The Invisible Lake

The invisible lake. Derby, Tasmania 28th March 2015. After meeting the three toed, clipped-nail Bridge Platypus yesterday and engaging in Friday night’s pub conversations that brought forth a strong desire to see Briseis Hole, for that is indeed the unfortunate name given the mysterious and so far unseen lake in the heart of Derby, we did something else instead.

What we really need to do before I fall off any cliffs and bring myself and our house-sitting career to an abrupt end is have a look around the area. After the resurrection of our now very drivable Nissan Urvan camper, this sunny Saturday morning was perfect for filling the thermos by two (can you say thermoses?) with brewed coffee, pack a few sandwiches (not platypus) and hit the road.

Read moreThe Invisible Lake

The Platypus

The platypus. Saturday was drizzly weather, this second week of the Tasmanian Travel Australia, perfect for working inside, in this case putting together some business cards. Friday night at the pub and illuminating conversations reminded me that I need something to give people so they can find the Diary of the Universe website and tell them how to contact us directly.

But, I can’t postpone it any longer, tomorrow, weather permitting I am going to start on the expensive and for me, herculean task of bringing the van up to a reasonable standard again. I’ll start by at least removing the tail-shaft and replacing the dodgy rear universal joint, but first I need some quick pointers from You Tube about the process.

Fair enough, I’m doing the easier one first and it was obviously not technically difficult but I would have to improvise on facilities. To create a work environment, I slung a tarp between the trailer and the lean-to that served as a wood shed.

gderby 01

As it happened, Sunday was fine and the whole tail shaft process was completed without too much trouble. Next morning, with the encouraging success of the uni joint behind me, I almost reluctantly removed the front passenger side wheel and got to work on the ball joints.

For those joining me on this adventure without the joy of intimate knowledge of the front end of a motor vehicle, these are the swivels that allow your front wheels to point towards where you want to go. Rather important elements, I think I don’t need to say. That’s a crude apophasis for the word collectors out there.

They come as a pair (not the word collectors)  basically a big C shape chunk of metal with a ball in the top and the bottom. So far, so good.

Read moreThe Platypus

The Derby Dinner Dance

Today, Monday, we are beginning our next Travel Australia house-sitting assignment and our first in Tasmania. By lunchtime Neil and Liz have introduced us to our three hairy canine house mates for the next 35 days, save for Mika the cat who doesn’t do introductions.

We are actually living in what used to be the residence for the general store, shortly to be restored to its former role. Upon their return, the hard work in ‘restoring the store’ Anzac Day 2015 will see the birth of a new enterprise, coffee shop, takeaway and store combination.

derby 08

There are plans too for the small property next door which is home to some petrol bowsers and a small garage and this is where our elderly Nissan Urvan and trailer will live for the next month or so.

derby 01

We have an early dinner with our hosts and they head off to Launceston to be ready for an early flight in the morning. An overseas holiday beckons and they are keen to hit the road.

We are here, at last.

Tuesday morning dawned on Derby and upon us, clear as crystal, the sun pouring in through the old double sash windows. The air is crisp, very much like late autumn in more northern climes, the sun is warm and we seized the chance to sit on the verandah with a freshly brewed coffee and absorb our surroundings.

We are right on the main road, so traffic can be heavy, in peak sometimes up to 1 vehicle passes per minute.

This is Tasmania, only a quarter the size of our otherwise smallest state of Victoria and for us, the fulfillment of an unrequited desideratum for 20 years since our first fleeing visit when we could afford the time and cost of travel. A bantam sample of Europe in the southern hemisphere, more in common with the South Island of New Zealand than mainland Australia, this is like visiting another country and the strict regime of quarantine does nothing to dispel the notion.

Read moreThe Derby Dinner Dance