Sunday, February 28, 2010


Another history immersion today for MB & MDR with a visit to Runnymede in suburban New Town, built circa 1840 on one of the first parcels of land allotted after the colonial settlement of Hobart.
The house is in nearly original condition and boasts some amazing features such as original wallpaper in one room which MB thought was 1970's Florence Broadhurst! There is a lovely complement of colonial furniture and a significant collection of scrimshaw and ivory ware. The last family who occupied the house for over 100 years were whalers who moved into shipping when whaling declined.
MB & MDR, the only visitors at that time on Sunday afternoon, were given a very comprehensive lecture by the National Trust attendant and are both now very well versed in early Hobart history.
That's MDR emerging from Runnymede's cellar after an unsuccessful search for some vintage wine.

North Hobart

Movie time today, the pair went to the excellent State Cinema in North Hobart to see North Face, a new German movie about a German team's attempt to climb the north face of the Eiger in Switzerland prior to WWII. The State Cinema oozes ambience, it's a very small independent cinema complete with it's own eclectic cafe in the foyer.
North Face
was screening in Cinema 5 located in the basement, seating was 10 x 2 seater leather sofas with loads of leg room and one is able to take wine or coffee in. How civilised is that!
The movie was first rate, very chilly, lots of ice, snow and blizzards and when the pair emerged into the North Hobart afternoon it was appropriately cold, windy and raining. The record run of 89 days over 18c in Hobart has come to an abrupt end.
Pictured above is MB posting yet another postcard to her cherished grandchildren back in Cairns at the very
conspicuous North Hobart Post Office across the road from the State Cinema.

Rosedown Open Garden

Hidden behind a 5 metre cypress hedge on the outskirts of New Norfolk is another gem, Rosedown. The owners opened up their stunning and extensive garden to the public this weekend. Amongst the many lovely ornamentals MB discovered mulberries, 12 types of apples, plums and quince all laden with fruit. The owners have built the garden up from scratch over the past 20 years, the hedges though are believed to have been planted around the time of the second world war.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Bruny Island Bastard

A beautiful, clear sunny day boded well for the MB team to visit Bruny Island. Access is via ferry from Kettering, about 5 mins from Snug. The pair planned to go across on the 9:30am ferry so arrived at the ferry wharf at at 9:10am which was packed with cars, buses, campervans, trucks and pedestrians.
MB paid the $28 ferry charge (return) and joined the queue. After some nail biting moments watching the ferry fill up, the car (Lancer) was beckoned in and squeezed into the very end of the deck of the jam packed ferry, but only by parking at an angle.
The crossing is only 20mins, on arrival there's a small wharf and a little kiosk, no town or anything very urban looking, so immediately one feels a long away from civilisation, a very pleasant feeling. MDR & MB hadn't really done any research but MB had seen a Berry Farm on the internet so they headed in that general direction.
After a while they spotted Bruny Island Cheese Company so swung in there to try and get some more information about the island. The very charming French lass at the counter was very welcoming and offered samples of their artisan cheeses, MB loved the "Bastard" cheese, a cows milk & goat's milk combo. Lovely French girl recommended a walk in Adventure Bay further south. Armed with some rye sourdough and a chunk of Bastard the pair set off.
Adventure Bay is at Southern End of Bruny Island on the windward side with brilliant white sandy beaches and crystal clear, azure water. The pair started out on a relatively flat walk to the nearby Grass Point then decided to explore further and walked up to Fluted Cape (elevation 272m). Photo above is taken just below Fluted Cape. MB encountered a Tiger Snake near the top, however it politely detoured away from her, she hasn't run so fast in years! The views from the track of the sheer cliffs and roiling sea are a delight. The walk is approx. 11.4km.
Returned to Adventure Bay at around 2pm, MDR was pretty hungry so the pair dropped into the local store and had a gourmet pie for lunch.
A visit to the Bruny Island Berry Farm was next on the agenda, looks to be a new venture run by two very switched on ladies. MB bought a punnet of fresh picked strawberries. Wasn't keen to pick her own as she was feeling pretty sun burnt after the long hike. MDR bought the pair a mixed berries in champagne jelly with Meander Valley double cream to share. It was just divine.
February is a fantastic month to be in Tasmania and a couple of weeks on Bruny Island would be wonderful getaway.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Brush with Fame

MB bought some organic, free range wood-smoked ham on Sunday at the Melville St Farmers' Market and realised as she was paying the stall holder that he was Matthew Evans of "Gourmet Farmer" fame, a TV series on SBS.  Unfortunately MB hasn't seen one episode of this series, but has been told it's very good.  
The ham is melt in the mouth excellent, MB even used some to flavour a leek & potato soup she made during the week.

Australian Antarctic Division

Just up the road from Snug is the Australian Government's Antarctic Division and Huskie Haven in Kingston. MB got to cuddle some cute huskies and check out the visitor centre display. Visitors are also welcome to dine at the cafeteria which serves delicacies such as Braised Penguin, Walrus Blubber & Squeak and Krill Sorbet.


Checked out some local attractions today in Margate, just north south of Snug. MDR found a marina where an ex-RAN ship is berthed, the Curlew. It's now privately owned and apparently the owners live on board. MDR was pretty excited to see it as he had worked on this vessel when he was an apprentice at Vickers Cockatoo Island Shipyard. After the marina MB wanted to visit a nearby local native garden which is open to the public (she'd seen it on Gardening Australia), however on arriving discovered it was $12 each visit so opted instead to explore the 3 large second hand-shops just over the road.
The second-hand shops were fantastic. Jam packed full of all sorts of trash and treasure, MDR even found bone fid, yes that's "fid", which one of his mates is looking for - it's something to do with rope making, it was marked at $22 and he got it for $10.

MB found some retro apple box labels for $2 each at the adjacent and paid full price for a set of 3, then got into strife with MDR for not bargaining! She's planning to frame them for the River Cottage.

On the way back to Snug to pair took one last detour into the tip as they were told the Dump Shops are pretty good. Amazingly the shop was very good, anything and everything could be had there, quite a lot of very good house fittings, as well as the usual ephemera, books, kitchenware, old cameras, electrical etc. MB picked up a good non-fiction Vikings book for a buck. This will be a great reference for MDR who is on the sub-committee for this year's wooden boat festival in Cairns which has adopted a Viking theme this year.

New Norfolk also has a great cluster of antique and second-hand shops, MB, went into the Drill Hall Emporium yesterday and was blown away, it's a very carefully crafted emporium, almost like an olden days department store, one could spend hours there drooling over their wares, many of which appear to be sourced in Europe, France in particular.

Salmon Ponds

Whilst exploring the area north of New Norfolk yesterday Mr & Mrs MB detoured to the Salmon Ponds a heritage trout hatchery which is set in the most delightful gardens, in fact it should be called "Salmon Ponds & Arboretum", as there are over 50 species of very old, very beautiful and well established trees from all over the world. After a picnic lunch of steak sandwiches made by MDR with some plump cherries for dessert, in the shade of a massive Douglas Fir, the pair strolled through about the ponds. If you want to feed the fish you must buy some fish food, which of course the pair did. Each pond has different trout species as well as one pond with salmon. One of the trout species was an Albino Rainbow Trout, they looked quite freakish. MDR read on one of the signs that Salmon Ponds releases around 10 million trout fingerlings every year. The Salmon Ponds also has an excellent trout fishing museum that takes one back to another time & place. Well worth a visit.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Mobile Data Cash Cow

After struggling with virtually no internet access in the happy holiday village of Snug, MB reluctantly bought a $99 wireless broadband modem last week at a major telecommunications store in Hobart.
She asked the nice young salesman, David who bore a striking resemblance to Prince William, for a prepaid data package as she only needs it while travelling. David offered her a "casual data plan" which was a monthly plan and no lock-in contract. The data cost was $49 for 3 gigabytes per month which MB thought wasn't too bad.
MB asked for a brochure with terms & conditions etc. None available, but on pressing David, he photocopied half the A4 sheet that he had used to show MB the details of the "casual data plans".
Back at Snug the setting up of the modem on the laptop was fairly trouble-free, got online in two shakes of a lamb's tail. Keeping track of data usage isn't so simple though, one has to register by phone and create an online account. MB duly called and registered then tried to open the online account, but her account number wasn't recognised. She called again and after about an hour of phone tag was told by the lady in India or somewhere in Asia that mobile billing would need to fix the problem and as it was night time they were closed. Asian lady then promised to call mobile billing the next day to fix the issue and to call MB to confirm by midday. Asian lady lived up to her promise, fixing the problem and calling MB back!
MB successfully accessed the online account and after some more hoops - one involving an SMS message to the wireless modem - she finally got to see her wireless data usage.
The data was being charged per kb, per session, and worked out to about $1.93 per megabyte.
One session used 49,000 kb for the king's ransom of $89.57
. In all the total owing for data for 5 days to date is $605.00 (562,000kb). A rather alarmed MB trundled into the snazzy telecomms shop in Hobart today and asked another nice young salesman, Dominic, to reconfirm the data plan on the account. He duly checked and noted that no casual data plan was included.
Dominic updated the account with the 3gb casual data plan but advised MB that she will get an invoice for the $605.00 charged so far and that she would need to take it in to a branch to have it reversed....

15 April 2010. Back at home in Cairns & received an invoice in the post from telecomms co. for $1,071.00 (approximately 1.5gb of data). Called the telecomms provider and spent 40 minutes being transferred from one department to another. Eventually was told to return to the shop where the modem was purchased to have the charges reversed.
This prompted a call to the complaints line where MB was put through to a higher level person in accounts and the charge was promptly reversed, with the just the $49.00 being payable.
MB's biggest beef, the time one has to waste just to receive the service one is promised.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Tasmania is brimming over with sweet, ripe, juicy blackberries. Everywhere the duo goes there are blackberry thickets - on roadsides, riverbanks, in gullys and climbing over walls and fences.  During a drive down to Kettering & Woodbridge today MB couldn't stand passing by any more blackberries just begging to be picked.  So they pulled up, got a bag and started picking blackberries, all the while keeping an eye out for snakes, blackberry thickets are a favourite haunt of those slippery serpents.
After picking about a Kg of berries, they headed back to base with a detour at the local shop where luckily MDR found some pectin, the shop owner didn't know what MB was talking about when she asked if he stocked it.
Back at Snug, MB got out the big pot, threw in the berries, sugar, juice of lime and pectin and an hour later had a beaut intensely flavoured blackberry conserve.  The jam is just marvellous on crepes with a dab of fresh cream.

Tea Circa 1970

MB's iconic morning tea in Hobart this morning would not have been possible without the very stylish Thermos from the Snug Holiday Home.  MB is having a ball on this trip down memory lane.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Tinderbox Bay

View to Bruny Island with Tinderbox Bay Vineyard on the right.

Feral Oysters

Heatwave conditions in Tasmania today, top temperature forecast of 31c! Mr & Mrs MB decided to do some sightseeing around Blackman's Bay & Tinderbox Bay, which are just south of Hobart (north of Snug).
First stop was a little reserve on the water where a little picnic lunch could be had in the shade. MB made some gourmet veal & caramelised onion burgers which went down very well, but forgot to bring the ale!
MDR ventured out in the shallow water to collect some feral pacific oysters for his next course, luckily he remembered his oyster shucker. As you can see in the photo these pacific oysters are monsters. Oddly enough the pacific oysters are classed as feral oysters and there are ongoing campaigns to eradicate them. It appears that posses of blokes arm themselves with hammers and other suitable weapons then visit areas infested with the oysters and smash them. MB reckons she could team up with Mr Valley to bring groups of Chinese food lovers down to Tassie where they could gorge themselves on feral oysters to their hearts' delight!
Pacific Oyster Blitz
Over the next few months people may see the results of an interesting new project. The project, run by the Southern Coastcare Association of Tasmania - SCAT, aims to bring together local groups and Conservation Volunteers Australia to remove Pacific Oyster infestations from valuable areas of our coast. Pacific oysters may taste great but as an introduced marine animal can overrun an area quickly and spoil recreational opportunities and environmental values. For more information and to get involved in Coastcare, please contact Council's Bushcare Officer on 6211 8200

Huon Pine Canoe

Pictured above is the "skeleton" of a huon pine canoe being made by one of MDR's fellow wooden boat enthusiasts, Peter, who lives just north of Hobart. The finished canoe will be lined with dacron fabric and weigh in at a meagre 5-6kgs. Peter's workmanship is second to none, these are amazing canoes.

Digs at Snug

Yep, Snug is the name of a small seaside village south of Hobart. Pictured above is the very well equipped 1969 built Holiday home where the MB family are staying. It's quite a time capsule, the Hobart street directory in the house is the 1971 edition.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Masaaki's Sushi in Geeveston

MB & MDR stumbled on a very charming sushi restaurant in Geeveston (approx. 70klm south of Hobart) today. MDR peered in the window as the "closed" sign was up and lo & behold the proprietor, Masaaki, popped out to tell the pair that all the sushi had run out today.
MB exclaimed that it was such a surprise to find a Japanese restaurant in the deep south of Tasmania. Turns out Masaaki met and married an Aussie lass, Lucy, while she was teaching English in Japan.
MB noticed Masaaki was using local free range eggs and asked where he sourced them. Turns out they are supplied locally but not available to buy through normal channels. Masaaki however very kindly checked his stocks and sold a dozen to MB for a very reasonable five bucks.
Looking forward to returning for some sushi.
Stop Press: The eggs are amazing, huge orange yolks and so fresh. MB made some pancakes which were really yellow, totally unlike pancakes made with supermarket eggs.

Conningham Beach

This is a lovely little bay just south of Snug, beach houses here unfortunately way over the MB family budget!

Snug Falls

After a few days of driving here and there looking at property for the MB family summer getaway, the pair deviated and did a short walk to the nearby Snug Falls. The falls are at the end of an easy downhill 2klm track, however at this time of year the water wasn't much more than a dribble, but the serenity was a delight.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wireless Internet Hotspots in Tasmania?

Not very many unfortunately! 
Internode, the ISP that MB uses at home, has only one hotspot in the entire State.  Other hotspot providers are very thin on the ground also.  The Internode hotspot is located at
Ready Lunch in an arcade off the Elizabeth St Mall in Hobart and it's a very good cafe, the food is super and the coffees are absolutely superb, the owner really takes care to create the best coffees possible, so double happiness for MB & MDR.

Melville St Sunday Markets Hobart

Mr & Mrs MB found a little gem of a Sunday farmers' market in the centre of Hobart at a Council car parking lot in Melville St. Unlike the Salamanca Markets of a Saturday car parking was a snap and 99% of the stands were selling lovely fresh produce, not tourist tacky. The pair were able to pick up just about everything they needed, including a flat white, quickly and easily.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Tropical Paradise

Growing things in Far North Queensland is a breeze, just hang something on a spare hook, don't worry about watering or any care whatsoever and voila you will have amazing "greenery" in no time. Pictured is MDR's mildewed croc skin belt which he hasn't worn for a few weeks!