An Island Off an Island

Musings from Bruny

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.

This blog post has been written by our sister/sister-in-law/aunt, Beverley, who has been visiting us for Christmas.

Quarantine, house arrest, iso, what ever you want to call it, who would have thought I’d be in it on Bruny Island. What a tale!

I was thrilled when Marcus phoned and invited me to come and stay with them, for Christmas, how could I refuse? had been sad to see them leave Orange but excited for them starting a new life and curious to see their new home and surroundings.

Booked my flight to Hobart and train to Sydney the very next day counting the days to the 22nd. As time crept forward news of the Northern beaches outbreak started to be reported and me starting to panic.

I left Orange feeling optimistic thinking once on the plane I’ll be able to relax. How wrong and naive was I? Arriving in Hobart everyone was temperature checked, asked the usual COVID questions, have you been overseas, had a cough etc and the question that got me unstuck, ‘how did you get to the airport’? That’s when the rot set in, me saying on the train.

I was told I had to quarantine for two weeks, but I was only here for one week! The thoughts that went through my head in a couple of seconds. Will I have to go to a hotel and pay a fortune for being stuck there on my own, or will it be better if I turned around and go straight back to N.S.W. without seeing Marcus, Jan and more importantly Ruby. Panic, Panic.

I said to the lady at boarder control, hardly anyone on the train, Central station was almost deserted, same at the airport. Chances of me getting COVID one in a million (my medical opinion).

I’m trying not to drag the story out, they spoke to Jan who was told I was allowed to quarantine at her residence. Big sigh of relief!!! So I managed to have a wonderful Christmas Day with family which was the main aim of the visit. The fact that I haven’t been able to have a look around the island gives me a good excuse to plan another trip once all the COVID nonsense dies down again.

Brother and sister

So here I am under jailer lock and key looking at the beautiful water view on a bright sunny day with a slight breeze watching a small boat skimming along, a yacht floating lazily, with the coast of Tasmania on the other side of the water. House arrest ain’t all bad.

Our first Tasmanian Christmas began in earnest last week when we were invited to the Dennes Point resident’s festive get together – what was described to us as the traditional get together for those who live here before the chaos of holiday crowds. We were instructed to bring a plate to share and something to drink.

In what we’re coming to realise is true Bruny style, the weather had turned cool and rain was predicted so any consideration of a party dress went out the window and it was again jeans and sneakers. Thank heaven I have invested heavily in Converse and Vans in multiple colours!

Marcus has reported previously on the great salmon escape of 2021 and a consequence of this was an abundance of home smoked salmon on the party table. I opted for Bill Granger’s cheat’s version of sausage rolls.

Thankfully the boxes (and boxes) of Christmas decorations were clearly labelled and so the tree was erected and select items were put on display. As is becoming the norm we look at each other and mutter ‘we should have culled more!’. Thankfully Ruby is oblivious to the tree and it remains intact with minimal tail damage incurred.

What’s Christmas without family and friends and we are lucky to be sharing the celebrations this year with Marcus’s sister Beverley who flew in from Orange, and our dear friend Regina who arrived from Bendigo. I made the easy drive to Hobart airport to collect them and watched and listened with delight as they observed our new locale on the way home. Many ferry photos followed!

We arrived back at # 87 to find Marcus hanging curtain lights from the balcony. I wouldn’t like to lay bets on it but I think we might be the only house in Dennes Point with a slightly Griswold effect. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!


Sometimes the planets align and for no apparent reason the day turns out to be perfect. The belated summer seemed to have arrived with a day of temperatures in the high twenties, a beautiful sparkling sea and no wind that would blow the fleas off a brown dog.

I already had that feeling of a good days work under my belt and the sense of well-being as a result. Due to the awareness engendered by Ruby’s snake recognition course, I had whipper-snipped the back yard (one would need a four-wheeled drive mower to accomplish the task) to keep the ‘joes’ at bay.

Some levelling work had also been done to accommodate the placement of two compost bins.

Will I go in?

So being at peace with the world, it was time for our evening walk down on Nebraska Beach. It was at its best with shimmering, blue, clear water, white sand and gently lapping waves. To our utmost surprise, Ruby, our water-shy Labrador, bravely breasted the wavelets and strode out far enough for her tummy to be immersed in the sea.

We continued our walk up the beach, all three of us wading in the shallows. Ruby even eschewed the high tide mark where she would normally fossick for smelly seaweed or dead starfish to roll in.

On the way back we came across Mick – a local who had just pulled up his boat -full of salmon. Generally people here are anti the fish farms in the Channel due to the environmental damage they cause. When however, tens of thousands of salmon escape due to a rip in the nets, it garners all to launch the tinnies and get out after them. Mick very generously gifted a 4-5kg salmon for us to take home with us for dinner (or several dinners).

To finish the day I felt it necessary to follow Ruby’s lead and take a dip. The locals counsel to not dilly dally but to get in quick (so that you can get out quick!). I didn’t take any convincing. To say the water was fresh is an understatement.

To finish the day, what better way than a dinner of plump and juicy Bruny Island oysters. Perfect.

Hi Everyone, Ruby here writing after an exhausting day of training at which I proved all the naysayers wrong. I was a star!

Let’s go back a step. Many of you will be unaware that I have been enrolled in a program called “See snake and run” for several weeks. The concept is to keep me ever alert and vigilant to danger and to STAY AWAY FROM SNAKES! I am told that this is very important as there are no vets on Bruny, and once the last ferry goes at 7pm we are cut off from the world. Also, (so I am told) all 3 snakes species on Bruny are venomous, which is a bad thing.

Anyway we started the course a few weeks ago – that is me, Mum and Dad. The first few sessions were done on Zoom. Some of the other dogs chose to participate and sit between their parents and be seen on the screen. I decided against this and instead had a post dinner rest on the lounge.

I could listen to the Zoom call, no need to be seen.

M & D learnt about “checking in” and “recall” and we got to practice this around the house and at the beach. I immediately warmed to our trainer, Vicki, who stressed that I should be rewarded with lots of “high value food”. Lots of cheese and cabanossi was cut up. On the whole practice was satisfactory, though coming when you’re called is challenging when you’ve just discovered a ripe, dead starfish on the beach.

This morning we all met face to face, seven dogs of varying size, age and breeds and our families, plus Vicki & Michelle who had come from Hobart to work with us. M & D were concerned that I might play the class clown and even grab the dead snake I was supposed to be avoiding and give it a good hiding for it’s trouble. I showed them! I was excellent, even better than some of the overachieving small and fluffies, PLUS I cleaned up all the treats that some finicky eaters left behind, “Well done Ruby, good job” I could hear people say.

Coming away from snake central on command!

There was a certificate presentation, but by then all dogs were resting in their vehicles so the parents accepted on my behalf – but look on that certificate. Does it say Marcus? Does it say Jan? No, it says “Ruby successfully completed”.

As a take home gift we got a rubber snake impregnated with dead snake smell and some snake skin. These are for further training and are in the freezer of the drinks fridge – a warning if you come to visit and reach for ice.

Love Ruby

PS it has just been brought to my attention that Mum wore mis-matched earrings today. What was the woman thinking! My reputation is in tatters R

A job well done.