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
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
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
Past Present 1

Past Present 1

This is another ad hoc collection, not of memories of past adventures and events, but of current adventures and events that will become those memories.

9/1/2018 MONA – exhibit 20:50  I took my family to visit MONA in Hobart, and this is one of their new experiential exhibits.  What is it?  🙂
A room partially filled with sump oil that reflects the room itself, and from other angles sky, people, clouds – whatever is above.  20:50 exhibit




Posted by DeborahH in Art and Craft, Australia, Community, Cultural dimensions, Past Present, Tasmania, Tourism, Travel, 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
A day at the races (Interesting differences;Shared humanity)

A day at the races (Interesting differences;Shared humanity)

The race season is in full swing again, although it never really stops. Big city, sparkling events and country annual gatherings populate the calendar. Many of these events go unnoticed in the wider world, but provide a fantastic day for riders and spectators.

The basic elements of a day at the races are similar around the world. Groomed horses, a racetrack of sorts, spectators cheering on their favourites, food in abundance, and fashion.

In Tibet and Tibetan areas, the races are traditional annual events, held during summer, and every male Tibetan for 100kms around wouldn’t dream of missing it. Women and children come, but not as often – someone has to herd the yaks and sheep.

Tibetan races are usually 5 circuits around a mile length track, so the riders are young, light and ride bareback. The track is delineated by motorbikes at the edges. Few of the riders would be over 15 years old, and are usually a fairly small size for 15 as well. The horses spend non-racing days on the grasslands, working with the herds, staying tough and ready to endure the race. These are not the $1,000, 000 cosseted royalty of the city race carnivals!

Cheering on the favourites happens here too, but with a difference. Before the race the horses will be showered with Tibetan wind horses – small squares of paper with Buddhist drawings and sayings on them – for luck. The crowds create a wild, ululating yodel during the race and, for the winning horses, the accolades are ribbons and flowers. The owner receives a gift of a blanket or beautiful fabric to decorate the traditional Tibetan coats. The Chinese Government bans gambling, but… we are at the races!

Race day picnics happen around the world as well, and Tibetan ones are magic to see. Each family group has a specially decorated white tent, and inside the stove continuously boils hot water for tea. Long swathes of plastic covering the ground hold the festive food – cold boiled yak or mutton, dried meats, sweets, bread rolls and oranges. Soft drinks and Tibetan beer joggle for place in the foodstuffs. No bubbles or strawberries and cream here!

Many of the families stay for a few days, catching up with far-flung friends, and just maybe, finding boyfriends for marriage-age daughters.

Australian country races have much of the same camaraderie, especially those that are semi-private races, designed for friends and friends of friends. A local horse owner will offer a field for the races, set out some hay bales to race around, and organize a porta-potty. Horse floats start arriving late the evening before, and swags are laid out under them. Spectators bring their own folding chairs and are laden with drinks.

The races themselves are often run as time-trials, with only the first ride on each horse counted for each rider to determine the winner. The switching of horses and riders makes for interesting comparisons and the spectators then need to decide if they are cheering for the horse or the rider.

This is definitely a family event, with children’s trials, and afternoon novelty races. Well-behaved dogs are welcome as well. Lunch can be a picnic, or more likely a barbeque provided by the host, with meat from his own or friends cattle. The non-riders are lunch crew and set everything up ready for the crowd

After the day at the races, the evening is rounded off with prize giving (a cup and chocolates) beside a massive bonfire and lubricated by some good ales or wine. There maybe a bit of singing, and perhaps a touch or two of romance as well.

Around the world horses are treasured, riding is loved, and horse-people have the same shared joy in their animals and friendships.





Posted by DeborahH in Australia, China, Community, Sports, Tasmania, Tibetan culture, Weekends, 0 comments