Tag Archives: tourism

B- Bridport: A to Z Blogging Challenge.

Welcome to Day 2 of the A to Z Blogging Challenge.

Today, we’re cruising from Ashgrove Farm in Elizabeth Town to Bridport, in North-Eastern Tasmania. Driving from nearby Deloraine, it’s a a 129km drive, taking about about 1 hour 34 mins. However, it could take a lot longer if you stop off at any of the vineyards around Piper’s Brook. With our supplies of cheese and crackers from Ashgrove Farm, it only seems fitting to wash them down with a drop or two.

Bridport is many things to many people but for Geoff’s family, it was also where Nanna and Pop lived and they weren’t far from the beach either. Nanna was known for her canaries and she used to bake the canaries a form of sponge cake loaded with egg yolks from the chooks as well as caraway seeds. Nanna was also renowned for her homemade bread, which took out prizes at the nearby Scottsdale Show.

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Anyway, since you can’t go to Bridport to see Nanna these days, I’d better keep moving and I’ve actually gone back in time to 1883 to provide a local description of the place as well as a mention of a local ghost…

“We are now having beautiful weather, so good that it makes us think summer is close at hand. The approach of summer always sets people thinking of excursions, picnics, and visits to the seaside. Here we are always at the seaside, and perhaps do not realise quite as much enjoyment from a ramble on the beach as people who only get a sniff of the briny once in 12 months. Still we sometimes take a stroll on the sands and enjoy it. I often think if Bridport was better known, and there were better facilities for getting from Launceston to it, in time it would become a favorite seaside resort. On the east side of the bay there is a splendid sandy beach (none better in Tasmania) for upwards of 10 miles at low water. This beach is hard and firm as a macadamised road, being a splendid stretch to either ride, drive, or walk on. The west side of the bay the coast is rocky, making a nice resort for robust ladies and gentle men to scramble about on. There is also good bathing, boating, shooting, and both salt and ‘fresh -water fishing ; in fact Bridport is the very ideal summer retreat that plenty of people are looking for. We were enlivened for several nights with the visits of a “real genuine ghost.” I don’t think it was a bad sort of ghost in the way they generally go, but it managed to frighten two -or three people very muchly. I think if anything the ghost scared the people more than the earth quakes have done, so we may conclude the ghost has scored one on the earthquakes. A few evenings ago some of the ghost friends went to interview it, but as it did not come up to time they all went home again very much disgusted to find they had no chance of offering it the stock whips, stones, and other things they intended presenting his ghostship with. We have had no visitations from it since. Most likely his satanic majesty has found work for it in another quarter.”

Daily Telegraph (Launceston, Tas. : 1883 – 1928), Tuesday 2 October 1883, page 3

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How could you ruin a breath-taking view like this with cabling? You’ve got wonder about humans!

In addition to sharing with you about the beautiful beach and coastline, I thought I should also mention Bridport’s wombat population. I have vague memories about Geoff’s aunt telling me about a local wombat which walked around the shops back in the 1940s and was well known around town. I couldn’t find any reference to it online. However, I did come across “Norma’s Ark”,  which operates out of Norma Baker’s Bridport home. We were quite conscious of the sheer number of dead animals besides the road, particularly Bennett’s Wallabies and Norma does a fantastic job nursing injured animals and then returning them to the wild. You can read more about  Norma and Norma’s Ark Here.

While this is hardly a comprehensive tour of Bridport, it does provide a few insights and I hope you’ve enjoyed it. I look forward to catching up with you tomorrow!

xx Rowena

LOCAL OUTRAGE- Friday Fictioneers

Desperate to attract passing tourists, Council voted to upgrade the local park.

While surveys confirmed locals had wanted to install a steam locomotive and have a mini railway running on weekends, they’d ended up with “Rusty” , a “pile of scrap metal”, instead. Accordingly, Rusty was only good for one thing and for more information, you’ll need to consult the local dogs, who’d voted him the best telegraph pole in town.

Then, last Sunday morning, Rusty was gone. No one had seen or heard a thing, but in his place, there was a garden gnome.

Apparently, Nigel  had come home.


This is another contribution for the Friday Fictioneers. PHOTO PROMPT © Jennifer Pendergast.

Hope you’ve had a great week!

xx Rowena

Australia: You’ve Been Warned!!

You don’t have to be Einstein to know Australia is a land of rugged extremes. A place where you just need to dip your toe in the water and it could became a battle of life and death against any number of foes.

Naturally, you’d be mad to ever set foot in the place. Indeed, it really is a mystery to modern science how locals have ever managed to survive.

Of course, all sorts of theories abound. Personally, I reckon that daily dose of Vegemite toast probably makes us so toxic and unpalatable to wildlife, that they don’t even want to take a bite.

Our climate is just as extreme, dangerous and potentially deadly as our wildlife.

Moreover, it’s almost ludicrous to think that while one part of the country is experiencing ferocious, destructive bush fires, the Northern Territory has severe flooding. Moreover, the fact that it’s Christmas never seems to enter the equation either. Nature doesn’t care.

Vintage Ettalong Santa Truck 2008 Pearl Beach

An Australian Christmas, Pearl Beach, New South Wales.

So, if you’re in the UK experiencing floodwaters, thank your lucky stars you’re nowhere near the Daly River in Australia’s rugged Northern Territory where rising flood waters are the least of your worries.

Those very same waters are infested with large, man-eating saltwater crocodiles. Snap! Snap! While most of Australia’s dangerous wildlife doesn’t actively seek out humans, crocs are a different story. They’re aggressive predators and quite happy to add you to the menu. You can read the full story here: http://www.news.com.au/technology/science/animals/daly-river-residents-alarmed-after-spotting-crocodiles-in-town-during-flood/news-story/786cad8139b22f7e0c5092f5988eb629

Meanwhile, on Christmas Day, 116 homes were lost in horrific bush fires on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria. An incredible inferno, this blaze is still going.

The extremes of the Australian climate and landscape are encapsulated in a historic poem written by Dorothea McKellar, which probably rouses more national pride than our national anthem. It has quite a number of verses but this is what usually gets recited:

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror –
The wide brown land for me!

Indeed, it is a land where drought and flood have somehow become strangely interconnected.  Bush fire is so common that it’s even required  for some plant species to germinate, bringing about new life. You’d have to say that’s just proof this place is insane. How could anything so destructive ever have any redeeming features?

Meanwhile, Geoff and I are enjoying a very lazy, comfortable day parked in the couch at home. Geoff’s watching the cricket while I’m blogging while the dog sleeps on my feet. I should tell him to thank his lucky stars he’s nowhere near the Daly’s River either. Dogs have sadly become snack food up there, while Bilbo and Lady and been enjoying eating post-Christmas treats.

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Enjoying the easy life!

One of these days, I’ll be expecting complaints from the Australian Tourism Commission: “Stop scaring away the tourists”. I know I should only be sharing the nice fluffy stories about lush green pastures and stunning golden beaches but where’s the fun in that? Snakes, spiders, crocodiles, bush fires, floods, crazed drop bears…this is the real Australia.

Enter at your own risk!

Have you been game?

xx Rowena

 

 

 

Poem: Shadows in Byron Bay…a Postcard.

Ghostly shipwrecks,

Snakes in the grass,

Jaws in the surf

Blue Bottles on the beach.

Dingo in the park.

Bee-stings.

Sunburn.

Empty wallets.

Nowhere to park.

Drought then flooding rain.

Crikey, mate!

The fractured postcard

beneath perfect skies.

Think I’m heading home.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

When you’re a local and you know the realities of life beyond the tourist postcard, the perfect tourist view can almost feel like a lie. Those perfect, eternal sunny days printed onto tourist postcards without even a hint of what goes on.

Geoff at Wategoes Beach, Byron Bay.

Geoff at Wategoes Beach, Byron Bay.

While we aren’t Byron Bay locals, we’re not tourists here either. We’re more like migratory birds which keep flying home, although for us there is no particular season. We visit once a year and stay with my in-laws who’ve lived and worked in the district for over 30 years. When I visit Bangalow and go through the shops, I am sometimes recognised and given a “you’re back”. In so many, many ways, I’ve never left because my creative heart belongs in Byron Bay and nearby Bangalow and my in-laws give us such love and support, which touches me very deeply inside. This has been right through my medical highs and lows and looking after what were very young and stressed out kids and they pulled their sleeves up and dug in and helped and not just with the easy stuff either.

Anyway, Australians love scaring people overseas with our various sightings and encounters with deadly wildlife. Carnivorous koalas known as “Drop Bears” are legendary but coming down to earth a bit soe of our wildlife is very dangerous but thank goodness, you don”t see it very often. You just need to use your head and take precautions. We know there’s likely to be Red Back Spiders nesting under stuff in our backyard at home but that also means we’re careful moving things around. Recent shark attacks near Byron Bay are actually unexpected and so we’ve been not so sure how to deal with that and many are just staying out of the water or going elsewhere. Snakes are a fact of life but keep the doors shut. Watch where you’re walking and you’re going to be very unlikely. Most of us Aussies have never been bitten by a poisonous snake, spider, shark or croc.

Blue Bottle

Blue Bottle

The same can’t be said for for the blue bottle, which is also known more formally as the Portuguese Man O’ War. If you have ever been stung by one of these nasty critters, you might well think the war reference refers to its sting However, it derives its name from it’s physical similarity to a Portuguese war ship going back. Blue bottles aren’t unique to Australia so it’s quite possibly that you’ve also experienced the Summer horror of feelings it’s tentacles wrapped around your leg and screaming out for the vinegar.

While we were in Byron Bay this trip,, we actually spotted what looked pretty close to a full-blooded Dingo at the Railway Park. It seemed to be a pet, although I couldn’t quite work out any kind of ownership and he could well have been a community dog. He was quite friendly and used to being around people though. It’s probably the first time I’ve ever encountered a dingo outside a zoo.

An empty wallet is a travelling hazard. I’m not talking about having your wallet stolen but the never-ending temptation which leads you to buy things you know you can’t afford. IN Byron Bay this, for me, goes way beyond buying some dress or fashion item to finding artistic masterpieces which somehow reflect or express an inner part of myself which has remained trapped, or somehow locked in an inner labyrinth. This trip I bought myself a stunning ring which had a piece of ceramic on top with a butterfly on it. The butterfly had its wings spread out and it looked like to was perched on my finger ready to take flight. I bought that ring to encourage myself and to launch myself into the air and learn to fly again after a few severe health setbacks.

Of course, this wasn’t the only thing I found either.I also found a stunning range of gift cards which I felt were me. I’ll have to dig them up and put a link through to the artist.

Bee Sting…Mister somehow managed to get stung by a bee out in the paddock. This is the same paddock where we’d seen the snake and so we wondered how he managed to get stung if he had his eyes out of storks like he’d been told???? Kids!

Painted onto one of the park benches in Railway Park, a dedication to all the young people who have suicided in the region.

Painted onto one of the park benches in Railway Park, a dedication to all the young people who have suicided in the region.

There’s one other thing I should mention about Byron Bay is that it attracts a lot of young people and travellers, which I’ll collectively call “seekers”. Sometimes, they are just looking to party, have a good time etc but Byron Bay tends to attract young people looking for something deeper, more intangible and also more concerning. In once sense, there’s that piece missing in their own puzzle and for repressed creatives, the Byron Bay region can be that missing piece. A way of being themselves. At the same time, your early 20s can be a time when mental health issues start to manifest and that very tenuous, downward spiral into debilitating anxiety, depression can start as well as the hallucination associated with schizophrenia. While drugs and alcohol might exacerbate these problems and intensify the nightmare, they are also a form of self-medication. These people can drift into Byron and find themselves in serious trouble. Sexual assault, rape, suicide are some of the dark, unspoken underbelly of Byron Bay, which is just as much a part of it’s cultural make up as the postcard views of the sun, surf and stoic lighthouse. .

Free art in the park ...the kids did a few paintings and had a ball. Must say they had good quality paints too. Very much appreciated!

Free art in the park …the kids did a few paintings and had a ball. Must say they had good quality paints too. Very much appreciated!

As much as the seekers head for Byron Bay, so does a lot of love and care for the wounded. Mama Dee, whose son died in Railway Park, was running a free art in the park program while we were there and there were people giving free lunches and the young enthusiasts from a Christian group called Youth with A MIssion were giving away a lovely BBQ dinner and also played guitar and sang in the park. The Adventist Church across the road has also been reaching out for many years. At the same time, the huge volume of seekers moving through Byron Bay can exhaust the local community. People arriving in Byron with no money. Nowhere to stay and expecting someone to help.

Mister's vibrant interpretation of a sunflower.

Mister’s vibrant interpretation of a sunflower.

While it is important to be positive and upbeat, it is also imperative to acknowledge what’s real. We can admire the beauty of the rainbow but we also need to be conscious that it takes both sun and rain to produce what has to be one of the most beautiful wonders of our planet. As long as we deny that the dark side exists and sweep it under a picture-perfect postcard fascade, people will keep falling off the edge wondering why paradise never measured up.

xx Rowena

PS: Just to show that these sort of dangers are not unique to the Australian context, here’s an interesting post from True Nomad about A Day in the Life of A Canadian Park Ranger: http://truenorthnomad.net/2015/09/24/day-in-the-life-of-a-park-ranger/

Hahndorf, South Australia: the Blacksmith and the Artists.

Welcome to Hahndorf, a German-Australian village in South Australia’s Adelaide Hills and as you prepare for landing, could you please switch you clocks back well into last century to an era where there were few, if any, cars and the horse and cart were still being serviced at HA Haebich’s Smithy on Main Road, Hahndorf. That was before WWI when Hahndorf’s name was changed to Ambleside, as a reflection of fierce anti-German sentiment and changed back again in 1935.

Map showing the location of Hahndorf.

I send my apologies in advance as this is only going to be a rudimentary tour. This will only be a fleeting day trip for the Blogging from A-Z Challenge. I promise I’ll pop back later for a more in depth visit.

My much loved Grandfather, Bert Haebich, was not only born in Hahndorf but was also descended from the Hartmann and Paech families, who were among the very first German settlers to arrive in Australia back in 1838. These Lutherans were escaping persecution in Prussia and came to South Australia in search of religious freedom. They were an extremely stoic and hardworking community who used to walk their produce into Adelaide on foot and certainly weren’t afraid of backbreaking hard work!!

My grandfather, who was a real treasure trove of stories and tales, used to tell me the most intriguing and interesting stories about growing up in Hahndorf and it almost seemed like there was a touch of magic in the water. However, I now suspect these were the sort of pranks people got up to in the days before television, especially when there was a boarding school in town.

Hahndorf is a thriving tourist attraction these days and something of a living museum. In so many ways, it looks like a chunk of 19th century Germany, which was dug up and transplanted to the South Australia. Many of the original houses have been retained and restored including Haebich’s Cottage, the family’s home on Main Street, which was built in the late 1850’s by J.Georg. Haebich. It is a substantial ‘fachwerk’ (basically a timber skeleton with infill of pug [straw/mud], brick or stone) German cottage and is absolutely gorgeous.

As this is just a fleeting tour, I’m going to cut to the chase and introduce you to the Blacksmith and the artists.

Heinrich August Haebich, my Great Great Grandfather had a Smithy on Main Street, Hahndorf and lives inHaebich’s Cottage next door. August was was born in Hahndorf on the 17th March, 1851 to Johann George HAEBICH (1813-1872) and Christiane SCHILLER (-1857). August married Maria Amalie Thiele in 1874 but she died less than a year later and on 12th April, 1877, he married Caroline Maria Paech. They had 9 children and I think all four boys worked in the Smithy at some time. With the advent of the car, the business slowly wound down and my Great Grandfather Ed left to work as an engineer with the railways and later as a market gardener. His brother Bill was the last Haebich blacksmith…the end of the line.

As I mentioned, my grandfather loved telling me stories of growing up in Hahndorf and I was enchanted. There was an incredible cast of characters and antics like tying a goat to the Church bells so they rang every time to goat reached out to eat more grass. There was also an explosion of some sort during WWII, which sparked fears of a Japanese invasion but was yet another prank. There was a cockatoo which allegedly used to walk across the road leaning to one side with its wing bent staggering along saying: “Drunk again! Drunk again!” Hahndorf is a short distance from the Barossa Valley, one of Australia’s most famous wine-growing regions and there is even a Lutheran Church planted, or should I surrounded by vineyards. I think that should put you in the picture!

While most of the characters in my grandfather’s stories remained anonymous, one name certainly stood out. That was the world-renowned artist Sir Hans Heysen, who lived in Hahndorf with his wife Sallie and family in a spectacular home called: “The Cedars”.

Hans Heysen, "White Gums".

Hans Heysen, “White Gums”.

“Its (the gum tree) main appeal to me has been its combination of mightiness and delicacy – mighty in its strength of limb and delicate in the colouring of its covering. Then it has distinctive qualities; in fact I know of no other tree which is more decorative, both as regards the flow of its limbs and the patterns the bark makes on its main trunk. In all its stages the gum tree is extremely beautiful.”

SIR HANS HEYSEN

 

Heysen had what you could describe as a spiritual relationship with the Australian Gum Tree and he was also captivated by light and trying to capture and infuse light onto the canvas. Understandably, Heysen was quite the conservationist, particularly where saving these glorious gum trees, which were threatened by the installation of electric wires but also by development. He deeply lamented each tree which was lost. Indeed, it was his through his protection of the local gum trees that Hans Heysen entered my Grandfather’s stories. It was known that if anybody wanted to chop down one of these trees, they would have to speak to Hans Heysen first and he was a formidable force. I also found out that my grandfather’s sister, Ivy, worked as a housekeeper for the Heysen’s. That still intrigues me and unfortunately I need had the chance to discuss this with her.

My grandfather took this photo at the Hahndorf Centenary Celebrations in 1938 and I believe that in Hans Heysen standing on the RHS wearing a white coat and his characteristic knickerbockers and long boots.

My grandfather took this photo at the Hahndorf Centenary Celebrations in 1938 and I believe that in Hans Heysen standing on the RHS wearing a white coat and his characteristic knickerbockers and long boots.

Here is a link to some of Hans Heysen’s works: http://www.artgallery.sa.gov.au/agsa/home/Learning/docs/Online_Resources/Heysen_Trail.pdf

With his love and reverence for the Australian Gum Tree, I guess it is fair to say that Heysen’s outlook fitted in better with the more pastoral and bush portrayal of Australia and Heysen certainly despised Modernism and all its trappings. This was reflected in paintings such as The Toilers (1920) where Hans Heysen painted a local farmer “Old Kramm” and his horses.

Perhaps, it was Heysen’s love for this passing pre-mechanised world,which inspired Hans Heysen to undertake an etching of Haebich’s Smithy in 1912. My grandfather had a print of this painting and it was something we knew about and I guess were proud of without knowing any background to it at all.

Hans Heysen, "The Old Blacksmith's Shop, Hahndorf." (1912)

Hans Heysen, “The Old Blacksmith’s Shop, Hahndorf.” (1912)

It was only last year, that I really questioned Heysen’s perspective of the Blacksmith’s shop and how his still life contrasted to my grandfather’s animated stories of a busy, flourishing workshop. I remember how my grandfather;s face would light up, even as an old man, talking about how the water would whoosh up when the red hot steel rim for the wheel would be dunked in water producing an incredible gush of steam. He was a small boy once again mesmerised by the whole experience and and there was such theatre.

In addition to questioning Heysen’s still life of a place which was anything but still, I also realised that Heysen’s work portrayed the more traditional tools of blacksmithing at a time when the Smithy was already being mechanised. August Haebich and his eldest son Otto, were innovative engineers who invented the Wattle Stripper and engines. They were hardly relics from the past or living and breathing museum pieces.

So, there was a bit of food for thought, which I’ll need to investigate further.

In the meantime, while  doing yet another Google search and romping through the online newspapers at Trove, I made quite a discovery. It might not warrant global acclaim but it felt like I’d found a gold nugget in my own backyard. Believe me!  I was shouting “Eureka”from the rafters even though no one else was listening!

It turned out that Hans Heysen wasn’t the only famous artist who had depicted the Haebich Smithy. Hans and Sallie Heysen entertained numerous artists and performers at The Cedars. Indeed, famous singer Dame Nellie Melba was a regular visitor and naturally fellow artists also came to stay. Naturally, they roamed around Hahndorf and did what artists do…sketch. After all, the very quaint German buildings are what we would now call very “photogenic”.

Lionel Lindsay: "The Smithy Window, Ambleside" (1924).

Lionel Lindsay: “The Smithy Window, Ambleside” (1924).

So, consequently, I have unearthed other sketches of the Haebich Smithy. There was one by Sir Lionel Lindsay, brother of artist and author Norman Lindsay of Magic Pudding fame as well as artist and art publisher Sydney Ure Smith. Sydney Ure Smith was so smitten with Hahndorf, that he included scenes in his book: Old Colonial By-Ways (1928)…alongside much more recognised Sydney landmarks such as the buildings in Macquarie Street and Elizabeth Farm House in Parramatta, which is the oldest house in Australasia. Elizabeth Farm House was built In 1793 Sir John MacArthur and was where he con ducted his experiments with merino sheep, giving birth to the Australian wool industry.

Sydney Ure Smith: The Blacksmith's Shop, Ambleside (1925).

Sydney Ure Smith: The Blacksmith’s Shop, Ambleside (1925).

So, immortalised alongside, Elizabeth Farm House, is Haebich’s Smithy.

When you look at it like that, it really does seem rather incredible and amazing and yes, I’m impressed, proud and so many superlatives that I couldn’t possibly get them all down without sounding like a thesaurus!

By the way, the kids are spending the night at my parent’s place and Geoff and I actually made it out for dinner back to Yoda in Avalon. I also raided the local op shop this afternoon where I chanced up quite a few treasures including a very glamorous sheer burgundy colour sheer wrap with red faux fur trip. It’s come all the way from Paris and looks like something out of Moulin Rouge. I know people tell you that food and retail therapy are bad but I have to disagree. For five minutes there, I was on top of the world!

xx Rowena