Monday, February 21, 2005

down the river

This time of year we suddenly have lots of stuff happening. For example on Friday night the Tasmanian Museum organised a bird-watching cruise on the Derwent River.

We all gathered down at the pier about 5:30 and waited for our ship to come in (you know what I mean!). I had a vague idea that the Excella would be one of those old-time ferries, sort of like the Cartella (which was launched the same year as the Titanic but is in much better shape). I was wrong and we set off on a very modern vessel, all sleekness, white superstructure and purring engines.

Leaving harbour we passed the "James Craig", the 130-year-old sailing ship that has been the centrepiece of the Wooden Boat Festival this month. She wasn't under sail, but it was a stirring moment to see her cutting through the water as she headed up the river. A wonderful job of restoration.

We motored down the western side of the river and were soon in that part of the river where there are some fairly formidable cliffs. A couple of cormorants dived in and out of the water and some black-winged Kelp Gulls glared at us.

The crew passed out binoculars to those who hadn't brought their own, and this came in very handy a few minutes later. We came to a stop facing a rocky piece of land and the expert on the PA system told us there was a Sea Eagle sitting on one of the trees.

I peered at the cliffs and suddenly there it was. That flash of white was the chest of an eagle sitting in one of the trees looking at us quite unconcerned.

A moment later somebody exclaimed that there was a second eagle. I swung the binoculars around and suddenly spotted another one sitting a bit higher up, looking out over the river.

"Wow!" I thought. Just that ten minutes made the whole trip worthwhile.

From there we went further south, all the way down river to The Iron Pot – the oldest lighthouse in Australia and famous for being the first thing sighted by the Sydney-to-Hobart yacht race as they near the finish line.

We motored around the small but very formidable looking island while the captain regaled us with horror stories about the storms that had lashed the island while it was a manned lighthouse. After one terrific storm, seaweed had been found on the railing at the top of the lighthouse!

Birds of all descriptions had taken over the isle, with terns, oystercatchers, gulls and cormorants all staking a claim.

After staring past the island at the edge of the Southern Ocean ("Next stop is Antarctica," drawled the captain) we turned back and started up the eastern side of the river.

There was no shortage of "finger food" on board and the crew seemed to be feeding us every ten minutes. I found it all very tasty, but my stomach wasn't quite so happy later in the day. (Just goes to show how successful I've been in training myself to a bland low-fat low-salt diet!)

This month at The Playhouse:

I hadn't heard of it before, but apparently I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change by Joe DiPietro and Jimmy Roberts is the longest-running musical on Off-Broadway, having chalked up over 3,000 performances.

When it ran in Sydney it was promoted as "Seinfeld set to music" and the producers of the Hobart production decided not to try and soft-peddle the New York ambience (which means they don't have to re-write one of the songs set in Macy's department store!).

It's a long time since I've seen anything in the "revue" genre – a blend of short comedy and music pieces – but this works really well.

Local comedian John X has a surprisingly good singing voice and Di Richards almost stopped the show with her rendition of "Always a Bridesmaid" after the interval.

I also really liked Mandy Cashion's "I Will Be Loved Tonight."

The audience were also very appreciative, applauding madly at the end.

click here for more Tasmanian bloggers

No comments: