Legal poppy/opium growers in Tasmania…Who knew?

See the included news story below regarding the death of trespassers thinking they could “get high” from the unprocessed from poppy/opium capsules.

Recently, when we drove through the countryside outside of Penguin, we stumbled upon a number of fields of flowers in full bloom. Unsure as to the type of flowers, we both speculated they could be poppies, which was confirmed when we encountered the above sign.

From this site:

“The Tasmanian opium poppy farming industry was established in Tasmania in 1966. Farms in Tasmania produce about 50% of the world’s legal poppy straw that is later refined into opiates such as morphine and codeine.”

Tasmanian Alkaloids is Tasmania’s largest corporate grower of opium poppies.

At first, when we saw the pretty flowers, it didn’t dawn on us that they were poppies. Once we noticed the warning sign it all made sense.

We gasped in surprise, curious as to the history of the poppy crop in Tasmania. In speaking with Terry, our friend and landlord, who’s lived in this area all of his life, he explained that Tasmania’s remote location has made it a good location to grow this dangerous crop.

Over the years, many foolhardy travelers have attempted to take advantage of the poppy fields by stealing the opium poppy capsules as shown in the photo included here today. This has resulted in a number of deaths as described in this article:

“Deadly opium poppy capsule thefts increasing in Tasmania

By Emilie Gramenz

Thousands of Australians donned a red poppy to commemorate Remembrance Day, but thefts of parts of a potentially deadly variety are creeping up in Tasmania.

To most, the poppy is a pretty garden flower, but in Tasmania, opium poppies that are refined into medicines such as morphine and codeine are a major agricultural crop, with the island state supplying half the global stocks. It’s an eye-catching and lucrative crop but tightly controlled because the plant’s capsules can be deadly if ingested.
Stolen poppy capsules have caused the death of several people in the last decade, most recently a Hobart teenager who overdosed in 2012 after brewing a tea of poppy heads.
The Tasmanian Justice Department’s annual report reveals capsule thefts are creeping up.  A total of 516 capsules were stolen in 2015-16, up from 331 the year before, although far below the 3,923 capsules stolen in 2013-14. Chief executive of Poppy Growers Tasmania, Keith Rice, said some losses classified as thefts could be attributed to snap-happy tourists.”

 Close up of the opium poppy capsule contains the valuable alkaloid content used to make painkillers. (Not our photo).

The cost for thieves to travel to Tasmania to steal the capsules is prohibitive and getting them out of the Australian state would be difficult, if not impossible. When we arrived at the airport in Hobart, security was intense with dogs sniffing for drugs.

As indicated above, some thefts of the capsules are perpetrated by local teens and youth hoping for a free and easy high which ultimately proved to be fatal in many cases.

When we drove through the countryside, we encountered several fields of poppy farming used for medicinal purposes.

As for the crop itself, please click here for a detailed story as to how the poppy/opium crop production has changed over the years, seriously impacting poppy farmers in the state: “Rising stocks, declining demand, and more productive poppy crops are causing Tasmania’s poppy growers a world of pain.”

Tasmania never ceases to amaze us. We continue to learn from its people, its agribusiness, its vast expanse of awe inspiring scenery, and its ability to maintain a long-ago culture of rural living and authenticity rarely found anywhere else in the world.

We had no idea poppy farming was big in Tasmania until we saw the poppy paddocks in the country. 

After a busy day out yesterday, details of which we’ll share tomorrow, we’re staying in today. We’re preparing a special meal (for no special reason) which got me up chopping and dicing early this morning. Clothes are drying on the clothesline and if the sun peeks out, we may venture out on a walk.

Have a great day

Photo from one year ago today, January 4, 2016:

The vegetable stand where we purchased most of our produce during our 28 days stay in Pacific Harbour, Fiji. For more details, including the total expenses for the four-month total stay in Fiji, please click here.

Part 2…A tour into a garden of paradise…Princeville Botanical Gardens…

 I squealed when I spotted these gorgeous Rhododendron at the Princeville Botanical Gardens.

The tour of the Princeville Botanical Gardens continued over a period of three hours and ten minutes up and down hills, following paved and unpaved trails and at times, up and down uneven stone steps.

The rich green leaves were a sight to behold.

Our group of eight managed well and we easily kept up with energetic Mary Lou, our guide who was as familiar and surefooted over these trails with the ease one would entertain in their own backyard.

In a shady area, we encountered these tiny mushrooms growing on the rocks.

The group was of various ages, ranging from 18 to me, most likely the oldest in the group, although there was one or two close behind me. Usually, Tom is with me on such treks and he takes special care to ensure the path ahead while I mindlessly peruse the surroundings for photo ops.

For details on this plant/tree, please click here. The seeds may be used in making body paint, cosmetics, and lipsticks.

On this occasion, I was on my own, having to watch my step over the often rocky path and yet, stay totally in tune with my surroundings. I managed to do both seamlessly and with a watchful eye and don’t feel I missed anything that I would’ve wanted to see.

We’re waiting to hear back from the staff at the gardens to assist with the identification of this tree. With the Princeville Botanical Gardens only open to the public for reserved tours on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Friday, I may not hear back until next week. 

Mary Lou was good at pointing out highlights but, on a few occasions, I found myself hollering out to the others to “Come see this!” when my newly discovered eagle eye went into play.

These flowers appear rather complicated with their many different shapes and sizes.

Both Tom and I are allergic to bees. Harold and Mary Lou made a special point of making me aware that certain areas contained more bees than others. Mostly, they were honey bees that are less inclined to sting but, have been known to attack in swarms.

The Floss Silk Tree. As Mary Lou stated, “No monkeys will be climbing up this tree!” Beautiful flowers are yet to bloom.

When we approached the dense area of the bees, I rolled down my BugsAway sleeves, tightened the ties around my ankles, and dug right into the area, relatively fearless but cautious non-the-less. 

We were surprised to note that many plants and trees were native to Africa, brought over to Hawaii centuries ago.

Seeing the many bees in this particular area was fascinating and although I ventured closer than I should have, I discovered something we’d have missed if I hadn’t gone that far. 

This is Heliconia Spectabilis.  For details on this plant, please click here.

I yelled out to Mary Lou and the group to come to see something amazing as shown in these two photos today.  Mary Lou hollers back, “Oh, we weren’t going to go that close to the bee area.” 

With many bees in this area, I chose not to move the green leaves for a better view of this exquisite bloom which was the size of a soccer ball. All of us on the tour were in awe of this exquisite flower.
Tucked away inside a mass of various greenery was this exquisite bloom, located in the area of the bees. I proceeded with caution to get a better view.

Having gone 10 feet further than the tour plan allowed me to be able to spot this magical soccer sized ball of an unidentifiable ball of orange fluff growing amid the dense greenery. 

Confederate Rose Hibiscus plant, currently not in bloom.

Our mouths were all agape as many cameras inched in for photos. I stood back awaiting my opportunity in the short time available as Mary Lou rushed us along to continue in order to stay on track on the tour. She too was enthralled with the find unsure as to what it could be.

More pretty flowers in varying shades of orange.

Later in the day, we encountered Bill, the owner (along with his wife Lucy) of the Princeville Botanical Gardens, whom I was thrilled to meet to thank for the opportunity to tour the gardens and write our story. 

This mishmash of colors, wood, and greenery caught my eye.

He, too, was pleased with us providing our worldwide readers with an opportunity to see that which he and Lucy have spent years developing with a love and passion for nature, well evidenced in the surroundings. 

A few of the couples with us were from Canada. With a similar climate and an abundance of trees in Minnesota (from whence we came), coleus such as this was a common plant used to fill in gardens since they thrive in shady areas.

I showed Bill the photo of the gorgeous “ball of orange” and he too was baffled. That’s the wonder of nature, continually growing and changing offering us “in awe observers” the chance to behold the treasures upon which we’ve been blissfully bestowed.

At every turn, there were exquisite flowers blooming on plants and trees.

At times, I found my heart pounding, not from the occasional climb, but from a particular find of a flower, plant, or tree that left me entranced by the uniqueness and beauty. Isn’t that what admiring nature is about anyway?

Many flowers appeared out of a tree or bush with few other blooms.

Whether it’s a wild animal, a bird, a frog, an unusual insect, or a flower, it’s all life and it’s all magical. As Mary Lou explained, something I often find myself saying in conversation…there isn’t anything in nature that doesn’t have a purpose; not an appendage, not a blossom, not an antler, not a fang, nor in the case in this tour at the Princeville Botanical Gardens, not a single step we took to one more sighting of a piece of Heaven after another.

African Nutmeg tree.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with our final photos of the gardens including the chocolate tour and presentation and more scenic views. Again, we apologize for those items we aren’t able to identify, many of which weren’t mentioned on the tour and others I may have missed as my eyes wandered about.  

Some of the trees and plants had signs such as this. However, I found myself fascinated with the hundreds of flowering plants tucked away in plants and trees that had no apparent name available.

In a way, I felt comparable to a kid in a candy store with a pocket full of money. Who cares what the candy is called? It’s the luscious visual, the divine smells that send us reeling!

Oh, would that a simple coleus present such a stunning expression.

Happy Saturday, everyone! Last night we had a fabulous evening out with Alice and Travis and tonight, we’ll visit the home of Cathi and Rick for dinner. Life is good!

                                               Photo from one year ago today, April 11, 2014:

A village in the Atlas Mountains. We ended up cutting our three-day trip short the reasons which are explained in this post. Please click here for details.