Floggings and fruit

For us Tasmania is all about the food. It’s so fresh, so tasty here. First thing this morning we headed off to Battery Point to eat breakfast at Jackman and McRoss. Sure their bread is described as artisan and we don’t have ironic tatts and beards, and yes, B orders something with avocado that’s not guacamole, but the food is actually really good. In my opinion the scrambled eggs in smoked salmon on a Danish bun is the pick of the menu.

Fortunately the hotel in Launceston found Alex’s toy, but we had promised him a trip to the Hobart Teddy Bear Shop, a place holding memories for B and I. After some agonising decision making he finally selects “Pinchy”.

After three days of long travel we decide on a shorter journey, just down to the historic town of Richmond. The route there passes through the Coal Valley region of vinyards. Not being wine drinkers, these don’t interest us, but then we spot Coal Valley Farm which offers cheese, chocolates and fruit picking. Pulling over, we get a big paper bag for the fruit and a small bag of hay to feed the goats.

The plums are still a bit green, the berries and cherries past season, but the peaches and apricots are ripe for picking. We taste a couple and they are so tasty compared to the Sydney supermarket fare.

A little further up the road we had passed the Mount Pleasant Radio Astronomy Observatory and Grote Reber museum, operated by the University of Tasmania. Having studied astronomy and worked for our radio astronomy division I want to take a look, so we head down the gravel road. Unfortunately, it’s only at the end that the sign says “By appointment only”. Maybe next time.

Richmond was full of tourists exploring the historic town. There are many craft stores and eateries. We were still full from breakfast, but it was hot enough to enjoy smooth ice cream and crisp gelato from the Coal Valley Creamery.

Tasmania was first colonised by Europeans as a penal colony, and the town bears the fruits of their labour. Richmond bridge is the oldest continuously used bridge in Australia, the stone structure dating back to 1825. In the parklands surrounding the bridge were pepper trees, their scent bringing back memories of travel in the Australian interior.

After lunch (and more importantly cold drinks) at the bakery we then visit another building even more connected with Tasmania’s convict history, the Richmond Gaol.

Governor George Arthur ran a very strict and harsh penal colony, attempting to closely control the lives of those convicts shipped to his territory and persecuting the native Aboriginals. For those convicts that transgressed, prison punishment was similarly harsh.

The gaol, which dates back to 1826, has many displays and explanations of the life of its inmates. We walk inside a solitary cell and close the door into blackness, strap on leg irons chained to the wall, stand against a tripod and imagine being flogged and read of imprisoned ladies who had lost their children.

We actually  spend quite a long time exploring the small gaol, Alex showing a lot of interest in history. It is four pm when we return to the car for the drive back.

We make it just in time to the Wicked Cheese Factory store a couple of kilometres outside Richmond, adding to our collection of local produce.

As we reach the Tasman Bridge into central Hobart we spot Mount Wellington still shrouded with cloud, scotching that idea for an activity. So we give up and return to the hotel to drop off the day’s food purchases.

On previous trips together B and I have dined at the Drunken Admiral Restaurant by the docks. Though I’m sure there’s better food to be had in Hobart we think that Alex will appreciate its quirky nautical interior. When I call to make a booking the only slot before 8.30pm is in a few minutes time, so it’s out again and across the docks.

We are taken to a small booth made up to look like the interior of the bow of a sailship. It doesn’t take much imagination to feel us rocking up and down.

Alex and I order salmon dishes, B a selection of seafood. It’s so nice to eat something seafood other than fried fish and chips. It might not be cheap but it’s good.

Walking back to Salamanca Square we buy more at Tasmanian Fresh. Some of this fruit will have to return to Sydney with us.

I’d be quite happy to hang around here for a couple of weeks, especially with the ability to cook in this apartment and have work within walking distance. Sadly, tomorrow we will be off to Launceston for our final night.