|frost on the ferns|
|shadows on the frost|
The first part of the walk followed the appropriately-named Serpentine Valley Creek.
We became very familiar with this creek as it wound its way back and forth across our path and we hopped, scrambled and splashed across it. There were also plenty of fences to climb.
|the weathered sandstone hills closed in on each side|
|the valley floor remains in shadow, but sunlight catches the higher rocks|
|Really big rocks|
|more big rocks|
|past mid-day - and there's still frost in the shadows|
|we stopped for lunch on a sunny hillside|
The trouble with living alone is nobody else will make your lunch. Today I invented a new game - Schroedinger's Lunchbox. While I didn't look in it, my lunchbox contained roast fowl, venison pastries, delicate salads, charlotte russe and a small bottle of white wine. Alas, when I opened it I found this:
|compulsory food shot|
Life is full of these little disappointments, but I wasn't going to let it spoil a lovely day.
Coffee in hand I followed several other people along a sheep track to a delightfully bijou cavelet a little higher up the hill.
|I did remember to pick up my coffee mug|
|view from the cave|
|as if I don't have enough photographs of rocks and trees|
|FAQ of the day "Do we really have to cross it here, or can we get around on this side?"|
|some cows wonder what we're doing in their paddock|
|the end of the valley in sight|
|entering Murderers Gully|
|we looked in vain for convict remains but alas, there is barely even a trace of the old road left|
In Highway in Van Diemens Land, G. Hawley Stancombe wrote "Nearby and to the east lies the curious Serpentine Valley . . . It rejoined the Main Road at the foot of Spring Hill, but was too narrow for carts, being a narrow defile between steep cliffs."
Robert Knopwood travelled to the Tamar in 1814. He described Stony, or Serpentine Valley, as "a beautiful valley but should you meet with the natives you must inevitably loose [sic] your life the hills of each pass so high that they would kill you with stones."
Governor Macquarie went this way when he travelled on horseback from Hobart-Town to Port Dalrymple in 1811. With a cavalcade of officials and a military escort to accompany them, they would have had little fear of attack.
|up another optional hill|
|a magnificent cave at the top|
|and the den of a Tasmanian Devil|
One of my forebears was the District Police officer at Kempton (then Green Ponds) in the 1830s; he would have been familiar with the road through this dark valley. Another hired out his bullock team to Governor Macquarie for his second trip to Port Dalrymple in 1821.
Many of my ancestors lived at Ross, Oatlands, Jericho and Parattah and some travelled frequently to Hobart.
I tried to imagine my great-great-great-great grandmother here in a small horse-drawn conveyance late on a winter afternoon; what warm clothing would she be wearing? Would she have a soft possum-skin rug to wrap around her knees? And would she and her companion be urging their pony to trot faster, fearing that at any moment some rough character or a group of aborigines would leap down upon them from the enclosing hills?
We had no such things to bother us. We encountered nothing more terrifying than a large black bull who was not too sure whether we should be in his territory, but did no more than snort and paw the ground as we passed.
|there is some evidence of roadworks here|
|the bull didn't seem exactly overjoyed to see us|
|the end of the gully must have been a welcome sight for coachmen|
|looking back up Murderers Gully from the safety of open country|
|the moon in the early afternoon|