Our Life Afloat

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Blog of Jack and Jude
explorers, authors, photographers & videographers

Submissions to the Lower Gordon River Draft Recreation Zone Plan and Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area Tourism Master Plan

Recently these two important master plans came up for review, and public submissions were requested before a final draft is compiled. The LGRZP controls what is allowed in the navigable section of the Gordon River. The TWWHA controls what will be permitted in Tasmania’s World Heritage Estate. Both plans are very important to tourism operators, visitors and users of this vast area of Tasmania.

A few of our friends’ livelihood depend on what is in these documents, and some are worried the governing body wants to curtail river traffic and shut down casual visitors aboard private vessels.

Local Input
We, the locals, and members of Macquarie Harbour Wildcare know this west coast area exceptionally well and can see opportunities to safely and wisely expand and improve facilities in the Gordon River and wider Macquarie Harbour. The local “old families” know there is a considerable history hidden in those forests and waterways that the wider public would love to witness. The Blockade of 1982 at Sir John Falls spawned the Green Movement and stopped The Gordon below Franklin Dam. Also in those forests are historical remnants from the Huon Piners – courageous men who worked under arduous conditions in one of the most magnificent Natural theatres in the world. Inside the World Heritage area are bridges, camps, and tracks that helped open the west. Therefore, many of us spent days studying the extremely complex documents before putting pen to paper writing our submission. You can read our recommendations here.

One part of Jack and Jude’s submission told the committees of the discoveries we made over a four year period. Within what is now World Heritage forested land lies The Goulds Post Track used by explorers, geologists, miners, and pioneers to reach the wild west coast in a time when Tasmania was starving for resources.  But, after World Heritage listing, instead of that track being kept open for the public to witness first-hand the glory of Earth, Nature reclaimed that narrow ribbon used by countless thousands. Jack and Jude made it their mission as private citizens to find that important lost track and record its geodetic position with latitude and longitude. Our images capture a majestic lost land.

Finding Goulds Track
Part 1: Background and History
Part 2: Pain and Pleasure ~ April 2015
Part 3: A Walk in a Park ~ January 2016
Part 4: Bold New Adventure ~ April 2017
Part 5: Baby Steps to Heaven ~ March 2018


This story begins shortly after World War II when a group of fortunate men, passionate about Earth, worked for Tasmanian Hydro, and four times a year they took the tourist boat from Strahan to Sir John Falls. Then over several days, they walked south through what is now The Franklin Gordon Wild Rivers National Park to a Hydro camp on the Gordon River just downstream from the Rocky Sprent. Their job was to measure river flow and river heights.

Walking overland, their journey took them through the full display of Tasmania’s lovely land, from thick wet forests near the river’s edge through regions of drier Manuka and Eucalyptus, and then onto one of those magical phenomena of southern Tasmania, a vast buttongrass plain. This one at the feet of the thickly forested King Billy Range.

Plain before King Billy Range

Vast Plain before King Billy Range


Sir John and Lady Jane Franklin track

Track from East to West

Tasmania, Australia’s second colony, desperately needed resources by the mid-1800s. But attempts to explore Western Tasmania proved a highly dangerous nightmare. Thickly clad mountains and raging rivers blocked access overland, and turbulent seas and one of the world’s most hazardous passages through Hell’s Gate combined to curtail the colony’s development.

This became so desperate that in 1840, Lieutenant-Governor Sir John Franklin ordered the young surveyor James Calder to find a path west. Given charge of twenty convicts and a dozen soldiers, that daunting task took James Calder’s team two years. Then in 1842, an epic journey, Sir John and Lady Jane Franklin were escorted to the west coast to undertake an exploratory overland tour to ascertain whether any available land could be found between the tract of settled districts and the isolated Macquarie Harbour.

There are two excellent accounts of the magnificent adventure undertaken by Lady Jane Franklin. The wife of Tasmania’s highest officeholder demanded to walk through what is still some of Australia’s toughest country. In 1843, the first account was written by David Burn, a journalist who accompanied the 30-person party. And the second, titled Recollections of Sir John and Lady Jane Franklin in Tasmania was written some years after the event by the expedition leader James Calder.

While the Franklin expedition was a success, the track proved highly weather dependent, and twenty years later, in 1862, a team led by Tasmania’s first Geological Surveyor, Charles Gould (1834-1893) forged a much better route linking the west to the east. The Goulds Post Track carried thousands to a new land and became the main link for supplies and news, as well as the postman’s route. After WWI, the Piners used this track to reach their upper river camps. Then in the 1930s, Jim Morrison enhanced the track to haul chafe and supplies from Goulds Landing, near Sir John Falls, to his Sandstone Camp near the Rocky Sprent. Then Hydro used it to survey the mighty Gordon River. 

Immense Historical Value
The Goulds Post Track to Hamilton has immense historical value. It’s intrinsic to who we are, and epitomizes the courage and never give up qualities that Australians so much admire and want to pass on to coming generations.

This historical track should be re-opened because it travels through a diversity of geology, and by doing that, illustrates how Nature copes with the various conditions of wind, sunlight, rain, terrain, and nutrients.

CONTINUE THE JOURNEY: Pain and Pleasure ~ April 2015

Reflections ~ Rollback the years to Africa in the mid-sixties
In many ways living through this pandemic is similar to a life-threatening event Jack and Jude survived when just newly wedded kids looking for a place to live our lives. Rollback the years to Africa in the mid-sixties, when the Simba Rebellion in the Democratic Republic of the Congo took place within the wider context of the Congo Crisis and the Cold War between the West and Soviet Union. Just over fifty years ago, Stanleyville was the scene of one of the most savage crimes of the last century, the cold-blooded massacre of hostages by the Simba rebels.

There were nearly 300 white hostages imprisoned in the Victoria Hotel when the sun rose over Stanleyville, now Kisangani, on 24 November 1964. A few hours later, seconds before their rescuers arrived, many lay dead, brutally hacked to death or shot by their rebel captors. Others, the lucky ones, would thank God that they had survived the premeditated and cold-blooded slaughter.

By November a year later, mercenaries led by Lt Colonel Mike Hoare had effectively suppressed the Big Lion rebellion. However, holdouts of the rebels continued their insurgency until the 1990s.

When Jude and I passed through this area in our beat-up V.W. van in 1969, like the Coronavirus pandemic danger lay hidden from view. An attack could be waiting behind thick Congo jungle, or at the many roadblocks manned by men toting machine guns, while we suffered a total lack of communications as well as support. Years of conflict had driven out the European business managers, and without capital, there was neither food nor fuel available. Like today, we lived each day under immense stress and survived by taking total control of our safety and movements.

Picture a dense jungle bisected by a narrow muddy track dotted with pools and deep divots created when heavy trucks became bogged. Along the edge of this wilderness, bamboo forests flourished as if towering rocket launchers. From these, markers had been cut and placed so vehicles wouldn’t fall into the quagmire, and they guided the few brave enough to cross the sapling corduroy found in the Congo’s sparsely populated northeast region. The sapling corduroy was tricky for us to traverse, our van slipping and sliding as the platforms unbalanced with its weight. After nearly coming to grief on the first few, we learned to put on full power to get across as quickly as we could. Bridge crossings over streams and gullies were even more dangerous. They were crossed atop tree trunks laid together, and sometimes a log had collapsed leaving a gap, forcing us to choose carefully which logs to put our wheels on.

Halfway across the Stanleyville region, the V.W.’s front suspension collapsed, forcing us to cut holes into the cabin to allow the tyres to come up, meaning mud was also slung inside, splattering us and our windscreen. The wet sludge eventually shorting out the windscreen wipers.

Although we had few provisions, we dared not stop at villages after gaining more solid ground. But, after passing a village, a dozen scrawny chickens ran from thick vegetation and scurried directly in front of our van. Desperately short of food, basic instinct took control. I pushed the pedal to the metal, hot in pursuit, hitting one bird square on the van’s V.W. round insignia. Catapulted high into the air, the hapless creature hit a tree, and I slammed on the brakes to stop near where the dead bird fell, and Jude jumped out and ran back to get it. As she grabbed the bird, angry villagers streamed out the jungle, and she ran for her life, while I revved up our old battered machine to flee from the mob. Taken from Reflections in a Sailor’s Eyes

Books Revised ~
In these stressful times isolated from regular contact, we have taken advantage of our extra time to revise our earlier publications to improve both the content and images. Our first book, Two’s a Crew was published ten years ago, and in that time we’ve become better wordsmiths and more professional publishers. So, we have updated and expanded our earlier books, releasing new editions of Two’s a Crew, Where Wild Winds Blow, Reflections in a Sailor’s Eyes, and Jude’s Practical Boat Bits and Tips.

Revising these books has left us with some packs of last year’s stock to clear at greatly reduced prices, to which we have added our latest book, Around the World in Ever Increasing Circles.
Upon request, these books can be signed by the authors.



Halcyon Days
The Myth Of Halcyon And Ceyx

Jack and Jude love Greek mythology, and the myth of Halcyon is a tender story of love and commitment, which explains the Halcyon sunny days of calm seas and winds. The Halcyon days or Alkionides Meres, as Greeks call them, appear in mid-January every year.

Halcyon is a type of kingfisher bird that nests by the sea where sea-calming winds blow so that its eggs are protected during the nesting period. The phrase Halcyon days also signifies prosperity, joy, liberation and, of course, tranquillity.

In Greek mythology, the goddess Halcyon (Alcyone in Greek) was the daughter of Aeolus, the ruler of the winds. Aeolus lived in the caves, where winds were imprisoned. He was the one who chose when to let them out, depending on how the higher gods instructed him.

Halcyon was married to the mortal king Ceyx of Tachis. Once, when Ceyx had to go to Delphi to consult the oracle of Apollo, he chose to sail there despite all the cries of his beloved Halcyon, who was terribly afraid of the sea.

Halcyon proved right because Ceyx drowned when a huge storm took his life not far from the coast and his boat disappeared in the waves.

Morpheus, the God of Dreams, appeared in Halcyon’s dreams and told her about the tragedy. The desperate Halcyon went to the coast where she found Ceyx’s body and threw herself into the dark waves. Amazed by her love and devotion, the gods decided to save her and transformed her into a kingfisher seabird. They also turned Ceyx into another kingfisher so the two could live and be together.

The Myth Of The Halcyon Days

But even in Greek mythology life was not always easy. Zeus ordered that Halcyon would lay her eggs only in winter. Having her nest near the shore, close by the spot where she found the body of Ceyx, the stormy waves kept sweeping away her eggs.

Crying and praying endlessly, Halcyon finally managed to touch Zeus’s heart and he decided to give her fourteen days of calm weather in the middle of winter.

So those two kingfisher birds, or Halcyon birds as they are also known, were able to keep their eggs safe every winter during the period that came seven days before and seven days after the winter solstice. During these days Halcyon’s Father, Aeolus, would keep the winds calm on the sea.

Halcyon days are still celebrated in Greece, in memory of Halcyon and her sacrifice. Practically, Halcyon days appear in mid-January and usually do not last for more than a week or ten days.

electronic version:

Around the World in Ever Increasing Circles

eBook Now Available in Epub and Mobi format….. AUD$12.25 ~
140 colour photos and maps ~ Immediate download


Our Life Afloat — 6 Comments

  1. Glad top hear you are home safe from the wild Tassie weather.
    Stay safe and well from the virus.
    Much Love, xxxx

    • Glad you made it home and have another beautiful space to enjoy. To think you drove across the Hawkesbury River bridge. So near and yet so far in these times. This is Day 52 in isolation on Dangar Island. Sending love. Gerry xo

      • Good to hear from you Gerry, We gave you a wave as we drove over the bridge and thought of you. Nice place to hide out. A bit like Macquarie Harbour 🙂

  2. Hello Jack and Jude, glad you are both safely home. Gee what a trip you had getting there. Happy birthday to you Jude, if Rob and I were still down the West Coast we would have caught up and had a drink with you. Also, if I had known you might have to spend the winter down here, I would have driven to Strahan to get you both and bring you back to our house for the winter. And I know that you have lots of friends down here in Tas that would do the same. Stay well and hopefully we will see you next time you are here. Love from Carol and Rob

    • Hello Carol and Rob, miss you guys. It would have been grand to have shared a tipple to celebrate Jude’s Birthday. Stay safe and we’ll catch up when we return. J&J

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