Friday, December 27, 2013

Looking down

Walking the Overland Track was a little like meditation. My brain has never felt so clear. I thought I would have plenty of time for thinking, but in fact I thought about very little other than where to put my foot next or how beautiful the plants were. It was the holiday I needed and the perfect time to visit the Cradle Mountain - Lake St Clair National Park. The wildflowers were well and truly on display. Hundreds of waratahs, bright red scoparia, a sea of bauera underneath the eucalypts and even some tiny native orchids. Here are some things I saw while looking down.

As much as I saw mostly what was at my feet on the Overland Track, morning tea and lunch breaks were a chance to look up, at trees, mountains, clouds and wide blue skies.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas River Walk at Franklin

From 5pm on Christmas Day, a group of Franklin locals gathered at the Landcare Walk along the Huon River to share leftovers, a laugh and a drink or two. What a pleasant way to end the day.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Christmas Eve cider

Today we knocked off work a little early and popped in for a late afternoon cider at The Apple Shed in Grove with a couple of friends. The recently opened cider bar and providore is almost unrecognisable from the old Apple Museum we had visited often before. The renovation is a great credit to the Willie Smiths team behind it. We love it. It will be a great asset to the Huon Valley. I'm looking forward to more pleasant afternoons spent on the deck.

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Overland Track

Earlier this month, David and I walked Tasmania's iconic Overland Track, one of Australia's top bushwalks. We did it in style with Cradle Mountain Huts, staying in private huts with hot showers and comfortable twin share bunk rooms, enjoying good food and fine Tasmanian wines... yes, it's a hard life. If you get the chance, you must go. Do it, do it, do it!

On the first morning, we gathered nervously at the walker's base at the beautiful Quamby Estate in Hagley, not far from Launceston. After brief introductions and a gear check (the company provides backpacks and rain jackets on loan and a checklist of other items to take), we were on a minibus on the way up to Cradle Mountain and on the track by around 10.30am.

Over six days and five nights, we trekked through stunning landscapes and a wide variety of vegetation, from rainforest and eucalypt forest to open buttongrass plains and alpine plants. We saw Tasmanian trees like the myrtle beech, sassafras, King Billy pine and pencil pine - and even a hybrid between the last two that our group dubbed the 'King Pencil'. The weather was kind. We had two sunny hot days, some overcast, some with drizzle and rain. It was actually very atmospheric walking past Lake Windermere in the rain - like something from a fairytale. Unfortunately we had to abandon plans for a side trip up Mount Doris and Mount Ossa, Tasmania's tallest mountain. The weather had closed in and we were being pelted with tiny bits of hail at the track junction, so the decision of the group was unanimous. We passed historic trappers' huts, streams, rivers, lookouts, glorious waterfalls. The track itself ranged from freshly laid boardwalks to rocky paths to mud bogs. And all the while mountain ranges unfolded before our eyes. One of the most interesting things about the Overland Track is that you can see it stretching before you and see where you will end up each day.

We got very lucky, walking with a great group of people (ten of us in total) from Texas, Victoria and Queensland and two fantastic local guides. There were lots and lots of laughs along the way, but it doesn't feel like walking in a 'group' - you can walk at your own pace, there's no need to stick together or any pressure to keep up. My photos really don't do the place justice, but here are a few of my favourites. There are so many, I'll share a few more in subsequent posts.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Meddling with medlars: part 2

Back in April a neighbour gave us a bag of unusual looking fruit called medlars. I decided to use a Sally Wise recipe to make medlar liqueur out of them. It's very simple:

500g ripe medlars
2 cups vodka
375g sugar

You just place the medlars in a sterilised jar, heat the vodka and sugar until dissolved, pour it over the fruit and seal the jar. Shake the jar every day for a week, then leave it in a cool, dark place for six months. Yesterday I strained the fruit from the liquid and we tried a little to accompany some Bruny Island Cheese - it's delicious! Sweet and fragrant.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Vice Regal

I have loved driving past Government House in Hobart since we moved here, although it must be said, mainly for the sight of cattle grazing in the paddock in front of such a grand building! On Tuesday evening I got to see inside, at a function to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Big Monkey theatre company. Must go back on an open day to have a better look. What a beautiful building.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

I am in love with...

... my hiking boots.

We got back on Monday from six days walking Tasmania's famous Overland Track. Through rain, mud, huge puddles, hail and sun, over many rocks and countless tree roots, my feet remained completely dry, warm and blister-free the whole time. David and I each bought a pair of these boots in Grindelwald in Switzerland last year to replace old ones falling apart. I think they are the most comfortable shoes I have ever owned. I truly love them.

I'll post a few of my favourite photos from our trip soon, once I get a chance to look through them.