The story behind this particular excursion had been my persistent hankering to drive to Birchs Bay.
At Birchs Bay there is a property called the Art Farm which has an annual sculpture trail, as well as permanent sculptures on display.
There is also a little restaurant, so a decent coffee and cake is not completely out of the question. The restaurant used to be Fleurtys, named after a transported convict, Charles Fleurty, a sawyer who lived in the area during the 1820's and 30's and made a bit of a name for himself due to the number of petty offences he got himself involved with.
The place is now renamed Pepperberries Garden Cafe due to the native pepper that is produced there under the name of Diemen Pepper. This is definitely one of my favourite local spices...not only for it's aromatic qualities but also visual...it turns pickled garlic the most fetching shade of pink!
All this waffle is extraneous and irrelevant however, as we did not go in that direction after all...I just happened to Google them up en route as Tim had queried the end address directions with me and it is many years since I drove that way myself...On checking the website I found out that the sculpture trail for 2017 had finished just a day or two previously, probably with the end of the school hols...hohum...now I need to wait for another year!
It was a shame really, because this area is a fabulous foodie destination, with the Woodbridge Smokehouse, the fabulous Miellerie Honey House and Peppermint Bay Bistro just north at Woodbridge and Grandvewe Cheeses and vineyard amongst other delights around Birchs Bay. Other vineyards are dotted about all over this region, along with roadside honesty outlets for flowers fruits and vegetables...so there should be no reason to be either bored or hungry while visiting in the area.
Both these destinations are in the same general direction from our place until one reaches Kingston, south of Hobart. To get to Woodbridge and Birchs Bay one needs to head south at Kingston, following the d'Entrecasteaux Channel and to reach the Huon you drive west across the southern foothills of Mount Wellington. These roads actually connect making a circular loop through some lovely and varied country areas, but it is a full days trip to explore everything, overnight stays if you want to explore restaurants, vineyards, crafty outlets and villages on the way. But stop... you probably now know a lot more about the geography of Southern Tasmania than you probably ever thought you needed to know ;)
So, after all, it was to Huonville we went, stopping off at Lucaston to pick up our favourite apple juice from the wonky old roadside refrigerated honesty stall, then driving on through Huonville village, over the Huon River and south as far as Frankin so as to visit the two best apple and pear roadside outlets on the way.
However, on to this weeks inchie...a photograph this time...
When I lived in Sydney I was a bit amazed to hear about a train called The Elvis Express, which leaves from Central Station and travels to Parkes in rural NSW, west of Sydney, at the start of the Elvis Festival in Parkes, which is an annual event. In fact, the 2018 event, to be held between 10th - 14th January next year, is the fiftieth anniversary of the event..golly gosh...can you believe it.
If you are an Elvis fan you had better start planning...the whole town and express tickets sell out early...I certainly have never attended, did not even get to Parkes although I was working in nearby Orange for a period, but I did see a little of the many Elvises of all sizes and orientation crowding into the station a few years back during my time in Sydney. That's when I did some research to find out what it was about. Lots of fun, apparently, for the whole family...but I will take that on trust!
Parkes is also home to the CSIRO's radio telescope which featured in "The Dish", a film which was very popular here in Australia which was based (comically and rather vaguely) on the Apollo 11 moon landing of 1969...I rather doubt if the Australian humour was too much appreciated in America, but it was funny here at the time. It was directed and co-written by Rod Sitch so was garanteed to be humorous and politically satirical and had the wonderful Sam Neil amongst the cast.
Anyway...cutting the story as short as I can seemingly manage and focussing our minds back to the inchie, a section of Taronga Zoo, The Taronga Western Plains Zoo, is based at Dubbo, just a hundred kilometers North of Parkes where there has been for some time now a successful breeding programme for Black Rhinoceri.
There are horror stories from all the rhinoceros world about the rapidly dwindling numbers of African, Indian, Javan and Sumatran species, where poachers and hunters (and others) continue to ignore protective guidelines for the protection of these large animals, leaving them among the most endangered species on earth.
There are animal related tourism inspired statues etc. used through out Dubbo and Parkes, including those of the rhinoceros so I image that it was a mere whimsical and pretty short paradigm shift, in someone's mind, to link Elvis with this animal. The result is a decorated white rhino with a huge black quiff, gold goggles, a wide, intricately buckled belt and studded bits and bobs...quirky, no?