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Nutting it out
THERE is a walk up Mount Wedge, on the road into Lake Pedder, that seems to have been carved and marked out by a sadist.
Not much right, not much left ... serious uphill.
At least, it was this way about 10 years ago when and friend and I gasped our way to the top, only to find a fellow scrambler enjoying a can of beer at the summit.
There's a certain cache associated with bagging mountains and celebrating it with a fine ale is a worthy notion. He would have commanded awe from the two fellows about to sip water and scratch out some cheese dip from their Le Snaks but for one point: it was light beer.
Now, if you are going to lug a can of beer up a serious chunk of mountain to enjoy a grandiose peak moment in style, don't stint on the quality. Make it quality beer, or fine wine, or anything but light beer. Please.
All of which brings me to The Nut at Stanley. The steep bit, not the type-of-tipple bit.
The track up Circular Head's spectacular punctuation mark is unusual in that it's steep but smooth _ a pavement winding up the 150-metre high volcanic plateau. It's late afternoon in early August when I hurry along the track.
At 5.35pm it is twilight in such unenlightened winter months; pademelons abound beside the track but the advantage of steep is that it delivers a walker quickly to the top. Lacking celebratory fluids, I circle the stationary chairlift station, admire the diminishing views of Stanley and return to base camp. The entire expedition is complete in 25 minutes.
My host at Horizon Deluxe Apartments, Clint Walker, has suggested the Stanley Hotel for dinner so I make sure I'm there in time to put in an order.
One of my colleagues maintains that journalism is the poorer for its transition to a press-release culture, that the craft was more in tune with readers when old-school reporters
gave up large slabs of their time, and larger slices of their livers, in bars.
``That's where you get the best stories,'' he maintains.
So I'm scribbling down a few notes on my trip and taking a 10oz for the team. (We're obliged to tell you that 10 ounces is 285 millilitres, but many Tasmanian drinkers still ask for a ``ten'', despite the cultural onslaught of Victoria's ``pots'') when publican Julian Jacobs introduces me to a customer.
John Turnbull is the jackpot in terms of interesting people.
We chat and after a while he tells me he has Parkinson's disease. Isn't that what Muhammad Ali's has?
``Yeh, he punches a bit better than me, though.''
Mr Turnbull is a maker of guitars and mandolins and on his invitation I drive him home to inspect his work. Here, in downtown Stanley, Mr Turnbull and wife of four decades,
Shirley, make beautiful music together. On instruments crafted by his hand.
The retired plasterer also eventually lets on that he suffers from glaucoma. So with fading eyesight and the shaking associated with Parkinson's, Mr Turnbull undertakes a craft requiring the most precise and delicate touch.
He shows the intricate work down the spine of one guitar: 396 pieces of tiny inlay. Another guitar has 1200 minuscule pieces.
``Not bad for a bloke with Parkinson's,'' he understates.
It's all understated. The Turnbulls strike up a tune, Shirley on mandolin and John on guitar. It sounds wonderful. So wonderful that I ask, in jest, if he's sure he's got Parkinson's.
Some days are good, some are bad. ``You should have heard him play years ago,'' Mrs Turnbull says.
Perhaps. But surely nothing could surpass this private concert on a winter's evening at Stanley.
For North-West activities and places to stay see www.mytassiebreak.com, www. stanleyseaviewinn.com.au or www.horizonapartments.com.au.
The writer was assisted by the Cradle Coast Authority tourism unit.