Richmond to Rosebury
Richmond is one of the most well preserved historic towns in Tasmania -at least to our minds. Several beautiful Georgian buildings are crammed with way too many tempting, sometimes extravagant items to purchase. The Textile Gallery was by far the most extraordinary exhibit I have seen so far. The owner travels to Kashmir and personally imports exquisite handmade coats, shawls, carpets and upholstery fabric. She knows the designers by name and has sat with the weavers as they create their masterpieces. Handwoven articles have a softness and subtlety to them that machine woven fabric lacks.
The 1/8th scale replica of 1820 Hobart city is captivating too. We were blown away by the detail the designers have included - a boy fallen out of a tree, a housewife killing a snake in her backyard, convicts trying to escape from the jail, and the inevitable drunken stupour of a few too many drinks. The buildings are all historically accurate and I could recall many that I had seen in Hobart just two days ago. A must see for tourists. As is the whiskey tasting and teddy bears on the green...
The oldest bridge in Australia is here at Richmond. Dating from 1823 it is as sturdy and durable today as it was then. Surrounded by lovely gardens and picnic lawns, it attracts a lot of visitors too.
On we went to one of the exhibits that everybody advised us about, saying it is imperative to go and see The Wall. the woodcarver set out to tell the story of Australian immigration, the toil, heartache and hardship the settlers faced. He has captured touching details in each of the gigantic Human pine panels. George Duncan is an amazing artist, capturing such realism in his carvings that it seems like real leather, real fabric in the creases of the coat; the expressions on the settlers faces are all so fine, one can feel their joy and pain. A life size carving of a receding figure of a young boy with his teddy hanging on by one arm is a haunting memory... The entire 100 m wall of carvings are held under copyright and no photography is allowed at all - a bone of contention with many. Also an undercurrent of 'what about the Aboriginal heritage that was destroyed and is not presented on the wall...'
Also in this area are some of the many world heritage listed forests. We walked through the Franklin and Gordon wild river heritage forest. It was here that Greens senator and party leader Bob Brown made his famous stand against the exploiting of the Franklin river in the 1980's (the last wild river on the west coast), focussing the world's media on the pristine environment and blocked the governments plans to dam the river.
We camped at Lake Burbury, where Noelene swam in the crystal clear, cool water filled with trout and Atlantic salmon. Wished she could snorkel and catch one!! The views across the lake there and into Queenstown are panoramic and truly breathtaking. The entire environment around Queenstown itself is barren and akin to a lunar landscape, for two reasons. The mining at the turn of the century denuded the hills of trees to fire the sheltered and furnaces, and the the sulphur fall out was so significant that the acid rain killed of thousands of trees, and indeed claimed hundreds of lives. In its starkness there are stunning colours to be seen in the rock face but one pines for the loss of vegetation. the second reason is the recent fires that swept through the area and burnt off what had sprung up in the last few decades. That's Australia for you - either flood or fire!!
The entire west coast has been a delight for us so far. It is scenic and postcard perfect, with lakes, mountains, forests and historic towns that all tell their own tale. Every town here has a significant history of mining a specific mineral: Queenstown for fool's gold: copper, and also silver and gold, Zeehan for silver, Rosebury for tin etc. We took a 3 hour walk to the Montezuma falls, which are 104m high and one of the tallest in Australia. On the walk Noelene Ticked another item off the bucket list - to see a live snake in the wild. (The carpet python we saw at Errol's house doesn't count!) We found two tiger snakes one our walk -two!! They are the second most venomous snake in the country and fortunately they were both moving away from us. The rain forest is made up of mostly myrtle, sassafras and leatherwood trees which have rebounded magnificently since the mining days: they cut 700 tons of wood from the forester week to feed the smelters, build houses, burn fires for cooking and heating.
From here we are heading to the famous Cradle mountain national park. Will keep you posted!