Tag Archives: Tasmanian

D- Devonport, Tasmania: Crossing Bass Strait…A-Z Challenge.

Welcome to Day 4 of the Blogging A to Z April Challenge! Today, after visiting Australia’s capital Canberra yesterday, today we’re off to Devonport in Tasmania and you’re in for a treat. That’s because we’re travelling by boat on board the Spirit of Tasmania which runs between Melbourne and Devonport. I should point out that this is NOT a cruise ship and since we’re travelling in the virtual realm, you won’t catch the coronavirus. I promise!

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So, while it’s not a major city, you could say that Devonport is the Gateway to Tasmania when you’re traveling by boat.

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Family Photo taken in Devonport just before heading home on the boat.

It’s been three years since we last went down to Tassie. My husband, Geoff, was born and bred in Scottsdale in the North-East and families on both sides date back to early settlement. While most of his family were free settlers, the original Newton was a convict who was sent out Van Dieman’s Land via Nolfolk Island at Her Majesty’s Pleasure. He was caught red handed wearing the clothes he’d stolen.

Have you ever been on the Spirit of Tasmania? Here’s a link to our experience.

We hope that you and yours are keeping well and safe and pray for God’s protection and comfort at this time.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Blown Away By Stanley…Tasmania Continued.

If you have ever dreamed of flying, then you’d better head off to the historic town of Stanley in North-West Tasmania. The winds were so strong, that they nearly lifted this mighty heavy hephalump right off the ground like a kite. So, we’re talking about seriously heavy winds and by the end of the day, I could have inflicted grievous bodily harm to get hold of a hair elastic to contain the wilderness on  top of my head. I’m not even going to try to describe what it was like trying to eat an ice cream with my hair whipping my face and going all over the ice cream. It was truly annoying…irritatingly annoying.It provides a different interpretation of having “lashings of ice cream”.

 

However, to be fair to Stanley, the weather was particularly bad that day. So, I wouldn’t necessarily say that Stanley is an exceptionally windy place, though I did spot this sticker…

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By the way, for those of you who are into maps and can actually read and follow them, here’s a map of Tasmania and you can spot Stanley on the North-West coast.

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Then, we headed into Stanley for lunch. I don’t know whether I’ve exactly pointed out how many times I’ve had fish & chips on this trip and how I’m keeping a bit of a log of their performance. So far, the fish & beer battered chips from Stanley are right up there with the best. They were exceptionally good and the fish melted in my mouth and the portions were also very generous.

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Normally, I love alfresco dining, but the wind was so bad that sitting outside became a test of endurance. The wind was bad. Have I mentioned that yet?

Stanley is built into the hillside of a volcanic plug known as: The Nut. This very striking geographical feature helps give Stanley its own character and really adds to its appeal…along with its gorgeously quaint, historic cottages.

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Geoff with “The Nut” in the background.

After lunch, we set off on foot to explore the town. That’s when we came across former Australian Prime Minister, Joe Lyons’ birthplace. The house has been turned into a museum and restored to its original condition with hand split timbers throughout the house etc.

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Our son making himself comfortable at the Prime Minister’s childhood residence.

While looking look through the museum, I was intrigued to find out that his grandmother was a Burke from Shanogolden, County Tipperary, Ireland. This is where Geoff’s Griffin family came from originally. A number of Griffins and Burkes married each other here so I’m curious to see if Geoff’s family has any connection with the former Prime Minister. It’s not something the family is aware of, but until proven otherwise, it’s still a possibility!

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The Stanley Hotel.

While we were in Stanley, we also wanted to check out the Stanley Hotel, which has a connection with Patrick Brehenny who married Ellen Griffin, Geoff’s grandmother’s aunt. It’s quite a building and of  interest quite aside from the family connection.

Personally, although our family connections to these old buildings go back a long way, they have meaning for me. While I’m walking around trying to put myself into their shoes, I get that sense of talking walls . I can almost hear their whispers and feel their pulse. I love doing this, even though it can get a bit eerie and even painful at times. Some of these people led such hard lives, and I do absorb some of their grief. After all, I’m not made of stone. Yet, at the same time, I try not to hold onto these feelings. It’s supposed to be a case of slipping into their skin, walking around looking, breathing, sensing and then stepping out again. I need to let them go.

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Speaking about letting it go, I’d better finish this off and get to bed. We’re off to Hobart’s famous Salamanka Markets in the morning.

xx Rowena

Desperately Seeking “Curley”…Our Tasmanian Cornish Pasty.

Pasty rolled out like a plate,
Piled with “turmut, tates and mate.”
Doubled up, and baked like fate,
That’s a “Cornish Pasty.”
(An old rhyme originating around Breage, Cornwell)

What with all the discussion on Masterchef about recreating your childhood memories on the plate, my thoughts crossed Bass Strait venturing into the Apple Isle where my husband grew up eating Cornish Pasties. Geoff used to buy Cornish Pasties at the school canteen where they were affectionately known as “Curlies”. He loves Cornish Pasties and as much as he loves the taste, they also evoke memories of lush green, rolling hills and being back home on the farm with Mum and Dad.

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Geoff’s Childhood Home.

 

Whenever we’ve gone back to Tasmania, we’ve had to stop off at Poole’s Milk bar in his home town of Scottsdale to buy Cornish Pasties, including a stash to take home. As much as we’ve tried to find a local equivalent, nothing has ever matched up. They weren’t “the same”.

Knowing how much Geoff loves Cornish Pasties, I thought I should try making them. Looking for inspiration,  I Googled Poole’s Milk Bar last night. It wasn’t good news. Unfortunately, it has closed down and the building is up for sale. So, it seems that the great, inimitable Curley has joined the ranks of the  Tasmanian Tiger in reported extinction. Perhaps, like reported sightings of the tiger, it’s still out there somewhere but it’s going to be hard to track down, particularly from “the mainland”.

This now leaves me trying to recreate what my husband knows as the Cornish Pasty without really knowing what it was like. Hedging my debts, I’ve opted to make the traditional Cornish Pasty. Scottsdale was a very traditional, country farming area settled in part by Cornish immigrants. Indeed, Geoff’s grandmother was descended from Francis French from Pelynt, Cornwall who arrived in Hobart Town  on the 23 August 1831.

Also, when we’re talking about my husband’s childhood, we’re winding back the clock 40 years and food was very different then.

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Geoff left with his BIG Brother.

So, after checking out a few recipes, I found a recipe put out by the Cornish Pasty Association, which you can check out here: Traditional Cornish Pasty Recipe

Trying to replicate a traditional recipe poses its own challenges.  While I’m creative and inventive, the skill here lies in replicating the original in the same way a concert pianist reproduces Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata and doesn’t fuse it with chop sticks, their own composition or even Fur Elise. This means easing yourself inside Beethoven’s skin and reproducing his work with as much heart, empathy and sensitivity as you can muster. Otherwise, you can go write your own piece of music and call it what you like.It’s the same with the Cornish Pasty. You replicate the original in all its glory, or you call it something else.

However, replicating a traditional dish, is not without its challenges. Just like I can feel baffled by unknown “modern” or exotic ingredients, with the traditional Cornish Pasty, I am feeling equally bamboozled by the old. The pasty calls for dripping, which I haven’t seen since I was a kid. It also uses a Swede. I have used Swedes once before but they’re what I’d call “cow food” or at best “old school”, which I guess is part and parcel of recreating a traditional dish.

Making the pasty seems straight forward enough and the recipe comes with good, detailed instructions suited to the uninitiated or “virgin” Cornish Pasty maker. I appreciate this because too many recipes assume too much, preempting your inevitable “disaster”.

Yet, there’s one part that has me quietly shaking in my boots and that’s making the curly top.  Apparently, “a good hand crimp is usually a sign of a good handmade pasty.”

Note that it says “good hand crimp”, not slap-dash, sloppy or completely messed up. Knowing my luck, my “curley” will end up with straight hair looking in need of a perm!

However, what am I thinking expecting perfection on my first attempt? It takes practice to make perfect and indeed, it’s almost arrogant to think I could produce a professional quality Cornish Pasty on my first attempt… especially as a novice! I need to stop expecting too much of myself.

It’s okay to make mistakes and certainly not the end of the world.

Oh dear! While I’ve been writing about making my Cornish Pasties, time’s completely runaway from me. The pastry needs to rest for 3 hours and the pasties take around 50 minutes to cook and then dashing off for school pick-up before I can even think of getting started. . This means I need to run or these pasties will be a midnight snack and we’ll have no dinner.
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Heading out incognito to buy dripping, swedes and skirt steak.

This leaves me heading out to the shops looking for dripping, skirt steak and swedes. I might need to find myself a huge pair of sunglasses. After all, there’s retro and there’s retro… Soon, I’ll be wearing a scarf!

Have you even made Cornish Pasties or have any memories of them? Have you been to Cornwell and tried the real deal? I’d love to hear your tales.
xx Rowena
PS I’ll be back to report on the results.