Last Day in Tasmania - Derwent River Valley

Trip Start Feb 26, 2013
Trip End Apr 15, 2013

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What I did
Russell Falls, Field National Park
Redlands Estate

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

We are in a different world and a different place now that we are in the airport hotel, almost packed up to fly out tomorrow morning, and in that state of leaving one place to go to another:  Darwin and the Northern Territories for me and home for Doreen.

This morning I woke up pretty early - glanced out the window toward the river and saw that it was misty, grabbed my SLR camera and headed for the river.  I think it was actually before 7 am but I was confused by the stopped alarm clock in my room and wasn't sure what time it was.  The river was misty and very beautiful.  The view was more toward the west so I didn't really get much sunrise, but a little pink streak by the cottage.  While I was out there, there was lots of bird noise - some ducks or geese and some other birds, so I went back inside to grab the Lumix so I could get a little video to capture the sounds.  As soon as I started, the camera shut down because the card was full so I had to replace the card and try again.  I did get a little bit of the amazing sounds, but not sure what happened to it.
It seemed to take me a bit longer this morning to get organized so I think I held us up.  The kitchen at our lovely cottage on the river was very well equipped, so I had some muesli and multi-grain toast with Tasmanian honey....all good.  I gathered up all my belongings.  It was a shame neither of used the jacuzzi.   It is next to frosted windows so you get a lot of light but cannot see out, but then neither can anyone see in.  We said goodbye to and complimented the owner - an attractive, athletic-looking blonde woman named Veronica, or Ronnie.  She is a photographer as well and had a bunch of small photos of the area on sale as well as some large photos showcased in the cottage.  The decor itself was very nicely done - modern, muted colors, and lovely.

I had tried to get on the internet in the am so we could book our
airport hotel room but couldn't connect.  So we went back to Plan A -
going to the tourist info center.  We had to wait until 10 am for it to
open though.  I was a little obsessed to find the oasts I thought I saw
somewhere.  We ended up checking out some antique shops in town - there
are quite a few and they are filled with all kinds of treasures.  When
we went back to the tourist info, the volunteer there found the name of
the airport hotel, connected us with them, and we were able to book a
room.  So that set, we were ready to do a little touristing.  We had
discovered that the Lady Convicts were south of Hobart, so we had to
regroup since neither of us wanted the hassle of big city driving before leaving tomorrow.

First, we drove out past the Shingles Cottages on
Glenora Road toward a few of the area tourist attractions:  Redlands
with its old buildings and new distillery and Russell Waterfall at the
Field National Park.  I think I don't have that quite right.  We passed
Redlands on the way and decided to come back to it.  We stopped at an
antique shop/produce store and got directions to the waterfall. 

This waterfall is a famous double one, but since the weather has been dry,
the waterfall was not as
full as it might have been.  The walk to the falls was through a very
dramatic landscape.  There were huge eucalyptus trees, the
creek running next to the path, and so much moss covering the
bark of the standing trees and all the fallen ones.  There were a few
stumps that were was in the middle of the path and parts had
rotted so there were a half dozen or so pieces of the stump sitting in a fairy
ring.  The diameter of this ring - the former diameter of the stump -
must have been at least 10 feet.  Doreen said she has never seen such
big tree ferns - they were really trees!   In one spot, Doreen motioned
me over and pointed out a pademelon sitting in a little cubbyhole formed
by the dense vegetation.  The landscape did correspond to what I
thought Tasmania would be like - minus the dripping water.

After returning from the walk, we drove back toward Redlands.  I tried to get a
few photos of some of the pretty little cottages with their wooden lacework trim
decorating the porches. 

Then we stopped at
Redlands Estate and interrupted the owner who was eating his sandwich for
lunch.  I opted for both the distillery and garden tours so he led us around
the various buildings devoted to the new distillery.  He said they are
the only distillery that supplies its own grain.  They have harvested their
barley.  They put the barley in water for two days until it sprouts so
that the starch turns to sugar - from around 11% to 30% maybe.  After 48
hrs, the sprouted barley is heated to stop the sprouting and then
spread on the floor to dry out to 3% water content.  After that
the barley grains are put in a cutting machine where each grain is cut into 6
pieces or so.  Then the cut barley is put in some vat - I have forgotten what
happens to it there but he gave us a taste of the liquid that is the
result and it was sweeter but not that great tasting.  Then they distill
it in the big copper vat - I know it has a special name - ah, alembic.  I think we
got another taste here and it didn't taste at all bad but it wasn't
finished yet.  The potential whiskey then needed to be put in a cask for 2 years.  The
owner then showed us one of the small casks from French pinot noir.  The casks are
around $600 so the 5 or 6 casks that he needs for the barley batch cost
him several thousand dollars.  He expects to do a batch a week - or
was it 10 casks a week?  He also gave me a taste of an apple schnapps.  I thought it was quite nice and felt it had a ciderish taste.  Doreen was passing up all this good stuff.

We looked in a few of the old buildings - I am not sure I can remember all
of them - but there was a hops oast and rooms as well as a little house
for the hops pickers.  He said there are still people who remember
staying in some of these lodgings when they picked hops.  This area around New Norfolk was a
major hops growing region and it obviously still is because we saw
fields with hops.  When we were at the produce store and I asked about
finding an oast, the woman told me that a nearby farm was harvesting
their hops that very day.  But we shouldn't bother them today since they were harvesting.
Lots of the buildings here at Redlands Estate were
not in the best of shape, but the roof beams were still beautiful
There are some signs about explaining various parts of the farm.  There
is even a little cobblestone walkway between some of the buildings - they call it the Cobblestone Village because it had a general store, butchery and other shops for the estate community.  There are plans for rehabbing the buildings and offering accommodations.

Along one set of buildings, there are some canals.  When this farm was
first settled, the canals were dug by convict labor and the land was
irrigated with the water.  It was quite a large farm - granted by the
King of England to the Prince of Wales, who had been named George Read,
after his nursemaid.  This man was well taken care of because he was a
prince but not acknowledged as one.  I have to look this up because I
can't remember how it was exactly.  In the back of the property was the
Plenty River, very low at the moment, home of a platypus which neither
Doreen nor I saw but the owner said he has seen it after fishing for 1

The house looks quite nice but was off - limits to tourists.  The estate had belonged to
George Read's family for 100 years and then to another family for 100
years before it was bought by the parents (of our guide's wife I think), Peter and Elizabeth Hope.  The young couple, who have 3 children, live here and run the place. 
He was a very pleasant person with a ready smile and laugh.  Doreen got
to talk more with his wife and liked her as well.  Now I wish I had written down their names when they were fresh in my mind because I can't find them on the web.

I also had a walk around the back and saw
some pear trees and other kinds of trees.  I saw a chicken out there
too.  Then I saw the Derwent River on the other side of the property. 
There was a kind of marshy area and I bet more platypuses but I didn't
see any.  I worked my way back to the front where I ran into Doreen. 
She mentioned getting a milk shake and said she would wait if I wanted
one too.  I went to the cafe - where the owner was serving some lunch
guests - and I got a caramel shake, then I walked around the other side
by the canals and went to the car but Doreen was not there.  Then I found
Doreen in the tasting bar - but she wasn't tasting - and we left.  Oh, I
forgot the part where I got to taste one of the Lark whiskeys - the one
finished in a bourbon cask.  That was extremely good.

From Redlands Estate,
we set off back through New Norfolk and got some gas before we left for
the airport hotel.  It was a pretty uneventful drive over the highway
on the south side of the Derwent.  The river got quite wide and turned
into the Prince of Wales Bay.  The traffic was getting a little heavier
but not bad.  We decided to drive to the airport first rather than
turning into Cambridge trying to find the hotel.  When we turned toward
the airport, we immediately found the hotel, checked in, and tried to
pack for tomorrow's flight.  I could write more but it wouldn't be all that interesting.

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