Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Nostalgic visit to the Huon Valley

Left, bins of golden delicious apples waiting to be picked up

Frankcomb's hop kiln - an oast house

Narryna, in Battery Point, Hobart

I wanted to show Max the Huon Valley, where I lived (again in another life) for about 6 years. My first husband and I, together with a friend and our two children, had decided it was the alternate life for us - this was back in the 1970s, when flower power was all the go - not that we were tree hugging hippies I hasten to add (altho I did my share of tree hugging), but we wanted that simple life, free of the rat race hassles that so many yearn for still. So we bought 113 acres of almost virgin bush in the backblocks of the Huon Valley, at Lucaston. It had a one room cabin, no electricity, running water which consisted of a creek dammed high above the hut and a polythene pipe which ran down beside the creek. Not Max's idea of heaven, I can tell you! After a couple of years my ex & I left Misty Mountain (as we had named it) and bought 4 acres and a small house in Ranelagh, much closer to civilisation, and it was from there that we went to Zeehan.

So I had lots to show Max, but first I wanted to visit Narryna, an old colonial home built in 1836 and housing a wonderful collection of 19th century artefacts. Included in its collection are articles which belonged to my 3rd great grandfather, William Hartley Wilson and his wife Margaret, who arrived in Hobart Town in 1820 - if you are interested, check out our family history website http://www.bonniewilliam.tps1.com.au/ . Sadly, I had neglected to advise the management of Narryna that we would be visiting, and were unable to view the articles, but were assured if we give them notice, they will retrieve the articles from storage and that we should regard them as 'helping us look after our heritage' - isn't that nice?

From Battery Point we headed out along the Southern Outlet to Huonville - my how the road has improved since my time! We were there in no time at all, and lunched with friends Ray and Nancy again, this time at their lovely home.

After lunch Max was taken on a tour of inspection, up the North Huon Road to see the little house I lived in, which to my surprise is undergoing some major renovations! And very attractive it is too, what was once just a couple of houses has mushroomed into quite a little settlement, with land being developed on the other side of the road - what we called the turnip paddock! Then it was out along Baker's Creek Road to the very end, and up the hill as far as what we used to call the chimney paddock - because of the chimney left standing after a house had burned to the ground there, probably during the 1967 bushfires. Now a very upmarket home stands there, amid lovely green lawns - electricity which we had connected during our stay there has meant a lot of development that otherwise would probably not have happened.

Wending our way home through the orchards, we stopped and I took a photo of several bins of golden delicious apples - a nostalgic photo, as I spent many an hour among the apple trees picking, and later on packing the apples. Picking has just begun, so it will be full on in the orchards for the next few weeks. Sadly, there are not many orchards left in the Huon - once it was almost wall to wall orchards, now, just a few isolated diehards. Many paddocks with huge piles of grubbed out apple trees bear mute testimony to the death of the apple industry.

Hops used to grow prolifically too - I saw that Frankcomb's hopfield is now no more, but the old hop kiln still stands opposite St James's Church at Ranelagh, where I attended regularly during my Christian Era.

Max's opinion: Very nice, but he wouldn't want to live there! Well, it was once upon a time .....

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