You may have seen my post from earlier in the week about the bushfires burning around the state. They are all still burning and today, Friday is going to be very dangerous weather, hot, windy and the chance of lightning strikes. The main danger in such weather is embers being carried ahead of the main fires and starting new ones. The fire service says that in these conditions homes may not be defendable.
Naturally, I’ve been a bit distracted by all this and can’t really concentrate on writing. This morning I will probably be taking the pets and relocating to friends in Hobart for a day or so. If I am not able to update you I will ask Naomi to post something so you all know I am OK.
There are a lot of bushfires around Tasmania at present. It’s been dry and vegetation fires are common in summer.
Last week we had a huge thunderstorm and many fires were started by lightning strikes. Many are in remote areas of forest and firefighters both local and visiting ones from interstate and from New Zealand have been doing their best to control them.
Over the last couple of days it’s been hot and windy and two fires, in particular, have become more serious, one of them is in an area called Tahune which a forest area and is 30 kilometres or so from Geeveston. We have been getting a lot of smoke and today ash falling over the town.
This afternoon some friends who live up the Arve Road which leads to the Tahune Airwalk decided to leave, mainly because the air quality is so bad. This is how the sky looked at my place at around 4pm. I took this from inside.
I’ve been living here for 16 years now and I can say that without a doubt these are the worst conditions that I have seen around here.
Hot weather is forecast for most of this week so I don’t see this improving soon.
I am fine. My house is on the Hobart side of town, it’s just unpleasant and a bit scary.
We have a lot of rivers in Tasmania, so many that much of our power comes from hydro-electric power plants.
It was the proposed damming of a river, the Franklin, in the southwest of the state that led to the blockade of the river in the summer of 1982-83. It is quite an involved story starting further back when the Hydro-Electric Commission (HEC) built a dam which caused the flooding of Lake Pedder, a renowned beauty spot, in 1972.
When the state government of the day proposed to dam the Franklin River the newly formed Tasmanian Wilderness Society began their campaign to save it. It’s a long story that has more to do with politics than with rivers but it is interesting reading so I’ll include a link to an article by Professor Clive Hamilton who tells the story much better than I can.
Below is Peter Dombrovskis famous photo taken on the Franklin and used by the Tasmanian Wilderness Society to publicise the issue.
By National Library of Australia nla.pic-an6631500-v, Fair use, Link
I do remember the blockade. We were still living in South Australia and every night the news would have stories sent from this tiny place, Strahan, that we had never heard of before then. Many celebrities, Australian and international including Sir Yehudi Menuhin, Barry Humphries, Eartha Kitt, Dick Smith, and David Bellamy took part in the blockade beside ordinary people from every state in Australia. David and I watched the news and cheered for the blockaders many of whom were arrested and when they refused to keep away from the river as part of their bail conditions were removed to jail in Hobart.
In the end, a Federal Labor government was elected in early 1983 and one of their first acts was to stop the dam from being built.
When we first visited Strahan many years later I learned at the visitor centre how the whole issue had divided families. To this day there are still people who believe that dam should have been built but the Franklin is still a wild river. I’ve never seen it but I’m happy knowing it is there. I have cruised on the Gordon River which flows into it. The point where the two rivers join was one of the proposed sites for the dam.
I spotted this caravan being used as a wine bar at the race village on the Hobart waterfront last week. It is made by the US company Airstream and while it looks very retro they are still being made today although this is the first one I have seen.
As I had some time before my bus went after photographing the yachts I decided to visit The Taste of Tasmania. The Taste as we usually call it is held in and around one of the old wharf sheds every year at this time. As the name implies it is a food festival. Admittance is free, they did toy with an entrance fee a few years back but it was very unpopular.
When I first visited the Taste in the early 2000’s it was contained in the old No. 1 shed and the adjacent waterfront area. Over the years it has grown so much that it has spread on to the adjacent Salamanca and Parliament lawns.
I was pleased to see that there was lots of seating in the shade in these areas as in fine weather they are a great alternative to the big shed. I don’t go to The Taste every year. I’m not what you would call a foodie and I don’t like queueing for food when it is busy although I like to support the local producers. The shed can be humid and noisy and the seating is at long communal tables. I really dislike eating with strangers. However, all the new seating options meant that it was not as crowded and I was even able to grab one of the coveted waterside tables and have it more or less to myself.
I was also pleased to see that the venue had plenty of recycling bins and that most of the plates and cutlery were the recyclable type. There was also free drinking water available so people could fill their water bottles.
The food, well there was a huge variety, locally made smallgoods, seafood Ethiopian, Korean, Indonesian, you name it and it was probably there. There were also locally made ice creams, individual Pavlovas, cakes, and of course beer, cider, wines etc. It was rather expensive for me though. I certainly can’t afford to stay all day trying different things when hardly anything was under $10 a serve. In the end, because I was hungry I had a Korean pork belly bun which was nice and a Raspberry Delight, local raspberries with locally made Valhalla ice cream and whipped cream on top. I love these ice creams with fresh fruit and usually treat myself to one in the summer.
There are stages set around the area where live entertainment is presented and there are things set up for kids to do so it is a good day out especially combined with the other activities on the waterfront, harbour cruises, motorcycle rides, horse and carriage rides and the yachts of course.
Today I made my second trip to Hobart to see the yachts that had completed the race. On Friday when I was there only the four super maxi’s had arrived so I knew I would have to do a second trip. The last yachts arrived this morning, New Year’s Eve, apart from half a dozen who had retired for mechanical reasons during the race.
The Line Honours winner this year was once again “Wild Oats XI” who survived not only a very tight battle with the other three super maxi’s but a protest after the finish. Never a dull moment with Wild Oats XI.
She was followed in by “Black Jack”, “Commanche” and “Infotrack”.
Handicap winner was “Alive” who was the fifth yacht over the line. “Alive” is a Tasmanian owned yacht, one of three Tasmanian yachts who started the race. Unfortunately, this was one of the yachts I was not able to find.
As everyone had arrived by the time I got to the wharf this morning there was not so much frantic activity. Some crews were doing maintenance or packing up gear for the return journey, others were entertaining friends on board their yachts. Other yachts were empty and sitting quietly waiting for the return trip. There were a few empty spaces so I supposed that some of those yachts might have been out sailing as there are a few local races on the Derwent or they might even have left for the return trip although most competitors like to celebrate the New Year in Hobart. I did not spot “Wild Oats XI” today, so if she was not out on the Derwent she had probably left for her next race. You don’t often see her after the official presentation.
Even so, there were a lot of people about looking at the yachts and a lot to photograph as I wandered about looking for my favourites and for any other interesting ones. Patrice is a regular competitor I’ve come to recognise because there is always a large teddy bear on board. I noticed several other teddies on deck and when I read up on her I found that the crew of Patrice have been supporting a kids cancer charity for the past ten years.
I thought a bit about names, it’s interesting what people name their yachts. The most boring ones are those who race under a sponsors name. Some like macho names like “Gunrunner”, “Smuggler” or “Daredevil”. Some names are traditional for their owners like “Helsal” and “Ragamuffin”. “St Jude” is probably a nod to the fates. Quetzalcoatl must have been named to annoy the race commentators who have to try and pronounce it. My favourite this year was the unfortunately named “Trumpcard”. Someone had put a piece of tape over the name and renamed it “Wild Oats XII”.
There were not many overseas entries this year but I did find a few, from the USA, China, and Germany.
I took a lot more photos of the race fleet today so I may post a few more of them another day.