Platypuses, Echidnas, Seahorses & Seadragons

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

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What I did
Notley Fern Gorge State Reserve
Bat Bridge
Seahorse World
Beaconsfield Mine and Heritage Centre

Flag of Australia  , Tasmania,
Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Where am I??  Where have I been/gone??  My mind is a bit fuzzy at the moment.  I woke up pretty early this am and was going to lie in bed longer since it still seemed dark, but I seemed to be wide awake.  I thought I heard Doreen showering before 6 am but maybe it was only the fan.  Or maybe the apartment upstairs.  Anyway, I got up and tried to organize, showered, and then read a bit of Thornbirds.  Once Doreen was out and about, we ate our yogurt in Doreen's room at the table and watched the news and morning program.  A young man had been picked up by the police in Sydney at the Gay Mardi Gras Parade and there was a you-tube video that brought up issues of police brutality.  I think there was some other big story as well.

Doreen was ready to drive today, but I felt I could do with the practice, so I drove since it would be my day.  My driving makes her uncomfortable....I can sympathize with that.  I have mixed feelings - I hate to make anyone uncomfortable.  I have a good driving record.  Driving on the opposite side of the road does make things more difficult. 

So we drove from George Town to the place where we could cross the Tamar River so that we could get to Platypus House and the other attractions nearby.  I almost forgot another important event - we crossed the river via the Bat Bridge.  At first I thought it was not the real bridge but some sort of tourist trap.  I would have taken a photo of it but needed to keep my eyes on the road AND hands on the wheel, but now I think I have a postcard of it.  Hmmm, where is the postcard?

First stop was the Beaconsfield Mine Museum.  The museum is housed in a new building plus several of the old buildings connected to this gold mining company that is still in operation there.  The old brick buildings are lovely.   Some parts of them are intact and others not.  There are huge chunks of rock and concrete blocking the old shafts.  The museum itself is filled with old photos, machinery, other memorabilia from the gold mining operation and the life of the town surrounding it.  There were old telephones, bicycles, Singer sewing machines, et al.  It was very well done - I liked the signage done like old-fashioned posters.  I managed to get out of the gift shop without too much - maybe a couple of postcards.  Oh, this may be where I bought the bat stuffed toy, though.

We had bought our triple passes for the Beaconsfield Mine and Heritage Centre and two other attractions and we saved a bit of money.  These tourist attractions are not cheap here.  The second and third attractions were next door to one another on the pier at Beauty Point.  First we went into Seahorse World.  While we were waiting for the guided tour, we could see a video on the Leafy Sea Dragons, found only around Tasmania and mainland Australia.  I had never seen or heard of them before and was in awe.  They are so beautiful and amazing.  A diver was studying them and had videoed them underwater where they blend into the seaweed perfectly.  Plus they look like little dragons - they really do.  The exhibit is part of the seahorse pet supply company.  They breed the seahorses for hobbyists. 

We got to see several varieties of sea horse in various tanks as they swam around.  Then in another room we saw seahorse babies - or fry - in stages of their growth.  Our guide fed some of them dried shrimp food.  The caretakers accustom the sea horses to this food so that the sea horses will be easier to maintain and thus more people will want to keep them as pets.  And, of course, more income and profit.  Finally, we stopped in a small room with several tanks - one with their 12-yr-old granddaddy sea horse, another with a kind of sea dragon - not the leafy one, this was the weedy sea dragon, but still pretty amazing - and another tank with quite a few different kinds of fish common to Tasmanian waters.  I ended up buying more souvenirs that I am not sure I will be able to keep with me on the Indonesian flights - I may have to mail them home.

On our way to our destination for the night, we stopped at a cafe for which we had a coupon given to us at the mining museum.  The restaurant was a bit more upscale than we really wanted, but I think both of us were pretty hungry by then and it was hard to move on once we had gotten there.  They took a long time to serve us.  I joked that they had to make Doreen's steak and kidney pie from scratch.  I had a salmon focaccia, but couldn't finish all 3 pieces so I wrapped one up in a napkin and put it in the insulated bag.  Hmmm, we should probably think about ice of some sort.  Doreen is a bit worried about my getting food poisoning and threatening to drop me off at the ER so I won't mess up her vacation.  

From there it was mostly driving - we drove south on the highway to Launceston, but then turned off to go west, then north.  On the way we did one more stop.   We took about a 6 k detour to Notley Fern Gorge State Reserve where a trail led to a gorge through more rainforest.  We only took a short 5 minute walk on the path to a notable old tree that you could camp within since it had a door or two and enough space inside to at least sit down I think.  I did walk in and take a photo or two.  I mentioned to Doreen how each trail into the rainforest that we have taken has been different.  This one was much drier and only started getting more lush once we hit the cycads.  There were some really huge gum (eucalyptus) trees, some blackwood and some shaggy bark gums as well.  One of them had largish, long leaves.  I haven't seen that many broad-leafed trees in our travels here in Tasmania.  Let me see, there must have been something else notable.  Well, the trees were totally incredible - so tall, so huge!! 

To finish up my daily log, we drove to Port Sorell on the northern coast - or at least very near the coast, but our hopes of having a place to stay with a view were dashed as we drove around town looking for a hotel on the water.  We finally ended up at Shearwater Resorts, which has a view of  the golf course, but, of course, our apartment has a view of the road and parking lot.  After putting in some laundry, we walked over to the bottle shop on the grounds and tried to agree on a bottle of wine.  After some little issues, we picked out a local pinot noir with a label of 42 degrees south.  It was good until I spilled my last glass on the living room rug.  We had feasted on a supper of cheese and crackers with olives.  I added my leftover salmon focaccia.  After that we came in - oh, we originally sat on our picnic table on the patio.  The upstairs apartments have a balcony with outdoor table and chairs.  After moving in to be warmer, we watched some TV and then off to our respective rooms for reading and computer work.

Tomorrow will bring us farther along toward the Northwest and Cradle Mountain National Park.

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