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Saturday, December 03, 2005

: World-renowned botanist savours vintage Tassie

The Mercury: World-renowned botanist savours vintage Tassie [04dec05]

DAVID Bellamy's return to the Gordon River has been in luxury he couldn't have imagined back in 1983 when he first arrived in the area.

The 72-year-old botanist and TV personality made his way back to the Gordon on board World Heritage Cruises boat Discovery.

The luxury catamaran is designed to take small groups of high-paying tourists into the World Heritage Area.

It's a far cry from the police launch which carried him out of the area in 1983 -- bound for a jail cell for his part in the Franklin Dam protest.

Professor Bellamy said this type of cruise was what he and others were talking about back in the days of the Franklin blockade, about making the most from tourism.

"This boat we've just come down on is the leading edge of technology," Prof Bellamy said.

"When I sat in prison I didn't actually think I would be able to come back here and say that."

The Discovery includes five-star luxury cabins and a large area complete with couch and plasma screen television.

It also includes a top kitchen and gourmet chefs to dish up Tasmania's finest cuisine for those on board.

Prof Bellamy said bringing tourists into Tasmania's West Coast showed the great benefit of the World Heritage Area.

It has also provided him with some fond memories.

While he has been back to Tasmania on a number of occasions, this visit had some special moments beside his return to the Gordon and Franklin rivers.

"When I arrived at the Hobart airport I met one of the prison warders who looked after me while I was in Risdon jail," he said.

"He would get into trouble for calling me Professor Bellamy during roll call."

It was this and other small moments which had endeared Tasmania to him.

"I have always thought I could live in Tasmania, and now you've got quite a few nice wines I think I really could," he said.

It is a treasure trove for the botanist and his wife Rosemary, who are living encyclopedias of the natural world.


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