Saturday, October 12, 2019

Highland Coos

This local business is onto an absolute Instagram winner. Highland Getaway in Tasmania's beautiful Huon Valley has a 40-strong herd of extremely photogenic and fluffy highland cattle. Guests come to stay, take gorgeous photos and post them to Instagram, which is where I first learned about this local business.

This week I joined a networking evening with our local business enterprise centre and had a tour. Julie, with help from her parents who have relocated from Queensland, has created peaceful luxury accommodation surrounded by the rolling green hills of Ranelagh and Glen Huon. You can stay in the cinema suite or the spa suite, both beautifully appointed. Julie also runs farm tours and you can even brush the cows. You can get close to many of them and they are seriously cute! This would be a wonderful place to relax for a few days or spend a week as a base to explore the local area. And their future plans for the property will be worth keeping an eye on.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Oktoberfest in the shed

On the second last day of the actual Oktoberfest in Munich, David and I hosted our annual fest at home, celebrating with around 50 of our closest friends - at least they were by the end of the night! Bratwurst, weisswurst, pretzels, sauerkraut, Bavarian potato salad, cucumber salad, tomato salad, apricot streuselkuchen (with cream of course), gingerbread hearts and plenty of German beer. Our big shed was decorated with Bavarian flags, posters, long tables and banners. And it wasn't just us dressed up in a Dirndl (me) and Lederhosen (him). Quite a few others got into the spirit of things too.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Walking Wellers: Fern Tree to The Chalet

It didn't look like a great idea as I drove through Huonville towards kunanyi / Mount Wellington - or Wellers as we often call it at home. There was a large grey cloud sitting on the mountain and the windscreen wipers has been going since I left home. But I was determined to use Sunday morning for a training walk from Fern Tree (400m) up the mountain, feeling hopeful that I'll be fit enough to take on the Point to Pinnacle (walk, not run for me) in November. In typical Tassie weather, the sun came out not long after I parked the car. I reached The Springs (720m) much quicker than expected, so I stopped for a coffee at Lost Freight before continuing up Pinnacle Road. It started raining not long before I reached The Chalet (at about 1,000m) and then the rain turned into snowflakes. At the shelter, I put on my rain jacket and started heading back downhill. Ten minutes later the sun was out again! I intended to walk down the Middle Track from The Springs, but it was closed. So I got to enjoy a detour past Silver Falls on the way back to the car. Next time: The Pinnacle.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Project X part II

After listening to ravens roosting in the darkening southern forests with Hrafn: Conversations with Odin (season now extended into October), the next installment of Project X has arrived in the Huon Valley. The Aftermath Dislocation Principle is an artwork in the form of a 40-foot shipping container with eye holes cut into it, providing a glimpse of a town landscape in miniature. I won't describe it further, just get on down to Geeveston any time between now and November and peer inside. While you are there, why not take a look around the town and eat at one of the lovely establishments like the Old Bank of Geeveston, Baker & Co patisserie or The Bears Went Over the Mountain. Or stop in our wonderful village of Franklin on the way home, at Cinnamon and Cherry (now re-opened Friday to Sunday for the warmer months), Aqua Grill or Frank's Cider Bar and Cafe. Seriously, it's been a tougher winter period than usual this year for many local businesses since the bushfires in the region and you'll be made very welcome if you come down and stay!

Wednesday, August 28, 2019


Ten years ago in Sydney, we bought a single, 1.2 metre square raised garden bed made from recycled printer cartridges. It was sturdy and durable and looked great. But before we had much chance to use it, we bought a new home in Tasmania, and a few short weeks later we were heading to our new home. At our new place in the Huon Valley, I fancied using rustic apple crates to grow veggies in and we collected some from a local orchard. They looked beautiful, but after a few years filled with soil in the sun, rain and snow, they started to rot and fall apart. We replaced them with some fantastic dove tailed timber beds, but after a couple of years they settled, warped and also started to fall apart. Now in our main street home, we have a very small garden but enough room for a few raised beds to grow some basics. So I went online and found the same company still supplying a variety of kits and ordered some. On the weekend we part-filled the eWood garden beds with newspaper, compost, sheep manure and garden soil ready to plant in spring... which is just around the corner! I am sure they will serve us for years to come.


Monday, August 26, 2019


By moving into the village, we've swapped views of treetops and paddocks for views of rooftops from many of the windows. I love seeing the colourful corrugated roofs and brick chimneys on the old cottages and commercial buildings along the main street and those hidden behind. The bare trees are gradually being replaced with blossom and new green shoots. And from the front windows, we can see the Huon River flowing past. It's a pleasant outlook on all sides.

Saturday, August 3, 2019


After many - and I mean MANY - months of "thinking about it" (making excuses mostly) I finally completed my first parkrun this morning. Parkrun is a global movement and there are more than 350 of these events across Australia each week, bringing people together for better health and mental wellbeing, fun and a sense of community. Around 2,000 people run every week across Tasmania, as I found out watching this video of local MP David O'Byrne talking about the first anniversary of the Geeveston Parkrun in the Tasmanian Parliament last week.

The sun came out as I arrived in Geeveston and the friendly volunteers made me feel welcome. A tree had fallen across the usual track in last night's high winds and they'd set up a small diversion. Three laps of the course - for me part-running, part-walking - a stretch and that's exercise done for the day. Then it's off for coffee and well-deserved cake or onto whatever other activities the day holds. I can see why it's kind of addictive. Now let's see how my legs feel tomorrow!

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Happy as a pig in mud at #HVMWF 2019

As a bloke in the queue at the bar said to me when I went to fetch a hot spiced cider, "Gumboot people are happy people!" As nice as it would have been to don tatters, face paint and fancy headpieces (we saw lots of beautiful examples), I was extremely happy with my choice of clothing for the Huon Valley Mid Winter Festival on Friday night. I counted the layers I was was wearing - six in total on my upper half! Plus thermals under my jeans and long socks in my gum boots. And I was warm as toast. There was a serious amount of mud, a little rain and a whole lot of happy punters. As I have said before, these people know how to run an event. There is plenty of seating, lots of toilets, undercover areas, fire pits to warm up by and friendly volunteers with a sense of humour. And that's before the great selection of food and beverages, sculptures and awesome music acts. Despite the testing weather conditions, there were plenty of interstate and international visitors. I had squid from the fire bugs at Tasman Quartermasters, some tasty fries, croquettes from Eten and one of Yeastie Beastie's fabulous doughnuts. With hot spiced Willie Smith's Cider in hand, we ran into a few groups of friends and made it out of the paddock car park without needing to be towed out of the mud. Happy days!

Thursday, July 4, 2019

A cottage garden

The garden here at the Old Bank is a new experience for me. It's filled with cottage-y plants and flowers, like tiny daisies, hellebores, lavender, geraniums, hydrangea. I confess to knowing little about flowers, so my friend Karla kindly visited last week to show me how to prune the roses and help me identify the various plants. The garden space is small and wraps around the buildings. There's no grass, but gravel, garden beds and a cute little garden path of stones. In Sydney we primarily grew Australian natives. Up in the hills of Franklin, we were surrounded by native temperate rainforest trees and plants like native pepperberry and man ferns. I grew vegetables and planted some fruit trees as well as a few imports like maple, spruce, crab apple and ornamental pear. Here in our little winter garden, there are already so many flowers. There are bulbs starting to appear and I'm looking forward to seeing what they all are. The camellia bush is about to explode with fluffy pink blooms. Aren't they gorgeous?

Monday, June 17, 2019


"So what are you up to on the weekend?" my work colleague asked me on Friday afternoon.

"Well, on Sunday afternoon we're going to drive about an hour south of us to Hastings Caves, where we'll get on a bus to take us deep into the southern forests at dusk, to listen to the sound of ravens coming in to roost for the night, then get back on the bus and come home again."

I realise how odd that sounds, unless you've been to anything that's part of the Dark Mofo festival before perhaps. This particular event is called Hrafn: Conversations with Odin, a sound installation by renowned sound artist Chris Watson whose works have been heard around the world and who has previously worked with Sir David Attenborough.

The installation is part of the $2 million Project X, designed to bring visitors to the Huon Valley to aid in recovery after the devastating bushfires early this year. The fires damaged much of the Tahune Airwalk, one of the region's main tourist attractions, and it's not expected to reopen until late 2019. The project has copped criticism, as it was always going to. But good things always do, and same old, same old isn't going to bring people here, when everyone loves the new and different. Hrafn is on from Thursday to Sunday next week as well, read more and get your tickets here.

Dinner at one of the Huon Valley's restaurants and cafes is part of the Hrafn experience. Last night we enjoyed a delicious meal of beef curry (David) and seafood chowder (me) sitting by the wood fire at The Bears Went Over The Mountain (or The Bears for short). We actually hadn't been in there since a stop for Devonshire tea during a holiday in Tasmania more than 10 years ago. It's been renovated to a larger, light and bright space with yummy scones and plenty more on offer. The Bears is licensed with a nice range of Tasmanian ciders, wines and soft drinks. Now we know, we'll go back for sure.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Franklin History Walk

A couple of months back, beautiful timber plinths started appearing along the main street of Franklin. Then slowly, plaques outlining the history of each building were attached to them all, as well as to the walls of street-fronting buildings like our own new home, the former Commercial Bank of Australia building.

Today, the Franklin History Walk was officially opened, with a launch at Abbey on Main (former Methodist church, now accommodation) and a display of snippets of Franklin history. The walk is a project of the Franklin Progress Association, funded by a Tasmanian Government community infrastructure grant, and clearly took a lot of work from the Franklin History Group and others in the local community. It's a fantastic addition to the village and hopefully will encourage people to walk the full length of the main street as well as along the river banks, where a series of waterside panels explain more about life on the water.

A lovely booklet outlining the town's history and including a map listing all the points of interest along the walk is available for only $2. In addition to the white settler history, the booklet pays respect to the traditional and original owners of this land, the melukerdee people, as well as today's Tasmanian Aboriginal community who are the custodians of this land. I picked up one copy today, but think I'd better keep a few more handy for visitors. Come on down sometime for a stroll. It takes about 1.5 hours to walk the whole thing, depending on how fast you walk and read I guess!

Monday, June 3, 2019

Paint the town red

Each year, businesses in the south of Tasmania are encouraged to light up in red in support of the Dark Mofo festival, the annual winter art and music festival run by the team at MONA. Whether it's red lighting, red coloured food and drinks or limited edition red packaging, many businesses get into the spirit of this fantastic festival that brings many visitors to the state. The idea is to create a great experience for tourists and local festival-goers as they travel around the Hobart area. As we now live on the main road and David runs his technology help business from here, we decided to light up the Franklin Old Bank in red too. Spooky huh! I love this time of year.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

The Franklin Fruit Loop

Some years back, friends and neighbours Deb and Martin and Shane and Jane had a really lovely idea - to create a public walkway lined with fruit trees along the boundary of their land, between Old Road and New Road in Franklin. The sun came out this afternoon as we gathered for the official opening of this great gift to the local community. We took the dog and a thermos of tea and enjoyed some sweet treats, the violin of Marjorie Gadd and a poem written and read by Steve Gadd for the occasion. The walk has beautiful views over Franklin village, the river and Egg Islands and north to the Wellington Range. Cattle graze in the neighbouring paddocks. The walk is being planted with fruit and nut trees and runs alongside a wildlife corridor with bandicoots frequent visitors to the property.

The first home we tried to purchase in Tasmania was in Lalla in the north of the state. On the boundary was a 'pear walk', a corridor of pear trees planted more than 100 years ago. I thought it was a wonderful idea. Now thanks to the generosity and vision of these local property owners, our community will be able to enjoy the peace, get some exercise and in time, pick some fruit along the way on this lovely pathway. From the Huon Highway, walk up either Old Road or New Road and you can't miss the signs.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Morning walks, then and now

Twenty minutes walk from our old home up in the hills of Franklin, you could catch a glimpse of the Hartz Mountains. At sunrise, with a fog in the valley between us, it seemed extra special. The forestry roads were rocky and sometimes a little icy or muddy or dusty, depending on the season. Quiet, but for the amazing lyrebirds and the thud of pademelons hopping away in the undergrowth.

Now, we live on the main road in Franklin. I can either hike directly up the steep Old Road hill for a good heart starter and return in an easy jog down New Road, or pick a direction and head along the river. There are streetlights, cars and trucks. Whatever the weather, the view across the river is pretty.