Saturday, February 21, 2015

Two-Headed Tassies and other lies

I ran into a few mainlanders who had me convinced that my trip to Tasmania would meet with  two-headed Tassies and other Deliverance-like  characters.   I am pleased to report that I have not met one two headed Tasmanian, although one guy claimed to have had his second head removed surgically.

The ride on the Spirit of Tasmania was designed to be a night of restful sleeping, but unfortunately my past caught up with me.  More on that later.

An opportunity for a bit of a walkabout of Melbourne was not to be missed.   The architecture of the older buildings evoked another era.

And the graffiti spoke to a new  time

This Kawasaki is for my nephew, who collects this era of bikes. 

Finally it was time to load onto the Spirit of Tasmania...

Australian posties deliver the mail in these custom built 70 cc bikes.  They have a special clutch set up, probably a Recluse type of system.  I have heard of folks doing long rides on them, but probably only once...

This was the best behaved set of dogs that I had ever seen.  All sheepdogs, they waited patiently while their boss had a tea.  There was a whippet and a Lab Cross, as well as a Kelty.

One of the Carnival ships was tied up alongside the Spirit of Tasmania.  These cruise ships are huge and spew out thousands of tourists into the  mix.  A very relaxed and safe way to see the ports of the world, I think.

 As opposed to the seat of a motorcycle....

About 10 different bikes loaded on the ferry for the crossing of the Bass Strait.

 This tug was one of the most powerful that I had seen. It pulled the Spirit out of its dock and helped to spin it completely around...

Off they go...

The Carnival Legend is a very tall ship, and one has to speculate how she would roll in a storm, particularly in the Bass Straits.

Lots and lots of sailboats worked the inner harbour of Melbourne as the Spirit embarked for Tasmania

And then it was dark and time to sleep in an overpriced cabin with three other guys.  All was good until I fell asleep.  Apparently I snore, and the old fellow in the lower bunk took offence, whacking me every time I finally got to sleep.  I suspect that is what he did with his wife, and out of habit thought he could cure me with a whack. Around three o'clock, I tired of this game, got dressed and wandered about the ship until we docked at 6:00 AM.  The cabins had been mandatory, and nobody was allowed to sleep outside of the bunks.  Not a ship for the common man, by any means.  Needless to say, when I rolled off the boat, I was very tired and soon found a park to sleep in for a couple of hours, just like the hobos of my youth.

I took this pic for my daughter-in-law, betting that in her studies she had come across the "Alexander technique."

I chose to ride right when I left the ship, leading me into Western Tasmania.

The mountains are significant by Australian standards, and for the first time I was off-road with street tires...

The road surface was some sort of silky, silty, ball-bearing type of silica.  I suspect that the local mine used some of its overburden to ballast the road.  I only had one off, and was happy to see that righting Roobie was significantly easier to do than fat Blondy.

After a few hours of relatively solo travel, I came across a group of Aussie bikers.  These guys were the dual-sport types: all dirty and grinning from ear to ear as they slid around the slippery corners on their DRZ's and Hondas. The southerly direction took me to a ferry crossing..

Down the road, I came across Queenstown, and these beauties.  I decided to find a tent space and ride the trains in the morning.

This was a little town, Zeehan, that I stopped in for a break.  Again, the architecture is reminiscent of a forgotten era.

Queenstown is a former copper mining town.  Once a thriving community of 8000, the streets are pretty quiet now.

A mine truck donated to the museum..

 Guess who decided to go for a train ride too?

There were a couple of Honda bikes that I did not recognize.

Being raised next to the tracks, I can remember the "scooters" used by the trainmen to move along the railroad.

This locomotive was made in Glasgow and shipped out to Tasmania, piece by piece. She is well over a 100 years old.

The locomotive was fired by recycled vehicle oil, and she used over 8000 liters of water on her pull up the mountain..

The ties, or sleepers, were made from white gum.  What woodworker would not love to have some of those?

The down side to the huge copper mine in Queenstown was the polluted river.  A sign assured us that nature would cleanse the ore from the tailings in about 1000 years..

The inside of the cars were immaculate, and built with a variety of Australian exotic woods.  The cars were of yacht quality, and truly reflected the love and care that was used in building the interiors of the cars.

The route which the train followed was through the Western Mountains and the rain forest. The tracks were laid on an extremely steep grade, which made this railroad very unique.

The ABT system enable the train to climb the steep grades by catching a cog in a center line which grabbed and moved the engine forward.  This system was invented by a Swiss watchmaker, and revolutionized train transport in the late 1800's.  There is another system similar to this in the Chilean Andes.

The center cog line is picked up by the wheel above, and drags the engine forward..

A milder, gentler time....

Apparently spelling was not a high priority in the local school, as Double Barrel turned out to be this for posterity...

The center cog is the secret to the ABT system...

At the end of this section, the engine was turned around by hand...

These Aussie dual sport guys are giving the thumbs up for Canada...

Camp for the night in the Eucalyptus forest...

The grain on this ghost gum was incredible..

The days' riding was phenomenal.  There were more twists and turns in the last 200 km than I had seen in a long time.  Roobie was leaned over 80% of the day.

The next day, and an early morning lake, coming out onto the highlands..

The Central Highlands would not be complete without Scottish Highland cattle...

One has to wonder about all of the convict business down in Tasmania.  How much was slave labour, and how many were real criminals and how many had simply  gone against the grain of British aristocracy?