Everything in Australia is Named Macquarie

After visiting The Tarkine in last week’s article, it was time to head to the west coast of Tasmania before starting my return back to the capitol of Hobart.

I drove off the ferry barge after crossing the Pieman River from Corinna and was surprised to find myself driving on a sealed (paved) road again, something I hadn’t seen in a while. Alas, it didn’t last long. In less than a minute I was back on gravel, not entirely sure what the point was. At least the surface was in good shape, just like the unsealed road on the other side of Corinna.

The plan for the evening was to get to Strahan, have dinner, and find a suitable campsite overlooking Macquarie Harbour. Now in Australia you will find a Macquarie Harbour, a Macquarie Island, Macquarie Marsh, Macquarie River, Macquarie Fields, Macquarie Pass, Macquarie Plains, Lake Macquarie, Port Macquarie, Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair, Macquarie Point, Macquarie Park, Macquarie Street, Macquarie Drive, Macquarie Bank, Macquarie Centre, Macquarie Consulting, and even a whole town named Macquarie. There are plenty more, but you get the point.

Entrance Island Lighthouse, Macquarie Harbour, Tasmania, Austral

The Entrance Island Lighthouse shows the way through Hells Gates, the mouth of Macquarie Harbour with its notoriously shallow and dangerous channel, on the West Coast of Tasmania, Australia.

While in Tasmania, I personally stayed in a hotel on Macquarie Street in Hobart, and today I was to drive down Macquarie Heads Road to view Macquarie Harbour and spend the night at Macquarie Heads Camping Ground near, you guessed it, Macquarie Heads. I would not get the opportunity to visit Macquarie Island, however, since that is halfway to Antarctica, but I have some sailing friends who probably saw it! More on that later.

So who was Macquarie and why is everything named after him? Well, it seems that Major-General Lachlan Macquarie CB was a British Army officer and colonial administrator from Scotland. (If you’re wondering what CB means, it stands for “Companion of the Order of the Bath”. We don’t have time for that today, but feel free to Google it if you feel that strongly about it.)

Sign to Macquarie Heads, near Stanley, Tasmania

A sign points to the beach at Macquarie Heads, near Stanley, Tasmania.

Anyway, he was governor of the colony, not yet called Australia but then known as New South Wales, from 1810 to 1821. His major accomplishment was naming everything after himself. OK, he actually did accomplish a lot, and among other things is credited with influencing the transition of New South Wales from a penal colony to a free settlement. But in his spare time, he did like to spread his name around. As author Bill Bryson puts it in his most excellent book, In a Sunburned Country (or titled Down Under, depending on where you live), it was “the world’s first nearly successful attempt to name every object on a continent after himself”. And long after the Major-General moved on, the Australians themselves have continued this fine tradition, continuing to name things after Macquarie as they come into existence.

So back to the present. The registration process at Macquarie Heads Camping Ground involved locating the resident caretaker on site, knocking on the door of the house and paying the AUD $6 fee, and then choosing a spot in the grass along the coastline. There were no facilities save for pit toilets, but I had my own water and a plan for a free shower the next morning in Strahan, and with a beautiful view of the harbor, it was all good. Well, except for the damned wallaby poo. It seems that anytime I had to choose a campsite in a grassy area, I was dodging massive amounts of wallaby poo. Oh well. If that’s my biggest problem…

I did find a suitable site, set up my tent, and did a sunset photo shoot of the harbor. Then, not seeing anyone in the vicinity that I thought I needed to meet, I read some of my ebook about the penal colony in Tasmania and crawled into my tent. Yes, my evening was exactly as dull as it sounds, but don’t worry, tomorrow starts with a shower!

OK, actually, tomorrow starts with a dawn photo shoot, more of that delicious oatmeal I love so much and a cup of instant coffee, a drive back to Strahan, and then a shower! Oh, and a more interesting breakfast at an actual breakfast joint, too, because, well, why not? I am on vacation, after all…sort of.

My Initials on the Road, Tasmania, Australia

It appears that someone drew my initials on the side of the highway, in Tasmania, Australia.

After getting cleaned up and filled up, it was time to start making my way back to Hobart. I had an important friend to meet there in two days, it seems! So today’s plan was to drive east along the Lyell Highway as far as the town of Derwent Bridge, allowing plenty of time for hiking the numerous 60 Great Short Walks of Tasmania along the way. I had heard about a great hotel and restaurant (called, appropriately the Derwent Bridge Hotel) from a young Belgian couple I had met back on the east coast a week earlier, and I was anxious to try at least the restaurant – my sleeping arrangements were still up in the air at this point.

Nelson Falls, Lyell Highway, Tasmania, Australia

Nelson Falls is accessed via one of the 60 Great Short Walks in Tasmania, on the Lyell Highway, Tasmania, Australia.

One of my many stops that day was at Nelson Falls, an interpretive walk that focused on ancient plant-life dating back to the time of the Gondwana supercontinent. Because of that ancient connection, the species in the Tasmanian rainforests have much in common with those in the rainforests of New Zealand and South America.

Donaghy's Lookout, Tasmania, Australia

The Collingwood River snakes through the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park far below Donaghy’s Lookout, on one of the 60 Great Short Walks of Tasmania just off the Lyell Highway. Frenchmans Cap is barely visible in the distance due to the wide angle lens used, in western Tasmania, Australia.

Another stop was a slightly more challenging walk, but still a relatively short one, to the top of Donaghy’s Hill. From here you get great 360° views of the surrounding wilderness, including a view of the distinctive formation called Frenchmans Cap to the south.

Sign at the Derwent Bridge Hotel, Derwent Bridge, Tasmania, Aust

A sign of wisdom hangs behind the bar at the Derwent Hotel, in Derwent Bridge, Tasmania, Australia.

So I eventually made it to Derwent Bridge and to the hotel, where I found my Belgian friends working in the kitchen. While I had already picked out a free local campsite, the allure of the simple “cabins” this place offered was too good to pass up, so I signed on for the night. The people were friendly, the beer was cold, and the owner was every bit as genuine as I had been told. The bar even served up a bit of wisdom along with a good selection of Tasmanian brews!

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2 Responses to “Everything in Australia is Named Macquarie”

  1. Sue-Z says:

    Spectacular shot of Nelson Falls. (Do you have a link to Mrs. Mcquarie’s chair?)

    • Ed Leckert says:

      Thanks, Suz!

      From Wikipedia:

      “Mrs Macquarie’s Chair (also known as Lady Macquarie’s Chair) is an exposed sandstone rock cut into the shape of a bench, on a peninsula in Sydney Harbour, hand carved by convicts from sandstone in 1810 for Governor Macquarie’s wife Elizabeth. The peninsula itself is named Mrs Macquarie’s Point…”