Tuesday 27 February 2018

Australian Adventures 2018 - Part 9

Part 9 – Huon Valley and the Road to Strahan

And so we have left the Huon Valley and driven across Tasmania to Strahan on the west coast. And, yes, it was sad to leave. Our week there has given me a new “heart home,” to use Bill’s phrase. The plan, of course, is to return in 2019. Enough said…

The photos: the first group is from our last day of wandering along the Huon River.

The second group is from our 350-km drive to Strahan. And what a drive it was! It took almost 8 hours, following the twisty, turny, NARROW roads through magnificent scenery. Bill did an incredible job of driving.

At one point, we pulled into a lookout area for some photography. A small truck, the kind you see all over Tasmania, pulled up beside us. It belonged to a construction company that was working on the roads and had what looked like a snow plow on the front. Curious, I asked the driver if it really WAS a snow plow. Yup, it was! He said that it was handy in July and August when they do get some snow, but that he keeps it on the truck the rest of the year because “it’s just handy to shove things around.” So there you have it folks – a Tasmanian snow plow!

On the drive, we also encountered controlled bush fires along the road. The practice of controlled burns uses Aboriginal approaches to fire safety - after all, the Aborigines have been living in Australia for 60,000 years, so they know a thing or two about bush fires.

We’re having a quiet morning in Strahan before heading off on an afternoon ride into the rain forest on board the West Coast Wilderness Railway. It’s raining as I write this – badly needed rain, so no complaints from me – but I hope it clears a bit before our trip.

More about Strahan in the next post. Meanwhile, enjoy the photos!

Eucalyptus trees along the Huon River

Hedge with flowers near Cygnet

Saffron field belonging to Tas-Saf,  a successful grower of high quality saffron. We bought some of their saffron-infused gin. Pretty tasty with tonic water!

One of my friends on Graces Road

Fog-filled Huon Valley the morning we left.

I don't know what kind of bird this is, but we have seen them frequently. Such beauty and charm!

A plateau on the road to Strahan

The first Tasmanian snow plow that I've seen.

And a winter warning sign!

A controlled bush fire, using Aboriginal approaches to reduce the risk of catastrophic bush fires.

Nighttime view from our Airbnb digs:
a fish boat returning to Strahan harbour. 

Saturday 24 February 2018

Australian Adventures 2018 - Part 8

Part 8 – The Huon Valley: A Gift for the Soul

“I find myself mesmerized, caught in a transfixed gaze.
Moments like these are freely given, a daily event,
Though we rarely make the effort to pause and 
become part of their story.”
- Paul Fleming,
PAUSE – A Collection of Tasmanian Moments
(Moonah, Tasmania, 2016)

Two Saturdays ago, I bought a copy of Tasmanian photographer Paul Fleming's book of images and reflections at the Salamanca Market in Hobart. What a treasure! Fleming travels this island recording its beauty and magic. When I’m back in Canada, this book will help remind me of my love for Tasmania.

Thank you, Paul Fleming.

Fleming’s photographs are also a reminder that the magic of a place – and the magic of a moment – can be discovered in the smallest detail, the kind of detail that escapes me if I’m not observing mindfully.

Which brings me to the Huon Valley and our week-long retreat in its embrace. Simply put, the Huon Valley is a gift to the soul. Wandering the dirt roads near our cabin with my camera this week has been a blessing – I have become lost in the moments that Fleming celebrates in his photographs and writing.

I hope these photos bring you a sense of what I’m loving about the Huon Valley – its quiet power and understated beauty. We are already planning a return visit next year. My camera and I are looking forward to it.

In the meantime, enjoy.

Signs of early autumn

Eucalyptus leaves that Bill is using for dyeing fabric

Dawn in the Huon Valley

Fishing boats in the nearby Huon River

Graces Road, Glaziers Bay, near our cabin

Friday 23 February 2018

Australian Adventures 2018 - Part 7

Part 7 – Huon Valley Retreat

After two busy weeks in Sydney and Hobart, Bill and I are relaxing into a gentle week in the Huon Valley. Located about 45 minutes southwest of Hobart, the Huon Valley is a respite from the manic energy of Sydney and the hectic charms of Hobart.

Named after the French explorer Jean-Michel Huon de Kermadec, the Huon Valley straddles the Huon River, which flows into the Tasman Sea. The fertile valley is known for both its agriculture and its fishing. And it’s quiet.

Bill, who is an expert at finding perfect Airbnb locations, outdid himself with our accommodations this week. Our hosts have a rural property that sits near the top of the valley looking northward into the infinite distance. Our cabin is beside their home, although we are hardly aware of their presence…except for the welcome visits of their dog, Tess, who checks in with us regularly, much to our delight. Our hosts have a commitment to living sustainably, so the cabin is constructed mainly from recycled material. Water comes from nearby water tanks that are fed from the often-unpredictable rain. Hot water comes from a roof-mounted solar unit. And we are living luxuriously! The huge windows across the entire front of the cabin have a view that is simply magnificent. When I wake up in the morning, I open my eyes and see forever. Not too shabby at all!

And Bill, besides creating delicious meals for us, is dyeing fabric with eucalyptus leaves. Each day, we go out for an excursion before settling in for an evening in paradise. Meanwhile, my camera and I are exploring the roads nearby, making friends with the Herefords across the road and watching for Tiger snakes…just to keep life interesting!

I am, dear reader, enjoying the slow pace of life in the Huon Valley.

The photos: a sample from our first few days here. I plan to post more by Sunday. Sit back and enjoy this very special corner of the universe.

Twilight: Our hosts' home on the left 
and our cabin on the right.

View from our cabin.

Our cabin at dusk.
Yes, that's Bill in bed on the right!

The neighbour's Herefords.

Nearby mailboxes. Tasmanians have great 
fun with their rural mailboxes!

Another neighbour's mailbox.

A succulent down the road.

A wildly exuberant nearby tree. 
Must find out what kind it is.

Excursion to a second-hand store in nearby Margate.

Excursion to Peppermint Bay for lunch.