Sunday, August 25, 2013

TASMANIA!

AUGUST 1, 2013

On  the afternoon of June 13, we were welcomed at the Launceston Airport by Elders Hosman and Sargeant, two of the most cheerful missionaries you would ever meet, stufffed ourselves and our luggage into their car, then were driven to their flat on Bond Street, where we picked up our car.  After a quick stop at Coles for some groceries and Dominos Pizza for lunch/dinner,  we opted to drive the tourist route to Deloraine.  We marveled at the beautiful countryside, the sheep and cattle grazing contentedly in rolling, green pastures, small streams, mountains covered with different varieties of eucalyptus trees, and the blue sky, layered in shades of pink and orange, as the sun set.  We were happy to arrive at our flat before dark, because it had been reported to us that in the absence of city lights, the nights in Tasmania are very dark.

Our flat is definitely an up-grade from either the winter or summer home, and is situated in a quiet cul-de-sac in the north west part of Deloraine.  The boxes we shipped were waiting to be unpacked, the bed was made, and we found a note from the Moores, ward members who live close, welcoming us to the neighborhood.  We unpacked a bit, then walked 2 blocks to the church for our first ward council meeting.  We were warmly greeted, and the meeting proceeded without delay.  Clearly, Bishop Porter is a strong leader, and the ward council members are concerned about each and every member of the ward.  We were given a ward list, complete with notes of inactive and part-member families and priorities of where to start.  We eagerly accepted the challenge to search for some "lost sheep."

 The second day in Deloraine, we drove back to Launceston for a baptism.  We stopped at Cataract Gorge, whose rugged natural beauty suggests it could be miles from anywhere.  Even in missionary clothes, we hiked a bit and walked across the suspension bridge in the backround.    
 Elder Hosman, Fillmores, Elder Sheward, Cassie, Anthony Lake, Elders Sargeant and Whitehead
 The next day Billy was baptized by Elder Hosman.  Billy would come to church alone, riding his bike. He gave a talk at his baptism and bore his testimony about how much he loves the gospel and Jesus Christ. 
 On our first P Day, we went on a scenic walk along a gently sloping spur to a lookout of Alum Cliffs.  The Mersey River runs through this gorge.  
 This looks like a Christmas Nativity set, but the figures are actually stalagmites found in the Marakoopa Cave.  
 This magnificent cavern in the Marakoops Cave features delicate formations and beautiful colors.  In pitch darkness, glow worms light up the ceiling of the cave.  The cave was discovered by two young boys, who kept their discovery a secret for a number of years.  
 We strained our eyes in the gathering dusk, hoping  to see  platypus on the short Fern Glade Walk from the cave to the visitors center.  We think the rangers laughed to think of the dumb American tourists looking so hard for these illusive critters.  

 Talk about amazing fern trees!  This photo was taken on the short walk to the bottom of Liffey Falls.
Liffey Falls is nestled within the temperate rainforest within the Great Western Tiers mountain range, and plunges through dense rainforest of myrtle, sassafras, and leatherwood.  It is believed that Tasmanian Aborigines used Liffey falls as a meeting place.  
 BAPTISM OF STEVE NIELSEN
 MAX BETTER WATCH OUT, LEST A TASMANIAN DEVIL NEEDS A SNACK!
 One of our assignments is to inspect cars and flats in the Hobart area.  We took this as an opportunity to explore some of the sites on the convict trail.    
 In the 1800's, Tasmania was the destination for many convicted British criminals.   Port Arthur was mainly for those who were secondary offenders having re-offended after their arrival in Australia.  Port Arthur had some of the strictest security measures of the British penal system.   The area is remote and harsh, and convicts had no chance of escape, as they had to cross two narrow bottlenecks that were easy to guard, having to get past a line of savage dogs chained across the isthmus at Eaglehawk Neck.   
 We rode a ferry to Point Puer Boys' Prison, where 3000 boys, some as young as nine years old, were sentenced.  
 This is what is left of one of the dormitories where prisoners were kept.  Many of the buildings are in the process of being restored.  Psychological rather than physical punishment was used to keep the criminals in line.  
 As we crossed to Point Puer, we were treated to watch dolphins play in the wake created by the ferry.  
 Two of our favorite Chinese daughters, Gloria and Liansu, visited us in Tasmania and helped celebrate Max's 39th  (?) birthday.  We loved having them in our home for a few days!
 Being farm kids at heart, we are fascinated by the variety of cattle.  The striped cows are Belted Galloways, but we don't know what the shaggy beasts are called.   

 It was cold and windy, but we braved the weather and took the short walk  to see  Devils Gullett.  
 We walked to a platform overhanging the sheer cliff face, with views to Mount Ossa, Cradle Mountain, and across the chasm of the Fisher River valley.  The dolerite cliffs channel south westerly winds up into the gullet at a gale force.
 We went to an alpaca exhibition at the show grounds and visited with alpaca growers from the area.  One of the shops in Deloraine sells hand dyed alpaca yarn hand spun from the fleece of the animals in the picture.  I debated long and hard about whether to spend the $250 to buy yarn to knit a sweater.  I settled on a scarf and fingerless gloves instead.  

Rex and MaryAnn McDonald are serving as full time family history missionaries in Hobart.  They have graciously hosted us in their home when we have been to Hobart.  

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