It’s May 2021 as I write this. The last blog post was posted in early Dec 2020 and featured our trip to Freycinet in late November last year. As that was quite a while ago I thought it was about time I let you all know what we’ve been up to starting just after the last post. Spoiler alert, we have not been idle.
Frogmore Creek Winery
Early in December we had lunch with friends at Frogmore Creek. At Frogmore Creek the wine is great and the food is fine.
However, for me the view is the best thing about the restaurant. It overlooks Mount Pleasant Radio Telescope.
We aren’t always running around, sometimes we just sit in the sun, relax and enjoy this view. We will be leaving this house in April so we try and take the time to appreciate the time we have left here.
Big plans for New Year
We had been working on our NYE plans for some time. We rented a fabulous Airbnb in Arakoon in northern New South Wales from 28th Dec to the 2nd Jan.
Jenni’s Dad and Ingrid were coming and so were Mark and Kathy, Jenni’s brother and partner. Flights were booked, cars were hired and fishing rods and other recreational stuff packed. We were all looking forward to this big adventure and family get together.
Meanwhile an unknown individual, possibly a member of flight crew as they are exempt from quarantine, got off a flight from the USA and went home to Avalon Beach north of Sydney. Over the next few days they went about their business as usual. They had lunch and drinks at Avalon’s two main recreational establishments, the RSL and bowling club, or ‘bowlo’. They interacted with many other locals who in turn interacted with many more. It’s a close community. It is also a very popular tourist and surfing region so many out of towners came and went during this time.
Unfortunately for us all they had been infected with Covid 19 while in the USA. They infected several others who returned the favour by infecting a few more.
By the time Jenni and I were due to get on our flight to Sydney 130 had people tested positive for the virus. Sydney went into full lockdown. All other Australian States, including Tasmania, declared greater Sydney a Covid hotspot and closed their borders.
Our fabulous NYE plans were scuppered. Luckily Mark and Kathy and John and Ingrid could still go. They had a great time so the event wasn’t wasted totally.
Jenni and I hastily made some new plans, these plans turned out pretty good in the end.
Christmas in Queensland
We secretly re-routed our flights to Brisbane. Secretly because we had a surprise planned,
The surprise was going to be for our chums at the last Song Club event of the year in Brisbane. Song Club is where a group of friends get together a few times a year and sing songs nominated by the club members. Originally we weren’t going to be able to make it but now that our plans had changed it was on.
We had told Song Club we were going to “call in” to the big event via Messenger. We sneaked around Brisbane for a day or two trying not to get spotted and, when the time came, jumped in a taxi to song club arriving outside precisely at the time we were due to call in. Our timing was perfect, Jenni got on the call and the connection was bad and crackled. One of the team said “We can’t hear you!”
Jenni jumped through the door yelling, “CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?” Their reactions were priceless. Singing and celebrations went well into the night. It was a very fitting last song club of the year.
Beenleigh, Brisbane and Christmas day
A few days before Christmas we met up with Jenni’s dad and Ingrid and some more family and friends in Beenleigh for a big family dinner. It was a lovely event seeing them all again.
Then on Christmas Day Jenni and I wandered the streets of Brisbane looking for an open restaurant that didn’t have a big yellow M as the logo. Serendipitously we found one. We ended up having a ‘traditional’ Middle Eastern and Mediterranean non-Christmas lunch at Mecca Bah in the Gasworks complex.
The day after Christmas we were joined in Brisbane by Jenni’s dad and Ingrid. The experience at Mecca Bah was so good we went with them there again for dinner. It was just as good second time round. We got to spend a few days with them before we flew back to Tasmania, a couple of days before the years end.
Huonville Bush Retreat – NYE 2020
At the last minute we decided to book a cabin in the woods. High in the hills above Huonville is the Bush Retreats complex of off grid eco-cabins. A perfect and relaxing place to spend some time reflecting on the past 12 months and to look at what we hoped to achieve in the next.
It wasn’t all sitting in the bath drinking, there was an interesting forest walk nearby we had to explore.
The walking path looked like it wasn’t used often so was overgrown and almost blocked in a few areas.
It was a fun walk, very interesting with some ancient trees and scenery. We weren’t able to complete the walk to the top of the mountain as it had recently rained heavily and the path to the top was closed. All the more reason for us to return in better weather.
Our good friends Ian and Shelley came to visit us for a few days during their trip around the Tasmania.
While they were here we visited MONA, the Museum of Old and New Art in Hobart.
MONA is an atmospheric place, the exhibits are always changing and always make you think. This animatronic worm was lying writhing and moaning in the middle of a pile of broken granite headstones.
There was a large room almost filled with a massive artificial, but realistic looking, boulder.
Also a really dark room with lights that flashed on an off a lot.
After MONA we visited the Botanic Gardens in Hobart.
Jenni and I try and treat our guests to fish and chips at the Dunalley Fish Market if at all possible. They have been voted the best fish and chips in Tasmania. We think they deserve it. Thankfully we had the time to take Ian and and Shelley there.
All too soon it was time for the guys to leave. On the last night we had sunsetter drinks on the deck, it was a fitting send off.
In January we made the decision to build this beautiful shack on our block near the beach. We found a builder, signed the contracts and it is all go, go, go.
Even with go, go, go it will still be a year before it is completed but when it is, it will be amazing.
We still are able to have nearly daily walks along the beach.
In February the weather began to turn a little colder and wetter. The sunsets benefitted from the clouds and rain.
Early in February Jenni’s brother Kemp came to visit us. One of the first places we took him was to the top of Kunanyi / Mount Wellington. It was a clear, clear day but cold.
The next day Kemp and I were up early and set off for Maria Island, and island off an island, off an island.
Maria Island is now a nature reserve but it wasn’t always that way. It was variously and penal colony, a whaling station and then mainly agricultural. It’s now full of wildlife and beauty.
From the Maria Island web site; “During the early Permian, some 300 million years ago, when Tasmania was still a part of the supercontinent of Gondwana, an Ice Age developed, with ice sheets and glaciers forming over much of what is now Tasmania, levelling out mountains and gouging deep fjord-like valleys. Shallow seas penetrated far inland across much of Australia, and layers of mudstone and siltstone began to accumulate. In this cold shallow sea, marine life flourished, in particular bivalve molluscs, the most common and well known being trigonia shells. As these animals lived and died, their shells built up and compressed into the limestone layers we see today. In amongst the limestone and fossils, it is possible to see many drop stones, usually rounded and smooth from being tumbled and eroded by flowing water and ice. These are rocks older than the limestone, carried here by glaciers and icebergs and then dropped onto the shallow seafloor as the ice melted, being incorporated into the seabed and grown over by the bivalves.”
I was expecting to see a fossil or two, there were thousands, hundreds of thousands quite possibly. After the Fossil cliffs we walked around the island a bit to explore further.
After a long day exploring we ended up at the painted cliffs, it was worth the effort. They were quite striking.
From the Maria Island web site; “The Painted Cliffs are made up of Triassic sandstone, when large rivers deposited deep layers of sand across broad flood plains some 200-250 million years ago. This sand was then compressed over time to form the soft rock we see today. The iron oxide patterning was deposited much more recently, within the last 10 million years, when Tasmania was experiencing a monsoonal climate. Extreme rainfall events leached out iron from the dolerite rocks above the sandstone, seeping into the softer rock through natural weaknesses in its layering. This very wet time was then followed by periods of extreme dryness, which drew the water back to the surface, leaving the iron oxide behind to be eroded and exposed by rising sea levels to reveal the patterns we see today.”
Being a animal sanctuary we had expected to see loads of different animals, and we were not disappointed. Here is a small selection.
No visit to our part of the world would be complete without a trip to the historic village of Richmond. Readers of this blog will have seem many pictures of the bridge before, so here is one more.
Dodges Ferry Soiree
Also during February Dodges Ferry hosted one of their Soirees at the Community Centre. These are massively popular local social events organized by Maddy, Jenni’s daughter. Maddy does the catering and her partner Steve helps with the music and entertainment. These events are free and lots of fun, we meet all our local friends there.
Young Dawkins is an American born poet who now resides in Tasmania. His poems were witty and interesting, especially set to Warren’s music.
The Mainlanders are Warren Mason, Ben Salter on guitar and vocals and Steve Rose on drums. Steve is the aforementioned Steve, Maddy’s partner Steve, that “assists” with the music and entertainment. They were bloody brilliant. Their music is complex and soaring and just fantastic. All of the crowd, including us, felt we were watching something special.
Here is the bio from Ben’s bio which is pretty impressive.
Ben Salter is one of Australia’s most highly regarded performers and songwriters. As well as being a founding member of Giants of Science, The Gin Club and the three-time ARIA-nominated Wilson Pickers, he is an accomplished artist in his own right. His debut solo album The Cat (2011) and follow up The Stars My Destination (2015) have established his penchant for eclectic, esoteric arrangements and sounds that take in elements of rock, pop, jazz, folk, country and beyond, whilst all maintaining a coherence and inimitable melodic style.
Salter has collaborated, written and performed with artists as diverse as Mick Thomas (Weddings, Parties, Anything), Tim Rogers (You Am I, The Temperance Union), Bernard Fanning (Powderfinger), Gareth Liddiard (The Drones) and Marlon Williams, to name a few. He has toured with acts such as Cat Power, J Mascis, Gareth Liddiard, Counting Crows, Marlon Williams and most recently Built To Spill.
This small free concert was one of the best I have been to, The Mainlanders music is great. If you get a chance to see them do not hesitate.
We don’t always wait until guests arrive to go to Dunalley for fish and chips, Jenni and I occasionally like to dine there ourselves. However, on this day we forgot to bring cash with us and it is a cash only establishment. We tried the local hotel as an alternative but walked in and straight back out as the food on offer looked pretty bad.
Just a few hundred metres along the road is the Bangor Vineyard Shed, without knowing anything about it we stopped in to see if it did food. It did, and wine and beer. Jackpot!
Whilst the dishes we had were not great the wine was excellent and the atmosphere was enchanting. One guest even arrived in a helicopter.
After lunch, and on the way out of the restaurant, we got chatting to the girl who was the Bangor wine maker, she was friendly and engaging. She told us they did a wine tasting experience paired with food which sounded like a great fun event. As we had confirmation our friends Carol and Greg were coming to stray with us in a couple of weeks we agreed this would be a thing we would come back and try with them.
Panama Festival 2021
Tickets for Panama Festival were allocated on a lottery basis. The date for the last allocation passed weeks ago and we assumed we were not successful and had made alternate plans for that weekend. Out of the blue I get an email telling us we had been successful. Immediately I cancelled all other plans and secured 4 tickets, 2 for us and 2 for some friends.
Given the current worldwide lockdown and travel restrictions the fact we can still go to a music festival in Tasmania is a massive blessing. One our favourite festivals is Panama. It was the festival that brought Jenni and I to Tasmania in the first place.
One of the main selling points about Panama was how small it was as it was restricted to just 1400 patrons. This year they split the festival over 2 weekends and cut the numbers of each event in half.
At Panama Festival the location is the star. The forest setting creates a stunning backdrop to the main stage. Thank you Panama, we appreciate your efforts, it was a beautiful experience.
Carol and Greg come to visit
We had visitors, and the Dunalley visitors law dictates that we must have lunch at the place voted the best fish and chips in Tasmania.
Bangor Vineyard Shed
After a morning exploring Eaglehawk Neck and Devil’s Kitchen and of course Doo Town we stopped at the Bangor Vineyard Shed for the wine tasting and food pairing experience.
Bangor Wines advertises themselves that every wine comes with a story. The owner of the vineyard gave us the story behind the vineyard and each individual wine we tasted.
The stories were good, the wines were great and the tasting plates perfect. This was a great experience and highly recommended, even Gordon Ramsey has spent some time there filming a cooking series.
Pooley Wines – Richmond
Of course we did another visit to Richmond and this time it was for lunch a Czegs famous café. Czegs is an old school café in the middle of Richmond historic village. It is voted #1 of all restaurants in Richmond. The food was good, nice, ok. Not. Too. Bad.
After Czegs we drifted towards Pooley Wines
All good things must come to an end and Carol and Greg had to go back home. They were to be our final visitors to this house.
Like Carol and Greg leaving this blog must come to an end. Next month, April, is birthday month for us Walligans. My birthday is at the start and Jenni’s is at the end so we celebrate all month long. This blog entry is already too long so I will end here and tell the story of birthday month in the next episode.
Have fun folks. Till next time.