Weekly Photo Challenge – Against The Odds

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Lighthouses seem to defy the odds, especially the old historic ones. It amazes me how they were built in the often rough remote locations, with the equipment of the day. And, of course, they did beat the odds, reducing the number of ship wrecks and groundings.

This is the Iron Pot Lighthouse at the entrance of the River Derwent and shipping lane to Hobart.

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It is the first lighthouse built in Tasmania, in 1833. This square lighthouse made of rubble was built within an earlier timber frame where the light apparatus was raised and lowered by hand.

It is the second oldest lighthouse ever built in Australia. The first built at Sydney Heads in 1818.

Iron Pot was the first to use locally manufactured optical apparatus and is believed to be the first Australia lighthouse to convert to solar power.

There is debate about the origin of it’s name, one story relates that since the early days of European settlement, whaler’s pots were left on the small island where the lighthouse is located.

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Against the Odds

Music and mayhem

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It has been a public holiday today in the south of Tasmania, so we visited the Australian Wooden Boat Festival again for its final day.

The festival has been a great success, celebrating local food and drinks, local wood crafts as well as the boats. There has been entertainment each day, a variety of musicians dotted around the waterfront and on Parliament House lawns. Also this delightful little Dutch music boat, with a mini organ and trumpet.

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Kids have been building their own wooden boats during the four day festival. Today was the moment of truth as the boats were put in the water for the “Quick n Dirty” Challenge. Two laps of a small course, the first with sails, the second with just oars, attracted a large crowd. The boats were original and artistic, the last boat to sink was the winner!

Tall Ships

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Hobart is hosting the bi-annual Australian Wooden Boats Festival this weekend.

There was a spectacular show on the River Derwent this afternoon as the Tall Ships arrived and were escorted into the city waterfront by a couple of hundred smaller crafts.yiqa4118umnd9764ayus9068

I’m so glad that I took the afternoon off work to join the spectators before enjoying the view from our balcony. shps3427

I  then went to see the ships up close on the waterfront.wdev9618nedt7582twne7072mxef7216xnjd5116

Some of these ships spent ten days sailing from Sydney or Melbourne. It’s hard to imagine the months that the first Europeans spent at sea, as they journeyed to the far side of the world. This year celebrates 375 years since Abel Tasman visited this island that now bears his name.

What would you take?

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There is a fascinating exhibition as part of the commemorations for Black Tuesday about items that real families took when they left their homes, fleeing the bush fires.

There are stories of hidden jewellery, war medals later found in the rubble, precious items that survived heat that could melt a telephone. Furniture and possessions piled out in the front yard.

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One mother packed a small case filled with toys and cardigans for the children, nappies for the baby and the family photograph album.

As the drama unfolded for the adults, the children at Sorrell School were evacuated to open ground. A circus was in town and camped there. So the children remembered the excitement of seeing elephants wading at the water’s edge. One of their best school days ever. A total contrast to other memories of the day.

One unexpected item that many young women took with them was their contraceptive pills. It is something my generation and my daughter’s generation take for granted. We forget how revolutionary it was, how it gave women real control of their fertility for the first time in history. For women born in the 1930’s, forty percent had nine or more pregnancies. The Pill changed that. It was introduced in Australia in 1961, but was still controversial at the time of the fires. Many doctors would only prescribe it to married women, it was relatively difficult to obtain, so it was a precious possession.

What would you take?

Black Tuesday

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50 years ago today, Tuesday 7th February 1967, Tasmania experienced its worst ever bush fires. Temperatures rose above 39°C. Winds gusted over 220 km per hour.

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64 people died, 900 injured. Nearly 7,500 people were homeless, with 1,293 houses and cottages destroyed. Schools, churches, factories, post offices, hotels, bridges, telephone and power polls ruined.

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Destruction widespread in agricultural communities as well as towns and Hobart city, 1,600 vehicles, 1,700 farm buildings destroyed, 62,000 farm animals were lost, 2,400 km of boundary fencing burnt. The total area affected by fire was 182,000 hectares, across twelve municipalities.

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These are archive photos and memories of people who lived through that day.

“The noise of the fire”. “The wind”. “The sky and the heat”.

“The sky was mustard yellow with an orange sun”. Later in the day, “the sky was orange with a dark red sun”. “Then the sky was black with smoke”. “Hot ashes blowing around”.

Children were sent home from school. “At home we helped fill the gutters with water, blocked the down pipes with tennis balls”. “We filled the bath with water, any containers we could find, soaked towels and sheets to cover ourselves”.

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People left their homes and waded in the water on the beach, to get as far away from the flames and smoke as possible.

Whole streets were burnt out, with just the brick chimney stacks left standing.

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An incredible day of tragedy and heroism and community spirit.

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