beautiful firetail

Venturing out for another bout of gardening, I saw movement from the corner of my eye. Expecting to see the resident fairy wrens bobbing around, I was excited to see two little birds I haven’t seen before.

1.beautiful firetail

I wasted no time grabbing my camera and returned to find they were still in the orchard. They certainly weren’t disturbed by my presence.

2.beautiful firetail

I consulted our Guide to Australian Birds book and found out they are beautiful firetail finches. The only finch endemic to Tasmania, (the European goldfinch and greenfinch are introduced) appear to have an olive green head but it actually has the same fine dark barring as the white body.

3.beautiful firetail

The bright red rump and beak, highlighted against black tail and mask, co-ordinate perfectly.

4.beautiful firetail

Males have a black centre of abdomen and undertail, their plumage darkens and eye ring becomes bluer during breeding season.

5.beautiful firetail

Usually seen in pairs, the beautiful firetail eats mainly grass as well as casuarina and tea tree seeds. I don’t know what they were finding so tasty on this occasion, either the grass or some small insects to complement the herbivore diet?

6.beautiful firetail

These birds share an equal partnership, both construct the nest, incubate the eggs and care for the young. Fortunately, their conservation status is secure, hopefully they will visit again.

7.beautiful firetail

The Gorge

We recently crossed another item off the bucket list with a wonderful lunch at The Gorge Restaurant in Launceston. Located in the Cliff Grounds at Cataract Gorge, the building was constructed in 1896 as a tearooms, replacing the white refreshments tent that previously served picnickers.

1.The Gorge Restaurant

In the early 1970s, the Gorge Restaurant opened, being the first licensed alfresco dining area in Australia.

2.The Gorge Restaurant

The Victorian style gardens were showing signs of spring.

2a.Cherry blossom

We opted to dine inside, the relaxing ambience was most welcoming.

3.The Gorge Restaurant4.The Gorge Restaurant

Our window seat afforded lovely views over the garden and tree tops.

5.the view6.rhododendrons7.the view

We settled in with a refreshing Clover Hill sparkling rosé from the Tamar Valley

8.Clover Hill Non Vintage Rosè

while nature provided the entertainment.

9.sparrow

The extensive wine list was narrowed down to a Frogmore Creek 2016 Riesling, sustainably grown in the Coal River Valley. It proved to be the perfect choice.

The friendly waiter was very patient while we decided on our meals, there was so much to choose from. We were very happy with the Crispy Spiced Quail, red cabbage & gin slaw, cauliflower puree and maple bacon,

12.Crispy Spiced Quail

Braised Beef Cheek, Paris mash, thyme roasted baby carrots & lager jus

13.Braised Beef Cheek

and Tasmanian Bush Pepper Calamari, chilli & lime rice vermicelli, coriander & rocket.

14.Tasmanian Bush Pepper Calamari

We savoured the wine while the chairlift glided past the window, sometimes with a passenger, sometimes uninhabited, before ordering dessert.

15.chairlift

My Deconstructed Pumpkin Pie, candied pecans, ginger crumb & spiced cream had to be seen to be believed.

We shared tastings of the Warm Chocolate & Hazelnut Brownie, white chocolate parfait & raspberry coulis

19.Warm Chocolate & Hazelnut Brownie

and the Coconut Lime Tart with rhubarb & blue curacao sauce.

20.Coconut Lime Tart

We walked off some of our decadence returning to the car park, pausing on the suspension bridge to take in the stunning landscape.

21.Cataract Gorge upstream22.Cataract Gorge lower basin

It was difficult to focus on this magnificent cormorant enjoying the sunshine, the bridge was swaying not me.

23.cormorant

Central Market

There was one place I simply had to visit on a recent trip to Adelaide. My memories of the seemingly endless stalls of fresh produce, the tantalizing aromas and vibrant atmosphere had me yearning to return. Adelaide Central Market began in 1869 and until redevelopment in 1965 was known as City Market.

1.Central Market Photo courtesy of SA History Hub

Photo courtesy of SA History Hub

With the establishment of Chinatown in the 1980s came traditional Chinese archways guarded by lions, pagoda style roofs and lanterns decorating a street lined with Chinese restaurants and grocery stores.

Central Market has an interesting history but that’s another story. This is about food. Meeting my two accomplices at the southern paifang (Chinese archway), we embarked on our journey of discovery. Join us as we wend our way along each aisle to ensure we miss nothing.

10.fresh produce

The House of Health offers bulk wholefood from grains, lentils, beans, rice, flours, nuts, seeds and dried fruit to Chia, Cacao and Hemp Seeds.

For authentic Latvian and Baltic foods using traditional recipes, the Latvian Lunchroom has a quirky cosiness.

13.The Latvian Lunchroom

The wall opposite presents part of an exhibition entitled, ‘The Market Through Our Eyes’, by Little Picassos Art Studios. 400 artworks fill the walls throughout the market for four weeks, capturing the spirit of Adelaide Central Market through children’s eyes.

14.Little Picassos

A wide selection of nuts, dried fruits and confectionery waited at The Carousel Nut Bar

15.Carousel Nut Bar

and Michael’s fruit & veg…well, it speaks for itself.

Something Wild is Australia’s first indigenous native greens, native game and meat wholesaler.

They have collaborated with Adelaide Hills Distillery to produce the unique Green Ant Gin.

20a.Green Ant Gin

The Green Ants are known for their medicinal benefits and protein content among indigenous societies and are harvested in the Northern Territory by the Motlop family of the Larrakia people. We enquired as to the flavor of the ants and were presented with a sample to taste. The intense citrusy lime flavor was quite unique and not unpleasant, ants are something I had never contemplated eating.

21.green ants

The Olive Tree Food & Wine is the cellar door of the market, stocking South Australian wines, olives, marinated antipasto and extra virgin olive oil.

22.The Olive Tree Food & Wine

The Elephant in the Room couldn’t be ignored. The wines are sourced from the cool climate vineyards of the Limestone Coast region in south eastern South Australia, they are now on my shopping list.

23.Elephant in the Room

We were all smiles at Say Cheese, lingering a while to sample some of their local and imported cheeses.

The range of breads next door at Dough were boggling, I don’t know how we resisted the mouthwatering patisserie delicacies.

Even the simple egg looked enticing at the Happy Little Clucker.

Our cheese adoration came to the fore at The Smelly Cheese Shop,

the creamy Maison de la Truffe won my heart and my tastebuds. The Brie de Meaux style cheese is layered with fresh truffle pieces and tastes like heaven. I hope I can find it here in Tasmania.

38.The Smelly Cheese Shop

Jamface by Poh (some may remember Poh’s Kitchen on the TV) is an eclectic structure of reclaimed timber and mismatched windows. A popular stop for coffee or lunch in a relaxed atmosphere.

There was a huge variety to choose from at The Mettwurst Shop, all naturally smoked, nothing artificial and you can try before you buy.

We could have stayed at the market for hours, something new to discover at each stall.

Unfortunately, my baggage allowance and border control prevented me from purchasing goodies but I did get a little something from The Mushroom Man. After tasting mushrooms cooked in butter and tossed in Truffle and Black Garlic Salt, I couldn’t resist.

52.Truffle & Black Garlic Salt

I will return to Central Market one day, soon I hope.

Spirit Bar

We don’t tend to venture out in the evenings, especially in winter, unless the enticement of food and beverage is involved. Last Saturday was one such occasion, with the added incentive of superb entertainment.

3.street signage

Occupying the ground floor of a gorgeous old building in Burnie,

1.Spirit Bar

the Spirit Bar proudly serves only Tasmanian beer, cider, wine and spirits. There is a stunning array to choose from, Michael found his favourite.

1a.Quiet Cannon

The inclement weather kept us out of the courtyard,

2.courtyard

but on the other side of the front door

4.front door

the warm, comfortable ambience is inviting.

8.interior

10.interior

The menu offers a delicious selection to choose from for informal grazing.

The building was the first home to the Burnie branch of the Launceston Bank for Savings, the first Tasmanian savings bank, established in 1835. The bank then became Tasmania Bank and was eventually bought by the Commonwealth Bank. The Burnie branch opened in 1928, the photo from that day hangs on the wall

19.Launceston Bank 1928

next to the original bank vault door.

18.vault door

Michael regaled the appreciative audience for two hours, performing originals from The Tramp as well as covers.

Outside, the wet pavement provided the perfect background for inventive promotion.

24.pavement sign

There are no food photos to tempt you as I was otherwise occupied filming Michael’s stellar performance but I will leave you with some sound advice I discovered in the ladies’ loo.

23.sign in ladies' loo

To find out more about the Spirit Bar and their fabulous Tasmanian products, visit  https://www.facebook.com/SpiritBarTasmania/

stormy skies

I have to admit to being a little distracted on my drives to work of late. We have had some atrocious weather – rain, high winds, storms – the upside being the spectacular early morning cloud formations.

1.storm clouds2.storm clouds3.storm clouds4.storm clouds5.storm clouds6.storm clouds7.storm clouds

My journey has been interrupted with frequent pauses to capture the ever changing skyscape.

8.storm clouds9.storm clouds10.storm clouds11.storm clouds12.stormy skies13.stormy skies

Sometimes, the sky resembles the ocean.

14.sky looks like ocean

The drive home brings a different set of surprises.

15.rainbow