tiger tenants

The seasons have turned here in Tasmania and our long days of summer are behind us. Once again, we shared the garden with our reptilian residents for a few months but they have now found cosy homes for the winter. We can’t blame the snakes for wanting to live here, after all, we have created a paradise for them.

1.pond paradise2.pond paradise

We named our first lodger Suzy. She was quite small and liked to try out a variety of spots to capture the warmth of the sun.

Strangely, our large goldfish liked to keep her company.

5.Suzy

After a while, she left to make a home for herself in the forest and someone else moved in. He was looking rather dull and spent a lot of time among the rocks.

He then took to burying himself in the mulch, a bit worrying as there were times he was completely hidden. We assumed he was preparing to shed his skin, I was hoping to witness the process but I think it was done in private, we never did find the evidence.

8.tiger in mulch

It was at this point we realised we had two occupants, with one under the mulch and another in the favourite afternoon dappled shade position.

9.sleeping tiger

A short time later, perhaps after shedding, one moved out and the other remained. We would see her every morning catching the sun on the eastern side of the pond and then on the rocks under the callistemon in the afternoon. We had visitors for a couple of days in January and there was no sign of our tiger tenant until the afternoon of their departure, when she moseyed across the lawn to resume her residency.

10.tiger returns

Supposedly, tiger snakes don’t stay in one place for long but it seemed as though it was the same snake. She knew our voices and routines and was quite comfortable to lie undisturbed by our presence, we had a mutual respect for personal space.

13.tiger

We had a couple of very hot weeks in February where we saw no snakes and assumed she had moved on to start a family in the forest. One evening, we saw her (we like to think it was her) making her way up the driveway straight to the low birdbath we have for the wrens. I have never seen a snake drinking before, she was very thirsty.

14.thirsty tiger

When she had finished, she once again curled up in the shadow of the callistemon. You can watch a video of her drinking here, you’ll see the shadows of the wrens flying around, they weren’t happy.

 

mapali

Last month, the tenth biennial Ten Days on the Island festival inhabited Tasmania once again. Previously, the program has run throughout the state over the course of ten days. This year, it was split over three weekends, firstly in the northwest, then the northeast and concluding in the south. We  couldn’t resist the opportunity to experience the opening of the festival on the beach at Devonport at sunrise. mapali was a celebration at first light, narrated by David mangenner Gough, featuring over a hundred performers from the indigenous community, Slipstream Circus acrobats, Taiko Drummers, school students and a community choir. We didn’t anticipate the crowd and lack of parking, the fires were alight by the time we reached the beach.

1.mapali

David’s voice was clear as he led a Welcome to Country ceremony, acknowledging the significant history of the northwest coastline and local aboriginal communities with the sweeping and smoking of the beach.

3.fires

The kelp gatherers made their way eerily from the shore in the firelight.

2.kelp harvesters

With the rhythmic beat of Taiko drums resounding in the still morning air,

4.Taiko drums

our attention turned to a solitary dark figure suspended in a hoop above the sand.

The drumming ceased while a chorus of ethereal voices harmonised from the balcony.

8.choir

Our senses feasted as a fusion of drums and chorus accompanied the visual spectacle evolving against the peppery hue of nature’s backdrop.

7.Taiko drums & choir9.acrobat

We were next summoned to the village, a representation of a traditional village of the punnilerpanner people who have lived in this area since the beginning of time.

18.the village

On this, International Women’s Day, David spoke in honour of the women who hunted off the coast for shellfish

19.David mangenner Gough

and gathered kelp to clad the huts.

20.kelp hut

He also paid respect to ongoing traditions that the women are passing on to the young, in particular, shell stringing. For thousands of years, Aboriginal women have been collecting maireener shells to make necklaces and bracelets. The shells can only be collected at certain times of the year and each necklace has a unique combination and pattern. Local schoolchildren had made huge effigies of the shells in readiness for this moment.

21.maireener shells

David instructed those positioned around the edge of the village to hold up the rope, a symbol of the twine that binds us together as people, and string on the maireener shells to represent a giant necklace.

22.maireener shells

He then commanded the lighting of patrula, meaning fire in palawa kani, the language of Tasmanian Aborigines.

With the sunrise ceremony concluded,

the crowd dispersed, the beach resumed its peaceful sublimity

27.Bluff Beach

and we went in search of breakfast.

 

Pumphouse Point

We recently ticked another item off the bucket list with a much anticipated weekend at Pumphouse Point. Here is a bit of history; Tasmania has relied on hydro-electricity since the early 1900s. In the 1930s, Lake St. Clair, the deepest freshwater lake in Australia, became the focus of a new pumping station. The water would be pumped from the lake and stored, to be fed to nearby Tarraleah Power Station as needed. Construction began on a 5-storey pumphouse, 900 feet out in the lake, to house four huge water pumping turbines and was completed in 1940. Sadly, after all this effort, the site was never used and after being decommissioned in the 1990s, was placed on the Tasmanian Heritage Register for its significant industrial heritage. Parks & Wildlife Service were appointed caretaker and thoughts turned to tourism opportunities. After unsuccessful tenders by two different developers, Simon Currant, a man with great vision, secured the lease in 2004 and a decade of hard work saw Pumphouse Point brought back to life in 2015. Our first glimpse of the pumphouse was thrilling, the imposing edifice was minified by the expanse of nature.

1.the pumphouse2.the pumphouse

Lake St. Clair is as pristine today as it was when Europeans first arrived in 1832. The original inhabitants, known as the Big River Tribe, called the lake Leeawuleena, meaning ‘Sleeping Water’.

3.Lake St.Clair

We were greeted at the reception lounge with the question, “would you like a glass of Tasmanian sparkling wine?” Not a difficult decision to make. Our bags were then loaded onto a ‘flume buggy’, similar to a golf cart, and we were driven the 240 metres along the flume to the pumphouse. The drivers reverse all the way along (there is nowhere to turn around at the end) and we sat on the back with a perfect view of the approach.

4.the pumphouse

Our room on the middle floor captured the afternoon sunlight

and had everything we could possibly need. The kitchenette (with two fridges and a coffee machine) was laden with sumptuous Tasmanian produce, beer, wine and cider, all at very reasonable prices.

Hidden behind what at first appeared to be a mirrored wardrobe was the ensuite with industrial tapwear, all natural Australian products and the biggest shower head I have ever seen. We discovered when we turned on the light, the mirror wasn’t a mirror at all.

10.ensuite

The three floors of the pumphouse have four rooms on each, as well as options for lounging. The ground floor lounge has a bar and wood heater, one of the original turbines is visible through a glass panel in the floor. For some reason I didn’t take a photo so have procured one from the website.

13a.ground floor lounge, pumphouse

The lounge on the middle floor was right next door to our room, almost an extension of our private domain. The walls of rough sawn Tasmanian Oak boards added to the cosy ambience,

14.lounge, middle floor pumphouse

it was difficult to concentrate on reading with so much beauty just outside the window.

15.view from middle floor lounge

On the landing between the middle and top floors, there is a small library of books and board games.

16.library

There are another six rooms in the Shorehouse.

17.The Shorehouse

Formerly used as the substation for the facility, the art deco exterior has been preserved

18.The Shorehouse

and some of the original features have been blended with the contemporary furnishings.

There is no shortage of seating in the ground floor lounge, all with stunning views across the lake. A perfect place to relax with a purchase from the bar.

21.The Shorehouse22.The Shorehouse23.The Pumphouse

There are no bar staff, it works on an honesty system. You select your preferred tipple, write it on the list and settle the bill on departure. Once again, we found the prices surprisingly reasonable, certainly not the over-inflated dollars you find in a hotel mini-bar. A stylish extension to the Shorehouse sets the scene for a superb evening dining experience

26.dining room, The Shorehouse

and, of course, another view of the Pumphouse.

27.the pumphouse

Dinner is a wonderful opportunity to meet fellow travellers, tables of six or eight are filled at random and conversation never wanes. The menu differs each day but always fresh Tasmanian produce from Coal River Farm. We started our Friday feast with pumpkin, roast capsicum & paprika soup with thyme & parmesan flatbread. Soup and dessert are served individually, main course is a shared table experience. I was otherwise occupied, choosing another bottle of wine, when main course was served so you will have to imagine braised Cape Grim beef shin with rosemary & orange jus, confit baby potatoes, broccoli gratin and Tasmanian hot-smoked salmon with crème fraiche & capers. My apple & brandy cake with salted caramel walnuts came with a special embellishment and a rousing chorus of ‘Happy Birthday to You’.

Relaxed and replete, we strolled back to the Pumphouse under a clear, star-filled sky.

31.The Pumphouse at bedtime

I could happily have stayed in bed and watched as the rising sun created an ever changing palette across the water

32.morning view from room

but breakfast beckoned. A self-serve affair, there was plenty to choose from including home-made baked beans, crispy bacon and a range of cheeses to make your own toastie. Or you can cook your eggs just the way you like them.

On the subject of food, you can order fresh crusty bread any time of day. We had a loaf delivered to our room for lunch which we devoured with cheese and olives while watching the world go by from the lounge.

36.house made fresh sourdough

After lunch, we set off to discover some of the walking tracks around the property. Why walk when you can ride a bike?

37.bikes38.view from Frankland Beach

Across the bridge near reception,

39.bridge

the trail leads to Sunset Seat, a secluded spot with a rustic bench to sit and enjoy the sunset.

40.Sunset Seat

We were a little early for that but had a great view of the Pumphouse from a different angle.

41.the pumphouse42.the pumphouse

Further along the trail, we found Basin Seats, another lovely spot to sit and contemplate,

43.Basin Seats

overlooking Derwent Basin to Manganinni Island.

44.Derwent Basin & Manganinni Island

On the eastern side of the basin, a pontoon sits at the end of the track in St. Clair Lagoon. We had intended taking a dinghy out on the water but the wind had picked up and we weren’t too confident of our rowing prowess.

45.dinghies, lagoon

It would have been the perfect way to spend an hour or two, drifting around in the peace and quiet.

46.lagoon47.lagoon48.lagoon

Back in our room, we realised we could see Sunset Seat across the water.

49.sunset seat from pumphouse

We returned to the Shorehouse for a beverage before dinner where we were, once again, presented with fabulous fare. Starting with chickpea & swede soup with parsley oil and thyme & parmesan flatbread. We shared plates of Coal River Farm pork belly with spiced apple puree & cider reduction, baked cauliflower with caramelised onion, tahini & sesame seeds, green beans & Coal River Farm feta and pressed Cape Grim beef terrine with green peppercorns & crème fraiche. Finishing with dark chocolate, raspberry & cocoanib crunch with raspberry ice cream.

We farewelled Pumphouse Point after breakfast the next day, vowing to return and experience the wonder in winter snow.

53.the pumphouse

Devonport

We haven’t spent a lot of time in Devonport since moving to Tasmania, despite living only a half hour drive away. On the banks of the Mersey River, Tasmania’s third largest city has undergone quite a transformation in recent years with exciting future developments in the pipeline. After spending some time at Mersey Bluff, we lunched at The Harbourmaster Café. The building on the left is the original, heritage listed harbourmaster’s cottage that has been tastefully extended to house the dining area.

1.Harbourmaster Cafe

The décor has a quirky nautical theme, half a rowing scull is suspended upside down from the ceiling.

There was plenty to choose from on the menu but we couldn’t go past a Tasmanian scallop pie.

4.scallop pie

Across the water, the Spirit of Tasmania rested ahead of another overnight crossing of Bass Strait,

5.Spirit of Tasmania

destination Port Melbourne a few hundred kilometres away.

6.mouth of Mersey

There is a walking & cycle path along the river that enticed us to negate some of the calories consumed at lunch.

7.Harbourmasters Cafe

It turned out to be a very interesting stroll, with many surprises along the way. An unassuming rock is actually a memorial to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the naming of the Mersey River in 1826 by Edward Curr, chief agent of the Van Diemen’s Land Company.

8.memorial

From Vision to Reality, a sculpture of bronze poppies, is a fitting tribute to the man who pioneered the Tasmanian poppy industry. Stephen King was the director of poppy research and production for Glaxo in the UK in the 1960s and 1970s. Unreliable English summers led him to seek an alternative location for poppy production and, after studying climate data, it seemed Tasmania was the answer. Since 1966, poppy cultivation has been concentrated in Tasmania where 50% of the world’s crop of legit opium poppies is now grown. Stephen King received an OBE in 1979 for his services to the poppy industry and the sculpture was erected by the poppy growers association in 2003.

9.From Vision to Reality

The path wends its way through well-kept lawns dotted with magnificent trees, their autumn foliage carpeting the ground.

10.tree

Mussel Rock is a popular fishing spot, named, not surprisingly, because of the array of molluscs found nearby. The beacon was erected in 1896 to guide vessels into the river.

11.Mussel Rock

Bronze busts of Joseph and Enid Lyons have pride of place at Roundhouse Park.

12.Enid & Joseph Lyons

Joseph was the Premier of Tasmania from 1923 to 1928  and went on to be the tenth Prime Minister of Australia from 1932 until 1939 when he died in office. He is the only Tasmanian to have been Prime Minister and the only Australian to have been both Premier and Prime Minister. Dame Enid became a politician in her own right and, in 1943, was the first woman elected to the House of Representatives. Six years later, she was sworn in as the first woman Cabinet Minister in Menzies’ Liberal government. Enid was the first woman to receive damehoods in different orders; the Order of the British Empire in 1937 and the Order of Australia in 1980. As if that wasn’t enough, Joseph and Enid had twelve children, residing at their homestead , ‘Home Hill’ in Devonport.

The Victoria Parade Cenotaph was originally erected in memory of the fallen soldiers of World War I and now commemorates those who served in other conflicts in which Australia was involved.

15.Victoria Parade Cenotaph

Next to the cenotaph is a seemingly simple fountain.

21.fountain

On closer inspection, the water spouts from a solaqueous fountain. The shadow on the dial made by the stream of water tells the time. As you can see, we were there at 2pm.

22.solaqueous fountain

A little further along the path is a memorial wall commemorating the 22 servicemen from Devonport who were killed at Gallipoli in 1915.

23.ANZAC Centenary Commemoration Gallipoli Campaign

Standing alone on a rocky outcrop, Spirit of the Sea has been the source of much controversy even before it’s installation in 2009. The 700kg bronze statue was erected at the mouth of the Mersey and public opinion has been divided, so much so, the artist and his wife left the state. According to the description at the site, the sculpture reflects the elements of wind and sea and, facing the mountains, represents the connections between man, the sea and the land. I don’t really have an opinion either way but I think it would be nice to beautify the area and make a feature of the almost invisible water jets.

24.Spirit of the Sea25.Spirit of the Sea

Mersey Bluff and lighthouse were silhouetted against the wispy sky in the northwest.

26.Mersey Bluff

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall bears a white marble replica of the Long Tan Cross and honours those who gave their lives between 1962 and 1973 during the Vietnam War.

27.Vietnam Veterans' Memorial Wall

Just beyond, at the end of Victoria Parade, is a restful avenue of Norfolk Island pines. Between the trees, each plinth bears a plaque to commemorate the seventeen Tasmanian servicemen who did not return from the Vietnam War.

28.Norfolk Pines memorial

There is more to Devonport than meets the eye, we shall return soon.

Foreshore Fiesta

Last Saturday marked the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove. Captain Arthur Phillip, commander of the eleven convict ships and first Governor of New South Wales, raised the Union Jack on 26th January 1788. Since then, Australia Day has been celebrated across the land with citizenship ceremonies, concerts and various community festivities, along with barbecues and beer. The Aboriginal people, however, refer to the day as ‘Invasion Day’ and see it as a day of mourning rather than a reason to celebrate. There has been much controversy surrounding the appropriateness of the date, with protests as far back as 1938 during the sesquicentenary celebrations in Sydney. A recent poll found the majority of Australians weren’t too fussed about the date, as long as there is a national day of celebration. Perhaps Australia Day should be a celebration of Australia and the multicultural country it is today, not tied to any historical moment?

There is a plethora of festivities to choose from here on the northwest coast of Tassie. The Rotary Club Foreshore Fiesta at Somerset was our obvious choice as Michael had been invited to join Tarkine Strings , a classical string ensemble who , this time, were entertaining the crowd with innovative blues renditions. We arrived early on a warm, sunny day (though a little windy).

1.Foreshore Fiesta

The makeshift stage on the back of a DeBruyn’s truck was perfect for the occasion

2.Tarkine Strings on stage

and before long, the upbeat blues tones were issuing forth to compete with nature’s gusts.

Away from the stage, there was more than enough to keep the youngsters occupied. A gorgeous Benscroft Miniature Hereford calf won hearts just doing what calves do

and Yolla District High School brought along animals for the petting zoo.

I’m pretty sure the alpaca winked at me before nonchalantly turning away.

For those who appreciate the piquancy of diesel as much as I do, the Historical Machinery Club of Tasmania had a rather impressive collection of old engines and farm implements as well as some model train carriages.

There were a few stalls selling various goods

24.stalls

and no shortage of amusements for the kids.

It was good to see one fire engine not needed to fight the terrible bushfires, although I’m sure she has earned her retirement.

There were a few options for sustenance but we couldn’t go past the good old Aussie barbecue for lunch. With a choice of sausage sandwich, hamburger or steak sandwich (onions optional but highly recommended), tomato or barbecue sauce what more could we want?

34.barbecue

Tarkine Strings returned for a second set before handing over the stage to the next band.

35.Tarkine Strings

Unfortunately, we had other obligations and had to leave but I have it on good authority that the day was a success with all proceeds going toward the purchase of a wheelchair equipped bus for the Burnie School of Special Education. For a musician’s perspective, have a look at Michael’s post on Tiger Dreaming