Friday, December 31, 2010

The best cherries ever

Today I finally made it to the 'Green Shed' along the Huon Highway at Grove when it was open, and bought a kilo of the fattest, juiciest, tastiest cherries and also half a kilo of raspberries. Heaven.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sydney to Hobart

A nice bloke who David used to work with was on the yacht Terra Firma in this year's Sydney to Hobart race, and yesterday (after having dinner with friends at the Shipwright's Arms) we managed to see them cross the finish line and then say hello at Constitution Dock. He has been in the Sydney to Hobart race nine times. To me the whole thing seems an incredibly amazing feat. And when you get up close to these boats and see the size of them and the high-tech equipment on board, it's even more impressive. It was a beautiful warm day in Hobart yesterday, but there wasn't a lot of wind to help the yachts get along the Derwent River to the finish line.

We also popped in to the Taste Festival but have to say didn't enjoy it. I guess being in packed hot places with long queues and nowhere to sit was what we were trying to get away from in moving from Sydney. Maybe we'll pop in again at a different time if we're back in Hobart this week.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

And then there were... none

The baby swallows have fledged and the nest is empty. The photo below shows the last fat and fluffy guy to leave the nest. At least two of the babies are still flying around our yard with the parents, dropping their baby feathers as they go.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A very Tassie Christmas

Some kind and generous people from down the road invited us to an 'orphans Christmas' gathering, a brunch that extended into lunch. Around 30 people had said they would drop in during the day. We ate and chatted in the yard of a landmark old home on the hill in Franklin, meticulously restored, with beautiful gardens and views. It was a great collection of people and an absolute feast... bright yellow scrambled eggs, bacon and sausages cooked on the barbecue, roast tomatoes, smoked salmon, raspberries, caramelised onion tarts, pavlova, cakes, olive bread, champagne and orange juice and more. Stanley the dog seemed to enjoy himself too. Merry Christmas to you!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

And then there were three

It's hard to believe how quickly the baby welcome swallows have grown since the eggs hatched. The photo above shows all five of them in the nest only a couple of days ago. More recently, they have been venturing out of the nest and along the beam.

Well, today they started leaving the nest, with mixed results. While I was on the phone to someone at work today, I spotted the dog playing with something in the paddock and ran out to rescue a baby bird from her mouth. He didn't seem injured, but as WIRES rescue volunteers some years ago we saw plenty of birds simply die of shock rather than injury. David popped him back in the nest.

Now there are three of them left, sitting either in the nest or on the beam next to it. We don't know where the other two have gone, whether they have fledged successfully or... not. Those remaining look pretty healthy and are eating well, even the one who had a brief scary adventure as a dog's plaything, so I guess it won't be too long before they too venture out on their own. Hopefully they won't jump out of the nest and into the waiting jaws of the dogs. We did question the wisdom of the swallows in choosing to build their nest above the dogs' sleeping area... possibly not the greatest location. We are keeping the pups indoors and supervised as much as possible.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A year of firsts

Happy birthday to me. Another year older. It has been a pretty big year. A few things I did for the first time in the last 12 months:
  • Drank hot sake in Japan
  • Walked 100km for charity
  • Moved to Tasmania
  • Went rowing
  • Baked bread
  • Climbed Mt Kosciusko, my first full-pack carrying and wilderness camping hike.
Here's to another year of exciting new experiences ahead!

Monday, December 20, 2010

A barrow to push

I never thought I would ask for a wheelbarrow for my birthday. But I did, and here it is, loaded up with tools, stakes, seeds and seedlings for yesterday's gardening effort. I quickly got the hang of steering it down the hill. And it even fits through the door to the vegetable garden. Thanks David!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Franklin Growers Market

This month's market was a week earlier than normal due to Christmas. Aside from the great produce available, it's a wonderfully social occasion, offering the chance to catch up with many people we know from Franklin and surrounding towns, as well as chat with the stallholders - the growers and makers of the produce for sale. It's held in the lovely Palais theatre with its art deco touches. Today's purchases included chocolates from Cygneture, rhubarb, olive oil, a plate of eccles cakes, lettuce, a huon pine wooden spoon and some gingerbread. So I did rather well and the sellers did rather well out of me too.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

More lovely local produce

Yesterday brought two new local produce experiences for us:
  • The first raspberries of the season - my favourite fruit - bought from someone in Franklin who was picking them at the time. Now that's fresh!
  • A 6+kg Christmas ham from a free-range pig, procured with the help of local Franklin friends. It's sealed, so we won't be eating any just yet, but looks and smells delicious.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Mt Kosciuszko, NSW

The only Huon Valley link to this post is that each of the 40 women on last weekend's Kosciuszko climb was asked to take a treat to share with our group, and I took some delicious honeycomb chocolate from Cygneture using local ingredients, purchased at the Franklin Growers Market a couple of weeks before.

Organised by the brilliant team at Wild Women on Top, the climb of Australia's highest mountain was in honour of Freda du Faur. Three groups of women set out early on Saturday morning, taking different routes up the mountain and meeting on the summit at 2pm to celebrate the achievements of Freda as a female mountaineer and pioneer, and indeed to celebrate our own achievement of carrying a full pack (16- 21kg) to the summit. For many of us, me included, this was our first time carrying a full pack and our first wilderness camping experience.

Saturday dawned with blue skies and some storms over the horizon - but no rain. One team set off to do 5 summits on their way to Mt Kosciusko and two other teams started their scenic, but longer route via Blue Lake. Snow drifts still covered many parts of the range, and we had great fun traversing the snow on our way to Mt Kosciusko. Beautiful, tiny wild flowers spread out from either side of our trail. The views were spectacular. Glacial lakes below us and snow covered passes in the distance. Amazing rock formations and swirling clouds made for an atmospheric climb.

From the summit we trekked off track down the valley to our camp site at Wilkinsons Creek. A thunderstorm was growling around us, so we set up camp then headed (minus pack) up Mt Townsend, Australia's second highest mountain.

We woke the next morning to warming sunshine and another day of trekking across untouched terrain, with stunning views in every direction. There was time to squeeze in one last summit of North Rams Head on our return journey, which ended with a peaceful ride on the ski lift down to Thredbo.

As a group we raised more than $4000 for an Australian Himalayan Foundation project to improve the education of girls in impoverished areas of the Himalaya. It was a challenging trek but so much fun with a group of motivated, healthy, positive and fun women working as a team to make it happen. I feel so lucky to have been able to join them. I took a lot of photos, so here are just a few for those who asked.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Speckled eggs

There are five tiny speckled eggs now in the welcome swallows' nest under the awning of our back verandah. Note creative use of mirror by David to find this out. It's going to be a very full little nest if and when they hatch.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Keep out

Our neighbour has closed his gate. No-one can get in now.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Glen Huon hike

This morning I set out from home to re-do the previously failed challenge of walking 16km with a 16kg pack. It's the required assessment for next weekend's Kosciuszko trip.

This time, I picked the right half of the day to do it. It's pouring outside right now but this morning I only got a few drops from passing clouds. I walked out our front door at about 6.20am, turned right into the forestry area and headed towards Bermuda Road. Made a very bad choice of spot to stop for breakfast (right) - infested with mosquitoes. Just before Bermuda road I turned right towards Glen Huon, through more forestry area (photo below) and finally onto Watson's Road into town. I had to re-do one section because I left my hiking poles leaning up against a sign!

To prove I did it, I tracked my trek using an Android app called RunKeeper on my mobile phone. You can click here to see the map of where I walked and the elevation. It will tell you I did 19.2km in 4 hours and 36 minutes, climbing 484 metres. The last section was a big decent into the town of Glen Huon, with a lovely view - see photo below. Going downhill with the heavy pack turned out to be no easier than uphill. And below is my weight without and with the pack.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Climb ev'ry mountain

In only 10 days time, I will be walking up Mount Kosciuszko (2,228m) and Mount Townsend (2,209m), Australia's tallest peaks, with a group of fabulous women from Wild Women on Top. Climbing Kosciuszko was one of my goals this year, which I thought I would have to abandon when I moved to Tasmania. But thanks to this expedition organised by WWOT, I decided to pursue it. By all accounts it isn't a very difficult walk. But carrying a 16kg backpack, more than a third my own weight, makes it that bit harder! We'll be camping overnight and need to carry all our gear up there.

The climb is to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Australian mountaineer Freda Du Faur’s historic climb of Mt Cook in New Zealand on December 3, 1910. We will honour Freda’s remarkable career as the leading female mountaineer of her generation. However, we won't be climbing in skirts!

Secondly, we are raising funds for the Australian Himalyan Foundation. The Himalaya is an area of unsurpassed beauty and grandeur, but it is also a harsh and impoverished homeland where for many, basic services and amenities are out of reach. The Foundation is a not for profit charitable organisation that helps the people of the Himalaya achieve their goals - through supporting and overseeing health, education and environmental projects in Nepal, India and Bhutan. If you can support us, even just a little bit, please visit the fundraising page

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

New swan family in Franklin

After the winter family of swans that we watched grow from babies after we arrived in Franklin, a new summer family with four cygnets is now hanging out on the foreshore.

Monday, November 22, 2010


On the walk to Southport Lagoon yesterday the bush was a mass of tiny wildflowers. Lucky for us, one woman in our party was a botanist. She pointed out four different types of local orchid, including the relatively rare leek orchid. I struggled to get the camera to focus on most of the tiny flowers and ended up with a bunch of blurry photos. These three are passable, just.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Southport Lagoon walk

Today I walked with the Clarence walking group to Southport Bluff and Lagoon. We are not full-blown members yet (this was only my third walk with them) but provided the other members approve we will probably join up. Some of them have been walking together for 30 years and three members are in their eighties and still hiking. It's not a club as such but a group of friends who walk together. So I think it's only fitting that they should be fussy as to who can and can't join.

Two fellow Franklin residents organised today's walk. We drove south to the Ida Bay Railway, a tourist railway but until the 1970s used for carting limestone and logs for transport out of the area by boat or more recently by truck. From the end of the line we walked through the scrub to Southport Bluff which affords lovely views north up the coastline and also to the mountains in the south west. It wasn't a long or difficult walk. The wildflowers were out in abundance. On the beach at Southport Lagoon we had a fire on the beach to cook some sausages for lunch, before walking back to the railway for the return trip.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

One project complete

While I was away in Sydney this week at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo, clever handyman husband completed the possum-proof vegetable garden project by adding a door, complete with plastic fingers as hooks for the door latches! Nice touch. Now it's up to me to produce something edible in it to justify this effort.

And now on to the next project - a quoll and Tasmanian devil proof chicken shed and yard. Hmmm. We're expecting our four Barnevelder pullets on order to be available for collection sometime in the next month.

Chook yard project stage one

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Possum-proof vegetable garden

At least, we hope it is. Yesterday we put the chicken wire roof on and put rocks all around the enclosed area. I think it looks brilliant, especially the rustic wooden posts which are from our own trees. All built according to David's plan. The last remaining step is to build a door - that job belongs to my clever handyman husband too!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

Food is growing, slowly

Compared to the rampant vege gardens I've seen around here, ours looks pretty sad. But I'm a late starter and in a few months time I reckon we'll finally be eating stuff from our own garden, all grown from seed. In the apple crates, so far the peas, snow peas, shallots and potatoes are all doing well. Of the seedlings growing on the table behind the shed, so far the tomatoes, parsley, strawberry, lavender, lettuce, leek and broccoli are doing well - most still tiny though.

Snow peas looking lonely
These potatoes are Dutch Creams - yum

Saturday, November 6, 2010

New farm dog

Gretchen, our new little arrival here at Schloss Geisterwald, is one of the major reasons behind my lack of posts this week, together with an extreme workload (well, worse than usual), visitors staying, no time for training/exercise and a lack of sleep... are you sensing the stress leaping out from the screen yet? But let's face it, the puppy is so cute you just have to forgive her for waking us at all hours. And even Baerli is starting to get used to her.