guides for this country! 
We looked inside dolarite caves, drove alongside fur seal colonies, saw some birds—albatross flavoured—and even managed to spot a pod of dolphins!

Does this look like anything to you? If it does, let us know in the comments!

Friday, 14 April 2017

First Impressions of Tasmania!

Crikey, I've been down in Tassie for almost three months now! Time flies when you're having fun!
We've still been exploring plenty, just haven't set the time aside for writing on the blog. I've been writing plenty though, polishing off The HolturEnigma, finishing the first draft of the third—and final—Necrosanguin instalment, and also making a start on TheHoltur Curse. Yep, Holtur's getting a trilogy!

Anyways, Tasmania has been a beautiful state for writing in. The place is covered in forest-covered mountains, spectacular waterfalls, lakes, and many breathtaking views! When I first entered the state, via the Spirit of Tasmania, I was immediately enchanted. Driving through the tiny towns, forests, and mountains, on both sealed and dirt roads alike, was an amazing experience. One thing I learnt early, is that despite Tasmania's small size, the drives are all long and windy, but this all adds to its charm!

I've settled down in Queenstown, which is my base of operations for writing now. It's a little cold here, but the place we are renting is surrounded in green. It's a very special feeling. We have wild blackberries growing around our house, which the black birds and Jen both love! She's even baked a few delicious blackberry pies! Yummo!

Another great thing about our new place, is that it doesn't take long to head into the wilderness. Within hours are places you could spend an entire day without passing another human being, or even hear a vehicle drive or fly by.. Within half an hour of our place there are views that would take your breath away. It is all sensationally motivating experience for one bringing their own fantasy world to life. 

While our blog releases this year won't be nearly as common as they have been, I will try to continue at a rate better than once every three months!