Travels with Tim and Lisa

"If my discoveries are other people's commonplaces I cannot help it – for me they retain a momentous freshness" (Elizabeth Bowen)

Huon Valley West, Tasmania 18.1.09

Posted by Lisa Hill on January 18, 2009

A great day today…fine and mild, and just perfect for exploring the western side of the Huon River. Our first stop was the Chakaya Alpaca farm where this very nice man showed us some newborn alpacas (only two weeks old!). He had some irresistible things for sale, and I bought a lovely cream alpaca scarf for winter, and a lighter silk/alpaca black one for spring & autumn. Tim bought a jumper too – he likes alpaca because it is light but warm, and it’s excellent for travel.

Our next stop was the Home Hill Winery. Halliday recommended their 2006 Kelly Reserve Pinot Noir which is indeed a very fine wine, but we actually preferred the 2004. We also tried a most unusual Sylvaner, which tastes like a cross between sauvignon blanc and riesling. By the time we’d ordered some to enjoy at home it was lunchtime and we had the ‘meal-of-the-trip’ in the winery restaurant. I had char-grilled wallaby with a brilliant pumpkin tart, and Tim had Moroccan chevon (goat) with couscous salad, followed by suitably decadent desserts. Mine was Belgian chocolate with white spun sugar, and Tim had poached pear with pinot ice-cream. (Tim has promised that he will have a go at making this ice-cream at home!) The ambience, the view and the service were all first class, but it was the mains that were really impressive: innovative, using local produce, and cooked to perfection.

Then we set off for Franklin where we visited the Wooden Boat Centre and School. This is where enthusiasts can learn to build wooden boats both large and small, and it’s the only such diploma course in Australia. It is wonderful to see these ancient crafts being kept alive in this way and we loved wandering about looking at the boats at various stages of construction. Having done a fair bit of sanding in my time, I was most impressed by how smooth their sanding was – it was like French polish.

Apart from the Boat Centre, Franklin also boasts some terrific antique shops, good cafes and beautiful scenery. (It was so nice we stopped there for dinner on the way back too. ) The River Huon winds its way along the road from Hobart down to Dover (and then onto Southport though we turned back before then) and the scenery is breath-taking all the way. There are some beautiful old houses and some of the gardens are just glorious: roses everywhere and pretty cottage plants tumbling over fences onto the edge of the road. Next time I would like to go a little bit further and down to Recherche Bay, as far south as you can drive in Australia, but that’s a dirt road and not allowed in a hire car.

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