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)

Archive for the ‘Tasmania 2009’ Category

Botanic Gardens Hobart

Posted by Lisa Hill on January 20, 2009

This morning we went to the Botanic Gardens, and caught them filming the first episode of ABC TV’s Gardening Australia in Peter Cundall’s vegie patch, with his replacement. It’s harder than it looks to be a presenter!

I took heaps of photos and will make them into an Animoto film when I get home. These gardens are exquisite!

In the afternoon Tim went on a Tasman Peninsula cruise and I explored Eaglehawk Neck and read the papers over coffee.

Time now to watch Party Animals on ABCTV.

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Marvellous Museums, in Hobart

Posted by Lisa Hill on January 19, 2009

We spent the day in Hobart, exploring their museums…
First up was the Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition of the machines he invented. They were all interesting, but what especially caught my eye were the siege machines, because I’ve just finished reading Ismail Kadare’s The Siege. This brilliant book, which is an allegory for life under the Soviet dictatorship, vividly depicts an Ottoman assault on the Christian Albanians inside the walls of the castle – and here in Hobart are scale models of Da Vinci’s creative genius at work, inventing machines, on the one hand to repel invaders and on the other, to breach the walls of an enemy castle. As you can see from the picture, he thought of tools to climb the walls (similar to equipment used for rock-climbing today); machines to bring a bridge or a ladder up over the ramparts; and also one to push down any ladders that were being for an assault on the walls. The engineering involved in these machines is very sophisticated indeed – and yet even quite small children at this exhibition could use some of them and clearly understand how they worked.

Next up was the Hobart Museum and Art Gallery, about to be refurbished and extended – so I hope it doesn’t turn into a McMuseum like ours in Melbourne has! (The Melbourne Museum, that is, not our wonderful art gallery which is the best and most comprehensive in the country). The best exhibition here was the Antarctic one, with artefacts from various expeditions and a scale model of the hut of my hero, Douglas Mawson. This brave man’s exploits have captivated me since I first read about them as a schoolgirl, and my admiration grew further on my last visit to the Adelaide Museum, where they have not only the sled that Mawson sawed in half on his solo trip back to base after the tragic loss of his companions, but also the small knife that he used to saw it with. The courage and tenacity of this great man is an inspiration to all who know about him. I think I’ll read his story to my senior classes this year…

After all our splendid meals in this gastronomic paradise, a light lunch was in order, so we tracked down a Japanese restaurant on the waterfront and enjoyed bento. Not surprisingly we did not see any of the Sea Shepherd’s crew there even though whale was not on the menu. I am willing to try eating many strange and unusual things but nothing could ever induce me to eat a creature harvested with such cruelty from the sea. I wandered down to the pier to see the Sea Shepherd close up and chatted to one of the crew: they were refuelling in readiness for departure on Wednesday to depart to harass the Japanese whaling fleet further. I wish our government would harass them too…

After lunch I went to the Maritime Museum and had an unexpected literary treat. There amongst all sorts of model ships and boats, bits of rope, knots and so forth, was a display about the three masted barque Otago, which was the ship commanded by Joseph Conrad in 1888-9.  He took command of this ship in Bangkok, sailed it to Sydney, Melbourne, Mauritius and Adelaide before resigning his command because the owners didn’t want him to sail it on to China. It was this journey that formed the basis of his writings about the South Seas, and it is therefore a very great pity that the remains of this ship are being left to rot at Otago Bay in Risden. I got quite a thrill from being allowed to touch the hatch that has been salvaged from the ship and restored – Conrad must also have grasped it on his way down below decks!

A little retail therapy in Salamanca Place, dinner at the Shipwright’s Arms, and then an early night so that we can be up bright and early because we are hoping to go on a tour of a distillery!

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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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Huon Valley, Tasmania, January 2009

Posted by Lisa Hill on January 17, 2009

Woodbridge Weaving garden Tas 16.1.09 041 Contrary to the optimistic 7 day forecast I’d read in Melbourne, Friday dawned rainy and cool, and by the time we’d motored down to Peppermint Bay en route to the Huon Valley it was bucketing down. We stopped for a restorative coffee at Peppermint Bay where we also bought some gourmet delights for an alfresco lunch (later on when the weather improves). I bought a lurid orange showerproof jacket as well, but Tim soldiered bravely on in his shorts!

Woodbridge Weaving Tas 16.1.09 043From there we went to the Woodbridge Hill Weaving Studio where we met Anna – who makes the most beautiful tapestries, scarves and hats you can find! She gave us a demonstration of how weaving is done, and Tim told her all about how his father helped to establish the mohair goat industry in Australia – and since there was an irresistible mohair beret that turned out to be just the right size, we bought it straight away to keep the chill winds at bay, before splashing our way back through Anna’s glorious garden to the car.

Grandvewe Tas 16.1.09 047After that we made our way to the GrandvEwe Cheesery where they make scrumptious cheeses from sheep’s milk. Just like us, the ‘girls’ were clearly unimpressed by the rain, and demanded to be brought in under cover until the skies cleared. Since it is obviously in everyone’s interests that they be happy, the sheep dog escorted them into the shed as we watched. GrandVewe Tas 16.1.09 044The rain thundered down, but we didn’t care because we were sitting high above the paddocks on a covered deck – enjoying a delicious ‘ploughman’s lunch’ of cheeses, lamb sausage and the biggest, fattest olives I’ve ever seen, (all produced on the property) washed down with a very good Riesling.

Cygnet Tas 16.1.09 055 We then journeyed on in a loop around the valley, calling in at Cygnet where we found a fabulous ‘lazy susan’ for our dining table.The artist used carefully selected broken pieces of Meakin china to decorate the wooden base so it looks just perfect for our 1930s decor, so of course we had to have it. We had just finished calculating the postage back to Melbourne when Tim discovered a framed pair of sea urchins that he just had to have for his office! (Yes, I know it seems a bit odd, but Tim is fond of sea urchins from his seafood marketing days with DSE.)

Our last port of call was the Apple Museum. Tasmania is known to all as the Apple Island, but we had no idea that there were so many varieties grown! Sadly, these days there is not much call for tinned apples for making pies because most people buy those horrible ready-made ones from the frozen food shelf in the supermarket, and (unless you go to a farmer’s market like we do) bottled apple juice is more flavouring and sugar than real apple juice. On the other hand I don’t think we should mourn the end of factories where the machinery used was so dangerous. A cheerful young man demonstrated the peeling and coring machine that they used to use and the speed at which it worked meant that there must have been countless lost and damaged hands and fingers.

We’d left it very late for dinner, but we managed to get in to the Steak Bar and Grill where we washed down a steak for Tim and venison sausages for me (four, and that was just the entree size!) with a 2002 Penfolds Kalimna. The hill back to Gattonside seemed a bit steeper than earlier in the day after that!

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Tasmania January 2009

Posted by Lisa Hill on January 17, 2009

Richmond Tas 15.1.09 004 It may not be Europe or Asia, but a holiday in Tasmania is overseas, and it is one of the nicest places to be in an Australian summer if you hate the heat as much as we do. We’ve been to Tassie a few times, most memorably in 1992 when we brought the car over and toured the whole island for a couple of weeks, but although we’ve been to Hobart half a dozen times now we hadn’t really explored its environs.

On our 1992 trip it was uncharacteristically hot, and hit 41 degrees the day we arrived in Richmond. It just wasn’t bearable so we abandoned it altogether, and promised ourselves to come back one day. So this time round, in mild and sunny weather we straight there as soon as we picked up the hire car. Richmond boasts Australia’s oldest bridge and many other fine historic buildings, but we most enjoyed the art galleries.

Richmond Tas 15.1.09 013Tasmania is home to some of Australia’s most creative artists and writers, and everywhere you go there are beautiful art works, unique pieces of jewellery and gorgeous crafts. In Richmond I found a lovely gift for Gloreea (who is keeping an eye on the house fo us), and Tim bought some lovely huon pine cufflinks.

Richmond also hosts a dear little model of old Hobart Town. It is an exact scale model of Hobart as it was in 1820, and it’s very interesting to compare it with the Hobart we know and love today. I bet school kids love it, because there are all sorts of humorous scenes such as a man sliding off a roof and a wife ticking off a drunken husband; there’s also a stagecoach holdup and some convicts trudging up a hill so it shows the darker side of life in those days as well.

After Richmond, we set off for the first of (hopefully) many wineries. With my copy of Halliday’s Wine Companion in hand we found Domaine A at Campania where we sampled some very fine pinot noir and oaked sauvignon blanc. Some of these are winging their way home to Melbourne for us where we shall no doubt enjoy them in company with fine food and friends in the Lower Belvedere!

Gattonside Hobart Tas 15.1.09 036 Late in the afternoon we finally made our way ‘home’ to Gatttonside, a beautiful heritage listed B&B in Sandy Bay. We had a scrumptious dinner at Maldina’s in Salamanca Place, and (having had a 5.45am start to the day) fell into bed early, nodding off with my copy of The Zookeeper’s War barely started…

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