Sunday 24 February 2019

The People of Hobart

Australia Blog #3 – 25 February 2019:
People Watching in Hobart

Irrelevant Australian Fact #3:
Tasmania has the cleanest air in the world.

Hobart is one of those magical cities that is just big enough. Not too big. Not too small. Just right. A real Goldilocks kind of town. The colonial-era buildings in its downtown core are sublime. Bless the people who have worked so hard to preserve the architectural heritage of the community. And bless the people of Hobart – the street photography is wonderful. 

To help celebrate my love of this city, I hope you enjoy these photos of Hobart and its people.

Monday 18 February 2019

Australia Blog #2 - 18 February 2019: Tasmania's Huon Valley and Glaziers Bay

Irrelevant Australian Fact #2:
In 1832, 300 female convicts mooned the governor of Tasmania. It was said that in a “rare moment of collusion with the Convict women, the ladies in the Governor’s party could not control their laughter.”

We have arrived back in our Australian/Tasmanian home – Glaziers Bay in the Huon Valley. We are staying in our cabin here for five weeks. It is the same cabin we stayed in for a week last year. The Huon Valley is tranquil, lush, expansive, mercurial – all these things and more. 

In our first week in the cabin, we have experienced hot and cold Australian temperatures, prompting us to use both the air conditioner and the heat pump, depending on the weather. There have been frequent showers and some heavy downpours. All rain is welcome here, to alleviate both the drought and to help control the bushfires. The fires are under control in this area, but the rain helps with what the Tasmanian Fires Service calls “the mopping up”. It is not unusual to have sunshine, fog, rain, and wind all within an hour. As they say here, “If you don’t like the weather, wait ten minutes!”

It has been productive time for both Bill and me. Bill is working his magic with quilts, colour, and fabric. I’m revelling in both the photography – 1600 + photos so far – and in the opportunity to write. I am convinced that the Huon Valley works magic on artists of all stripes. It’s something in the air – or the local hard cider or the local gin!

We are only about 45 minutes’ drive from Hobart, so it’s easy to ‘slip into town’ for a touch of urban life. Most of the time, however, we stay in the Huon Valley. The closest village is Cygnet, about six km away, where we do a lot of our grocery shopping. Our refrigerator is small, so we buy only one or two days’ worth of food at a time. The rhythm of life is very pleasant and relaxed. I especially like waking in the morning and seeing the entire Huon Valley stretched out below me. After I’ve listened to the CBC news and ABC news with an earbud on my iPhone, I’m ready to start the day!

Our dear friend Susan has arrived from British Columbia for three weeks. She’s staying at various AirBnBs in Tasmania. We’re looking forward to spending time with her and sharing this very special part of the planet with her.

I’m planning to include photos of Hobart and the famous Salamanca Market in next week’s blog post. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy these photos of our adopted neighbourhood.

Randalls Bay

Graces Road Cow

My healthy breakfast: Tasmanian eggs, yogurt, and blueberries!

"Not Tonight, Honey" Tasmanian honey

Franklin, across the Huon River from our cabin

Fishers, D'Entrecasteaux Channel

Renault Megane, Cygnet

Moss, Graces Road

Property across the road from our cabin

Green Rosella parrot in front of the cabin

Sunday 10 February 2019

Australia Blog #1 - 11 February 2019

Irrelevant Australian Fact #1:
The performance by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra 
at the 2000 Olympics opening ceremonies was actually a prerecording 
– of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

Greetings from Australia! Bill and I had a smooth flight from Toronto to Sydney, leaving Toronto at 8:00 pm on February 5 and arriving in Sydney at 9:30 am on February 7. 

Four movies help pass the time:
• Crazy Rich Asians– great fun and eye-opening. Looking forward to more movies by its director, Jon M. Chu.
• Anthropocene– disturbingly beautiful documentary that accompanied the recent exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario of the same name by Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier, and Edward Burtynsky.
• Fahrenheit 451– 2018 HBO Toronto-made remake of Ray Bradbury’s 1953 classic – even scarier now than when I first read it many years ago. Loved Michael B. Jordan.
• Mary Shelley– wonderfully told story about the author of Frankenstein. Critics didn’t much like it, but I thought the cast did a fine job, especially Elle Fanning in the lead role.

Between movies, I played Scrabble and Solitaire on my iPad and ate uninspired Air Canada food. You know, the usual survival techniques!

Being back in Sydney was a delight – as always. I love this city – my home for a year in the early 1970s – with a passion. Sunny skies and a temperature in the high 20s contrasted with the winter drudgery of Belleville.

Sydney pulsates with life and energy. Bill and I wandered Thursday afternoon, all day Friday, and all day Saturday. What a treat! A highlight was having lunch at the Graze restaurant in the Museum of Contemporary Art. Our outdoor table overlooked the Sydney Opera House – what a great combination: excellent food, beautiful location, and loving companionship! See photo above.

On Sunday, we flew to Hobart, Tasmania, and then we drove to our little slice of paradise in the Huon Valley. Actually, Bill drove; I helped navigate. We are comfortably set up for five weeks in the same cabin we stayed in for a week last year. At one end of the cabin, Bill has his sewing/quilting equipment set up, and at the other end, I have my photography and writing equipment set up. Welcome to the next five weeks!

Blessedly, the bushfire situation has improved from a week ago. Rain and cooler temperatures helped the fire fighters bring the fires under control. Vigilance is the watch word, however.

Next week, I plan to post photos and thoughts about our first week in Tasmania. For now, I hope you enjoy this selection of Sydney photos. I tried to avoid clich├ęs!

As always, thank you for reading my blog.

Fire Juggler, Circular Quay

Fire Juggler Audience

Lunar New Year Decoration, Circular Quay

Busker, Hyde Park

A Guy, Hyde Park

Mr. Tycoon, Hyde Park

Couple in the Central Business District (CBD)

Keeping the Plumbing Straight in the CBD

Sydney Fish Market

Statue in the ANAZC Memorial, Hyde Park

Statue in the ANZAC Memorial Museum, Hyde Park

Sunday 3 February 2019

Tasmanian Grace

"I would love to see a survey of blood pressure on the mainland versus blood pressure in Tasmania. My life in Tassie [Australian for Tasmania] slows to a crawl and my pulse matches it. Days stretch to feel twice as long and I have shown over a decade that I can generate more quality words in my manuscripts from half a day's work in the peace of the Huon Valley than several days committed to working on the mainland"

- Fiona McIntosh, Australian Author

Ah yes...the peace of Tasmania’s Huon Valley...

Dear friends and readers, 

Bill and I plan to spend much of the next two months firmly planted in the beauty of Tasmania’s Huon Valley. Located about 45 minutes southwest of Hobart, Tasmania’s capital, the Huon Valley is a slice of heaven, with local saffron-infused gin ensuring that time drifts by really, really smoothly. 

There are serious bushfires currently burning in Tasmania. One of the largest is in the Huon Valley near where we plan to stay. At the moment, the fire is on the other side of the Huon River, about 10 km from our place. We are monitoring the situation. The Tasmanian Fire Service (Link) has a stellar reputation. 

Meanwhile, please send your prayers to those who have lost their homes and livelihoods; to those who live in ‘Watch & Act’ areas, our hosts Jane and Philip among them, ready to evacuate on a moment’s notice; and to the incredibly brave and resourceful firefighters who are performing miracles.

I look forward to blogging thoughts and photos about our time in the Huon Valley, along with our visits to Sydney, Hobart, Launceston, Burnie, St. Marys, and Canberra. 

And then, I look forward to returning to springtime in Ontario in early April.

BTW, I’m planning a small exhibit of new Tasmanian photographs in the Corridor Gallery of the John M. Parrott Art Gallery in Belleville in June and July of this year. Title of the exhibit: “Tasmanian Grace”. I’ll post details in the spring.

Meanwhile, Bill and I are heading off on an adventure!

Enjoy these Tasmanian photos from our 2018 trip.

Up the road from our cabin, Graces Road, Huon Valley

Huon River view, near our cabin

Huon Valley looking north from the front of our cabin; dawn

Bush near our cabin

Mail boxes, Huon Valley

Flowers, Salamanca Market, Hobart

Sheep paddock near New Norfolk, south central Tasmania

Sheep, Lisdillon, east coast of Tasmania

Blue canoe, Lisdillon, east coast of Tasmania

Coastal view, Lisdillon