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  • Shelley Dark

#8 Falmouth to Launceston

After a very happy week at Falmouth we were excited to be on our way. I have three rules for a happy road trip: make sure there's a cricket test match on the radio, don't comment on John's driving style, and take a valium.

Our route from Falmouth to Launceston last Thursday had all the signs of a perfect dawdle. This charming route winds and meanders over mountains, down into valleys, through dense temperate rainforests and tall timbers, across fertile dairy farming plateaux, past old tin mining towns.

I had some stops planned. Six and half kilometres out of St Helens, before Pyengana, there's a great antique place called The Shop in the Bush. John was happy to stay in the car listening to the cricket.

It's a great mix - antique shop, book shop, vintage jewellery shop.

And it's BIG. The brainchild of Margaret and Allan Woodberry, it began life in 1982 as the Georges Trading company.

They've retired now, but the shop is powering on - I could have done a lot more damage than I did!

A few thousand more windy bends in the road later, we turned left towards Pyengana into this lovely dairying valley.

Past the cheese place and the Pub in the Paddock and then a quick walk through a tree fern forest to St Columba Falls - an easy 600 metres.

We skipped the Pub in the Paddock where there's a beer-drinking pig and settled for taking a photo of these happy campers in a paddock next to the driveway.

It was a hottish day for Tassie, and as many of these glossy friesian cows as could fit were contentedly standing in the water of the steep-sided creek running through the paddock.

Then for the famous Pyengana Farm Gate Café, where buses and cars were already beginning to fill the available parking. John said 'Please don't be too long.'

I wasn't too long - I just did a little taste-testing and some shopping. The family took up cheese-making when dairying became unprofitable, and now they even grow wasabi.

We moseyed on.

Haymaking is in full swing whereever we go, getting ready for the hard winter. We stopped a couple of times to take photos.

The radio reception by now full of static. Eeek.

John wondered why I wanted to photograph these naturalised foxgloves on a shady bend in the road - after all, I'd taken one the other day. One man's flower is another man's weed.

The scale of the trees and tree ferns is quite breath-taking. More bends! Sometimes I asked to stop to photograph them. I think John was doing deep breathing exercises in the cool mountain air.

​I took photos from the window of the car.

Although John found it difficult to find a safe park, we stopped at this field of opium poppies - a sign warned that people have died from experimenting with the roadside plants... there was probably just as much potential for harm in stopping to photograph them. Especially from the driver.

Derby was once a tin-mining town and when tin-mining died, so did the town. That is, until 2015 when the Blue Derby Trail Network began, a joint initiative between two local governments and the federal government. Bicycling trails were designed by professionals, and cyclists have been beating a path to the door ever since. Buses take them up into the mountains.

This is the Derby Schoolhouse Museum.

In 1929, in flooding rain, the mine's dam wall collapsed, allowing a wall of water thirty metres high to sweep through the valley.

​Fourteen people died, and the mine, although it started operating again nearly a decade later, didn't ever fully recover.

There's a local lapidary club which collects semi-precious stones.

I loved these old children's copy books, a reminder that this was once a busy school.

I quickly took a photo of some Californian poppies before I raced back to the car.

And a rose.

And a hydrangea.

On our way out of town (yes, another very quick stop) this little treasure thumbed its nose at the recent real estate boom.

John had settled comfortably back into the driver's seat in the sure knowledge that Launceston wasn't too far away.

But one of my Instagram followers had mentioned the tea rooms run by the McCallums, an Amish family featured lately in the SMH.

​The farm is west of Scottsdale, off the main road a couple of kilometres. It’s a really charming story, beautifully told by Melissa Fyfe with sensitive photos by Meredith O’Shea.

eg: Gregory the father put the car down in the bottom shed for emergencies only. But all sorts of emergencies popped up, such as "We’re all tired and exhausted so let’s go to Launceston for a pizza."

​I just had to stop on the way in to take some hay bales. More hay bales? asked John. What are you going to do with all these photos? I shrugged.

Sorry, I usually blame you, my readers.... 😘

Springfields Farm is a delightfully rambling farm and garden. John took this lovely allium photo. Don't you love the bee?

The eldest girl Esther looked after me, dressed modestly in the Amish way: long floral print dress and cotton sleeveless vest, scarf covering her hair. She was bitten by a bee last week (her father is the apiarist of the family) and her face is still a little swollen. I bought a bottle of pickles, an apple pie, a blackberry and apple pie, a punnet of freshly picked boysenberries and another of strawberries.

Finally we were in the suburbs of Launceston! Eureka!

I suddenly spotted this wonderful food store and remembered it had been recommended. I nearly hit my head on the dashboard as John screeched to another halt. Unfortunately there were no shady parking spots, so he had to sit in the sun while I checked out lunch. 🤭

We were both glad to arrive at our quaint three-bedroom cottage near the Tamar River.

The spoils: I ate the entire salmon and creamed cheese paté on the left and John ate the entire pork terrine. At a sitting.

Another road trip successfully negotiated.

I'll tell you all about luscious Launceston in another post.

Until then, I wait you,

shelley dark, writer 

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