An Island Off an Island

Musings from Bruny

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.

When is a birdcage not a birdcage? Why when it’s at the front line of defence against possums!


Over the years some of you have made caustic comments about my endless ‘collections’ – blue and white china, ‘little houses’, fabric (which includes many sub- categories including birds, cherries, pansies, roses spots, stripes …), baskets, bird nests and birdcages to name a few. Shoes and clothes don’t count as collections.


I did cull some of these before we moved as in I returned the bird nests to Mother Nature, mostly because I was worried about the bio security side of things, but also because they are a bugger to pack (OK the one Kira gave me for my birthday a few years ago did come but I gave it a good spray with Moreton).

All of the birdcages made the trip south, much to the amusement of the removalists ( I use the word amusement lightly) and they were lined up under the house awaiting their new assignment when it dawned on me that they were perfect possum proof enclosures for tender, juicy plants.

Conversations about gardening on Bruny inevitably return to the topic of what you can grown outside of the cages/poly tunnels/greenhouses that are possum resistant. The list is not huge and subsequently most gardens have a similarity – echium, pelargoniums in various shades of pink, daisies, succulents and some natives. A good deal of chicken wire has been sacrificed to make little hats to keep precious things safe but it does give a feeling of Colditz.

Trees too often wear metal bands to keep the blighters from reaching the canopy. This is particularly the case with some eucalyptus species which are the preferred habitat of the critically endangered Swift Parrot. Sugar gliders which were introduced to Tasmania attack the nesting female and her eggs.

Even our enclosed back garden has a band of shiny metal on the fence supposedly to keep the possums out. I wouldn’t want to point out to whoever put it there ( not us) that Mr/Ms Poss could easily drop down from one of the overhanging trees. But of course we have the ever vigilant Ruby on patrol to keep this area safe!

Talk soon.

As many of you know our new house came fully furnished right down to plates and cutlery . Really! When we expressed surprise the real estate agent told us it was normal on Bruny. We decided to wait until we arrived before we selected what to keep and what to move onto a new life. An added plus in this argument was the reality that we were here a week before our belongings.

We quickly made an assessment of what would stay and what would go and placed an order with IKEA to fill gaps around shelving ( important given our predilection to collect books). We did toy with the idea of building shelves ( well Marcus did) but a reality check pushed us to the Swedes’ web site.

There isn’t an IKEA on Tasmania ( or an Aldi either! – thanks to my darling friend Jasmine for sending a care package!) but there are distribution points in Hobart and Launceston. The delivery cost is a flat $50 regardless of whether you order a cushion or a house full of furniture.

Last week we went “off island” to pick up our delivery. I was sitting in the Ute when the fork lift lowered it onto the tray and I swear the front wheels lifted off the ground!

Back home it was all systems go to get everything together. So far the library/study is looking fabulous and work progresses on some shelving for the lounge. Next stop the studio for some additional fabric storage. The house is a sea of cardboard which Ruby is systematically shredding.

As I write M is puzzling over some instructions.It will all be right on the night.

Kärlek från Dennes Point

Peter, Paul and Mary sang “The answer. My friend is blowin’ in the wind”. My question is, Why is it so bloody windy? Not the gentle zephyrs, breezes or mistrals, but full-blown, manic number 10 on the Beaufort Scale type winds lashing North Bruny, seemingly all the time.

The predictions for Tuesday by the Bureau of Meteorology was for 90-110kph wind speeds and. As usual, they weren’t too far off the mark. Ruby and I ventured out late in the evening for our customary walk down to the beach. We tried to shy away from big trees drunkenly flailing about. Down by the water at Dennes Point Ruby’s ears were standing out like wings on a plane and she was not happy. The D’Entrecasteaux Channel was a boiling frenzy of white caps and even breaking waves on Jetty Beach.

Back in the relative calm of the house the wind just kept getting crazier. The fly-screens had the effect of allowing the wind to screech like a banshee – adding to the whole experience. There’s something slightly disconcerting about the floor of your house bouncing underneath your feet.

The madness continued in to the next day when ferry services to the island were suspended because the ferries couldn’t dock safely at Robert’s Point.

Let’s just hope that King Lear’s prophesy “Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! Rage! Blow!” is not the new reality and that we can expect more moderate conditions as we venture further into the summer months.

Four weeks today since we hit the road south and we’re still paying for it – literally!

In our first post Ruby related how we’d had to stop in Young to have a piece of blue metal removed from behind the brake pads. She’s still revelling in the independence she showed throughout the whole incident riding in the car on the back of the tow truck!

What Ruby omitted to mention was that not long after we left Young another piece of gravel hit the windscreen leaving a tiny chip (repairable we said smiling at each other), which gave way to a crack, which grew and grew until it was beyond half way across. I’d taken out car insurance the week before we came and had said ‘no’ to windscreens. 1st world problem.

Now here’s the thing, as I mentioned yesterday to register the car in Tasmania it first has to have a rego check, and before the Golf will pass it had to have a new windscreen. Phoned Hobart Auto Glass – lovely people, ‘yes we’ll order it in but then it will have to go to VW to be calibrated’. My confusion must have been obvious, even over the phone. Seems as if some those smart things the car does ( like turn on the windscreen wipers when it starts to rain and warn you you’re going out of lane) are windscreen related. Who’d have guessed! Well yes some of you would but you can just be quiet.

So this morning on my way to the airport ( Sydney bound) I dropped the car into Jackson’s VW who were very lovely and will do the rego thing in addition to the windscreen which Hobart Glass will fit. Phew. Once that’s fine we can change the plates, get new drivers licences and THEN we will be eligible for a resident’s sticker on the ferry (cheaper).

Was feeling quite pleased with myself, everything falling into place when a letter arrived from the Victorian Government. Seems whoever was driving the car near Craigeburn on the trip down was speeding and now has a fine and 1 demerit point. Sadly that was me.

Ferry

One aspect of living on an island is going “off island” to access those things which are essential to your wellbeing. You may be thinking food and wine and yes, that can require an “off island” excursion (though there are some options on Bruny, and you can get deliveries from Woolies/Salamanca Fresh and Hill Street). No my friends what we’re talking about is more about wellbeing – hair, nails and Bunnings!

Last week was a big “off island “one for the Richards who not once, but twice made the ferry trip across the Channel.

Trip one was run with military precision – all timetables and lists. Before our cars can be registered here in Tassie they have to have a rego check (which is a bit of a bugger as they have both recently been checked and registered in NSW) – anyhoo we caught the super early ferry so the ute could be first on the hoist at the mechanics and we had breakfast at a Tassie chain called Banjos. Interestingly (for NSW readers) once you have had a rego check you don’t have to ever have another one – unless you sell the car! Imagine!

That done we had Bunnings in our sights and a massive list to fill. As you can imagine M’s heart was aflutter and our trolley was so full I had to guide it from the front as visibility for the driver was pretty limited. The icing on the cake was collecting our pre-ordered dishwasher from the appliance shop. A very successful and happy trip with lots of straps holding down the load on the way home.

Friday was a designated “Town” day for me (ie Hobart) and a return trip to Bunnings for MR2131. We have obviously been here just long enough to be complacent about timing and arrived at the ferry to find that it was full and we would have to wait half an hour for the next one. Note to self to get my act together. Our first roughish crossing as well with lots of sea spray – exciting but let me tell you my car is no longer looking “fresh” outside (or, thanks to Ruby, inside)!

I love my new hairdresser (not as much as you Mel) who does a fine cup of tea, and love my new nail lady (not as much as you Lou) and came home very happy – until I got to the ferry to be met by the Friday afternoon “I’m going to Bruny for the weekend” crowd and another wait. Next note to self, always pack a book.

M had enjoyed himself at Bunnings – we seem to have some new tools but, as there was a package of fabric for me in the mail, who am I to comment?

Ah Bruny!

Tip Art

Such a radical move. Uprooting on a whim. Bruny Island – yes, a beautiful paradise, but so far away – about as far south as is possible to be and still claim Australia as home.

To date it has been an experience filled with awe and wonder. A view in all directions to die for, an amazing house, first sighting of a quoll, an unexpected echidna and the privilege of watching four yellow-tailed black cockatoos rip apart one of our casuarina trees.

On a more human perspective, we have been welcomed warmly by several of our neighbours and fellow Dennes Point residents.

On a more personal level, once the majority of the unpacking and arranging has been sorted, there is a plethora of exciting new projects in the garden and surrounds that I can’t wait to get started on. It’s a case of too much to contemplate – where do I start? Priorities? Just as well I love the art of making lists!

With a change in location comes a mountain of unwanted rubbish and, in particular, packaging materials. With rudimentary garbage collection (entailing one black garbage bag with $3.00 attached mysteriously disappearing on Monday mornings), it was with great interest that we made our first visit to Bruny’s tip. Having been spoilt by excellent facilities at both Blayney and Orange tips over the last thirty years, it was with trepidation that we approached the rather grandiosely named Bruny Island “Waste Transfer Station” What a pleasant surprise! Bruce, an amiable character with a reputation as a sculptor of some note, greeted us to the strains of heavy rock blaring from the sound system. The WTS is a triumph of order, cleanliness and function. Having placed our offerings in the relevant bins and receptacles, we concluded our visit with a chat with Bruce and a feeling that subsequent trips to the WTS will be something to look forward to.


        	
	 
  

Why did we choose to call our blog ‘An island off an island’ ? Australian readers may want to go and make a cup of tea right now and avoid the geography lesson, but for our friends overseas who have written to say they’ve been looking at maps to work it out here goes!

Bruny Island ( the first “island”in the title) is just off the east coast of the southern most Australian state of Tasmania ( the second island referred to). Bruny is just below the gorgeous and historic state capital, Hobart. We take no credit in coming up with the name – its part of a Bruny tourism strategy and I suspect has been around for a while .If we’d been aiming for correctness we could have added a third “off an island” as mainland Australia is an island continent so it would have read “an island, off an island, off an island”.

At times I have added “at the bottom of the world” to my narrative ( not original, I heard Ernie Dingo use it in a documentary on SBS and added it to my arsenal). This isn’t technically true as there are places in South America that are much further south – and then there’s Antarctica!

The Neck
The Neck looking towards South Bruny

Bruny is actually two land massses (North and South Bruny), joined by an isthmus known as The Neck which is very Instagramable! From top to bottom Bruny is about 100km long. We are at the very top of North Bruny at Dennes Point (pronounced Dens).From the house we look north across the mouth of the Derwent River to Mt Wellington and Hobart. To the west we look across the D’Entrecasteaux Channel to Snug and Tinderbox and our southerly view takes in the farm land leading down to Nebraska Beach.

A huge thanks to our lovely friend Kira Brown from Sauce Design for designing the site and creating the map. If you look closely you’ll find a certain dog swimming in the sea off the coast. Special prize to the first person to spot and report on it.

Love from Bruny