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reveries of an amateur long-distance hiker

In Tasmania Day 16 Launceston

February 6th, 2020

In Tasmania   Day 16 Launceston

Yesterday I boated the gorge, today I walked it. Up over the zig-zag trail, past a beautiful recreational park with a huge pool, across a 100+ year old swinging bridge and back down the other side of the gorge.  Not a difficult walk, but full of surprises. The basin is incredibly popular with cable trams carrying people across, several cafes, and lots of kids out enjoying a hot sunny day. I relaxed a bit on an overlook deck, trailed by peacocks who put up with all the young children screaming and chasing after them. Stopped for a heavy lunch, first red meat I’ve had since I left Atlanta— want to be well-fed for the beginning of the trek tomorrow.

T. Hugh Crawford

In Tasmania Day 15 Launceston

February 6th, 2020

In Tasmania   Day 15 Launceston

A day to organize and wander a bit. Woke up early but, while my German roommates slumbered on, I stayed in bed gorging on YouTube accounts of US politics (something I’ve been trying to avoid and happily so). Main tasks today were to take care of some emails, then find a good coffee shop. There were plenty but Sweetbrew was on the shady side of the street and turned out to be the right choice. Great staff—epitome of the openness everyone from Tasmania continues to show. A wall mural told the story of the discovery of coffee because of dancing goats. I’m a little embarrassed I never asked why the Atlanta local coffeehouse chain is called that— sometimes my own lack of curiosity confounds me. Launceston is apparently home to the oldest yacht club in the Southern Hemisphere and was once a major seaport until they stopped dredging the waterway. Not that many years ago, the ferry from Melbourne docked here instead of nearer the coast in Devonport. There is an inexpensive river tour lasting an hour and includes a run up the gorge, an amazing narrow rock fault the Esk runs through. It was low tide and we scraped a bit a mud but made it up. The Tamar banks are littered with old abandoned boats— dredges, ferries, freight boats, but they manage to look quaint rather than degraded. On one point were a series are large grain silos like the ones Charles Sheeler painted in the US.

With the abandonment of the port, they were transformed into an upscale hotel— pretty dramatic repurpose. Downstream we passed many dead willow trees, signaling salination in an area that should be fresh water. Got my food for the trek squared away, made a big pot of lentils for dinner, and wandered back downtown for a bit, spending most of the evening reading Bruce Chatwin. Tonight my roommate is a wonderful Croatian named  Marenko who currently lives in Sydney and is here looking a real estate with his son—a delightful man. It was a quiet but productive day.

T. Hugh Crawford

In Tasmania Day 14 Hobart to Launceston

January 28th, 2020

In Tasmania  Day 14 Hobart to Launceston


I really didn’t want to leave Hobart— I’d grown attached so I visited my favorite places (including a long time at the Retro Cafe) before catching the bus to Launceston, a town that might be more difficult to like. I’m staying in the Arthouse Hostel— a magnificent but somewhat decrepit hulk of a building next to a scrap yard and an auto repair shop. It has an interesting feel and is clearly occupied by folks out adventuring. Wandered into the town to find my spots, but initially no real connection. In the old part of town are some wandering blocks— sort of deserted in the evening, but the small bars are open. Had a nice pint at the Red Brick Road Cider House— good place

T. Hugh Crawford