Monthly Archives: December 2009

Russell Falls

From Lake St. Clair we headed for Mt. Field National Park, which offered a camp ground surrounded by temperate rainforest, and the beginning of the path that would lead us to Russell Falls. If you’ve read the book, you’ll know what a splendid hike that path offered, even before we reached the falls. But the falls were a lovely reward for our wander through the woods. The falls were not intimidatingly high, and they seemed to invite a climb—at least they invited a couple of us. The images below show you the two-tired waterfall from the bottom, as I approached, from about halfway up the climb beside the falls, and from a rock in the middle of the stream at the top of the falls, looking out over the surrounding forest.

While my delight in my surroundings involved more than just the physical beauty, as I was also enjoying the coolness, fragrance, and sounds of the forest, I still think you can get a feeling for the place’s charm from the images.

Russell Falls

Russell Falls 2

Russell Falls 3


Leave a comment

Filed under Australia, Book, Geography, Nature, Travel

Another Aussie Picnic

The comment on the previous post about how much nicer wallabies would be at picnics, versus ants, reminded me of another picnic I had in Australia, this one on my third trip Down Under.

Friends and I spent the day at Wilsons Promontory National Park, a splendidly gorgeous area perched on the southernmost tip of the Australian mainland. The park is in Victoria, just across Bass Strait from Tasmania. Mountains, beaches, wilderness, and wildlife (including a fair number of wombats) filled our day. When we stopped for a picnic lunch at one of the designated picnic sites, we learned that here, the sight of food draws things on wings. We were particularly besieged by crimson rosellas, the parrots that are clinging to my two friends in the image below. Holding back a bit, but still eager, were the sea gulls—and with these fellows around, you definitely wouldn’t want to leave the table unattended. The wattle bird, in the final photo, was happy for a handout of sugar.

So while not every picnic site in Australia offers this much built-in entertainment, there are certainly a fair number of places where you can expect company.

Crimson Rosellas and Picnickers

Aussie Sea Gulls

Wattle Bird


Filed under Australia, Geography, Nature, Travel

Picnic Wallabies

Our next destination was the lovely Lake St. Clair. Mountains rise in the near distance and dense forest crowds in around the bright water of the deep lake, creating a spot of splendid natural beauty. It was delightful to simply enjoy our surroundings. However, those surroundings were made even more delightful by the abundance of wallabies. I’ve shown pictures of wallabies in a number of posts in other places in the blog, but here, I thought I’d show a picture that makes clear both their diminutive side and their eagerness to take part in the picnic lunch of anyone who happens to choose this park as a dining spot. Who could resist these charming little beggars?

Wallabies love to share picnics.


Filed under Australia, Book, Geography, Nature, Travel

Mt. Lyell Mine

In my book, I commented that the big mine at Mt. Lyell got under way nearly a century ago. When I wrote that, during my first trip to Australia, it was true. However, soon after my visit, the mine passed the 100-year mark.

Miners, against all odds, had begun looking for gold in Tasmania in the late 1800s, as gold had been abundant on the mainland. Getting to sites that seemed good for prospecting was not easy, and getting supplies involved moving gear up river from Strahan and then just carrying everything the last several miles.

It turned out that there was no gold, but a few savvy investors realized that everything being dug up (and, early on, thrown out by those seeking gold) was copper—tons of it. With a plan to both mine copper and build a railway, to facilitate supplying a mine, the Mt. Lyell Mining & Railway Company was formed in March of 1893. The railway was built, and by 1901, the mine was thriving and Queenstown was growing rapidly, as more miners, families, and support services moved in.

I mention in the book that I bought a sample of stichtite, a stone that, while attractive, interested me primarily because its existence had been hypothesized before the stone was discovered. That hypothesis was put forward by the mining company’s brilliant metallurgist and general manager, American Robert Sticht, for whom the stone was fairly obviously named. But this theorizing was not the limit of Sticht’s contribution. By 1902, Sticht had perfected a system of smelting that used sulphides that existed within the ore to generate and maintain heat. His system revolutionized smelting worldwide and resulted in a dramatic reduction in the amount of fuel needed for this operation.

Over its first 100 years, the mine produced more than 130 million tons of ore. However, the mine had the kind of history such things have, with successes tempered by tragedies. Mud slides, mine fires, and economic upheavals dotted the timeline of ore production.

By the time of my visit, falling copper prices had already seriously undermined any possibility of the mine’s continuation. Shortly after the mine’s 100th birthday, it was closed for a year, and then the mine was sold to an Indian company. The mine now supplies copper to India.

The image below is one of the huge open-cut mines on top of Mt. Lyell. (Most of the mining is now done underground.)

Open-Cut Mine, Mt. Lyell


Filed under Australia, Book, Geography, History, Travel

Strahan Sunset

I am always drawn to the beauty of water and light, whether it’s a rainbow, a reflection, a wonderful cloudscape, sunrise, or sunset. As a result, I spend a considerable amount of time admiring the sky in particular, but combine sky and a body of water, and I can’t help but stop to enjoy, and usually photograph, what lies before me. Camping at the edge of Macquarie Harbour, just outside of Strahan, gave me the opportunity to take several photographs of the changing colors as the sun sank to the horizon. It was a beautiful end to a wonderful day.

Sunset over Macquarie Harbour

1 Comment

Filed under Australia, Book, Nature, Photography, Travel

Talking About Pursuing Dreams

I was interviewed this last weekend on the Passions and Possibilities radio show. As is so often the case these days, the live show was recorded and is now available online as a podcast.

In this interview, while there is some discussion of my motivation for going to Australia, much of the conversation centers around practical steps for pursuing dreams, as well as tricks for staying motivated.

Passions and Possibilities Interview

Leave a comment

Filed under Australia, Book, Podcasts, Travel, Writing

Hell’s Gates

Looking at the remarkably lovely scene below, one might not guess that the name of this spot is Hell’s Gates. I actually think that it’s a remarkably good visual metaphor for Hell—or whatever turns into Hell in one’s life. It almost never looks bad when you first approach it.

There are essentially two reasons the name is appropriate for this attractive location. One is tied to the area’s history. This is the entrance to Macquarie Harbour, where Tasmania’s first penal settlement was established. It certainly became a Hell on earth for many of those sent there. The second reason is that, despite its charming appearance, this is a remarkable dangerous passage. That’s why the sailboat in the image is not under sail. Jagged rocks on one side, a long sandbar on the other, and the almost constantly wild winds of the Roaring Forties have sunk more than hopes at this site. But with a good motor and a relatively calm day, it is a beautiful spot to visit. Just don’t take safe passage for granted.

Hell's Gates, Tasmania


Filed under Australia, Book, Geography, History, Nature, Travel