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Blog of Jack and Jude
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Baby Steps to Heaven ~ Early April 2018

Some of you may wonder how we do these amazing deeds. We assure you we’re not superhuman, not in the slightest. Even though we are septuagenarians, we’re still looking for adventures, ready to take on challenges that would frighten many younger than us. So how do we do it? We’ve noticed many today lacking belief in themselves and we wonder if our society and some parents look after the young ones too well, which results in lack of drive and confidence, many are afraid.

Jack and Jude started out by taking baby steps into this world of challenge. We didn’t start out sailing straight across oceans. We took lots of walks in parks, did little road trips, camped by streams, steadily building up our repertoire of knowledge through many failures, and hard knocks. But with each failure, as horrid as many were, we took pride in ourselves that we’d done it. We had survived. Taking Baby Steps, deed upon deed, we found those experiences made our next attempt a little easier. Life is so short, so precious. If you’re stuck in a dead end position then you’re not risking much if you get up and have a go. Wander through a park. Breathe in the fragrant scent of Earth and then imagine great vistas of mountains and wide plains. But be ready not to succeed. That’s not failure. That’s learning what didn’t work. Failure is giving up.

“The secret of being miserable is to have the leisure to bother about whether you’re happy or not.”
George Bernard Shaw

Gould Track Map

click to enlarge

Connecting the Dots

Wow! We’re just back from our adventurous search, and the good news is we are still on our feet and smiling after two weeks in the wet jungle of Southwest Tasmania. This is how it unfolded.

Our mission this year was to connect the Morrison Sandstone Camp at the upper reaches of the Gordon River to the GPS dots made during three previous summers of finding a track lost to Nature after the area was declared a National Park in 1983. The resulting route will provide exposure to many types of terrain and forest, and the most outstanding views of exquisite Nature along an important historical track that greatly helped open up the west of Tasmania.

Goulds Track Location Map

Location Map

Leaving our vessel in Strahan, a good mate transported Jude and I up river in his seventeen foot tinny powered by a 60 horsepower Enduro. Packing supplies to camp for three weeks, we had our tent, down bags, awning, burner, lots of warm clothes, bags of fresh food and cans, plus a plastic tidy bin full with zip-lock bags of dry goods. Also on board was our Green Machine kayak taken as an emergency exit. Around here everything revolves around the weather, so we got going when three days of sunshine were forecast followed by occasional light showers for our remaining time in the bush. Alas, this proved rather incorrect.

Filled with nervous expectations and doubts over the outcome we set off into a light sou’wester that set up an increasingly uncomfortable chop as the morning advanced. If you’ve ever travelled in a small tinny on open waters you’ll know the jolting pain we experienced travelling the twenty miles down Macquarie Harbour. Fortunately all jolting ended upon entering the Gordon River, instead the air temperature plummeted another notch while fabulous forested scenery whizzed past. Once upstream of Sir John Falls we entered the rarely visited upper reaches encumbered with rock outcrops and shale beds, which on this trip had high water flowing fast over them.

Our mate and guide, Ronnie Morrison, had worked the forest when a young lad and in his youth had piloted his uncle Reg’s charter vessel up and down the river, so we were in very capable hands. We’ve been on many an excursion with him, once in 2013 to assist his team film the feature “Two Men in a Punt” that captures the wild beauty of the river and forests while telling the story of the hard working Piners.

Convicts towing huon logs to Sarah Island

Convicts towing huon logs to Sarah Island

Steeped in History and Pain
In 1804, Australia’s second colony was established in Hobart on a harsh island with few resources. A colony where convicts outnumbered free settlers, where many absconded to become bushrangers, prompting Governor Sorell in 1822 to establish a place of ultra-banishment on the wild west coast at Sarah Island in Macquarie Harbour. Once there, those reoffending convicts were brutally forced to harvest the colony’s most prized resource, the huon pine tree, which they then made into ships to haul this precious cargo to Hobart.

Plagued by horrid westerly gales, many ships were lost on the torturous sand channels leading through Hell’s Gate into Macquarie Harbour; stifling further exploration for wealth. So badly, that in 1842, Governor Sir John Franklin ordered the young surveyor James Calder to cut a track from the east coast to the West, upon which Sir John and Lady Jane walked to see what lay on the other side of the mountains. Then by 1860, rumours of gold and other wealth encouraged the government to hire a British geological surveyor, Charles Gould, for the sum of six hundred pounds plus expenses for a year to make a geological survey and prepare a book on the geology of Tasmania. When his team nearly died entering Hell’s Gate during one of the region’s many storms, he had his team cut an easier track back to the east than the one that Calder had cut through the mountains. Gould’s track began at the furthermost point ships could reach up the Gordon River near Sir John Falls, where a dock was constructed called Gould’s Landing. For the next 100 years this dock served both as departure and arrival for the west. First came geologist and miners looking for wealth, then a rush when gold was found, followed by workers when lead, zinc, and lastly, the largest known copper deposit in the world at the time was discovered near Queenstown. Then in 1900, to export these riches safely, a rock-training wall was built to tame Hell’s Gate. After that, ships could safely enter and traffic on Gould’s track trickled to a few. But the need for good ship building timber never trickled; in fact, demand grew, creating more jobs for hardy men who roamed the rivers and ranges looking for these special timbers. Huon, King Billy and Celery Pine are light weight, strong and durable timbers that are abundant in Tasmania’s Southwest forests. Gould’s Track then became the lifeline for getting supplies to the Piners’ camps far up river, and when walking upon it, the Piners could see the vast stands of the timbers they sought. 

One of many spurs leading off the Gould’s Track serviced the Morrison’s Sandstone Camp, which was very active in the mid 1930’s. After WWII, these harvesting activities slowed to a few teams. Nevertheless the Gould’s Track was then also used by Tasmania Hydro Electricity, who in 1971 cut a track from it down to the Gordon to access sampling camps to measure river flows and heights that was used to design the Gordon below Franklin Dam. Many of you will know that the proposed building of a second Gordon River dam created a huge controversy because it would have flooded the beautiful and unique Franklin River Valley plus vast reaches of the Gordon. So much so, that in 1983 the Hawke Federal Labour Government took the extraordinary measure to block it. Swiftly after that the vast Southwest was declared a National Park, with World Heritage recognition. This halted traffic on the Gould’s track and that blocked access to this wonderful, beautiful creation.

Reg Morrison Franklin River 1940

Reg Morrison Franklin River 1940

Our interest lay in the Morrison’s Sandstone Camp and to learn more here are words of a young axeman. “An incredible amount of work often went into gaining access to areas further back from the rivers. In the early 1930s, Jim Morrison and sons cleared a horse road from the Gordon, about a quarter mile below the Angel Cliffs, back over a button grass ridge, and down on an angle into the Sandstone Creek. This is about one and a half to two miles back from the river, and at that time had a good stand of pine. The camp and stable were on the bank of the Gordon, and was inappropriately named the “Sandstone Camp,” wrote Reg Morrison as printed in The Huon Pine Story by Garry Kerr.

Reg Morrison was born into a timber cutting family, and took up the life of a timber feller, or ‘Piner’, at an early age. His love of huon pine can be seen in the boats he built out of this timber, and the tourism business he began, running regular boat trips for tourists along one of the wildest and most beautiful river systems in the world, the Gordon below Franklin. In the late 1970s, when the Tasmanian Hydro-Electric Commission announced plans to dam the river, Reg Morrison’s life changed forever. Throughout the campaign, he voluntarily ferried protesters up and down the river from Strahan to the now famous blockade site.

Reg Morrison

Reg Morrison Piner, river-man, tourist operator with his Dennison Star in background, Courtesy of Garry Kerr

Speaking of his youth and the Sandstone Camp, Reg said, “Dad put a road back in there and worked four horses, and that’s where I was with Claude drivin’ horses when I was about thirteen or fourteen. The road went up two bloody hills. One was six or seven chain long, (140 m), an’ the other was two to three chains long, (60 m). A lot of sidlin’ work – dig into the side of the hill with the mattock to make it level for the horses and logs. Up on top of the hill (saddle and plateau) it was button grass, it was peat two to three feet deep (1 m). We had to dig a channel through that to get to solid bottom for good quarter of a mile (400 m). It was a bastard of a job that. It wasn’t too bad on top, the first foot (.3 m), you could cut it out with an axe, but further down it was mud, so you had to shovel that out. Then we had to slide down the other side, which was fairly steep, so the horses could pull the bloody logs up.”

Whizzing the clock forward eighty years puts Jack and Jude in the thick stuff looking for any hint of those benched roads dug out in the 1930’s. Ronnie had got us off to a great start, firstly by the journey of more than eighty-five km.

the Gordon River running fast

Arriving at the Sandstone Camp, the Gordon River was running fast around the outside bend.

At about 1300 on Wednesday the 21st of March, arriving at the Sandstone Camp, the Gordon River was running fast around the outside bend. Far too fast to make headway had we attempted it by kayak, so we were delighted we had 60 hp transport. The dam must have been releasing a lot of water for the river was high to the underside of the overhanging trees. Not anything like the placid stream Jude and I kayaked from Sir John Falls to the Rocky Sprent in 2010.

Ronnie had to search up and down the riverbank for a likely landing place to unload our hoard of supplies without disaster, then he drove in fast across the currents straight at a large tree, which I grabbed, and quickly secured a line.

Gaining the steep shore was a problem soon overcome by Jude daintily finding a precarious foothold followed by Ronnie, who went off to check the way towards the camp and stables further upstream. Meanwhile Jude and I unloaded the numerous boxes and rucksacks, precariously handing them across the river gap. Ronnie returned and helped unload and jockey the kayak above flood level, before we all arduously tussled each bit of gear uphill, then down into a minor stream, then back up and along the cliff top where the Morrisons had pushed huon logs over into the Gordon, where they were rafted together before being floated downstream.

baby celery top pine – plenty in the area

With the afternoon sun filtering through a mantle of green, our walk became a tour through a Disney world surrounded by tall, stout, straight boles coated in luxuriant mosses that rose majestically towards the blue sky while sunlight glinted off the fast moving river. Along our path were many young celery top pines, noticeable by their distinctive shaped leaves, and dotted between them stood lovely baby huon pines, their needle branches deep green and drooping as they do when fully grown.

Four years previously, when Jude and I helped the film crew find left behind relics, we’d had a good look at the stables noting the two remaining standing posts and cross members buried by moss with a few remaining nails proudly standing aloft. Further on we came to the hut site where the worn out steel log-shoe still stood upright, at one time backing the fireplace.

Filming 'Two Men in a Punt'

Filming ‘Two Men in a Punt’ – Ronnie holding a boot from 1930’s

Before selecting a site for our camp, Ronnie took us back to where the logs had been dispatched, and then talking us through how it might have been, we walked along the edge looking for clues that might indicate where the road emerged from what is now thick forest and undergrowth. Ronnie’s lifetime of forest experience has his eye finely tuned to unnatural changes, as are Jack and Jude’s. So it didn’t take long to discover a small stump; burnt where it protruded and shaped into what Ronnie said could have been a turning point for the horses pulling the logs. At that point he slipped into the undergrowth with the two of us close behind scanning the ground. His quick eyes spotted a built up line, saying that had been corded, meaning cut poles had been laid side by side to build up the run. Following it further into the forest led to a soak, low ground now soft with standing water eking out the nearby hill. Next to that, a fallen giant myrtle lay along the direction we were tracking and pushing aside some vegetation, Ronnie stated that he thought the shoe road lay in that direction.

Getting late now, Ronnie had ahead of him a long journey back to Strahan and we had the massive task of finding, then setting up a camp and sorting our gear, so we turned about to get on with our tasks.

Hut site - shoe once back fireplace

Hut site – shoe once back fireplace

In searching the historical site, we found the hut site somewhat small and thought it should be left undisturbed, and so we chose an area behind the collapsed stables on the edge of the large clear area. After deciding, Jude and I set to work at the tasks we know best. In line with a row of slender trees, I set up the tent, and close by, Jude set up her kitchen before we began unpacking our gear. Then we were free to return to that small creek to create a small settling pool for collecting drinking water, which also served as a fridge for our fresh foods and beer. Aye, having big transport allowed us to bring along a block of libation to celebrate the end of our working days.

Benjamin Franklin once said,
“Beer is proof that God loves us, and wants us to be happy.”

Thursday started wonderfully
Hardly half an hour was taken to push through the growth past the fallen myrtle and have excitement roaring in our ears when I noticed something unnatural ahead, possibly the tiniest hint of a bench road rising up the hillside. Fallen trees blocked our view and way ahead, but after climbing over them then turning back around, before us a manmade-benched road could be seen rising up the hillside at an angle. Wow! Our greatest clue found straight away. We had thought that, with luck, it would have taken several days of bruising searching through dense bush.

All day, Jude and I worked our way further up that benched road as it climbed up the 150 m high ridge. Plenty of fallen trees blocked our progress and, as in the past, we pulled away the rotten ones and broke off the smaller branches until clear enough to shimmy over or slide under. It hadn’t rained for several days, nevertheless all was wet, and soon we were too. After clearing a couple hundred metres, we came to a landslide. Not surprising since this track hadn’t been used for eighty years, nor had it been constructed to be used for much more than a few. Beyond the slide we picked up the run again where a deep valley began closing with noisy running water. Here we turned back as it was getting late, returning buoyant after a very successful day indeed.

Benched Shoe-Road after we'd cleared away the dead branches

Benched Shoe-Road after we’d cleared away the dead branches by hand.

Friday started brilliantly
Warm with a lovely blue sky, a fabulous day to be in a forest. First, we cleaned up the start of the track now that we knew it was the right way, adding more red tapes and pulling away a few more fallen branches before heading back up. Following the manmade-benched road cut into the side of the steeply rising ridge we continued doing our thing, amazed at how much work these lads had done to extract the logs. But soon our way ahead ran into an obstacle baffling us. The shoe road ran into the stream of water, which promptly narrowed into a chasm taller than us. We could see that it had been widened and had a solid sandstone bottom, but I’m not crazy about tracking through creeks. They’re wet, dark and full of leeches, with numerous fallen trees and rotting logs, so I had my doubts that the knowledgeable lads from yesteryear would haul logs through one. Mentioning this to Jude, I left her to climb the hillside to look for alternatives, and went straight up the hillside rising at about 45 degrees. Passing through fairly open, beautiful green forest led to an even more open north face, which was drier, but no shoe-road nor any hint of man’s interference. Coming back, we picnicked at the same sunny spot as the previous day then searched up the opposite hillside, hoping there to find a shoe road. But we didn’t. Slightly deflated, we returned to camp thinking we’d expand our search the next day. Instead, it started raining that night.

 

Shoe-road entered small creek

Shoe-road entered small creek

Saturday it rained so much
We kept close to camp, erecting our awning and clearing the area of fallen branches, to make it neat and more open.

Sunday it rained harder
Bailed 60 litres to drain the kayak – the river rose 3 metres.

Monday, another very wet day
River still high.

Tuesday the rain eased to occasional drizzle
And we thought it best to set off for our primary objective of linking last year’s find to this camp, by the path of least resistance if need be. We had improved upon our own track up and over the steep hill, laying more bright red tapes marking a lovely excursion through an open rainforest filled with native laurels. We discovered that the hill fell into the same creek, and seeing a cleared hillside on the other side went searching for a shoe-road there, but instead hit bauera. It’s another nuisance plant, the Bushman’s Curse for its thousands of interwoven fine branches that en masse grow thick and taller than a man’s height. My GPS pointed up to the plateau through it, so, gritting my teeth, I steeled myself for the upcoming battle then pushed into it, Jude close behind. The trick with bauera is to snap the large stalks then push the break towards the other, shearing the strand. It doesn’t take herculean force, albeit there are thousands upon thousands of strands. At times, I just push backwards into it using my bulk and weight to make a tunnel then clean up the bridging strands blocking our way. Our tunnel found the occasional banksia engulfed in bauera, and the odd run of cutting grass, or what we call razor grass because its razor sharp serrated edge easily slices exposed skin. We, of course, are well protected, wearing tough gloves, long sleeves, and pants with gaiters and a hat. Getting through bauera is slow energy sapping work that must be tackled with patience. Beware, if you don’t like being totally surrounded by dense vegetation, you’ll go mad, especially as it’s all very wet.

We steadily gained height until miraculously the bauera began to thin rising our hopes that we’d suddenly pop out. But alas! A false hope! We pushed on for another hundred metres taking yet another hour of precious time. With my GPS reporting my plateau waypoint just 45 metres away, we came to a slightly open patch about a metre wide by a few long, and since it was then two pm, we pushed away some spaghetti vine and stopped for nourishment. That was a big mistake.

Once sitting in our wet clothes, we soon became chilled and then found leeches inside on our pant legs, and since we still had to get safely back to our lovely warm tent before nightfall, had no choice but to turn about at that point. Of course we had laid a few red tapes as we’d progressed, and going back, we tied quite a few more on just in case we came this way again.

Wednesday dawned overcast, but dry.
Once again we set off to search for the elusive shoe road after I had entered a number of GPS exploration waypoints on the ground we’d not explored.

Up over the hill on our track we weaved through the forest first to E01, then E02 and E03, places we’d been to before and finally to E04 in a new part of the hill near another creek. When approaching E04 we stumbled upon a manmade track slightly cut into the hillside above this new creek running noisily after all the rain. Wow! Excited by this new track gave our spirits a huge boost.

Enthusiastically, we followed it, making good progress in the direction of the Gordon until the track abruptly ended in a large landslip, and so, turning about we cleared small fallen branches in the other direction for about a hundred metres, until a heavy downpour sent us home.

Thursday I got in a cranky mood putting on wet gear after all night rain
After a lovely breakfast of stewed apples on Jude’s homemade banana cake and not leaving camp until 11 am, our objective was to better mark our track over the hill as we were still losing it, which is not only frustrating but slows us down. After that, continue to clear the new track and see where it leads. Arriving about noon at what we called SR2, we cleared about 200 metres, noticing at one point a rather odd disturbance in the vegetation on the creek side. It looked manmade.

pack track to bring supplies to camp

SR2 – which we now believe was a pack track to bring supplies to camp

After lunch on the track in falling rain, which hardly mattered as we were already drenched, we continued in a south-easterly direction until it disappeared into another mudslide, but not before we realized that this track somewhat connected the two streams. Finding a red tape that neither of us could recall, we found that it marked our way to that disturbed vegetation, which turned out to be where we had crossed creek 1 on our way to the plateau a few days earlier. A good chuckle blew away Ol’ Grumpy, laughing at how easy it was to become disorientated. But Nature had the last laugh when rain increased and it became gloomy again.

Lunch on the track in the rain

Lunch on the track in the rain

As we were already soaking wet to our privates, instead of going home over the top, we decided to return around the side of the hill, which took us into two gloriously green gullies. The last one we followed down, up and over numerous branches, thickly moss coated, and crunching rotten ones being careful not to slip, until we got into creek 1 just above where we’d cleared. With all we’d gleamed in our recent searches, suddenly with smarter eyes we noticed how the far side creek bank had been benched, meaning that someone had cut it vertically, making the creek flatter and wider. Walking down the creek we found that it had a hard sandstone base. I think that’s when the penny dropped.

The creek bank had been benched

The creek bank had been benched, meaning that someone had cut it vertically

Good Friday it rained heavily all day
And considering our physical state, we declared it a stay at home day, writing up our journals, making waypoints on our Avenza map that’s displayed on the Ipad, reading aloud to each other, and enjoying a warm dry cuddle while the rain on our awning sounded like being under a waterfall.

Awning stretched over header pole

Awning stretched over ridge pole

Awning provides dry area for cooking and access

Awning provides dry area for cooking and access

Saturday’s forecast was the best we’d heard all week
Only a 70% chance of showers, so we rose early, packed a lunch then set off to reach our prime goal of linking this Sandstone Camp with last year’s final waypoint. Everything went swimmingly up the hill to SR2, and along it till it met where we’d crossed creek 1, then on up the other side to our bauera tunnel. We reached our earlier lunch spot about 11 am and pushed on towards a waypoint I’d made on Google Earth when back in Strahan. GE is an amazing tool. Zoom in and little things like an eighty-year-old shoe-road shows up as an anomaly in the vegetation pattern, and right where it was most pronounced I had generated a waypoint.

 I took a step and fell into a ditch!

I took a step and fell into a ditch!

Once at our previous lunch spot the bauera was reduced and we could see sky above the tea tree that only reached half a metre above our heads with some low bush and the odd clump of button grass, fairly easy to get through. With 3 metres remaining to my waypoint, I took a step and fell into a ditch! By golly, reaching down to pull away the dangling veg, the straight sides of a ditch became obvious! The trench was no more than a metre wide and half a metre deep, but had been made by man, and we knew the 13 year old who had dug it. Suddenly a pent up dam of emotion burst in an ear-piercing whoop, and Jude shouted, “Hold it,” as she snapped a photo. With excitement rising further, we set off towards the last waypoint that we’d made last year, only 70 metres away. Quickly the ground degenerated into soft mush as tea trees were replaced by more clumps of button grass, which brought back Reg’s words that he’d had to shovel out three feet of mud before finding hard bottom. We made fast going sloshing through mush more than ankle deep. Then before we knew it, pushing aside a tall plant we beheld a glorious sight. With my euphoria soaring, the first thing I noticed was disturbed vegetation ahead. Then looking left and right, a last year’s pink tape fluttered atop a lone tea tree and a loud hurrah escaped me. We had done it. We’d connected all the dots made these last three years by shear hard work and determination. We had found and recorded a track that had been the lifeline of the colony for over a hundred years before being left abandoned, to be lost forever to Nature’s rapid growth.

Jude’s smile split her lovely face as she laughed uproariously until ceremoniously I reached up and tied one of our bright red tapes just below last year’s pink one, when again I heard the order to “Hold that,” as she fumbled out her well used Lumix FZ200. That ‘poor thing’ has been dragged through all kinds of bush in all sorts of weather, and has taken nearly thirty thousand shots plus many hours of video, but it had enough life to snap one more.

With the clock ticking, one look at each other and both nodding towards the saddle, we haired off again toward the benched road leading down into the Sandstone Creek valley, knowing that if our luck held we could reach the derelict huon pine bridge across the creek with enough time to safely get home.

Well! We were astonished and surprised by how neat and tidy the bench road we’d discovered and cleared last year had remained. What a treat it was to find unencumbered, flat footing in the wilderness, but when descending it a new thought niggled. I knew at the bottom was a large expanse of mushy soak, where water escaping out the hill got trapped in the rise before the Sandstone Creek. But I needn’t have worried about finding our way. We had left so many pink tapes that following them was easy-peasy and in hardly ten minutes we were hearing the roar of the Sandstone Creek, and seeing again the fruits of last year’s labour, the track still clear right up to what remains of the bridge built eighty years ago. A lot of it was under the torrent racing towards its discharge into the Rocky Sprent, and then onwards into the Gordon just upstream of our camp. For fun, I chucked in a boat like limb telling Jude, “With a bit of luck we’ll see this go past our camp right after we get home.”

Wonders of a Wet Forest

The Sandstone Creek Bridge circa 1935
April 2018 — – – – April 2017

Gouds track map

click to enlarge

Summing up:
Three years ago in 2015 we’d gone off on a little adventure with nothing more in mind than to unearth a short bit of track leading into world heritage forest that the young ones could visit and be inspired. Why? Because it had all the elements of greatness; a link to our historical past, a visual example of hard work to reach a goal, and an up front and personal treat of the creation in a magnificent jumble of Nature’s beauty that somehow easily explains what Earth is really about.

That summer ended with great happiness being bestowed upon us when the Launceston High School orienteering class visited Sir John Falls, and after telling them of our find, they followed our instructions and found then walked into that forest. Coming back in such high spirits, so impressed with Nature’s magic, we took heart in thinking Earth might yet be saved from man’s concrete and waste.

The following month we returned after Ronnie had mentioned finding on Google Earth something that looked like a bridge further on from our discoveries, and inspired to build upon our success, we set off again into the dark dank forest.

Alas, no bridge was found, only a heap more wrong turns that miraculously led to a number of yellow diamond shaped signs with a faded red dot erected by Hydro Tasmania when they had used the Gould’s Track. That added another tool to our box of goodies because now we thought there would be many more of these signs left behind after Hydro quit collecting their data in the early 1980s.

That mysterious bridge had supposedly been just before where the wet forest turns into a large button grass plain, and eager to reach those open skies and behold the wondrous expanse of mountains and deep valleys of southwest Tasmania, year two started with taking Banyandah back up to Sir John Falls, and us off again down the track we had discovered, which by then had become a regular byway visited by many. Of course, it was never going to be easy, but you know, adversity makes a union’s bond even tighter, and a common goal gives a couple reasons to be together fighting for reward. I freely tell you that there is not another woman on this planet as perfect for what we do than Judith. And I say with an open heart that our life together, sharing the hardships and the discoveries, has been fantastic and rewarding. We do have our moments for sure because we’re both strong willed. But one important lesson we have learnt through our bad moments is to keep our eyes on our goals and let the unimportant stuff go right over our heads. And naturally, a lot of plain talking and opening our hearts to the other.

Year two’s dream of reaching the most exquisite views in Tasmania did become reality. My! What those pioneers saw as they trudged across the last miles into Gould’s Landing must have inspired them to find greatness in a land of commanding vistas. It also must have lifted the spirits of the young lads going to harvest the golden treasures so needed for a young colony, and it must have put grave doubts into the minds’ of the Hydro men who were going to a task that would flood all that magic of Nature.

The Franklin Gordon Wild Rivers National Park from the Goulds Track

The Franklin Gordon Wild Rivers National Park from the Goulds Track

Last year we had a new mission, one equal to the beauty of the Franklin River Valley and vast mountain ranges blocking east from west that kept us company as we walked to the far end of the button grass plateau counting Hydro signs as we discovered them. Establishing a camp alongside the Sandstone Creek flowing under the mighty King Billy Range, we found a Piners’ bridge last in use eighty years ago, and a benched road constructed by the Morrisons that leads out that valley and towards the Gordon River.


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There’s so much history in these lands. So many stories of hard work reaping reward, so much inspiration for young minds that would benefit from knowing it because they’ll not be young long, and will need stiff backbones to achieve their dreams when walking the great lands of Earth. Jude and I have come to know the children of the Piners and are impressed with their humour and kindness, their thoughtfulness and honesty. Most are successful and all are a credit to the west. But somehow there’s a downer on the past.

Now it’s thought by the ill-informed that the Piners ravaged the forests and took all the special trees and burned the forest to reach them. But that’s simply not true. Harvesting a large tree such as a huon pine and getting it to market is an awesome task, so the Piners took only selected trees, not the giants that were too large to transport, only the straightest and truest, and to burn the forest to reach them would destroy all that they treasured. Today the forest is still alive with these special trees. Every tourist going up river will see their drooping branches gracefully embracing the river waters along its shore, and walkers will see thousand year old giants dominating the forests.  So let’s celebrate these unsung heroes of the wet SW forests who braved not only the wet and cold, the blood sucking leaches, but also the danger of sharp edges on slippery slopes to bring us the special timbers so needed to build the ships that helped developed this magnificent land of Tasmania.

To do that, Jude and I thought we’d find the old horse road leading off the Gould’s Track down to the Morrison’s Camp on the Gordon River, hoping that one day it could become a glorious treat for hardy young visitors seeking adventure and beauty in a round trip taking in all the many shapes of forests and river. West Tasmania is in need of new attractions, and adventurous ones are on the rise with many today, so where better to start than pure nature mixed with the hard won victories of our past pioneers.

Other articles in this thread:

Search for Piners’ Shoe Road ~ March 2015
Continuing The Hunt ~ Early April 2015

Third Time Lucky ~ Late April 2015
Pain and Pleasure ~ A Walk in a Park ~ January 2016
Bold New Adventure ~ Trekking to the Past ~ Early April 2017



Comments

Our Life Afloat — 12 Comments

  1. Hi Jack & Jude, We have followed your articles ever since we met you on Cocora Beach in Eden NSW.
    You just blow me away with the adventures you two take on. Our admiration goes out to you.
    John & Diane

    • Really glad our little jaunts inspire. That was a very nice day on the beach, kind of wish we had some of the lovely weather down here right now LOL.
      We’ll be back in Eden one day and we’ll stay in touch. Bye for now. J&J

  2. Dear Jack&Jude – You guys never cease to amaze us. Since meeting you in Fresh Water Bay all those years ago, we have loved following your adventures and escapades around this wonderful country of ours. This latest addition is pure gold. Your love of nature is infectious and we look forward to your next instalment.

    BTW, we are just about to set off on our own next small step – crossing the Bay of Biscay as the first step of our 5 year Passage back to Oz. The past two years emerging ourselves in all thing European has been great. But the Great Southern Land beckons, and all those lovely places along the way!

    Thanks again

    Love Bruce&Anne

    • Talk about amazing – so pleased you wrote, and delighted you’re doing a big voyage. Europe brings back memories. Not sure it’s not a bit overpowering today, but, oh well, can appreciate the call of ‘Down Under.’ Put your fleeces on and join us down in Tassie. You’ll know solace and challenge down here.
      Goodonya! J&J

  3. Hi Jack and Jude thanks for the latest blog, my Missus and I were in Tassie for 10 days in March and did the top and bottom and east coast tourist stuff, With me working at the Old Melbourne Gaol and my interest in our convict and penal history I found Port Arthur fascinating, thanks also for your video of Sarah Island I think this has convinced me to go back to Tassie and check it out.
    Cheers Bruce Johnson -.-

    • Hi Bruce, glad to hear from you and get your news. We’ll have to met up when you get over to see Sarah. The local tour vessels stop there and a guide does a half hour walking tour. So much sad history there. Like a Grummet just across a narrow channel, there’s a cave on it where the first women convicts were chained to the wall. Gruesome. Back to Mellish Reef one day??

  4. Hi Jack & Jude..
    Great footage, both land & air… Great tool that drone !

    You both will never fail to amaze Jen & I and thank you for the great memories of times we have shared a tiny little insight into your lives.

    Take care of yourselves and hopefully we will catch up again.

    Love you both xx

    • Hello to you two, yes, be good to get together again. Hey, wouldn’t it have been fantastic to have had the drone on Dirk Hartog? We had great times there thanks to you. Maybe this winter we’ll go for a drive, or of course if you’re up our way Ole’. J&J

  5. Love reading your blogs and you guys are becoming experts at creating videos . We love the drone photos ,it’s all so fantastic.
    Concerned about all that grunge and crap in Macquarie harbour as well as the D’Entrecasteaux channel and soon to be polluted oakhampton bay .
    The pure greed shown by fish farmers and the mess they create cannot go unchallenged.
    Wonder why Cassie O’connor hasn’t been more aggressive on this subject. We support you fully in your quest to clean up these areas.
    Curious about Pillinger and wonder how hard it is to walk in.
    We live in Tassie and have a small Motorsailer and hope to get around to Port Davey before winter sets in or maybe next summer.
    Cheers Des and Marly

    • Hello Des and Marly, Thanks for the nice compliment. Making videos is our passion, time consuming, but fun. Thanks for the heads up on Cassy, we’ll send her some info, we need all the support we can get.
      The walk to the grave from West Pillinger is mostly OK. Someone from our group will be going there soon to cut away the nuisance branches fallen across the ridge track, after that there’s a bit of following your nose through tall tea tree till you get in the open on the rim of the valley. From there, you can see the lone Eucalyptus. I should post some GPS positions on a Grave site page. If you’re fit it’s an hours walk one way. But not a made track. The walk up the Bird River is exquisite and on a formed track, one of the sixty best day walks in Tassie.

      • Thanks for your reply and heads up on the track . Sounds stunningly beautiful. We certainly have a beautiful island with so much history . But we need to look after it for future generations.
        Cheers Des

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