Valentine's Day is just around the corner, and while I have more reason to celebrate February 14th than most (it also happens to be my birthday), I’m not going to write about the most romantic place to take your significant other or anything like that. But I am going to write about love.
They say that love is a many splendored thing, and for me that means it can also come in different types, like my love for my family. As the only one of the family living in the Philippines (everyone else lives in Australia), I usually only get to see my family once or, occasionally, twice a year. However, those times are always well spent and, at least on my part, highly treasured.
Now, we’re pretty close knit, and my brother Steeve and I both dearly love our mum, so I suggested that we take a vacation with her for her 70th birthday, just the three of us. No friends or significant others or anything like that, so we could all just spend a few days bonding. Admittedly, it took a while for us to actually organize this (over a year and a half), but we finally decided on dates and a destination. Mum wanted us to visit Hobart in Australia together, the city of our childhood, and since Steeve and I hadn’t been back since (we were seven and nine, respectively) we thought it was a great idea.
We took a Qantas flight from Sydney down to Hobart (can I just rave about the food on the flight by the way? The chicken and mushroom pie was awesome!), picked up our rental car and headed to our old neighborhood, Kingston Beach.
Enjoying a day at the “Taste of Tasmania” food and wine fair.
After checking in to a great Airbnb down the road from our old house, we decided to head back in to town to check out the “Taste of Tasmania” food festival. This is an annual festival where the best food from around the state is on offer. Everything from fruits, meats, seafood, wine, beer and ice cream were a literal feast for the eyes, and the taste of each and every one of them certainly lived up to their appearance.
Hands down the most delicious berries and cream I’ve ever tasted.
My personal favorite was the berries and whipped cream. I’ve always been a berry fan, and these were just bursting with so much organic flavor that it reminded me what strawberries and raspberries should taste like. I’ve been so conditioned to the slightly tart and sour taste of the berries I get in supermarkets, that I’d forgotten how sweet and luscious they can be when grown in the right environment. When topped off with the thickest and creamiest whipped cream around, it was absolutely heavenly. There really is a massive difference when the cream comes from proper, healthy grass-fed cows. The pastures in Tasmania are much more lush than the mainland, and so the dairy and meat is exponentially better. And speaking of meat, wow! Think you’ve eaten excellent Aussie lamb roast? Wait till you taste the ones from Tassie. The slow cooked lamb shoulder with mint jelly had me salivating for more. Added to all of this scrumptious food was an awesome and quirky ambiance, from the different bands playing on three stages, to the décor of grass-lined chairs and bench tops artfully decorated with live herbs and mushrooms as centerpieces. All in all, it was such a good time that we came back the next day for seconds.
I love a living centerpiece display
On day two, we spent an idyllic time wandering around the old haunts of our childhood. From the primary and grade school we attended, to the football field and nearby trees down the street where we used to hide when mum was calling us for dinner. Then there’s Kingston beach itself where we used to swim and play in the sand, or pick mussels from the rocks to smoke on the BBQ when we got home. The whole area looked remarkably the same after all of these years. There were literally almost no cars on the road, so we couldn’t help but laugh when our Airbnb host stated that things were so “hectic” in the area now with the traffic, etc. And as if, on cue, a toddler rode past us on her tricycle, the only vehicle on the road. I guess that’s the traffic they were referring to…
Mum and I enjoying a sunset on Kingston beach.
In front of our old house on 9 Ewing Ave. It’s had a lot of improvements since mum owned it,
including the addition of a second floor.
Apparently part of reminiscing about our childhood includes the times my brother would bully me…
We also had a chance to catch up with some old neighbors who used to babysit us, Aunty Anne and Uncle Okey. It was so great to see them after all of these years, and they were just as wonderful, warm and friendly as I remembered. They walked us around the neighborhood and filled us in on what happened to all the other people we remembered and where they are now. So strange seeing people from so far back in your past and catching up on decades of each others lives, but also so natural to fall back into the comfort of friendship.
With Mum and Aunty Anne at the beach.
Since we were in the spirit of reminiscing, we also decided to drive up to the top of mount Wellington (otherwise known by its aboriginal name, Kunanyi). A very windy but picturesque road leads to the very top at 1,271meters above sea level. The views over Hobart were spectacular, but if you plan to come up here, make sure you’re dressed for the cold! It was about 10 degrees Celsius, but also had a wind chill that made it feel considerably colder, and this was summer! I vaguely remember coming here as a small child during winter and experiencing snow for the very first time.
Enjoying the view and chilly weather on top of Mount Wellington.
Driving back down, the cold had made us work up quite an appetite, so we opted for another day at the food festival and then a nice walk around town. Mum decided to have an afternoon nap, so Steeve and I left her on one of the free bean bags in the park and we explored the small but tidy city center on our own for a while.
Coffee with two of mums best friends, the Clarks.
Mum chilling on one of the complimentary beanbags in the park.
Having explored the city and our old neighborhood, we decided it was time to head further afield to relive some more old memories. As kids, mum used to take us to her friends farm, about 3 hours outside of Hobart. We always enjoyed going there and helping with baling hay, or playing in the woolshed and eating freshly baked bread and roast lamb, or milk still warm from the cows udders. As city kids, life on the farm was a great excuse to get dirty and imagine what it was like living in an Aussie version of the old west.
The apricots from this orchard were so sweet
I couldn’t wait for them to fall off the tree.
The old sandstone post office in the historic town of Ross. Strangely enough,
this town boasts the oldest bridge in Tasmania.
After making a couple of pitstops to pick up some apricots (again, the sweetest I’ve ever tasted anywhere) and check out the historical town of Ross, we drove through some amazing countryside vistas to get to the farm. After all of these years, little had changed. Except maybe the sign that said “Keep Out, Illegal Use of Crops Has Caused Deaths”. The reason for this was that our friends had been contracted by a pharmaceutical company to grow poppies (used to manufacture morphine, a powerful medical painkiller and sedative), as well as sheep. I guess they just had to be careful not to let the sheep into the poppy fields…
Such a beautiful drive out to the farm.
A sea of dried poppy bulbs awaiting harvesting.
It was great catching up with Aunty Brenda, Uncle David and their son John who now runs the farm. Uncle David is in his 80’s but is still very spry and continues to help around the farm, fixing fences, digging ditches, mustering sheep etc. It seems like an active life outdoors is one of the secrets to staying healthy into your old age (something we city folk should keep in mind). John kept the farm running very efficiently with some of the bigger logistics like watering all the crops being automated, which gave him some time to take us up to the new dam that he and uncle David built as well as the old woolshed, where they shear hundreds of Merino sheep a day during the season.
With Aunty Brenda, Uncle David, Mum and John at the Dam they built.
We learned so much about how the wool is shorn, graded, baled and sold to produce some of the finest and warmest garments in the world. Fascinating stuff. And to top it all off, we got our taste of yesteryear as they served us some roast wild venison, freshly baked bread and my favorite again, a huge bowl of berries, freshly picked from the garden. Yum!
I wonder how much this prime “Kuya” breed of Merino wool would sell for…?
The drive back to Hobart gave us a beautiful view of the sunset, as well as the occasional wallaby or kangaroo skipping across the road. A truly idyllic ending to a thoroughly enjoyable trip with my mum and brother. So, if you’re single this Valentines day, don’t stress out about it. Your mum would appreciate that card, those flowers, or even just an “I love you” phone call as much as a partner would. Just remember that there are always permanent loves in your life on Hearts day… Family.
*side note: I’d just like to thank QANTAS for the incredible service, food and ease of booking for not only our Tasmanian adventure but also my direct flight from Manila. As the national carrier, they’re the perfect choice to fly from Manila to anywhere in Australia in comfort.
*second side note: Seriously though, that food on Qantas was just awesome. An unbiased double thumbs up.
*thank you also to my sponsors:
@aigleph for my outdoorwear and
@powermaccenter for my iPhoneX which took most of these photos.