We agreed that if we spent Christmas in Tassie this year we wouldn't do gifts at all. No tree, no bonbons, no gifts, no pre-cooking. A low-key Christmas without all the material hoo-hah and none of the pressure.
Steely resolution turned to marshmallow once we arrived. A tinge of sadness. No pressies???
A brainwave - a secret Santa draw, with the gifts being only objects found or made by the giver at Opossum Bay. Whispering, hiding and laughing.
And the Christmas tree? Happily, the owners of the house Frances and Henry had one they prepared earlier. -:)
The children and Philippe went kayaking, right across the bay. The rest of us lazed around contemplating the activity, walking in the garden and around the headland, reading, watching the cricket, shopping at the local Gourmet Grocer and Hill Street Grocer at Lauderdale, challenging each other to a game of pool. Quite the most relaxed Christmas.
Even the seagulls on the beach were just quietly gliding...
I've been trying to work out the puzzle of the mown areas on the headland.
Or what's over the other side of the hill...
Staring at clouds, or the helicopters which keep flying over.
There's no getting away from it though. Christmas is all about food, isn't it? These potatoes were for Christmas eve lunch, with pulled lamb and a Greek salad...
We ate Christmas lunch outside on the lawn under the umbrella. Ice cold oysters natural with lemon and fresh bread, local prawns, the best Ange seafood sauce, salad of spinach, tomato, asparagus, crisped proscuitto and sliced potato with a creamy parmesan dressing. Not too much. Not too little. Perfect.
Ange made individual pavlovas. Agrarian Kitchen eat your heart out. Chewy on inside, crunchy on outside.
I was going to make custard with the egg yolks, but suddenly sponge cake seemed a better option. Except we ate so much of the batter that there was only enough left for two patty cakes....
Individual orders were taken for pav filling.... no request was too absurd.
Click on the first photo and it will bring up a slide show of the different gifts and a description: imaginative, fun and so refreshing not to feel totally overindulged.
Tassie's blue skies and warmth at lunchtime had turned chilly and overcast by 6pm, but the light!
photo courtesy Pennicott Cruises
Originally I thought we might skip Bruny Island on this trip. Nooooooo came the chorus from Instagram. You must go to Bruny! And no trip to Bruny would be complete without a Pennicott cruise. Booked ✔️.
Robert Pennicott has done a remarkable job in 19 years to position his family company at the forefront of tour organisations in Tassie. They've won many awards for excellence and are active in supporting environmental protection and social causes.
We set our alarms for 5.15am but managed to stop to photograph this field on our way. Lavender perfume filled the air.
Michaelmas daisies naturalised across the way.
We were catching the ferry to Bruny leaving at 7.30am from Kettering, a pretty little fishing village. It was 7.26am and John was saying 'hurry up'....
We went across on a two decker ferry - the top deck eerily empty.
Looking back at Kettering in the morning light.
There's a neck between the northern part of Bruny and the south. This stairway was completed a couple of months ago. What beautiful workmanship!
How thin the neck, and how steep the stairs!
The grandma and the grandpa made the top.
The little cemetery we called in on turned out to have an infestation of a very malevolent prickle. When mature, it turns brown and catches any shoe, leg, or hanging scarf and then self-detaches into a thousand individual seeds! Because I was driving, Ange kindly spent the next half hour pulling them out of my scarf....
The cruise leaves from the sleepy little village of Adventure Bay on the east coast handy to the wilds of the island.
There's a very impressive new building with seafood restaurant and huge deck overlooking the ocean.
Suspended inside the circular staircase is a boat-cum-whale - Philippe's clever photo looking up.
The very comfortable boats accommodate 43 passengers, ride waves like a surfboard and turn on a sixpence. Three were departing at once at 11am - a popular cruise! If you're young and fit and adventurous, sit at the front. If you're a bit ricketty, at the back.
We'd been warned to bring warm jackets, beanies, scarves and gloves, and we were given long spray coats to keep us snug and dry. We weren't warned not to bother bringing bags, but if you do, the obliging crew are happy to stow bags in the net up under the roof, but then you can't get at them anyway. During some of the tighter turns, the floor ends up a little wet.
The crew hand out Aussie travel calm pills - 100% ginger. It made me a little nervous. We all took one and thankfully no one was seasick.
The cruise travels south down the wild coastline, dramatic cliffs rising straight out of the sea, stopping here and there for the crew to explain history or geology. Their patter was funny and entertaining.
The odd blow hole.
This bull kelp is used to make iodine.
See the silhouette of Captain Cook up on the cliff? It's amazingly lifelike, but formed naturally...
It's fun to go zooming through gaps in rocks, doing steep turns with flying spray and lots of screaming.
The wildife though was the icing on the cake. Australian fur seals sunbaking on rocks. Lots of them.
When they saw us, a few jumped into the water and cavorted for the cameras, flippers sticking up out of the water at odd angles.
We went right out into the Great Southern Ocean, with nothing between us and Antarctica but lots of water. I was ready to go home, and wondering why we were going out so far. Until the action began - far right.
I should have trusted our guides. Suddenly we came upon a flock of albatross, gannet and short-tailed shearwaters, all feeding on a school of baitfish. A feeding frenzy!
The little black bird on the right is the short-tailed shearwater - they breed in Australian waters during our summer, and then migrate to the Arctic (yes the north pole Arctic!) each year.
A gannet spreads its wings.
Bottle-nosed dolphins seemed to be everywhere, around the boat, surfing the swells joyfully. It was quite a display, of wildlife and of tourists ooo-ing and ah-ing on cue...
Sadly Get Shucked was closed on Boxing Day so oysters were off our menu. We'd planned to visit the lighthouse before lunch, but our stomachs were howling too loudly. Cheese and beer turned out to be a great substitute, with Tom, a hard cow's cheese and day-old (o.d.o) cheese wrapped in proscuitto and heated with crusty artisan bread.
Washed down with stout and Long Paddock beer as well.
We bought a bottle to take home - it's an unusual beer with floral notes.
Loved this lineup of mail boxes.
Specially the Ned Kelly one!
We were weary little cruisers by the time we arrived back at Opossum Bay at about 9pm that night.... and what a welcome home.
I'll tell you about our last couple of days at Saltcotes in another post, along with with Sydney to Hobart finish! Too exciting!
Until then buddies, I wait you,