Category Archives: Australia

A glimpse into the history of Myrtleford

Growing tobacco has had a relatively long history in Australia, with the first successful farms recorded in New South Wales in 1820. This continued, with many ups and downs, until 2006, when Australian tobacco was deemed too expensive in a market dominated by Brazil, China, India and east African countries.

Myrtleford (and surrounding areas) had many tobacco farms, and attracted Italian migrants to the region in the 1950s. They came as labourers, then became share-farmers and eventually, owners of the farms.

This memorial in a park on the main street in Myrtleford honours these hard working migrants who played a vital role in the development of the region.

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When tobacco leaves were picked, they had to be dried in specially designed kilns. A  log kiln, typical of those built from the 1930s to the early 1960s and used on the farm of the Pizzini brothers, has been relocated to the Rotary Park.

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Kilns made of corrugated iron replaced the log structures, and you can still see many of these as you drive through the attractive Alpine countryside.

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As I worked on this post, a surprise popped up in my WordPress reader. Unbeknownst to me, I just had an anniversary. Where is the prosecco, WordPress?

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Happy Anniversary with WordPress.com!
You registered on WordPress.com 5 years ago!
Thanks for flying with us. Keep up the good blogging!

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Thank you, but I’m not hungry right now

For those of you who were brought up in a polite family, or those for whom English is not their language of choice, we may have to explain why the soup of the day is not one many of us would be eager to order.

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However, I wouldn’t say no to a ride in this little beauty.

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In which we have a picnic at 1300 meters

The plan: the young ones would drive to the foot of the walking track, leave their car and walk to the picnic spot at the Mount Buffalo lookout, which has an elevation of about 1300 meters. (Their walk took about 2 hours,  with lots of ups and ups.)

My role: drive to the picnic spot in Cedric-Neville (he has a new name since his relocation), with the picnic food, and then take the young ones back to their car when we were ready to head home.

The day: overcast and cool (or cold, depending on how acclimatised you are, after years in the tropics).

The verdict: what a splendid plan and picnic it was.

Here’s the view from the lookout, you can see the next state (New South Wales) on a good day.

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There are lots of huge boulders balancing casually above the deep gorge.

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This sturdy little shelter has fireplaces which would be welcome to tired, cold hikers. We just put on a few more layers and had our picnic outdoors. We’re such brave-hearts.

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I reckon this warning sign shows a jaunty fellow clicking his heels and shouting “Ole” as he falls off the cliff.

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The Mount Buffalo Chalet was opened in the early 1900s. There are big, expensive plans to redevelop the Chalet which is currently not in use. You can see an artist’s impression of the project, and read about the progress, or lack thereof hereMount Buffalo Chalet

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Fittingly, the weather vane at the apex of the chalet roof is a buffalo.

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The snow season officially ends this weekend, but I hope to get out and cross country ski and snowshoe next winter. Let’s see if my plans come to fruition!

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Ann-Marie, you’re a star

I’ve been in my new home in Myrtleford, Victoria for well over a week now.

Progress: my car (Cedric the Sissy car) arrived this morning, the telecommunications guy came and connected the phone, and my goods and chattels will arrive on Monday. Oh, and Minx the cat has finally set her paws outside after being spooked by all the strangeness of this new place.

Lack of progress: it’ll be 3-7 working days before I have internet at home. Thanks  to the generosity of the library and also the pesky tourist who lives here, I do have access until I can be independent.

I want to tell you about the initiative of Ann-Marie, one of the staff at the local Foodworks supermarket. She had a little brain wave, spoke to the owner about her idea, and the result is this display of tempting fruit which the little ones can sample for free.

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Good on ya, Ann-Marie. (And I made sure to spell your name correctly.)

I’ll no doubt tell you more about this cool (in all forms of the definition) little town, as I get to know it a bit better. It’s late winter/early spring, and the trees are going overboard with their blossoms. This prunus is at the entry to the court I now call home.

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Should I go along to one of these sessions? Do you think it could be a laugh?

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Bulldust

Situated in the Simpson Desert, the 30 metre high sand dune, Big Red, provides a challenge for any four wheel drive enthusiast.

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Big Red: image sourced online

The rear window of a battered, dusty vehicle parked in the main street of sunny downtown Dismal Swamp displayed this sticker. 20150805_155641 In Australia, much of our soil is a distinctive red colour. You soon learn not to wear light coloured footwear and clothing if you intend to have anything to do with it. In the desert areas of Australia , it is as fine as sifted flour, and is known as “bulldust”.

However, I now have the opportunity to provide you with a very useful piece of Aussie slang. Suppose your mate (friend) tells you a highly unbelievable tale. You are entitled to say to him/her “Bulldust!”  That sounds ever so much more refined than bullsh*t, doesn’t it?

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And now, for your dining pleasure

Dismal Swamp has two supermarkets, and what is on offer is very predictable, you could just about do your shopping wearing a blindfold. (Oh, and the rest of your clothes, please.)

About 30 km from Dismal Swamp is a larger town which I’ll just call Big Dismal for the time being. It has a much larger supermarket with many exciting provisions on display. So, I got into Cedric the Sissy car and went on a big shopping adventure this morning.

What I saw in the meat section could just about convince me to become a vegetarian. I definitely won’t be including any of these on my menu.

What about you, have you ever tried any of these, or would you consider doing so?

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Camels were introduced into Australia in the early 1800s   camels

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Kangaroos, on the other hand, are native to Australia

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Bangas=bangers=snags=sausages

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Another Australian native critter. Crocodile curry, hmm, no thank you.

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Yes, it’s donkeys, again!

But, only so I can introduce a sketch created by Andante. She was inspired by Michelle’s remark about donkeys on the bridges of Venice having to wear slippers to muffle their noise.

First, the Herberton donkeys enjoying some shade after a busy day of standing around being admired.

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And, here is the very quiet little donkey, traversing a bridge in Venice.

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Thank you, Andante

This photo has nothing to do with donkeys, or slippers or Venice or Andante. It’s specially for suchled and his Grandpa.

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Donkeys

These donkeys were part of the scene at the Herberton Village museum. They didn’t have much to do, except look docile and cute.

This nice little fellow got to pat them, and sit on the white one. I like to think that this may have been the start of a lifelong love for donkeys.

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A very prickly character

I reached into a shrub to get rid of a cluster of dry leaves, and the darn thing bit me! This only reinforced my aversion for gardening of any description.

My curiosity was aroused, and I found something quite unusual clinging to a twig or two.

Introducing the mystery “not a bunch of dry leaves.”

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That is the hand of my intrepid son, who was coerced into doing this, to give you some sense of the size of the creature. (The insect, not the son.)

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I discovered online that the head looks sort of back to front. The chewing bits would be found between the front legs. I did not offer a digit to find out if this was correct information. In fact, when I think about it, that makes perfect sense. If the mouth was on the other side, that would just be daft. Don’t trust online information, folks. (Except mine, which is impeccable. )

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And now I see why the darn thing felt very prickly. It would be a brave predator who attacked this tasty morsel.

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 I found a few interesting things about these insects:

The female Spiny Leaf Insect lays her eggs from a tree where they drop down into the leaf litter. The eggs are collected by ants and carried down into the ant nest and stored as food. The ants feed on the knob on the end of the stick insect egg. When the nymphs hatch from the egg they resemble ants and smell like ants. Before the ants realise the stick insect is an intruder it escapes from the nest and heads for a eucalypt tree where it climbs up to feed on the foliage.

The female insects can lay eggs without the help of a male. This biological miracle is called parthenogenesis and means that all the phasmids born will be female.

The Spiny Leaf Insect is a popular insect pet.

 

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Who let the chooks out?

Trish, the lady who ably takes care of and trains (i) my cat when I need to be absent from home, is presently minding a property not far from Dismal Swamp. The owners are away for a couple of weeks, leaving their seven Ragdoll cats (ii), assorted chickens and chicks, a large garden and yard for Trish to manage. After being there for a couple of hours and trailing along after her as she did the chores, I came home a weary person!

I have rallied enough to post a few photos of the livestock. I ate all of the fresh vegetables I scored from the garden, so you’ll just have to use your imagination there.

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These are Guinea Fowl chicks, lovingly foster-mothered by these clucky hens.

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The Guinea Fowl chicks are fed a mix of mince meat, cooked rice and hard boiled eggs. The latter ingredient must give them an early start on cannibalism, perhaps.

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The chooks have plenty of room to prowl around, once they are released from their hen house. They benefit from fresh vegetables from the garden.

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The hen in the foreground is a right bossy britches, who bullies the rest of the flock, including the rooster.

Although there are seven cats in the house, only one could be found, and deigned to pose for a milli-second.

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Now, I get to do footnotes.  Just like university days again.

(i)    it doesn’t take me long to undo all the good training Trish has done with Minx.

(ii)  yes, that’s seven Ragdoll cats, and they all live indoors. They have one of those catios built onto the side of the house, so they can get fresh air and exercise out there.

This image from a Google search show the undeniable adorableness of this breed of cat.

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