The ship has five decks, it has three separate lounges, a library, lecture lounge, a gymnasium, and a gift shop, which we could utilise some other way, and there is covered or open outdoor deck areas on each deck, plus two explorer tenders and six tenders. I suggest that we add a few double and single kayaks to the list,” Robert announced.
“What is your suggested travel route, if we do go for this way?” Hunter asked, “Well, I was thinking of a fourteen day circumnavigation of Tasmania, including Flinders and King Islands, with a mixture of adventure and education being the key aim for the trip,” I replied.
“I have decided that I like this idea so much, that I am prepared to financially support this scholarship, which we will discuss in some more detail later. Firstly we need to secure the ship and crew, and work out an itinerary for the scholarship,” Robert replied.
For nearly two hours, the three of us were in discussions until we heard Mum and Aunty Bea coming inside. “Hello, what have you three been up too?” Aunty Bea asked. “Oh, just business mostly, since Robert is heading back to Scotland at the end of the weekend,” I replied.
After lunch, Hunter received a call, and straight afterwards, he spoke to Robert quietly, “I am sorry, but we have to head back to Scotland, Alexander has been rushed to hospital urgently, and I need to be there, I will ask Charles to take us back to Strahan while you stay fort he rest of the weekend. I will make sure that the plane comes and collects you at 3 pm tomorrow, to take you back to Launceston,” Robert announced to us, understanding that it is a family emergency; Aunty Bea wished them a safe journey home, and we did the same.
Less than an hour later, I received a text message. “Hi Edwin, just a quick note, I heard back about my enquiries about the ship, which is no longer available, I will keep looking, but maybe you could look at other options, Regards Robert.”
Although a little disappointed about not having a ship for the scholarship, I knew that it was a long shot, and so I headed to the study with my laptop to look at other options, as Robert suggested. We ended spending the rest of the time at our holiday retreat relaxing and taking walks along the boardwalk through the forest, before flying back to Launceston, so I could complete my final week of school term.
Mum and Aunty Bea agreed that they enjoyed their stay at the retreat, especially with Charles and Elizabeth doing all the work looking after us, and they agreed with me on the idea of spending the two weeks of the school holidays back at the retreat.
I decided to keep the existence of the retreat to Craig and Brad for the time being, and they had organised a trip to the Snowy Mountains for the holidays, so when the last day of the school term came to and end, I headed straight home, where Mum and Aunty Bea had everything packed for the two-week holiday.
Instead of chartering a plane to fly there, Mum decided for us to drive down there, which is a four-hour journey, with an overnight stop at a lodge in the Central Highlands, which is about half way along the journey.
Charles would be collecting us at about 10 am on Saturday morning, to get us to the retreat in the sports boat, which is a great ride, cruising up the river in amongst the forest. I was beginning to enjoy these times in a remote forest location, even though it is less than half an hour away by boat to Strahan.
The walks along the boardwalk gave me plenty of time to think about my future, and especially with all of my properties in the UK, and I realised now that maybe after school, my future would be in Scotland, with Haig Hall as my possible home base, and this was something I need to discuss with Mum and Aunty Bea.
With the property being thirty-eight acres in area, with the centre of the property being twenty to forty metres higher than the riverbanks area including where the manor is located, which is about fifteen metres above the river water level. The boardwalk has no steps, and only has mild slopes to make it the walk over the peek of the hill.
The first sixty metres of the boardwalk goes directly to the railway line, ramping down to ground level on the edge of the forest. Stepping over the railway line, the ramp up to the boardwalk begins once again on the edge of the forest, before splitting into two directions, one heading on the west side of the hill, and the other heading to the east, along the edge of the first cleared area.
The east boardwalk goes for another 90 metres before reaching the edge of the second cleared area, and going on til the northern boundary, were the boardwalk starts to Zig-Zag up the slope to the top and back down on the other side.
It meets up with the east side of the boardwalk near the first clearing, with it being one point six kilometres long in total. I found it a good source of exercise, each day at the retreat, and I found that I needed to take a rain coat with me on most walk’s as there were regular light showers or rain during the walk.
On my third day back at the retreat, on my daily walk, I stopped at the second clearing to have a better look around. As I had a good look, I realised that this would be an ideal location for guest accommodation, to help pay for having the land in a remote location, and maybe this could be the location for the scholarship to be held.
When I returned to the manor, I asked Charles to take me into town, as I wanted to do some shopping, for some hiking gear, as I wanted to explore some more of this area. By the end of the afternoon, Charles brought me back to the manor, with shopping bags full of hiking gear. This included a good-sized hiking backpack, a flint & steel, a pocket multi tool, a first aid kit, a lightweight thermal sleeping bag, a compact hiking towel, water bottle, a compass, hand sanitiser, emergency blanket and waterproof jacket.
I already have a good pair of new hiking boots, thick socks, as well as gloves and thermals, which I brought back with me from Europe, so I now felt ready to try a day out of hiking, with the possibility of overnight camping, if I need too.
When I announced my planes to my family, they were a little concerned that I was going to be hiking in the thick forest on my own, but I assured them that I would be fine. Over the next few days, I did a series of daily hikes, returning to the manor just before dark each time, each time going in a different direction.
When I was confident that I knew the area fairly well now, I announced that I was going to try a few overnight stays in the forest, with two Hootchie canvases and cord, to provide me with shelter if I need too, but so far all I have had to deal with is light rain on the hikes I have done so far.
The first overnight stay after a half day hike went very well, and I returned to the manor mid afternoon, and with only a week remaining before we had to head back to Launceston, I wanted to do a full day of hiking and an overnight stay in the forest, so five days before our departure back to civilisation, with my backpack loaded, with everything, including plenty of fresh water and freeze dried food packs and snacks, I set off early the next morning, after a large breakfast.
This time my direction was going to be East-North East to Mount Jukes Lookout, which in a straight line is just over seven kilometres, but between that is some very rugged and steep terrain, with approximately 7 ridges to climb up and down, as well as the thick forest to deal with, and this time I would be carrying a compact pop up tent with me.
I knew that it would be tough going, but I also knew that I was fit enough, strong enough and fairly well prepared to be able to succeed.
What I had not taken into account was that my one and only silly mistake, was that I did not do a final check of the weather report before leaving, and that I was about to hike into one of the worst winter storms that Tasmania has experienced in a decade.
After my first full day of hiking, I estimated that I had only travelled about five kilometres, as I had decided to take a longer route, following valleys, where the climbing would not be so steep, and I set up camp just above a creek, which according to my map is the Garfield River.
This would get me nearly half way to my destination of the lookout, but I firstly had to find the access road that leads to it. My first day of hiking in this direction had given me plenty of challenges, apart from fighting through very thick forest, there was always plenty of large fallen logs to cross over and small creeks to cross.
When I woke in the morning, I realised that the temperature was still quite low, and there was a thick misty fog in the valley, as I heated up my breakfast, and had a cup of tea, before packing up everything and setting off once more, checking my compass and the map, before surveying the hills around me, to get a basic idea of my location.
I had travelled in a mostly Easterly direction yesterday, so I needed to follow some valleys that go in a more northerly direction, if I am to find the access road, hopefully some time late in the afternoon, but I would not be too concerned if I do not stumble across it until tomorrow.
It was almost dusk by the end of the day when I decided to finally stop, having not found the access track yet, even when I was going mostly in a northeasterly direction for most of the day. Earlier when I was on top of a ridge, I could see a number of high mountain ridges, some close and some a lot further away, so I knew that I must be fairly close to them now.
I was now on a eastern slope of a small ridge, where I had managed to find a flat area, protected by three large trees, with one of them having a hollowed out area, that is about two and a half metres in diameter and about half a metre above the ground, which I decided was a perfect shelter.
It took me about half an hour to level off the inside of the hollow, which was filled with most, rotting bark, and some charcoal, left from when there must have been a fire through the area a decade or two ago, as the area was still fairly well regrown back, with plenty of high foliage cover.
Once I was satisfied that the hollow was fairly flat and smooth, I set up my pop up tent inside, and once I had my backpack inside and my sleeping back laid out, I grabbed one of the Hootchie and rope, and began to secure one short end around the tree trunk. This
was a little difficult because of the girth of the tree, but after a few attempts and a few adjustment to how to get the rope around the tree, then standing inside the hollow, I lifted the rope till it was just above where the hollow ends, and pulled it tight, so it would not slip down, with a small notch in the tree assisting me with achieving that.
The other end of the Hootchie I secured to the ground after making some stakes, near the base of the other two trees, using my multi tool, and used some more rope and stakes in the ground to keep it tort. Happy with what I had achieved, and with it now almost dark, I quickly found some rocks and fallen wood, to make a small fire to cook my dinner.
Feeling the temperature drop quite quickly, I gave the pot and plate and cutlery a quick wipe with a tiny bit of water, before retreating to my tent, to stay warm. Being raised off the ground and inside a tree hollow helped with keeping out the cold, as there is only a one-metre wide and two metre high gap in the tree, making it a nice and cosy tree cave.
I woke up shivering sometime in the night, and while still in my sleeping bag, I retrieved an extra woolly jumper and the emergency blanket, to cover me, to help keep me warm, and happily I was soon fast asleep again.
Copyright Preston Wigglesworth All Rights Reserved July 2020