An Island Off an Island

Musings from Bruny

Hi there, Ruby here. I’ve dictated this to my Dad, hope he’s got the story straight!


Boy, its been a couple of very eventful weeks – abandoned, severely chastised and the huge mistake that is the new deck.


Let’s start at the beginning. I now realise that my day care experience at Margate Dog Resort a couple of weeks ago was just a trial for what was to be a total abrogation of parental responsibility by leaving me there while they went galivanting, not just off island but to the mainland, for several days. I thought I’d done enough to be rejected for the overnight experience by being a “stress barker”. But no, Amanda at the dog resort (read Stalag) is very generous and understanding and gave permission for said stay.

I enjoyed making new friends during the day and had a good time playing. I feel that being made to share bedtime space with an 85 kg Bernese Mountain dog was a tad confronting, nice as Boris turned out to be. I felt the need to voice my disapproval by barking incessantly all night. Amanda maintains its was due to stress and gave me some very nice ‘lollies’’that had a rather soporific effect.


Mum chose to stay on the mainland an extra few days, but Dad got back early. Pay back time! Yes, I was happy to see him but he wasn’t about to be forgiven just yet.

With Dad – back on leash!

I picked my time on the daily beach walk. He is so gullible. He had been praising my new-found maturity for walking off-leash and coming when called. Time to disavow that nonsense. I tested the waters by running up into the houses backing on to the beach. Just long enough to cause him a bit of ‘stress’. Unfortunately, he didn’t see the humour in this action. My bottom is still sore from the smacks I received. Not to be deterred, the next day I took off up into the houses and had a real good rummage around in back yards, under houses, onto decks and verandahs. I was gone for a good 30 minutes and when I finally had had enough, I ran back down to the beach to be confronted by a very annoyed and ‘stressed’ Dad. I was smart (cunning) enough to stay a good 30 metres behind him and every time he came too close for comfort, I ran into the sea. I did have enough sense not to run off again and sheepishly jumped into the car to go home where upon I was unceremoniously dumped in the back yard for several hours. No doubt to reflect on my adventurous (willful) behaviour.


Back to that mistake of a deck. I have taken to snoozing under the table on the new deck, a lovely shaded and secure area. Whilst doing so yesterday, I suffered the ignominy of being hissed and snarled at by a pesky quoll right under my nose. A very cocky little animal who knows he is protected from me safely ensconced in a purpose-built enclosure!

Despite what my humans say about the privileged life of their trusty companion, being Ruby is not always a bed of roses.
Until next time……

Hi friends, Ruby here providing an update on my social life here in Tasmania.

When my red harness appears I am pretty sure something good is about to happen ( except when it means the vet, but even the vet means treats – silver lining to every cloud). So when I was snapped into it early on Thursday morning so that we could catch the 7.30 ferry I was pretty sure that I was on a winner.

Yes! Matching

When I say we, I mean me and my Mum, a girls own adventure – and off island to boot! As we waited in the ferry queue I made her check that she had matching earrings, we didn’t want a repeat of the sartorial disaster that marred my ‘See snake and run’ success. All good.

I didn’t have to wait long to discover I was undertaking my trial day at Margate Country Dog Resort and Daycare, a pre-requisite before you can have a holiday there. Margate has a ‘free range’ (ie we all play together) philosophy and so you have to be suitable! No pressure Rube. Many of you will know that I am not a stranger to the canine resort being both a guest and a worker at the esteemed Petcare Extraordinaire in Orange. I was ready, I was pumped.

Amanda was waiting to welcome me when we arrived and I bounded out of the car and through the doors to the delights that awaited me without a backwards glance to poor Mum who may/may not have been distressed.

For the next 9 hours I was in doggy heaven with about 5 hours of group play interrupted by some rest time with my room mates Maggie and Murphy. Amanda was in constant contact with Mum and I believe I might have been described as ‘stubborn’ ( that was ‘no I don’t want to rest, I want to keep playing’). Boy was it fun.

Must admit when Mum arrived to collect me I was a little weary and I slept for most of the trip home, only briefly acknowledging the D’Entrecasteaux Channel as we crossed it. Thankfully Dad had dinner ready so all I had to do was eat and sleep.

When’s my next visit?

The obvious consequence of spectacular views is often steep building blocks and number 87 is certainly well-endowed with such precipitous slopes. Ruby’s domain is the back yard where mountain goats think twice about scaling the heights. It is even rumoured that a party of Sherpas are waiting for the next expedition to pass through in order to assist with porterage.

As a result, a plan to make the area less inhospitable was hatched. This has meant digging out the area just outside the back door for the purpose of a good-sized deck on which to locate our outdoor furniture. It has also meant that Number One Dog is now able to stretch out and do what she does best – snooze without the need for pitons, hammocks and ropes. Ruby has expressed great appreciation by taking up residence under the table.

So, Phase one is nearly complete with just a few more relatively minor earthworks to finish off. At the beginning of the project, ease of excavating in sand was a pleasant surprise, but that soon turned to consternation and frustration at the rock-hard, difficult to dig clay lurking 10 cms below the surface. Work has been temporarily suspended due to overnight rain turning the site into a quagmire.

Phase two will be surrounding garden beds and more terracing but that may have to wait until I physically recover. Ruby, of course, has been a great companion (I won’t say helper) during the project. She is always right there where one wants to swing the mattock, drill a hole, saw some joists etc.

Other projects beckon so me and my mate will surely be kept busy in the near future.


 

Dear Friends, Ruby here, and for once I am speechless. My domain is being overrun with wildlife, and I am beside myself trying to keep everything under control.

Let’s go back a bit. When we arrived I had a ‘not in Orange anymore’ moment. The smells, the terrain, the sounds – all different. But I am an intelligent and adaptable animal and have embraced the lifestyle, even adding dead and rubbery starfish and wallaby poo to my diet.

But when strange and belligerent creatures take up residence in my personal space then something has to be done! To be specific off our laundry is an enclosed porch/wet room/conservatory ( that’s Mum’s description but we all know she’s ridiculous) and this is Ruby’s space. It’s where my water bowl is, and where I eat my meals. My futon is also there, though I eschew it in favour of the lounge.

Annoyingly in the past couple of weeks the space under my room has been invaded by Quolls, or to be more exact the eastern quoll or native cat. They are tiny, aggressive little creatures which have an inflated sense of self importance because they are endangered. I bark, they hiss; I growl, they go ballistic. I am fast asleep at night and they pad around forcing me ( and the whole household) into wakefulness. I think they could move on.

Quoll under our house, look for the red arrow. On his way to under MY room!

One of Mum and Dad’s new Bruny friends, Kate, and a lady called Lois have written a book Quentin the Quoll on Bruny Island. Maybe my quolls could go on an ‘off island’ book tour.

So I have been adapting to the quolls when today another interloper takes up residence under my room, an echidna or spiny ant eater. Mum and Dad were beyond excited, I went into overdrive, patrolling, poking, snorting. Damn thing curled up into a ball and went to sleep.

Finally, to my relief Mum decided to take me down to the beach for a walk. Time to meditate on the meaning of life, look at the sea, sniff and chill. We took the steep narrow path home and damn me if we didn’t have to step to one side while something large and grey bounded past. I believe it’s called a wallaby. I was beyond caring. I sat respectfully and then resumed my walk home to dinner and a rest.

Life on the Island! Rube.

PS. Ruby’s Mum here. Much as she would like you to think otherwise the quolls and echidna are in no danger. Their entrance to the area below Ruby’s room is from the front of the house, well away from her fenced garden.

Today’s blog is by our gorgeous friend Marian who has recently been visiting with Nigel ( referred to below as ‘himself’).

You know how it works. You need to get somewhere and the quickest way is the steepest way so the zigzag tact is deployed. I can say by Day 3 of our Bruny adventure having plenty of practice I made it down (and up) the hills without too much zigzagging.

The island off the island is idyllic; picturesque in natural simplicity where echidna and wallabies coexist although the jury remains undecided about Ruby’s feelings for the quolls.

It’s a magical place where time ceases to be of relevance and you become wrapped up in the paradise, leaving rested and relaxed.

You may have read about piece by himself about our soirée on Bruny but also just to assure you while there was men’s work underway, Jan and I had time to do girl’s work in her studio, particularly toasting the launch of her new library consultancy website. (Blatant ad) please visit Janrichards.com.au.

A very special thank you to Jan and Marcus for their hospitality and generosity of spirit. And of course to Ruby for taking us on walks.

Until next time.
MMB

Today’s guest blogger is our friend Nigel who has been visiting for the past few days. Such a delight to share Bruny with him and Marian. It was almost 12 months to the day since we’d seen last seem them ( in person) when we’d caught up for lunch in London.

Wednesday 20 January .
After a pleasant morning at Battery Point, Hobart, Jan, a newer Bruny Island resident, was again reunited with her long term library confidant and friend Marian, along with Nigel who is often seen tagging along on such adventurous adventures.It was a pleasant drive as we toured the southern Hobart coastal towns before arriving at Kettering harbour for our short car ferry ride across D’entrecastreaux channel.

Locally known as ‘the channel’ because, and nobody will admit, knows how to pronounce it properly since the pommies won the land rights and the French were left with a few token islands in the Pacific.

It was a scenic drive before we arrived at a warm and sunny Dennes Point where Marcus was ready and able and happily greeted us, cup of tea at the ready coupled to a fine lunch with friendly chat, as we admired the beautiful view of the eucalyptus tree’d landscape, shimmering ocean views as the numerous birds sang “welcome to Bruny” from within the safety of the nearby tree canopies.

And not to forget Ruby who took us for a walk, dawn and dusk, along the beautiful local Nebraska beach where she happily introduced us to star fish eating, retrieving the spent oyster shell and general wave frolicking. Wildlife highlight of the day was meeting my first Bruny Island grey spotted and very cute quoll. In truth my first ever quoll which is nothing to quibble about.

Going to the beach, ‘girls’ in the back seat!

Thursday 21 January
Another beautiful start to the day as we started the pre-breakfast Ruby tour of Dennes Point where Ruby happily did her morning ablutions which included the passing of what appeared to be a white sock. A truly striking feat for a truly remarkable Labrador. Even Tommy Cooper couldn’t do that!

Heading towards the Great Southern Ocean


Another fine breakfast was followed by a scenic drive to Adventure Bay for our much anticipated boat trip along the Bruny southern coast line.
It was a truly memorable afternoon as we viewed towering dolorite cliffs; surging seas; seals, both Australian and NZ; shy albatross; a penguin rookery and enough short tailed shearwater to keep one J. Cook’s entire crew from starvation. A truly remarkable experience.
A truly remarkable day. And to finish another fine evening gourmet dinner at chez Richards overlooking another fine coastal sunset with a few bottles of fine Tassie wine to complement the days end.

New Zealand fur seals

Friday 22 January As I am a two schooner screamer, I awoke with a headache and a pain behind the eyes.This was soon put to rest as Ruby looked at me with her large fluttering eyes that said, “take me for a walk”, which today took in part of the Heritage trail.


After breakfast…On a prayer and a whim, Marcus and I made use of a few sticks of timber, some nails and an assortment of tools that after some deliberation and a few cups of sustaining tea from ‘ the girls’, we managed to fashion into a vertical structure known as a stud wall.
‘The Girls’ were so proud of us they took us to the local restaurant for a fish and chip supper, where we met a few other locals, a greyhound and with great excitement, an echidna on the way home.Unfortunately it was a little camera shy and dug his head into the sand so we’re unable to ask how he was or where he was off but none the less it was a very impressive back.

Saturday 23 January
Today we woke for our last Bruny day and as usual Ruby was waiting for her morning exploratory trip to the beach and local verges where she sniffed and snorted and nuzzled the lingering smells of the night and more exploration of the local Heritage trail. We walked home extra slowly today absorbing the local scenery and a small flock of black cockatoo who were busy having pine cone breakfast in a local coastal pine.


As usual on our return we were greeted by Jan and Marcus who had prepared another fine and varied breakfast for us.We chatted our chat and packed our bags and said a sad farewell to Marcus and Ruby as Jan expertly rallied us around the local gravel tracks to the Bruny Island ferry and on to our Hobart hotel.We cannot thank you both enough for our Bruny life experience. A truly wonderful piece of paradise.

Thank you Marcus, thank you Jan and thank you Ruby for your magic show.

“Bestest” wishes, Nigel and Marian.

Dear friends, greetings from a very windy Dennes Point. Marcus wrote in early December about the gale force winds and since then we have come to realise that Bruny is a gusty place. The locals assure us that it’s unseasonable and we would normally experience these conditions in August but I’m not so sure. Poor Ruby had to forego her walk yesterday afternoon as it was so crazy plus she’s not too keen on the Dumbo the Elephant look. We have just come in from a hike to the Point both a little worse for wear.

Meanwhile at Wainui construction is underway on a series of platforms to transform the back yard into a restful, sheltered paradise. There have been a number of trips to Bunnings and last week there was a delivery of all necessary components which warmed the heart of at least one of us. Work was interrupted when a quoll had the audacity to appear on site, much to the outrage of foreperson Ruby. Our girl has made it her mission to see off quolls and possums whenever possible ( ie when she hears them) with much barking and self importance which is in turn met with considerable hissing.

The other big event this week was a Bushfire Property Assessment session led by Tasmanian Fire Service. It was arranged by Friends of North Bruny and has resulted in us taking a good look at the house and surrounds and we have developed our emergency plan. When we were in Orange I would look at the sign on the High School fence which advised that it was the Neighbourhood Safer Place. In Dennes Point the Nearby Safer Place is the jetty. Rube and I did a recce that afternoon just to familiarise ourselves.

Alert not alarmed.

Following publication of our last post a friend asked the very pertinent question, had we been for a swim? The answer is yes, though in the interests of accuracy ‘dip’ might be a more appropriate word. Marcus was the trendsetter on a particularly hot afternoon just before Christmas and Ruby and I were waiting for an opportunity to join the Bruny Swimming Club ( though I may be exaggerating Ruby’s enthusiasm).

This week the weather has moved into the 25+ category on a couple of days and we agreed it was time to take the plunge – literally. Our Orange based friend Victoria L hails from Launceston and, as we were leaving, gave us the sage advice not to pussyfoot about and enter the water in stages. Instead in Tasmania you plunge in. Something along the lines of he/she who hesitates is lost. Meanwhile a new Bruny friend assured us that for it to count as a swim you had to do 30 stokes! She has since upped this to 300 so I don’t think she can be counted as reliable.

Anyway on Monday we decided to have a pre-lunch swim. Water temperature 16.9 degrees. I comforted myself in thinking it was warmer than my ‘summer’ dip in Norway or ice swimming in Finland ( thanks Ruth and Pirkko). Sadly we didn’t take Victoria’s advice and we entered in stages – always trust an expert. BUT once we were immersed it was gorgeous – though I did only manage 23 strokes before calling ‘time’. M may have done more. We have subsequently been back twice and I am planning a career as a cold water swimmer.

Meanwhile Ruby (remember her, the Labrador, a so called water breed?) refuses to go in above her armpits, is scared of ‘waves’ ( there are none) , and prefers rock pools. Maybe she’s heard comments about shark bait.

On with the togs.

After weeks of changeable and windy weather summer has descended on Dennes Point and there is a definite feeling of ‘laid back’ in the air. It’s partly the weather (blue skies, warmer temperatures), but it’s also the influx of ‘shackies’, here to enjoy their holiday homes which have often been passed from generation to generation. Our little settlement has an unfamiliar but comfortable feel.

Regular readers will know that Ruby is unsettled by new arrivals on her territory ( especially sand-castle building children), and I suspect some Bruny locals feel the same. There is definitely a down side. Ferry queues can be awful and the Facebook page dedicated to such issues ( I kid you not) gives regular status updates. As a consequence we have changed our travel schedule to avoid super busy times, and resorted to grocery delivery. There is also the peril of off-island drivers who hog the middle of the winding gravel roads.

Dutchies Summer 1970

On the plus side there is the sense of holiday tradition that really resonates with me. Family and friends will know that growing up our family’s summer holiday was always at Dutchies ( ie Dutchman’s Beach at Port Stephen’s), and that to this day my sister Jo and I ‘own’ that beach. As we walk with Ruby along Nebraska Beach in the late afternoon, passing pleasantries with those who are also strolling I am taken back to that time; to the hours spent laying on the beach reading, eavesdropping on conversations between Mum/Nana/Aunty Audrey/Aunty Iris/ Aunty Gwen/ Aunty Bet/ Aunty Fay, and floating on the tractor inner tube in the sea for hours.

Here at Dennes Point chairs are permanently set up on the sand in front of shacks, buckets and spades are left out ready for action the next day and boathouse doors are left open revealing the treasures inside.

Summer is fleeting, time to enjoy every minute!

Hi Friends, Ruby here to bring you greetings and best wishes for 2021 from an island, off an island, off an island at the bottom of the world.

Now I don’t want to sound like some sort of New Year Grinch, but really I don’t know what all the fuss is about. In fact I found it all rather tiresome.

Boats everywhere! … and children and visiting dogs

Let’s go back a few days. Just after Boxing Day (memorable because I was still eating turkey scraps), lots of people began to descend on Dennes Point. As an ever alert Labrador this was obvious to me not only by the increased number of cars going past our house, and the number of boats moored offshore, but more importantly the invasion of my beach by visiting dogs and small children. Now I realise I may be getting a bit ahead of myself in claiming the beach as my own after only 2 months of residency (which is 14 months in dog years), but where have those kids/dogs been in that time? Not here that’s for sure. I let my disdain be known by subtly altering any sandcastle I strolled past and walking in a proprietorial way.

Dog on the job

After a big day clearing the vegetable garden yesterday ( another photo of me assisting included for your viewing pleasure) we retired to the house for an evening of quiet celebration, which for me meant a gentle slumber on the lounge. I was therefore not best pleased when I was awoken about 9pm by what I was assured were fireworks that ‘wouldn’t hurt me’. As if I believed that! I charged outside, rushing up and down the deck with my best and deepest bark in evidence. After some persuasion and a little physical effort on the part of the parents I was escorted back inside exhausted and ready for bed.

There is some sort of connectivity issue on Bruny at present and watching Netflix is proving problematic which caused Dad some grief. We were reduced to revisiting the DVD collection (not altogether successful) and at 10.30 bedtime was declared. No arguments from me there.

So everyone was snuggled down when footsteps were heard outside on the deck. I was immediately alert to the noise and movement and bloody hell there was a possum, outside my window, casually strutting along. And can I say not a small specimen but one who could do with a Jenny Craig appointment. Once again I was forced to defend the house with a show of strength, not once but twice as the blighter came back for a second look around. There was a touch of exasperation in Dad’s voice as I was asked to come back inside. He may even have used his ‘teacher voice’. I expect most of Dennes Point heard me but fair’s fair, I had put up with their fireworks. By now it was midnight and Mum reckoned she could see the fireworks from Hobart – not that I’d trust her, she’s known to exaggerate.

As a result I have spent the day catching up on lost sleep. This has been tricky as we have some of our new friends coming over for drinks and I am constantly being moved so something can be ‘done’. What’s the bet that I’ll be in my garden come party time? Not an ideal start to the year. Oh well, Happy New Year. Ruby.

Christmas Day may be a memory but the fridge is still full of leftovers and I am just discovering things I bought to include in the feast but which have been forgotten (or more realistically hidden behind other items). There is a culinary rationale for Christmas lasting 12 days!

I have tried to adhere to the 100 mile philosophy when sourcing food for some time but Christmas on Bruny involved a much smaller radius for festive cheer, and what amazing produce it was!

Oysters: Whenever you mention Bruny to people who have visited they will comment on the oysters – as they should. They are small perfect parcels of deliciousness. We made the short trek to ‘Get Shucked’ several times to ensure a fresh supply. Our Christmas Eve pick up was afforded the ‘value add’ component when we were serenaded as we completed the transaction. With a choice of toppings for those who wanted them and a glass of Tasmanian bubbles on the side the perfect beginning to a meal.

Cheese: on the culinary front another thing Bruny is known for is The Bruny Island Cheese Company – heaven on a stick! Armed with gift vouchers from family we loaded up with the stuff. The opportunity to say ‘I’ll have one of everything’ and sample at leisure was a treat.

Olive Oil: just before you hit Dennes Point an olive grove hugs the hillside and at the gate sits this self serve station.

Cherries: What is Christmas without them? Especially coming from Orange where picking them in your teens was a way of earning pocket money ( not that I am really an expert on that as I only lasted 2 days and it was ‘suggested’ that I not come back). I digress. Cherries can be bought from the Cherry shed as you leave the ferry at Robert’s Point but ours came from much closer to home, the orchard of our neighbours Marlene and Brendan, – large dark and delicious. Marcus used some to create this glorious Cherry, orange and hazelnut tart (Delicious December 2020) served with home made vanilla ice-cream.

Vegetables: A quick drive to the Bruny Island Market Garden to collect our box overflowing with freshly harvested yumminess

Eggs: We were also responsible for our other neighbours chooks, or ‘ the ladies’ as Marcus respectfully referred to them. Ensuring they were securely locked away from quolls at night became part of the rhythm of our days and we were rewarded by a constant supply of beautiful fresh eggs.

Hope your Christmas was as delicious as ours. Forgot to mention that our table ( like most in Bruny) also included salmon from the great escape. About to make a sandwich from leftovers- is there anything nicer, especially when you are curled up reading the books Santa left!

Hi Regina here, friend of Jan, Marcus and Ruby from when we all lived in Orange – delighted to be here on Bruny for Christmas with good friends and totally privileged as an invited guest blogger.

Yesterday , Jan and I took in/took on Bruny’s most famed tourist attraction – Mr Pennicott’s three hour tour down the south east coast from Adventure Bay to the Friars off the southern tip. Famed as a wilderness tour with ginger tablets supplied, the boat crew delivered scenic dolomite sea cliffs, caves, arches, rock formations and wild-life.

While being decked out like religious acolytes appealed to the inner catholic in me, the outbound trip held no terrors.

Look at the colour of that water!

The return, however, prompted thoughts of that other “three hour tour” aboard the SS Minnow as our youthful skipper and first mate made sure the trip was memorable and ran us fast into a strong northerly and swell. Ginger tablets and wet weather gear were tested.
One sudden stop into the face of the swell has parked itself in my memory. I wonder if I could recreate that in the dragon boat on Lake Weerona in Bendigo?

Jan about to board

Let’s just say that the jetty at Adventure Bay never looked so good. A special and beautiful day that I am pleased to have shared with a dear and special friend.

Thanks Jan.