Meandering The Midlands Highway

We made it to Bicheno at 6 last night, turning a two hour drive into a full day's journey. Never travel with photographers if you're in a hurry to get somewhere, and expect to take extra time if you're with Winston and there are cows anywhere to be seen. (Oddly enough Winston also consumes mass quantities of beef.) In many ways the countryside looks very familiar to us Northern Californians -- Tasmania is at latitude 42° south - San Francisco is at 42° north -- but then you run into a wallaby or a quaint English village and the illusion is dashed. And I've never seen skies quite like this in Petaluma.

As we were driving along the Midlands Highway, we passed a giant sign made of red wood that read "T-R-E-E."

We stopped to visit the farm next door, and the farmer told us the story of the sign. In 1996, to publicize the deforestation of Tasmania, a group called Landcare painted a huge dead Eucalyptus tree bright red. The tree was burned by disgruntled farmers, but resurrected as this red sign by artist Ray Norman, Jack Jaffray, Landcare and others in March 1997. It stands by an experimental grove of trees, planted to show what the area might look like if it were returned to forest. The tension between "progress" and the environmentalists in Tasmania can be seen everywhere. I'm sympathetic with the greens who want to preserve this wild and beautiful place, but it's also true that the character of this island comes from its settlers.

The quaint town of Ross is a perfect example. It was as if we were in the English countryside. Ross has the oldest bridge in Tasmania, built by convicts in 1836. One of the convicts, a forger, carved elaborate abstract designs into the bottom of the bridge. The historic Ross bakery was the inspiration for Hayao Miyazaki's 1989 animated movie, Kiki's Delivery Service.

The bakery is mecca for visiting Japanese tourists who come to see the bakery and Kiki's room. My daughter Abby asked me to get a picture of the room. It looks like the ghost of Bruce Dale is visiting it.

I've uploaded more of my pictures on my SmugMug page. To look at them full screen, press the Slideshow button.

You'll see many more pictures on the real photographers' blogs at digitalmedia.oreilly.com/adventure. We stayed up late last night putting up a web gallery of our best pictures, so far. If you want to see why I am blown away every day by these world-class photographers, take a gander at www.xyzadventures.com/galleries.

And don't forget you can buy prints of many of our pictures to benefit Save The Tasmanian Devil at our public reception, 13 April from 5-7p at the Henry Jones Art Hotel in Hobart, TAS