Thursday, December 27, 2007

Happy New Year from Tasmania

I wish you all a very happy, safe and prosperous New Year.
In 2007 I did a few things - in 2008 I know I can achieve a lot more.
As they say in the movies, 'Bring it on!'
Photo: At home in the Tamar Valley 15 km from Launceston, Tasmania

Boxing Day Tsunami

When the Tsunami swept across the Indian Ocean on Boxing Day (2004) and hundreds of thousands of people died, I was on board a cruise ship visiting the Antarctic Peninsula.
For about three days the vessel was out of contact with the world and when the news of the catastrophe filtered through it was sparce and limited.
Last night on TV I watched a documentaries about the Tsunami and through home videos taken at the time, I witnessed something of the full horror of that event.
The power of the sea, when unleashed, is a force to be seen to be believed.
I take this opportunity to spare a Christmas thought for those who lost so much, and those who still carry the mental scars of that event.

Billy Ruffian

"Billy Ruffian" (The Bellerophon and the downfall of Napoleon - the biography of a ship of the line 1782-1836) by David Cordingly.
The Bellerophon's career spanned 50 years.
She was launched on the Medway in 1786, a 74 gunner which fought at The Battle of the Glorious First of June, The battle of the Nile, and at Trafalgar.
But one of her finest hours was when she transported Napoleon, with due dignity on his 'surrender', from France to England.
The Bellerophon's ignominious end, like that of so many other proud ships, was as a prison hulk, before being condemned to the breakers' yard.
This is a non-fiction, well researched account which reads like the pages of a sea story.
Billy Ruffian is the affectionate name given to the ship by the seamen who sailed on her.
For lovers of books of naval heroes, I would highly recommend the biography of the Bellorophon.
Available from Amazon UK

Merry Christmas

".....So to all of you at Christmas, I wish you Yule-tide cheer
As I read my Mr. Dickens there’s one true voice I hear
That dear old man, that Mr Scrooge, astute – no not a mug
He, only he, had got it right, Christmas is - Humbug!"

These are the last few lines of a poem I wrote and posted in December 2006.
Well, a fair bit has changed in my life since then.
My new life in Tassie is looking good.
Perhaps next year I will write a poem and leave out the 'Humbug'!
Happy Christmas to one and all.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Riding in Cradle Mountain country

I've never ridden a horse before (if you don't count the donkeys on Scarborough beach), so the idea of a half-day ride in the Cradle Mountain foothills appealed to me.
Having my grandson, Jake, visit me, was a great excuse to do something I had wanted to do for a long time.
It was great!
The horses were placid and walked most of the time.
I was suprised how steep the gradients were but we made it and the views were magnificent.
Haing done it once, I must do it again one day.
And it will all help if I ever get back to writing my Patagonia story.

Photo: Jacob and his mount taken when we stopped for morning tea

The Ben Lomond experience

No, I am not in Scotland!
Ben Lomond is in the north east of Tasmania and this was my first visit.
I was told there were snowfields at the top (in winter), but didn't realise the road to the top of the mountain was a zig-zag gravel track with a sheer drop at the side.

Not being a braveheart when it comes to heights, I only made it to the first bend (you can see where I left the car).
Just as well, as the road ahead was shrouded in cloud and there had been a minor rock fall higher up.
Not to be outdone, my grandson and I climbed to the top.
Wow! what a view!
Photo: The road up Ben Lomond
Photo: "It's neither at the bottom and neither at the top..."

Friday, November 23, 2007

Cuckoo and peacock - an odd couple

I've previously mentioned the flowers growing in my English-style garden here in Tasmania.
At the moment I have black poppies, blue cornflowers, masses of red valerian,
forget-me-nots, jasmine and various varieties of honeysuckle, and of course dozens of different roses.
But the sights in the garden are not the only things which differ from my garden in Western Australia.
In the evening, instead of listening to the trucks rolling along on the Great Eastern Highway, I listen to the night sounds.
The thump of the feet of the tiny Bennet's wallabies, the call of a cuckoo and, just recently, the cry of a peacock high in tree.
I was told the male bird (who used to be part of a pair) visits every spring.
None of the neighbours know where he comes from. But the calls of the the cuckoo and peacock are most distinctive - and beautiful.
Photo: Peacocks at Cataract Gorge in Launceston (within walking distance of the city). MM

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Bad Ground - a must read!

There are not many books which grab me to the extent that I will sit all day glued to the pages.
Bad Ground written by Tony Wright is one of those books.
It’s not fiction - it's a true story - but it reads like an adventure. It has everything - tension, raw emotion, unreal setting, honest dialogue, conflict and above all human drama.
Bad Ground is the retelling of the Beaconsfield mine disater where one miner died and two were rescued. Where the odds stacked against their survival were enormous.
But it’s not just the story of Brant Webb and Todd Russell, but it’s the story of their rescuers – the men who came from the length and breadth of Australia; it’s the story of the families – and the heartwrenching wait for news which went on for days and days; it’s the story of a trajedy unfolding when Larry Knight’s body was discovered; and above all, it’s the story of joy and celebration when the recue was finally completed.
I compliment Tony Wright – journalist and author - for his narrative and the supurb way in which he related this event.
(Page-down to read of some of the visits I have made recenlty to Beaconsfield)

The Himalayan Express

No - this is not the train I am talking about!
One of the new great train lines of the world was only completed and opened recently.
It runs for 4000 km from Behjing (China) to Lhasa (Tibet).
And because it travels into the Himalayas and to very high altitudes, the train has to be oxygenated to compensate for the rarified air.
When I got a flyer from my travel agent about a tour going next year, I couldn't resist the opportunity to sign up.
Apart from the 3 day train journey, there is time in China to see the Great Wall, time in Nepal and Tibet to see the great monastaries and shrines, time to visit the base camp of Everest and time to sightsee in Kathmandu.
I remember as a child learning the peom which goes something like: there's little wooden idol, to the north of Kathmandu....
Who ever thought that one day I would be visiting that part of the world!
Photo: Steam engine at the Don River Museum in Northern Tasmania. MM

Alias the Cat - Random House request review

Imagine how excited I was when I received an email from Random House, UK.
But it wasn't what I could have wished for.
The email read: I’m getting in touch about Alias the Cat : the latest weird and totally wonderful graphic narrative by Kim Deitch, who has been creating comics since 1967. It’s a kaleidoscopic read; full of mistaken identities, disguises, explosions and insidious plots, and is of course rendered in Deitch’s inimitable style.
Random House asked if I was interested in writing a review.

I said yes, but on receipt of the book found myself in unfamiliar territory.
Here is my review:
I’m not a comics reader, so reading Kim Deitch's graphic narrative, Alias the Cat, was a new experience for me.
Unlike a standard novel, where the reader’s mind is allowed free-rein to conjure images of scenes, characters and events, Deitch’s black and white artwork depicts each and every setting and action in infinite detail.
When reading Alias the Cat, the reader’s imagination quickly becomes redundant.
Furthermore; Deitch’s characters resemble cardboard cut-outs which are replicated from page to page and the faces look like duplicated copy-and-paste postings. Though some characters carry smiles, most of the faces wear troubled, shocked or pained expressions.
For me, Deitch’s artwork, though interesting in its sheer volume, lacks vibrancy, and carries a negative overall impression.
As to the storyline; Alias the Cat is a hotchpotch of weird events loosely connected by the appearance of feline characters/dolls and/or a skin-tight cat costume. The narrative rambles between seeming fact, fiction and psychedelic imaginings.
The story-line comes from nowhere and goes nowhere. It lacks punch and verve and tends to repetition and the dialogue is sadly dated reflecting the voice of an ageing writer.
Alias the Cat is devoid of subtlety and it completely misses the boat to my (Australian) sense-of-humour department.
Although the book’s jacket could be misconstrued as the cover of a comic book for kids, Alias the Cat is certainly not a children’s book.
Deitch’s themes are definitely adult and this graphic publication could only appeal to the unimaginative reader.

The craft of writing missing at Deloraine Fair

Deloraine on the Meander River Valley in the north of Tasmania is home to one of the best craft fairs in Australia.
This year it held its 27th Annual event. It ran for 4 days early in November and being new to Tasmania, I couldn't resist a visit.
On display at the 200 stalls, I saw no shortage of local and interstate crafts plus a display of Japanes themed attractions.
But for me, however, there was one thing lacking.
There were no writers present (to my knowledge). And no signed books to purchase.

My point is: if writing is a craft then surely it should be represented.I realize writers don't make much money, but there are many crafts people who don't get rightly rewarded for the time and effort they put into their work.
I also know that the cost of stalls is not cheap.
Perhaps, however, there is a group of writers who would like to showcase their writing and share a stall next year at Deloraine.
Worth a thought - isn't it?
Photo: Main street, Deloraine - Quamby Bluff in distance MM

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Mini-field of Pink Ladies - Breast Cancer Fundraiser

I was back in Beaconsfield about 10 days ago to support their Breast Cancer Mini-field event.
This type of event is held throughout Australia and the money raised goes to Breast Cancer research.
The ideas is that Pink Ladies are purchased/sponsored and then 'planted' in a local park or field.
I 'planted' my pink lady in memory of my sister, Barbara Boasman.

And I was back in Beaconsfield again today to give a talk on my inspiration for writing to the Cancer Support and Social Group.
I now find myself signed up for the Launceston Relay for Life - another cancer fundraising event.
The relay is a 24 hour walk/run around an oval.
Teams from various groups and organisations throughout the region compete.
Although this is a baton event and no one has to run for 24 hours, it's just as well it's not on until next March as that gives me a few months to get fit!
Photo: MM at Beaconsfield mini-field day

Beaconsfield - the town built on a gold field

Today most folk have heard of the Beaconsfield in Tasmania - mainly because of the mine rescue which happened here over a year ago.
I never realised I would be living only 25 minutes away.
Just recently the gold mine reopened for production and I visited the town and the local Grubb Shaft Museum with my son.
If you are touring Tasmania, the museum is well worth a visit.
Photo: Rob Dunn with main shaft in the background.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Black Thread by Margaret Muir - sold out!

I came home from the Far South Camp to the news that after only 7 weeks, the first edition of my latest novel, The Black Thread, had sold out.
I hope that publisher, Robert Hale Limited, will consider reprinting this hardback edition.
Photo: Cover - The Black Thread

Ross Bridge - Tasmania

Driving through the Midlands, I stopped at the small hamlet of Ross.
Here I found the lovely stone bridge - reputed to be the best example of its kind in the state.
Though not quite the oldest in Tasmania - the bridge at Richmond has that title.
Not only the bridge but many buildings in the village remind one of the English countryside.
Photo: Ross Bridge - M Muir

Scrimshaw - the Whaler's art

I couldn't leave Hobart without a visit to the Maritime Museum.
Apart from a display of models, pictures and histories of the early ships and visitors to the region, the museum provided details of the whaling industry which was conducted in the southern waters for many years.
Fine examples of Scrimshaw are on display.
Designs of ships, nauticl scenes and loved ones were carved with only the tools the seamen had on board - knives and neddles (for sail repairs).
Soot, tobacco juice, lamp black or tar were used to colour the carved designs.
Whale bone and teeth were used and bones from other sea creatures.
Photo: Scrimshaw in Hobart's Maritime Museum

The Lady Neson and Windward Bound

As I didn't want to drive the 324 km back to Launceston that afternoon, I booked into a B&B in Hobart and stayed the night.
The following morning I visited the Hobart Harbour and was delighted to find both the Lady Nelson and Windward Bound tied up on the wharf.
Both vessels offer daily short cruises.
Unfortunately I didn't have the time to take advantage of a harbour cruise.
Photo: M Muir - Hobart

Kit of Cloudy Bay - Franklin Wooden Boat

Driving north to Hobart, I stopped at the little town of Franklin.
I had heard on the ABC that the renowned boat building yard had launched its latest craft that morning.
As I drove up I was delighted to see Kit of Cloudy Bay (named after the owner's mother) making its second trial on the water.
The hull, I believe, was crafted from Huon Pine, a rare timber which grows at only 1 ml at year. Some of the timber in the area is over 2000 years old.
No wonder the Greenies are adverse to the logging of the old growth forests!
Photo: Launch day for Kit of Cloudy Bay

Travelling north from Dover

As I drove back from the Wilderness Camp to Hobart I couldn't resist taking a few photos on the way.
I kept hearing myself say, "this is a beautiful place".
The photos hardly do the views justice.
Photo: M Muir - South of the Huon Valley

The Far South Wilderness - Tasmania

Being Author in Residence at the Camp was a great experience for me.
My previous expeiences as an author had been limited to talks at clubs and libraries. And mainly to adult audience.
I had never been involved with an extended three day event and had not been involved with school students.
Having accepted the challenge and thoroughly enjoyed the experience, I will be looking at other similar opportunities.
I guess you are never too old to try something new!
Photo: Peak overlooking Strathblane with some snow remaining on top

French landing at Recherche Bay

When I travelled to the Far South Wilderness Camp I knew little or nothing about the French impact on Tasmania.
During an evening around the campfire, the group was treated to a history lesson, by local historian, Paddy Prosser.
I discovered that two French ships in search of La Pereuse, landed near the mouth of the Esperance River.
It was an expeditionary party who interacted well with the local aborigines.
Many place names in the area reflect the French visit even though it was fairly brief.
To create atmosphere, Paddy dressed eight of the students in French costumes - seamen, revolutionaries - aristocrats - and concluded the evening with songs which she had written telling tales of the men and of the old sailing ships.
Photo: Paddy Prosser and group of students from the Huon region.

Inspiration for writing - goats and tall ships!

As an into to the writing sessions, I gave the group an insight into what inspired me to write.
For me the two most important things were - goats and tall ships!!
The students, aged from 10 to 14 years, were intrigued.
From there we went on to model a short story.
Over the three days, each student produced a piece of work suitable to go into an anthology.
Apart from myself, Damian Bester, a journalist, and June Burrell, illustrator, also provided sessions in the crafts of writing and illustrating.

The 34 students who attended the course were selected from the Huon cluster of schools which included, Huonville Primary and High, Cygnet, Franklin, Geeveston and Dover schools.
They were a great group, who despite age differences, interacted extrememly well.
Photo: Students plus teachers, Ms Lee and Mr Andrews and jounalist, Damien Bester (back row second from right)

Writers' Wilderness Camp

I was indeed fortunate to be chosen as the author in residence for a three-day workshop conducted by the education department for the Huon District group of Schools.
The Camp was held at the Wilderness Adventure Camp on the Esperance River near Strathblane.
It was a 324 kilometer drive from Launceston but as I had never driven south before, it was an enjoyable experience.
Photo: Wilderness Camp in pristine forest

Children's Writing Workshop with Mike Lefroy

In early October, I drove to Burnie on the north coast of Tasmania for a Writing Workshop.
It was a 90 minute drive from Launceston, but the scenery and the 6 hour session, made it worthwhile.
Mike Lefroy, like myself, has a keen interest in Maritime history.
Also like myself, he comes from WA.
Having seen the types of books he produces, I came away with a new insight into what the market is interested with regard to children's writing.
I must re-look at some of my previous work and think about submitting.
Photo: North coast of Tasmania, looking across the Forth River to Turner's Beach and Ulverstone.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Granny Buttons posts Black Thread review

Was I looking into the canal for inspiration?
Who knows what I was thinking at the time, but I did manage to get a story out of it!

The following review of my latest novel comes from Andrew Denny of
Andrew must be regarded as one of the leading UK canal bloggers - certainly for volume of articles published, variety of material and its regularity, not to mention the quality of his photographic images.

Andrew's review (posted 13 Sept) begins:
I've been reading The Black Thread a historical novel by Margaret Muir.
It's set at the end of the Victorian era, mainly in Leeds and on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal up to Saltaire and Bingley.
The canal research on this one is good, and it turns out to be a pretty hot page turner.
It's nominally a historical novel with romantic embroidery, but it's fast-paced, the storytelling is taut and never drags, and smartly-plotted. The conclusion is neat (if a little improbable) but cleverly explains Amy's name and several other points in the story.
At the heart of the story is a family of Number Ones running their L&L 'short boat' mainly on the Leeds side of the canal, and this is where the story's research really shows.....

To read the rest of the review, go to:

Spring in the Tamar Valley

I'm just loving the early spring flowers colouring the garden.
The daffodils are out and the snowdrops and irises.
Camellias are an absolute picture (as you can see) and the azaleas are coming into full bloom, and lots of flowers I don't know the names of.
And every branch on the fruit trees is covered in blossom.
Most magnificent are the magnolias I have sen nearby, though I don't have a tree in the garden.
Photo: Camellia bush outside my kitchen window and morning mist in the valley.

A camellia by any other name!

How could I resist buying a camellia with the name - China Doll.
China Doll was the name of one of my favourite goats.
Although she died several years ago, I will never forget her.
Whenever I went out in the paddock she would follow me, and if I sat down on the grass she would come and sit next to me and lay her head on my lap and happily go to sleep.
It's hard to forget those special animals?
Guess I'm feeling sentimental.

Photo: Curly (another pet) checking out my brief case!
Photo: China Doll - camellia variety

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Firing up the memories

There is something about a real fire crackling in an open hearth which brings back memories of chilhood.
It's warm and homely and inviting, and until I lit a fire in my new house, it was something I had almost forgotten.
I remember, as a child, sitting around the fire with the family, listening to the radio plays and my favourite program, Journey into Space (long before the days of the successful Apollo moon missions).
I also remember the pink mottled legs from sitting too close.
And I remember the faces and changing images in the fire itself - a benefit from not not having ones eyes glued to a TV screen.
Of course, in those days in the UK we were burning coal.
Today, sadly, the home fire burning wood is regarded as a pollutant.
So much for progress?
Photo: Winter in Tassie

Canal Cuttings give thumbs up for The Black Thread

This is the first feedback I have had for my latest novel - published 30 August.
I'm very pleased.

The Black Thread by Margaret Muir - Book Review
This is a very sensitive and dramatic story set in 1898, in and around Leeds and the historic area of Saltaire on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.
The main character Amy longs to meet the father that left home before she was born. The story gave you a true feeling of factuality, rather than fiction.
You get an insight into Leeds and Liverpool Canal bargees and woolen mill worker’s community life during those hard times and Amy’s relationship with the canals and Victorian industrial worker’s poverty.
The supporting characters subtly appear out of the pages right at the beginning of the book and keep turning up, some like bad pennies!
I thoroughly enjoyed this well written book with its mysterious twists and shocking turns and would thoroughly recommend it.

Jean Beven,
The review appeared on the website of - a canal and narrowboat website.
Photo: (author) by Rob Dunn taken at Hungerford 2006

Sunday, August 12, 2007

My own patch of paradise

This is the view from the garden looking north along the Tamar valley.
I'm located 15 kilometers from Launceston - a 15 minute drive.
I'm still shaking my head when I look out of the window - it's just a picture perfect view.

On Cloud Nine (in Tassie)

I’ve been 8 weeks without my computer and mailing list. Now, at last, I have them back and have a bit of catching up to do.
But have to admit, I still haven’t come down to earth completely.
I'm still floating above the clouds at the moment!

If you haven’t heard or read my news, I have two things to tell:

Firstly I have moved lock, stock and barrel to Tasmania.
I have settled in a Swiss-style village called Grindelwald which is 15 km north of Launceston.
My house is built in the style of an 1800s English Rectory and it stands on the top of a ridge overlooking the broad Tamar Valley. In the mornings when the mist rises, I can look down on the clouds as they turn pink and mauve – it’s beautiful.
And it feels like I’m a million miles from everywhere – let alone Western Australia.

Despite the move (which is probably about 3500km), I’m pleased to say that my email address has not changed.

The second bit of news is that my third novel is due for release this month in London. It’s a story set on a barge on the Leeds and Liverpool canal in the 1890s.
If you are interested, the details in the item below.

Sitting here at the keyboard once again, I have to admit it’s nice to be back in the real (cyberspace) world again.
Best to all
Marg Muir
Photo: The view of the Tamar Valley from my balcony.

The Black Thread - Press Release (Hale Books)

The black waters of the canal lead to an even darker secret

The Black Thread is Margaret Muir’s third novel.
Published in hardback by Robert Hale Limited on 31 August.

Set in the 1890s, the story tells of Amy Dodd’s desperate journey along the Leeds and Liverpool canal in a bid to escape from her father.
But her freedom, once gained, is short-lived.
Confronted with a shocking revelation, Amy has no choice but to return to Leeds to unravel a twenty year old mystery.

By the end of the nineteenth century, the era of canals and horse-drawn barges was already waning. In her novel, the author paints a picture of life on the canals at that time.

Though the story is set mainly on a canal short-boat, the Yorkshire mill town of Saltaire, with its Florentine-style architecture, also provides a striking backdrop.
The unique funicular tramway at Shipley Glen, which attracted thousands of visitors to the town over 100 years ago (and still operates today), also features significantly in the story.

The Black Thread is a dramatic tale which will be of particular interest to lovers of canal boats and the British Waterways. The historical details of Saltaire, Salts Mill and the Shipley Glen Tramway at the end of the nineteenth century, should appeal to lovers of history.

Though the author recently moved to Tasmania, Margaret Muir grew up in Leeds, Yorkshire. She visited Saltaire and the Leeds and Liverpool canal last year as part of her research for this novel.

The Black Thread
by Margaret Muir
Published Aug 2007 by Robert Hale Limited
ISBN: 978-0-7090-8343-6
A copy of the novel can be ordered on-line from,, or from any good UK bookshop, or library.

Photo: Salts Mill at Saltaire built around 1850 beside the Leeds and Liverpool canal (M Muir 2006)

Monday, July 02, 2007

Twiddling my thumbs

It's like being in limbo.
The furniture left Western Australia on 21st May - almost two weeks ago and it's currently sitting on a dock in Devonport, Tasmania.
My car left last week and will be in Tassie next week - hopefully about the same time that I will arrive there.
Due to the delay in settlement on my Perth property I have postponed my flights to Launceston until next Monday.
It's all a bit frustrating at this stage as obviously I want to take possession of my new house as soon as possible.
At the moment I am living in a rather echoey empty house with very little furniture, sleeping on a borrowed mattress on the floor and I have no personal possessions - including my computer.
Thanks for the loan of the laptop, Rob!
Still, it's only temperary and tomorrow is another day.
(PS - with out my computer I can't add a pic - sorry!)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Black Thread

I have just found the cover picture to The Black Thread on
It's the first time I have seen it and must admit I am rather disappointed.
My other covers have been far more attractive.
On the other hand, at least there is no doubt that the story is connected with canals and barges.
And perhaps the girl in the picture will grow on me, as she is nothing like the character I imagined when I wrote the story.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Goodbye Goats

I can leave a place I have lived in, even a state or country with no second thoughts or regrets, but saying goodbye to the goats is a bit hard.
I've been running goats for 18 years and have experienced the heart-ache, hard physical work and frustrations with comes with breeding livestock.
I've had angora goats, cashmeres, ferals, even some dairy goats but for the last 8 years I have been running South Aftican Boer goats.
Today, the final 15 were taken off the property today - to a good home, I'm pleased to say.
So, with all the work and traumas I have experiences over the years, why will I miss them?
Goats are the most incredible creatures. They are intelligent (second only to dogs)affectionate, very family oriented, and as kids are the most delightful creatures to watch as they play.
I've helped bring dozens into the world. I've bottle fed some, revived some by giving them mouth to mouth, even kept newborns warm in bed with me.
I've cried when some of my older girls have died or I have had no alternative but to put her out of her misery.
Yes, I will miss seeing the goats from the kitchen window - but after 18 years, it's time to move on.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Ulverscroft Large Print books

Though I have packed all my books for the move next week, I was delighted to receive two copies of the large print edition of, The Twisting Vine.
The books arrived today and, though they were published in March, it's the first time I have seen the new cover.
I am delighted with the artwork - it's different to the first edition, though I still wish that the book had been titled, Through Glass Eyes, the title I had written it under, and not the title chosen by the original publisher.
If you are not aware, the publisher of large print books is the Ulverscroft Foundation which is a registered charity in the UK.
The sale of its books provides funds for research, diagnosis and treatment of eye diseases.
Large print books are not only popular with the partially sighted but also with older readers.
Ulverscroft's large print editions books are circulated world-wide.
I am proud to be associated with The Ulverscroft Foundation.
The Twisting Vine in large print can be ordered through your local library.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Sailing home

From the Isle of Pines it was only a two day voyage back to Sydney and again it was calm seas and clear skies.
As we arrived back in Sydney at about 6.00 am, it was too dark to get any decent photos.
It was a good holiday. The onboard service was good and the islands quite unforgettable and as I had been offered an extremely cheap last minute deal, it represented value for money.
Before we disembarked, my friend from Adelaide, insisted on having a photo in the ship's library where a copy of 'Sea Dust' graced the shelf.
It seemed fitting to leave a copy there as it was the 'Pacific Sun' I had planned to launch 'Sea Dust' on 18 months earlier.

The Isle of Pines

The Isle of Pines should be called the Isles of Pines as there are dozens (probably hundreds) of small coral atolls decked with pine trees. They seem to be growing out of the sea and some look almost like rafts floating on the ocean.
Thanks for the panorama softwear, Rob, I was able to create a few conjoined shots.

Pacific island paradise

I'm afraid my photos don't capture the colours of the sea. They were amazing.
When I got the the bridge which joined the islands, I decided it was time to turn around. I was too tired to walk all the way back but I was lucky to get a lift back from a local.

Ouvea - a beach like no other

From Vila we sailed to the French island of Ouvea.
With no town or dock, the ship dropped anchor beyond the reef and passengers were ferried on shore by tender.
Nearly everyone from the ship stayed closed to the jetty where they were dropped. They were happy to laze in the crystal clear water.
Ouvea must have one of the longest pristine white beaches in the world.
The sand is so fine - the sea so many different shades of blue - I just walked and walked picking up seashells on the way.
I had miles of beach to myself.
On the photo you can just see where the point is on the horizon.
When I rounded the point I came to the bridge where the island splits in two. Inside the reef was a beautiful lagoon.
You can see the bridge in the next photo.

Port Vila - Vanuatu

After three days cruising on perfectly calm idyllic seas, the Pacific Sun docked in
Port Vila on the island of Vanuatu.
It reminded me very much of Bali.
The town was quite small with lots of shops selling local wares. The main difference was that there was no pressure to buy and no bargaining.
The people are very happy and the local dancers were very obliging.
I couldn't resist a photo with the kids and though they were really dark skinned until I got on the ship and realised my hands and the sides of my trousers were covered in coal dust!

The Pacific Sun shines on Sydney Harbour

It was sunset as P&Os Pacific Sun steamed out of Darling Harbour - and the timing was perfect.
What a thrill it was to see the Opera House on one side and Lunar Park on the other and see the Sydney Tower poking up from the city's skyline.
Sydney has certainly changed since we lived there back in the 70s but the memories of all the trips we took to Manly on the ferry soon came tumbling back.
As we went under the bridge I think all 1800 passengers were on deck to savour the moment but it was amazing how quickly they disappeared below.
Most of them missed the setting sun - it was magic!
I remained on deck until the ship had sailed out of the Heads and set its course to the north east and the islands of the South Pacific.

The coat-hanger brigade

Today is officially the Queen's birthday in Australia - but that's not the reason these folk are waving.
They are standing on top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge as the Pacific Sun sails under (with only inches to spare between the top of the funnel and the bottom of the bridge).
It's two week since I joined the 'Sun' on a Pacific Island cruise.
Having come back with the flu, I have only just got around to uploading a few photos.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

My place

This is the house I am buying in Tasmania.
If all goes well I will be moving in on 5th July.
Photo courtesy of Towns Shearing Real Estate, Launceston, the agents who I had the pleasure of dealing with.

End of a journey...

...and the beginning of a new adventure.
I loved the image below but realised when I had posted it that it was a bit blurred.
This photo is better and I now have it as my screen saver.
I'm not the best at photography and must admit I took this on a normal daylight setting though it was still quite dark.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Spirit retuns

I didn’t know what time it was. I woke suddenly aware it was a noise which had startled me.
And there is was again. I knew at once that it was a ship’s siren.
I had heard that the Spirit of Tasmania sailed in every morning at 7.00 am and I knew from the sound that she was approaching the mouth of the Mersey River, returning to Devonport after her night crossing from Melbourne.
The room was black. The curtains had those heavy plastic-coated linings which didn’t allow a glimmer of light even though the car park outside was still brightly lit.
I found the switch and reached for my clothes. It was 6.45.
The siren sounded again - and it was nearer.
I knew that I didn’t have time to dress properly if I wanted to see it.
I pulled on my trousers, tucked my nightie into them, and pulled my coat on, zipping it high under my chin. It could be quite cold outside at this time of the morning. Joggers on – no time to lace them.
I grabbed the camera and room key and within seconds was down the corridor and out of the front door.
The B&B on Victoria Avenue was directly across the road from the River and at it faced east I could see the sky changing to accommodate the sun as it was about to rise at the point where Bass Strait ends and Tasmania begins.
I crossed the road quickly to the grassy bank and watched in awe as the modern ferry approached.
She sounded her siren again, for me I thought, as I was the only person waiting to welcome her.
She approached surprisingly fast sliding by smoothly and silently, creating barely a ripple on the rose-coloured sea – even the wild waters of Bass Strait were still asleep.
Would she reach her wharf only half a mile up river before the sun came up, I wondered?
I watched her pass and watched the sky change from red to gold and a dozen shades between and marvelled at the kaleidoscope of colours reflected in the river.
What a beautiful morning it was, and oh, what a beautiful sight.
Photo: Mouth of the Mersey, Devonport, Tasmania

On the ridge at Grindelwald

I went back to Tasmania last week with one purpose in mind - to buy a house.
And I fell in love with this one.
It overlooks the Tamar River with 180 degree views ... and it feels right for me.

Penny Royal in Launceston

You could easily imagine you were beside the Avon at Stratford in England - but you are not.
This group of buildings is part of a complex which includes a hotel and shops and it's in the centre of Tasmania's Launceston and two minutes walk from the Cataract Gorge.
Launceston is a city where everything is within walking distance.
And it is full of surprises.