Monday, April 22, 2019

Dalliance in Dover

Boats in the Harbour, people on the beach

I am talking about Dover, Tasmania, not the one of UK fame, though there is a tenuous link. It is said that the pier of the original Dover was built from Huon Pine exported from here. Our Dover (pop. 862) is a pretty little fishing village about 81 Km south of Hobart.  It is Australia’s most southerly township and about the last place where you can buy supplies before heading to places such as Ida Bay, Hastings Caves or Cockle Creek. 

Begun as a convict station in around 1840- 1844, it became an important timber supplier to the
world until the First World War, though one mill survived until the 1970's. Other mainstays of the region such as orcharding and fishing also had their ups and downs. Serious apple growing went into a decline when the UK joined the European Common Market and Dover’s busy fishing fleet gradually diminished as modern technology increased catches and laid waste to the seemingly endless supplies of scallops, couta and crayfish.

Busy stalls line the foreshore

 Since then, Dover has largely reinvented itself as a tourist and retirement destination, though a small number of fishing boats as clean and sleek as its population of seagulls continues to occupy its picturesque harbour. Quaint cottages dot the hillsides and offer a variety of accommodation and activities. Further along Esperance Bay there are fish farms which have taken up some of the slack left by the traditional fishery.  Adamson’s Peak looking rather like a  movie prop because of its near pyramidal shape, fills in the backdrop in the West.

Seafest revellers

It's definitely a family occasion

Today we are here for Seafest an annual celebration which includes a regatta. The weather is perfect. The co -mingled smells of fish and barbecues fill the air. Though the main focus is on seafood, stalls offer everything from local wines and cider to locally made crafts. Children take to the beach and the bouncy castle, while music is supplied by a couple performing on the flatbed of a truck.  Further along the beach eager supporters urge on competitors in what looks like a three boat race. My friend goes in search of scallops, pride of the region. We share a puffin muffin, which is actually a very well filled and messy cream puff and then we both have some satay sticks because the aroma is too tantalising to resist.

We did - home of the puffin muffin

Thus fortified we do a pleasant walk along the beach and then attempt another at the end of the nearby Narrows Road which unfortunately ends in a heavy duty gate. Still, the drive home through the Huon Valley with its turning leaves and orchards bursting with ripening fruit, more than makes up for it.

Apples ready to harvest
Too perfect - Adamson's peak presides over fishing boats and pleasure craft

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Don’t spoil our Mountain!

There’s another big stoush brewing in Hobart. This time it’s about the proposal to put a cable car up Mt. Wellington. This mountain (1271 m) overlooks most of the city and is its most distinctive landmark -on a par with Tokyo’s Mt. Fuji or Bali’s Gung Agnung.

The main objection by residents is that the proposed route runs directly across its face and across the “The Organ Pipes,” one of its most impressive features, thereby spoiling the view for everyone – tourists and locals alike. I mean would the Japanese tolerate an intrusive manmade structure on Mt. Fuji, despoiling that picture postcard look? I don’t think so. Mt. Rushmore has a chairlift but does it run up the face (s)? No. It provides much enjoyment some two miles away from the historic monument and is no less popular for that. This is our Mt. Rushmore.

Views over South Arm and the South East
One of the things which impressed me in many places in Asia, was that despite cities being very crowded and devoted almost entirely to economic activity with little regard for urban planning or aesthetics, the mountains were largely inviolate with only the occasional ancient temple to interrupt the forest cover. For many people, including our Aboriginal people, mountains have spiritual significance and even people without a shred of spirituality,  still go to the mountain to commune with nature, not concrete and steel. Except for a lady with a pram, I have rarely heard anyone complain about the two minute walk from the Carpark to the summit. One of the major reasons people visit Tasmania -and bring in far more tourist dollars than those which have been promised by the cable car company, is precisely because the ratio of nature to people and built structures currently favours nature.  A cable car up the front of the mountain would immediately challenge that perception.

View over Hobart and the Derwent

Not that I am personally opposed to cable cars as such. I have seen some that fit in rather well -for instance those in Valparaiso, or the one that takes you to the Royal Palace in Budapest. Both of these are relatively urban, blend into their surroundings and do not offend the eye. Those at Mt. Elbrus in Russia, come in both kinds. The upward journey over three cable cars is of the in- your- face kind, but runs over neighbouring foothills, while the downward journey takes you down the back of the mountain, stopping halfway at a service centre with restaurants and souvenir stalls, and then proceeds gently downhill around the the mountain under tree -cover to the bus parking area. I’m sure that if a cable car could be built discreetly and in sympathy with the environment and the sensibilities of other users, both groups could be satisfied.

View to the North East  - of course the mountain is visible from below at all these points too

What is far more offensive in my view, is the way our state government has ridden roughshod over the wishes of its citizens and their local councils and virtually given a private company carte blanche, without allowing for adequate consultation with those who will be most affected. This is after all the  People’s Park. They should not be bullied into accepting major changes to their skyline.

Spectacular as this vew is, no private company should have the right to control the summit, especially not in a public reserve that belongs to all Tasmanians. Nor should it be open to commercial exploitation.

Sunday, April 07, 2019

Greener Buildings, Greener Cities and Vertical Forests

Saw this building - the grey green one, from the train in Sydney but couldn't find anyone who knew
 anything about it

For about a year now, I have been wondering about a green fringed building I glimpsed from the train window on the way back from Canberra last year. It turns out that it is Number 1 Central Park built by French design group Ateliers Jean Nouvel and Sydney Architects PTW and which was voted best tallest building in the world (beating 87 other competitors) by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat at Chicago’s Illionois Institute of Technology for its “visible use of green design.” 

(1)Central building Broadway Sydney-1
Here's a better image by Sardaka (talk) 08:28, 8 July 2014 (UTC) [CC BY 3.0 (] 

The building which consists of 623 apartments is more than a pretty face.  As well as the 35,200 plants in its hanging gardens, it has a grey water plant which keeps the building green and is expected to save the city one million litres of drinking water a day. Its tri –generation plant will save 136,000 tons of greenhouses gases from entering the atmosphere over 25 years, as well as minimising noise, heat and pollution. It also features a heliostat which bounces natural light into retail areas and public spaces during the day and features an LED light display at night.

Hanging gardens of One Central Park, Sydney 
Showing off the Heliostat
Image by bobarc [CC BY 2.0 (]

It’s a trend which is rapidly gaining acceptance in many parts of the world. Largely propagated by Milanese Architect Stefano Boeri, green buildings and vertical forests are sprouting from Mexico to Albania and from Cairo to Jakarta. China which never does things by halves, has recently commissioned him to build a whole town. The Liuzou Forest City which will be home to 30,000 people, will have 40,000 trees and over one million plants. Together they will sequester 10,000 tons of CO2 and remove 57 tons of pollutants per year, as well as contributing 900 tons of oxygen. 

 According to Stefan Boeri cities could contain as much biomass as rainforest and vertical forests such as those below have the potential to reduce urban heat island effects outside by as much as 30%  and inside by around 3% thereby also reducing energy costs required for cooling. They also encourage biodiversity and provide a better quality of life in urban areas while taking up less space on the ground. These are just a few of the benefits associated with greening our cities. See some examples of his work below and his manifesto. For more on both see his website.

It would be lovely if we could all live in tree houses, though given my failure rate with potplants, I should probably decline unless they are self watering.

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

St. Andrew's Park and other former cemeteries

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This is in an interesting part of Hobart where the sacred and profane jostle for attention. Breweries and industrial premises make up one part, church buildings the other.

A serendipitous encounter - A Brewer's Tale

View from St. Andrew's Park

Yes I know it’s April Fool’s Day – did you get pranked? This is not a prank, just a bit of fun. I was having a pleasant stroll through St. Andrew's Park near the old Scots Church when I glimpsed another large tower in the Lane below. This is an interesting area where the sacred and the profane rub shoulders. Always intrigued by our industrial history, I zoomed in and was surprised to find barrels in one of the upper windows. Closer inspection revealed it to be the home of Captain Bligh's Brewery, another of our fine craft breweries* which are rapidly gaining as much attention as Tasmanian cheeses and wine. 

Close up - a motor mechanic has the premises below

A small sign said the brewery was only open on the Third Friday of the month, but when I tapped gingerly on the door, gentleman brewer Steve Brooks interrupted his work loading aromatic malt into a vat and agreed to tell me a bit about the building.  Here’s as much as I can remember…. Where's a pen and paper when you need one? I'll blame it on the fumes.

Decor is Man Cave meets Boy's Own - comfortable couches, beer barrels with cushions, snippets of history on the walls

The building itself dates back to the 1830’s when it housed The Tasmanian Brewing Company.  Alas, the original owner, a gentleman by the name of Punchon, ended up in New Norfolk, where he loved to entertain the visitors who came to the asylum specifically to view the antics of the insane.  Next it became the James Pale Ale Brewery, but Cascade Brewery, determined to gain a monopoly, bought the building along with many of Hobart’s pubs and quietly let it die. 
George Adams of Tattersalls fame, bought or built the large building which fronts Warwick Street and runs all the way down to Elizabeth Street where it met the Lord Raglan Hotel.  When George Adams died, his brewing equipment was dragged out onto the street and physically broken up.  This may have coincided with the Temperance Union's efforts to stamp out the Demon Drink.

The view from Warwick  and Elizabeth Street  - the brewery which once belonged to George Adams may reopen again as a Distillery
Gleaming vats are named after close friends or characters in Karen's books (see below)
Some time later, a co –operative of brewers began operating out of the lower building, yet in 1930, it was severely sabotaged with soap being poured into the vats. The Cascade Brewery was once again thought to be behind it, but no charges were ever laid. This time the brewery did not recover. Furniture company, Coogans occupied the site for a time and it was then reincarnated as an antique  store. After being sold again recently, it looks like becoming another distillery, but Steve isn’t fazed. “The more the merrier, “he says with a twinkle in his eye. George Adams would be pleased.

Coming soon - a wee dram of whisky, rum and gin

Steve’s been here for five years now. While he specialises in colonial ales, light beer and heritage cider, he has also started making whisky, rum and his own particular version of gin and tonic. I am not a beer drinker, so I can't speak for the quality, but the gin has already won a silver medal. After coming to Tasmania to take care of a sick friend, he and wife Karen couldn’t bring themselves to go back to the rat race. Karen has just published her twelfth book, "The Chocolate Maker's Daughter." The previous one is fittingly entitled “The Brewer’s Tale.” 

If you want to see inside the brewery and have a jolly good time – there are usually musicians and a food wagon outside, then call in between 4 and 10 pm on the third Friday of the month – the next one will be on April 19.
A fitting title

*Tasmania has twenty plus small craft breweries, eight of them in Launceston, eleven around Hobart, one each in St. Mary's and Railton and one on Bruny Island. Check them out on the Tassie Beer Trail  map or if you can't wait till the Third Friday of the Month, you can taste their products here. Many of them, including Captain Bligh, will be represented at the Fresh Hop Festival in Launceston later this month (April 26-28th). Click here for details.