Posts Tagged Tasmania tourism

Clarendon House still presides

IMG_3257The well-known Michelin food guide tells you if a restaurant is worth a stop or whether more seriously it is considered to be in the category of ‘deserving of a detour’ and if you appreciate Australia’s history then Clarendon House in northern Tasmania is definitely worth a detour.  This is a fine example of Georgian Italianate design from Australian architect, artist and author William Hardy Wilson who was considered one of the best 20th century architects.  Wilson – born 1881 and died December 1955. The mansion is set in 7 hectares on the banks of the South Esk River. Clarendon was the centre of a large enterprise developed by James Cox. The Australian Dictionary of Biographies can be visited here for more information about Cox’s holdings and influence in Tasmania’s pastoral history.

The wonderful three legged round table in the impressive wide hall of Australian fauna was painted by Tasmanian based artist Michael McWilliams a former Glover Art Prize winner and People’s Choice for Glover in 2014. Not only did I love this table but another favourite was the metal sculpture of a dog sitting on the sofa in the study, it  frightened the daylights out of me as I walked in to the room.IMG_3229 IMG_3230 IMG_3231 IMG_3233 IMG_3234 IMG_3235 IMG_3236 IMG_3238 IMG_3239 IMG_3240 IMG_3242 IMG_3244 IMG_3245 IMG_3247 IMG_3248 IMG_3249 IMG_3253 IMG_3254 IMG_3255

We were introduced to the house with a brief talk and then left to our own devices which suited us so we could take in the details of each room without being rushed.  I have added a photo of the rear of the house, it is the view minus the ionic columns with trees obscuring the entrance. It was originally intended to be the front of the house. The gardens are being well maintained and as always the house and its outbuildings are in constant state of repair. Based on this beautiful example we decided to join the National Trust so expect more posts as we work our way around Tasmania’s historic properties.



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Slow Food Hobart Tour de Tasman

Now we are living in Tasmania permanently we have finally had a chance (last month) to join the Slow Food Hobart Convivium on a field trip – it was to the southern region known as the Forestier Peninsula. John and I have been members for many years and in Brisbane where I was a co-founder of Slow Food. Some encouragement was offered by Australian food legend Maggie Beer. Maggie said to me that I should start-up a Slow Food Convivium when I complained we did not have a branch in Queensland.IMG_3183

Here are some photos of the day that began at 9am on a chartered bus from Hobart with about 48 other people. A special tour guide assisted with a commentary on what to expect, how to behave and generally took us to task if our Tasmanian history was rusty. At first when I spotted our guide I was concerned that we would slip back into our ‘ten year old’ attention deficit personalities but our chef who was moonlighting from his ‘real’ job as a member of the Blue Cow Theatre Group kept our attention.

IMG_2887First stop was the Bream Creek Farmers Market where we all dispersed and bought up big, the bus opening its luggage compartment to fit in the produce. Once tasted we had to have a bottle of Honk mustard.IMG_2885

Sea Eagle Seafoods had good array of seafood products, but we could not buy this day as we did not have our ice packs with us but these products are available elsewhere.IMG_2886

Then it was on to the picturesque Marion Bay to visit the Daly family potato farm. Tasmanians are leaders in potato growing and this large farm and its processing shed made potatoes more interesting than usual.IMG_2879

Back at the market, we could not resist the Tasmanian grown walnuts.IMG_2880

A pie maker – these pasties were beautiful but knowing we had a special lunch ahead we decided on one of their pork pies for later consumption.IMG_2881

We then headed off to the historic property Bangor.  Its owner Matt Dunbabin greeted us at the relatively new vineyard he has put in and our surprise treat was that his friend and fellow farmer Tom Gray who has oyster lease No 170 nearby brought oysters to eat in the vineyard. In the near future a tasting room will be built here and both Tom’s oysters and Matt’s wine will be on offer in the same location.IMG_2898

Matt hopped into the bus with us and as we drove around his large farm he gave us some information on the long history of Bangor. He selected a place to stop on his property just by the water and we had our lunch. A special picnic lunch made for us by the Dunalley Primary P & F  along with local producers; Little Quoin and Eloise Emmett. Little Quoin and Eloise Emmett .

Lots of  cool climate wines were generously poured and we tucked into quiches, heirloom tomatoes, potato salad, baked ham and salmon, followed by summer puddings and the best Tasmanian creams, thick and clotted.IMG_2902

By now you should be wishing you were there. Should you wish to join SF Hobart here is the contact:

or visit the Slow Food organisation’s website for more information.


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Beaconsfield Mine and Heritage Centre

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Beaconsfield museum was an idea of Rotary back in the 70’s and it today it stands as a testament to the voluntary work of service clubs who drive worthwhile projects for the community.

The town of Beaconsfield came to the attention of the world with its dramatic mine rescue of Todd Russell and Brant Webb. The complex details of which are explained and demonstrated at the centre. The mining section of the museum is very well displayed with use of the art of hologram technology and interactive display of the quality I have seen at the Smithsonian. The more recent mine disaster is handled well with exhibits and storyboards on the hows and why-fors and in particular just how complex it was to get the miners out.


That famous mine accident inspired a knitted memorial project, this is just one section as it fills another 27 sections like this one.


The museum also holds a collection of artifacts on apple production and country living with various farm machinery and memorabilia of the area. Mr Tom Diprose had a vast collection which is on loan to the museum courtesy of his family. So it is not just a museum for the mine and for those who want to be ghoulish about its well-known mine accident.

IMG_1239Part of Tom Diprose Room.


I am sure are thousands more of these old stoves throughout Tasmania judging by the amount of smoking kitchen chimneys I spot as we drive around.


More reminders of the basics of life back in the ‘olden days’.

There is a very large souvenir and gift shop and all it needs is a coffee shop and may just about sustain the entire enterprise.

There is a platform to view the Gold Mine and you can visit the engine house, see shaft relics and other ruins. Well worth a visit to appreciate the vital role this mine once had in the north of Tasmania.

My iPhone did not do it justice so please visit its website for more information Beaconsfield Mine and Heritage Centre

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Strahan is spectacular


On the Gordon River and what a stunning day. It is the classic view.

IMG_9864A very long drive is required to Strahan from every main city or town in Tasmania but this is the reward.

IMG_9899The town of Strahan that reminded us of Padstow in England.


A village full of quaint cottages and terraces mostly owned by the Federal Group. Shame about the parking sign. Tie up your horse here would have been an alternative.


You pay for parking everywhere but when we checked the cost it was only 40c an hour.  We stayed high on the hill overlooking the village.


It was easy to pick the houses that are operated by the Federal Group as the houses had room numbers and shared the same black outdoor seating.


That was a glimpse of the town but the star attraction in Strahan is out on the water. A lighthouse to guide vessels out through Hells Gates into the ocean.IMG_9804

A narrow and dangerous opening.


On board the crowds swell to the front but the man in the checked shirt decides to turn away, what was he thinking.

IMG_9868Thankfully no need for this on our trip but I did listen to the life raft drill.

IMG_9886We alighted on the infamous Sarah Island, this is a must do tour. For harsh conditions for convicts it was the most notorious penal settlement and built  before Port Arthur.

IMG_9897There is so little evidence of the many buildings erected but now the island is covered in trees and vegetation that it is impossible to believe the guides when they tell us there was no greenery whatsoever. All the trees were cleared in 1822 to make way for the buildings and it is only on seeing the drawings of the buildings that you can imagine its former life with a tannery, bakehouse, gaol, military barracks, forges and other workshops, hospital,  stores and quarry. Even the Government House and administrative offices have disappeared.


What is left of the Bakehouse.

If you go to Strahan you must attend the theatre group ROUND EARTH COMPANY production. It is a bonus that the actors actually come along on the boat trip to tell the story of the islands former inhabitants and they do a wonderful job bringing the history to us with no props, only a handful of ruins as their stage.

Later that evening we attended their performance in town. It is in the amphitheatre next to the tourist office. The play is written about a famous escape – The Ship that never was.  Richard Davey has written the story of a group of convicts who escaped Sarah Island, had some adventures but were eventually brought back and put on trial.  The play focuses on the ensuing and ludicrous argument they presented in court as their defence. The play has run for 20 years, a record for Australian theatre we are told.

A footnote. Sarah Island was named after the wife of the doctor who financed the expedition. Sarah was born on Norfolk Island and was the daughter of George Guest of the First Fleet and Mary Bateman, Second Fleet. I am sure she would not have been pleased her name was attributed to a place of punishment and degradation.

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West Coast Wilderness Railway gets the shunt


We timed our trip to Strahan well with the announcement from the West Coast Wilderness Railway that it will be out of action from April this year. We could not believe our luck as it was announced the day after we had made our bookings.IMG_9758

We opted for first class and very happy with that decision as we were able to see the action of the drivers of the steam train. Not to mention the food and wine we were plied with all day.IMG_9740

The railway is a restoration of the original Mt Lyell Mining and Railway Company built to bring out the copper concentrates from Queenstown. Overcoming the rough terrain and distance was a major feat in building the Abt rack and pinion system.

The rack ensured the train had a secure grip on the rails to negotiate the steep track areas.IMG_9731

The Abt gets its name from the Swiss engineer Dr Roman Abt who invented the rack system. It is a third rail of solid bars with vertical teeth and small cogwheels engage with the teeth on the middle rail.IMG_9774

The first half of our trip the coaches were pulled by a diesel locomotive and the second half we watched as the steam locomotive was attached. It was at this point we noticed the fireman was a woman who is fully qualified and our carriage host told us it is her preference is to be called a fireman. The male engine driver we were informed is from a long line of drivers in the area and I cannot help but feel sorry for him if he has to leave his family home for new work, that is if any is available elsewhere.IMG_9750

The charming and comfortable carriages are fitted out in Tasmanian timbers and modelled on the original Mt Lyell carriages. IMG_9766

It appears now that any rebuilding plans will be shelved until the Federal Group who have run the railway since 2002 negotiate with the Tasmanian or Federal government to fund restoration of the track.

IMG_9763The train tracks have seen seven decades of traversing the wilderness of the west of Tasmania and major contributor to the economic well being of the towns and settlements of the West Coast.

Latest news in The Mercury yesterday February 20, 2013 is that the West Coast Council, tourism operators and the Tasmanian Tourism Industry Council are pleading….!!!! with the Federal Government to make a quick decision. The Australian federal government and quick decisions are an oxymoron surely a business plan should have been forwarded long before this by the Federal Group. Considering the Federal Group control and offer most of the accommodation in Strahan you would think this issue would have been signalled with more notice, particularly as they describe themselves as the leading provider in Tasmania of tourism, entertainment, conference, event and corporate experiences. Why did they leave it so long to say they could no longer continue after April this year? Is it a tactic to get the government to pay for it?



Bay of Fires Celebration 2013


The Ekstasis Belly Dancers

The Bay of Fires Celebration held 5 January started off with a fun run, escorted walks and talks. Our local Binalong Bay beach park known as the ‘village green’ drew in large crowds with tourists and locals. Last year we did the botanical walk and the history walk, both on the programme this year. After very hot weather and fires around the state we all needed a diversion.


Lila’s drumming circle with Lila using a water cooler container

Drumming jamming

Love the outfit… never too old or too young to drum


Zumba with Marika and Kate, sometimes morphed into Gangham style


An exotic addition to Binalong Bay

IMG_9446It was infectious so I put down the camera and joined in. Here’s to a wonderful way to start 2013 and hopefully we stomped the fires down.



Scottsdale Tasmania Xmas Parade

IMG_9112We had to collect two paintings that had been framed in Scottsdale, a drive north west of our home in Binalong Bay that takes around two hours of pleasant driving on many winding and scenic roads. When we arrived in Scottsdale we followed all the detours as all the roads were blocked for the annual Christmas parade. On longish trips I always pack my camera so I was ready to capture the atmosphere of this small town parade.


Theme of the Jesus and Mary float echoed in the local op shop window


One of the wise men was actually a woman in drag


Not sure of the theme here, next to the woman in a nightie, a little girl wore a grey wig and also used a walker


The belly dancers had a tiny cassette player, futile with the surrounding noise


A town like Scottsdale couldn’t put on a parade without a bagpipe band


Fire trucks sounded their sirens


Nearby Bridport joined in with its life saving volunteers


On the sidelines a soft fall awaited this little boy


Could not work out the theme here but they were having fun


A drumroll please


Dorset Council provided the truck


A family turn their ute into a float


Kids on bikes bring up the rear, everyone is included


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