Beaconsfield, Bass and Flinders and Launceston - Friday December 30, 2011

Newspaper front pages of Beaconsfield Mine Rescue - from Beaconsfield Heritage Museam
Newspaper front pages of Beaconsfield Mine Rescue - from Beaconsfield Heritage Museam

We started this morning at Kelso Sands Caravan Park. I woke at 6:30am read the SMH online then went back to sleep till a little after nine. We were up at 9:30am and driving out of the caravan park at 10:30am (just a little past the scheduled check out time). I felt for the family with little kids in the tent next to us who started packing up way before we were out of bed and were still packing when we left. Beaconsfield Mine and Heritage Center We headed into Beaconsfield and found the Mine and Heritage Center. I thought at first that the mine was old and out of service (like the main one at the center of Broken Hill). But in fact it was the active mine - the one in which Brant and Todd were trapped underground for 14 days in 2006.

Abraham checking out the old phone system at Beaconsfield Heritage Center
Abraham checking out the old phone system at Beaconsfield Heritage Center

We paid our $30 family admission and headed in. I was quite emotionally affected reading the narrative of what happened in 2006. There were short accounts from each of the players involved in the rescue. At the supermarket later in the day it was clearly apparent how many of the locals knew each other - and that these two trapped miners would have beewell-known to many in the district.

There was 900 meters of scarf on display knitted by people from all around Australia. Apparently they wanted people to knit a scarf 900 meters long - the distance that Todd and Brant were trapped underground. But 2.5 kilometers of scarf came in. The rest is in the Uniting Church Hall where it will go on display down the track.

The Heritage Center was well worth attending. Even Cathie - who doesn’t normally like museums had a good time.  We were amazed to see that Beaconsfield was the place that they trialled putting fluoride in our water supply in 1951.

Batman Bridge
Batman Bridge

Batman Bridge

We were heading to Georgetown and stopped for a few minutes to look at the Batman Bridge. Cathie had heard of it. And thought she’d heard stories of it collapsing - but when we researched we realised she was confused with Hobart’s Tasman bridge (we will find out about that on Sunday I guess).

Georgetown and the Bass and Flinders Center We headed to Georgetown for lunch under a tree looking over the water and then headed up to the Bass and Flinders Center. On arrival we explained to the friendly attendant that none of the kids had any idea who Bass or Flinders  were or what they did - and so we had come as parents to take responsibility for this lapse in parenting and failure of the NSW education system. The man agreed to conduct a test on the way out.

Inside we found a model of Bass and Flinders craft the Norfolk and their little boat the Tom Thumb. The Norfolk generally operated with a crew of eight. The two men circumnavigated Tasmania, discovered Bass Straight, opened the way for later Tasmanian’s (Batman was one of them I think) to discover a place that was later called Melbourne (opening up Victoria for settlement).

They also did much of the mapping of Port Jackson, Botany BAy and the George’s River (although this was of less interest to our Tasmanian hosts). Flinders later in life was responsible for circumnavigating and mapping much of the wider Australian coastline as well.

We had good times climbing all over the Norfolk, learning about Flinder’s cat called Trim. Trim finished his life probably being eaten by natives who had taken Flinder’s and him captive. (Cathie and I earlier read the Bryce Courtney book Matthew Flinder’s Cat - but can’t remember much of the plot).

Launceston We called in at Launceston and had the tyre replaced, bought food from the next few days, had an aborted visit to the Gorge, attempted to get new nuts and bolts for the campervan steps, failed again to find a campervan shop where we could buy a sink plug, saw petrol on sale for $1.51 and set up camp at Bicheno.

On the drive from Launceston to Bicheno we listened to a talk on Wisdom relating to Money on Proverbs by a student minister Steven and then had a good discussion about how we might use money wisely.

On arrival, I called Matt Andrews and felt encouraged about his planned talk for Village Church on Sunday morning.