Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Winter News

June 23, 2018

It has been 2 months since I last emailed, so I assume we should have some more news to share.  🙂   We have been doing more upgrades on the manor where our eldest two boys sleep.  Firstly we used our new platform arrangement on the tractor to put the flue up for the replacement wood heater that we installed.  Those flues go really high!

ManorWoodfire copy

Then we put in some second hand floating flooring which I had found on Gumtree. It looks quite nice and should be tougher than the yellow tongue flooring we put in earlier. Also, since it has underlay underneath which should help to insulate the building as well.


We still have to do the area under the beds, but apparently we took too much power out of the manor’s batteries using the power saw so we will have to wait a bit before finishing the job. Everyone came up to admire the progress though. 🙂


I also did some more experimenting with cheese making while Twinkles was giving us 5L a day. (She is down to 3L a day now, so the cheesemaking has come to a halt again.) The red waxed one is a parmesan, but the other two were made using a fairly basic recipe from my favourite house cow book. I even made my own culture from Kim’s favourite cheese, and I think the flavour was better as a result.

Home made cheeses

After that Kim and I took off for two weeks away in sunny Perth. The timing was organised so that we could attend my nephew’s wedding. It was a lovely wedding held in a beautiful garden in Swan Valley, and the weather was perfect too.


We had a lot of precious family time while we were there, especially with my parents and both of my sisters. My uncle also had his 80th birthday celebration while we were there and so we got to catch up with a lot of my extended family as well, with some folk coming from as far away as New Zealand.

Trevor Banyard's 80th Birthday

Kim tried to reconnect with his father’s side of the family as well, but he had no success. It looks like it might take a bit more chasing around to find any other Howe’s. However he did catch up with one school friend (when did they get so grey haired???) …

Kim with Robert Keller

… and got to go out and take some photos with another good friend who shares his passion for bird photography.

Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus)

We were blessed to find the time to have a quick peek at the progress our good friends have made on their straw bale house. They are doing a truly amazing job!


And we shared a meal and good conversation with some other good friends. Sadly we didn’t get to travel down to Albany this time, but the focus of the visit was my immediate family and we got a lot of lovely time with them.


When we got back home Kim took the bus down to Hobart to look at an automatic car for Lydia. Lydia only drives automatics and unfortunately the one that we have keeps having minor problems which mean she cannot take her driving test in it, so we decided a second one might be a good idea. After looking at the car Kim decided that it needed more work done than he really wanted to do so he said he would not buy it. However it turned out that the guy selling it was pretty desperate to get the sale and the long and the short of it was that he talked Kim into buying it at a good enough price that it was worth doing the work on it. They got the paperwork done and Kim filled the car up ready to drive home, then he jumped in and turned the key and the car went “click” and just would not go! A few hours later the RACT gave up trying to get it going too, and they hired Kim a car to drive home in and organised to tow the new car up the following week. We really got our money’s worth on the ultimate roadside assistance this year! On the way home in the hire car Kim stopped by and took a night shot of Richmond Bridge.


Since then Kim has replaced the starter motor and the car is now going again. It is a 2007 V6 3L Citroen C5, which makes it our most up to date car yet. The other required parts, a steering tie rod end and timing belt kit, arrived this week so now the work can be done. Kim is not looking forward to doing the timing belt as it requires special tools and is rather complicated, so he plans to do it with the help of his Citroen mechanic friend who now conveniently lives just over the mountain and has a nice new cement floored shed with a hoist! We are looking forward to having this car on the road as it has lots of safety equipment, plenty of power and headlights that turn with the steering. The headlights are really brilliant for driving through the twisty mountain pass in the dark, which Lydia has to do twice a day at this time of year.


The last car we bought was also a Citroen. We very much like the hydraulic suspension. We were buying it as a spare parts car for Kim’s Xantia as it was so cheap ($350), but in the end we decided it was too good for that so we fitted it with a new set of suspension spheres and it is now a daily driver for us. I really like it!


The major activity for this last week was turning Twinkle’s last calf, now a 14 month old bull, into beef in the freezer. It is always an ‘all hands on deck’ job despite our local dairy farmer doing the slaughtering, dressing and butchering. He is trying to get us more involved in the process these days so that he can go home earlier. As a result we ended up cutting a lot of the steaks ourselves and did all the mincing with our own machine as well. Then there are the fatty offcuts to trim dog food from, the bones to select for dogs, soup bones or burying, the fat to turn into tallow and everything to clean up after the work is done. It generally takes us a few days before everything is sorted. We filled our freezer as well as Paul’s after putting everything into meal sized portions. It is delicious to have some cuts of meat, like eye fillet, that we would never normally buy for ourselves. We got about $2,500 worth of meat at supermarket prices this time so it makes rearing the calf, which is really just a byproduct of having a milking cow, feel worth the effort. If we had more pasture and didn’t have to buy so much hay it would be even more profitable.


We have given up on doing more to micro hydro for now until the warmer weather arrives.  Kim has heaps of mechanical work to do which is taking priority, and it is often just too cold to work outside for more than a few hours each day at this time of year.  The heated workshop that Kim has planned will definitely come in handy when we get it done!  Maybe next year?

Well, that is all the news I can think of at the moment.  Wishing you all the best.


Time Out

September 8, 2017
A couple of weekends ago Kim and I took the opportunity to slip away to the East coast of Tassie.  We have wanted to see Wineglass Bay for a while now, and it seemed like a good opportunity since Lydia had some time off and could help look after things at home.  We stayed (another winter 2 nights for the price of 1 deal) at the Lodge in Freycinet National Park and arrived late afternoon on the Friday.

The Hazards certainly stand out when you drive into Coles Bay, with their rocky faces above the trees.

The cabins looked rustic but were nice and comfortable inside.  We had a family cabin which had the benefit of having a tiny kitchen so we were not reliant on buying meals.

Inside the Lodge itself was warm and spacious,

and had a wonderful view over Great Oyster Bay.  The sunset on Friday night was pretty spectacular starting off yellow then going orange and finally turning pink.  The creator God can put on an amazing light show!

Saturday broke cloudy but dry, however Kim had a headache and I spent the day snuffling and sneezing with a head cold!  We decided we were not up to the Wineglass Bay walk, but contented ourselves by driving around doing some sightseeing on smaller walks.  This is Kim at Friendly Beaches.  It brought back memories of the beaches in Albany with it’s squeaky white sand.
Our favourite walk of the day was a boardwalk near a lighthouse with spectacular views of cliffs and over the ocean.

They had a telescope set up so you could view these rocky islands that had seals on them.

Zoomed in on Kim’s photo you can see the seals even better than with the telescope.

Bennets Wallabies seemed fairly common in the area and fearlessly put on a show for the tourists,
and we saw wombats at Friendly Beaches too.
One feature of the whole area are the pinky coloured rocks.  They definitely stand out and are moulded into lots of interesting shapes.

Sunday morning we awoke feeling somewhat better, and decided we would make the attempt to climb to the Wineglass Bay lookout.  The track to the bay itself was closed for upgrades, so we didn’t have to feel guilty about not going the whole way.  🙂  The weather started sunny and windy, though it had deteriorated to rainy periods by the time we got back to the car park.  Kim’s chronic fatigue has been pretty bad lately, but there were seats along the path so we just took the walk slowly and rested whenever he felt the need.
The track itself was easy to walk on with some interesting boulders along the way.
Towards the end of the track we had been warned there was about 300 steps to climb, which proved pretty accurate.
It was a cold and very windy trip, but we finally made it to the lookout and could cast our eyes on Wineglass bay itself which, despite the wind, looked pretty calm.
Given that it was winter and not terribly accomodating weather it was surprising how many other folk were in the area and making the climb.  Even the lodge would have been at least 3/4 full.  I think the place must be frightfully crowded in Summer, so we were just as glad to be there at a quieter time of year.
Finally we headed back home via St Marys.  We drove through Elephant Pass, which I remember petrified me when we visited Tasmania 25ish years ago.  This time I drove it without any concerns at all – I guess I have adjusted to Tassie roads – plus I was not on the cliff side which definitely helps!  We managed to arrive in Launceston at 4pm so could go to the afternoon service of our favourite church “The Branch”.  All in all it was a nice trip away, and some time out that we rather felt we needed.
Just around the corner from our place there is good progress being made in building a replacement bridge over the Mersey River.  The old bridge is still in use with the new one being built alongside.  It is interesting to see them working on it, they have a large pontoon in the river that they can take the big machinery down onto.  They have been working for a few months already and will be a fair bit longer still before they are done I would think.
And that is enough news for now!  Take care all.

Lake Pedder Trip

August 5, 2016
I’m afraid I am going to inundate you with photos again! This time they are of a trip we took to Lake Pedder in the South West National Park here in Tassie.  Last weekend we found ourselves with a rare opportunity to go away – Lydia was not working, church was having a combined service elsewhere, the weather was not bad, the car was working and the Pedder Wilderness Lodge was offering two nights for the price of one – so Kim and I “seized the moment” and took off.
We enjoyed staying right in the heart of the national park at the lodge.  The large lounge/restaurant/bar room was lovely with it’s views over the lake and it’s warm fires, and the staff were enthusiastic and welcoming.  We chatted to other visitors in the evenings and I even tried out the indoor heated swimming pool.
Kim was up before dawn to get this photo looking out over Lake Pedder from the Lodge grounds.
Lake Pedder, South West National Park
And looking back towards the Lodge.
Pedder Wilderness Lodge before sunrise, South West National Park
This is the daytime view from the lodge of Lake Pedder.  It had high water levels after recent rains.
Lake Pedder, South West National Park
After breakfast, we drove out to do some sight seeing, and checked out the photos of what Lake Pedder looked like before they put in the road and dams to make the hydroelectric system.  The only folk who could get here then were serious hikers and rich folk in planes.
Cathy at the look out near Strathgordon, South West National Park
Then we headed off to Gordon Lake and Dam.  Despite recent rains that Lake was still low. The ramp to the hydro outlet is way above the water level!
Lake Gordon, South West National Park
Kim went down to look at the dam itself.  With my fear of heights I’m afraid there was no way I was going to enjoy that, so I kept my distance.  Other’s, however, were not so fearful.  One couple abseiled down the 140m of dam wall.
      Abseiling down the 140m dam wall, Gordon Dam, South West National Park
It’s a long way down, can you see one of them in this shot?  Then I guess they had the fun of climbing all the way up those ladders to get back to the top again.
 Abseiling down the 140m dam wall, Gordon Dam, South West National Park
After sightseeing around the dams we moved on to Wedge Mountain.  I have fond memories of Wedge Mountain as it was the first place I saw the beautiful moss covered rainforest when we were down this way 23 years ago.
Mount Wedge, South West National Park
However the bushfires last January had been through, so the rainforest I remembered was gone.  However it was good to see that the bushland was starting to regenerate already alongside the river.
Regrowth after fires near Mount Wedge, South West National Park
After that we wandered through the Creepy Crawly walk where I got to enjoy the rainforest that I remembered well, and Kim had to take photos for me.  🙂
Such lovely greenery.
Creepy Crawly Walk, South West National Park
Then it was back to the lodge before the rain came back, to have some dinner and more conversation with the other guests.
On Sunday we decided to take the long way home.  Once again we enjoyed seeing places we hadn’t been to since we visited Tasmania 23 years ago, albeit briefly this time.  🙂
We stopped at Mt Field National Park and got wet in the spray at Russell falls – so I don’t have a photo of that.  There was some nice rainforest type scenery by the river though.
Rainforest, Mount Field National Park
We dropped in at Lake St Clair.
Lake St Clair
And had lunch nearby – yes that is snow.
Cathy making lunch in a snow covered picnic area near Lake St Clair
Nelson Falls was more amenable to being photographed than Russell Falls had been.
Nelson Falls
And again I loved the greenery and the river that we saw on the walk to the falls.
Flowing River near Nelson Falls
We went through Queenstown too, and were interested to see that the “moonscape” caused by the copper mine is slowly regenerating at last, although the 5km approach to the town is still pretty hair raising – at least for someone who really does not enjoy heights.

Waterfalls near Queenstown

We started to think about it getting dark then and we still had a fair bit of driving to do so we couldn’t stop anymore despite seeing some lovely sights.  Eventually we got home safely around 7pm, weary but happy.  It was all too brief a time away, especially at the places we saw on Sunday, but it was lovely to have the opportunity to do it.  I fear we may have rekindled a love of travelling to the wild places of Tasmania, and I can see us plotting and planning to escape again sometime soon!