The Age from ,  on November 4, 2000 · Page 120
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The Age from , · Page 120

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Saturday, November 4, 2000
Page 120
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Extra travel 15 Richard Comish finds some truly inspiring kayaking in the Tasmanian wilderness. THE AGE SATURDAY NOVEMBER 4, 2000 ' O et, wnuaiio naei wo TU r: ACQUARIE Harbor F4- K'-, Km Joys of paddling: With stunnlpfr-' i i-n .. .11 t . is unusually calm. The water is black -and still, but turns silver as the boat's , bow cuts a wave. ivi kayaking in Tasmania is superb; an Sid log-hauling winch, below, near trie i ; Gordon River. , . . J ' Pictures: MATTHEW NEWTON ' J I -ill ' i "on ii'. m&ss ' 51S?xv pebble beaches give way to limestone shelves cut by the flow of fresh water. This is the Gordon River. Its water, discolored by tannin from button grass in the high plains catchment, cuts a dark strip through the rain forest Growing right to the waters' edge and hanging out over it, the forest forms walls of green. As we head further up the river, the constant drizzle gives way to heavy rain. Callaghan see's our expression. "Well," he says dryly, "It is a rainforest." Makovec is excited. We are passing the site of the "Greenies' Camp", where protesters staged their defiant blockade in 1982. "We had doctors and lawyers and every type of person imaginable living there. Almost a hundred people lived in that rainforest." . : Then Butler Island -appears through the fog. Beyond it, overlooking the river, is an iron shed. "That's your home!" shouts Makovec. Hammill slows the boat and beaches it on a sandy bank under the old hut built by the Hydro-Electricity Commission. Our gear is thrown down and the kayaks carried ashore. With a heave, we push the Heritage Wanderer and Hammill and Makovec, back out into the Gordon. Smiling, they wave goodbye.,:. Callaghan and Timms are eager to get in the water. It's been a five-hour trip on HammiU's small boat. We put on layers of wetsuits, buoyancy vests and waterproofs and slide . Into: the kayaks. ivi'-'Xiv-V'-' The red blades' of our paddles disappear into the Gordon s dark water as we move along. Above, the wind moves through the .trees with a sound like distant surf. ; . ' : . At the base of a steep cliff, a steel pipe pokes above the water. Driven deep into the rock" beneath the surface of the Gordon,, the pipe indicates where the dam wall would have been built. Had construction gone ahead, everything upstream of this point, for hundreds of kilometres, would have been flooded. A little upstream, Callaghan points out a massive Huon pine trunk on the bank. It is denuded of bark and worn smooth by decades of tumbling around rocks. "The flat base of the trunk means that it has been cut down by a piner," says Callaghan, referring to the loggers Who worked the .rivers earlier this century. The tigh,t; gorge, ; with its sheer limestone cliffs and walls of trees, opens out to the confluence, of the Gordon and Franklin rivers.'.' , 'ViVe head north and take the Franklin. Kunzeas arid other native plants grow on stone islands jutting out of the water. Their trunks lean in the direction of countless years of floods. Ten metres above, in the trees growing on the steep bank, whole trunks and detritus indicate the level of the last big inundation. The river cuts its way through cliffs. We glide past, touching the smooth rock at the base. Running diagonally through the opposite cliff is a metre-wide band of white rock. A Somewhere ahead, between the fog and its reflection, lies the horizon. On shore, the people of Strahan are still waking up. Captain Denny Hammill puts the boat on automatic pilot as river guides Rob Timms and Tim Callaghan lash the kayaks to the boom. Our drop-off point is a good five hours up the Gordon River. Anka Makovec stands under the kayaks' for shelter. She has simply come up the river to see "her beautiful rainforest" and to catch up with an old friend. Makovec and Hammill formed a strong friendship in the '80s when they were involved in the blockade of the Franklin River. She operated the Wilderness Society centre in Strahan; he ran covert operations up-river, dropping off supplies to the protesters in the middle of the night. For three-and-a-half years from 1981, Slovenian-born Makovec fought hard to help save the Franklin River. "After losing Lake Pedder, as conservationists, we couldn't live with ourselves to lose the rainforest and the Franklin," she said. "The thought of all that rainforest rotting under this huge dam was too much. "At the time the people who wanted the dam built thought we were going to take their jobs away, but we didn't want that. We wanted jobs that their children could be proud of. Like this one," she said, referring to Callaghan's business, Hells Gate Tours. Callaghan is a local, and spreads his time between working as a geologist and paddling on Tasmania's wild rivers. Timms is a full-time river guide. Hammill calls from the cabin and points out a break in the water to starboard. A pod of small dolphins is following the boat. A pair of them swirri up to play in the bow wave. Through the tea-colored water they appear as darting streaks. Then the dolphins disappear as suddenly as they arrived, and a rocky island emerges through the mist . ' Vegetation now shrouds any evidence of Sarah Island's violent convict past From 1821 to 1833 it was proclaimed to be the most horrific place in Australia. Commissioned by Lieutenant Governor Sorrell, the penitentiary on the small island was to be a place where convicts "must dread the very idea of being sent there ... that they must riuffer death than be sent back to' Macquarie Harbor". From Sarah Island, the convicts travelled up the river to fell Huon pine. Working in the rain, without adequate food or clothing, the men cut massive trees and hauled the logs through the leech-infested forest like oxen. Insubordination was met with the lash,' punishment carried out until the water was stained with the miscreant's blood. The harbor closes in and the We pull up at a small inlet in a face of limestone. We nestle our kayaks against a log and get out. One large, ungainly gentleman stands up and overbalances. There is a splash, and he disappears for a second in the cold water. He bobs up and catches his breath. He emits a single expletive and the word "cold!". He climbs ashore, a little shaken. In the dim light of the rainforest are the remains of a small brick-and-stone oven, overgrown by moss and ferns. . "This is the lime kiln built by the convicts," says Timms. "They put stone in the top and wood in the bottom. The stone burned down to lime, which was made into mortar used to construct their prison at Sarah Island." Under giant ferns by the kiln, we sit on a bed of moss. We tuck into a meal of dips and brie, only stopping to pull the leeches off 6ur legs. We paddle further down the river. The trees look strangely exotic, even un-Australian. It has been centuries since a bushfire came through here, and celery top pines, leatherwood and King Billy pines thrive without a eucalypt in sight. The beech myrtle is sprouting new leaves, its gold and russet breaking up the wall of green. These species have been survived together for tens of millions of years. We paddle into the mouth of the on the other side of the river. Yellow-tailed black cockatoos screech warning of our arrival. A lone sea eagle floats silently above. Boom Camp is abandoned. It was once a piner's camp where logs, floating, downstream, were caught in a boom across the Gordon. Now fishermen come here and bed down in the hut. It smells of sweat, smoke, and stale beer. Messages to other fishermen line the walls. Strict instructions are spelt out on a sign they are inside a national park and if they disobey the rules' their tenure may be dissolved. ' The Heritage Wanderer meets "us back at the landing. Tourists, desperate for a smoke, are the firgt'-to disembark. ' We wait until the throng are off the boat and we answer their questions. "Where have you been?", "What's it like up there?" and "Aren'tSyou cold?" ;T. We pile the kayaks on boarigthe boat and stand at the stem witftthe wind in our hair and head bac,to Strahan, feeling far too smelWJto venture inside to the bar. triangular ledge, shaped like an aquiline nose, hangs over the Franklin. We sit in our kayaks under the formation, known as Veranda Cliffs, sheltering from the rain, listening to the rain falling on the river. The dunny back at the camp should be heritage listed. Built by the Hydro-Electricity Commission for the dam workers, graffiti-suggests it has since been used by conservationists. One writer once claims, from his seated position, that "Russ Hinze is my hero!" A later piece above maintains that, "Bob Brown is a useless politician he's far too intelligent!" After breakfast, it is time to get back into our wet clothes. They are cold and smelly. "Don't worry," says Callaghan, "After a few minutes you'll warm up!" The rain has eased overnight, but the level of the Gordon has risen. The beach we landed on yesterday afternoon is now under water. Fingers of mist whirl lazily on the quiet river. We settle back into the rhythm of paddling and . indulge in some blokish banter. Almost as quickly as it takes to comment on the blue sky breaking through the cloud, a sheet of rain drifts up the river. Then, without a word being said, we all lift our paddles and glide silently through the water. This group of men, well versed in bulldust, are now speechless in a world that evokes strong emotional responses. The rainforest has no literature, no familiar icons or easily recognisable features. This is a foreign country that we call wilder- At the turn of the century it' was a piner's camp, but almost 'nothing remains of the old buildings and stables. . ; A deep track, carved by horses hauling logs, leads back , into the forest. Old Huon pines, thought too old to cut down 90 years, ago, still survive, rotting as they grow. We set up our tents and put on our dry clothes, stored in waterproof compartments in the kayaks. Wood fires are not permitted in, the wilderness area, so a gas barbecue Callaghan has secreted in the bush is soon cooking dinner. He regularly uses this area, so the few luxuries of chemical toilet, cutlery and bug-proof mesh tent make all the difference. . . ; The oil lamps are1 lit, wine is poured and dinner served. The evening is cool and still. ' Sometime during 'the night, a crack as loud as thunder wakes the camp. It comes from the other side of the river, where a large tree has crashed through the -canopy. Early the next day'we are packed, back in our wet clothes, and making our way downstream for a midday rendezvous with the Heritage Wanderer, the tour boat that will return us to Strahan. The journey downriver is marked by the regular appearance of platypus, the only indication being an oily looking lump biirely breaking the surface. The platypus' tiny eyes sit just above the water, watching us as we move downstream. We reach Heritage Landing with two hours to spare. To while away the time, we head to a fishing camp narrower bpence River. Rotting beech myrtle, called widow makers by the old piners, hang over the water. On a low branch, covered in moss, grows a cluster of 20 green hood orchids. The clouds part and, after nearly two days without sun, an outburst of light floods the river with gold. The moss is vibrant green, the new growth of the beech myrtles is bright orange. An azure kingfisher darts between the trees in a flash of intense blue. The still water mirrors the bank. It's difficult to work out what is real and what is reflection. Our campsite for the night is at the mouth of Eagle Creek. Getting There Hells Gates Wilderness Tours depart from Strahan. Gordon Rlvfep sea kayak guided tour: two days apa two nights, Including meals and fJJ camping equipment, from $450 pW person. Maximum group size of sfC. Four-day, four-night tours from -$850 per person. Tel: (03) 6471 7576 or e-mail: hellsgatestrump.netau! Koreans not content to rest on Olympic laurels pioneers?" says city official Lee Pil-une,"- grandly comparing the project to Chris-JJj topher Columbus discovery ot the Americas. ! luu&i buiiuic lo uig ill japan, uui suwon loos retiect a unique concern in South Korea about how the world views the proud, ambitious country. In 1988, South Koreans responded enthusiastically to a government clean-up Christopher Torchia takes a close look at Korean toilets going potty in the run up to the 2002 World Cup. stadium for some games of the World Cup, which will be co-hosted by South Korea and Japan. But municipal officials seem more thrilled by their 16 new public bathrooms, the nine to be built and the 587 renovated ones. Recently, the mayor, Sim Jae-douk, enthused about the project he launched in 1997 after a suggestion that he clean up the city's filthy toilets. "The toilet is not only for the organic system," Sim told a group of journalists. "The toilet can be a part of culture which we can proudly present, not only to Korea but to the rest of the world." The gem of Suwon restrooms lies across the street from a reservoir, a white, winged, pillbox-shaped structure that resembles a futuristic dwelling in a science fiction film. THE SOUTH Korean city of Suwon has a lot to offer tourists: a model folk village, the walls of an ancient fort and, its promoters say, some of the finest public toilets in the world. In the best bathrooms, framed landscape paintings hang above urinals. A recording of twittering birds echoes off marble floors. In the women's, an optional device called the "Etiquette Bell" plays a flushing sound, veiling more unseemly noises. Toilets are a place for repose as well as relief, the town hall says. Suwon believes that a 4.3 billion-won ($A6.6 million) campaign to spiff up its toilets will awe an expected deluge of visitors during the 2002 World Cup soccer tournament. , The city, 48 kilometres south of the capital, Seoul, is building a 44,000-seat Outside, three bulbous-eyed sculptures of fireflies cling to a wall above a bed of yellow flowers. Inside, flecks in the marble floor sparkle, supposedly mimicking the insects' nightly flash. Visitors can sit on a circular bench beneath a potted bougainvillea in "Encounter Plaza", an inner courtyard filled with paintings on sale and a couple of vending machines. Solar panels power another public bathroom, a blue-glassed building with ramparts and skylights, a moat and fountains. It is modelled on a nearby tower of Suwon fortress, a network of parapets and pavilions that was constructed in the late 18th century by King Chongjo. The Chosun dynasty king died before he could fulfil a plan to move the capital from Seoul to Suwon, today a provincial capital. Long ago, the city of 920,000 spilled beyond its defensive walls, which have been designated a cultural site by UNESCO. Perhaps the "yangban", , or Korea's ancient noble class, would turn up their noses at Suwon's gaudy showcase bathrooms. Or they would marvel at the technology: bidets; piped classical music; . air fresheners and conditioners; and specially equipped toilets for the disabled. They are certainly among the cleanest toilets In South Korea, where hygiene wasn't a priority in the wake of the Korean War. Standards improved as the nation modernised in the 1970s. ; Today, Suwon hosts weekly toilet tours and is headquarters of the Korea Restroom Culture Association. "The important thing is, who are the campaign before hosting the Olympics. borne critics complain the funds tor" Suwon's new toilets would be better spent on transport and other pressing needs. But' the campaign has many fans, including- rut I - '1-7 -1,1 1 : t student. "I like a clean restroom with music, flowers and no stench. Who wouldn't?" he J3 says. Travel www si? mmmm CRADLE MOUNTAIN Supermarket 4 HUTS Odyssey TYavel is a not-for-profit organisation Which aarHJ in enhancing your travel experiences through learning for furVWfl nova wide range of travel opportunities In Australia, New Zealand ond overseas.. 1 A six-day guided walk along the historic Overland Track In the Tasmanian World Heritage Area. Private huts with hot showers, own room and delicious meals. STasmanian Wilderness South America Travel Centre WORLD ON SALE Europe fir $1130.00 USA frS1290.00 We invite vou to loin us to learn more about the rhanv Odvssev nrrmmms w. J Retreat to Die pretiie Tasmanian wiWemess this summer A raft the wHd rapids London 9642 5353 94 Round Worldfr $1790.00 ol the mighty Franklin River, trek amidst the alpine splendour ol Cradle Mountain on offer. Friends are welcome. Afternoon tea will be served. ajSr Grand Circuit Tour lit Tour or cyde the panoramic East Coast Trips for al fitness levels 37 days group up BAY o FIRES Singapore fr $650.00 Bangkok fr $990.00 Impex Travel Call 9670 8400 for details! We will be in Melbourne on Monday 1 3rh November 2000 at the Hotel Ibis. There will be 2 sessions: 3pm or 6pm. Each lasting around 1 V2 hours. To attend, call fraall 1800 025 010 or complete the coupon and send to: departing 16 April 01. Independent KT A T I A tour-day guided walk Ph 9663 2251 Llc.32176 s g n Odyaiey Travel , departures any lid 10, Northtields Avenue M 1 lYWHVV 10, Norlhflelds Avenue Monday. Call through an enchanting coastal wilderness In Ml William National Park. Stay at a private beach camp and the Bay ol Fires Lodge. Reply Paid University of Wollongong, NSW 2522 (No stamp nqulred) . Apartments in Bloomsbury 24 Upper Woburn Place, London vcciHOHA Tel: 44 (0) 207 878 0050 Fax: 44 (0) 207 380 0280 Website: Kmail: All MAJOR CREDIT CARDS ACCEPTED HjffaCmmm fop OK MM) IWiy of$ Gimh, fx Mm; CnrW Afl( Kongw$ (i torikV anf t mora, nMHrOI fW MU (rednn ntBKMllMOOHIM 31 I I lwe will attend the Travel Forum al the Hotel Ibis 3pm O 6pm ' J IWe cannot atlend but please send alree copy of your 2001 catalogue Namer.: . ! . . Cwests: ' Address; "' . . tnttfytfot Wulntn tot SkMfi0 PO Box 1879 Launceston 7250 Tel 03 6331 2006 Fax 03 6331 5525 Email Tasmania 'Slow travel Slauiood Contentment' Cottages and Castles - Enjoy lavender CAfyjt- hillsides, beautiful villages, historic ' j7W s"es' vine shaded trattoria while Ail jp renting places In France, Italy, "T-jJJrjtJ Spain, Porfiignl Britain and Ireland. Visit our website: or if you would Just like to talk to one of oiv enthusiasts for self-catering, please ring on (03) 9833 1 143. Fax (03) 9833 0808 email: a RrWIMMnMI tmoll: Mon&t-WadlOclobar itotpm 3 : NAAtIS

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