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Monday, 28 March 2016

Selling up and a (final) trip to Trial Harbour

Zeehan Manse has been a hive of activity. Recently, the possibility of living and working in Laos for at least a year has transformed into a definitive. Preparations have begun in earnest for the upcoming overseas move. We will be heading away with only a few bags each. The threat of enormous excess baggage charges acts as a strong incentive for the culling of unneeded and superfluous items. Dozens of facebook and for sale gumtree postings, donations and a garage sale have helped reduce our possessions marvellously. There is still much to do, we leave in two weeks for Brisbane and aim to take only what can fit in the back of the station wagon (plus the motorbikes obviously). We plan to write about our experiences to a new blog, which can be found at
In between the packing, selling and procrastinating life goes on. The chooks need feeding, copious amounts of tomatoes and zucchinis need picking, eating and cooking. Attendance at work is still, if not for much longer, required. And if one is lucky enough to get the holy trifecta of a day off work, sunshine and all chores completed you think about a trip to the beach! Many people do not immediately associate beaches and Tasmania together. Sure, they probably think green rolling hills, old convict built stone buildings and a general ‘UK’ vibe, but not beaches. Yet, the east coast of Tasmania probably has some of prettiest beaches in Australia (and thus, the world). Sure, the water temperature rarely exceeds 18 degrees Celsius, but they are pretty.
A lovely Tasmanian beach
Unfortunately, Zeehan lies on the west coast of Tasmania. Beaches on this side take the full brunt of swell and storms that have travelled thousands of kilometres across the Southern Ocean. Still, on a summer day with little wind they can be pleasant. Trial Harbour, a little over 15 minutes drive from Zeehan has a small community of off-grid shacks, a camp ground and an old Telecom phone booth with a missing ‘2’.
Before the railway was built between Strahan and Zeehan, passengers and supplies used to come via Trial Harbour. The tiny gap in the reef and small sandy beach apparently enough to be considered a safe harbour. Prospectors and families hoping to get rich in the new silver mines walked with all their belongings up the dusty trail to Zeehan seeking fortune.

Today, Trial Harbour is good for abalone, crayfish and brave surfers. Those willing to risk their 4WD can drive south along Ocean Beach. 30km of soft sand and freak waves later you will arrive in Strahan. Locals dryly suggest this trip should only be done in a convoy. There is the occasional washed out wreck of cars that went alone.


After it became obvious we were not getting anywhere in the treacherous sand two-up on the motorcycle, plans for visiting the nearby Little Henty river mouth were shelved and we headed back home. Not quite ‘There and Back Again’ but a good outing nonetheless.


  1. Hi Damo,

    Mate, you scored the trifecta that day. The west coast looks superb and I hear you about the east coast beaches - particularly up the north east. Mind you, I enjoy the beaches at Bruny Island too plus the quiet enjoyment and sleepiness is really something special.

    Have you thought about taking any medications (i.e. anti-bitotics for gut issues) over to Laos? I'm sure Mrs Damo has thought about this. A very strong anti-nausea might not be a bad idea either. It takes a while to adjust to the challenges from the local flora and fauna in a new country. Mind you, you lot are probably very hardy! Having said that not travelling as tourists means that you have much more time and can afford the occasional misadventure.



    1. We are very lucky that the volunteer program provides a comprehensive first aid kit that includes various anti-biotics and other medical marvels. I am hoping to get Mrs Damo (who is a medical researcher by trade) to do a write up on the other blog in a few weeks.

      They did warn us that almost everyone will have a gastro related adventure, it is simply unavoidable for the reasons you mentioned. Perhaps an excuse to brew up some ginger wine!

  2. Hi, Damo!

    Your impending move gives me empathy nervousness! What are you going to do with the chooks? You do have gorgeous beaches. My geography is not so good - will you have beaches near where you are moving?


    1. Hi Pam,

      We have moved so often over the past 10 years that it almost feels normal to be selling and packing up to head to a new country. Now that I think about it there has also been a trend of moving to ever more remote locations. Brisbane (a big, quite soulless Australian metropolis) to Hobart a few years ago was a big change (Hobart is a lovely small city of about 300,000 - only a 10 minute drive to get into the countryside). Then last year we moved from Hobart to Zeehan, which on a good day has maybe 500 people and is a two hour drive from the 'small smoke'. And now to Laos, not remote to the millions of people living there obviously, but quite remote if you are used to western standards of infrastructure and so forth.

      The chooks have had several offers to be re-homed. I think they are spoilt and will miss our one-acre block, but we should be able to find a good home for them in the next week!

      Laos shares borders with Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar and China, but unfortunately no ocean :-(


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