Friday, March 30, 2012

Toasty cat

About six months after we moved to Tasmania, our elderly cat Lilly decided she didn't want to use the litter tray anymore. Instead, she would leave small nuggets on the bath mat or in the walk-in wardrobe, and she sprayed on my favourite leather handbag and wallet. As many cat owners would know, cat pee is one smell that is almost impossible to eradicate from porous material. So poor Lilly had to be relocated to the large shed and garage, where she has lived quite happily ever since.

However it does get bitterly cold up there in winter. It's only just Autumn and last week it went from being 26 degrees on Monday and Tuesday to only one degree and snowing on Friday. So to keep Lilly warm (and let's be honest, to reduce my own terrible feelings of guilt) I ordered her a heated sheepskin and velour pet bed. She has hardly been out of it since.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The quilt walk

As part of this year's Focus on Franklin festival, the talents of local quilters were on display in the windows of many homes in the town.


The Aqua Grill seafood restaurant also featured an exhibition of quilts. One of those belongs to a friend who had (as she put it) a "big-0" birthday this year. As a gift, some friends in our walking group asked us to contribute a square for a quilt they would make for her. Boy there are some clever and creative people out there. Due to my complete lack of sewing skills, I kept our square very simple and simply stitched a trail of dog paw prints across the cheesecloth square (she likes dogs), and attached a pink bow in honour of her involvement with the fabulous Dragons Abreast dragon boat team in Tasmania. Here's a small section of the finished quilt:

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A black swan on the river

For the Focus on Franklin boat parade on Saturday night, someone ingeniously turned their boat into a black swan, a nice tribute to all the real ones living on the Huon River. The Living Boat Trust put on a sausage sizzle, and with a glass of red and some sparklers in hand, we watched the lit-up boats going up and down the river with Franklin friends and visiting tourists. Some lanterns made by local school kids were lit and sent up into the darkening sky above the river.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Focus on Franklin 2012

On Saturday morning we woke early to the sound of pouring rain, not ideal for the annual riverside Focus on Franklin festival. David went down to help set up signs, chairs and so on. Luckily it cleared to a typical Tasmanian day, with alternating periods of sun, rain, sun, rain, sun and by late afternoon the rain had gone.

This year's event was combined with the Rotary Club of Huon Valley's annual Apple and Salmon Race. I won't describe what that involves here, but if you're curious you can read my post about last year's races. This year we were also treated to demonstrations by the Tasmanian Light Horse group dressed in authentic uniforms as they re-enacted battle charges and showed off their horsemanship and bayonet skills.

The axemen could be seen in action outside the Lady Franklin pub, and there were dragon boats on the river. On the oval, there was a good range of food and wine stalls. For lunch we chose a delicious goat curry from Boer goat breeders and goat meat producers here in Franklin, Kellie and Jim. The woman in front of me in the queue turned out to be from the local IGA supermarket and asked if she could stock their goat meat and curries. Very cool. We took the dogs down with us and they happily received plenty of pats from the kids.

The Masonic Lodge featured an exhibition of local art, and we bought two beautiful screen prints by Woodstock artist Fern Halliday to hang on the dark painted wall in our bathroom.

The 'Apple Delights' cooking competition again brought out the highly competitive nature of Franklin locals, with several friends taking out prizes: Peta won the apple teacake division, Martin had the best the apple teacake cooked by a man (I love that category - the days when men had any handicap in the kitchen seem long gone) and Rod cleaned up with his apple cider. The room downstairs in the Palais smelled heavenly.


Friday, March 23, 2012

Inverawe Native Gardens

It's hard to believe that Margaret and Bill Chestnut only bought this 22 acre block of land overlooking North West Bay 11 years ago. They have planted more than 8500 Australian native trees and turned what was a weed-filled wasteland into a peaceful, landscaped garden Their message is that native plants can be used to create a garden just as colourful and beautiful as introduced species, but one that's sustainable, water-wise and low maintenance.

The place is filled with birds and visited regularly by native animals. On a noticeboard at the entrance is an amazing close up photo of a masked owl that had landed on the ground after being harassed by crows. Another photo shows a pademelon stretching up to drink from one of the decorative water fountains.

The entrance to Inverawe Native Gardens is located at the rear of the Margate Train, only 20 minutes drive from Hobart. If you are a serious gardening buff, you could take a tour hosted by one of the owners. We politely declined and took a self-guided walk instead, using the helpful map provided.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Peppermint Bay

Sunday lunch at the bar dining area of Peppermint Bay in lovely Woodbridge turned out to be a great choice. Mum and Dad were visiting, and we got to enjoy the lovely warm weather looking out over the D'Entrecasteaux Channel to Bruny Island. The food was terrific. On the way there we stopped in at Cygnet market and the Southern Exposure art exhibition in the Cygnet Town Hall. We strolled around Woodbridge market and I bought some locally produced Brikada extra virgin olive oil.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Change in season

March has been warm so far, but it is clear that the season has changed. The light looks different, softer, muted, and the sun is further north. There's an autumn crispness in the evening air and the leaves have started to turn.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Taste of the Huon 2012

Ate a delicious pork knackwurst with sauerkraut and home-made spicy mustard from Fat Pig Farm (a.k.a. Rare Food). Drank a Blighs cider. David had a gypsy roll (cevapcici in a flatbread wrap) and a Huon Valley Soft Serve ice cream. I enjoyed an ice cream from Icecream From the Valley (it's made one road north from us), as I did last year. Bought a blue alpaca wool jumper from Chakaya Alpacas, some riesling from Heron's Rise and dukkah from Bodhi Farm Organics. Sat on the grass with the crowds and soaked up the sun at the Ranelagh showground. How fantastic to enjoy such a good feed on products all made a short distance from our home.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Kaoota tramway

Today our social walking group walked the Kaoota tramway track, near Margate. There are many disused tram and railway routes in Tasmania. Many of them were used for transporting timber, but this one (built in 1906) was used for getting coal out of the mine at Kaoota down to the port at Margate. There were pieces of coal still to be seen from spills. As it was a tramway, the path is wide and level, making for easy walking. From the Margate end, it's a steady uphill climb for 6km and then a gentle downhill on the return of course. The track can be done by bike or horse as well, but dogs are not allowed, unlike the nearby Snug Falls track where on-leash dogs are permitted. There are some nice views along the way, like the one below north to Cape Raoul. Here's a little map of our walk.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Just walking the dog

Last year we joined the Huon Valley Dog Walking Association. As well as providing outings for dogs to be walked, exercised and socialised with other dogs, the group promotes responsible dog ownership, the health benefits of dog walking and also lobbies local government to make areas available for dog walking. They are pretty limited in our area and too many obviously good places to walk dogs are designed 'no dogs' or on-leash only. I have mentioned before that one thing we do miss about Sydney is the daily walk up to our local off-leash dog park. It was a large, relatively safe area where dogs and their owners gathered late each afternoon. Today we joined the Huon group on a lovely walk from the centre of Cygnet to the Sailing Club and back, finishing up at The Lotus Eaters for dog-friendly coffee and chat. If you own a dog in the Huon area and want to join in the fun, email for details.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Today's little harvest

... is some rather large carrots.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Southern vineyards open weekend

One weekend in March each year, vineyards in southern Tasmania open their doors to the public for cellar door tastings and sales. A lot of smaller winemakers are open so it's a good chance to try something new and also see some interesting locations off the main road. The event is promoted by Hobart's daily newspaper The Mercury, and unfortunately, the only way to find out the details of which vineyards are open and where they are is to get hold of the guide inserted in the Sunday Tasmanian on the correct weekend. I missed getting a copy last weekend - as I did last year - due to being in Queensland for work. Apparently the tourist information centre in Hobart also has copies, but that's no use to me down here in the Huon Valley. Anyway...

The other way to find out what's open is to drive past and see the signs. On the next hill south of us, there are two small wineries in the same road, Highland Brae and Wombat Springs. I have tried a nice 2008 pinot noir from Wombat Springs once before, bought at our local growers and makers market. I walked past on my afternoon hike yesterday. How's this for a rustic cellar door?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Blackberry bonanza

Yes, they are a weed around here and it's not easy to clear a major infestation. But it's a bumper year for blackberries and if you want some, find a nice back road and go pick some! I walked to the top of Braeside Road in Franklin today and saw many, many ripe blackberries along the road. I only ate a few, so there are plenty left for you.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Naked ladies

One day while I was away last week, David went to investigate what Gretchen was woofing at. It turned out to be these flowers that had suddenly appeared in our front paddock! More surprise flowers that we haven't planted. They are Amaryllis belladonna, an autumn flowering bulb from South Africa, with the common name of 'naked lady' due to the bare stems. They didn't come up last year, so I am guessing they must be enjoying the hot, dry weather we have had. I am sure there will be some web surfers who end up on my blog not expecting to see flowers...