Dandenong Delight

I spent what I thought was an inordinate amount of time in the garden as a child.  My mother loved gardens, with a major passion, and if I was ever foolish enough to say I was bored, in 2 seconds flat she had me on some form of garden job.  I figured that by the time I was 14, I was ‘gardened out’.  So visiting gardens has never been on the top of my to-do list.  The odd botanical garden visit in new cities, or walking around a friend’s garden as she has shown me her new Amorphophallus titanum (exactly!). Now that I’m getting involved in veggies, and native food plants, I’ve started having a sneaking interest in plants,  for their pragmatic qualities.

However, a friend took me to a couple of her favourite gardens in the Dandenong Ranges just outside Melbourne, and we had a lovely wander though a very formal garden, a wild garden and possibly the most formal of gardens, a bonsai nursery.  The beauty of these places, the serenity and relaxation they bring, the appreciation of the work that has gone into them, and gentle refreshing of the soul has made me consider that maybe I should be on the lookout for more open gardens to wander in.

(But please don’t ask me to work in them…)




Posted by DeborahH in Australia, Community, conservation, Gardens, Melbourne, Nature, Travel, Weekends, 0 comments
One day in Bruny (Island that is..)

One day in Bruny (Island that is..)

Bruny Island is a lovely little island off the south coast of Tasmania, not far from the Huon Valley.  Access is via a car ferry, and sailings are regular.  A very easy place to spend some time, checking out the winery, the whisky and gin distiller, the oyster shack, cheese factory and all sorts of other food places.

But, being an island, it’s also surrounded by ocean, and if you kept going south you’d hit the Antarctic.  I didn’t plan on going that far, but instead opted for an adventure, travelling on a combination of a boat and rubber duckie, down the east coast.  The brochures promised rocky outcrops, sea animals and birds, and lovely seascapes.  A brilliant morning and a reasonably calm sea (for the Roaring 40s) made the start of our adventure lovely.

Later the winds rose, and the sea became very choppy, so we were very glad we hadn’t booked in for the afternoon adventure – it could have been a little too adventurous, and we’d have missed out on entering some of the little rocky inlets or getting up close and personal with sea caves.

Were there animals and birds – yes… by the boat load. A large Australian fur seal haul out (ie hangout for seals when they aren’t breeding), albatross, sea gulls, Pacific gulls, cormorants…

A lovely day out, followed by chatting to a local, and eating as many oysters as we could fit in at a local oyster shack.


Posted by DeborahH in Australia, conservation, Fun, Nature, Tourism, Weekends, 0 comments
Why Tasmania?  Just one day…

Why Tasmania? Just one day…

Recently I had a sister-in-law come over from the mainland to spend one day with me (OK, she was travelling further on, but it still sounds cool 🙂 ), and we hit quite a few highlights – good food, culture, whisky tasting, market visiting, platypus hunting.  Tasmania has a wonderful variety of things to do in a small space – nothing we did was more than 5kms from my front door. Had we been energetic we could have ridden or jogged to most places – although after the whisky tasting, I’m not sure how well we’d have done on the way home.

So ladies and gentlemen, I present – Adventures in a Day.


Posted by DeborahH in Australia, Cultural dimensions, Daily Life, Nature, Tasmania, Tourism, Weekends, 0 comments
Why Tasmania? Highland country.

Why Tasmania? Highland country.

A long weekend away, staying in a “shack” (Taswegian for holiday home), complete with views through the trees to the Great Lake, and watching the snow clouds come in – what more could you want in winter? The Highland Lakes region is beautiful, with alpine vegetation, dolorite rocks covered in moss and lichen, trees twisted and sculpted by the wind, and the lakes themselves carved out by glaciers.

We arrived the day before trout season opened, so the tiny local shops were busy – in a very laid back, “how’s it going, where’re you headed” way – selling lures, and snow hats. The local hotels had roaring fires to warm the travellers, fishers, and hunters up as they waited for their ‘parmies’. “Parmies” are a very Tasmanian delight – chicken in pyjamas (or bread coating if you must be precise) and deep fried. Hunting season also meant that I could warm up with a rich venison casserole.

Our shack was modern, and heated with a fire that was hard to leave, especially as the chilly evening drew in. Scudding showers made sitting and chatting with friends over a few wines a great alternative to going too far, although we did visit the Wall in the Wilderness.  The early history of the highlands carved a panel at a time in Huon pine over 12 years was fascinating.

The snow chains had a nice workout on our way home through the back roads, and down side roads that we wanted to explore. The Highland Lakes will be seeing more of me, in winter and summer!

Posted by DeborahH in Australia, conservation, Nature, Road trip, Tasmania, Travel, Weekends, 1 comment
Morning – B&W

Morning – B&W

I’m still experimenting with looking at the world in black and white. Sunrises and sunsets depend on colour for their breathtaking beauty – and so I decided to find the beauty without the colour. Although, in saying that, I think this one works as it was very early and overcast, so not too much colour around.

Morning ahs broken

Morning has broken

Posted by DeborahH in Australia, Beach, Black and white, Camping, Daily Life, Nature, Tasmania, Weekends, 0 comments
Challenge 2

Challenge 2

What wouldn’t translate into black and white very well?  I can easily see how industrial scenes and buildings could be rendered in black and white, but the challenge was to look at how other things that seem dependent on colour would work. So – flowers! Flowers and other plants depend on colour for survival. Do they work in black and white?  So here is a play in my garden to take out the colour.

What am I learning about taking on this challenge? For one, I do find it difficult to ‘see’ in B&W. I look for the easy to translate options – the black rose below, tulips with a pale colour, and my tomato plant after watering with the focus on the droplets.  Plants where the lack of colour really doesn’t change much. I think it is still cheating a bit, and I wonder how photographers who only had B&W saw the world. Was it an automatic translation for them, or did they receive a shock when they saw the vibrant colours they had photographed lost, and turned into shadows of colour? Were they inured to the loss of colour, and so turned to other, more technical ways of making flowers, landscapes and the world around them vibrant? Dodge and burn, changing contrasts, grain…

More experiments to come, forcing myself to see differently.

Posted by DeborahH in Australia, Black and white, Growth and Development, Nature, Tasmania, 0 comments
Day trip #2

Day trip #2

Going north is pretty hard when you live less than a kilometre from the northern coast of an island. BUT, if I am to do a day trip in each direction, I needed to make it happen.  So my rules were simple: a few kms in each direction, less than a km from the coast.  I explored beaches, turned off to see what the signs along the roads meant, and looked at what weekend life for the people who live in my area was like. What I found was fun. Enjoy day tripping with me!!

Posted by DeborahH in Australia, Beach, Cultural dimensions, Daily Life, Fun, Nature, Road trip, Tasmania, Village life, Weekends, 0 comments
Easter in Australia

Easter in Australia

2 teenage girls, 3 dogs, 5 boys between seven and (nearly) eleven, nine adults, enough food to feed an army in gourmet style, enough beer and wine to allow for the odd glass or two, and a beautiful beach all equal a great Easter weekend camping. The campfire was a constant, relaxation the order of the day. Long walks on the beach, fishing, abalone diving, oyster gathering, swimming, sandcastle construction, board and card games.  And of course – the Easter Bunny!!

Easter can be the last lovely weekend of summer, or the first chilly weekend of autumn, and this one was a mix. A couple of very chilly mornings, glorious afternoons, and nights where the fire beckoned. And naturally, the final day – pack up and leave – was the best, most glorious summer day imaginable. Always.  Friends had brought an old caravan and constructed a shed on this bit of remote beach that allowed us to store food, and change in peace. They have a truly Australian open door policy – welcome to all. If you look for symbolism at Easter – this welcome is it, and it lasts all year.

Posted by DeborahH in Australia, Beach, Camping, Easter, Fun, Human-nature interaction, Nature, Tasmania, Weekends, 0 comments


I’ve been lucky enough to see some pretty magic sunrises around the world, and every sunrise is special.  Watching the world awaken and warm, everything fresh and new is wonderful. Here, in Tasmania, I don’t have to push myself to jump out of bed super early to see spectacular sunrises, for which I am very grateful.  However, the sunrises I like best aren’t the typical beautiful colours, magical mist, pretty mountain ones.  The ones I feel are really special are the ones that interact with the human element of life: people, industry, housing. That interaction of eternal nature and ephemeral humanity fascinates me.

Posted by DeborahH in Australia, Daily Life, Human-nature interaction, Nature, 0 comments