Sunday, January 31, 2010


It's not like Christmas. More like a blend of hay-fever nostalgia wtf (including "what the hell is it?" moments, "why the hades did they pack that?" and of course mystification at the packers (who to be fair are Zulu - to whom many of our ideas of precious are bizarre, and who regard things we think of as ordinary as special - An old Royal Doulton meat platter packed in a single sheet of paper, in with a bunch of metal things (survived) and the cheap 'use every day' porridge bowl in six layers of paper and packed carefully with plastics in a box labeled 'fragile'. And isn't it odd - the boxes you open are always the ones that have the really useful stuff that you need right now (not)?

Ah well, onward. Sneezing the dust of Africa. Some things are broken. That's life I guess. And now to re-assemble my computer (fear).

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Who (didn't) move the stone?

Those of you have followed the saga from the beginning know that we're moving ourselves, our kids, our fur-kids (feline and canine) and... our family rock - a 300kg piece of hand-cut African Sandstone from B's great grandfather's farmhouse in the mountains - a piece of an old frontier farm that saw the family through marriages, births (mostly in that order), tears, joy, laugher and grieving across long generations. The farm was expropriated (by the old apartheid govt -not the new lot - as a conservation area) and the house that would have been 140 years old now demolished. There is a wattle forest and bramble thicket there now. We eventually got permission to go up and collect one the rocks from all that was left - the foundation. With much grunting and panting five of us managed to get the largest - the lintel stone from the crawlway to the underfloor from under the window of the main bedroom - onto a wheel-barrow - which bent, but with us hauling on climbing slings helped us to get it and onto the 4X4. We took it back to Finnegan's wake, planning to build it into a new family home in the mountains, a part of where we came from and what we are.

Only then we decided that we were planning to immigrate to Australia. To a remote, beautiful wild lonely island - mountains still, but mountains in the sea.

We decided that the rock was going with us - to the puzzlement of the various movers who came to quote. "and the rock." You know how elderly bloodhounds whole face seems to have the droop? Well if you want to see that very expression on the high-heels-and-make-up face of city-girl moving quoter - just tell her she's moving a 300 kg block of stone. It's apparent after all of the movers who came to quote got their volumes wildly wrong (we got rid of a lot of stuff -most of which could be useful to bring our volume down. And we could have coped with every bit of it, without a hi-rise. And a lot of the stuff we were told not to take, I talked to the AQIS officer about. It's a hassle for movers, not AQUIS or you.) Anyway, 'tis done, and I may forgive them my tools one day. The rock however was loaded, (I photographed it myself) and began it's long journey back in November, nearly getting as far as Reggie's dam... but somehow making it through customs, through AQIS, (it had been bleach-scrubbed and painted with tile-sealer.) and to Melbourne.

So If you need to know who didn't move the rock, the answer is Grace Removals. Melbourne didn't send all the paperwork to Grace in Launceston, So they did not know that item 223 was a block of sandstone. So when they repacked the 40 foot into two 20 foot containers they somehow decided a crated block of sandstone in a container that held no one else's goods... was not not for the same destination. No, they didn't check or get the full manifest. They just parked the rock. Not exactly inspired but there you go. If you want inspired you'd better come to Flinders Island, 'cos we do things better here. At least Mike Bowman does. Like many of the other tall stories we were told, the movers do not send 4 people to the island to offload and unpack, nor do they send trucks. They just contact the local haulier and say 'can you just do a little job for us?' Which actually works better for me, because I'd rather have a local (who has to live on the same island with me) and who has moved furniture professionally before, even if cows and gravel are more typical. Firstly they didn't break anything (and let us be involved so we could see, and advise) (The dining room table and one of the legs off the stove were bust before coming out of the container.) Secondly, Mike actually got the manifest. And thirdly, they had a sense of humour, and some of that rare stuff common-sense. Grin - He said "I didn't want to be in that 20 foot steel container with you when you heard the rock wasn't there." I tried not to explode.... really. Wasn't his fault. And more importantly it was his fix. He got hold of Grace, and arranged for the rock to come next week. So maybe we will have our ferry-tale ending after all. The movers were moaning apparently that as they have had to ship with another occasional ferry - which does opportunistic cargo - they had to pay more, should think of the savings in surgical costs (because I'm an easy-going peaceful man, but I was incandescently angry right then) Mike has given them.

So... moving in. "carefully... OK that's it. If you could just move it off my foot, that'll be perfect." Boxes and a sort of tetris...

In the middle of all of this Inge - who has to be our favorite islander so far (She arrived here many years ago as a German speaking new Australian with her soldier-settler husband. She I think understands better than most what it is to be a stranger in a strange country.) came and brought us some supper - cooking or even going out last night would have been a move too far.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Had scuba dive with James on Mike Nicholls' (the local dive charter) nursery reef (a good spot for newbie divers -I haven't done scuba for a long time - and it suited me to be in a dive spot without current and quite shallow - we went to 11 metres - the reef drops off more, but we were erring on the side of caution.) In among the huge limestone boulders the fish followed us like a pair of bubble-blowing pied pipers (it was bizarre - FAR more fish behind us than before us. At one stage it looked like it was raining parrot-fish with their irridescent blue semicircular patterned scales and junior railway official prissy mouths... We saw about 25 different species, including a small shark - about a meter long, and a thornback ray, and an amazing amount of invertebrate life - no crays and just one abalone but many interesting sponges and other beasties.
We were down under in Down Under for about an hour and a quarter... and came back to find the first containter has been delivered. They start unpacking tomorrow, and sadly our James flies out.
We have furniture. I think I'd rather keep the kids and get my dogs and cats. I miss them terribly -especially when I need surrogate kids ;-).


A comment on my facebook reads "it will be like Christmas when the furniture does arrive, all those parcels to open". Well, little did the writer know it, but it is more like Christmas than she could imagine. Our containers have arrived on the island, and one has arrived at the house, but we cannot open it until tomorrow!!

This evening they delivered one container and promised that the other would arrive tomorrow, but we are not allowed to start unpacking as they need to tick each item off a list, and presumably check for breakages. But it is right here in the yard, with a ramp in place and the lock off ready for a quick start tomorrow morning, at 7.30am we have been told.

James flies back to South Africa tomorrow, and I had thought we would wait at the airport to wave him off in his little plane, and had then planned a lot of fun things like drivers licence written tests to take our minds off being childless in a strange land, or at least on a small island. Now, I can see only one of us can go to the airport, as the other will have to be directing the traffic, and squeezing all our furniture into John's wonderful, but compact, house. There will be no time for being lonely and feeling bereft, we will be unpacking for days, if not weeks.

BUT, I am really very pleased that our belongings have finally arrived on the island, as at one time I really doubted that a ferry would bring them. And I also wanted, on the other hand, for the kids to be around to connect up our computers, put the hard drives back in, and get them to talk to the wireless internet box. Still, it is a challenge that we will have to rise to, at least we will have the small Eeee so even when James takes his laptops with him we will have a computer still linked to the outside world!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Imagine the scene, gentle reader. A perfect still sunset on Whitemark pier, looking to the west - James is perched on a is perched on a large truck tyre suspended from the jetty front, and on his belly clinging with one hand to the tyre-ridges, is Dave, attempting to get a tupperware bowl under a squid that has one tentacle only onto a squid Jig. Success! and the squid does what it does best from a bowl of water... jet propels by sqirting water... full in my face. Perfect shot, I was just lucky it wasn't ink. Dripping but not letting go - or landing in the briny - we stand up and put the squid on the pier. We'd lost one I had caught in much the same way earlier, which had fuelled this effort... as had an exccellent calamari supper earlier - I turned 3 squid into grilled wing with honey and soy sauce and a little olive oil, deep fried tentacles and shallow fried rings Served with rice and salad it made a capital meal -well worth getting a face-spray.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Australia day

James came home from sea with a good feed of flathead, some abalone and serious dose of flaming scarlet skin and very wide grin.
We ate flathead and pronounced it excellent - firm, succulent, and with a lovely flavor. I simply shallow fried it in rice bran oil, with a flour and egg batter. I also - with trepidation, cooked whole greenlip abalone the way John had told us to. Now I am used to slicing abalone blotting-paper thin, and then beating it with a steak mallet until lacy and see-through. It's still slightly tough - a minor detail for the flavour of it. It's then very very briefly fried. You can also cut it in chunks and cook in a pressure cooker for quite some time - the end result is tender, but much of the flavour is sacrificed. The idea of briefly cooking a whole crumbed abalone had me living in fear of turning something precious and delicious into large chunks of very long lasting old car-tyre imitations. But -that waas local advice -and I am here to learn - so I ventured bravely into culinary sacrilege. It worked and the abalone steak wasn't tough. Not as tasty as the South African kind, IMO - still delicious. And RICH.

Today was Australia day, our first - and memorable - we went to a beach barbie up at Killiekrankie a Lions function. We sat in the shade of the she-oaks looking out at the kids (including James) playing beach cricket. Behind them two little Catamarans sailed out in the bay toward Stacky's Bite.It was idyllic, friendly - with us meeting a lot more people who already know about us:-) - getting some inside information on a lot of the ups and downside of the Island. James and I had done a dive circuit of the little island just offshore and had seen an array of fish- some of which I now have to look up, and seen a lot of Abalone -- crays, less so, sadly - the only ones were in the holding fykes in the channel. I'm still hoping to dive from the shore for them, without aqualungs. We'll see.

Then we drove the final few km to North East river, and tried for Australian Salmon for few minutes... ineptly. I got myself broken up - lost most of my line - and James had the tail of his plastic bitten off. Learning curve.

So this evening I've cooked some clams, bacon, broccoli and pasta in a creamy sauce. It calls for bit of white wine and some flatleaf-parsley. We'll work on it.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Large lizards and the police

We saw Paddy off in his pelican-plane (a Dornier IIRC - a 20 seater!) on the first leg of his epic journey, and then James went off with John and Marcus, fishing. I hope the boy learns a lot, and catches some fish... as we've had 2 minor heartstoppers since. Firstly, a strangled-sounding squeak from B - a huge lizard - about the size of my forearm, and about as thick decided to come and join her in the lounge. It was frustrated in this ambition by thhe glass of the glass door, but B's eyes were VERY wide. Secondly a police car came bumping up our drive up to our door. Now, I daresay I have may accidentally committed a 'crime' here because there are a lot of petty regulations we are sure not to know about, but I'm not a crim by nature, and we've done everything by the book, quite rigidly -- but the last time I had a police car, with 2 young cops drive slowly up to my door was to tell us that that Andy - one of kids sharing digs with us at Uni - had been killed in a motor bike accident. And James is off at sea... Paddy is in a plane... My blood went cold. I must have been as white as sheet.
She was lost. Looking for the place next door.


We had our first experience of a community fun day out yesterday. It was such fun to watch a local cricket match, with all ages playing from I about 12 up to the umpire who was over 80, but some of the players were not far behind him! All the batsmen batted for a set number of overs, and the whole team had to bowl a certain number of balls. Then the number of times they would have gone out were deducted from their run total. Fielders were strategically placed to protect some of the parked cars, but the game had to stop occasionally so that the ball could be retrieved from the bushes, and the rest of the fielding side could have a little sit down while they searched. I loved it all, but after a sausage or chop lunch the others were ready for home, so we did not find out if the town or the country won, but I am sure we will hear sometime.

Paddy flew out today, and will be back at University tomorrow, after 5 flights and 8 airports, and 2 bus trips, if he does not get lost! He gains 8 or 9 hours on the way, so will hopefully be there to join the rest of his residence committe tomorrow afternoon.

James has gone fishing off shore today, with our wonderful landlord, in what looked to me like a very small boat, while it was still on the trailer, but Dave thought it looked big enough. Still it is a windless day, with some cloud over the mountains, but none on the sea side, so they should have a peaceful trip, and I hope catch enough to make it a fun day!!

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Woke this Sunday morning to the most unGodly noise for 5.30 AM on a Sunday... Birds. Birds bathing in a gutter and telling the world that was a beautiful morning and that the sun was shining and it wasn't cold not a bit, and the others should come and join it. What of course was really weird was that we could hear it. No wind noise. It is amazing how quickly you get used to it.

The first of the Chinese cabbage seedlings are up, and few carrot - along with lettuce, beetroot, zucchini, and cucumber. The first five barrow loads of weeds, dead grass, and yeah, weeds have made it into the compost. The first 200 grammes of my daily seaweed allowance have made it home. Only 99.800 kg to go. Advice seems to vary with the locals saying some TV gardener said to use it as mulch (unwashed) on top, and my west-coast SA friends saying to wash the salt off it and dig it in. I know it was used on the potatoes before the Irish potato famine, and that them stopping doing so was possibly a factor in causing the blight to spread...but I really have no idea if they dug it in or not. So I washed and dug it in with the Zucchini as an experiment. A zucchini famine would be a tragedy - we have many new ways of cooking them after the great Zucchini overkill, but I plan to rely on the tatties...
Today was the annual volunteer firies cricket match. Much happy slogging.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Ferry again...

Just when you think that things are starting to level off... the ferry company went into receivership yesterday. Heh. And our container is still in Launceston.
Oh well. My lettuces and beetroot are up as is my zucchini and cucumber -I know -very late, but hopefully I'll get material for gerkins if not full-grown cucumbers. Life goes on. Inge brought us scones with jam and thick cream and a dozen beautifully fresh eggs from her son's chooks. People greet you in town 'howyergoin, awright? D'yer need anythink?'
John brought me a spade today - we've ordered one from Tassie. Probably on the ferry.

Trousers Point

One of the joys of really long days is I can put in 5 hours work and then still have a reasonable amount of daylight - 11 hours or so to do a little exploring with the boys. - which usually means I can get another 3-4 hours before bed as we're seldom out all of it. Paddy leaves on Monday which will be hard, so we're exploring a little more than I really should (because I am behind). So yesterday we went to Trousers Point (where one points at trousers) - and we had the whole family in the water.

We found our first abalone and saw quite a range of fish... including the most immense skate (or a ray if you prefer - nearly caused a stack overload :-)) like big dirty 2 metre wide dishcloth that kept trying to follow us out of the water. Later when Pads and Barbs were fishing there where wrasse harrassing their baits and lures and the big triggerfish swiming out of holes and caves to peck at the possible food. It was probably about 18 in water and clear as gin (or as clear as one's mind after drinking it.) The waves were as gentle as anything inside a coral reef, and with the white sand and perfect rocky coves you could have been in some tropical paradise not south of the 40th parallel.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A walk around the block

Took myself for a constitutional stroll around the block the other night - it took me two hours and appears to be about 7 km (my 'block' in the old country was about 60 km). I saw wild turkey and Cape Barren geese, and a lot of other birdlife I still need to learn. The parroty things are an experience, but my current favourite is the blue wren - a tiny bird with a blue head and black mask a perky upright tail and an attitude that says... 'I am the avian Zorro!' met my first wallaby too - not sure which species yet... er. They do look overgrown shaggy unkempt rat that bounces. Who fed the rats Disney-tigger pills? I took some sunset pics of the sea-weedy sandflats and enjoyed the tranquility of soul. I didn't see one other person not driving, but I did find a large reel neatly stuck in the fork of a tree -obviously someone's roof-cargo didn't make it through the arch of wind-carved she-oaks. I'll advertise it's finding in the bi-weekly paper, I think. If anyone can tell me the make, and roughly where they lost it, they can have it back.

Our furniture is in Launceston. The local operator says he can see the containers (they split the load in two) from his office window. Oddly I can't eat off it there, and by the time it gets here it'll probably be too late for the boys to be here to help unload and sort and re-assemble computers for us. Ah well, maybe in a week or two or three they'll make the booking for the ferry. The local movers who our not too amazing Elliots have subcontracted have taken about as long to move the stuff from Melbourne to Lonnie - let alone here - as they took pack and move it from Finnegan's Wake to Melbourne. Is this the way it works in Australia? Normally in SA you pay part of the move on receipt, which seems a powerful incentive. Unfortunately international moves have to pay up front. Oh well. We have a house to live in, and my first seedlings are poking their heads up :-)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

So many 'firsts'

We have been here nearly a week, and there are so many times I have found myself saying, "well, that was the first ... for the island". I also keep feeling that this is our home for just a few days, after wandering for 2 months it is hard to believe we are settled for a year at last.

Yesterday we went up to the Northern end of the island, and we caught our first 3 edible fish!! Great excitement, and they were good to eat too.

Paddy also got a feel for some of the rock, but could not do any real climbing as our 'trad' climbing gear is all packed with our furniture, which is on its way!! They said it would get here about when we did, so I am hoping it turns up in the next week, while we still have the kids with us to help unload, unpack and sort it all out. Also then Paddy will be able to try out the climbing for real.

Everyone has been very kind and welcoming to us. It has been really fantastic to have the dream we have lived with for so long finally come true.

Killikrankie and the north parts

'If ye hae'seen wha' I hae' seen, on the Braes o' Killikrankie-o' (Scots trad.) -- We took the boys on the big expotition to the North yesterday, despite the weather actually being worse. Killikrankie - besides being the site of a famous battle in Scotland is also the name of a village on Flinders and the climbing area about 2 km north. Very useful multipurpose name I am sure could be used for a bunch of other stuff too:-). It's about 40Km beyond the black stump (the black stump is clearly marked on a large fire-blackend stump - local sense of humour appeals to my own twisted sense of the same.) The wind was gale force, so we were more doing a scout than anything else. The crag is magnicent -wind-carved (there is a little zephyr here once in a while) and convoluted granites, overlooking a coastline of perfect little coves, looking as if some amatuerish chef had attacked the pastry-sheet of land with a scallop-edged cookie-cutter. The sea was wild and tormented and churning with torn seaweed drifts. We still managed to catch some 'wrasse' (scorned locally, very popular in the far East). Barbs caught our first Flinders fish - and later, the biggest too... well nearly. She got this enormous fish to the very edge and James tried to help her land it. I assume he must have touched the leader, as it broke - and James -hyper with excitement jumped in after it. It slipped away - but unfortunately the water didn't. With the wind and wet, we had a very cold James. Anyway, we have now caught a local fish or three (we fished for about 3/4 of an hour and caught about 14 of these things - learning all the time) 3 were size and we brought them back. They're fairly soft-fleshed delicate flavour - not clean-flaking, and probably respond badly to even the slightest over-cooking, but otherwise perfectly edible.

BigPond - you know the internet provider part of Telstra that gave us such a dreadful run-around, finally got around to trying to reply to their reply within 48 hours max online service -- a week later. They appear not have the vaguest what is happening in their own company as they had no idea what had happened since. Ah well. Every ointment must have its fly. With luck we'll deal with this one too.

And now to work. books need to be written.

Monday, January 18, 2010

on food

Food has always been rather an obsession of mine (no one else I know flies with a 2 kg recipe book) and one of the things I am most looking forward to is learning a whole new set of possible ingredients. One of the reasons I like the whole self-sufficiency bit so much is that freshness and quality make for great food, and it's one of the few ways you can know both and be in control of it. The sheer seasonality of living like that also means that absence makes the heart grow fonder and the ephemeral factor makes the things like fresh asparagus very precious. It seems here, with much of the fresh veg being flown in, and with the abatoir having closed down (so meat is being flown in too - which is insanity when you consider the island's agriculture is principally stock farming) we're going to have to adapt to local conditions and self sufficiency very very fast or go broke. Local knowledge is of course key to this and so far we're managing to be newbies very well -- I've almost never caught less fish -- this is whole new ball-game for us (ping-pong I think). We've seen some enormous rays - two metres across, and some fry, but are obviously not fishing in the right spots yet. We have caught some Calamari with much ink squirting and hilariarity and yesterday in a bitter howling wind we collected clams -- much smaller than my cooking bible says the common species are (pipis and vongole), so probably yet another of the myriad species we have to learn - 2 species - one quite strong tasting and probably ideal for tomato based sauces with lots of garlic or/and chili, the other slightly sweet and delicate - suited to creamy sauces, perhaps with a white wine reduction and touch of fennel. Flinders is famous for its fish -- and I am sure we'll find them. It's just been a case of not really getting where to go on a kelp shore and the weather has not been in our favour.

I've cleared one quarter of a neglected small raised bed area so far, collecting old dung from the field adjacent to the house (and I hope today seaweed) to try and add a bit of water retention and fertility to the sandy soil. It's late to be planting but I feel I have to try. carrots, lettuces and the bassicas should do OK. Not sure about Tatties - at Finnegan's Wake they couldn't be grown in winter - we had frost.

We've seen wild turkeys (twice) wild peacocks (once) and of course Cape Barren geese (all the time) and along with the possibility of keeping a few sheep this all still has to be explored.

In the meanwhile we have rather limited utensils and a stove that only has 2 working plates - one does white hot only and the other is more-or-less normal. The oven door is so warped that you're heating the entire house so... a bit of a challenge there. Our furniture hasn't arrived (and who knows when it will?) so this morning saw B in her cozzie (handwashing in the bath is a wet process) doing the new dance - the windy-flinders freezer - while hanging out washing.

But we'll succeed. Take a few knocks, I am sure, and have to get up again.
And now I must get to work on my day's writing.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Islanders and our new home

Those of you who are Tolkein fans will understand immediately what I mean when I say our new landlord resembles an Australian farmer Giles of Ham. He has a round cheerful face that's seen a lot of sun and wind, and wore a checked shirt -- he was waiting for us on the quayside when we got in... which was rather nice but might have been nerves on his part. Grin. His mum - who is a honey -- also couldn't retrain her curiousity and came to visit... see we come from Africa... are we... dark? heh. Well, just a little I suppose (All Afrikaaners are, somewhere down the line). But hats off to John he never let that weigh with him. We went to the house, and we too were relieved. It was clean and a little bigger than we'd believed - our furniture is old and large and our old house was too.

So we went to the local coffee shop, had coffee signed papers... and did not finish up because Service Tas is not open every day. Here on Flinders it's worth waiting for because the lady who runs it is something special, well so far everyone we've dealt with has been. As soon as they find out you're staying, well, you have be introduced. I'm awash with names. Chuckle - they were very impressed that first thing we did was to sign up with the library. I don't think they have realised my profession yet. I'll keep it that way as long as possible - don't want anyone thinking I think I am a tall poppy or something. Anyway, it's one of those places where buying a loaf of bread might take an hour and a half as everyone talks. One of the matriarchs decided I was Dr Bob (whoever that is)and greeted me enthusiastically. I know she has 4 kids now, and quite a bit about them.

Anyway, the NEXT exciting episode of the ferry saga - the ferry dropped us, sailed back with a load of logs and ran aground... at which point it emerged that it hadn't passed its survey and wasn't supposed to be running anyway. It's now NOT running and our furniture is in Tasmania waiting to get here. But we have a home and sufficient crockery cutlery and bedding for now. We'll manage.

A long long way from there to here

It's a long, long way from there to here...
We FINALLY have an internet connection and I have half caught up on the several thousand e-mails... and we're here on Flinders. Where the bloody hell are you? ;-) I hope to post pictures later today, and the backtrack of days we couldn't post.
The final leg was... interesting. Like most adventures quite a lot of it is best from a distance ;-). When FINALLY BigPond told us that the very expensive device that Telstra's Eastlands mall branch had sold us and refused to help with didn't work, wouldn't ever work, and should be returned (“to any Telstra store”) andthey would send us to Flinders a replacement with working software (did I believe them? no. I was wrong though) we were on the lower Tamar, at Beauty point, with our new-shredded tent, with it's exploded poles and the black swans drifting peacefully past in the now still water. We still had one tent so we had a crowded night (with offers of tents and a bunk in a camper from our various neighbours – this was self inflicted injury... again) and drove to Launceston not Bridport... were the Telstra shop said no, sorry, they weren't taking it back because Eastlands was a franchise. Another half hour on the phone got them to agree to send us a post-paid box and to credit us with the cost. As yet this has not happened. Anyway – we did some of the shopping (some- ie, we forgot stuff) and headed out to Bridport via the Lilydale road – the shortest according to the GPS. It is. It's beautiful... it's also windy steep places and full of roadworks right now. I spent most of the trip in fear that the blue slug would die – awkward as the ferry goes once a week! Anyway my worries were rewarded with a tyre going flat and seeing if it could shred more than the tent. The jack – a little bottle jack – couldn't lift the vehicle high enough. B flagged the first car down, as this was a part of Tas sans large rocks or stumps (put the vehicle on one, and then put the jack in the right spot.) And HIS jack was inaccessable, under a huge load, but he was a big guy and we lifted the blue slug up and onto the jack on the lowest point and changed the tyre no trouble. Of course... it wasn't the right tyre. The rest are 215s... this is 185. Still it got us to Bridport's only 'Servo'
where they didn't have any 215s. Could order for us – but not before the ferry loaded in 3 hours time. So they sold us a used 195... ah well. It got us to the Ferry... which was lying on the mud. When they say Bridport is tidal port... they really aren't kidding. The ferry office said the credit card hadn't gone through and so we paid cash – got a discount too, and a special offer $200 and vehicle and 2 passengers return – as opposed to $500 one way. Still $200 one way, but even with the kids $58 each – (and less $16 discount) – cheaper. We drove on and they closed off the back with a 20 ft container... and then the sea door. The ship was um... agriculturally scented – but we had the passenger lounge to ourselves - We went up on deck onto the bow as the Condor nosed out slowly down the channel, and past the bunch of jeering brats racing her on their bycicles (and my brats yelling 'faster' at them as they approached the end of the berm) and out into the open sea. Soon it was just B and I looking at the wine-dark sea and feeling the wind that had blown over thousands of km of emptiness. Cold.
Soon B and I went down into the rocking belly... and B was sick.
I awoke with the absence of movement and Paddy waking me – we went up on deck in the dawn and saw how the drowned mountains loomed out of the still, clear green-blue sea.
We were in the Sounds... coming in to Lady Barron, Flinders Island.
And that's long enough for now.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Island

We have arrived. Tired from a long sea voyage, where I discovered sea sickness for the first time, and realised I had never had enough sympathy for sufferers before. But we were met off the ferry by the owner of our rented house, and he showed us the house and then stood us to coffee at the local shop while we signed papers. If we can get them, he is happy for us to run a few sheep, and if Dave can manage to buy the right sort of spade, he can restart the veggie garden.

The house is perfect for our needs, we just had to dash out and buy a kettle, which we forgot to get on the mainland, and we are now set for the next year. What a relief. All my nightmares of the house were totally unfounded, I just wasn't sure about a house we had never seen.

But it all looks really good, for a great 2010

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Thermostat

In the second hand blue slug is toast. On a late saturday afternoon the best Carl (our saviour-mechanic) could do was to just take it out -- which will be a problem in winter if we don't replace it. Without Malcolm and Sherry-Lyn Graham (and Sherry-Lyn parents pat and Noel in Orford who runs Sea Breeze Holiday cabins (ex-Zimbos) we would have been in dire trouble. Nothing could have exceeded this family's friendliness and kindness to virtual strangers. Sherry-Lyn spent two solid hours on the phone to Telstra and Bigpond. If the system ever works it's more due to her patience than my fury at these companies.Anyway -tomorrow we hope to go on Coles bay for the boys to see some more of Tas. I have put my foot down hard about taking the vehicle to Strahan. I'm not sure when/if next i'll get net access, but I'll keep a record and post it all eventually.

Mt Wellington

Today we drove up tree-lined steep road that snakes its way up and up the face of Mt Wellington. The blue slug did not like it and overheated. Then we walked up to the Northern butress, and climbed a route called Pegasus. The rock was an exceptionally gritty dolerite = like climbing on a very coarse sandpaper. This has a positive and a negative side -- on the positive your boots stick – on the negative so does your skin. The route followed a long crack which was often too wide to fist jam and relied on a sort of half chimney wiggle. The 35 metre first pitch on a very limited rack was... long run outs between runners, and I was very glad I was leading it, not the boys, and that it wasn't that hard. The next pitch crack was superlative jamming. And then came the piece-de-resistance the view from the top, which was just unbelievably spectacular across the folded landcape and myriad shining bays and inlets. We could see all the way from Southern Bruny Island to the other side of Port Arthur. This was followed by an almost cathedral like abseil – 40 metres down a huge chasm through chockstones the size of busses, and down, in free space with glimpses of a distant sea, with huge grey walls on either side of you.
We then drove down – the vehicle not overheating, packed up and made our way to Coles bay... or so we thought. The blue slug's temperature came up alarmingly on the hills, to the point that we decided to stop and let it cool and seek help in orford. Hence we are now in Tribunna and we're due to have it looked at this afternoon.

BigPond internet STILL isn't working. They promise. The delivery is... lacking.

Friday, January 8, 2010


Well we're still without access - but yesterday was the first 'rest day' in which we went to coningham in the morning and climbed on the small red sandstone sea-cliffs. James and I went for a dive - a wonderful swim along the kelp edge with the broad fronds moving and folding beneath us, Some of the seaweed was so fine (no real wave action) that it looked like smoke or a cloud. We saw an enormous sea-horse -fully a foot long, and any number of other strange (to me) fish. Altogether superb,Fully worth shivering for.And the climbing was fun, even if the rd need some kind of marker, and a tape measure.
In the afternoon we went to Freuhof crag with Roger Parkyn - an urban training crag - which was badly undersold. It's not Coningham which is picture perfect but is good climbing

Thursday, January 7, 2010

No Thanks to Telstra

We're getting there. Tas is beautiful, almost everyone is friendly and helpful -- some fantastically so. There are of course flies in the ointment - but not in the expected spots. Customs and the quarantine guys couldn't have been more pleasant. So far we have at least to some degree succeeded in very nearly everything we need to do. The exception is to get our internet sorted. We have to do telstra -which everyone warned us against -but is our only choice for the island. And they - particularly the Eastlands Telstra shop have been the sort thing Australia should try to export - possibly to Somalia along with the staff. I don't think I have ever had "I haven't been able to set up the piece of equipment you've sold me(for $400), can someone help me," greeted with a reply from a rather fat hake-faced shop assistant "No."
The problem is BTW entirely something that only they can fix - the account can't be authorised because i don't have a telstra credit history (logically) and despite the fact that I am willing to pay for it - for the entire contract period if necessary this appalling little nest of incompetence won't help. Anyway -I have written my daily blog entries every day and will post them as soon as this hurdle is crossed. (not on this machine -and I am not translating or copy typing.

Friday, January 1, 2010


Very tired very excited - we have a delay of an hour before take-off to Hobart. it's done, we're here ;-)