Thursday, January 9, 2014

Huon Pine

Tuesday saw us heading off on The Lady Franklin II for a day cruise up the Gordon River. We were on the upper deck with direct access to the Captain. Very posh! We initially headed out towards the coast and through Hell's Gates saw Bonnett Island with its little lighthouse and a second larger island complete with its own larger lighthouse. Salmon and trout farming is a core local industry and we went out within viewing distance to see both the holding pens for the fingerlings and larger fish and the feeding technique. Basically fish pellets are mixed with water and a little boat with a fire hose style attachment sprays plumes of water into the holding pens. Whatever they are doing works if the smoked Petuna Salmon we had at lunch is anything to go by. It was delicious. The cruise included morning and afternoon tea as well as lunch, so by the end of the day had tasted lots of Tasmania's local produce - from beer and wine, to King Island cheeses, smoked salmon and wallaby, trout, and cookies. Unbelievable though it may seem the food was not the best part of the day. Once we turned away from the coast and headed back to the river system the boat slowed from cursing speed to a speed where it hardly made a ripple on the water. I guess this is to ensure minimal environmental impact, but it actually made for wonderful viewing of the vegetation and ensured some great photographic opportunity as we moved further up the River system and into sheltered stretches if the river. Although overcast, the reflected views of the trees onto the river were incredibly beautiful. Part way in we stopped at the Heritage Walk, everyone disembarked, walked a lap of the raised boardwalk through the forest and returned to the dock. Seeing the vegetation up close was interesting. From the boat too we went close to the bank at one point so that the captain could point out a Huon Pine. This is what the Gordon and Franklin World Heritage area is famous for. These trees are no longer able to be milled, but such is their value as timber that there are still seemingly large supplies stockpiled locally. Apparently this timber is unique in that it is nearly impervious to rot, even after years in water so as trees die naturally and fall they still end up in the river system. Floaters are up for grabs and can be collected. There are a number of local businesses that rely on the timber trade - either raw product or turned items from sale. Needless to say, like any hand crafted items, prices reflect the time taken to source stock and make items. Leatherwood, sassafras, King Billy and Huon Pine are all timbers used. 17.12.13

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