We wander in and wonder at the beauty of our "Land Down Under".

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Itching to go!

Why the title "Of Cockatoos and Kangaroos"? Well, after our nature theme for the trip to North America last year it seemed like an appropriate concept to play with again.  And, although we're not rapt with white cockatoos infiltrating southern Tasmania in increasing numbers as climate change progresses, we just adore our native Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoo. Its idiosyncratic call always gladdens our hearts whether we're exploring Tasmania's wilderness or just pottering around in our own backyard. 

This Youtube video was recorded in Knocklofty Reserve just out behind our place. Although it doesn't rise to cinematic heights, I include it because it captures really well the call of this, our favourite bird:

Also, after seeing a few beautiful kangaroos and their smaller wallaby cousins on our last mainland trip, we hope we'll be as lucky again this time. Although other specimens will hopefully present themselves , we may not see one of these again for a while, as they are apparently very hard to spot:

Yellow-footed Rock Wallaby

We've been anticipating this trip for a long time. Now, suddenly, the time for our departure looms large. 

As Di dozes on this windy Good Friday afternoon and I try to conjure up something worthwhile to share, the realisation dawns that it's only nine days before we board the Spirit of Tasmania for our crossing to the big island. Let's hope we get a crossing like this one!

Just now, after a great summer and an excellent start to autumn down home in Hobart, the growing season is drawing to a close. With the amazing weather things have been coming on like mad.

We actually had our first ever good crop of carrots. Two different varieties went into the ground and they both did well. Our friend Brigitte in Toulouse sent us a packet of seeds for some lovely little round French carrots, which were particularly nice roasted. This is what they looked like when they came out of the ground:

les carottes de la belle France

 The tomatoes in particular went crazy. Just check out this fairly typical little sample of beans and tomatoes:

In fact, the tomatoes grew so well we decided to order some preserving jars as we just couldn't keep up.  So now we've got plenty of jars of pasta sauce waiting to be opened.

As usual, one thing led to another and we bottled up a bunch of different things. Our neighbours Sam and Leonie had a couple of prolific pear trees. We couldn't eat all the pears they gave us so some of those went into bottles too. After always struggling to grow chilli peppers, this year we had an amazing plant that grew so much that it brought to mind the story of Jack and the beanstalk. So much in fact that we made some Green Chilli Jam:

So much so that Di has been drying chillies in the spare bedroom:

Di got so enthusiastic about preserving she even made some Strawberry Jam, and some Lime and Ginger Marmalade - although neither the strawberries, limes or ginger came from the garden... 
Anyway, here's some of our little treasure trove awaiting our return in July:

It probably sounds like we've spent all summer in the garden but that's not quite true. We had a short bushwalk of three days into the Western Arthurs in January after the grandchildren departed for home. The track from the road head across the creeks and button grass then on up Moraine A had deteriorated a lot since the last time we were in there. But it was great to get up into the mountains. Here are a few photos from the trip:

an interesting bit of quartzite

mist clearing

duckboards protect fragile vegetation

Western Arthurs from below on the buttongrass

We also had a few day walks to some of our favourite places in southern Tassie, including a stellar trip to Hartz Mountains National Park which, situated as it is right on the edge of the southwest, is just a gem of a place. We visit here at least once - but usually twice or more - each year. Rarely do we experience the sort of day we had this summer, as it usually at least windy. Here are some photos so you can see just how beautiful it was:

Hartz Peak ahead

Hartz Lake with Mt Anne in the distance

Incidentally, if you're coming to Tasmania and are up for it, a trip to Federation Peak is one of the iconic Australian bushwalks, as this Youtube video from Dave Noble demonstrates:

Well, back on track. I did do a little bit of climbing on Mt Wellington this summer. Di spent a lot of time at Barrecode, getting fit for climbing - or so she reckons. I guess we'll see how we're both going when we arrive at Mt Arapiles on the 8th of April to begin our mainland odyssey.

In any case, we're really looking forward to the trip. Here is a map of the general route we expect to take:

You might wonder why we're doubling back to Melbourne after a dogleg out in western Victoria. The truth is we've just got to catch a bit of genuine Aussie culture: a day at the footy to watch Essendon play St Kilda. We tried to get tickets for the classic Anzac Day matchup between the Bombers and the Magpies, but they were already sold out! I'll surely try to catch that match on the tele, and will be hoping for a result like this one (in all honesty, you've got to click on the "Watch in Youtube" button and then select the full screen option for the full experience!):

We'll keep you posted!

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