An Island Off an Island

Musings from Bruny

Sitting on the lounge, glass of wine in hand, watching the Tasmanian election broadcast on ABC. It’s our first Tassie election and provides a different perspective to the process, but Antony Green* has been helicoptered in to help us all understand through his magic whiteboard, so there is also a wonderful sense of familiarity.

The election was called a year early, and the cynics among us would say this was building on the success of the Queensland and Western Australian elections, where the incumbent government was returned based on the COVID response. Haven’t been here long enough to comment.

Our nearest polling booths were at Adventure Bay or Allonah, both about a 40 minute drive away, so we opted to go down the postal vote route. This was another first; we’ve done absentee in the past (Jindabyne with Darryl and Cathy), and I think we may have missed an election once when we were overseas, but never postal! **

Experienced ‘how to vote’ worker available!

There are only five electorates in Tasmania so Antony is having to stretch things out. We also use a different electoral system – the Hare/Clark which we share with the ACT. Haven’t been able to get our heads totally around it yet. There is also no handing out of ‘how to vote’ material at state elections – I don’t think Tasmania realises the skill and experience that they are missing out on.

Democracy sausage on sourdough with pesto served on Royal Doulton – pretentious yes!

So back to the postal vote. Being at home potentially meant no democracy sausage. But wait! There are some in the freezer! Our own nod to tradition.

Will wait until tomorrow to see what the results look like.

For our overseas readers:

* Antony Green is Australia’s # 1 election analyst.

** Voting is compulsory in Australia

** A democracy sausage https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy_sausage

One of the (many) things I love about Bruny is how a person is recognised by their first name + occupation. Makes me feel like I’m in a picture book or something penned by Dylan Thomas.

Shaun the Postie

Day one last November; about 8am when we had just surfaced, a white van came tearing up the drive and out tumbled my most anticipated Bruny character ‘Shaun the Postie’. Well let’s face it, as a mail junkie he was always going to be a highlight.! Mainlanders listen to this; not only does Shaun: a) come early b) he comes every day (M-F) and, c) if there is a parcel he brings it up to the house and leaves it! No nasty little card shoved under the mat saying ‘we tried to deliver your parcel but you weren’t home’ when you know you were in the kitchen. AND if you’re not around and he needs an OK to leave it he phones you. Shaun is my hero.

Tristan unloads the solar panels

Marcus’s equivalent of Shaun is Tristan from Bruny Couriers, who arrives in a variety of vehicles depending on what he’s delivering – in M’s case it’s often a Bunnings order that won’t fit on the ute. Last week there was great excitement when Tristan arrived in the BIG truck with crane,and our solar panels were offloaded up onto the deck. Which brings me to …

Mark and Joe brave the elements

Mark the Spark, and his offsides Joe. Mark and Joe have just spent the day installing our new solar system after some preliminary work a week or so ago. There was a break as we waited for the winds to abate so the panels could be installed. Shaun may be my hero but Mark is my lifesaver. In February he solved my connectivity issues so Jan Richards Consulting can operate from the studio without the Director ( that would be me) having a melt down when the internet connection failed.

As an added extra Mark & Joe offered plumbing assistance – love these guys!

Phil the Painter

Who is left you ask? Why the fabulous Phil the Painter. When we arrived the paint was very fresh but not quite ‘our ‘ colour. Live with it? Paint it ourselves? Enter Phil, a master tradesman and all round great guy. He also hung the wallpaper I’d bought on (an expensive) whim some years ago. There were a few tense moments when we wondered if we’d have enough ‘ hey Jan, are you able to get more of this?’, but all was good in the end. Love your work.

Love from Jan the Resident!

Today was the annual Dennes Point Easter Market and I was called upon for my first BI (Bruny Island) official duty! The Markets are held in the Community Hall which has a ‘to die for’ location overlooking the D’Entrecasteaux Channel.

The roster had me on COVID Marshall duties ( my local government expertise coming to the fore!) with a quick turn on the cake stall, but fellow volunteer, Suzzie, decided I needed to meet people and so I spent most of the morning convincing people they needed cake, produce, plants and raffle tickets – not that coercion was necessary. Everything was beautiful and I had such fun talking to shoppers and other stall holders. All those years of flogging Orange City Council came to the fore ( hearing me Carolyn/Jennifer/Hoppy/Michael/Jasmine?).

It would have been ungracious of me not to have purchased from other stall holders and I am now in possession of a beautiful hand made basket and lined up for a course in Hobart. And look at these glorious hand died threads! Eleanor eat your heart out.

One of my favourite stands was this one which belonged to Owen. I didn’t ask his Mum for permission so I have chopped his head off ( sorry Owen). He was a champion.

And the best thing – it was all over by lunch time so I walked back up the hill to the house with a sausage sandwich happily consumed.

Love from the Island – hope the bunny finds me! – oh and you! Happy Easter xx

OK Bruny, after sitting quietly since November last year the fashion police person at #87 has re-emerged! There are standards I can accept as ‘island dressing’, including my own tendency to remain in ‘active wear’ longer than acceptable. However there is a line , and that line was crossed by the man in the SUV in poll position on yesterday’s 11am Robert’s Point to Kettering ferry.

For those who haven’t spent a lot of time with me I am known for dispensing sartorial advice eg ‘ Scott,[Maunder] tuck your shirt in! , but even I was silenced by Mr Underpants.

There we were, Marcus, Regina ( who is visiting) and I, about to enjoy the 12 minute crossing en route to Cygnet ( excellent markets) when the dude in front of us bounded out of his car wearing his underpants. Admittedly they were accessorised with black socks and joggers and a T-shirt. We were all a little taken aback as there was obviously not an under- undergarment. As we watched he rummaged in the car and pulled out a pair of shorts. Hooray we cried, but he discarded them and instead pulled on a beanie and a fleece leaving his nether regions quite – well exposed!

His beautiful dog was hanging out of the car window, attracting attention. Had there perhaps been an incident with his shorts and the doggy? ( then why wasn’t he sitting discreetly in his car with a towel over his lap?). Hell no, instead our mate strutted amongst the dog admirers hatted, shod, warm ( on top), and ‘exposed’ down below chatting happily. The assembled audience looked discreetly away.

The non PC part of me wanted to wind down the window and give sage advice. I was silenced by my travelling companions who also forbade me taking a photo of the man/vehicle in question.

When we left the ferry Mr Underpants turned north while we headed south. I can only hope for all concerned that he didn’t have to stop at Woollies on his way home!

This Monday we have yet another public holiday here in Tasmania, this time to mark Eight Hour Day (known in some other states as Labour Day or May Day). Being retired & new to things Tasmanian we were alerted to it by the radio news, though I guess we would have suspected something was up by the increased number of people arriving in Dennes Point late yesterday. That and the constant updates on the length of the ferry queues on the relevant Bruny Facebook page!

Because each Australian State and Territory achieved the 8 hour day at different times it is marked on four different dates across the country. In our ‘state of origin’, New South Wales, it’s the first weekend in October (often coinciding with my birthday which is why I think of it as Jan’s Long Weekend), hence our confusion. Plus the southern half of Tasmania has just had a long weekend to mark the Hobart Regatta so I wasn’t expecting another one quite so soon. Could almost be in England where Bank Holidays seem to bunch together!

Of course the down side of all of these public holidays being so close together (with Easter and Anzac Day on the horizon) is that there is a paucity of long weekends from June (Queen’s Birthday) to Christmas – 6 months! If that isn’t a recipe for absenteeism I don’t know what is!

Our letterbox where letters of welcome arrived! Spoiler alert, more on this letterbox in subsequent post.

I feel I should write to someone and offer them a helpful solution but not quite sure who. Perhaps one of the many local politicians who wrote to welcome us to the division of Franklin when we changed our details with the Australian Electoral Commission. I’m still getting my head around the Tasmanian political system but in addition to our Federal member (Julie Collins), we have 5 MPs representing us in the lower house of State Parliament (2 Labor, 2 Liberal & 1 Greens). In the upper house we are in Huon and have 1 representative. AND they all wrote to us – which was lovely for someone who still appreciates a letter in the postbox.

What I will say about the Tasmanian Parliament is they are all so young! … and there is a very pleasing number of women. I had a reminder from my friend Caroline Pitney the other day that the Leader of Tasmanian Labor, Rebecca White, is her second cousin. The Parliament is quite small and consequently many Ministers have multiple portfolios; which is very interesting when you’re watching the ABC News as the same faces keep bobbing up responding to wildly different issues.

On the issue of the news we have swapped Juanita Phillips and Jeremy Fernandez for Guy Stayner and Angela Ross and welcomed them into our lounge room (Marcus is still in denial about Juanita not being in his life.) As someone who is prone to talk to the TV, I compliment them on their dress and offer the odd helpful suggestion.

As seen on ABC TV

In a gesture of becoming part of the local ABC community I sent in a weather photo and was totally blown away when I received an email to say it was being used! How important. This acceptance has of course created a monster and I am now inundating the ABC with weather snaps which, on reflection, all look remarkably similar – sea and sky! Is there a danger that I will become the Bruny Island equivalent of ‘Magpie’ who stalks ABC Central West?

Musings from the Island xx

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.