Page 5 - Port Arthur, Hobart and Rail Travel

Mount Brown is about three miles from Carnarvon. It is 2600 feet high, sloping to the sea. Near its base are some wonderful caves and "blowholes." One cave is 300 feet long and 90 feet high. There is an arc h 40 feet high from rock to rock, underneath which the sea dashes and spumes. Of course one does not see all this from the deck of the Waihora. I write of Tasman's Pomnsula principally, as the policemen say, "from information received." But I record Port Arthur as a pictureque point en voyage to Hobart, which the tourist will be sure to visit either by the local steamer from the city or by rail and road overland.

The Rocking StonePast Port Arthur the steamers round a headland fringed by fluted basalt columns of much the same character as one sees at the Giant's Causeway and on Staffa. These are great geological curiosities, and are highly picturesque to those who are not scientific. When I first sailed down this coast the columns were higher and more numerous. But some 13 years ago the commander of a British man of war, not having the fear of public opinion before his eyes, indulged in shot and shell practice from the sea, the targets being the rocky columns at Cape Raoul. The effect is plainly visible. The name of that captain of the royal navy is cursed in Hobart as a Goth, the son of a Philistine. Cape Raoul, however, is still very interesting. We are now in Storm Bay, into which Tasman sailed on the 29th November, 1642 intending to cast anchor there, but a heavy storm arose, and his vessels were driven out to sea. A little to the southward, on the western shores of Storm Bay, is Adventure Bay, where, 131 years after Tasman's time, the English Captain Furneaux anchored his vessel. Adventure Bay is on Bruni Island, which is formed by the D'Entrecasteaux Channel between it and the mainland. As the voyager enters Storm Bay he sees on the shore a succession of bays and cliffs and rounded dark wooded hills, but above all there is one great land mark, a massive flat topped mountain, a monster Rock of Gibraltar or Heights of Quebec. It seems to keep watch and ward over the country beyond. It would be natural that all explorers should make towards this great landmark to pluck out the mystery of the unknown country. Yet Tasman missed the opportunity, so did Marion du Fresne, so did Furneaux. It was Admiral D'Entrecasteaux who first explored the country around Mount Wellington and ascended the Derwent.

Amongst the SnowThe first English colonists called this eminence Table Mountain after that at the Cape of Good Hope. There is a resemblance in form, but our Tasmanian Mount is higher and bolder and altogether nobler. With it summit fringed with snow on which the sun costs roseate tints, Mount Wellington to the voyager find entering the harbor of Hobart is a sight never to be forgotten. In my mind it ranks with Vesuvius, Fusiyama, the Peak of Tenerifft and Mount Hood. They who first see Mount Wellington this year will acquire a new possession in the memory of a thing of beauty. Australians from the arid inward plains will treasure in their hearts this first impression of grandeur, of the infinite glory of the mountain heights, of the cool suggestions of its cap of snow. A foreground of wooded hills across which the rippling twilight plays, and of shelly shore, on which the waves peacefully surge, completes the picture. Above all there is the clearest atmosphere in the world. A crowning glory of sea and earth and sky !.

The Derwent lighthouse, or "Iron Pot," is on a rock to the right leading into the Dervent River out of Storm Bay. This is a fine, noble stream, with deep water close up to its banks. No harbor in Australasia is to be compared with it. And now Hobart rises up before us. Nestled at the foot of Mount Wellington, the city slopes upwards from the right bank of the river, built like Athens on seven hills. Tier upon tier of houses, imposing public buildings of light colored freestone, spires and towers of churches, shrubberies and orchards, wooded slopes in the background, ships and steamers at the wharves in the foreground, the white wings of yachts dotting the waters of the Derwent, and above all the mountain !. Calm and majestic Wellington, hoary with snow, looks down from its 4000 feet height on the city. It seems to read one a moral of the mutability of life. It says : "I have seen the aboriginals die out, I have seen the Hollander and the Frenchman come and go, I have seen the old order change to the new, races and men, powers and kingdoms perish, but I stand here like Boaz and Jachin for ever."

The Ascent of Mt WellingtonI strongly advise everyone to make their first trip to Hobart by the long sea route, and get the first impressions, which are always the most lasting, from the deck of a steamer. Colonel Collins, if he made a mistake in not sufficiently exploring Port Phillip, found an ideal site of a city in that of Hobart. If Governor Collins had explored the country around where Melbourne now stands, the settlement of Hobart might have been long deferred. Mr. James Backhouse Walker writes : —

"The Calcutta proceeded up the harbor and anchored in Hobson's Bay off the present site of Williamstown, actually taking in 55 tons of fresh water from the River Yarra. Yet, although the ship was away some 10 days, no attempt was made to explore the shores of that river."

Mr. John Pascoe Fawkner was a boy on the Calcutta. He returned little more than 30 years afterwards to found Melbourne, the greatest city in the Southern Seas. But Governor Collins founded the most beautiful city in the South. From the first he was impressed with the site, a fine cove with deep water up to the shore, into which a stream of splendid fresh water flowed from the great table mountain, to which well wooded and fertile valleys stretched from the shore, Governor Collins when he pitched his tents on the 20th of February, 1804, on the banks of the little bay, gave it the name of Sullivan's Cove, alter his friend Mr. John Sullivan, Under-Secretary of the Colonial Office. It has very much altered since that date.

Those holiday makers to whom every few hours is an object, and those to whom every moment spent on the ocean is an added misery will take the short sea passage from Melbourne to Launceston, and thence by rail to Hobart. By land and water this journey occupies less than 30 hours. At the Launceston station one finds courteous railway officials and comfortable carriages, which in winter time are provided with foot warmers, a travelling luxury which I have never seen out of Great Britain. The line is Government property, the gauge 3 feet 6 inches, and the carriage holed as many passengers as our Victorian ones, that is four comfortably on each side, five with crowding. Over the North Esk the train carries one at a moderate rate through the typical English country round Launceston. And the passengers, how English they are !. This young gentleman who drives up to the station in a showy dogcart might he a young country squire in any of the midland counties. This is the change in surroundings which will strike the Australian travellers must. All throughout Tasmania one perceives this. English manners, English customs— nothing Antipodial in the race.

A Wellington PicnicThe Tasmanians are real men and women of a true British type. As one charming Tasmanian lady says to me, "Our men are not plucked before they are ripe." The males are manly and muscular. The women have complexions which remind you of England. They are true English roses, beautiful with the beauty of health, a beauty which does not fade quickly, does not vanish with girlhood but lasts far into matronhood, Indeed I am not sure that the matrons are not the most attractive. Tasmania is nothing if not the home of the British race. Swinburne writes : — "Far and near, from the swan's nest here, the storm birds bred on her fair white breast." The storm birds of the English race have never physically developed more favorably than in Tasmania. Many years ago, after a day spent in Hobart, I thoughtlessly wrote that all the beautiful girls had left the island. Perhaps I had in my mind's eye some I knew across the seas. Mr. William Crosby, M.L.C., tells me the reason I now wear glasses is to disguise myself from the wrath of Tasmanian damsels. But I take back my first hasty impressions. All throughout the island, from Launceston to Hobart, from Strahan to Falmouth, there is a greater average of female beauty to be met with than in any colony in Australia. This is the result of climate, the healthiest in the world from our European point of view.

At Evandale there is the railway junction with the North-western line, a journey which we will take later on. To the east Ben Lomond raises its 5000 feet crest capped with snow. It will be understood that although this is written in the early spring when the wattle first blooms and the snow is on the hills the latter often remains far into the summer. I remember being on board H.M.S. Raven in the Derwent late in November. The snow lay heavy on Mount Wellington, but sitting on deck with my very good friend, Lieutenant Brandreth, I was sunburnt !. Many Australian visitors to the Hobart Exhibition who have never seen snow in their lives will, no doubt, view the added beauty to the Tasmanian landscape in the white capped mountains of the north. The country, from an Australian point of view, is wonderfully watered. The line crosses and recrosses the South Esk, into which the Nile flows !. But the nomenclature of Tasmania is in this respect most embarrassing. The BIack Forest and Epping Forest are a few miles apart. Clarendon is followed by Snakebites and Cleveland. One gets so sick of incongruous European appellations that the native named Conara is welcomed as a change. This is the junction with the Fingal line, to reach the terminus of which at St. Mary's, a township lying under the mount of St. Patrick, you pass through Llewellyn, Eastbourne, Avoca and Tullochgorum. Campbelltown, the next important settlement on the line to Hobart, was named by Governor Macquarie on his visit to Tasmania. We owe it to him that the island is dotted with Scotch names. Campbelltown is a centre for the population of north midland Tasmania. As seen from the railway line its : most prominent features are two churches, Presbyterian and Church of England, the former by far the nicer building. Water and wood, level plain and mountain background, make this railway journey, between Launceston and Hobart a most attractive one.