Stay here: a backyard mini-break at Bunjil Farm, Victoria

Bunjil Farm
Kyneton-Springhill Road, Lauriston, VIC
http://bunjilfarm.com.au/

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It’s hard to narrow down the list of favourite bloggers, but Lisa Eats World is certainly up there. I love the way she writes, and as a fellow Melbourne girl, I love reading about her new discoveries in and around the city. It was one of those discoveries she wrote about a few months ago that gave me massive adventure-envy; her visit to Bunjil Farm out in Kyneton, Victoria. After reading her post twice and following the link through to the farm’s website, I emailed the lovely Lyn straight away to make a booking, too.

When I read about the gorgeous 1850’s settler’s hut that Lisa stayed in, the idea of curling up by the fire on a cold winter’s night with a good book and mug of hot tea was utterly irresistible to me. I often venture out on little country Victoria trips solo, but the husband joined me this time – the promise of a fire place-warmed hut away from it all had him hooked, too.

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A drive up through Macedon, Woodend and Kyneton brought us to Bunjil Farm, run by the lovely Lyn Stephenson, and her two furry sidekicks, Eddie and Zoe. Lyn’s property is open, lush and absolutely stunning, performing double duty as both accommodation for escape artists like us, and a hemp farm. Hemp, for the record, is not the same as marijuana; Lyn’s crops are grown under license, subject to strict testing, and are used to produce, oil, textiles and building materials. You learn something new every day…

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But, back to the accommodation side. Paying homage to the original owners of this nation, the farm was named after Bunjil, the creator of the earth (you can read more about Bunjil’s story here), and you can see that there are so many details of the farm that have been carefully thought out with respect for the earth in mind. There are a few options for accommodation at Bunjil Farm, but I knew it had to be the settler’s hut for us. Unlike Lisa, who visited in summer, we were there on a particularly cold winter’s night, so the fireplace was a huge selling point for us.

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This beautiful little hut has been carefully restored and kept as close to the original 1850’s version as possible, without compromising too much on modern comforts. There’s no TV or stereo or central heating, but there are very comfy couches, the aforementioned magnificent fireplace, and space to read, write and draw. The stone floors, while beautiful, are also pretty cold if you visit in winter, so pack your wooly socks!

The kitchen is divided over the room, with a big wooden cabinet holding your breakfast provisions, tea, coffee, flatware and what not. The water in the hut is bore water, so a large glass vessel full of fresh drinking water is provided, too. A sink over in the opposite corner, however, holds modern luxuries like a toaster, mini fridge, electric kettle and dishwashing detergent.

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The bathroom was stunning, with the original plumbing still on display in the shower, but with modern plumbing actually in use, which means there’s not long to wait for a nice, hot shower. Thank goodness. And nice, fluffy towels are provided for you, as are some good, old fashioned hot water bottles to keep you warm and toasty at night – I hadn’t used a hot water bottle in YEARS, but was incredibly grateful that Lyn had the foresight to mention them as the temperature dropped later in the evening!

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The bedroom was simple and the bed was very comfortable – lots of big pillows to rest our heads on and a double doona situation kept us nice and warm overnight. There was also a very efficient plug in heater that warmed the bedroom up perfectly.

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Head out the back and say hi to your neighbours, too – we met some absolutely beautiful horses that Lyn keeps on her property for one of the city’s horse-and-cart owners. One was a bit feisty, but the others were incredibly placid and sweet-natured, and very photogenic – you’ll see their photos on a post I wrote on Monday. This gorgeous red-head followed us along the fence line, gently nudging our hands with his nose, to get a bit of a pat. We’re both huge animal lovers, so we were in heaven 🙂

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You can also expect breakfast to be a pretty impressive affair, with Lyn providing everything you’ll need; yoghurt, fresh milk, eggs, a very fresh loaf of bread, jams, butter, muesli, tea, coffee, hot chocolate, even Vegemite! In my mind, eating that beautiful spread by the fireplace was picture perfect; in reality, it was more like two well-rested, pyjama-clad, large kids wolfing down toast like they hadn’t eaten in days. And this kid finished off the marshmallows that Lyn kindly left on the table, along with some nice, long metal swords, so that I could toast them over the fire. Oh. My. Goodness. I can’t even… The smell of a freshly lit fireplace is one of my favourite smells in the world, and if you could taste that smell, it’s be toasted marshmallows.

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Lyn was kind enough to come and see us off in the morning, along with Eddie and Zoe, her adorable little fur babies. We both desperately needed a break from life, and being able to literally switch off from life with no TV, put our phones away, not have to rush around to see or do anything, and just BE was amazing. Lyn’s created the most wonderful atmosphere at Bunjil Farm, making you simultaneously feel like you were totally at home and also a well looked after guest. I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that I’ll be returning again; this is the ultimate stop and recharge mini break 🙂

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Bream Creek Farmers Market, Tasmania

Bream Creek Farmers Market
Held at the Break Creek Showgrounds, 138 Marion Bay Road, Tasmania
https://breamcreekfarmersmarket.com.au/

If you’re lucky enough to be around Hobart on the first Sunday of the month, you’ll be wanting to hire a car and take a drive, with the Bream Creek Farmers Market somewhere on the itinerary. We discovered it completely by accident when we visited last month, on our drive from Hobart to Port Arthur; I saw a sign for a farmers market, so we turned and followed the arrow and ended up at Bream Creek!

It’s a gorgeous little market, with some of Tasmania’s best produce coming out to play every month. Even more impressive is the fact that it’s run entirely by a volunteer committee with a passion for supporting the local community.

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After a year of successful market (they started back in December 2012), they gained enough popularity and notoriety to produce a cookbook, full of incredible recipes from the growers and locals, which I noticed being sold everywhere in Hobart and Port Arthur- they were even selling copies at the gift shop at the Port Arthur Historic Site!

They also have a wonderful concept of the “community stall,” best explained in their own words:

We are aware that some producers may not have enough stock to require an entire stall at each and every market, so we welcome you to make use of the BCFM Community Stall .  You might have a few bags of lemons or some freshly picked veggies – so bring them along!

All you have to do is bag or bunch your produce, clearly label with a price and pop into the Community Stall on the morning of the Market… Spend the morning shopping, socialising, listening to our great live music, relaxing on the beanbags and having a coffee and some lunch, then pop back into the Community Stall to collect your money and any leftover produce.  So easy!

 

It was pretty hard restraining ourselves, knowing that we only had limited luggage space coming home… Husband took some hot sauce home, and I got a nice big jar or apricot and walnut jam (actually the best jam ever) from Crooked Enterprises), and that most magnificent almond croissant you can see below (which was devoured with tea, coffee, and live music in the background)… soft and fluffy and perfect enough to rival any Melbourne hipster bakery. So happy we stumbled on this little market – it was picture perfect in the most stunning setting, with such a great atmosphere and seriously good food!

Eat here: Port Arthur Lavender, Tasmania

Port Arthur Lavender
6555 Port Arthur Hwy, Port Arthur, Tasmania
http://portarthurlavender.com.au/

From one delicious food and drinkery to another, I’m crossing the ditch today and throwing it back to the Tassie trip we took a few weeks ago. How the husband and I ended up at a Lavender farm is a story that pretty much sums up our whole relationship; we were driving to Port Arthur from Hobart, and husband saw a large sign on the side of the road that read “DISTILLERY.” His eyes lit up, knowing the Tasmania does some good whisky, but said nothing. Do you want to turn around and go back to check it out? Cue quick U-turn and large grin.

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At this point, I’m wondering what the hell kind of a sweet little lavender farm and cafe has a distillery on site… then I saw the sign pointing the way to the lavender oil distillery. Cue disappointment and angry tirade at the signage clearly designed by a woman to trap distinguished gentlemen wanting a civilized glass of whisky. I’d already spied the scones flying out of the kitchen, but thought better than to push my luck. Two days later, on the way back to Hobart, we went on back to the lavender farm, and I got my scones.

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The Port Arthur lavender farm is a family owned business, where over 16,000 lavender plants are grown, harvested and processed each year over their two plants. There’s a gift shop on site where everything is scented, flavoured and/or coloured lavender, the beautiful fields you can stroll around, and a tiny little “distillery” education shed, where you can learn about how the oil is actually made.

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They also operate as a cafe, serving incredibly lavender-inspired and infused cuisine and drinks. Lavender infused fudge and ice creams, lavender panna cotta and pancakes, oysters with lavendar dukkah and lavender relish as a side to the savouries. Drinks, too; I (naturally) ordered a lavender grey for my afternoon tea. They even served it in a lavender coloured tea pot, bless! Also full of gorgeous, bright lavender buds, and the flavour wasn’t anywhere near as overpowering as you might expect.

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We’d stopped off for afternoon tea, so we by-passed the breakfast and lunch offerings, and shared a plate of scones instead. Fresh, soft, fluffy scones. With a side of house-made jam (wow – THAT good!) and lavender infused cream. Everything about it was perfect – the scones were massive and fresh, the cream had the most amazing lavender flavour without being over powering, and it was easy to see why the jams they make win all those awards!

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Isn’t it funny how a stuff up can often lead to a brilliant discovery, if you’re willing to let go of your preconceptions and roll with it?! Couldn’t be happier we found this place! And don’t worry, we got him to the Sullivans Cove Whisky Distillery where he thoroughly enjoyed a whiskey tasting session and left with a bottle of the good stuff 😉

Port Arther Lavender Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Salamanca Market, Hobart

Salamanca Market
Open every Saturday 8am – 3pm (except Saturdays that fall on ANZAC or Christmas Day – then it’ll be on the Sunday of that weekend instead)
http://www.salamanca.com.au/

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So, wisdom teeth removal isn’t so fun. Not the worst surgical procedure I’ve had (and I have had a few), but not particularly fun either. Mostly because I can’t really eat anything at the moment. And I’m really hungry. And not only that, but it’s Friday, AKA the day before brunch day, and I can’t even brunch this weekend. So sad!

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But the good news is that you guys can all go out and enjoy something delicious! If you’re in Hobart, I’d recommend setting the day aside tomorrow to hit the Salamanca Market. Because that is one hell of a place to spend the day.

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For people like me who live for markets, this was one of the holy grails on my to-visit list. Husband actually visited without me last year while I was in Tokyo, and was hell-bent on getting back there with me. Easy to understand why when we arrived; it was actually the market my dreams are made of. First up, obviously, the food. Wow.

You can very (too) easily eat your way around 10 times over. There’s everything from crepes and gozleme to fresh berries and pastries; you can eat your tiny pancakes there or take your bread sticks and jam home for later. Just don’t miss out; this is not a time for calorie counting. Eat as much as you can, and take home as much as you can carry – the preserves and sauces and peanut butter you can find are amazing!

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There’s shopping, too! I’m a bit of a vintage/pre-loved trawler, so I had a great time sorting through the old stuff. I picked up a great bargain, too – an old measuring cup for a few dollars, which is now sitting proudly in my kitchen alongside a few vintage teapots 🙂

There’s new stuff, too – a prize pick would have to be the Mongrel Socks stand (big thanks to my sister-in-law for directing me here!), where you can get the absolutely most luxurious knitted pure Merino wool socks on the face of the planet. I almost had a pair until I noticed they did deliciously warm headbands, too, and grabbed myself one of those to get me through winter… and next year’s mega winter adventure 😉  Still considering a pair of socks though – thank goodness for online shopping!

Other goodies purchased included Tasmanian truffle salt, The Art of Tea Tasmanian breakfast tea and homemade shortbreads, as well as a whole lot of food that was eaten too quickly to photograph! I can’t believe it took me so long to get to Hobart to see this market – now that I’ve been, I’m already looking at a quick weekend trip to Hobart with the express purpose of visiting the market again  : )

Photo Journal: Port Arthur Historic Site, Tasmania

Australia was basically founded as one big convict colony island. Despite the fact that we’re a really quite a young country, there really aren’t many (any?) places left where you can see that side of our history.

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From the website, “The Port Arthur penal settlement began life as a small timber station in 1830. Originally designed as a replacement for the recently closed timber camp at Birches Bay, Port Arthur quickly grew in importance within the penal system of the colonies.”

And who was shipped off to Port Arthur?
“After the American War of Independence Britain could no longer send her convicts to America, so after 1788 they were transported to the Australian colonies…. The convicts sent to Van Diemen’s Land were most likely to be poor young people from rural areas or from the slums of big cities. One in five was a woman. Numbers of children were also transported with their parents. Few returned home.”

And walking through the remains of the colony, from the prison building itself to the church, the asylum, the staff and family housing and the beautiful gardens, you start to get a real sense of how different things were for the convicts as opposed to the officers. Looking out over Carnarvon Bay, it was honestly one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to. It must have been such a bittersweet feeling, arriving into this picture-perfect place, knowing that you’d most likely never see freedom again.

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You can read about the rest of the history on the website, but the thing that really surprised me about the site was just how beautiful it was; I had no idea. It’s been really well looked after and restored, but even if it had been left to fall to ruins, the stunning natural setting is something else, particularly in Autumn when the sun is still shining and the leaves are turning…

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