Winter Feast – Dark MOFO

Winter Feast – Dark MOFO

Dark MOFO is a fantastic time.  Established by David Walsh from MONA, Dark MOFO brings people from all over to Hobart, in the dead of winter for two weeks of art, concerts, performances and great food.  The city joins in, covering garden lights in red, adding flags and crosses (upside-down ones this year) in various locations. Bars, and underground theatres have performances of pretty much anything from doom metal to movies of crabs and prawns crawling on underwater cliffs.

The Winter Feast is a long table feast (actually three long tables) inside and small tables clustered around fire pits outside. Pretty much everything you could possibly want to eat and drink available.  Let’s eat!

Posted by DeborahH in Australia, Community, Cultural dimensions, Fun, Night, Tasmania, Weekends, 0 comments
Magic Melbourne

Magic Melbourne

Living in a small regional town is fun, but every now and again hitting the big smoke is a ball. When an invite comes from a friend to play for the weekend, I’m always happy to take it up.  Melbourne is one of the nicest cities to play in. The Economist Intelligence Unit has rated Melbourne as the world’s most livable city for 7 years in a row, and it’s pretty easy to see why.  True, as a visitor, I never have to worry about traffic or parking, but the wonderful places I’m taken to and the great food I can eat, and the exhibitions I can head to… so lovely.

So last weekend, I had another lovely play.

Posted by DeborahH in Art, Australia, Cultural dimensions, Exhibitions, Fun, Melbourne, Travel, Weekends, 0 comments
Boots and Hats

Boots and Hats

Agfest comes but once a year… but is planned for over months.  Agfest is the biggest rural show, run by all of the local Rural Youth groups who put in massive hours in planning and organising, as well as staying on site for the 3 day duration of the festival.  (I’ve heard the parties at night are pretty spectacular…) Anything to do with agriculture is on show – massive machinery, the sweetest lambs you ever saw, clothing for farmers (and wannabes), food, crafts from wool, wood, whatever.  It’s all there.

Agfest as traditions as well.  The main tradition is that it always rains.  Always.  So, the flow on tradition – new gumboots (or wellies).  I didn’t own a pair of these delightful feet covers, so had to skip off to buy a very fancy pair in a leopard skin print.  Hats, and beanies are necessary too, but I had a lovely striped, pink number so was set – until I saw the serious head gear everyone else had, so slipped mine into my backpack. Better to be wet than weird, right?

By skipping the machinery that wouldn’t fit into my veggie patch, we managed to cover the rest of the festival in one day of pretty solid walking.  Let me take you to Agfest – without the need to buy new gumboots.

Posted by DeborahH in Australia, Community, Cultural dimensions, Fun, Tasmania, Village life, Weekends, 0 comments
Vine to vat

Vine to vat

Living is Tasmania means I’m never too far from a vineyard, which I assure you, is a really good thing.  I enjoy my wine, and being able to be part of the whole experience – not just an end user – is interesting.  I helped pick grapes last year, and again this year, but was also lucky enough to go to the winemakers’ to see the next steps in moving those little globes of juice to the final destination of glass and mouth.

Posted by DeborahH in Australia, Fun, Grapes, Tasmania, Weekends, Wine, 2 comments
If Wishes were (Sea) Horses

If Wishes were (Sea) Horses

I was one of those horse crazy girls – to the extent that if I saw a stray horse, I’d have my school tights off in a flash to make a bridle, and bring the horse home to protect it from being run over. Must have driven my parents nuts.  However, older, wiser and living on a small house block in the middle of town really prevents my horse dreams… but is there another way??

Ohhh, maybe….  Seahorse World in Beauty Point has thousands (millions?) of (sea) horses, and has created a fabulous industry in exporting these black and white, dappled and grey beauties of the underwater world to the world. Small industries like this fascinate me.  A beautiful niche market, but with such reach, and open to the public to wander through.

The company has a breeding program for the Tasmanian seahorses, as well as a program to breed specific colours.  Seahorses can change colour, but apparently not as camouflage (maybe it’s just a yellow kind of day?).  They are found all over the world, but the majority live below the equator, and around Tasmania, a careful check of the kelp beds can help you find your very own horse.

Every child is taught that seahorse dads (stallions?) are the responsible parent, carrying the babies after fertilisation until birth.  Mum specifically looks for a dad with the biggest pot-belly as a partner, and very quickly hands over all of the fertilised eggs and swims off to graze another day.  Around a thousand ‘foals’ can be born, looking like wee, little wriggly specks in the water.  Out in the ocean, this is a dangerous time.  They grow very quickly, and in specially designed tanks to mimic their home environments (warm for the tropical types, a touch on the chilly side for the tougher Tasmanian breeds), they can live for up to four years.

Watching these fascinating creatures prance about, attempt to strangle each other, and feed was amazing.   Patting a seahorse is not quite the same, but without the risk of a solid kick, or a squashed foot.

Which one will you choose?

Posted by DeborahH in Australia, conservation, Fun, Human-nature interaction, Tasmania, Tourism, 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?  Community.

Why Tasmania? Community.

I’ve mentioned a few times the festivals that different little towns run in Tasmania, designed to bring tourists and visitors from out of town into town. These are fun, and add to the interest of living in an island state without a big population. As well as these festivals, there are also local activities designed to bring the local community together for a common purpose.  In a big city, there are many activities that people are involved in, but the majority of them seem to revolve around events that support a particular interest of each family – school fetes, sporting competitions, dance recitals etc. There seem to be fewer activities that are specifically designed as ‘community building’.

Last weekend I was lucky enough to be invited to an event I would call truly community building – a winter solstice celebration, in a small community about 2 hours from where I live. This annual event is designed to bring people together in the middle of winter for food and fun, and at the same time, raise funds for the community hall. Local community members made a ton of amazing food, donated items for the chocolate wheel spins, more items for the produce auction, helped decorate the hall and encouraged their neighbours to turn up and enjoy themselves.

The fire at the back of the hall and the heaters were warming, but not as cheering as the camaraderie, the chat, the team of volunteers who cleaned up and served all night, the laughter and stories told.

Posted by DeborahH in Australia, Community, Cultural dimensions, Fun, Tasmania, Village life, Weekends, 1 comment
Why Tasmania? MONA and Dark Mofo!

Why Tasmania? MONA and Dark Mofo!

Tasmania has lovely local festivals – food related, history related, solstice related, music, or craft related – whatever small towns can do to ring people in, entertain them, and showcase local interests.  It also has a couple of major festivals – Agfest and Dark Mofo.  Dark Mofo was started by David Walsh, the owner and founder of MONA (Museum of New and Old Art), and it has grown exponentially. No longer based around the museum itself, the festival now spreads across the city of Hobart, with performances in other areas.  The city and private residences used red lighting throughout to add to the atmosphere. I think David and his committee have a plan to take over Tassie.

Dark Mofo is held close to the middle of winter, and covers two weeks of food, music, performances, installations, art, and general good fun. David, being David, has no problems with controversial exhibits, but he is also happy to create the ethereal.  One piece of ‘ethereal’ that was absolutely glorious was the Siren Song. 450 loudspeakers places on buildings through the city, plus a tsunami warning helicopter playing a 7 minute piece of music based on the call to prayer, played at sunrise and sunset for the duration of the festival. Siren Song was really moving.

The winter feast was amazing, the Dark Park interactive art, music performances, laser shows and art installation good fun, and then out at MONA itself, the opening of the exhibition “The Museum of Everything”, plus more performances, shows, food….

Posted by DeborahH in Art and Craft, Australia, Cultural dimensions, Fun, Music, Tasmania, Weekends, 0 comments
Why Tassie? Food, fun and festivals

Why Tassie? Food, fun and festivals

Tasmania is an island with some of the most pure air and water in the world. This makes it magic for growing beautiful food. With the (very) slow demise of logging and mining, tourism is becoming a major component of the economy, and tourism based on food and wine is an important sector in that component. There are Wine Trail booklets, and a Tasting Trail leaflet leading people to the wineries and special interest food producers. Organic food is gaining in popularity with local growers and consumers.  To add to the mix, there are Taste of … festivals in several different areas, and open farm days (see our free range chickens!).

Last weekend I headed to the 3rd Annual Tomato and Garlic Festival on a farm outside of the tiny hamlet of Selbourne, I wasn’t really sure of what to expect – could be something really good, or just maybe a couple of stalls of tomato relish. There was a hint of a possible tomato fight, so I thought that was enough of an enticement for me to go anyway.  Well, the cars started piling up on the country back road about 2km from the entrance, and as we approached the gates, marshals were there directing the parking. Okay, not just a couple of relish stalls.  A bit of a trek from car park to entrance, and then into the 1000 strong crowd to see what was happening. Cooking demonstrations, garlic plaiting, garden tours, bushwalk and bird watching (although, with all the noise, any self respecting bird would be a long way away), talks from agricultural experts, food and drink stalls, tomato tasting and evaluation, seed stalls, and a couple of very fancy condiments stalls … definitely way more than I was expecting.

My little veggie garden has a few issues, so I asked one of the seed sellers for a bit of advice.  “What’s the pH of your soil?”. “Ah, I don’t know.”. “Well, you SHOULD! That’s always the first thing you do!!”.  Oh, okay, ummm…. sadly, I’m not about to run pH tests on my garden.  So, feeling a bit of a failure as a veggie gardener, I turned my attention to the tomato tasting area.  Wow! The hundreds of varieties of tomatoes available was really mind boggling.  I ended up voting for a wee, tiny yellow tomato that grows with a little leaf tent around it, and tastes just like pineapple.  The tomato grower tells me that this is a ground cherry. This is fast getting a little confusing – I know tomatoes are a fruit, but now we have a cherry disguised as a tomato, tasting like pineapple….

For some reason, I just couldn’t make it to the garlic eating competition – maybe because I was eating local calamari and chips.  Sadly, with poor weather conditions, not enough tomatoes were available for the tomato fight – but maybe next year!

Love local festivals – and island food festivals are special.


Posted by DeborahH in Australia, Cultural dimensions, Daily Life, Fun, Tasmania, Tourism, Weekends, 1 comment
Runaway weekend 2 – MONA

Runaway weekend 2 – MONA

MONA is a magical place. This is one of my favourite places in Tasmania, and at only 3 hours travel away it’s not too difficult to visit.  What is MONA?  Art gallery, museum, winery, brewery, restaurant, music venue and home for the owner.  The owner, David Walsh, has called it a ‘subversive adult Disneyland”, and the eclectic collections displayed are both fascinating and challenging – the sign of good art. A new exhibit (The Origins of Art) opened recently and I was lucky enough to be able to take a friend down for opening day. This exhibit is a conversation with four scientists about the role of art in the world. They don’t necessarily agree with each other, but they certainly allow us to join that conversation as we walk though.

Posted by DeborahH in Art and Craft, Australia, Fun, Road trip, Tasmania, Tourism, Weekends, 1 comment