Mailboxes and Murals

A few years ago, we traveled to Tasmania. It was for us like finding a beautiful gemstone while playing in the sand.

It is an island roughly the size of West Virginia located about one hundred  fifty miles across the Bass Strait from Melbourne, Australia. It was discovered in 1642 by a Dutchman named Abel Tasman, but there were a number of Aboriginal tribes there when the British came to settle it in the late 1700s. At the time we were there, the population was just over half a million people.

Until recently, fully one third of the island was in a protected forest, with no roads, no villages to disturb the natural beauty. In the last couple of years, some timber companies have been allowed into this area (a mistake in my opinion).

One day we set out to drive across the middle of Tasmania. We observed some rather interesting mail boxes. Upon asking some questions in the first village we came into, we learned that the people who lived along this highway had a friendly competition to see who could come up with the most unique mail boxes.

Some of these were extremely elaborate, many very clever, all attention-grabbing   And throughout the day, we continued to find such out-of-the-ordinary ways to receive mail.

In the midst of this, we came upon the town of Sheffield, often called Tasmania’s Outdoor Art Gallery.   If we found a building with an exposed side wall, we would find a mural. The first mural in Sheffield was commissioned in 1986. Many of the pictures give aspects of the history of the town and Tas. We could not count all of the murals, but there must have been close to a hundred walls colorfully decorated. Keep in mind that Sheffield is a small town of approximately 1,400 people.   However, it has become a major tourist attraction, with an estimated 200,000 visitors each year.

But Sheffield and the mailboxes are not the only things to see and be amazed over in the middle of Tasmania. In another blog, I’ll talk about the incredible wall being carved and the amazing use of hydro electric generation in Tasmania.   Oh, and we must not forget the Tasmania Devils, the only thing we knew about the island (thanks mostly to Walt Disney)before we visited it.



Feel free to add your comment about interesting things you’ve seen on your travels.  Thanks.


SIDE NOTE:  The winner of the free book, Blind Man’s Bluff, A Candle Island Cozy by the Sadie and Sophie Cuffe, was won by Mary Watson Hamilton.  Congratulations.  It’s a great book.

James R. Callan
















In print & e-book format

Road Trip to Main

Today’s guest bloggers are the Cuffe Sisters, Sadie and Sophie. They were born, raised, and still live in the rugged area known as the Unorganized Territory in Main. They maintain a small farm, but (we know) their main goal is to produce great novels. They write “squarely to the hearts of real women who don’t always wear a size two and who prefer boots to high heels. And they believe some of the best stories are composed on the seat of a tractor.  They will give a free copy of their latest book to a name drawn at random from those who leave a comment. Here are the Cuffe Sisters.

We grew up on road trips. After traveling around the State of Maine, we later branched out to cross-country travel, vising relatives in California. It’s 3240 miles (give or take) from here to there. We traveled in a VW bus and camped out along the way. Six people in an old canvas Army tent was an adventure in itself, LOL. At the time, one of our cousins pointed out that we’d now stuck our toes in both major oceans. Some people haven’t experienced either one. Funny, the things you take for granted.

We grew up on the coast and now live Down East – where the sun first strikes the easternmost point of the USA.

Throughout the years we’ve hiked and biked around many islands. To date we’ve visited about twenty, but that’s nothing considering there are over 6180 left to explore. Some are easily accessed by huge bridges (one of Sophie’s biggest dreads), others by ferry, some by private boat. We rode the mail boat on our first trip to Isle au Haut many years ago, and asked the captain if we could go out on the deck. It was choppy, but he let us. As soon as we stepped out, a huge wave slapped the bow and covered us in spray. We went back into the cabin, soaked, but laughing like fools. It was wicked fun!

We experienced ten seconds of fame once, when photographers from Down East Magazine took a picture of us roasting hotdogs at our island campsite. When we finally found the article, months later, we were surprised at the caption: Local campers cooking over an open fire. Even WE didn’t recognize ourselves!

Our coastline, as the crow flies is, 250 miles, but the reality is vast – it’s over 5500 miles when all the islands are included. Islands hold a precious place in our hearts, but they’re more than our memories and adventures. They hold their own special mystique in their fiercely loyal people, their rugged independence, and their wild solitude. We hope our love of Maine and its islands comes through in our newest book, Blind Man’s Bluff, A Candle Island Cozy. Come to Candle Island, hear the lonely cry of the gulls, feel the spray of the raging surf, and plant your feet on the bedrock ledges of Maine that have endured for millenia. We’re giving away a copy, so if you’d like to be entered in the drawing, all you have to do is leave a comment. Good luck, and thank you, Jim, for letting us visit!

JIM:  Makes me want to visit Maine again.  Please leave a comment and the Cuffe Sisters will draw a name and send the winner a FREE copy of their latest novel.  Thanks.

A NaNoWriMo Education


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Mixing History with A Fiction Novel


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The Hard Work of Telling the Truth:


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A Time for Renewal


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Today’s guest is award-winning author Lena Nelson Dooley.  With more than 875,000 copies of her books sold, she has been on the ECPA and CBA Bestseller lists, Publisher’s Weekly Bestseller list, and several Amazon Bestseller lists. She’s won the Will … Continue reading

Tasmania – A Float Plane to the Interior

Before we go to Tasmania, here’s today’s paraprosdokian:  He who laughs last thinks slowest.

Quick, before I forget what I was going to say —

Before we stepped off the plane in Hobart, all we knew about Tasmania tasmanizwas that the Tasmanian Devil made its home there.

Tasmania is located about 150 miles across the Bass Strait from Melbourne, Australia. To its west is the Indian Ocean and to its east is the Pacific Ocean. It is about 225 miles from north to south and generally about 190 miles from east to west, and has a population of just over half a million.

The British settled it in 1803 and in the first 50 years, over 75,000 convicts were transported to Taz. One of the first places we visited was Port Arthur, just 35 miles from Hobart, and site of one of the most famous prisons in Australia.

floatplaneWe then headed into the interior, a thinly populated, but gorgeous area. (Another day, we’ll talk about Devils and mailboxes.) We made our way to Strahan on the west coast and made arrangements to take a float plane into the wilderness of the southwest part of Tasmania. Over one third of the entire island of Tasmania lies in reserves here, and there are no roads or settlements in this area.

Earlene and I and the pilot took off and circledtasmaniz-wilderness out over large fish farms in the Indian Ocean. Then we headed in-land. It is truly a pristine wilderness, with inspiring, untouched forests, and the white water Franklin River. After awhile, we were tracking another magnificent river, cutting between mist-covered mountains and dense rain-forest. We began to descend into the thousand-foot deep Gordon River Gorge and slowly settled down on the river.

tas-waterfallAs the pilot taxied over to the bank, a small dock came into view. He hopped out and tied the plane up and we deplaned. A short walk through the rain-forest took us to a magnificent waterfall. The only noise was the falling water. No boom-boxes, no cars, no people. Enchanting. Eventually, we walked back to the dock, got in the plane, and the pilot – standing on the dock, untied the plane. The swift current quickly began to sweep the plane away from the dock. What would we do if the pilot didn’t manage to get in before we drifted away from the dock? Earlene could fly the floatplane-on-riverplane, but could she take off from a rushing river? But, he managed to catch a strut, swing on to the pontoon and climb into the cockpit. Obviously, he’d done this before. It was a magical trip.

Our entire Tasmania visit was captivating.   If you get to Australia, allot ample time for Tasmania. We spent a week there, and would have enjoyed a month.tasmania-river