Travelling around Australia in a motorhome. A story of our travels starting from NSW then through Queensland, across to Northern Territory and Western Australia, then to South Australia, Victoria and finally across the seas to Tasmania. We have enjoyed everywhere we have visited and look forward to setting off again in our motorhome.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

New Norfolk 8 January 2008

Drove down to New Norfolk and camped behind the Football Club. New Norfolk is a large town on the Derwent River and once again we found the oldest continuous licensed pub and the oldest church in use in Australia. Tried another Devonshire Tea at the Old Colonial Inn as the atmosphere was perfect! We are having an ongoing laugh about getting the ideal Devonshire Tea, (without luck so far). The formula would require home made scones, tea leaves, real jam and real cream. If you get tea leaves you get tin jam and if they have homemade jam you get a tea bag! The worst is the shaving foam cream out of a spray can! We have had three teas and maybe that will be it!
Wandering around town we came across an eerie sight that reminded us of parts of Woomera – street after street of empty buildings disintegrating in the sun – a town within a town. It was disturbingly empty, close to town and very spread out. Many of the buildings were open so we looked inside one and realised it was an old hospital ward. The nature of the layout lead us to conclude it was a psychiatric hospital. On enquiry we were told we were looking at The Royal Derwent Hospital that was closed in 2000, making it –you guessed it – the oldest mental hospital in Oz! The old part was built like barracks in 1827 as a convict invalid depot. We have learnt that convicts released from the horrors of goals in those days often could not re-enter the community and had many psychiatric conditions from their experiences. Over the years the site became Tasmania’s only “Hospital” for intellectually handicapped and mentally ill people. “Criminally insane” people were also housed here. One person told us there were at least 1000 staff here! No wonder it felt eerie! Can’t wait to talk to our friend Lee to ask if this is where he trained - bet he could tell some stories! It would make a great backdrop for a movie depicting the aftermath of war and abandonment! Found a broken down apple tree growing on the ground dropping apples. We picked quite a few and stewed them – tasted better than we expected!
We are enjoying warmer weather and it is very tolerable, although the sun has a real bite, so you have to be extra careful of sunburn.
There is a real sense of being close to nature all the time. Little creeks, pretty rivers lovely hills and mountains are backdrops to every town. You feel relaxed as there is no fast pace or people “pushing” you. We are out in a small town only half hour from Hobart and it feels like a distant country town. There seems to lots of open space in every town with houses well spaced out! Peaceful!


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