Turning 60 shaping up to be an infamous year.

I’m sure theres some pleasant memories between our sequence of unfortunate events in the year of our 60th birthday. At this point in time though those times are certainly being overshadowed, and are hard to recall.

To date:

Paul injured his left ankle on the Ottway zip fly.
Paul then injured his right ankle helping an acquaintance to fit a roof top camper.
An old ankle injury of mine has been causing me grief.
All injuries are still troubling, and we have made appointments to see if anything can be done.

Pauls birthday celebration in the Uk certainly started out with a few problems, but ended up fine with the beginning of the night almost being like a comedy of errors that, dare I say it, actually made the night a fun night.
Circumstances outside of our control meant we had to cancel our Italian tour at very late notice. We are waiting to hear if we will be able to claim the cost on our insurance.
Circumstances, this time within our control, meant we missed a second short short trip to Italy – definitely not an insurance claim event. Flight costs, hotel fees, and 1st class tickets on Eurostar all lost.
We had colds for most of the seven weeks we were in the UK. This turned to full on flu when we arrived back in Tassie. Neither of us have had a cold for around three years.
An hotel booked in Sydney for our return trip was forgotten, and we booked a second hotel. The first hotel booking was only remembered when we saw the money disappear from our account the following day. Our mistake so have to cop that one on the chin.

Then to top it all off, yesterday i was enjoying the sunshine as I pruned a creeper. Unfortunately i tugged backwards as i stepped into a pothole. Result was a backward fall and now I’m out of action for 4 – 6 weeks with my right wrist broken in three places and now in a cast. I am very right hand dominant, so very simple tasks are proving very difficult.

At least I hope thats now the topper. Anything that tops that won’t be easy to take.

Needless to say, we can’t wait to get back to the simplicity of our life on wheels. We weren’t sure if we would keep this house in Tassie empty through the winter and just spend time here in the summer, or if we’d rent it out and return to our life on wheels full time. Its ending up a no brainer – the road is beckoning big time. Alas, though we need to spend 6 – 8 months here tidying up the old place before we rent it out. That wasn’t a distasteful thought yesterday morning, but typing this left handed while my right arm hangs heavily in sling, and theres so much to do, and i can’t even prepare a meal or wash a dish for at least a month – well it certainly puts things in a different light.

1st attempt at Shabby Chic

Once begun, half done – one of my favourite inspirations. And, we have begun our mammoth reno, but it’s a long way from being ‘half done’.

I’ve completed two out of six chairs, giving them a shabby chic look. The table is almost complete as well. I’m happy with the result so far, and I should have the remaining four chairs completed over the coming week.

An Annie Sloan paint job takes dark to white.

An Annie Sloan paint job takes dark to white.

Paul’s started filling the knot holes in the wood panelling, and he’s taken the chain saw to some of the garden, removing a few unwanted trees and giving one tree that we hope to keep a massive trim up. Hopefully, we haven’t pruned it into the never, never, but if we have, it’s better gone than in the terrible state of neglect it was in.

A lot of dark wood panelling to paint.

A lot of dark wood panelling to paint.

And more painting needed in the bedroom.

And more painting needed in the bedroom.

We’ve arranged a plumber to re-do our bathroom, and will arrange all the fittings early next week. We’ve arranged a handyman to fix our carport – Paul will help him. We’ve designed a remodelled kitchen, but haven’t as yet decided on the style of cupboards etc. We’ve arranged a builder to come and quote on the removal of an internal wall, a new ceiling in the living area and a few other things. And we’ve arranged a glazing company to come and quote on replacing the rotting wooden window frames with double glazed aluminium windows. So, a lot of the ground work is under way. Now it’s just a matter of time and elbow grease to get it all happening.

The existing bathroom, comes complete with shower over a 1970s mission brown bath - picture perfect - so not!

The existing bathroom, comes complete with shower over a 1970s mission brown bath – picture perfect – so not!

Tomorrow though is going to be a caravan day. We’ve almost emptied our van, but it needs a really thorough clean and a wipe over with a solution of oil of cloves in water to prevent any mould building up over the winter months. We miss living in our rig, and are almost certain we’ll be back on the road again by the end of summer. We’re feeling the cold and damp, and we received an email from our Road trip friends Lucy and Wally today. They’re up at Cape York for the winter – living the dream. And we’re so envious…..

Back from the UK

We’re back from our trip to the UK. Wasn’t the holiday we had hoped for, or the holiday we had planned. Unfortunately Paul’s dad was sick, so we never made it to Italy for our tour. The whole holiday ended up being a sequence of unfortunate events, and it would take a book to list all the things that went wrong. Anyway, enough tears have been shed over that, and apart from trying to claim the cost of the Italian tour back on our travel insurance, it’s now best put behind us.

We have bought a cheap weatherboard (wood) house in Tasmania. It needs a lot of TLC, so we’ve put our ‘Life of Riley On Wheels’ on hold for at least the remainder of this year whilst we get this place sorted out. Most likely we’ll be here in Tassie until the beginning of next winter.

I was going to attempt to start a second blog for the Riley Renovation Project, but without my grandson Tim in my back pocket, I wouldn’t know where to start as far as setting a blog up from scratch. So, rather than sending individual emails and photos to friends and family that may be interested in how this old house progresses, I’m going to continue posting updates here. Apologies to anyone who has been following this blog for the travel information only. It will be continued one day……

And now for a little bit about the house. The house is in Deloraine, a little town of just over 2000 people located in the north of Tassie about 30 minutes drive from both Launceston and Devonport. The house is on about 1500 sq metres of land, and both the house and the land need a lot of TLC to make them presentable.

The house had been a rental property, so no money or time has been spent on it I’m sure for some time. We can see potential here though……We think!!

We’re not sure of the age of the house, but we estimate it’s probably around 50 – 60 years old. It has casement windows which all need replacing, is lined with dark pine boards inside, which we will have ripped off and replaced with gyprock. It has an internal bathroom consisting of a hand basin and a brown bath with a shower over the bath, and there is a second shower, and the only toilet in the laundry which is located in an enclosed porch at the rear of the house. The kitchen is about as old and uncared for as the rest of the house, although the oven is reasonable.

As yet, we’re still to take a look at the floorboards currently hidden by a really grotty brown carpet. We’re hoping for the floorboards to be in reasonable condition, but just in case they’re not, we’ve postponed pulling up the carpet for a good look for now. We both feeling rather fragile after the unfortunate events of our holiday, and we have the flu (and it is the flu, not a cold – up there with the worst we’ve ever had), so we’ll save the removal of the carpet until we’re better able to deal with what is underneath. Fingers crossed, it’ll be a pleasant surprise.

The positives of the house – it has a long, high carport which accommodates the Travel home, although this also needs work. It’s located in Deloraine which we love. It has a fire in the lounge room. Other than that, there’s not much going for it. But, believe it our not, that’s a bonus. It means we get to do the whole house and garden almost exactly as we want it to be, instead of having to put up with something we’re not that fond of just because it’s too good to replace. Believe me, there’s nothing in this house that’s too good to replace…. LOL!!

Whether or not we do the house up for re-sale, to rent out, or just to use ourselves as a summer base remains to be seen. One thing we’re certain of is that apart from this winter we don’t intend to be spending winters here in Tassie. It’s way to cold…. We think that we managed to get the house for a price that should mean which ever way the future takes us, we shouldn’t loose.

For now though – we have a ‘project’. And what’s life without a project. Watch this space for photos.

Autumn

We’re now well into Autumn in Tassie. The weather’s cooled considerably and our warmer clothes are becoming ‘well worn’. The trees are a delight to see and the countryside is decked out in the most glorious autumn colours with the golden yellow poplar trees dominating the landscape. I had forgotten how beautiful a true autumn can be.

Autumn trees lining the Derwent River upstream from bridge in New Norfolk

Autumn trees lining the Derwent River upstream from bridge in New Norfolk

After leaving Mt Field we spent almost a week in Middleton opposite Bruny Island staying with an old friend from Perth, Peta and her husband Ron. Sharing their hospitality and meeting their friends was a pleasure and gave us lots of laughs.

After leaving Peta’s we took a few days to explore a couple of convict built villages towards the middle of the Island, Oatlands and Ross. We free camped at Oatlands next to an old, heritage listed windmill, and next to a children’s playground. The children’s playground had made use of an old hollow tree trunk to build a cubby complete with intricate carvings of Australian animals. I’m not sure if children could appreciate the work involved, but it’s certainly impressive to any visiting adults I’m sure.

Tasmania definitely feels like a totally different country than the rest of Australia, and especially like a different country to Perth. Perth hardly retains any heritage seeming to prefer to knock down houses and re-build rather than to preserve and maintain any building that’s not ‘the latest style’. It’s refreshing to find places such as Ross and Oatlands where most of the houses in the villages having survived since early settlement. Some still have permanent residents, but many are now leased as heritage holiday accommodation, and are much sort after. Because so many houses are so very old in these places, the whole village gets heritage listed. They’re not the Cotswalds by any stretch of the imagination, but they’re certainly heading in a similar direction (just a few more centuries to get there yet though).

View from our rear window of the flour mill

View from our rear window of the flour mill

 

The windmill at night.

The windmill at night.

After Oatlands we headed for Tarraleah, an old hydro town now converted to an ‘art deco’ resort town. The resort has adopted a Highland theme inclusive of Highland cattle.

One of the Highland Cows

One of the Highland Cows

Whilst there we visited Lake St Clair, the deepest lake in the southern hemisphere. Beautiful – with so many walking tracks that we feel at least a week is needed there to do justice to them. One day was just a taster.

One of many walking tracks at Lake St Clair

One of many walking tracks at Lake St Clair

We took a picnic with us, which a possum insisted on sharing. Advice is to never feed the wild life, but this possum obviously hadn’t read that anywhere, and quite literally wouldn’t be deterred. Not only did he pose for us whilst munching through several of our tomatoes and an apple, but I’m sure his portrait will grace many of Japanese tourists albums on their return home. He created quite a stir sitting quietly on our table and helping himself from our picnic basket. Perhaps his name was Yogi…..smarter than your average possum.

Our uninvited lunch guest - good company though all the same

Our uninvited lunch guest – good company though all the same

We’re now in Magra again with Marina and Terry and will fly from here to Sydney on Saturday, where we’ll begin our trip to Europe on Monday. So, this will be the last post for some time for ‘the Life of Riley on Wheels’.

We expect to return to take up the story of our caravan travels again sometime in June, so watch this space.

Mt Field Campground

We’ve spent the past few days in the campground at Mt Field National Park before we head to our friends, Peta and Ron in Middleton.

We’ve stayed in many national parks, but this one is undoubtedly better than any we’ve seen by a country mile. We have power and water, there’s a clean amenity block with hot showers, flush toilets and a laundry. There’s tall trees at our rear and a beautiful babbling brook with platypus at our front (about 30 metres away). That’s the camp area. It gets a bit muddy in the rain, but with all that’s on offer here, a little bit of mud is a minor inconvenience.

Stream in our campground.

Stream in our campground.

Same stream, from a different direction.

Same stream, from a different direction.

The day area – wow, wow and more wow!! Theres more barbecues and shelters than I could count. Some of the barbecues are gas, and some are wood. Some are in the open and some are in stone shelters. All have several picnic tables and bench seats near by. But that’s not all, there’s more (and believe me, the ‘more’ is better than ‘steak knives’), inside several of the shelters there’s also built in stone fireplaces with chimneys and there’s loads of chopped wood supplied.

There’s several gorgeous walks in the park. The first day we took a 2 1/2 hour walk which travelled alongside a babbling brook through a rain forest. It was raining for most of the 2 1/2 hours so the ferns looked amazing drooping under the weight of the gentle, consistent rain. We walked past two stunning water falls. There’s so many water falls in Tassie that I fear I’m going to sound like a broken record – they’re all gorgeous and are worthy of mention.

Russell Falls

Russell Falls

Lady Baron Falls

Lady Baron Falls

Yesterday, our friends Marina and Terry joined us and we took a drive to Tassie’s famous Lake Pedder and the Gordon Dam. There’s very little there except stunning scenery reminiscent of the Scottish Highlands. We had lunch in the only place there, but I must say they haven’t taken advantage of having no competition. The lunch was delicious and reasonably priced, and we sat overlooking Lake Pedder with it’s stark, granite mountain surrounds.

Lake Pedder

Lake Pedder

The Gordon Dam.

The Gordon Dam.

Many years ago in New Zealand we came across one of those fairy tale red mushrooms which have fairies under them in the stories. (We looked for the fairies at the time, but they either weren’t there, or had hidden themselves well). We’d heard there are the same mushrooms here, so we’ve been searching high and low in the rain forests for them, but we hadn’t found any. Then, eating our lunch yesterday we couldn’t believe our eyes. Out in the open just outside the lodge was a big group of them. Again though, no fairies.

Fairy story mushrooms (couldn't find any fairies though).

Fairy story mushrooms (couldn’t find any fairies though).

Today, we’re leaving for Peta and Ron’s, but we have put Mt Field National Park at the top of our list for a return visit.Perhaps next time Peta and Ron will join us as I’m sure, like us, they’ll enjoy taking cheese and bread, red wine and candles to one of the huts with the fire places for an evening feast.

Stanley

We’re getting ready to move to the south of the Island, but before we go, thought we’d better take a look at Stanley which is on the west side of the north coast.

Stanley is a little holiday hamlet located on a small peninsula joined to the Island by a slim thread of land. Atop the peninsula sits a huge rock mass, an extinct volcano, know as ‘the nut’. No-one knows for sure how it came to be known as ‘the nut’, but the general consensus is that the rock mass was originally known as ‘the head’, and the slang term for head – ‘nut’, was adopted. Anyway, ‘the nut’ it is.

We headed towards Stanley on Sunday, and spent the first night in a free site camped near a town called Penguin. The next morning it was pouring down and luckily we hadn’t unhitched so were saved from a complete drenching.

We’ve stayed the last two nights at Rocky Cape Tavern and Caravan Park. At $16 a night for a large site with power, water and the use of the ablutions, and located only a short drive from Stanley, it’s perfect. There’s always complaints about Grey Nomads supposedly wanting places to stay for nothing. Speaking for ourselves this is not the case. We have no objection to paying for facilities that make our lives easier. It’s the jumping pillows and children’s playgrounds and associated high insurance costs that bump fees up, and make camping sites smaller – this we object to. If it’s a choice between a free site, and a place with a jumping pillow and playground at $40+ dollars a night, you’d have to be a mug not to park in the free spot. A reasonable place for a reasonable price is all we ask for…..

Time to stop band-standing and get on to the subject of Stanley. With a population of less than 500 Stanley is a very small place. It’s oldest houses are on the eastern side and in the shadow of ‘the nut’, with a small additional spread of slightly newer houses south of ‘the nut’.  Most of the very old houses are now being used as bed and breakfast accommodation or some other form of holiday accommodation. I imagine the population would easily swell to several thousand during the holiday season, as well as coach loads of tourists popping in for daytime visits. To cater for these tourists theres some lovely little shops in the town, including an excellent providore who supplies really good fruit, sour dough bread amongst other things. Trust us to find any supplier of excellent bread….

Apart from a small street of interesting little shops we did a visit to Highfield Historic Farm (ok – but not up to the standard of similar places in the UK), and we took the chairlift to the top of the nut and walked the 45minute circuit with views in all directions. All very nice, but for us that was virtually Stanley in a nutshell. Warmer weather could have seen us perhaps attempting to get a foot into the water, and I’m sure during a hot spell here the two beautiful beaches below ‘the nut’ would have beckoned. Coming from WA though, I doubt there will be many spells hot enough to get us dipping more than our big toe into any water that’s not in a warm bath tub.

One of the beaches dwarfing the small hamlet of Stanley.

One of the beaches dwarfing the small hamlet of Stanley.

We ventured past Stanley today to some famous Tassie gardens south of Smithton, Allendale Gardens and rainforest. They are beautiful.

They have tea rooms in which they only sell Devonshire teas (or coffee), so, of course, we couldn’t pass a good Devonshire tea by. And I’m pleased we didn’t. Tables set with pretty table clothes, pan flute music in the background, a lovely china pot of tea with dainty tea cups, and lovely light scones served with home made blackberry jam, and whipped cream. Both the Devonshire tea and the ambience were delightful.

Pretty Allendale Gardens.

Pretty Allendale Gardens.

Then the walk through the gardens. I don’t know how many acres were there, but it was all tastefully divided into different types of gardens, winding backwards and forwards over bridges across a meandering stream. Their idea in creating the garden was above all to create tranquility. They achieved their desire admirably. Not only were there rose gardens, fern gardens, pretty flower beds and exotic trees everywhere, but they also had dozens of peacocks and peahens everywhere, including white peacocks. Further on from the pretty flower garden rooms a well worn track wound it’s way through rainforest, and a eucalyptus forest.

P1030949

In amongst the forest walk they had established a cute little ‘fairy garden’. Fairy ornaments aren’t usually something that appeals to me, but hidden in little nooks amongst towering trees and ferns, and moss covered fallen logs, it was very appealing, and something I may include in my own garden one day.

Tomorrow we’ll head back to Launceston for a final catch up with family before heading to the south of the Island to catch up with friends before our trip to the UK. That’s now less than four weeks away, so we’re getting excited.

Pictures from Bay of Fires, and Pub in the Paddock

After Bicheno we travelled up to the Bay of Fires and camped a night. Gorgeous, but the sand was very boggy so walking on the beach was difficult. For us, beach walks are the main purpose of being at a beach, so nice to look at, but not so great for any long time stays on this occasion. We will give it another try another time, perhaps different tides will compact the beach for better walking.

Bay of Fires.

Bay of Fires.

Next on for our night at the Pub in the Paddock. A fabulous ‘pub grub’ meal at a reasonable price. No new calves to be seen on the way there though.

'The Pub'.

‘The Pub’.

In the Paddock.

In the Paddock.

And us camped there - what a gorgeous view out the back window.

And us camped there – what a gorgeous view out the back window.

We then moved up to Beauty Point on the North West side of the Tamar River and have been here for a week. Kelv has been staying here, so we’ve spent this week with him. We’ve enjoyed his company, and I think he’s enjoyed a week of being looked after by the ‘Jiffy Van’. For those of you who aren’t aware of what a ‘Jiffy Van’ is – Jiffy vans are mobile lunch shops that visit industrial areas in Perth. He’s now had all his clothes washed, and has had a week of home cooked meals, which I’m sure he’s appreciated as he’s been working 11 – 12 hour days. Once a mother, always a mother eh!

The orchard he’s working at is now letting him move his caravan onto the farm so as they can have an older person there supposedly keeping the younger tent back- packers under control. I wish them luck with that, he’s more likely to lead them astray than keep them under control, LOL!!!! He’s moved there today.

Next for us is a visit to Stanley on the North Coast.