I'm not much of a photographer, but it's hard to take a really bad shot on the Huon, in good weather or bad. Last weekend, it was flat and glassy and Tetsuya's boat was still moored at Franklin. Some crazy kids were playing in the river; that must have been a bit icy.
Our friends visiting over the weekend were amused by this store window sign in Cygnet when we visited for the Mid-Winter Lantern Parade and dinner at The Red Velvet Lounge on Saturday. Now, I've been known to crave roast pork or a nice steak now and then, but this sign left us pondering the circumstances in which an emergency butcher is required...
'Save our Schools' has been the cry in small communities around Tasmania for the past week, after the State Government delivered its cost slashing budget last Thursday, recommending the closure of 20 schools, amongst them Franklin Primary School just down the road from us.
The school was established in 1860 making it one of the oldest in the State. Currently, 108 students attend. Bizarrely, Franklin Primary was the recipient of $850,000 under the Federal Government's 'Building the Education Revolution' stimulus funding during the global financial crisis, and the beautiful new library building only this month won a 'People's Choice' in the Tasmanian Architecture Awards. What a dreadful waste if the closure goes ahead.
I don't have children, so clearly it doesn't affect me personally, but the impact of decisions like this are felt throughout small communities, affecting not only the kids and their parents but potentially also local businesses, rural industries, sporting and social groups, community events and so on. It is great to see how everyone in Franklin is rallying around the cause, with protests, meetings, lobbying and a Facebook page set up by parents and friends of the school.
When I returned home after 14 months in Germany in early 1989, I brought with me several recipes from Oma (the grandmother of the family I lived with) that included quark as a primary ingredient. Oma was a wonderful cook and one of the kindest people I have ever met, with a subtle yet wicked sense of humour. Originally from Austria, she had once cooked for the household of some bigwig American official. Amongst Oma's recipes that required quark was one for Schnecken, those delicious pastry snails filled with currants, raisins, almonds and cinnamon, and another for a pastry base used to make various fruit slices or flans, including the wonderful Zwetschgenkuchen which is topped with small, slightly bitter plums. To die for.
I love quark. In fact my main reason for wanting to learn how to make cheese is to make this stuff. Aside from the great pastry recipes, my favourite dessert in Germany was a simple banana quark - ripe mashed bananas and a little sugar or honey mixed with quark. Delicious.
For years, it was impossible to buy quark in suburban Sydney. A couple of German bakers told me that one of the upmarket and expensive delicatessens - now they seem to be called 'providores' - in Paddington stocked it. Another baker told me he sourced it direct from a cheesemaker friend. Recently I picked up a jar of it at our local IGA supermarket from well-known Tasmanian organic dairy producer Elgaar Farm. No big surprise then that the owners are German... sorry, Bavarian!
So more than 20 years after I wrote down the recipe in German from Oma, I finally made Schnecken. The pastry wasn't quite what it should be (I had neglected to write down the quantity of flour and the vanilla sugar was not Dr. Oetkers!) and some looked more like slugs than snails. Very tasty, nonetheless.
When we drive down the Huon Highway heading home from Hobart, I often look right and see spectacular Cathedral Rock, part of the extensive Wellington Park bushland. So I was very pleased to be able to tick this walk off my 'to do' list today, joining a group of 14 people from the Hobart Walking Club for the 600m climb from the North West Bay River. The weather was perfect. This walk is described as 'a solid climb to a spectacular cliff with interesting views' - very accurate. It was also my final 'qualifying walk' to become a member of the Hobart Walking Club. Excellent!
Today I sadly removed three nice young trees (Gleditsia tricanthos) from our yard that had been planted by the previous owners of our place. The lower trunk of each tree had been ringbarked by someone very naughty and with a very sharp set of teeth. Guess who? Hint: the culprit is somewhere in this photo.
Today we walked with our social walking group from the centre of Hobart along the Hobart Rivulet to Cascade Gardens for a morning tea stop, overlooked by the famous brewery of the same name.
Behind the brewery lies the start of the Cascade Track that opened earlier this year. It's a lovely walk; here's a map of the route we took. Not far along you cross this newly constructed but old style bridge, named after Peter Degraves who founded the brewery in 1824.
It's a common feature of rural areas: the property strewn with various vehicle and machinery wrecks and other refuse that's failed to make it to the tip. The most impressive I've seen in the Huon so far was a place up the top of Jacksons Road in Franklin, where more than 40 dead cars dating back to the 1960s were neatly lined up along the paddock fences. There were VW Kombi vans, the good old Holden Kingswood sedan and of course the odd Torana or two. The neighbour across the road looked poor by comparison - he only had a bus and this lovely old truck.
This post was prompted by our neighbour, who this morning brought home a totally trashed red Mazda 323 on a trailer. It begs the question: if it was somewhere else, why bring it home?
We have ordered a wood heater, which will be installed in a couple of weeks. While the heat pump (not air conditioning, as it was called in Sydney) does a great job, we've been a little concerned about power outages, especially with the snow we've had already... plus nothing beats the cosiness and warmth of a real log fire. And I'd rather stare at a log fire than the TV any day! In preparation, today we took delivery of two tonnes of wood, which David has stacked in an apple crate at the back door and in the garage.
Yesterday morning we spent two hours at an organic orchard care workshop run by orchardist Chris Steenholdt and held in a friend Penny's lovely permaculture garden. With a small collection of bare root stock apple and pear trees on order from Woodbridge Fruit Trees, I figured we'd better learn something about how to care for them. We learned about pruning, pest control, feeding and mulching... as you can see from the photo, this fruit tree business is very serious stuff. Actually, there were plenty of laughs as well.
With Mum and Dad visiting us for the weekend, yesterday we took our first short trip over to Bruny Island. The ride over on the ferry was very smooth, but on the return journey the wind had got up and spray washed over the ferry and the cars on board. We were only there for a few hours so it was only a small taste of what the place has to offer. We drove to Dennes Point and had coffee at a lovely new building called Art At The Point, then headed south to Adventure Bay and the Bligh Museum of Pacific Exploration, a late bite of lunch at the Hothouse Cafe then back to the ferry. We had a dinner booking at The Red Velvet Lounge to look forward to, so had to make sure we got home in plenty of time!
It's a poor quality photo taken with my phone, but a nice piece of local humour that we spotted in the Palais Theatre in Franklin last week. Someone has tampered with the light box sign above the stage door.
This morning, well-known Sydney chef Tetsuya Wakuda took delivery of his lovely new Huon Pine boat, which was built at the Wooden Boat Centre here in Franklin. Crowds and TV crews gathered on the Franklin foreshore in the grey fog to see her put into the water. As you'll see in the series of photos below, a crane lifted her over the wharf and into the water, before her name "Belle" was revealed and the champagne corks popped. The engine fired up and Belle made her first short trip on the Huon before returning to the wharf. Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings officiated at the launch. Tetsuya sounded quite emotional as he thanked the many people involved in building his new pride and joy. People here like him a lot, largely for the long-term support he has given to Tasmanian food producers - firstly by using their produce, and also promoting it whenever he gets a chance. He was made a Tasmanian brand ambassador in 1994.
If you get a chance, take a look through the Wooden Boat Centre to see how they do it. And if you have plenty of $$$, why not get their experts, volunteers and students to build a beautiful wooden boat for you? They are looking for a new commission!
Escaped Sydney in 2010 for a piece of paradise in Tasmania's Huon Valley. I'm a keen walker, remote worker, incompetent gardener, Bernese Mountain Dog owner, fan of almost anything German (food, language, cars, beer), amateur linguist, chook fancier, childfree.