Arts, Crafts, and Ukulele

Like other islands, the coastline in Tasmania inspires many visual artists and we have admired the work of many and met two. Ornella Imber ( paints Klimt-inspired ocean creatures and detritus and alluring red-haired women. Ornella’s husband Kim is a math teacher, surfer, song-writer, guitar player and we had a lovely lunch listening to him playing at Devil’s Corner winery one Sunday afternoon. Rachelle and I joined a group art lesson from a Kerry Agius (, who recently returned to St Helen’s after living in Queensland for several years.

I’ve been delving into Australian fiction, catching up on the more recent work of favourite authors such as Helen Garner and reading ones new to me such as Charlotte Wood and Richard Crewe. I’ve also been reading some non-fiction, including David Hill’s The First Fleet. Too tragic to read more than a chapter at a time. IMGP7647

As a family, we did some archery at the local club. The club members are keen to share their knowledge and the setting is wonderful – sounds of kookaburra and other birds and lovely trees and reflective water pools.


We are maintaining our interest in birds (we haven’t quite got comfortable with calling ourselves “bird watchers” just yet) Some green rosellas often visit the tree just outside our kitchen window but they are elusive when we try to photograph them.


We had a lovely 4-day weekend in Melbourne, staying with a generous family friend and enjoying meals at restaurants and a fantastic home-made pizza night at a friend we made on the music safari tour in Africa. Why had we not discovered Nutella and ice cream pizza before? The girls were happy to have some time with daughters of friends at a climbing wall and to hang out with their Northcote cousins. We managed to not add to the road kill count on our drive home in the dark from the airport in Launceston – lots of eyes gleaming in the shadows.


We have had many friends from the mainland have come to visit us and marvel at the mild weather and relaxed pace of life that the North East coast of Tasmania offers. We have done several bushwalks, checked out various beaches, and taken local boat trips within a wide radius of St Helen’s. Interestingly the Couta boat owner Les Sims was the boat wrangler for the movie ‘Light Between the Oceans’ and the boat had a small role.


Most unfortunately, on a steep section of the Wineglass Bay circuit walk Rachelle badly sprained her ankle, less than a year after breaking her collarbone snowboarding at Jasper last spring break. Paul, Thea and Streetie still managed to dash down to Wineglass Bay for a quick swim (the raison d’etre for the hike) then back up the hill to help Rachelle continue her long hop back to the car. Her style will be severely cramped while the Canadian cousins are visiting later this week. IMG_7717

We unintentionally attended the local film society AGM, which brought back memories of the early days of the FSJ Film Society days. We really enjoyed the subsequent screening of the New Zealand film ‘Hunt for the Wilder People’.

After making it my New Year’s resolution for a couple of years, I have finally expanded my repertoire on the ukulele to more than three songs, thanks to the drop-in beginner ukulele group at St Helen’s. The very groovy bearded 30-something guy who eschews footwear has been a very patient teacher and the group members are very welcoming. One of the newer attendees is a grandmother who does wildlife rescue (including retrieving joeys from dead mother marsupials’ pouches) and has a dingo living with her in her motor home.

Paul’s general practice job has been relatively sedate, except for his interactions with Medicare. Like many systems we’re sure that someone, somewhere thought there was a valid reason for setting it up the way they did but at the front line, things don’t always appear to make sense. He is allowed to prescribe 1 Epipen but if he sensibly wants to prescribe the patient 2 so that she can have 1 at school and 1 at home, he has to ring up to get an authority. He has had an ongoing battle with Medicare about his recognition as a “specialist in General Practice” because of a mix-up with some paperwork. Medicare would keep changing things without notice and suddenly his billings would stop going through, resulting in a flurry of phone calls and Paul listening to the mind-numbing muzak. It is mostly sorted except for a 3-day period in February. To be pre-emptive, Paul had taken to listening to the muzak on a daily basis to ask (very politely) for updates. This was until he was told that his “case had been elevated to the highest level and that he just needed to wait and be patient and stop calling”. He certainly would be more than happy to stop calling once he was notified that the problem had finally been sorted!

Hence, Paul is still making use of the mild weather to head to Binalong Bay after work as much as possible, occasionally dragging a sometimes less than willing teenager along for some boogie boarding and body surfing. They have not quite joined the polar bear club but tonight Paul and Thea were observed with some amusement by the tourists on the beach in their winter parkas.


It is hard to believe that we are already nearing the end of our time here in Tassie. We will have a busy few weeks with the cousins coming to visit and then spending a week up in Melbourne. We will leave Thea and Rachelle up in Melbourne to have some “uncle time” with Adam while Paul and I spend our last week in Tassie, with Paul working and me tidying up the house and cleaning the cars and getting packed up for the next leg of the adventure…fullsizeoutput_19fa