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Tassie 1/23 & 24

Saturday, January 25, 2014

We all poured out of the plane and Ann found our vans for us. We sorted our luggage and piled them into the trailer. We all jockeyed about and piled into the vans and off we went!

Launceston is such an interesting city. Launceston is the second largest city in Tasmania after Hobart. With a population of 106,153, Launceston is the ninth largest non-capital city in Australia.

Settled by Europeans in March 1806, Launceston is one of Australia's oldest cities and is home to many historic buildings. Like many Australian places, it was named after a town in the United Kingdom – in this case, Launceston, Cornwall.

Launceston seems to have been home to several firsts such as the first use of anaesthetic in the Southern Hemisphere, the first Australian city to have underground sewers and the first Australian city to be lit by hydroelectricity. The city has a temperate climate with four distinct seasons.

The first inhabitants of the area of Launceston were largely nomadic Tasmanian Aborigines believed to have been part of the North Midlands Tribe. The first white visitors did not arrive until 1798, when George Bass and Matthew Flinders were sent to explore the possibility that there was a strait between Australia and Van Diemen's Land (now Tasmania). They originally landed in Port Dalrymple (the mouth of the Tamar River), 25 mi to the north-west of Launceston.

Initially the settlement was called Patersonia, however, Paterson later changed the name to Launceston in honour of the New South Wales Governor Captain Philip Gidley King, who was born in Launceston, Cornwall.

By 1827, Launceston's population had climbed to 2,000 and the town had become an export center, mainly for the colony's northern pastoral industry. Small hotels and breweries began to emerge in the 1820s, before larger, more "substantial" hotels were built in the 1830s. Sporting groups, political groups, churches and schools were often established in these hotels, however, they also hosted plays, musical soirees and readings, until theatres were built.

Launceston is located in the Tamar Valley, Northern Tasmania. The valley was formed by volcanic and glacial forces over 10 million years ago. The city is located approximately 28 mi south of the Bass Strait, with its closest neighbor-city being Devonport, approximately 62 mi to the north west. Launceston combines steep (originally heavily wooded) ridges and low-lying areas (originally wetlands – with parts of the suburbs of Inveresk and Invermay below high-tide level). As a result, areas of Launceston are subject to landslip problems, while others are liable to poor drainage and periodic flooding. The topography of the area is not conducive to easy dispersion of airborne pollution, due to the phenomenon of thermal inversion.

Where the rivers converge

During recent years the city's air quality has improved. Studies indicate that 73% percent of air pollution in Launceston and surrounding areas during the winter period is caused by wood smoke, while about 8% is from motor vehicle pollution. During the early 1990s about 60% of households used wood heaters, but now only 25–30% of households use wood heating. The 2008 winter was the first time Launceston's air quality did not exceed PM10, since air quality monitoring began in 1997.

Launceston is situated at the confluence of the South Esk River and the North Esk River, forming the Tamar River estuary. It is used for commercial and recreational shipping and boating. In earlier years, ocean going shipping used the river to obtain access to the Port of Launceston wharves located in the city center and Invermay. The Port for Launceston is now located at the George Town suburb of Bell Bay, some 25 mi downstream on the east bank of the Tamar estuary, close to the river mouth. The South Esk River is the longest river in Tasmania. It starts in the North East Mountains near Roses Tier and flows through the Fingal Valley where it passes through the towns of Fingal and Avoca before flowing into the Northern Midlands where it flows through the towns of Evandale, Perth, Longford and Hadspen before finally reaching Launceston via the Cataract Gorge. The river is dammed at Lake Trevallyn on the upper reaches of the Cataract Gorge, with water being diverted into the Trevallyn Power Station with runoff flowing into the remainder of the Cataract Gorge and eventually merging with the Tamar River. The North Esk River starts in the Northallerton Valley in Tasmania's north-east mountains and winds its way to Launceston via the Corra Linn Gorge at White Hills. The St Patrick's River, the largest tributary of the North Esk, is dammed at Nunamara to provide the majority of Launceston's town water since the mid 1800s.

Launceston has a cool, temperate climate, with four distinct seasons. The city is located in the Tamar Valley and is surrounded by many large hills and mountains. With this type of topography, Launceston's weather patterns can change considerably in a short period of time.

The Bureau of Meteorology reported that 2007 was the warmest year ever recorded in Launceston since temperatures were first recorded in 1884. Temperatures ranged from a minimum of 46.6 °F to a maximum of 66.6 °F. During 2006 and 2007, Launceston had the hottest maximums throughout the state. In 2008, Launceston had the highest average maximum temperature out of all Tasmanian cities with 65.5 °F.

Many of the buildings in the City's central business district (CBD) were constructed in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Launceston's many well preserved Victorian and Georgian buildings (including the Launceston synagogue, a rare example of architecture in Egyptian Revival style) together with its diverse collection of art-deco architecture (such as Holyman House and Lucks Corner in the CBD, the former Star Theatre in Invermay and the former Launceston General Hospital) give the city an unusual period ambience.

The Launceston Synagogue is a heritage-listed building located in St. John's Street, Launceston, Tasmania. Built in 1844 by Tasmanian builders Barton and Bennell, the building is Australia's second-oldest synagogue (after the Hobart Synagogue), the oldest place of non-Christian worship in Launceston, and is a rare example of an Egyptian revival architecture in Australia. The building features a distinctly trapezoidal facade and main window bearing the Star of David with a single balcony on the inside accessed via the rear of the building.

The synagogue closed as a house of worship in 1871 (re-opening again in the 1930s for a period), and today the building is in the care of the National Trust of Australia.

The Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery

This is a really cool place and I could get lost in here all day and not be bored! It is not only a museum and art gallery it also has a planetarium as well!

The Planetarium is only $6 for an adult and let me tell you that is dirt cheep! In the USA they are at least $20-25! So I couldn't help myself I went to check it out.

Star Gazing

The Planetarium opened in 1968, and its current home since 2009 has been the QVMAG Museum at Inveresk. The Planetarium operates a Zeiss ZKP3 star projector in conjunction with a fulldome digital system. Each year, thousands of people gaze up onto its famous dome to watch exciting feature presentations and to experience the thrill of feeling that they are out under the stars. I was in full geek mode. My husband would be very proud of me.

After that I decided to check out the rest of the grounds and buildings. In one of them I found a wonderful exhibit on the Tasmanian Tiger. This is an animal that is believed to be extinct. They have seen occasional sightings way out where there are few to no people. So there is some debate in the scientific communities. Here's what I've learned though.

The thylacine was the largest known carnivorous marsupial of modern times. It is commonly known as the Tasmanian tiger (because of its striped back) or the Tasmanian wolf. Native to continental Australia, Tasmania and New Guinea, it is thought to have become extinct in the 20th century. It was the last extant member of its family, Thylacinidae; specimens of other members of the family have been found in the fossil record dating back to the early Miocene.
The thylacine had become extremely rare or extinct on the Australian mainland before British settlement of the continent, but it survived on the island of Tasmania along with several other endemic species, including the Tasmanian devil. Intensive hunting encouraged by bounties is generally blamed for its extinction, but other contributing factors may have been disease, the introduction of dogs, and human encroachment into its habitat. Despite its official classification as extinct, sightings are still reported, though none have been conclusively proven.

Surviving evidence suggests that it was a relatively shy, nocturnal creature with the general appearance of a medium-to-large-size dog, except for its stiff tail and abdominal pouch (which was reminiscent of a kangaroo) and a series of dark transverse stripes that radiated from the top of its back (making it look a bit like a tiger).

Like the tigers and wolves of the Northern Hemisphere, from which it obtained two of its common names, the thylacine was an apex predator. As a marsupial, it was not closely related to these placental mammals, but because of convergent evolution it displayed the same general form and adaptations. Its closest living relative is thought to be either the Tasmanian devil or numbat. The thylacine was one of only two marsupials to have a pouch in both sexes (the other being the water opossum). The male thylacine had a pouch that acted as a protective sheath, covering his external reproductive organs while he ran through thick brush. It has been described as a formidable predator because of its ability to survive and hunt prey in extremely sparsely populated areas.

The thylacine is a strong candidate for cloning and other molecular science projects due to its recent demise and the existence of several well preserved specimens.

The modern thylacine first appeared about 4 million years ago. Species of the family Thylacinidae date back to the beginning of the Miocene; since the early 1990s, at least seven fossil species have been uncovered at Riversleigh, part of Lawn Hill National Park in northwest Queensland. Dickson's thylacine (Nimbacinus dicksoni) is the oldest of the seven discovered fossil species, dating back to 23 million years ago. This thylacinid was much smaller than its more recent relatives. The largest species, the powerful thylacine (Thylacinus potens) which grew to the size of a wolf, was the only species to survive into the late Miocene. In late Pleistocene and early Holocene times, the modern thylacine was widespread (although never numerous) throughout Australia and New Guinea.
An example of convergent evolution, the thylacine showed many similarities to the members of the dog family, Canidae, of the Northern Hemisphere: sharp teeth, powerful jaws, raised heels and the same general body form. Since the thylacine filled the same ecological niche in Australia as the dog family did elsewhere, it developed many of the same features. Despite this, it is unrelated to any of the Northern Hemisphere predators.

The thylacine was able to open its jaws to an unusual extent: up to 120 degrees. This capability can be seen in part in David Fleay's short black-and-white film sequence of a captive thylacine from 1933. The jaws were muscular but weak and had 46 teeth.

The thylacine was a nocturnal and crepuscular hunter, spending the daylight hours in small caves or hollow tree trunks in a nest of twigs, bark or fern fronds. It tended to retreat to the hills and forest for shelter during the day and hunted in the open heath at night. Early observers noted that the animal was typically shy and secretive, with awareness of the presence of humans and generally avoiding contact, though it occasionally showed inquisitive traits. At the time, much stigma existed in regard to its "fierce" nature, however this is likely to be due to its perceived threat to agriculture.

There is evidence for at least some year-round breeding (cull records show joeys discovered in the pouch at all times of the year), although the peak breeding season was in winter and spring. They would produce up to four cubs per litter (typically two or three), carrying the young in a pouch for up to three months and protecting them until they were at least half adult size. Early pouch young were hairless and blind, but they had their eyes open and were fully furred by the time they left the pouch. After leaving the pouch, and until they were developed enough to assist, the juveniles would remain in the lair while their mother hunted. Thylacines only once bred successfully in captivity, in Melbourne Zoo in 1899. Their life expectancy in the wild is estimated to have been 5 to 7 years, although captive specimens survived up to 9 years.

The Tasmanian Tiger is even on the coat of arms of Tasmania.

The Cataract Gorge was beautiful but I just couldn't get the legs to cooperate. So I let the group go to that one while I just cranny poked around town and rested while having some wonderful fruit that Ann gave me and some coffee to perk me up.

They came back for me and then we went on a whirl wind tour of the amazing wine counties. Since I don't drink I found myself being the designated driver which was scary for me because you all drive on the wrong side of the road and the drivers side is on the wrong side of the car! After a while and some practice I did fine. I have to say it was quite funny watching all of my "mates" being all tipsy. At least no one got ill. I appreciated that being the sober person. Ah time for some meds. I'll need pain meds tonight for sure. lol

Driving into Deloraine was so magical. It is classified as a National Trust Town and easy to see why.

Deloraine is a municipality on the Meander River, in the central north of Tasmania, Australia. It is 50 km west of Launceston and 52 km south of Devonport along the Bass Highway. It is part of the Meander Valley Council, as of 2011, the town of Deloraine has a population of 2,745.

Deloraine, like most Tasmanian towns, has a temperate and wet climate.

The region was explored in 1821 by Captain Roland, who was searching for farm land. The land was granted to new settlers, and the town is now a major agricultural centre, with a large number of farms of all types in the area. The town got its name from a character in the poem The Lay of the Last Minstrel, written by sir Walter Scott. Deloraine Post Office opened on 29 October 1836.

The town won the State Tidy Towns award in 1992, 1993 and 1995, and the Australian Community of the Year award in 1997.

While Deloraine is a predominantly rural farming town, it is also aimed at pleasing tourists, which visit because of its culture and location also serving as a base to explore areas such as Cradle Mountain, the Great Western Tiers, Mole Creek and the Central Highlands. Farms in the area produce poppies, herbs, onions and potatoes; as is typical produce for the Tasmanian climate. Deloraine is also home to the 41° South salmon and ginseng aqua farm.

The main street of Deloraine, with the Great Western Tiers in the background.

The town currently operates two sawmills previously owned by Gunns as well as facilities that manufacture fertiliser, farm equipment, water tanks and street signs. The nearby opium processing factory, Tasmanian Alkaloids, located in Westbury offers some employment for the town.

The Craft Fair

The annual Tasmanian Craft Fair takes place in Deloraine, it attracts around 34,000 people annually.

During the craft fair, there are 13 venues and over 200 stalls operating around the town. Because of this, as well as the large population of artists, the town is considered a cultural center.

Being totally exhausted now we all are ready to get to our accommodation for the night The Bluestone Bed and Breakfast. That way we can all clean up and get ready for a wonderful dinner at Settlers Restaurant. I can't wait to see what they have on the menu.

After that I am so going to bed. I can't wait to look about this weekend. I hear there is a Cheese Farm and we all know how I love to eat cheese! Also there is a Raspberry farm? I can't wait to see how they grow their canes. Maybe I can start growing some in my garden? Hmmm, now I'm thinking of fresh raspberries. Darn it I just ate.

Just when I thought my gastronomical delights was met or exceeded then I hear about a Chocolate Factory. Ah, Cheese, Raspberries and Chocolate oh my! How can I go wrong? Now just for a real glass of iced tea and I'm in heaven!

Well this will be for the morrow. It's time for sleep.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Patty, I love reading your blogs - you take so much time and do all this research that helps the sights of this trek come alive even more! Thanks. emoticon emoticon
    1578 days ago
    You are about up to date - good work Patty.
    Tassie has lots of great foods - I think to do with the cooler clean air there - straight off Antarctica!!
    1578 days ago
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