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Journeys : June July 2009
Chris Viney Meandering through Deloraine Meander River T he original Jimmy Possum was a Deloraine chairmaker who lived and worked in the shadow of the Great Western Tiers more than a century ago. His chairs were simple, sturdy, no-nonsense constructions, made with hand tools and put together without nail or screw. Much more recently, Matthew Sims, another traditional chairmaker, has plied his trade in the north-west. I helped him with some photography and writing for a project he was working on and he paid me with one of his own Jimmy Possum-style chairs. Matthew said he thought it was one of the best rustic chairs he had ever made. He’d found some good red myrtle and shaped it with an adze and draw-knife, then cut pegs and wedges to make it secure. The result was a fine-looking and authentic piece of traditional bush carpentry. “I’m really pleased with this chair,” Matthew told me. “The only thing is, it’s very, very uncomfortable to sit on.” Deloraine’s Folk Museum was an inn in the late 1800s and today, the building recreates the life of a country publican. In one cosy spot there’s the Jimmy Possum ‘snug’, where the man himself probably enjoyed a few ales, no doubt sitting far more comfortably than he would have done on one of his uncompromising chairs. The Folk Museum is just one of the attractions of Tasmania’s largest inland town. Well-known for its annual four-day Tasmanian Craft Fair in November, the biggest event of its kind in Australia, Deloraine is home to an eclectic mix of Great Western Tiers Sculpture Project artists and craftspeople, whose studios and galleries are open all year round. It’s the starting point of the Great Western Tiers Sculpture Trail, which begins with the bold and bright sculptural installations along the banks of the Meander River, then branches out to a variety of interesting sites in the area – there are more sculptures at Devils Gullet, Mole Creek, Alum Cliffs and above the spectacular limestone formations at Marakoopa and King Solomons Caves. The town’s fabric artists have told the stories of their region and its four seasons in silk – ‘Yarns’, on display in the Great Western Tiers Visitor Centre, is a remarkable and beautiful example of community art. The fine detail of the needlework is astonishing in a multipanelled piece of this scale. Deloraine is a place to explore on foot – ask at the visitor centre for the self-guided walking brochure and take a step back in time as you discover the town’s history and visit its many heritage buildings. There are plenty of places to pause for a coffee or a meal on your walk. The Amble Inn is a long-standing local institution, always a favourite place for a serious hamburger on the way back from bushwalking trips to the Walls of Jerusalem. These days there’s a range of options all along the main street through town – bakeries, cafes, restaurants and the terrific Deloraine Deli, serving fine coffee, gourmet deli items and dine-in lunches highlighting local produce. Deloraine has an equally-varied range of places to stay. For a taste of the town’s heritage there are the comfortable ensuite rooms in the 1830s Bonney’s Inn, close to the river; while on the outskirts of town, Peppers Calstock offers luxury accommodation and fine dining in the setting of an elegant Georgian mansion, with formal gardens, tree-lined drives and rolling parklands. The Bass Highway now bypasses Deloraine – thank goodness – so you need to get out of the fast lane to enjoy the scenic and creative appeal of this attractive and interesting town. June / July 09 47 Tourism Tasmania and Geoffrey Lea Tourism Tasmania and Rob Burnett Tourism Tasmania and Brian Dullaghan
April May 2009
August September 2009