Page 10 - New Norfolk and the Huon Region

Whether by rail, road, or river the trip to New Norfolk from Hobart, weather permitting, is always most enjoyable. For choice I recommend visitors to take the river. But the drive by road is very perfect. Six years ago I drove to Glenorchy with a young lady known as the " Queen of Sheba." We went to the little Gothic church there to find the graves of the " Duke's " ancestors. We took him flowers which we plucked from the tomb of a grandmother. The Duke had come all the way from England to see this but laid up by sickness in Hobart was content to end his quest vicariously. Mr. Jennings, the heaviest man in the Australian colonies, was then alive at the Harvest Home Hotel at New town. We had afternoon tea there and I hope the Queen of Sheba enjoyed herself. As I drive along the New Norfolk-road to-day with Mrs. and Mr. Forbes I am equally happy. There is a good suburban railwayservice for the little settlements scattered along the road for some miles out of Hobart. Before we reach Claremont, some 8 miles out, the road touches the river bank and skirts lake like bays which run out of the main channel of the Derwent. These seem surrounded by land on every side, and are most picturesque in outline. There is one quaint peninsula the exact shape of a fryingpan, the handle, a narrow isthmus, is covered in flood time. The cottages on the banks of these bays have little piers running out into the water. Boats are moored alongside, which give suggestions of fishing. And fish are plentiful here. Row out of these little bays into the river at sunset. Look at Mount Wellington, as you have looked down on the river from its summit. Willow and wattle are mixed together here on the banks of the Derwent. Then turn,

And on the river's further side, we see the hill tops glorified,
While dark through willowy vistas seen, the waters roll in shade between.

There is a charming house near Claremont, on the New Norfolk-road. Partly a farm, partly an elegant country home ; I shall remember it not only for the hospitable welcome received, but that I here obtain the freshest milk, the sweetest apples and the most succulent watercress. As Mr. Forbes and I stroll towards the stables, and look across the river flats where famed racehorses were trained, we agree that it is an ideal place in which to spend a honeymoon. " I am thinking of leasing this place," says Mr. Forbes, " so that people who get tired of the town and the Exhibition might run out here, and have perfect rest for a day or two in the country. They can go boating and fishing and be as rural as they like, and when they want a hit of town life a train will tales them in and out of Hobart in a few minutes." I should very much like to spend a few days here during the forthcoming summer months, and fooling about with a rod and line on the river's bank — endeavor in some mall degree to emulate the C. M. G. the George Washington of piscatorial sport, whose boast is

Few fish shall part where many meet, this creel shall be their winding sheet,
Both trout and mullet eating sweet, shall find a worthy sepulchre.

At Bridgewater the character of the Derwent changes. The river steamers pass through drawbridges, and up the stream, which has now lost its lake like appearance, and is as other rivers of the world, although more beautiful than most. Mr. William Sevior says : — " The Derwent is a magnificent river and fully deserves the honor of being the headquarters of the lordly salmon in this part of the world." The headquarters of salmon fishers are at New Norfolk. The salmon ponds are a few miles from here. It was in these ponds that salmon ova were deposited when the first attempt was made to acclimatise the salmon in the colony. The first importation was a failure ; but other attempts have been more successful, and now salmon trout and other varieties of salmonidae, including English salmon, abound in the rivers of Tasmania. The ponds open by sluices to the River Plenty, a tributary of the Derwent, whence the fish in due time find their way to the ocean, and back again to the upper waters of the inland streams. If you are not a fisherman ; if you have never experienced first the delight and then the chagrin when " a mad something leaps out of the water, leaps again and again. The sun burnishes its silver side as it curls over on its third essay, and plunges below to make the most of its regained liberty !" If you are not George Washington you can take an interest in the big salmon in the pools which some day may be on your table. You can feed the fish at the salmon pools with pieces of chopped liver, a favorite dainty of theirs. And again presuming that you are not a fisherman, you will still have nowhere a better time than at the Bush Inn, ancient resort of all the anglers in Australia. Here I find reminiscences of one of my earliest friends in the colonies, to whom trout fishing is a cult. Here in Host Cowborn one finds a typical Yorkshireman, a worthy landlord of such an inn as the Bush, whose name carries me back to a dozen old fashioned hostelries I know in England. From the verandah of this house one obtains a most charming view of the river and its surroundings. The Derwent here is about the width of the Thames at Maidenhead. The fertile flats are covered with hop gardens — pleasant houses stand in pleasant grounds, which slope towards the river. The valley is girt by low hills, which at one point show an outline of picturesque rocks. After train or boat has arrived everything is calm and quiet in the streets of New Norfolk. There is hardly an idler to be seen on the bridge. The crows, even, seem too peaceful to give expression to their feelings by a "caw !"

Wonderfully English is the garden of this inn, with cherry and apple trees, and large holly and laurel trashes, and the finest violets I have seen in my life. The streets of New Norfolk are thoroughly English with a touch of old Irish. I have described how this place was settled. To an extent it maintains its ancient character. The people are peaceful and also slightly feckless. They are apt to miss trains. Mr. George Leatham, the popular member for the district, had kindly offered to escort me over New Norfolk, but detained in Hobart had telephoned to Messrs. Alexander and Henry Smith to look after me. They are ahead of Melbourne in this respect. Superintendent Beresford, of the territorial police, also keeps a watchful eye on me. The principal object of interest at New Norfolk is the lunatic asylum, a series of scattered buildings occupying a large space of ground. I have no wish to inspoct these, except from the outside. The churches are features here. The Roman Catholic is new, the English church old and shabby, the Wesleyan, a square barn like building, suited for the spirit and not the ritual of religion, bearing the date 1824. It does not take long to do New Norfolk itself. The visitor will be satisfied with the surrounding scenery and the river rather than with the settlement. The only thing typical of Australasia which I see in New Norfolk is the recreation ground, where young and old footballers play and " barrack."

Mr. Miller, of Hobart, has a branch drug store here, where I make the acquaintance of the manager, Mr. Moir, son of a well known Presbyterian clergyman in Victoria. Such a pharmacy is, however, chiefly required in connection with the asylum, all the prescriptions being made up at Mr. Miller's. Fortunes cannot be made by drug store or doctor at New Norfolk. Dr. Thomas Gray, the Hero of Bullarto, at one time practised here, and was very popular, but with increasing ambition he transferred himself to Melbourne. Dr. Read, an old acquaintance, is surprised to find me in New Norfolk. But he practises because be likes his profession, and after his travels in China and Japan is glad to settle down in his native Derwent Valley. The healthiness of the New Norfolk district has from the earliest days been proverbial. " Government Cottage " was established here, but it has recently been sold to a scion of the Clarke family. Sir Robert Officer had a very charming place on the banks of the Derwent, still used in the summer time by his descendants. There are other country homes where you find all the refinement and culture of Toorakia. It is the climate and the scenery which makes people love to tarry in this hill-circled valley. People live to a great age in New Norfolk, and do not die of heart disease. I am told of one veteran who died a short time back considerably over 100. His youngest son was over 70. He was followed to the grave by 24 grandchildren and great grandchildren, whose ages varied from 60 to 3 ! This is a record !

The Russell Falls, 12 ½ miles from Glenora, the terminus of the Derwent Valley railway, can be reached from New Norfolk, over a good road ; or the visitor can leave Hobart by train at 8 a.m., find a vehicle waiting at Glenora, and be in Hobart again at 6.40 p.m. The upper and lower falls are respectively 130 and 40 feet high, broad sheets of water falling over black basaltic terraces. Ferns and mountain berries abound in the vicinity. About 6 miles further west, near the township of Lyenna, are the Marriot Falls, even more picturesquely situated.

No visitor to Hobart should leave without viewing the magnificent forest and fern gully scenery of the Huon, which is also the principal fruit growing district in the colony. One can drive for miles through well kept orchards. Visitors who have only a day to spare can obtain a good idea of the forest and mountain scenery by taking an outside seat on the down Huon coach at 9 a.m. and transferring to the up coach about 15 miles from Hobart. On the return journey a stay is made at the Longley Hotel (11 miles from the city) for lunch, and Hobart is reached about 4 p.m., the coach and hotel charges being very moderate. But to thoroughly enjoy the picturesque beauty of this portion of the colony the visitor should proceed to the Huon by steamer and return overland by coach. Ten miles from Hobart the steamer turns aside from the waters of the Derwent through a narrow passage between Pearson's Point and Denne's Point (on Bruni) into the D'Entrecasteaux Channel, formed by Bruni Island, over 20 miles in length, on the one side, and the mainland on the other. Though Bruni Island, is only some 20 miles in extreme length from north to south, it is so irregular and indented with deep bays and coves that its shore line is some 60 miles in length, the channel varying in width from 2 to 10 miles, dotted with islands and settlements, and backed by mountain ranges, presents a bewildering panorama of lochs, fiords, rugged mountain peaks and enticing coves. Its land-locked waters are a paradise for yachting and fishing— rod, hand line or net — while the islands and reefs at the southern end are the breeding places of many rare sea birds, and are well worth the attention of the ornithologist. At the principal townships there are sawmills, with tramways running back into the forest for miles, and affording charming bush excursions and opportunities for collecting ferns and other flora. The visitor can rely upon every facility for exclusions being courteously afforded, and the charges for boats, vehicles and hotel accommodation are very reasonable. To those in search of rest and health the channel ports can be unhesitatingly recommended.

In the summer season there are four steamers a week to Port Cygnet, via the channel ports (Oyster Cove, Peppermint Bay, Long Bay, Gordon, Garden Island and Lymington) ; twice a week, via channel ports to Huon, Shipwright's Point, Geeveston, South Franklin and Franklin, and once a week to Port Esperance, whence there is a vehicle conveyance to Southport and Recherche. The visitor can proceed by steamer to Port Cygnet, Ship Wright's Point, Geeveston, South Franklin and Franklin, and return next day by Webster and Co.'s daily mail coaches. Below Geeveston the overland communication is by mail cart, three times a week each way. To those who can spare a few days to examine Tasmanian scenery, these tours offer special attractions. From Huonville the Sandfly Falls are but 12 miles distant, and are worth visiting. From a table land the Sandfly Rivulet pours down nearly 350 feet into a remarkable gorge of columnar basalt, the descent into which, though rugged, will repay the explorer. This remarkable waterfall can also be viewed by a 10-mile journey from the Longley Hotel. A visitor leaving the steamer at Woodbridge (Peppermint Bay) 12 miles from Hobart, can be driven eight miles across country to Port Cygnet, or vice versa, and pick up a return steamer. From Port Cygnet, where there is a most comfortable hotel and obliging host, drives may be taken in several directions to inspect the resources of this fruit growing centre, as well as many picturesque landscape views and forest scenes. From Franklin excursions may he made through the orchard districts or the sources of lumber for the sawmill. Good trout fishing can be enjoyed in the Huon River, fish up to 28 lb. in weight having been captured.