Monday, March 31, 2008

Holy Trinity of Food Trails in Tasmania

MDR fortuitously found this brochure in Zeehan whilst the pair were en route to Burnie. After an overnight stop in the port city of Burnie, a fairly ordinary city which is desperately trying to become more attractive, MDR & MB headed south-east to Swansea via Latrobe so the food trail could be "sampled". The duo stumbled on the Cherry Barn first so popped in and bought a little cherry & apple pie plus a delightful mini cherry cheesecake. Got directions to Anvers which is a quaint little chocolate factory in a California bungalow which also houses an excellent restaurant, so lunch there was a good choice. MDR had a type of steak and kidney pie that included chocolate in it, however he couldn't taste it.
Next stop was Ashgrove to pick up some of their novel but nice Wasabi cheese, had to jostle with a very large group from a tour bus, but also managed to pick up some nice blue cheese and a small piece of Red Leicester. A few clicks down the road was the Christmas Hills Farm Cafe, by then MDR & MB were feeling very overfed from the lunch and all the samples, so just picked up a punnet of fresh raspberries for later consumption.
Great fun and definitely worth the drive.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Hahndorf Food Hero #2

Saturday 29 March 08: Last stop of the day on the Adelaide Hills tour was an afternoon tea (not necessary but nice) at Udder Delights a boutique cheese factory/shop and cafe on the main street of Hahndorf. This place is fresh, clean, immaculately presented and the cheeses are divine. Their goat curd and chevre are particularly noteworthy.
MB had the best cup of Earl Grey tea ever, made with loose leaf tea and piping hot water and MDR enjoyed a very high quality coffee & chocolate cake with service that was exceptionally pleasant and professional. Simple pleasures like these are in reality not that easy to find but Udder Delights is a true food hero.

The Cedars, Hahndorf

MDR & MB were scratching around for something to do on MDR's last day in Adelaide and saw in an Adelaide Hills guide a small mention of the family home of the famous artist, Hans Heysen, which was open to visitors. This turned out to be one of the highlights of the Adelaide visit, a beautiful home and studio (pictured) set on 130 acres on the outskirts of Hahndorf, and hardly changed within the last 80 years. This home, which is very comfortable but not at all grand, is filled with Heysen artworks and other beautiful objects, books and publications. Not to mention the gardens which are a lovely haven featuring Himalayan Cedars.
Hans Heysen was an exceptionally talented and prodigious artist with an output of over 20,000 artworks in his time. Heysen's famous paintings of eucalyptus trees are iconic and one learns during the tour of his property that he was an ardent conservationist who kept buying land to save the gum trees. He would even pay nearby landholders to stop them from felling gum trees on their land. Heysen was born in 1877 in Germany and emigrated to Australia when he was 7 years old. When Heysen died in 1968 his collection of Rembrandt & Vermeer paintings tragically had to be sold to pay SA death duties, most of these paintings ended up overseas. Luckily in 2003 a Rembrandt self portrait was found in the house and it is now there on display. MDR reckons Heysen is a much better artist and MB wholeheartedly agrees.
It was a real privilege to visit this property as it still a family home for the Heysen descendants and therefore does not look nor feel like a museum.

Hahndorf Food Hero #1

Saturday 29 March 08: MDR & MB took a leisurely drive up to Hahndorf with a view to visiting Hans Heysen's family home. Hahndorf is in the Adelaide Hills and less than 30 minutes drive from Glenelg along an excellent motorway.
Readers may remember an earlier visit by the MB family to Hahndorf in 2005. It was with some trepidation that MB & MDR crossed the threshhold of the Kaffeehaus, MB expected heads to swivel and a hushed silence as they broached the entryway, mustn't be that famous though as no one took a jot of notice. The Kaffeehaus does not appear to have changed greatly, didn't actually stop for coffee just a quick reccy.
After walking the length of the very picturesque main street, MDR decided he was going to have a pie at Pot Belly Pies. MB followed suit and both ordered a beef mushroom & guinness pie. This is a very small shop that only sells hand made pies (12 varieties) and rightly deserves it's award for best pies in SA. One of the best pies MB has sampled. The special of the day was a chicken brie and cranberry which had sold out, not quite to MB's taste but obviously there are punters out there who fancy that combination.

Feeding Frenzy - WOFTAM

MB dropped into the Jurlique sale early on Saturday morning (29 March 08) hoping to snag some of their very nice skincare products at bargain prices. MB saw the sale advertised in the Adelaide Advertiser and was hoping not too many folks saw it, she couldn't be more wrong however as it looked as if half of the female population of SA were there.
There were about 6-8 small tables with a limited range of discontinued Jurlique products, four checkouts and queues to each checkout that were easily 200m long, definitely not worth the wait.
MDR had dropped MB there and gone off the find a servo and was quite surprised when MB called him within 5 minutes of being dropped off. A bit disappointing but worth checking out nonetheless.

Friday, March 28, 2008


Presently staying in sunny Glenelg, quite the tourist hub. Found a very nice apartment on Colley Terrace which is just opposite the beach. Didn't realise when we made the booking that the World Beach Volleyball Tour was being held practically on our doorstep. Quite a huge event with lots of tall, athletic types from all over getting around. Eljay scored a lanyard and other merchandise from the sponsor, Swatch, when we walked by yesterday. He must've flirted with the nice lady handing out the merchandise as none of us grown ups were offered anything! CF & PTA spent a while arguing over who was going to keep the lanyard, looks like CF won that round.

Norm's Coolie Wonder Dogs

A trip to the Barossa Valley is not complete until you've visited Norm's Coolie dog show near Tanunda.  Norm is still going strong with his not so funny sense of humour, giving all the kids in the audience a hard time.  First part of the show was rounding up some sheep, the dogs were a little disorganised and it took quite some time and countless attempts for the dogs to get the sheep corraled.  Eljay spent most of the show playing on the hay bales in the shed behind the paddock where the show is held.
Norm also got the dogs to sit in a circle and bought the sheep in, then he got all the dogs to lie down togther in row.  The show is set in a lovely rural setting and the property is dotted with old yellow utes and trucks that double as dog kennels, very Aussie.  At the end of the show Norm got all the dogs to jump in the back of a yellow ute so the visitors could pat them, Eljay got up close but some of the dogs were pretty jumpy and snarling at the strangers.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Pear Ridge Restaurant, Margate, Tasmania

Such a promising restaurant, just south of Hobart: "Pear Ridge is the beginning of your discovery of what we're all about. It's really terrific ingredients, many grown in our own garden, which our customers can see in progress. Serving local produce in a way that entices you to explore different tastes each time you visit."
MB was delighted to discover this place, which sounds just like Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage, and dropped in for lunch on their Huon Valley day trip. Soup du jour was cream of spinach and after enjoying some delightful fresh spinach in the campervan MB was keen to sample some more. MDR ordered lamb cutlets which he pronounced very good. The soup unfortunately was a disaster, it tasted like water thickened with flour, unseasoned with no stock nor herbs, just some unidentifiable green flecks in the "paste" which is all one could describe it as.
MDR had also attempted to order a pear juice but this was another menu item not available.
Not to be completely deterred MB decided to try the French Pudding for dessert as it contained seasonal pears and cherries (pear trees laden with fruit in the garden were in plain view). Unfortunately this dessert wasn't available and the chef recommended the hot raspberry waffle. MB thought this was a safe bet as fresh raspberries are still available. The dish that came out did not resemble a waffle at all. Instead we were served a large ramekin of stodgy bread and butter putting with a half dozen raspberries on top. If one wanted to eat a large stodgy pudding this would have been fine, pity their menu descriptions are completely misleading.
The service was super slow and only a handful of diners were in attendance. After lunch MB & MDR strolled through the garden and were amazed to see ripe apples & quinces falling off trees and rotting on the ground. Masses of large pears were there for the picking and there was also an impressive stand of ruby red rhubarb plus a large stand of fennel - none of these were even on the menu. The garden, whilst large and well laid out, looked very sad and neglected.
One wonders if this place has recently changed hands, the present management do not seem to take any pride nor interest in the concept that they are advertising.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Wineglass Bay, Freycinet Peninsula, East Coast Tasmania

Some pics from the Wineglass Bay hike, one has to walk uphill for nearly an hour to get a glimpse of this spectacular bay.  Then it's another very steep hike downhill to visit the actual beach, not for the fainthearted that's for sure.  MDR was very patient with MB on the return hike back uphill, MB was only allowed to have 20 "pitstops"...

Dove Lake, Cradle Mountain

Two of the lovely vistas captured whilst MDR & MB did the 6klm Dove Lake circuit at Cradle Mountain.

Street Rods invade Tasmania

Street Rod convention in Tasmania over Easter with over 400 participants.  Spotted these beauties at the Anvers Chocolate factory just outside of Latrobe in Northern Tasmania.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Cradle Mountain

Cradle Mountain is everything the promotional literature says, absolutely stunning.  MDR & MB did the 6klm Dove Lake circuit and both agree it's the most beautiful walk they have ever done.  Good weather, slightly overcast, around 12c.  Took loads of photos but no USB port on this PC (at van park in Swansea), one of the rare occasions MB has been able to get internet access.  Found an online access centre yesterday in Zeehan but the lady running the place couldn't stop chatting, MB must've been the only customer that day.
Easter Friday MDR & MB plan to visit Freycinet National Park on the east coast home of the iconic Wineglass Bay. 

Night of the Hungry Possums

Stayed a night at Lake St Clair National Park en route to Strahan and the west coast. This is an alpine area which MB thought would be cooler as the word "alpine" suggests. Well it couldn't have gone below 20c overnight and there were bushfires in the region so lots of smoke and ash. Lake St Clair is at the southern end of the Overland Track which starts at Cradle Mountain.
The camping area was very busy with all sorts, trekkers from overseas and grey nomads etc. The camaraderie is wonderful, met lots of other travellers, many of whom had driven down from Devonport (from SA, Vic Qld etc). Some folks from Adelaide were bemoaning the lack of mainland newspapers and were appalled at the quality of food shops, apparently at a store somewhere on the west coast one could find 15 types of gravy mix, but no legs of lamb. MDR has now dubbed the west coast "Gravyland". Our Maui campervan was a hit with our neighbours who all came inside to check it out. One of our neighbours had a custom made camper trailer which looked very space age.
MDR & MB did get a chance to do a 90 min walk around part of the lake, up to a platypus hide, however water level was very low so didn't see any platypi, did spot a black faced possum however.
It was a hot night there so dinner was al fresco on the campervan outdoor table, MDR cooked up our King Island porterhouse while MB did some garlic mash, salad and beans. While eating their dinner a black possum started sneaking up towards MB, luckily MDR spotted it and tried to chase it away, the possum though wasn't shy so MDR had to tap it on the nose with a rock to move it on. These possums are really fat, quite tame and obviously very well fed by the tourists. One of these little buggers jumped on our neighbours' dinner table while they were eating and tipped it over, then started eating all the food that had fallen.
Next morning MDR & MB set off for Strahan and the Gordon River.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Tuesday 18 March: Today was a wilderness Cruise up the Gordon River and over to Sarah Island in Macqaurie Harbour.  Sarah Is. was a brutal prison between 1822 and 1833 and couldn't be anymore isolated either. Strahan was packed with tourists so spent the night in Zeehan.  Zeehan is an old mining town, very reminiscent of Charters Towers and was once the 3rd largest town in Tasmania.  The Gaiety Theathre was the largest in Tasmania at one time.   Found an interesting shop selling antiques and crocoite, a mineral that is only found near Zeehan and is very sought after by collectors all over the world.
Next stop is Dove Lake & Cradle Mountain

Seals near Tasman Island

Australian Southern Fur seals on the coast near Port Authur.  Amazingly rugged coastline.

Stewarts Bay, Eaglehawk Neck

MDR & MB roughing it in the bush near Port Arthur.

Wet n Wild at Port Arthur

Sunday 16 March 08: First night in the "wild" for MDR & MB at Stewarts Bay turned out to be a very comfortable and serene night.  The van has backup power so one can run the fridge and limited lighting.  There is also hot water (gas heated) so one is not really missing any of the home comforts.  The early morning by the water was absolutely gorgeous.
Sunday morning saw MDR & MB kitted up for on a 3 hour tour of the coastline around Port Arthur, including Tasman Island.  This is amazingly rugged coastline with towering cliffs and lots of swell breaking on the rocks.  Saw loads of lazy seals, some dolphins and lots of birds, including 3 species of albatross (if the guide hadn't told us this we would never have known). Great tour in a smallish Rib type boat, luckily it was a warm day, so not too cold, however there was a cold southerly blowing and all passengers are offered a spray jacket, which is really a tent as it goes down to your feet, but it protects you from the wind and spray which is a Godsend.  The tour starts at Stewarts Bay (Port Arthur) then travels along the coastline to Pirates Bay, where the tour bus meets you and transfers passengers back to Port Arthur (about 20 klm).
As the tour finished at around 2pm the pair were famished and decided to try Lemo's Seafood Restaurant near Port Arthur.  A big barn of a place with not a lot of seafood but some pretty good standard fare, MB opted for chicken & vegetable soup which was actually very good.  MDR had stirfried beef and blackbean which looked excellent, very generous servings too.
Hit the road after lunch and made a snap decision to spend a night at Richmond.  It has a small but nice van park with very clean facilities and very cheap laundrette as well.  The park is walking distance to town too which is nice.  On the way back to Richmond stopped at Dunalley to buy some fresh fish at their wharf.  Picked up some nice fresh flathead which MDR decided he was going to cook by dredging in some flour and pan frying.
Just before Richmond is the small town of Sorrell which has a magnificent "pick you own" fruit orchard, stopped in there to get some stone fruit and berries.  Alas all of the stonefruit was finished but plenty of strawberries on offer and also sweetcorn.  MB & MDR had a great time pigging out on strawberries, eating at least half a dozen to each one picked to buy....
After checking in and plugging in at the Richmond van park the pair realised they'd forgotten to pick up some flour.  MB tried the van park shop but no luck.  MDR tried the neighbours, the only ones at home sort of laughed and said why ever would they have flour!  Not to worry it was a good opportunity for a walk so the pair strolled into the big smoke of Richmond to pick some up.  Luckily one shop was open, everything else closed very early.
Had a great dinner of super fresh flathead, hand picked sweetcorn, mash & peas with sweet, tender, juicy strawberries and cream for dessert - just heavenly.


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Heatwave Hobart

Friday 14 March 2008: Forty degrees celsius in Hobart! Relief though when a cool change came in at around 7pm. MDR & MB did a tour of a shipyard in the morning and saw a massive car/truck/passenger ferry destined for Japan in the shed, just 4 weeks from delivery to the client. The northerly winds blowing through the shipyard were enough to blow your helmet off. MDR then had another visit with some other maritime types so MB opted to hang out in the city, did some window shopping then retired to the air-conditioned comfort of the Hobart Library.  It was a lovely evening so the pair did a promenade through Salamanca Place and ended up the Annapurna for an excellent curry dinner.  Returned to the van park to find both our neighbours' tents had collapsed in the gusty hot winds, poor buggers.   A clone of our campervan parked next door so we compared notes, turns out they were just about to return home so they gave us a bag of supplies that they hadn't used, very nice folks.  MDR worked out how to get the hot water working in the van last night, what a marvel of convenience!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Coffee Please

The trainee nomads landed in Hobart yesterday afternoon, just in time to pick up the campervan from Maui.  The van turned out to be an old clunker with a manual transmission, not at all what was reserved and paid for.  MB even asked the chap at the Hobart Maui office if it was an auto, he said it was then scurried away as it was closing time for their office.  Anyway MDR got on the blower to Maui and after a some discussions Maui are swapping the van today.

Stayed our first night at the Treasure Island Van Park in Berriedale (north Hobart).  This park is relatively close to the city, adjacent to the Derwent river and we have a perch overlooking the river which is very nice.  The park is also conveniently located next door to a sewerage treatment plant.  Just on the other side of the STP is Moorilla Estate winery.  Cadbury chocolate factory is nearby too, gotta go and do the tour there.

MDR is off inspecting shipyards today so MB is getting some shopping therapy in the city.  First priority though was a coffee as she forgot to buy some when the team went shopping last night, found a great deli in the mall and had a fantastic Goroka coffee latte. 

Weather is a balmy 20 something, with a nice cool breeze, perfect. Forecast for tomorrow is 30 something.