Time out in Strahan

We came back yesterday from a four day break in Strahan on Tassies west coast.

Accommodation - lovely restored Victorian B & B
Accommodation – lovely restored Victorian B & B

Strahan is often listed as the highlight of tourist’s visits, so our expectations were high. As often is the case, high expectations leave one open for disappointment. Although that’s probably being a little harsh, as it is a lovely place. We just expected more.

We did the six hour cruise on the Gordon River the day after we arrived, and followed the cruise with the must see local comedy play, ‘The Ship that never was’. We enjoyed both.

Cruising on the Gordon River
Cruising on the Gordon River

The following day we visited two local nearby towns, Zeehan and Queenstown. Both towns are only ever talked about, quite correctly, as places of ‘no interest’. And on our last day we did a short walk into a water fall near the town.

Hogarth Falls
Hogarth Falls

We did enjoy the break away, but really, two days would have been plenty. If anyone asks me how long is needed to see the West Coast of Tassie, I’d suggest two nights. One to see the waterfall (by no means one of Tassies best), and the second day to do the cruise and the play.

Strahan is famous as a location of the famous Huon Pine tree, and sawmill. The Huon Pine grows one millimetre a year in diameter, so a tree needs to be about 1000 years old to be of much use – not a tree for sustainable foresting. Its a unique wood that gained fame as a boat building material, but of course it’s now protected. It also makes beautiful, unique furniture which now owing to the rarity of the timber is super expensive.

When it was been forested, the foresters had to go deep into dense forest, and the trees had to be taken out on the river. The foresters only took out the most useful of the trees, but often less useful trees were chopped down to access the best trees. These less than perfect trees already chopped down and left behind, form todays supply of useable Huon Pine wood. It is the most beautiful wood – creamy yellow in colour with small pitting called birdseye, and the most beautiful perfume. I can’t describe the smell, but once you’ve had the pleasure of smelling it, you’ll be hooked. I know we are. Varnishing seals the beautiful perfume in, so most people oil the wood to allow the perfume through.

And that brings us to the highlight of our trip to Strahan, but I’ll have to back track a few months. Before we went to the UK in April of this year we were buying up second hand furniture on Gum Tree. One of our bargains was our bed, a latex queen bed hardly used (the marriage had broken up). It was on the market for the bargain price of $500. There was a big chunky bed head in the house which I cheekily asked if was also for sale. Yes, we could have it for $50 if we wanted it. I bartered him down and we ended up getting both the bed and bedhead for $500. The bedhead had been made for them as a wedding present by a friend. I think he was pleased to be rid of it.

We’ve since harboured a hope that the badly varnished bed head could perhaps be made of Huon Pine. However, everyone who’s seen it has discounted that, mainly because of the size and thickness of the wood, and the fact that we got it virtually for nothing, but no-one has been able to identify the wood.

While in Strahan we asked a 5th generation Huon Pine Saw Miller to look at a photo we had of the bed head. Prior to looking he said it would be Baltic Pine, but his interest was definitely tweaked when he saw the photos. He identified many characteristics in the wood that suggested it could very well be Huon Pine. He gave us a sample piece of wood and suggested we sand back some of the varnish from the bed head to expose the perfume of the wood, and compare the scent with that of the sample.

Having now done that, we have little doubt that we have scored a Huon Pine bed head. The smell is unmistakable. We can’t wait till we get time to remove all the varnish and oil it up to its full beauty. We’re over the moon.

When we returned home yesterday, Kelv, who has been staying with us for the past few weeks had received news that his work in Darwin is about to start. So, sadly today he left for the ferry to take him across Bass Straight, and tomorrow he’ll commence his return road trip up to Darwin. We had been hoping he’d find work here and would settle in Tasmania. Unfortunately, not to be at this point in time. He did love Tassie though, so perhaps one day in the future…..

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Groundwork

The house is taking shape despite outward appearances.

The bathroom has now been completed.

New bathroom.
New bathroom.

The old, brown bathtub was removed to make room for the addition of a toilet. The window has been replaced and relocated, and we now have a lovely, big shower cubicle complete with both a removable and large overhead rain water shower head. What a difference – especially nocturnal loo visits which previously meant a trek to the back porch. Although enclosed, the porch is freezing, so nocturnal visits were only manageable with slippers. Now its a quick barefooted visit to the bathroom adjoining our bedroom, and we hardly need open our eyes. Size constraints meant we had to forfeit having a double vanity, but we can live with that.

We’ve had the windows to the living area and our bedroom replaced with double glazed aluminium framed windows. The kitchen window has been raised which meant new weather boards were needed, and also on the same wall a lot of weather boards had deteriorated so needed replacing. Our kitchen has been ordered and we’ve booked Tom the builder for the 21st of this month to come and fit it. Paul will be his labourer.

New double glazed windows - soooo heavy. It took four men to lift them off the truck.
New double glazed windows – soooo heavy. It took four men to lift them off the truck.

The hedges and trees have now been pruned, and garden beds have been started. New perennial plants ordered on line are now planted, along with cuttings, bulbs and other bits and pieces donated from both my sister, and our good friend Peta.

Rather than remove old concrete slabs around the property, we’ve utilised them. One concrete slab had the remnants of an old built in barbecue on it. We’ve placed the old brown bath on that, have filled it with good soil, and have planted some herbs and spring greens. We intend to place large pots of herbs, cucumbers, tomatoes etc around the bath garden. In a month or two I think that’ll not only be looking aesthetically pleasing but it’ll be supplying food for our table as well.

Bath makes good raised garden bed. Potted herbs are yet to be added to make full use of disused slab.
Bath makes good raised garden bed. Potted herbs are yet to be added to make full use of disused slab.

On another slab Paul erected a little green house that just fits perfectly. We now have a good few containers of seeds sprouting in there ready to transplant when the weather allows for it. So far we have Sweet Alice, Cosmos and Snapdragons for the flower beds, and several heritage types of tomato seeds planted.

Making use of another disused concrete slab with a green house for seed raising.
Making use of another disused concrete slab with a green house for seed raising.

Digging new garden beds is a lot harder here than in the sandy soil of Perth WA. This garden bed dug out of the lawn took almost a full day to dig. It was like digging refrigerated butter. Hopefully the three Just Joey rose bushes planted here, along with some Bearded Iris, peonies, geraniums and dianthus will thrive and reward us for our hard work.

Small rose bed cut out of lawn - a full days work to dig.
Small rose bed cut out of lawn – a full days work to dig.

New garden beds aren’t all hard work though. Years of pruning neglect inflicted on the hedges and trees around the garden have resulted in mounds of hidden leaf litter underneath. Now the pruning has been done the result is lovely friable, easy to dig soil underneath. Whilst the garden beds are yet to be defined properly, I’ve started planing in them anyway. A bit of pea straw to mulch and a bit of lawn edging will define the beds when we get around to it. I’m hoping the recent plantings of Oyster Plants, Peonies, Hostas, Lambs Ears and Foxgloves will soon be providing a spectacular show.

Huge, neglected hedges have been hard pruned exposing ready made gardens with lovely friable soil.
Huge, neglected hedges have been hard pruned exposing ready made gardens with lovely friable soil.
Two huge Rhodos named Alice (how could I resist them) planted under this tree, and nasturtium seeds sown along the outer border.
Two huge Rhodos named Alice (how could I resist them) planted under this tree, and nasturtium seeds sown along the outer border.
These should be looking pretty next spring.
These should be looking pretty next spring.

Despite all the hard work though, apart from the bathroom, nothing else looks very different yet. Most of the work done has been groundwork, both inside and outside the house. Give it all another 4 – 8 weeks though and I think our hard work will be showing. The kitchen will be in, the laminate flooring to the living area will have been laid, and the gardens should be well on the way to flourishing.

Snow (and curtains)

Tasmania is experiencing an unusual cold snap. Snow is a normal winter occurrence in parts of tasmania during the winter months, and certainly the Western Tiers surrounding the Meander Valley and Deloraine gets a good picturesque covering on their tops. Its not common though for snow to come down as far as the township.

However yesterday Deloraine, along with the majority of Tasmania was treated to some really good snow falls.

Our front yard first thing in the morning.
Our front yard first thing in the morning.

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The back garden
The back garden
A winter wonderland
A winter wonderland

I had a dental appointment mid morning. The dentists surgery is in with the general medical centre in town, so there were quite a few patients in the waiting room. What an air of excitement in the room. Doctors were lined up in the shelter of the front porch with cameras in hand. Patients were gathered behind the window looking out to the tiers excitedly watching the snow falling outside.

The dentist commented to me that, “snow makes people smile”, and indeed, he was right. Strangers all talking to each other with smiles from ear to ear.

Paul saw a man skiing downhill across his paddock, and children (and some adults) have built snowmen in their gardens.

Today, although freezing, it’s not snowing, and the expected hail and storms haven’t as yet arrived. Hopefully they won’t materialise. we still have a small amount of snow on the ground in our back garden, but most has melted away – just slush now. Im looking forward to going for a drive later to view and photograph the tiers. I’m sure they’ll be special at the moment.

2nd hand curtains, changing fashions account for good bargains.
2nd hand curtains, changing fashions account for good bargains.

As promised, a photo of the curtains in one of our spare rooms. The other spare room has the same, and as soon as our new windows have been fitted in the main bedroom, we have the same curtains for in there as well. The curtains for the lounge are different, but they won’t be hung until after the room has been painted and the new windows fitted.

Eclectic decorating is in progress

A lot of the progress made so far on the house is the progress of ideas, arranging tradesmen and preparation. However some things are well under way.

The entrance, once dark brown, has now been lightened and brightened. Firstly the ceiling received two coats of ceiling paint – goodness me, what a difference that made. I’m sure it must have had at least fifty years buildup of smoke and yellowing on it. The wood panelling had lost a good few knots from the wood, so a lot of filling was needed. Then Paul gave it all a light sand, painted it with a primer to block out the darkness of the wood, and finally top coated with two coats of warm white.

Tidied up entrance
Tidied up entrance

We purchased an old drop fronted writing desk from a second hand shop some time ago. When Paul gets the time he plans on cleaning up the hardware on it, but intends to leave the wood with the existing lovely aged patina. The writing desk resides in our entrance. We found the mirror and box of artificial lavender in Kmart – $29 for the mirror, $12 for the lavender, and the grey stone chook was $7 from an art shop in Deloraine. We’re thrilled with how its come together so far with just the floor to finish it off. That has to wait though till the rest of the house is finished.

Mirrors to brighten and lighten.
Mirrors to brighten and lighten.

We liked the mirrors so much we brought two for our bedroom. We’ve decided not to paint our bedroom, so the mirrors have gone a long way to brightening the room from the effects of the heavy brown wood. We bought the two white cabinets from a cheap furniture shop, and now we just have to find something to put behind the bed. We’ve been looking for some soft coloured canvasses at a good price. To date though nothings turned up. Im thinking of perhaps getting some nice fabric and padding some MDF to attach to the wall for a head board effect. It certainly needs something to cover the white power point stuck in the middle of nowhere on the wall. Why do people do things like that – it looks an eye-sore, and removing it from the wood in such a visible area will create further problems in need of covering up.

Sideboard and picture, gumtree bargains.
Sideboard and picture, gumtree bargains.
Soon to be white walls
Soon to be white walls

Today we found this framed picture of Horseshoe Falls in Mt Field National Park on Gumtree. We have a nicer photo of the falls which we took ourselves and may replace this photo with our own one day. For now though we have enough to occupy ourselves, so this picture will suffice for a time, and it adds a touch of something to otherwise blank walls. The walls are yet to painted, but that has to wait until after the lounge room windows have been replaced with double glazing. The windows have been ordered and should be finished ready for fitting within three weeks. We brought the sideboard before we moved into the house thinking it would fit into the entrance. Sadly though its too big, and too big for anywhere else, so we think that’ll have to go. For now though its ok where it is.

Farmyard ducks looking up at our TV
Farmyard ducks looking up at our TV

We love finding bargains, and it helps to have our eclectic taste for decorating. We loved these farmyard ducks which we found at K-mart for $9 each. They sit just nicely either side of the TV. The TV cabinet with its corrugated tin wine rack was another Gumtree bargain. It awaits a shabby chic Annie Sloan paint job when my wrist is out of plaster

Urn converted to side table
Urn converted to side table

We’re really enjoying the odds and ends we”re finding, like this mother of pearl urn. We’ve attached a small chopping board to the top and it makes a great little side table. We have two of these on either side of one of our couches.

Thank goodness for changing trends and the people who follow them. This week we found enough good quality drapes for our entire house for a total cost of $345. They’re all fully lined with heavy block out and come with either matching padded pelmets or matching valances, and all the tracks to hang them. It seems padded pelmets are now yesterdays look, and valances went by the by a good few years ago. Compared to our existing drapes these are like gold in both quality and style. So, we’re happy not to be dedicated fashion followers. I’ll post photos later in the week when Paul gets a chance to hang them.

Deloraine continues to impress

The renovations and decorating are now well under way, and Paul is doing a marvellous job of being chief decorator, cook, cleaner and bottle washer. I’m still out of action and most likely will be for at least another four weeks, although I’m now managing now to do a few more things for myself – like fastening my own bra, and tying my own shoe laces. Im still having weekly visits for X-rays to check its all healing well, and to change the plaster which gets lose as the swelling reduces.

Pauls painted the entrance and will finish painting the two spare rooms today. We’ll pick up some finishing items for them tomorrow, a mirror for the entrance and curtains for the windows. Then its just waiting for the new carpet to arrive. They look really good.

We try and fit a walk in most days which is usually either along the river, or up town to collect groceries. Whilst the idea of returning to the life of a ‘Grey Nomad’ is still very exciting and strongly beckons, having to spend some time here in Deloraine is by no means a hardship. The town is a lovely place to walk around, and to date I’ve yet to see a nicer, prettier or more interesting town.

Street Sculpture
Street Sculpture

The street has lovely metal sculptures every couple of lamp posts apart. There must be at least three dozen in total and include guitar playing minstrels, circus troops, Tai-Chi, wood cutters etc. You name it, its probably represented in the sculptures on Deloraine’s main street.

A guiter playing minstrel
A guiter playing minstrel
An acrobatic/circus troope
An acrobatic/circus troope

Then theres the multitude of arts and craft shops, and I’m not talking old ladies crotchet and hand knits, although they’re here also. Walking up and down the street there’s so many window displays that successfully beckon one inside for a closer look. One of my favourites is the Alpaca shop which has some lovely items, some crafted here in Deloraine, and some from as far away as Peru. Be warned though, you need more than small change to make a purchase there, a lot more….

Theres lovely rustic hand made wood craft, like these rocking chairs adorning the footpath outside a craft shop.

Rustic hand crafted wood work
Rustic hand crafted wood work

My favourite window display at the moment though is these three heads.

Window display in one of the many art and craft shops
Window display in one of the many art and craft shops

I love the green one which I think is titled something like ‘Entrancestress of the Forest’. The blue one has a similar name but for the ocean, and the red one is for volcanoes I think. The green one reminds me so much of my friend Toni, and I just know she’d love it.

My favourite - reminds me of my good friend Toni
My favourite – reminds me of my good friend Toni

The gaps between the shops open up to a stunning vista of the surrounding western Tiers.

The Western Tiers, providing a picture perfect town background
The Western Tiers, providing a picture perfect town background

Even the guest houses are interesting to look at, like this one with its statues of Laural and Hardy on the balcony, and a garden full of statues and memorabilia. Theres even an old push mower powered by by an attached bicycle in one of the gardens.

Lifesize statues of Laurel and Hardy
Lifesize statues of Laurel and Hardy
A guesthouse on the main street
A guesthouse on the main street

The cafes and pubs all serve very nice food, and have something special to recommend each and every one of them. I”ll post some photos of a couple soon that are particularly good – one for its wood fired pizzas and balcony overlooking the Western Tiers, and the other for its 50’s memorabilia. My brother Garry will love that one.

Yes, its no hardship at all having to stay a while here in Deloraine.

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.

Update – Clause in the small print of the insurance contract meant the Italian trip and tour wasn’t covered. If Paul’s dad had lived in Australia we would have been covered, but no cover for a sick relative in another country. Never mind – time moves on and it’s now just a distant memory, albeit that particular time is up there with he worst of memories.

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┬ádominating 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.