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Byron Bay Continued…Walking Through Bangalow’s Past.

Our adventures around Byron Bay continue today as we visit the village of Bangalow. However, this journey is going to be a little different. You see, instead of simply walking up the hill and seeing what’s there now and exploring all the irresistible nooks and crannies, I’d also like you to think of yourself slowly walking through the doors of perception into a kind of time warp. Indeed, if you look at the main street, you’ll observe a red phone box, which for our purposes will act as a form of tardis. So, please step onboard and welcome to Bangalow past and present.

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The Magic Red Time Machine AKA Red Phone Box.

Self-described as “a bit above Byron”, Bangalow is a historic rural town located 13 km west of Byron Bay, 758 km north of Sydney and 165 km south of Brisbane. Moreover, just in case you have absolutely no sense of direction or geography whatsoever, we’re in Australia. I try never to take that for granted. Just because I know where I am, it doesn’t mean you’re in the know.

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The map above shows Newrybar where were staying with Bangalow at the centre and Byron Bay top right.

As you may be aware, Geoff and zipped up to stay at nearby Newrybar with his sister  last week, while the kids were away at the Australian Scout Jamboree and I’m now endeavoring to drag you along with me in a virtual blogging sense.

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However, rather than confirming how well I know Bangalow after coming here nearly every year for the last 20 years, this visit actually showed up my ignorance. Have you ever had that experience when you think you know a place, but then you suddenly see it from a different light, and you realize that you barely knew it at all? Indeed, you might even call this place home or your home away from home, and yet there are these mysteries. Those walls and corridors which are silent, and yet they speak. The trick, however, is finding a way to tune in and actually listen to their stories. Chip away at the layers of paint to find out what’s hidden underneath and the old newspapers are very good for that.

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Modern newspaper headlines outside the newsagency. I’m intrigued by “Ghost Hunters on a Mission”!

My ignorance suddenly jumped out at me when I met a member of the Bangalow Historical Society while I was photographing the museum (which used to be a brothel in nearby Brunswick Heads and it was transported to its current location.) I’d noticed that one of the shop fronts was clearly dated 1911 and I had wondered whether there was any significance to the date. As it turned out, a dreadful fire destroyed three wooden shops:


Fire at Bangalow.

All that remained of that range of comparatively new buildings from Garvey’s hotel property to the Commercial Banking Company’s premises in the main street on Friday morn ing was a strongroom, two chimneys, a tankful of boiling water and a confused mass of burning remains. Miss Dye first gave the alarm about 4.30. She states that she was awakened by the sound ,of burning timber, and, looking out of the window, observed flames rising from the building on the opposite side of the street. Calls awakened the Messrs Savage, who spread the alarm, and the ringing of the Convent and Pub lie School bells aroused the whole town. The building discovered to be on fire was owned by Mr W. Barby. It adjoined Garvey’s Hotel, and consisted of Mr W. Martin’s hairdressers, tobacconist, and fancy goods shop and billiard room, Messrs Ferguson and Torrens’ office, and Mr W, H. Perry’s tailoring establishment. Between this building and Blackwell and Sons’ store was a lane only 9ft wide and the flames quickly spread to their premises. The next building was the Commercial Bank, but be fore the fire reached it, the manager had time to remove valuable documents to the E.S. and A. Bank on the opposite side of the street. Fortunately the morning was calm, otherwise the houses on the opposite side of the street must also have gone. Savage’s new shop caught fire, but wet blankets and a copious drenching of water saved it. The telephone lines were fused, and telephonic communication was suspended. The damage is estimated at about £5000. Mullumbimby Star (NSW : 1906 – 1936), Thursday 10 August 1911, page 8

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Another detail I noticed walking up the main street on this visit was the War Memorial Clock outside Bangalow Post Office. It was unveiled on ANZAC Day 1937, just two years before Australia and the world were back at war. In place of numerals to mark the hour, the words “Lest We Forget,” are placed around the dial.Although I hadn’t really noticed and embraced it before, this time I paused to remember those who had made the ultimate sacrifice and all those young lads, especially from our country towns who went to serve our country.

bangalow war memmorial clock

It’s interesting how these small details you can easily miss walking up the street, open a window in Bangalow’s past. Yet, of course, I’m not here to provide a comprehensive history of Bangalow. Rather, I’m here to share MY Bangalow, which is no doubt a different Bangalow to the one someone else experiences. After all, each of us is selective, plucking out the things we love and are relevant to us, while ignoring and perhaps even being totally oblivious to the rest. We couldn’t possibly take it all in and wouldn’t want to either.

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Personally, I’m drawn to Bangalow’s historic architecture and quaint village feel as well as its artistic and creative flair…and of course the monthly markets when they’re on. As a visitor, it can be a bit hit and often more miss, as to whether the markets are on while we’re in town. Food is another drawcard and I always head up to the Choux Choux Cafe and love their Chocolate Saffron Chocolate Mouse Cake. I also buy a few Yum Cha treats at Red Ginger and sip on complimentary Chinese tea, while I write in my journal.

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Doing what I do best in Bangalow…Iced Coffee, chocolate cake and my journal at Choux Choux Cafe.

Bangalow has also been my escape hatch, especially when the kids were younger. Geoff’s sister used to do family daycare and would mind the kids while I escaped to spread my wings. Back when they were small, these escapes were my salvation. My creative side was actually able to draw breath and I know that I’ve already mentioned spreading my wings. However, when the bird escapes from her cage, that sense of freedom and being able to enter an artistic realm can not be under-estimated. That’s not to say I don’t love my kids and that we didn’t do creative things together. I don’t believe a parent should have to apologize for having a breather. Indeed, I believe it’s healthy. A short leash can have a stranglehold.

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You never know what you’re going to see round Byron Bay and Bangalow. I spotted this ute pull up across the road while I was at Choux Choux and was rather gobsmacked spotted a flamingo in the back of the ute. A loving Dad, it was a gift for his daughter’s birthday.

Yet, when you visit Bangalow today with its relaxed boutique village feel, it’s hard to believe that the notorious Pacific Highway used to roar through town and the very buildings where you now relax over a chai latte or peppermint tea, once rattled as the semi-trailers and trucks ploughed through. That all changed on December 14, 1994, when the Bangalow bypass was officially opened. The highway now bypasses most of these smaller coastal and country towns and while it’s dramatically reduced travel times and created quieter and safer local hubs, the trip is nowhere near as interesting as it used to be. It’s an A to B run with a fast food stop along the way. Or, for the wanderer at heart, detours off the road most traveled.

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The CWA is the Country Women’s Association and has been an institution in Australian Country Towns for generations. Well known for their cookbooks and baking competitions.

 

 

My explorations through the newspapers also reminded me of Bangalow’s dairying heritage. A relic of it’s dairying past can be seen at The Buttery,  which in keeping with the changing times, is now a drug rehab centre. This newspaper description from the Farmer and Settler , Friday 22 July 1927 recreates  this Bangalow well:


BANGALOW.

Bungalow, in the early days the centre of the ”Big Scrub, is to-day a district of broad pastures and successful dairy farms with over 40,000 milking cows on its 8,000 acres, Laid out In 1891 by Surveyor J. B. Kelly, it was first known as Byron Creek. The first settlers in the district, who arrived about 1882, wore Messrs. Robert Campbell and J. P Garvan, Mr Campbell’s farm, known as ‘Granuaille,’ consisted of 640 acres, and the town of Bungalow stands on part of this land. Mrs. P. Garvey called the town Bangalow, because of the many palms of that name in the district, and it is known by that name to-day. After finding that sugar-cane growing did not pay, because, of the long haulage to the mill, the early settlers turned to dairying only forty two years ago. A co-operative butter factory was started In Bungalow In 1892, but with the introduction of hand separators the cream was sent to the factories of the . North Coast. Co-oporatlve Co. Ltd., at Byron Bay and Binna Burra. Just before 1900, cow that returned £5 per year, was considered a falr animal, but to-day If she does not give a return of £12 per annum the owner Is likely to dis pose of her. Tho soil of the Bungalow district Is of porous, volcanic diameter. Watered by many small streams and receivlng an average of 70-lnches of rain annually, successful pastures of paspalum and clover are grown, and in many cases the land is ploughed and sown to winter grasses. Illawarra milking shorthorns are, .the most popular dairy breed, due to their steers bringing high prices, but at the present time the Jerseys are coming into general favor, and several fine herds of this breed are found in the Bangalow district. Pig raising, as a subsidiary industry of tho dairyman, is Increasing in the Bangalow district at a 25 per cent, rate every year. In addition to the pigs shipped to tho Byron Bay ‘Norco’ bacon, factory, thousands of pigs are sold at the Bangalow yards each year. No particular breed’ is favored, and the great majority are cross-breds of Tamworth, Berkshire, Improved York, and Poland China breeds. Only bacon pigs are produced In this district.”

 

 

Speaking of pork, these days Bangalow Pork is famous. As their web sites explains:

Bangalow Sweet Pork is supplied by small Australian Family Farms. We promote the use of Sustainable Agricultural Practices so that our farms will continue to provide fabulous fresh produce for generations to come. The Welfare of Animal is an extremely important part of our program as any stress at any time during the life of our pigs can greatly affect the quality of our product. So for Bangalow Sweet Pork to provide the best quality Pork available it is extremely important that our animals live a healthy and happy existence. We have been proud leaders in our industry and since our inception our product has been Antibiotic Free and we DO NOT use any Hormones on our farms.

bangalow flying glass sculpture

Before we leave Bangalow, I just wanted to make one last stopover, which I plan to visit some time in the near future. While I’m not hugely into science fiction, I have a huge imagination and when I spotted these incredible glass sculptures at Zakay Zakay Studio & Gallery, I imagined shrinking myself, climbing inside and somehow taking flight and flying high above the world in this magical glass pyramid along with all of it’s dazzling lighting effects. Hey, would you like to join me and where would you like to go? I’m taking requests.

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Goodness knows where you’ll end up traveling inside this thing.

Anyway, I hope you can appreciate these various incantations of Bangalow and tomorrow I’ll continue the tour and take it into the modern era for Thursday Doors.

Have you ever been to Bangalow? What are your special memories of the place? I’d love to hear from you!

Best wishes,

Rowena

More about the Featured Image:

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Tasmanian Cheese Temptation.

“I can resist everything except temptation.”

– Oscar Wilde

There’s an unwritten code at free tastings. It’s understood that “a taste”, does NOT equate to a free feast. Yet, who hasn’t gone back for more? Seconds? Thirds? No one’s watching. Or, are they???!!!

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After all, is that mirror really a mirror? Or,  is it actually a two-way, and they’ve employed the ultimate in nerdy bean counters to count how many pieces you’ve snaffled? That’s right. They could be paying someone to sit in a back room all day, every day, counting how many “tastes” we’ve each had.
I had my doubts. Yet, was I prepared to take a chance?
As you might recall, the family and I are on a three week holiday in Tasmania. Last night, at least as far as the blog is concerned, we drove back “home” from Port Arthur to Devonport. Now, we’re heading off to Ashgrove Cheese, conveniently located on the Bass Highway at Elizabeth Town (this is the road between Devonport and Launceston).

It is an unfortunate truth that the majority of you will never make it to Tasmania and won’t have the opportunity to visit Ashgrove Cheese for themselves. For this reason, I’m only going to touch on the variety of cheeses available and focus more on the universal cheese tasting experience itself. This is something you can hopefully experience closer to home. Ashgrove Cheese is also available in supermarkets on the Australian mainland, although there’s a much greater variety available in Tasmania and through their store and online.

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I’m hoping some of that cow happiness rubs off on me. Bring it on!

Anyway, getting back to the tasting…
With our usual bull-in-a-china shop enthusiasm, we headed for the tasting table. Of course, I should remember which cheeses were out for tasting. However, I was too busy eating and dreaming of cheese, to take in such details. Of course, I remembered the Wild Wasabi Cheese, because we usually have it at home. There was also the Lavender Cheese, which was my favourite, until the kids found the Havarti Cheese with Bacon flavouring. There was also an Ashgrove Smoked Cheddar, Rubicon Red (a red Leicester type of cheese), Mr Bennett’s Blue, Bush Pepper and a Chilli cheese.
This was when I ran into trouble. Make that TROUBLE!!
Obviously, a taste wasn’t enough. I wanted: “MORE!” (remember infamous Oliver Twist!!)
Being powerless to resist temptation, I started to wonder  whether anyone would notice if I just happened to sneak a second piece of Lavender Cheese.
By this point, my taste buds had gone into overdrive and any sense of manners, etiquette or even the sacred Golden Rule,  had gone out the window. All I could hear was that primeval cry straight from the 80’s: “greed is good”. That, and a little wee voice, which could well have been the devil himself, saying: “No one will notice if you take another piece.”

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However, I’m not so sure. Although I’m a foreigner “from the Mainland”, there’s still that persistent fear of getting caught and I’m not sure what they do to people who eat more than their share at tastings.

Do you know if these places have video surveillance? As I mentioned before, I did wonder whether they kept some poor sod out the back who has to count how many pieces of cheese we’ve eaten. Then, anyone who goes back for more is immediately exterminated.

Despite all my moral principles, I could see myself guzzling the entire platter of luscious lavender cheese, when red lights start flashing. Sirens blaring, an announcement now comes over the PA: “Lady, you’ve had 17 pieces of cheese. Please leave the building.”

Or worse still, they might call the cops. Then, I’ll be leaving in handcuffs before being unceremoniously thrown into the paddy wagon…or even in the stocks!
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I was concerned this could be my fate if I kept “tasting” the cheese. You’ll find out more about the reference to “Crackpot” soon.

Yet, as much as I want to keep eating my way through that scrumptious stash of Lavender cheese and move onto the Wasabi with all the stealth of a cunning mouse, I’m restraining myself. There’s still this unwritten code holding me back: “Thou shalt only take one piece.” It might not be one of the Ten Commandments, but going for seconds has got people into a lot of trouble. You just ask some of those poor convicts who’d been transported out to Tasmania when it was still Van Dieman’s Land! Greed isn’t always good after all!

Fortunately, you can buy your own stash of Ashgrove Cheese at the factory and have a serious feast back home. I also bought a few extras as well…coconut ice and caramel fudge, which have nothing to do with cheese and we also had a round of Ashgrove Ice Creams, which is more than worth flying down to Tassie for. They were so yum and when it’s made by “the happiest cows on the planet”, you couldn’t ask for more!

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Nothing like having an ice cream for each hand. Yet, this photo warrants close inspection. My daughter is pretending to be me. She put on my glasses and is “taking photos”. You could say this is a different type of “selfie”!

However, our day of indulgent food tastings didn’t end there.Nor did my battles with temptation!

After leaving Ashgrove Farms, we headed over to Anvers Chocolates at La Trobe. That deserves a write up all of its own. So, stay tuned.

Meanwhile, I’m heading off to convince my cousin that she should re-think her wedding cake. Why have fruit cake, when you could be having a scrumptious Ashgrove Cheese Tower, instead? Besides, cheese is gluten free!!

However, the prospect of a lonely little Cheese Tower, leads me to a whole new level of TROUBLE and I’m now wondering how much time I’d get for stealing a cheese tower? Who knows? I might actually be able to finish writing my book in solitary confinement!

Do you have any cheese confessions to share? I’d love to hear them and I promise I won’t ring the Police!

xx Rowena

Ashgrove Cheese  is located at 6173 Bass Highway, Elizabeth Town, Tasmania 7304.

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I told you they have the happiest cows on earth!

Adventures of A Cheesy

You could be excused for thinking you’re having flashbacks to the 1960s when you see a couple of purple cows grazing beside the road.

Don’t worry. Be happy! You’re not hallucinating. They’re real… albeit plastic… another quirky marketing gimmick. I don’t know why they couldn’t just stick a sign out the front saying Old Wyong Dairy? It’s not rocket science. After all, that is where we are!

Rustic signage at the Old Wyong Dairy

I am a woman on a mission. I’m sure you’ve heard of “foodies”. Well, that must make me a “cheesy” because I’m mad about cheese and that’s why we’re here. I’ve heard about a boutique cheese making operation and I got here as fast as I could.

Must have been a mouse in a past life!

I’m a seasoned cheese tourist. A few years ago, we visited my husband’s homeland, Tasmania. While other tourists were climbing Cradle Mountain, we were driving from coast to coast chasing the mighty cheese. There was the Pyengana Cheese factory in the North-East followed by the Lactos Cheese Factory at Burnie on the North-West Coast and followed by Ashgrove Farm at Elizabeth Town again in the North-West. I was in heaven.

So you could just imagine my excitement when I heard there was a cheese factory locally on the Central Coast. It was still about an hour away but I was busting to get there. I’d also heard they made their own yogurt using jersey milk and that sounded great too.  My husband grew up on jersey milk and raves about the stuff. So on the way home from dropping the kids off at Camp Breakaway, I managed to divert Geoff and we were in heaven.

Now, I always prefer rustic to commercial and the Little Creek Cheese Factory was quaint, intimate, filled with cheese and yogurt and then there was John. I always love somebody who can tell a story and John really draws you in with his down to earth character, his enthusiasm and a good yarn. Just ask him about how he started the business. It’s a great story.

I’m not going to go into a running description of all the cheese and yogurts. Personally, I can’t understand how all those food and wine critics come up with all those weird and wonderful descriptions of things. The cheese looked like cheese. Smelled like cheese. Tasted like cheese. Thank goodness it did. I mean would you really want to buy cheese that smells like a pair of old joggers? Don’t answer that. This cheese fit all the cheese requirements but it also had lots of extra bits and pieces such as garlic, chilli and wasabi. They were all beautiful. I’ll just let you know that we bought a box load of the stuff to take home. That’s a pretty glowing endorsement! I can assure you, we’re not the last of the big spenders. I even bought a couple of wax cheese candles. They had definite character a bit along the lines of the purple cows but I’ve never claimed to be normal!

Cheese Candle

As a bit of a postscript, I should let you know that I fried some of the BBQ Cheese, a cow’s milk Haloumi, tonight and served it on top of lamb shanks, mash and hommous. It really gave my dish a bit of finesse. As we all know, you can’t just dish anything up these days. You have to “plate up”.

Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks with BBQ Cheese, roast tomatoes, mash and hommous

I have also been eating my way through their range of yogurts. First, there was the chocolate yogurt, then the toffee yogurt and I’ve had a day off today to squeeze in a slice of home-made Iced Vovo Cake for dessert.

I’m enjoying a great cappuccino at Cinnamon Beans Cafe

Back to the Old Wyong Dairy… John was happy to mind our cheese stash while we headed next door to Cinnamon Beans for lunch. This was another great “find”. The food was out of this world. Now, I know I shouldn’t be eating chips and it sounds like I am on some kind of high-fat, see-food diet but my husband and I rarely go out on a date so this was pretty special. Anyway, I don’t eat the chips unless they’re good…very good! These were possibly the best chips I’ve ever had and as much as I hate to admit it, I’m already thinking about ways and means of driving up the freeway to get some more. We had a serve of mixed chips with our open steak burger which filled the plate, by the way. The whole thing was excellent value at around $12.00 and just beautiful! This cafe was a real find!

I’ve always liked to share those unexpected experiences… real “finds”. I’d arrived at the cheese tasting with a heavy heart. I’d spent the previous day having tests at Royal North Shore Hospital and we’d just dropped our kids off for respite at Camp Breakaway. Even though I knew they were going to have a fabulous time, I couldn’t help feeling “emotional” leaving them behind.

Our visit to the Old Wyong Dairy really cheered me up and left me feeling completely recharged. It has a really positive energy and comes highly recommended.

Enjoy!

Xx Ro

The Old Wyong Dairy 141-155 Alison Road, Wyong.

Little Creek Cheese Factory  www.littlecreekcheese.com.au