An Island Off an Island

Musings from Bruny

It seems incredible, but we have been residents of Bruny Island, Tasmania for over six months.

It would seem timely then to comment on life as we know it. There is nothing negative to report, despite an earlier post about the incessant and persistent wind. Some long-term resident did point out that “Well, it is an island”. It was also made clear, and rightly so, that Autumn is relatively calm. In fact, Autumn weather has been a delight.

I have settled in to a comfortable rhythm in which the days are pleasantly filled with a combination of renovation and landscaping balanced with plenty of sitting admiring the view, reading, crosswords and the obligatory post-lunch snooze with my constant companion – the beautiful Ruby.

As a result of my leisurely efforts, I can report that my workshop under the house is, as of today, complete. I had bought all the materials needed some months ago but an issue of a lack of confidence on my part meant procrastination of a crippling nature. Enter Nigel, a friend from the Gold Coast, who kicked off the process and gave me a plethora of tips and tricks of the trade. Next to urge me to get on with it was Regina – a worthy apprentice and sounding board. After that the electricians put power on and moved some lights and I was able to complete the project much to my personal satisfaction.

The landscaping of the back yard is still a work in progress. Barrowing three tonnes of soil up a very steep slope is character-building but also soul-destroying. (Just thinking about it, I think I need a rest)

I’ve also managed to do a lot of work in our caged vegetable garden (caged to keep out the wallabies and possums). That has meant creating two levels to accommodate six raised garden beds and rebuilding stone walls. More barrowing of garden mix required!

Another aspect of the rhythm of life is Ruby’s constitutional in the late afternoon. She has two main routes – a walk down around Kelly’s Point or the much-preferred walk along Nebraska Beach. This, of necessity has got earlier and earlier and we find ourselves going about 4.00pm to avoid getting home  in the dark. In terms of the report card, the beach has to get an A+ on several counts. First, the beach itself is pristine. I’m always on the lookout for rubbish to pick up, but invariably, I come home happily empty-handed. Secondly, almost without exception the other walkers are friendly and willing to have a chat. The other benefit of the beach is never getting sick of the beautiful and varied skies presented to us each evening.

On the subject of friendly people, its my experience that everybody we come into contact with are universally friendly, helpful and cheerful – from wonderful neighbours to retail workers and ferry staff. It must be something to do with healthy environment and gradual pace of life.

I can’t finish the report card without mentioning the absolute privilege of being surrounded by the astonishing array of flora and fauna. Luckily our block has been planted almost exclusively with native plants, and whilst I miss the varied trees and colours of Orange, there is no doubt that the local birds and animals are attracted to our home. We have resident quolls under the house and under Jan’s studio (not always welcome), echidnas are frequent visitors and we both still get a thrill every time a wallaby bounds past us when outside. Bird life is also plentiful and far too varied to mention here, but highlights have included a wedge-tail eagle, white breasted sea eagle, black cockatoos and a myriad of honey-eaters, parrots, wrens etc.

So, apart from missing friends and family, as of now there are no regrets associated with our move to Bruny. The whole experience gets a resounding ‘thumbs-up’.

By Alistair Richards visiting his brother Marcus and Jan, with wife Katrina.

An island off an island, no! An island at the end of a car drive, at the end of a flight, at the end of a car drive, at the end of a ferry ride. Luckily I was able to be in the wheelhouse of the ferry and give the Master the benefit of my self-declared expertise. His welcome was indicative of the island at the bottom of the world, both the people and the wildlife, certainly not over-rated.

The weather changes are spectacular, ominous clouds over the mountains, passing showers and brilliant clear skies and that was in the first two hours. I love the sea and Cape Bruny Lighthouse, at the southern tip, with rugged cliffs being pounded by waves was a highlight. We were also pounded by the wind with a chill factor of six or seven degrees.Spectacular wildlife everywhere, crimson breasted robins, numerous varieties of parrots and the legendary white wallabies.

My brother Marcus and his wife Jan seem very happy in the new environment, obviously a part of the local community, and up on all the gossip and of course, local controversies: will the new ferry be big enough, should residents get priority over tourists? Katrina and I voted and gave a ten for their hospitality, location and view from the new estate and the exemplary food. To be clear the score is out of ten. Suggested Marcus could have a pop up restaurant, but politely declined


Most pleasingly, we were able to get out and see the sights unlike big sister Beverley, who was kept in quarantine at the house for her whole visit. Nothing to do with Covid, just the government thought it best to keep her locked in.

Bruny Island, an island off an island, or what I said, highly recommended to all.

Dear friends,

Ruby here writing to tell you about my latest quest. I have become a socially responsible canine, raising funds for the RSPCA in the fight against animal cruelty. In embarking on the Million Paws Walk this May I am walking in the paw prints of my big sister Holiday. I don’t think that Million Paws was around in the time of my biggest sister, Licorice, who from all accounts was an independent miss, or in the sainted Velvet’s time – from all accounts she was a home body and in the eyes of Mum and Dad could do no wrong.

The deal is I walk for 45 minutes every day with Mum and/or Dad and people sponsor me. The walking’s not hard, we do it anyway. The sponsorship is easy too and I’d like to thank the kind people who have supported me. The tricky bit is the dreaded bandana that I’m supposed to wear to promote the cause. Really?

Regular readers will know that I have an aversion to fashion accessories and have previously written about the angst they have caused. Just when I thought such things had been forgotten and I was safe wearing only my embroidered collar, Mum comes rushing up from the letter-box exclaiming ‘Ruby something for you!’ Being a Labrador naturally I assumed a box of Smackos had been delivered, sent by one of the ‘Aunties’, and I rushed over to investigate. Picture my disappointment, indeed horror when instead a bright yellow bandanna was produced and wrapped around my neck. Save me!

Thankfully mostly I’ve managed to avoid wearing it. This is achieved by a lot of crazy excitement when walks are announced which causes Mum to forget it until we’re half way down the drive. Dad is on my side and when Mum does remember he is brave enough to say ‘Squirt, she’s not a circus animal’. Onya Dad!

On the Heritage Walk

If we’re talking about giving thanks I’m also grateful that when I have been seen on the beach in it, none of my friends have been about to witness my humiliation. Mia and May are currently up at their Hobart house and Norman and Pearl have family staying and so are on a different walk cycle. Not that Norman would be game enough to say anything as I believe there may have been an unfortunate incident when he was at the groomers last week. I’ll keep that piece of information in reserve in case I need it. Just saying.

With my Aunty A at Bark in the Park

When I think about it this is not my first foray into community work. When I was a little girl and we were living in Orange I attended Bark in the Park which my Aunty Adrienne (Aunty A) had helped to organise. I was very excited, so much so that I managed to vomit up the 500g of butter I had stolen off the kitchen bench and eaten just before we left home. Wow, did that cause a sensation! Every dog there wanted to be my friend. Aunty A acted quickly and no-one got a look in. Mum and Dad decided that discretion was the better part of valour and we left soon after. Ah, memories.

If you’re interested I do have my own fundraising page – that’s because I am a socially responsible canine. Have I already said that?

Love from the Island


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

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.