The big free camping trial.
After a later start than normal we headed of toward Huonville in the Huon Valley where we arranged to meet Barry and Christine. The road was hilly and winding but as usual the Nissan and the Van performed faultlessly.
The scenery was awesome.
The leaves of the trees are in the early process of changing colour and of course this part of the world has trees in super abundance so the scene that passes the car window is an ever changing patchwork of spectacular colour.
There are also forests on the way to Huonville, beautiful forests, with magnificent ferns and huge trees.
There are also apples. Apples are everywhere.
Roadside stalls sell apples very cheap because of the abundance of them in this area.
Arriving in the little town of Franklin we lunched beside the pristine, clear cold water of the Huon river while watching wooden sailboats sail past.
We took great pleasure in visiting the Wooden Boat Building School.
This is a unique school that teaches the fine art of boat building by coordinating students willing to pay for the course with customers who want a very special hand built wooden boat and skilled qualified teachers.
The public pay a small fee to browse and watch the boats being built.
This is a really satisfying experience for anyone with any interest at all in boats or building in timber.
There is something satisfying about watching a precision craftsman at work.
You realise that mechanised automated systems can never replace the work of a true craftsmen and true craftsmen really do frequent this school.
The boats are built of the local timbers of the region – Huon pine mostly, (arguably one of the very best of all the boatbuilding timbers), Blackwood, King Billy Pine, Tasmanian Oak, (Swamp Gum by it’s real name), Sassafras and Celery Top.
Run your hand over the timber joinery of these beautiful boats and you’ll not be able to feel the joins, not the slightest hint that you are feeling anything but a solid hunk of timber, yet you can see the joins.
At 80 years old Adrian is still building boats here as he did at 20.
Timber boats seem to signify this town as do apples and pears and other fruits. Franklin’s original reason for existence was as a port to ship produce to Hobart on river boats and one can easily imagine the bustle of daily life back at the turn of the century.
Coming across the little town of Geeveston we discovered the artist’s centre where stoped to admire what must be some of the most unique pieces of furniture we’ve ever seen. Especially taking our interest was a magnificent bedroom suite made of Blackheart Sassafras. The craftsmen had skilfully blended the black inner grains of the timber into the doors and panels and framed the rest of the unit in the clear outer section of the tree.
This Artist’s Centre is well worth a visit when passing through Geeveston.
On we drove toward the Tahune Forest where we wanted to take the famous Skywalk tomorrow.
We were told there was free camping available at the Arve River Picnic Ground but found it to small even for our little van for the night let alone Barry and Christine’s motor home, so we drove to the Skywalk where there is supposedly free camping for 24 hours in the Information Centre car park.
This would be the big test for us as it would be the first time we spent a totally self sufficient night.
The first shock came when they charged us 20 bucks per car and the site was just a sloppy, muddy car park.
This was probably our first Tasmanian rip off.
Twenty dollars for staying the night here is ridiculous especially considering that every one who stays is going to spend the money on the Air Walk and other facilities.
Even $5.00 would have been acceptable.
We did go exploring and found a much better spot by the Rangers hut with a BBQ fireplace attached to the lodge and sheltered place to park.
The ranger told us we were welcome to light the BBQ pit so before long we had a roaring fire going and the chairs arranged around in an idyllic setting where we excitedly arranged to have a glass of wine and talk beside the warm and rather romantic fire.
Things didn’t quite work like that as we tried pulling out the annex roof just as it started to rain a cold mountain rain.
What is normally a quick, easy procedure turned into a drama as one side jammed and even with Barry’s help we couldn’t get it down.
Standing up on the toolbox in the half light, cold rain pouring, trying to work out where it was jamming when you can hardly see the damn thing and having the broken ribs protesting was not fun.
Barry finally spotted a small rivet which was causing the jamming and we finally got it down.
Wonderful, now all we had to do was to light the gas on the fridge.
Here I am lying on the ground with ribs now starting protest violently as the broken bones that were hitherto in the early stages of self repair began to part again, in the rain that turned the ground into a mud bath.
I cursed my own stupidity for not perfecting the gas lighting earlier.
Kerrie was trying to help but of course frustration frayed tempers to the point where I took to abusing the fridge and everything connected to it.
It was then that I found a power point!
Close to a hut near where were parked was an external power point!
We didn’t need to lose the contents of the fridge after all!
Excitedly I got all the crap out of the back of the ute in the pouring rain to get to the power cable and run it over to the hut only to find it’s the wrong connection.
Now we have an adapter for just this very situation and I thought it was in the tool box in the ute so out comes more crap, the ribs finally parted fully as I hauled the 100 ton toolbox out and rummaged through it.
Well by this time I’m ready to start walking back to Brisbane.
The %$^&*** fridge will just have to stay like it is and spoil the food.
Barry wisely ran for cover to his warm and inviting motor home where Christine had prepared a nice meal for him from food from a FRIDGE THAT WAS WORKING.
After replacing the stuff in the ute as best I could I planted myself down in the van in pain and disgusted at the entire world.
Then I thought about the other tool box where I put the things we are likely to need for easy access.
Out I go again, open the box and the adapter was there where I put for easy finding!!!!
So at least we had a fridge and a heater and jug as well.
Things got instantly better and the walk back to Brisbane faded in its attractiveness.
After a nice meal of chicken schnitzel and a joint decision to give the romantic camp fire scene a miss due to the drenching rain we settled in for a warm bed a handful of painkillers and a book.
Apart from a mysterious rocking of the van and heavy footsteps on the roof at 1.00am, (probably a giant prehistoric possum), we had a lovely sleep.