Tasmania here we come
Well, after a small holiday from our holiday (Austria too see Clara’s lovely family over December and January) and some running repairs at Boobook (namely new wheels and tyres, some suspension work and a revamp of the upstairs awning), BluePrint adventures is back at it and checking out all the awesomeness down in Tassie. Only a week and a half into it, and already Clara and I are feeling like this is the place we want to be, and 10 weeks and counting until we are back on the boat just isn’t going to be enough.
We opted to take a night sailing on the Spirit of Tasmania, as to avoid loosing a day in transit, and actually had a pretty comfortable night in the recliner lounge. Tassie has pretty strict quarantine regulations, and we sure gave the security guys a run for their money. Fermented food’s, various fuel cans, fishing gear, boxes and bags of un-labled herbs, wetsuits, firewood, the boat, axes and machetes…. pretty much everything they enquired about we answered yes to, they had to call over customs, and we had to dig it out to show them.
First stop after departure was to restock on fresh fruit veggies, as we couldn’t bring any from the mainland, and luckily there was a Saturday framers market in Burnie, only 45 minutes from Davenport. As the boat got in at 6.30am we were in a pretty good position to have the best of the produce on offer. Spray free sweet corn and potatoes, organic beans, kale, pumpkin, cucumber, zucchini, cabbage, and spring onions, happy small scale eggs, and some of the best pesticide free apples we have ever eaten, grown buy a guy that is a self confessed apple collector, and grows over 160 varieties.
From there we made our way along the north west coast to the first of what will be many, secluded, free beach camps, setting up for 4 days while we swam, spear fished, and relaxed, trying out our newly built camp oven smoking set-up.
A rainy day saw us heading back into Burnie, shopping around for a few essential items like a filleting knife, a chainsaw file, and more delicious local cream cheese. A rainy day was also a great opportunity to park up in front of the public library and hit up their free WiFi.
Lake Kara was our next gorgeous camp spot, and we managed to pull Bluey up right to the waters edge, in one of the most serene locations yet. A couple of local guys came down fishing one afternoon, and after enquiring as to our luck (none) gave us 3 small rainbow trout. Out came the smoker again, and for the next few days we gorged on an amazing smoked trout, cream cheese and fermented garlic dip.
Rolling round to Sunday again, our veg supply was looking a little thin, so as is our little routine, we sought out a local farmers market to buy fresh, good value, low milage, spray free, great quality food. As we pulled up to the Ulverstone market, nice and early about 8am, we were a little disappointed with the number of growers there, only 2. We soon found out though, if theres a grower like Old School Farm, you could halve that number and we would still happily walk away fully stocked.
So far our week had been filled with beautiful camps, amazing food and interactions with lovely genuine people. As we were so impressed with the produce and presentation of the Old School Farm stall, we waved the gopro over the table, introduced ourselves, and explained that we were travelling the country on waste veggie oil and filming a documentary on sustainable living. Almost immediately, Kaori asked if we were free that evening, invited us to a BBQ, and asked if we wouldn’t mind giving a tour of the truck and an explanation of the waste veggie oil system to herself, the farm owners, and interns, a great group of like minded people who would be really interested in hearing of our efforts.
While we waited for the afternoon to roll around, we explored some of the north west coast around the town of Penguin, unpacked and sorted our big box of food, attempted some spear fishing in very low visibility, and had a great run in with Yannis, a fellow traveller and professional dumpster diver and recycler. Yannis has a sweet old van that he has decked out with 100% reclaimed materials. The bed base and bench he made from old apple crates, the sink is from a tip shop, the tool box and all its useful contents was found in various hard rubbish piles. Even his fishing rod was scored in a dumpster behind a major chain retailer. Yannis has a great attitude towards recycling and giving new life to unused items. He even shared with us his pride possession, a Moroccan 3 stringed instrument he had made from decking timber, a cricket wicket, and the skin and guts of a Kangaroo he had sadly hit with his van. It is a beautiful unique instrument, that sounded great when played in his Moroccan style, with deep warm tones, somewhere between a bass guitar and a cigar box slide. What we were really amazed to hear about, was that Yannis has been successfully dumpster diving for all of his food, and living like a king, only spending money on tobacco, coffee, and the occasional beer. For some years before hitting the road, Clara and I had our food usage up to about 80% perfectly good waste, but have had trouble replicating it on our journey. For our style of travel, fresh is not only best, it is necessary.
A half hour veggie oil powered trip to the small district of Preston (everything is close in Tassie) saw us meeting with the Old School farmers, and I was a bit more surprised than I should have been to discover the farm house is actually the old Preston primary school building. The unconventional layout of the building works perfectly for the unconventional family of Dave and Felicity, their 2 boys, Kaori the full time farm hand, and 8 interns (currently comprising of 4 couples, coming from Belgium, Taiwan, Canada and Japan) who in exchange for their labour, are receiving food, board, and most importantly, knowledge and skills needed to pursue a future in working the land.
Before the BBQ of delicious veg, salad and lamb chops (acquired from a neighbouring farm on a trade basis) we were shown down an overgrown path to a beautiful secluded waterfall. Even while suffering the harshest drought in a long time, Tassie is still lush, green and full of life.
The following day, after hiding from the rain again, and taking a beautiful walk to the Levin Gorge, a truly impressive sight, we returned to Old School Farm, where Dave took me and Clara out hunting for Pademelon, a small wallaby that is in plague proportions over here. Vast numbers, enough delicoius meat for 4 good meals, and a relatively unshy nature, make Pademelon a great game animal. Now that we have been shown how to skin and dressed them properly, we are really look forward to having more in our diet. We made an incredible stew from the upper half, and boned and cubed the ample tender meat from the thighs, then, over the open fire of Burnie, cooked up the best skewers we have ever eaten. Natural, sustainable, delicious and free, I can definitely see Pademelon becoming a new favourite.
That leaves us camped up on the banks of the Levin river, in an amazing site we were informed of by Kaori, a piece of private property that has been opened up by the owner for camping. A small handwritten sign at the entrance states ‘Free camping, take all rubbish with you, no hooning, see Tony at Levin Glen’. We had a feeling Levin Glen was a property close by, and because some people are ass-holes who throw their rubbish in the bush, we rounded up 3 bags of bottles, cans and plastic, and wandered over the road to see Tony, to offer him the 3 bags of rubbish in exchange for a few nights camping. Tony is an absolute legend, was happy to take the rubbish off our hands, freeing up our rubbish bag for more, and later on that evening wandered over to offer us some witchity grubs for bait, and a bit of home-grown, saying ‘Welcome to Tassie’