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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Woolmers Estate

At the risk of sounding like a travel blog.....

We visited Woolmers Estate just outside of Longford. 
There are lots of these estates dotted around Tasmania from early settlement days in the early 1800's and Craig shears at them all the time so it felt a bit ironic going to pay to see one of these properties, but we had a lovely family day out.

In the 1820's-1830's the Archer brothers established large farms in the Longford district. Panshanger was started by Joseph Archer and it is still a working farm. Thomas Archer established Woolmers as a pastoral property of sheep and cattle and built his house upon a hilltop over looking the Macquarie River. Across the river and on the flats William Archer established Brickendon as a cropping farm.

The front of the coach house and stables

The rear of the coach house and stables.

Looking for ghosts in the old stables

All the windows have stout wooden shutters with bolts and latches with small peep/shooting holes at the top for fending off bush-rangers (Australian outlaws) in the early days of settlement. That's what you get when you build a country on convict labour.

One of my favourite buildings was the smoking house where a gentleman could retire and smoke his cigars without disturbing the ladies. 

Gate down to the river

An old wooden wind mill (c.1890) used to pump water from the river

The estate is also the home of "The National Rose Garden" but at this time of year it is more hips than roses and I do think a discount would have been appropriate. 

Beautiful light fitting in the entrance way.

Another view of the garden

These estates were like mini-villages and had to be self-sufficient for most things. Above the various buildings include the chapel, workers cottages and stables.

The original bakehouse and bakers cottage where bread was made to feed up to 60 people on the estate.

The massive wool shed where the shearing is done. The wool bales were pressed in the upper floor of the building and then lowered out of the top front door onto horse drawn drays and taken to Launceston for shipping to England.

More workers cottages
As well as the blacksmiths.
If you would like to read more about Woolmers here is their link or "like" them on facebook page and you'll get year round photos and news.
We did the self-guided tour and also had tea and scones in the old kitchen wing that now serves as tea rooms. There are a variety of teas and they do use leaf and not bags which was super but unfortunately the scones are not freshly made and nothing is more of a let down than micro-waved scones. 
I would allow at least an hour for a look around and probably another hour on top of that during rose blooming time. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Cover of a book titled Gallipoli 1915 by Richard Reid

Thinking of
Norm, "Bronc" and Alec
We will remember them.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Hedgerow Harvest Time

Almost time to get your gloves on and head for hedgerows!
Wild rosehips are best picked after the first frost maybe some of your districts have already had one.
You can re-visit my post including recipe for making rosehip cordial here but before you do a reminder....

The Living Better Group 
meets this Thursday 
26th April 2013
at the new venue
The Workers' Club
66 Elizabeth St Launceston.

Brad takes us through his Hawberry Sauce making using hawthorn berries
Kay is teaching us to make Sloe Wine (not gin) from sloe berries
I'll be taking you through the rosehip cordial process.

Next month (30th May) Elisha will take us through her chemical free cleaning and I'll be talking about common coughs and cold remedies to get you through the winter months.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Autumn + Cider

revisiting the arboretum at Eugenana

brewed in the bottle from neighbouring orchards
a very Tasmanian experience

Happy Birthday Camilla

Friday, April 19, 2013

Tin Dragon - Derby (Tas)

After lunch we travelled through lush green pasture land and potato crops and descended into Branxholm past harvested hop fields then onto the old mining town of Derby. Tin was mined here in the early 1900s and the town had a population of 3000 back then, many of them Chinese. 

The dam on the edge of the town burst and flooded the town in 1929 and killed 17 people. The mining operations never resumed in the same way again and mining was eventually abandoned in 1948.
We visited the Tin Dragon information centre and had a fascinating look at the history of the area and time.

A spectacular film full of light and sound spread the entire breadth of this screen here brought the events of time long ago to life. It was quite breathtaking and emotional at times. It was just the right length of time to be informative and engaging for all ages and I highly recommend a visit with children.

Little pieces of the story were spied in peep holes in the floor of the mini cinema adding to the contemplation of the narration. I was so impressed with the attention to detail. 

If you come to the area there are also walks you can do that continue the story and history of the area. Check out the Think Tasmania site here and do explore their related links to the area too for a full holiday or day trip experience. This would be an excellent trip with children for the school holidays.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Legerwood (Tas)

Most months I accompany my lovely mother-in-law on the local Probus group bus trip and we found ourselves at Legerwood for lunch. This tiny little place has had knock after knock but still it's residents put on an optimistic face. Legerwood is better known now for it's Memorial Trees and the link will show you far better pictures than I could have captured plus the stories behind each man they have been carved for.

Lunch was provided by "the ladies" of Legerwood. They are a small group and always keen to raise funds for the upkeep of the carved trees. Once upon a time it was common for ladies groups to put on soup and sandwich days but councils and regulations have pretty much put paid to all that now. Our ladies served roast beef, chicken, lamb, ham, corned meat, potato and 10 different salads with home made relish and pickles. Dessert was a choice of 7 different old fashioned sweets all for $20 a head (and amazingly dear council regs no one got sick or died!)

The table was laid in white lace cloths adorned with glorious dahlias down the centre. Bright paper napkins and the most wonderful assortment of salt and pepper shakers. I felt too self conscious to take photos of it all but it was delightful and the mix and mash of old crockery made it all the more homey and inviting. They put on a little raffle with preserves as prizes and sold recipe books and post cards of their area. Their community spirit is a shining beacon. 

This area lost a lot of their young men in the wars but still it thrived as a timber town and a dairy based agriculture but they could not survive big business. Forestry and mills went to bigger concerns and even the local dairy processing plant that used to make the famous Ringarooma butter was bought out by UHT and used to make powdered milk and then later again bought out by an even bigger concern who promptly took the business out of the town. The dairy plant is now a water bottling factory for the "Love From Tassie" brand. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Venison Goes With....

Slow cooking
Red wine,
tomato paste
orange juice
orange zest
onions and garlic
juniper berries
star anise
mashed potato

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Tino Carnevale Meets Hagley Farm School

I was very fortunate to have been invited to a special day at Hagley Farm School last week.
from Gardening Australia came along to meet the children and work with them in their school veggie patch. Tino was wonderful with the children engaging them and encouraging them.

One of his big messages was that you don't have to spend a lot of money to garden and how to recycle for the garden. He had the children using toilet rolls as planters for raising bean seeds.

He spoke to the children about soil and manure and used hands on techniques to show them the difference digging manure into the soil makes. There was a lot of giggling every time Tino said the word "poo" but as one clever young lad said "it's just grass really".

There was plenty of digging in and turning over and making the soil fluffy and rich with nutrients.
He also spoke to the children about insect control and pests and the way that the children at Moonah Primary School veggie patch net cabbage moths. The Hagley School kids were right on top of that subject too with their Insect Identification kit.

They also incorporate craft activities into their learning too making felt finger puppets of common garden critters

The children also learn about seed saving and storage as a key role in their veggie patch.

Having a chat with Tino after the children went back to class we found that there are a lot of children who do not know how to recognise basic vegetables let alone what they taste like. The veggie patch gives children an opportunity to taste and try foods, even eating them raw and straight from the vine.
You can also see how Hagley Farm School segue the lessons into science and craft all the while gathering essential life learning skills. 

This is one of the raised beds with recycled drink and milk containers used to protect young seedlings. Language and spelling skills combine with creative and practical arts to make the signs for the patch. In the beds beyond are straw bales for mulching and recycled tyres.

Imagine the fun they had making this scarecrow. 

These wonderful learning opportunities don't just happen and they are made possible by a community effort. This project is a participation by school, teachers, parents and community businesses bringing together time and resources. It is community that creates wonderful citizens. It is not just up to the school or to the parent. It is up to all of us.

A pumpkin will happily grow in soil and sun but if we ensure good compost and water and discourage weeds we will get the best harvest. A community working together is like a good farmer. 

Congratulations Hagley Farm School on the quality of education you provide and to the active parents who drive these extra projects, hats of to you. Thank you to the local communities for supplying materials and resources and thanks to people like Tino using their celebrity profile and passion to encourage and inspire. Wouldn't it be wonderful if every child could have a patch in their school.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Old Fashioned Grapes - With Seeds!

Everyone is saying what a good year it has been for the grapes. Along with apples and pears, grapes are being harvested now throughout Tasmania. Tasmania has lots of vineyards and many varieties do well in our climate and soil. At the last Grower's Market for the season, we were selling grapes...
and boy did we have to do a sell!

You may recognise these but shoppers sure don't.
These are typical dense clusters of small grapes that we were once used to see at the grocers but if you look at supermarkets now they generally have white or black grapes and they look like they have been through a McDonalds Drive Thru and been supersized. 
These grapes have seeds because that is how nature designed fruit and once upon a time we ate them like this and simply swallowed the seed and didn't fear it going through our digestion. In fact it is now thought to be beneficial. So how screwed is this; we genetically modify food to not have the seed and then we take the seed which we should be swallowing naturally, process it into a bottle as an extract and then pay an exorbitant amount for it. 

Those poor old super-sized seedless options at the supermarket don't really have a flavour I find. If you were to line up 10 people and asked them to describe the flavour I'll bet they would use the word "sweet" and boy are they. That is about all I can say about those grapes. They are so sweet that they don't really have that thirst quench anymore.

Those dark grapes above were described as being like pears poached in honey.
The pink ones were described as being like Turkish Delight with a delicate rosewater flavour.
Both varieties are sweet table grapes but both had definite flavours.
Do visit your grocers or farmers market (not your supermarkets, they won't have them) and ask them about the grapes they are buying in. Ask them what varieties are coming in and have a conversation with them. They should be able to describe the flavour and the skin type and may be able to supply a taste. Eat the grape, the whole grape and enjoy a nutrition and taste sensation you've been missing out on for too many years.

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