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.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Village life

It's been ten days since we moved down from the hills of Franklin into the centre of the village. This morning we walked across the road to the war memorial for the Anzac Day service, followed by a community breakfast at the Franklin Bowls Club. We've gone from having a large fenced yard to a small garden with no grass, so we take Gretchen across the road for regular short walks along the river. She's quickly settling in to being dog-about-town instead of farm dog. Yesterday evening we ran into friends on our walk who mentioned they were heading to the pub afterwards, so we met them there. Collecting our mail means wandering next door instead of a drive down the hill. There's a lovely little organic store only a short walk down the road, where you can refill your jars of dry goods like flour, rice and spices. David has had customers visit his main road office. And to my great surprise, the traffic noise hasn't kept me awake at all. I'm sure it will have its challenges, but so far village life is proving to be a nice change and an interesting little adventure.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Bernese Worldwide Walk 2019 - Hobart

Yesterday we finally made it to the Hobart edition of the Bernese Worldwide Walk 2019. We've missed previous years due to other commitments and dear old Baerli being unable to walk very far in her last couple of years. This year, there were 16 of these beautiful, good-natured dogs and their owners. We gathered near the Cornelian Bay Boathouse for a short walk and a photo opportunity of course. Gretchen was such a good girl, we weren't sure how she would go with such a large group of dogs without Baerli to follow. Amazingly at 8.5 years she was the oldest Bernese Mountain Dog there! There were four 18 month old ones from the same litter, oh boy, they were boisterous and funny. We had a lovely couple of hours, patting all the dogs and meeting all their owners. It's hard to say if Gretchen enjoyed it, but fair to say she enjoyed the trip to Willie Smiths on the way home, more specifically the tiny piece of ham that "fell" from my cheese-and-ham toastie.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Goodbye, ladies

It's a sad day as I farewell all 14 of my remaining chooks, including Vladimir the rooster. They are all safely packed in boxes, cat carriers and crates and on the way to their lovely new home as I type. This time next week we'll be moving into our new place "in town" with no room for chooks. This morning I threw their favourite leftover rice and curry out for them, gave them fresh water and felt a little sad watching them peck around in excitement.

I felt even sadder when I closed up the empty shed tonight. No-one left on the perches. But I am so happy that they going to such a nice new home in the Huon and all staying together as a flock. In other good news: the two friendly New Hampshire hens I gave back to the people I got them from as chicks have settled in well. They are now known as "The Suzies". That really makes me smile. Longer term, I will definitely miss eating an egg that was only laid yesterday for breakfast! It's the best.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

It must be autumn

A sea of these classic fairytale fungi has appeared under the silver birch trees next to the garage. They're so pretty, but I dug them up, worried that Gretchen might fancy eating them.


Saturday, March 23, 2019

We bought a bank

It's exciting times for us, as we look forward to moving into The Old Bank in Franklin next month. It's a building we've admired over the years, as much for the huge shed immediately behind it with so much potential as for the very solid brick building that is part of the village streetscape, and heritage registered for that reason. One night over pizza at the Aqua Grill, David raised the idea of buying it. It was on the market again after selling to a lovely couple a few years back. Before that it housed a Naval Museum which we visited with my parents some years back.

As much as David and I love all the beautiful old homes in Tasmania, when we first moved here our choice was to move into a newer house, for a few reasons. We were bringing a (small) house full of modern furniture with us from Sydney, such as a huge glossy white bookcase that wouldn't fit into an older home with low ceilings and cosy rooms. We couldn't afford to replace everything. We also needed to get back to work immediately and couldn't spend time renovating. I really admire the lovely renovated farm houses and historic homes we've visited here over the years, but I'm not sure I could do it myself. And so many older homes on the market at the time seemed so draughty and dark, with lots of wood panelling and small windows. So we bought an almost new colourbond home on 9 beautiful acres up in the hills, where we could move right in with all our existing stuff and get straight back to work. Almost nine years on, we're thrilled to now have a little piece of local history to take care of.

People keep asking us what we're going to do with the Old Bank. To be honest, we don't know. There are so many possibilities, lots of ideas floating around. So to start with, we'll be moving in and doing exactly what we are now - working a corporate job (me) and running a business (David). We'll have a mortgage again, so we can't go crazy! It will be a significant lifestyle change for us, living on the main road in the village. I'll miss the sun first thing on winter mornings, the silence and delicious tank water. I have to sell my chooks. But we'll be right across the road from the river! We'll have bin night! We can walk to buy a coffee, a pizza or a cider! There's a bus stop at the door, hardly any garden and so many rooms! It's time for a change and I'm looking forward to it.

Monday, March 11, 2019

A very long weekend

It was a long weekend, and boy was I grateful for this one. We needed the time to adjust to our new one-dog household. Just to give ourselves some space, without obligations. Yesterday we took Gretchen on a short outing to Cygnet. We picked up a few things, popped into a couple of stores that we hadn't been to, had coffee and cake at Lotus Eaters in their nice dog friendly outdoor area. Gretchen is having to get used to being solo dog. Over the weekend she kept looking out the door or around the garden for her missing sister, which was a little heartbreaking. But at least she gets the whole back seat of the car to herself now. We couldn't face going straight back home, so called a kind friend who had offered support and popped in for a chat. It did us both the world of good.

Today we left Gretchen at home alone for a few hours while we headed to the Taste of the Huon. The weather was beautiful, and loads of people came from Hobart and beyond to sample a huge range of food and beverages, a much needed boost for local businesses affected by loss of income during the recent bushfires. We had coffee and doughnuts, sampled some Indonesian fare, bought some local saffron and wine and a take-home pack of ginger beer, then settled down with a Simple Cider to watch a performance artist called Samora Squid pass his entire body through the head of a tennis racket, then swallow a sword. That guy is a true entertainer.