If you've ever been to Tasmania, perhaps you've been to Bruny Island, or heard of it. For me it had always been the location of school camps, waiting on a dark beach for the penguins to emerge from the ocean, long walks on the beaches and cliff faces. You need to take a ferry from the "mainland" of Tasmania to get there. It sometimes feels like the Antipodes of the Antipodes. But, overwhelmingly, it is a peaceful, serene paradise that seems to sum up the phrase "get away from it all".
One of my dearest friends, Anne (who long time blog readers might remember!) has a shack there and so when Tom and I were offered the chance to have a night there with her, we jumped at the chance! I really wanted to show Tom some more of Tassie while we were there - we had done the East Coast beaches last time and so I thought going south was a good plan this time around!
We headed over on the ferry, which was great fun - and I ran into someone I used to work with about ten years ago on there (only in Tassie!) - and then we gang-planked and headed to the north of the island. Bruny is a really interesting place, it has a distinct north and south island and the two are joined together by a narrow stretch of beach and road called "The Neck", or the isthmus. I had never really seen much of the south island, but history buff Tom was keen to see Adventure Bay, so after depositing our bags at the shack, we headed off on a whirlwind tour of Bruny Island! Which included:
A trip to the Bruny Island Cheese Company! Heaven! We were most amused that there was a cheese called Tom :)
The cheese company was a lovely place to visit: not only was there a lot of cheese on offer to buy and sample, but you could see the cheese being made, the storage facilities, and there was also a cafe and general store where you could buy all sorts of yummy gourmet stuff. A must visit for any foodie!
Then we headed down to the isthmus, which was quite stunning (but windy!). The freshness of the air was incredible:
Then we crossed the isthmus into South Bruny, where we headed down to Adventure Bay. Tom really wanted to see it as it's where the ship HMS Bounty stopped on the way to Tahiti, just before the mutiny! We had a picnic on the beach, just before the rains came:
We drove back up to the North Island stopping at a few other beaches on the way:
And Anne and I delighted in spotting some wildlife and pointing it out to Tom - we saw echidnas and a bandicoot! I actually thought it looked more like a bilby, but you don't get those in Tassie ;)
We then settled in to the shack for some fine wine and dining! I was in charge of dinner and made a delicious pasta, featuring the Tom cheese we'd bought from the cheese company:
"Bruny" pasta - or zucchini, chilli and kale pasta
1 shallot or small onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 large red chilli, finely diced
2 large zucchini (courgette), sliced into ribbons with a vegetable peeler
6-8 large leaves of kale, stalks removed and shredded
1/2 glass white wine (optional)
250g dried linguine or fettucine (or any long pasta)
Salt and pepper
A few handfuls of finely grated gourmet cheese
Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions.
While it's cooking, heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat (I was using a combustion stove and didn't have much control over the heat!) and add the shallot/onion, garlic and chilli. Saute until soft. Add the zucchini and kale, saute until soft and cooked through. Add the white wine. Take off the heat.
Drain the pasta, reserving a little of the cooking water. Toss with the zucchini and chilli mixture, with a little of the cooking water if it needs lubrication. Taste for seasoning, stir through some of the cheese, and then serve with a little more cheese sprinkled over.
Scrumptious! I originally thought we would get the One Day Old cheese, which is a fresh soft cheese, for this dish, but Tom was all they had, so Tom was what we got ;) And you don't end up needing as much pasta because the zucchini/courgette strips become a bit like noodles, so it's actually a very light dish.
We washed it down with a superb Tassie cab sav:
There might have been dessert:
You've got to enjoy yourself on holiday, right? ;)
We stayed up long into the night chatting, drinking and playing LPs on the old stereo, which was great fun! The next morning we had a light breakfast and then Tom and I went for a long walk on the beach:
Then it was time to head off to the ferry! Our 24 hours in Bruny was up!
Isn't it funny how something can be on your doorstep for years and years, and it takes you moving to the other side of the world to appreciate how special it is? Many things on our Oz trip fell into that category for me. I felt very reconnected to the places and people this time, unlike previous trips which had been very brief and where perhaps, looking back, I hadn't been ready to return. I savoured every moment that I had my friends and family in front of me rather than seeing them as blurry faces on Skype; every gust of fresher-than-fresh air; every hour in the sun (when I remembered to put on sunscreen!); every chance to make a new memory rather than keep older redundant ones alive.
To be honest, I still don't know exactly what "home" is for me - people often ask me do I feel English or do I feel Australian, and the answer is neither, most of the time - but on this trip, Australia felt more like home to me than it has for a very long time. It was wonderful, and it was hard to leave.
To be continued..............