Which did we prefer in Tasmania, Penguin or Huon Valley?…Three days and counting…

Young woman riding a horse in the country in the Huon Valley.

As far as scenic beauty is concerned, both Penguin and the Huon Valley are stunningly beautiful. Although a common theme of the exquisite countryside is prevalent in both areas, the towns and local communities vary greatly.

If a traveler asked us which of the two would be most appealing for a holiday/vacation of one or two weeks, their personal tastes and preferred activities and expectations would be of first consideration.

Beyond that, there’s an obvious difference of scenery; Penguin has breathtaking ocean views and nearby beaches; in the Huon Valley, one only needs to drive about 40 minutes to arrive in beach towns with some of the whitest sand we’ve seen anywhere. 

The dirt road we traveled in the countryside.

Penguin has the opportunity for sea fishing and boating while in the Huon Valley fishing may be experienced on both the Huon River and out to sea as Tom experienced a week ago. It was his first time fishing on the ocean.

Regarding day-to-day easy activities such as walking, shopping, and perusing local business on a boulevard, Penguin has a lot more to offer. The center of Penguin is enchanting with its quaint shops, cafes, and beach town feel. 

However, there are a number of charming towns within a half hour drive from here in Castle Forbes Bay, such as Huonville, Franklin and Geeveston, all of which we’ve often visited for shopping, events and photo taking. 

There are many horses in Tasmania.

Huonville is the largest of the three towns where we’ve shopped during this past six wee, although there are some shopping options in Franklin and Geeveston.

If a tourist is interested in purchasing souvenirs in the area, the best spot would be at the Visitor’s Centre as we described in this post on February 5th when we stopped to check it out. We weren’t disappointed with their wide array of interesting items and of course, their Honey Pot which was over-the-top. This is a must-see spot when in the area.

In the Huon Valley, based on where we’re living in Castle Forbes Bay, it’s not as easy as heading out for a walk when our house is located close to main Highway A6. Walking on the winding narrow road is risky with many blind spotsHills and mountains to surround this part of Tasmania

ns with a massive river at its core, thus the Huon River and the Huon Valley.

There are many country roads and paths one may choose to walk, but since this is a “valley,” most of the walking  requires up and down steep hills that may not be suitable for all travelers.

We won’t get into all the various tourist attractions in either area. However, it’s easy to check out TripAdvisor for information on activities in Huonville and surrounding areas here. For options for Penguin, please click here.

Had we arrived a month or two earlier, the hilly countryside would have been a lush velvety green.

Many other tourist websites have endless options for exploring and experiencing scenery and indoor and outdoor activities in either of these two lovely areas.

As for friendliness, they both are some of the most friendly areas we’ve visited in our travels, comparable to Kauai, Hawaii, and Marloth Park, South Africa, our previously two favorites “friendly people” places.

Clear blue sky days are at a premium in the Huon Valley during the summer months making locals are giddy with enthusiasm on warm sunny days.

Tomorrow, we’ll share details of this lovely property with photos, links and the comfortable experience we’ve had staying in this well equipped and maintained property.

Have a lovely day!

Photo from one year ago today, February 26, 2016:

The pair of alpacas were placed in a smaller paddock for the purpose of mating. Notice the others looking on with considerable curiosity. For more about photos and a video of mating alpacas, please click here.

Piecing it all together…Four days and counting…

A boat anchored on the Huon River with a hazy mountain backdrop.

We’ve begun to think about packing, particularly me. Yesterday, for the first time in many moons, I ironed two of my shirts and one of Tom’s. Why did we ever buy anything requiring ironing? We thought they were “wash and wear” based on the washing instructions at the time of purchase.

I’m getting low on clothing, with many items having worn out, so I’ve resorted to ironing my two items to add to my limited wardrobe for the upcoming cruise in four days.

Vineyard in Tasmania.

Tom is down to six shirts, plus the one white dress shirt I ironed yesterday, suitable to wear to dinner in the ship’s main dining room. During the day, he wears tee shirts. His wardrobe is also shrinking along with mine.

In three months, we’ll be back in the US with a plan to purchase a few new clothing items to replace those we’re ready to toss. But, unfortunately, there are no clothing stores in Huonville other than two second-hand shops, and it makes no sense to replace our old clothing with someone else’s old clothing.

Over these past six weeks, I haven’t felt well enough to go shopping in Hobart, which has a few malls and many shops. For me, it’s been tricky buying clothing in Australia when sizing is entirely different, pants are too short, and styles suitable for travel aren’t necessarily available. 

A typical country road.

We prefer solid colors since they may be worn with any of our pants, dressy or casual. In most of the stores here, shirts are more colorfully patterned or flowery, which has never been quite my style. Nor does Tom care to wear brightly colored or patterned shirts.

I’ve begun packing a little earlier than usual with this illness and during the heavy antibiotic dosing period, which has made me feel a bit lethargic. So a little packing each day seems to make more sense right now.

Haze and humidity in the hills of the Huon Valley.

I’ve had some improvement (day four of seven on the medication), but I’m definitely not 100%. However, much to our enthusiasm, yesterday I was able to eat a normal-sized portion of our entree and a small salad which I hadn’t been able to do since early December. So maybe it is improving.

Tom never packs until the day before we depart when it becomes necessary to weigh our luggage to ensure we don’t exceed the 23 kg (51lbs) the airlines allow on the first checked bag (each) with a premium paid for our third bag containing necessary supplies. 

We’re flying to Sydney on Virgin Australia, which only charges AU 35, US $26.85 for the third bag, an amount we’re thrilled to pay instead of considerably more on other airlines.

The wild vegetation is growing along the river bank.

Tonight, we’ll watch the final episode of season 6, Game of Thrones, having loved every single episode. It’s been a nice respite from thinking about my condition when we’ve watched a few episodes each evening. We can now cancel our month-to-month HBO subscription (ending on the 26th) and re-join to watch season 7 once we get to Costa Rica next August.

While in the US, with six weeks spent in Minnesota and three weeks in Henderson, Nevada, we won’t have time or interest in watching any shows or movies other than perhaps a movie or two with the grandchildren in MN.

Single lane bridge in the countryside.

It’s hard to believe we’ll arrive in the US mainland on May 15th, less than three months from now. Two days later, on May 17th, we’ll board the Alaskan cruise, which ends on May 26th in Seattle. From there, we’ll fly to Minneapolis. We’ll be arriving in MN on Friday evening of Memorial weekend, a busy travel period.

Once I upload this post, Tom will do the proofreading while I get ready to go out. This will be the first time we’ve been out since Monday, very unusual for us. We’re heading to Huonville for a few grocery items and a new batch of probiotics to avoid running out on the cruise. 

Pasture on a sunny day.

But for now, we’re anticipating the less than two-hour flight from Hobart to Syndey in a mere four days. So my prepping and packing will continue at a snail’s pace over the next few days, which this time, I don’t mind a bit.

Have a lovely weekend, wherever you may be!

Photo from one year ago today, February 25, 2016:

This “piece of art” in New Plymouth is playfully typical of Kiwi’s great sense of humor. For more interesting New Plymouth, New Zealand photos, please click here.

A surprising visit to a popular local point of interest…Thinking about pesticides..Bees and worms…

It was Saturday (yesterday) when we stopped by, but it wasn’t busy. Very few venues are overly busy in this quiet laid back area.

After the rain settled down and the clouds began to waft away, we were chomping at the bit to get out. Deciding to make it a dual-purpose trip, we included the weekly shopping, albeit a few days earlier than necessary, and to include some sightseeing on the same sunny day.

The sign on the highway to the Huon Valley Visitor Centre and The Honey Pot.

With a plan in mind to visit a few popular spots, afterward, we didn’t hesitate to drive with nowhere in mind after having visited those few venues on our “to do” list. We love the surprises we encounter when driving aimlessly on country roads.

This particular visitor center has many more interesting items than some we visited in the past.

One of the attractions we were anxious to see was the Huon Valley Visitor Centre. Of course, one wouldn’t think a visitors centre wouldn’t be all that interesting, but with this particular centre, regarded as one of the more interesting to visit, we weren’t disappointed.

The center offers these services and more:

Services Offered:

  • Free Information

  • Itinerary planning

  • Booking service for attractions, accommodation, tours, and cruises

  • Local knowledge

  • Maps and brochures

  • National Park Passes

  • Gift Shop with Souvenirs, local crafts, and products

  • Free WiFi

  • Free parking on site

  • Toilets on site

  • Baby Change Facilities on site

After reading reviews at Trip Advisor and discovering this center is listed as #4 of 12 Things to Do in the Huon Valley, we weren’t at all surprised when we entered the property to find a wealth of interesting products, services, and the popular Honey Pot, located at the rear of the shop.

Stuffed wombat, koala, and other popular Australian critters. 

No more than a minute after we entered, a rep approached us, asking if she could assist us. We explained we were interested in browsing and taking some photos if they didn’t mind. Of course, they were delighted to comply.

Hand-carved wood guitar.

Upon entering any facility, we usually ask permission to take photos, and we’re seldom refused, especially in Australia. However, on occasion, due to religious beliefs, we have been asked not to take photos. 

A stuffed Tasmanian Devil and others.

Recently, at Australia Day celebrations in Franklin, a vendor snapped at us when I took a quick shot. At that point, I’d taken one photo of his handmade product display and promptly deleted it. I suppose some makers of specific products fear others will copy their designs. When refused, we politely apologize, accepting their choice, never making a fuss or negative comment.

At first glance, we thought these were baguettes, big and small, when in fact, they were rolling pins. 

After we perused the many interesting items in the shop and collected some free brochures for future outings, we moseyed to the back of the store to the somewhat separate Honey Pot shop where everything “bee” was on display, including an actual live honeycomb as shown below.

An enclosed honeycomb is located in the shop.

Tom asked the salesperson if the devastating loss in the number of bees is as big an issue in Australia as in the US.  She explained that the manufacturers of their products actually ship bees to the US. Who knew?

Surely, with the US as the second-highest user of the world’s pesticides, it’s no wonder the bee population is dwindling.  Hopefully, soon, “they” will accept this reality and make some changes.

Per this chart depicting the world’s use of pesticides, it’s easy to see this is a dire situation:

Top Pesticide Consuming Countries Of The World

Rank Country Annual Pesticide Consumption (millions of kilograms)
1 China 1,806
2 United States 386
3 Argentina 265
4 Thailand 87
5 Brazil 76
6 Italy 63
7 France 62
8 Canada 54
9 Japan 52
10 India 40

A few years ago, the US was the highest user of pesticides, but recently China has topped the list. For more information, please click here. Oh, I could go nuts on this topic, but I won’t since, let’s face it, it’s political more than anything. 

Located in the rear of the Visitor Centre, the Honey Pot is an adorable “honey” themed shop. Of course, neither of us uses honey due to the sugar content, but it was fun to see.

As stated in a post a few days ago, we attempt to avoid making a political stance on our site. It’s not always easy to stay mum on these topics, but not everyone shares similar views. Our goal here is to stay as neutral as possible on these topics. 

However, after shopping at the health food stores and farmers’ markets, nothing pleases me more than to find insects in our produce. This is an obvious sign that few pesticides are used in farming, especially when the insects are near the outer leaves or exterior of the produce.

Bee-inspired products.

Yesterday, after our road trip and excursions (more coming later), I did grocery shopping, purchasing three zucchini packages. Upon returning home, I began to thoroughly wash each of the zucchini along without other purchases. 

Cute bee products for sale.

The ugliest worm was attached to the backside of one of the zucchini. Happily, I washed it off, never hesitating to use my fingers to flick it off. This reminded me of a most outrageous worm I found on a head of lettuce in Madeira in 2014. Here’s the photo I took at the time and the link.

I didn’t grab the camera quickly enough to take the photo when this worm actually picked up its head and looked at me. So I picked it up and placed him/her outside in the grass.

Today, with clouds rolling back in over this area after a sunny start to the day, we’ll soon head back to Geeveston to see the annual event we’ll share in tomorrow’s post.

Have a beautiful day filled with sunshine in your heart.

Photo from one year ago today, February 5, 2016:

Tom, standing outside Taylor Dental Practice in New Plymouth, New Zealand, where he had his problematic molar pulled.  For more details, including the cost, please click here.

Culture in Australia…Australian diversity…Continuation of Australia Day photos…

This fish mascot wandered about the celebration for photo ops.

In June, 2015 we posted a brief history of diversity in Australia at this link while we were living in Trinity Beach during our first foray into life on the continent.  Australia has a rich indigenous history some of which may be found at this link. 

“Smallest Pancakes in Town”

Unfortunately, we’ve had little opportunity to get up close and personal with the indigenous citizens of Australia as we have in some other parts of the world.  However, we’ve had more readily available contact with the non-indigenous citizens, comprising over 90% of the population, easily encountered in day to day life.

Homemade jellies, jams and condiments.

Now in Tasmania for three months with only 3% of the population as indigenous citizens, interacting with their traditions is equally unlikely as it was when we lived in the mainland with 6% of the general population whom identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

During our many months living amongst the Aussies we’ve found a unique culture that emerged over the centuries as people from many lands migrated to the continent seeking a new and better way of life.  All these cultures are revered and held in high regard. 

Clever and pleasing-to-the-senses soaps.

This morning,  Prime Minister Malcomb Turnbull made an eloquent speech honoring the Chinese New Year, Year of the Rooster, and the Chinese people’s influence and value to Australia.

Not unlike many western civilization, the melding of nationalities contributes to a distinct persona that may be clearly defined over the centuries.  That culture in itself is different in many ways from our experiences in our old lives in the US and in many countries in which we’ve lived over these past 51 months.

Food or soaps?  Soaps!

After living in Trinity Beach, close to Cairns, Australia for three months, spending a few months on cruises with mostly Australian passengers, we’ve come to the point of having somewhat of a grasp on Australian culture.

Whether its their easygoing style of living, ways in which they’ve embraced their love of their homeland, their penchant for humor and lightheartedness, their seriousness and determination in dealing with important issues, and their commitment to integrity and ethics, the Aussies embody a special demeanor we’ve found to be enchanting.

Tom checked out the baked goods but resisted.

From this university site, we gleaned the following description of the Australian culture which we found clear and concise:

“Australians are generally laid-back, open and direct. They say what they mean and are generally more individual and outgoing than many other cultures.  You may think that most Australians live in the ‘outback’ out in the country. In fact, more than three quarters of Australians live in cities and in urban centres, mainly along the coast.
Some key values that reflect the Australian way of life include:

  • Freedom of speech
  • Freedom of religion
  • Democracy
  • Equality regardless of sex, marital status, religion, nationality, disability or sexual preference
  • Peacefulness
  • A ‘fair go’ (equal opportunity) for all and support for the underdog.

In most practical ways, Australia is an egalitarian society in that there are no formal class distinctions. There is no segregation between people of different incomes or backgrounds and everyone is free to live where they like, attend university and follow whichever religion and occupation they choose. (Continued below).

There was a long queue at the ice cream booth.

What are Australians like?

In the workplace and among friends, Australians generally call each other by their first names. When meeting someone for the first time, it is usual to shake the person’s right hand with your right hand. People who do not know each other generally do not kiss or hug when meeting. Australians show respect by looking people in the eye, however they don’t stand as close or have as much physical contact (such as hugs and kisses) as other cultures.

You may find that your Australian friends have difficulty pronouncing your name, at first. Be patient and prepared that you may need to repeat your name or say it slowly at the beginning. As friendships develop, you may find that your friends give you a nickname, which is very common in Australia and is a form of endearment.

Sport Culture

Australians love their sport and most people watch the finals of major sporting events, even if they don’t normally have an interest in the sport. Popular events include the State of Origin and Melbourne Cup.

Men and Women

 Men and women are treated equally in Australia. Women make up nearly 50% of the workforce and most women remain in the workplace after they marry, and many after they’ve had children. Women are also free to breastfeed in public.

There are no social rules regarding friendships or dating in Australia. Friendships with members of the opposite sex, and social events with both sexes are common. It is also common for couples to live together before they are married, or for men and women to live in a share-house together.

People in Australia generally don’t have servants, and men and women equally share the cooking and domestic duties in the home. (Continued below).

The batter fried mushrooms smelled delicious.


Australians often use humour and are considered to be quite sarcastic. The Australian sense of irony may be difficult for you to grasp at first but you’ll get used to it. The Australian accent and use of ‘slang’ may also be confusing, but if there is ever anything you don’t understand, just ask.

Aussie Slang

  • Arvo – afternoon
  • Aussie – Australian
  • Barbie – BBQ/barbeque
  • Bloke – man/guy
  • Boardies – board shorts
  • Brekkie – breakfast
  • Brizzie – Brisbane
  • G’day – good day/hello
  • Goldy – Gold Coast
  • Mozzie – mosquito
  • No worries – no problem/that’s OK
  • Roo – kangaroo
  • Snags – sausages
  • Sunnies – sunglasses
  • Telly – TV
  • Togs – swimsuit/bikini

Of course, there are countless Aussie expressions that are far removed from our familiar use of the language.  Its never a matter of what’s correct use of the language.  Instead, it revolves around cultural language differences from one country/continent to another.

Homemade pillows and casual furnishings.

We’ve enjoyed the Aussie’s use of the English language as unique and entertaining from our own experience such as:

  • When moving from one home to another, they say “move house.”  Whereby in the US its referred to as “moving.”  That simple difference makes us chuckle over their easy use of the language.
  • They don’t say “sports” in reference to sporting type activities.  Instead, the say “sport” in reference to any such activities. 
  • Comparable to the UK, when referring to a  person “in the hospital,” they say “in hospital” a simple dropping of the word “the” in the sentence.

Scented handmade soaps are popular in Tasmania as personal and gift items.

Its these little nuances that make us smile.  There are endless examples of these types of language differences which ultimately are easily understood by unfamiliar visitors.

Pretty bouquets.

We’ve found that Australian news, although serious when appropriate, is often hilarious over the more lighthearted storylines.  At times, they may use a swear word or slang expression we’d never heard from newscasters in our old lives. 

Handcrafter products made with wood.

On each occasion, we find ourselves laughing out loud, loving the ease and humor they include in telling a story. Even their locally produced TV drama series illicit a sense of humor and lightness.

Although we’re a bit isolated in this remote area of Castle Bay Forbes in southern Tasmania, with little interaction with locals on a day to day basis, we can’t help but grasp every moment possible to spend with these special people.

Enjoy the upcoming weekend!


Photo from one year ago today, January 28, 2016:

The grapes were robust and ripe for the picking at the Okurukuru Taranaki Winery near New Plymouth, New Zealand.  For more details, please click here.

Happy Australia Day to our Australian/Tasmanian friends and readers…Saving more of $$$$…

Our friend Terry (and past landlord in Penguin) sent us this beautiful photo of another seal on Sisters Beach, Tasmania where he and his wife Fran are spending time at their cabin. Thanks, Terry!  This is quite a gem!

Today is Australia Day, a national day of celebration. This morning while researching online for information Australia Day to share with our readers, I stumbled across this interesting article as shown below at this link (edited to fit our page):

“Australia Day 2017: What does the average Aussie really look like?

Matt Wade
by Matt Wade                                        

Numbers can paint a vivid picture of how a nation has changed.  A century ago the average Aussie was a 24-year-old male farmer. Fifty years ago, it was a 29-year-old male office clerk. But today, it’s a 38-year-old female sales assistant.

Australia reaches population milestone

Earlier this year, statistics confirmed what we already knew, Australia’s population is rapidly growing; but you might be surprised to learn which city will be our biggest by 2050.

Let’s call our typical Aussie Rebecca – that was the most popular name for girls born in 1979 (it was Michael for boys). She is married and lives with her husband and two children, a boy and a girl aged nine and six, in a stand-alone house with three bedrooms in a suburb of one of Australia’s capital cities. They have a pet.

Rebecca completed year 12, has a Certificate in Business and Management and is employed as a sales assistant – the nation’s most common occupation for women and men these days. She does 32 hours of paid work each week (the average is 41 hours for men) and another five hours or more unpaid work around the house. The household’s annual disposable income is $88,500 (after tax). Rebecca takes five days of sick/carers leave each year and 16 days of annual leave.

Demographer Mark McCrindle estimates that Rebecca’s family has lived in the house for five years and is paying off a mortgage. They have $427,847 equity in the property, which is the bulk of the family’s wealth. They have another $65,880 worth of household possessions such as furniture and equipment.

Rebecca was born in Australia – despite our cultural diversity the average Australian was born here, as were both of their parents. But it’s a very different story in some parts of our big cities. In Sydney’s Haymarket for instance, 88 per cent of the population were born overseas.
Rebecca’s household has two cars which each travel an average of 14,000 kilometers (8699 miles) a year. Over the past 40 years the share of households with two or more motor vehicles has doubled, from 26 per cent to around 54 per cent. Like 69 percent of all commuters, Rebecca drives to work.

Despite the growing proportion of Australians with no religion, or a non-Christian religious affiliation, Rebecca is a Catholic and speaks only English at home. She has “English, Australian, Irish, or Scottish ancestry” according to the Bureau of Statistics. Rebecca is 164cm tall (5’4″) and weighs 68kg  (150 pounds). The average man is 178cm (5’8″) and weighs 85kg (187)pounds. She exercises three times a week and gets 7.2 hours of sleep per night.

Rebecca can expect to live until 85.3 years – about four years more than her male counterparts. Mr. McCrindle said demographic averages shed light on Australia’s collective “personality”.

“These statistics show we are working hard, we are saving hard and we are juggling multiple roles,” he said.

“It points to a pretty conscientious, busy nation that is just getting on with it.”

View from the highway as we head back from Huonville.

This above article defines life for the average Australian, although the lives of many may vary substantially based on income and lifestyle. In the next few days Australia’s population will reach 24,000,000.

The significance of Australia Day, is described as follows from this site:

“On Australia Day we come together as a nation to celebrate what’s great about Australia and being Australian. It’s the day to reflect on what we have achieved and what we can be proud of in our great nation. It’s the day for us to re-commit to making Australia an even better place for the future.
Australia Day, 26 January, is the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet of 11 convict ships from Great Britain, and the raising of the Union Jack at Sydney Cove by its commander, Captain Arthur Phillip, in 1788 (you can read a comprehensive history of the evolution of Australia Day here).

Though 26 January marks this specific event, today Australia Day celebrations reflect contemporary Australia: our diverse society and landscape, our remarkable achievements and our bright future. It also is an opportunity to reflect on our nation’s history, and to consider how we can make Australia an even better place in the future.

On Australia Day, half of the nation’s population of 24 million attend either an organized community event, or get together with family and friends with the intention of celebrating our national day. Many more, spend the public holiday relaxing with family and friends.

Yet Australia Day is much more than barbeques and fireworks. It is more than another public holiday. It is more than the pride and excitement of new citizens who call themselves Australian for the first time on 26 January after being conferred citizenship.

At its core, Australia Day is a day driven by communities, and the celebrations held in each town, suburb or city – unified by the celebration of what’s great about Australia and being Australian – are the foundation of its ongoing success.”

The Huon River is very wide in this area.

We’re honored and excited to be here in Australia on this special day in history. Today, we’re off to the celebrations in the town of Franklin, returning tomorrow with photos. 

As to the mention in today’s heading regarding our “Saving more $$$$” we’re pleased that Tom’s diligence in checking daily for price reductions on our already booked cruises have benefited us to such a degree.

Over this past month, the cruise from Santiago, Chile to Buenos Aires, Argentina we’ve saved a total of AU 2,641, US $2,000.  We’d booked the cruise while aboard ship which provides an added opportunity for perks and yet, still allows our rep at Vacations to Go to receive full credit for the transaction.

The dock on the property here in Castle Bay Forbes on the Huon River.

To reap the benefits of these price drops, which in this case was a total of three price reductions, we contact Brooklyn/Shanon, our rep at Vacations to Go who immediately gets to work to confirm the price drop with the cruise line (Celebrity in this case) and then issue new documents at the lowest price which are promptly sent to us via email. 

During this particular price drop we were able to maintain the perks we received at the time of booking which included free Wi-Fi, paid gratuities and AU 396, US $300 cabin credit. We’re thrilled to say the least.

Our vacation/holiday home on the Huon River, as shown from the river side. We live on the top floor with a second bedroom and en suite bath in our lower level while the owners, Anne and Rob, live on the lower level.

The skies are cloudy now, but we expect it to clear by the time we head out for Franklin. However, rain or shine, we won’t miss this special event.

Have a sunny day wherever you may be both in your heart and in your skies!

Photo from one year ago today, January 26, 2016:

Although a little tough to see with the long lashes, Mont Blanc had blue eyes.  (We fell in love with him, but sadly, he eventually died).He was the “cria’ that had escaped the paddock leaving us in a quandary with the owners at work. For the rest of this story as to how he was returned to his mother, please click here.

A visit to a fascinating Huon Valley landmark…Willie Smith’s Apple Cider House, The Apple Shed restaurant, orchard and museum…

We’d noticed Willie Smith’s Cider House and Apple Shed several times as we drove through Huonville since our arrival on January 16th.  After researching online, we were determined to visit The Apple Shed as soon as possible. 

As all of our readers are aware, we take great pleasure in sharing stories of local businesses in many parts of the globe as we continue on our year’s long worldwide journey. 

Andrew and Ian Smith, father and son and innovative owners/managers of Willie Smith Organic Apple Cider and Apple Shed, including restaurant, cider shop and museum. (Not our photo).

After 51 months of exploring in over 55 countries, we continually scour each new location for stories that may appeal to our readers. Of course, its impossible to appeal to the interests of all of our readers but, today’s story may appeal to more than we’d imagine.  Almost everyone loves apples!

The outdoor bar and dining area at the Apple Shed.
Today’s story goes well beyond the scope of a typical apple farm, shipping their apples regionally and to various parts of the world for commercial and retail processing and sales.
Willie Smith’s cider menu.
Willie Smith’s Organic Apple Cider, The Apple Shed, the restaurant and museum offers a wide range of delectable and enticing products, services and consumer delights to whet the appetite of the most enthusiastic apple cider aficionado, diner or history buff.  Willie Smith’s has it all.
Antique apple sorting machine.

Although we weren’t able to wander through the apple and cherry orchards in order to maintain the integrity and health of the organic crop, we were able to ascertain the quality of the product by visiting this special site.  (Yes, Willie Smith’s also grows cherries, a treasured commodity in Tasmania and throughout the world).

A tremendous boon and unique aspect to cider making is a result of Willie Smith’s Organic Apple Cider’s dedication and emphasis on organic farming.

With a history reaching back to 1888’s when Willie Smith and his wife Elsie, planted their first apple tree, the orchard was born.  Passionate about farming and in awe of the pristine air and water in the Huon Valley of Tasmania from there, four generations of Smith’s continued in the pursuit of creating the finest apples and apple products in the land.

Current menus in The Apple Shed where we’ll dine next month.

As an adjunct to their success, Elsie Smith, the daughter of Charles Oats, inspired Willie and Elsie to glean considerable knowledge and expertise from Charles’ innate ability to produce fine spirits.  

Many products are offered for sale in the shop including apple cider, apple and cherry based products, a wide array of condiments and teas.  The shop is perfect for purchasing gifts for all occasions.

These shared skills and sheer determination were undoubtedly a match made in heaven that has survived and thrived through the last few hundred years not only in creating a fine product but in providing and pioneering a new way of life for the community in the Huon Valley

Photo of Andrew’s great grandfather Willie Smith, attached to a pallet of apples in cardboard, appropriate for shipping.

The Apple Shed was built in 1942 with the intention of providing local farmers, growers and makers the ability to highlight their finest of products.  In creating this unique space, a piece of the passionate labor of the finest of farmers and purveyors is integrated into the Apple Shed’s offerings.

Scene in the Willie Smith’s Apple Shed Museum where we met with owner Andrew Smith for an interesting and informative discussion.

The distillery is another element of Willie Smith’s that bring visitors from all over the world.  Incorporating quality organic apples into cider and spirit making  (alcoholic beverage) is not as common as one may assume.  Few farmers are willing to spend the time, effort and expenditure required to support an organic operation. 

Antique cider making equipment.

As for the reasons the owners of Willie Smith’s decided to grow only organic apples, please see this quote below, from their website:

“We choose organic because we believe that making things the traditional way, with more care and less of the artificial bad stuff, is better for you and better for Tassie.

A study conducted by the French Agency for Food Safety concluded that organic plant products:

  • contain more dry matter and are therefore more nutrient dense
  • have higher levels of minerals
  • contain more anti-oxidants, such as phenols and salicylic acid (known to protect against cancers, heart disease and many other health problems)

Most of all, organic produce just makes us feel good!”

Antique apple hauling truck located in the museum.

Not only does the fine facility focus on the quality of its organic apples, another emphasis is on the diverse locally grown menu items offered in The Apple Shed for the consumer seeking delicious meals of locally grown products prepared with the utmost of care.

Apple varieties on display in The Apple Shed.

In addition, recently Willie Smith’s has begun the operation of their distillery their for the production of high quality organic apple brandy and spirits. 

From their website:

“Our still was commissioned in April 2016 and is located at Willie Smith’s Apple Shed. It is the first alembic copper still in Australia purpose-built for making apple brandy. We think being able to produce apple spirits from the ‘Apple Isle’ is a welcome addition to the already very exciting Tasmanian distilling scene.”

Beautiful display of the  copper distillery equipment.

As a brandy and cognac fan, most certainly Tom will try the brandy when we return on February 17th for our dinner.  Although, based on my restricted diet, I won’t be able to enjoy the cider or spirits (due to sugar content), I can fully embrace the concept of the care given to create these superior products. 

Antique apple processing machine.

Upon entering The Apple Shed yesterday around lunchtime, we were warmly greeted by Daniel a server behind the bar.  We inquired as to the availability of a manger or owner who could share details with us about the operation.

Andrew explained that William and Elsie Smith were his great grandparents as shown on this sign in the museum.  Zoom in for details.

Having seen their comprehensive and well done website before heading out, we knew we’d be in for a treat should we actually be able to meet with an owner.  We were in luck when Andrew Smith, fourth generation owner, joined us in the museum to enrich our story with some of the details we excitedly share today.

A variety of apple processing tools.
We couldn’t have been more thrilled to learn of the innovative concepts that have been implemented over the years with the passion and commitment to excellence that has been perpetuated in every element of the business.

Grab a case or bottle of apple cider to go!
The fascinating display of antique apple processing equipment warrant a visit to the Apple Shed Museum, home of Willie Smith’s cider, along with the opportunity for a fine meal and perusal of the shop.

From The Apple Shed, to its restaurant, the regional and international shipping operation, the outstanding transition to organic farming and the careful thought exercised in developing and maintaining the history in its superlative museum, nothing was spared in this facility.

Cider display where the customer can purchase a glass bottles to return for refills.  Excellent idea!

Rather than attempt to duplicate all the information presented in their exceptional website, we encourage our readers to take a peek at their website by clicking here.

An antique hand cranked apple processing machine.

No chemicals are used in the today’s organic farming of apples and cherries on Willie Smith’s farm.

Next time you’re in Tasmania make a point of visiting Willie Smith’s Organic Apple Cider complex, dine in The  Apple Shed, tour the museum and take home a bottle of what we have no doubt is the finest apple cider and spirits in the land.

The lunch crowd had cleared out enabling us to shoot this photo of the casual dining area.  We were so excited by the facility and the menu, we made a reservation to return on Friday, February 17th.  On Friday nights, the Apple Shed has live music and menu specials.  We look forward to participating in the activities!

Next time you bite into a cold crispy apple, think of Willie Smith!  Thanks for stopping by today and we look forward to “seeing you” again tomorrow! 

Cherries are also farmed at Willie Smith’s farm and both apple and cheery products are available along with many other products.

Photo from one year ago today, January 23, 2016:

It had rained for the first several days after we arrived in New Plymouth, New Zealand.  Upon the first sunny day, we stumbled upon this view. We were both mesmerized by the beauty of Mount Taranaki.  (We were located in the Taranaki region of New Zealand).  The trek up this mountain may be dangerous, which we’d heard aboard the ship, as per this link.
For more photos, please click here.

Loss of a valued digital item…Heading out to sightseeing venue and shopping…Road trip photos…

We crossed the Bridgewater Lift Bridge on the drive from Penguin to the Huon Valley.

Its Monday morning in this part of the world. Tom is watching a US NFL playoff football game. At 10:00 am the cleaner arrives, a service which wasn’t included in the rent but we opted to pay on our own. Who wants to clear the floor and glass doors? Not us!

It’s hard to believe this was a week ago, we left Penguin to start the five-hour drive to the Huon Valley.

Prices for such a service is considerably less than in the US from what I recall which is probably much higher these days. The cleaner will stay two hours for the price of AU 50, US$37.82. 

Far from the ocean and near the center of the state, the terrain has changed drastically from lush green to a dry desert appearance.

We clean and dry the sheets in order to avoid folding.  Marguerite can put them back on the bed. Oh, yes, there’s a dryer here. That’s a first for us in the past 18 months. The washer is located in our unit. The dryer is in the garage. Easy.

At several points we drove through mountainous roads.

We’ll head out after she arrives as soon as the first of the two football games end at around 10:00 am. Once we return several hours later, Tom will watch the second game on his app, NFL Game Pass, since it will long be over on TV. It surprised us that the US games are on TV in Tasmania. Then again, Aussies love their “footy” and perhaps evens ours.

At no point did we encounter any traffic except for a construction zone and when we arrived in Hobart with 45 minutes left on the road.

After spending a hefty sum spent on groceries last week, AU 514.52, US $389.13, we have little to purchase this week. The grocery list only contains about 15 items. 

I had to take all of our photos while the car was moving due to a lack of shoulder which is always challenging.

Speaking of grocery lists, which I always keep an app on my phone, much to my disappointment my phone died a few days ago. For the first time in years, I’ve had to handwrite the grocery list. My handwriting is awful making it a laborious process to write the list and later decipher it while in the grocery store.

As we neared Hobart, once again we could see the ocean.

Tom’s phone also died several months ago, which we replaced receiving a new unlocked Windows Blu, dual SIM, we’d ordered from Amazon several months ago to arrive in a box of supplies we’d had shipped to us in Bali.

When my phone died after I’d tried every possible fix, I too placed an order from Amazon. The phone will arrive to our mailing service within a day and will be added to a variety of other items we’ve been accumulating to be shipped to us here in Tasmania. 

We made it to the Hobart city limits.

Without my phone its been a bit frustrating since I, like many others these days, spend idle time looking at my phone, reading news and books, playing games and checking Facebook and email.  Although we don’t have a phone contract we’re able to use the Wi-Fi in the house or our hotspot to be online. 

Speaking of WiFi in the house… It’s much better. Anne spent quite a bit of time working with Telstra and the new booster she’d purchased to enhance our signal. It’s not perfect, but its greatly improved, enabling us to do everything we need to do without using the pricey data for the SIM card. 

There must have been a “trike show” occurring in Hobart. Australians are quite the vehicle fans.

If we download a video or file, we have to place the laptop in the bedroom where the signal is stronger. Downloads are slow but overall its working and we’re now content.

I’m rushing today to be done with this post by 10:00 am or thereabouts (once the game ends) when we’ll head out the door to a local popular tourist attraction that’s on our way to Huonville.  Watch for photos tomorrow!

Ocean view as we made our way to Highway A6 which leads to Huon Valley.

Once in Huonville we’ll check out the meat market, drop off the dead phone at a recycle facility, visit the health food store and head to Woolies for the few grocery items.

The sun is peeking out, the clouds are wafting away and today looks like it will be another gorgeous day. We’ll make a point of cherishing every moment and sharing it all here with YOU!

Have a fabulous day of your own!

Photo from one year ago today, January 23, 2016:

One year ago, shortly after birth, this baby alpaca was nursing. This is so sweet!  For more detail, please click here.

Photos of our new home in the Huon Valley, Tasmania…Delightful!

View of the Huon River from the veranda of our new vacation home. Nice!
It was so cool last night we huddled under two blankets, comfy with the screened windows opened, content to be settled. This time we didn’t bother to bring our luggage upstairs to the main floor, instead of leaving the bags open on the bed in the lower level of the second bedroom, allowing us to run up and down the stairs, for the few items we’ll use over these next 41 days.
Cozy dining area.

As always, it takes a few days to feel settled as we discover where everything is located, how to use locks, appliances, the TV “source” or “input” buttons for  use of the HDMI cord and for the best signal from the Wi-Fi. 

After chatting online with Australia’s primary internet service provider yesterday we’ve figured out the best data plan for our SIM card and hotspot which we’ll use as an adjunct to the house’s slow Wi-Fi connection. I’ll use the hotspot while Tom uses and house signal. Unfortunately, neither works well if we share one of the signals simultaneously.

The living room/lounge area suits our needs. Plus, the sofa is comfortable!

After we uploaded yesterday’s post, we headed to the town of Huonville (see map below), a15 minute drive, to  arrive at the local grocery store, Woolie’s (as Woolworth’s is called in Australia) complete our food shopping. 

The galley kitchen works well for us.  The range is toward the far left, as shown in the next photo below.  Tom’s happy there’s a dishwasher!

Tom usually stays in the car reading a book on his phone while I shop. He gauges how long I’ll be and comes into the market to help to load the items on the conveyor belt. 

In Australia, shoppers must bring their grocery bags or will be charged varying amounts for recyclable bags.  We’ve kept the yellow insulated Costco bag, the Africa cloth bag we purchased in Kenya over three years ago and a smaller insulated bag the owners in Maui left for us as a gift. These same bags have served our shopping needs throughout our travels.

Tom, the perfect French press guy, makes ideal coffee every time. Guess we won’t be using the toaster.

Since arriving two days ago, we’ve spent AU $515, US $389 for groceries but it appears we’ll have enough food to last for more than a week. This may seem to be a substantial amount but included in these items were paper products, bottled water, enough grass-fed meat for over a week, spices, organic produce, and more.

Typically, when we arrive at a new location, our first grocery bill is in this range. However, in the subsequent weeks, the expenditure is considerably less, usually well under AU $265, US $200. 

This spacious master bedroom is located on the main level with a roomy en suite bathroom.

The drive from the house to Huonville was pleasant with the gorgeous scenery along the way, photos of which we’ll share in tomorrow’s post. We can’t wait to go to Hobart tomorrow to take more pictures of this fantastic part of the world.

The laundry room has a washer located next to the master bathroom. There’s a dryer in the garage. We haven’t had a dryer since Trinity Beach, Australia, in June 2015. So, of course, for almost ten months during this period, our laundry was done for us. 

As its turns out, we are located in the town of Geeveston. Here’s a bit of info about this small town with a population of about 1500, from this site:

Geeveston is a small Australian town south of Tasmania on the Huon River, 62 km southwest of Hobart, making it Australia’s most southerly administrative center.

The town takes its name from William Geeves, an English settler who Lady Jane Franklin gave a land grant in the area then known as Lightwood Bottom (after a type of timber prevalent in the area).

The settlement Geeves set up was renamed Geeves Town in 1861, and the name eventually became Geeveston. Geeveston is for local government purposes included in the area of the Huon Valley Council and is part of the division of Franklin for both Australian House of Representatives and Tasmanian House of Assembly electoral purposes. (Continued below).

The master bath fulfills our needs with plenty of fluffy towels, robes, and amenities.

Geeveston is on the Huon Highway and is the gateway to the Hartz Mountains National Park. It is the center of Tasmania’s apple and fruit-growing industry and has also been highly reliant on the timber industry since the late 19th century.

A pulp mill was opened in the town in 1962, and was Geeveston’s largest employer until the plant closed in 1982, devastating the area economically. The Forest & Heritage Centre, a tourist center that details the timber industry’s history in the area, is located in Geeveston.

Although Geeveston is quite a small town, we’re very close to several other small towns:

Image result for map of huon valley tasmania
Zoom in to see Geeveston, located south of Port Huon, shown on this map.
We don’t feel isolated by any means with all of the surrounding riverfront towns, as shown on this map. For example, we can be in the center of Hobart, located in the north of us, on this map in less than 45 minutes.
We’re rather content here. No doubt this is a different experience than Penguin but, isn’t that why we travel anyway?  The opportunity to experience the experiences the vast differences in areas throughout the world proves to be the driving force in our nomadic lifestyle.
The pool is covered, which is easily removed by a cranking device. If it warms up, we’ll use it. More photos of the backyard will follow once it stops raining.
We’ll be back with lots more as we continue to explore this scenic area. Have a lovely day!

Photo from one year ago today, January 18, 2016:

Our ship, the Celebrity Solstice, which we’ll board again in Sydney on March 1, looked huge while docked at the Port of Tauranga, New Zealand. For more details, please click here.