Another brilliant day dawned and the sun was already cracking the flagstones when we docked at Burnie, our first Tasmanian port of call, at about 07.30. I had zero expectations (a) because it was Sunday in a small town and (b) because the total population was only 20,000. How wrong could I be? As we walked down the gangway there were the Mayor and Mayoress, he in his civic regalia and she beautifully dressed, waiting to offer a warm welcome. We went on to meet a large number of equally warm and friendly people, who drove the shuttle buses from the port to the town, and proudly stood by to answer questions, direct us to attractions and generally engage with these wonderful tourists who had graciously come to visit. They couldn’t do enough to please and it was a truly humbling experience. I am not sure that either the visiting Brits (a few of us) or the Americans (a lot of them) are known for their quiet appreciation of such generosity of spirit, but I saw a lot of smiles and chat being returned to our hosts for the day and felt glad that perhaps, for once, we represented our nations kindly.
We were taken to a ‘Makers’ Workshop’ where local craftspeople created and sold their wares. It was all beautifully made and not outrageously priced, as in similar outlets. There was hand crafted paper, woollen items, exquisitely carved wood, hand crafted jewellery, paintings of all kinds, as well as a truly excellent coffee shop.
There was a stop at an Arts Centre, which exhibits local artists and photographers and doubles as a Town Hall and Performing Arts Centre. I think they opened up on Sunday especially for us.
Ann and I engaged in paddling and shell foraging along the beach, although I suspect we were not seeing the best of the beaches which would have been well clear of those surrounding the very industrial port area where our ship had docked. We took a stroll around the neat and clean town centre (mainly not open for Sunday trading) but the townsfolk were keen that we should see everything, including a rhododendron Park, supposedly in full bloom.
It may not have been the most stunningly beautiful port of call, but in terms of the people and their wonderful welcome, Burnie must begin to feature as a ‘must visit’ for more cruise lines and I am delighted to have had an opportunity to see this particular corner of Tasmania.
Carolyn’s Curios & Curiosities
Well, what can I add… ?
Such lovely people. What Kath didn’t mention was that the town was hit by an employment catastrophe only a few years ago. The town of about 20000 had a wood mill which employed over 4000 directly. It closed and one can only imagine the thoughts of those people and their community. Memories of Welsh and Yorkshire villages destroyed when their mines closed came to my mind. It’s easier, I suppose, in an almost idyllic island to reinvent itself as a tourist destination than in the valleys of Wales or the ‘dark satanic mill’ infested Northern coalfields. Nevertheless, rebuilding communities destroyed by a corporate quirk takes courage and vision. Burnie has both. It also has many people who are committed to contribute voluntarily and cheerfully to welcoming each and every visitor with a generous smile and helpful guidance. They deserve success and we were happy to spend some money in the few shops open on Sunday.
I posted elsewhere that their Information Centre was probably the best I’d seen with certainly the best views and possibly the best coffee cups. Well worth a visit and a return someday
Entertainment on board ship is varied and includes activities and evening entertainments. This afternoon, Ann and I went to watch the film ‘The Dressmaker’ starring Kate Winslet. A well-crafted piece. Stylised in part and the story developed at pace despite the flashbacks. Death, sadness, infirmity and illness strangely produced laughter from a number of the audience… including Ann! Hmm! The ending was theatre at its best with the mentally scarred heroine walking toward the camera with the backdrop of the devastated town aflame which she identified as the curse she had carried for her lifetime and had returned to exorcise. She seemed content… as were we..