Launceston > Walls of Jerusalem > Launceston > Bay of Fires
Deb’s Did You Know
Are two heads better than one?? Yes: In 2 beer glasses; in a game of two up; when you are between them coming into a harbour; or when receiving flowers on Valentines Day.
The two-headed Tasmanian is a common myth and often brought up in conversation when one is travelling to Tasmania. Some say this urban legend derived from the fact that Tasmanian soliders during the war asked for 2 pillows, others say that it is because Tasmania is a small island and isolated from the mainlaind. Either way it is a touchy subject and I am sure it’s not one to discuss with a local. Who knows maybe us McGraths will return looking somewhat different.
For me, Tasmania evokes images of frosty rolling farmlands and tall powerful forests. First morning off the ferry and we were not disappointed. Winding our way through the back roads from Devonport to Launceston, still wispy mists hung over the golden fields while fat black Angus cattle mooched around languidly. Over the hills and passes, solid stands of eucalypts and pines guarded the roadsides and guided us into the corners before giving way to the organisation of lime green vineyards strung all the way down the Tamar Valley and into Launceston’s outskirts.
Launceston on a Saturday morning is just as I had hoped it would be. The summer morning chill kept the city sleepy and it was only as the gentle warmth of a Tassie summer sun slowly gained ground that the population roused and the coffee shops had more than a few lycra clad cyclists entering their doors. Rest assured we have slipped easily into this pace of life.
After catching up with Mum and Dad, over the next few days we spent time tackling schoolwork and prepping for an overnight hike to the Walls of Jerusalem. This included a little sortie into Cataract Gorge where we rode the chairlift, spotted Echidnas and Lizards and earned our post walk ice creams. However, I think the most walking we did in Launceston was between all the camping shops as we equipped ourselves with all the stuff we needed and lots of the stuff we did not.
Walls of Jerusalem is an overnight hike near Cradle Mountain usually taken on over two to three days. We gave ourselves three days to allow for a slower pace of progress. I was a bit worried about going up there with the family as we had heard “coldest place I have ever camped” and “I would not do that with the kids” as feedback on the hike from people we spoke with around the Launceston camping shops. Never the less, we decided to take it on. I was even more nervous as just as we were about to set out from the car park at the start of the walk, the rain came in. Would it be wet and cold for three days?
Thankfully, the rain only made brief appearances and then it was brief and at the most opportune times; like overnight. It was cold up there; cold enough to see ice on the ground on the morning of day 2. Lucky we had made all those investments in the Launceston camping shops. I imagine people bushwalk for lots of different reasons; fitness, scenery, solitude etc. I reckon one of the best reasons is to hear those moments of deafening silence which can only be experienced on the top of a mountain in the wilderness. On day 2, Deb, Lachie Dad and I left the rest of the troops at base camp and made a dash out and back past the Walls of Jerusalem and to the top of the Temple. Here, at the top, we gazed out over a patchwork spray of lakes and though the wind was fresh, that deafening silence descended upon us.
Everyone motored along nicely on the way out. I am pretty sure I heard a non-stop monologue from Hamish the whole way out as to why he needs a new set of bushwalking sticks. The pace even increased a notch when some leeches were spotted; then increased another notch with talk of pies and milkshakes for lunch on exit. It doesn’t matter how far or how long you have been in the bush for, it is always good to get a cold beer and some junk food into the system when you emerge.
We spent a couple more nights in Launceston washing dirty bushwalking clothes and rubbing a few sore spots before we finally made our way toward the coast. It was nice of Launceston to stage their Festivale to see us off. Some sampling of the local produce and musos was a great way to have a lazy lunch on the way out.
The Bay of Fires on the North East coast of Tassie is so named because of the Orange/Red Lichen on the granite boulders which line the shore. It is just as well it is lichen which gives the area its name because any other sort of fire would have been put out on our arrival such was the rain. The man cave had to go up and the Map Gas was required to get a fire going but we eventually got ourselves sorted right on the coast. All was good, until the possums arrived. I can’t work out what is good about a possum. They have all the attributes of a mouse or a rat and with that they are big enough to get into stuff the pesty rodents can’t attack. We settled down for the night in the tent but it was not long before I was up chasing possums out of anything they could but shouldn’t get into. It is no fun hearing the pitter patter of possum feet on canvas just above your head at night. Deb probably had a pretty dud night sleep that night for all the possum cursing I was doing.
We had our 5th birthday party on tour at Bay of Fires. Our birthday boy, Lachie, got his order in early for a “Big Breakfast”, crumbed cutlets for dinner with noodle salad and apple crumble for desert. A day of culinary delights indeed. It was a bushwalking birthday for our man who scored plenty of bushwalking kit and enough cash to buy his very own aircraft grade titanium knife fork and spoon set. Just what every true bushwalker needs.
Departure from Bay of Fires was humming along nicely. We were feeling pretty smug as our campground neighbours kept remarking how good the set up was and how quickly we had packed up and away. What a shame it all fell in a heap when the car would not start. Flat battery would you believe. Our spare battery didn’t have enough juice to jump the main battery so it was our slightly less impressed neighbours to the rescue. I still can’t work out what drained the battery. Maybe Courtney has a secret 12V hair dryer on board. I’ll keep my eye on her.