Meandering The Midlands Highway

Monday, 7 April 2008, 3:48 pm
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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

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8 Responses to “Meandering The Midlands Highway”

  1. Mark on April 7th, 2008 6:30 pm

    Thats creepy leo. it does look like a ghost. but,may be your shadow.

  2. Ikon on April 7th, 2008 7:00 pm

    Just went thru the xyzadventures photos — some really excellent work there. Pick up as many tips as you can Leo, especially on how to use the software to really good photos that one step further to excellence. In the end, it’s all about how it makes you feel.

  3. Tim Gillin on April 8th, 2008 4:47 am

    i noticed that amber mac is in queensland. it’s like a Twit convention here in Oz!! What’s next dvorak down under?

  4. Paul T.S. Lee on April 8th, 2008 7:11 am

    Great stuff from Down Under, Leo. Waiting to check out the next video. Also, Jackie King’s pictures totally remind me of Edward Hopper’s paintings. Can’t wait for the TWiP guys to break these down. (They will, won’t they?)

  5. Justin Flood on April 8th, 2008 7:41 pm

    I have to say I have really been loving these posts from down under. The photography is gorgeous! Really makes me want to take my next vacation there. Didn’t know that Miyazaki was inspired by a real place for that fantastic film. I’ll have to check it out when I go!

    –Justin
    http://www.justinflood.com

  6. Tim Gillin on April 9th, 2008 4:28 am

    If you get a chance check out ‘Landcare’, it is a very large mass participation conservation organisation here in Oz. It is not a lobby group or an activist group, in fact it mainly comprises of middle of the road people from all walks of life engaged in practical projects to enhance their local natural environment. There are 4000 voluntary / local landcare organisations across Australia (see the national site here).

  7. 1auren on April 11th, 2008 11:38 pm

    Wow, those photos in the xyzadventures galleries are amazing. This Totem Pole one is awesome:
    http://xyzadventures.com/galleries/gallery2/content/Jeff_Pflueger__MG_9761_large.html

  8. 1auren on April 11th, 2008 11:46 pm

    Holy cow, I can’t get over some of the pix in that gallery!

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