Monday, February 8, 2010

Gourmet Farming...

It's true, I've been neglectful of this blog lately. Summer has been keeping me busy with its long, humming days and blue, wispy skies. We've been swimming in a beautiful pool on top of a hill overlooking Bruny Island, collecting abalone shells on deserted beaches, riding on old quarry trains in the south to even more deserted beaches of white sands and crystal blue seas, drinking champagne with friends beneath the milky way, and letting the children roam around the garden till way past their usual bedtime.... Evenings are filled with their laughter, the neighbouring, permanently confused roosters, and the odd, late, kookaburra.

Once a week, we give the children a very special treat. We let them watch TV till 8pm. For a non-watching TV family, this is something of an aberration, but the show we watch is fantastic. Educational, humourous and full of local delights, the Gourmet Farmer is all about former Sydney-based food critic Matthew Evans who has moved to Cygnet (about 15 mins from where we live) where he has set up,what he hopes will eventually be, a self-sufficient smallholding. We love Matthew. He keeps chooks, he makes prosciutto from his pigs, he has a Jersey cow, he makes jam and yummy cakes, he brews cider, he goes tuna fishing and diving for abalone, he makes mistakes and he has a lot of fun following his vision. My children want him to come to our house.

Apparently there has been some local debate regarding Matthew - about how he will now become responsible for a huge influx of mainlanders all looking for cheap property, less stress, peace, quiet and the beauties of nature - the good life at a price they could never afford in Victoria or New South Wales. I'm afraid I don't agree with this view at all. From what I can see mainlanders (although some here might classify me as such, I'm afraid I will never identify, having only spent three years in Melbourne where I felt a total outsider, and mainly because I am actually English...) have been seeking the good life in Tasmania for some time. But too many of them are put off by what they believe to be the cold weather, and what they perceive to be a distinct lack of culture- both utter misnomers as far as I can see. The job market can be a bit tricky too, unless you're lucky enough to be self employed, unusually self confident, or remotely employable - or perhaps just foolhardy enough to follow your dream.

If Matthew's show inspires a few more people to discover the challenges and joys of rural life in Tasmania, well, it's hardly going to transform the island overnight. In my view, climate change, unsustainable city populations and the consequently uncomfortable life resulting from both will no doubt figure more in people's decisions about where to settle than a weekly half hour documentary on SBS. But even the increasingly negative prognosis for life on the mainland woudn't persuade most people to dislocate themselves from their social and professional networks even if they could. Having said that, I can see why the locals want to keep Tasmania unspoilt. There's already a large building development underway in our village (thankfully nowhere near our house), although fortunately most rural land seems to be protected from subdivision by strict laws and heavy financial barriers. Tasmania still has the air of an undiscovered secret, a secluded little paradise accessible only to those who are prepared to let go of city airs, graces and conveniences on a permanent basis. I am sure it will change here over the next 20 years - what place doesn't alter with the passing of time? But it will take a lot (more than a TV series) to break the spell, and the secrets, of this truly enchanted isle...

1 comment:

  1. Hello,
    I have observed over the years the difference with the mainlanders moving to Tasmania. The traffic has sped up on the highways and my parents have become nervous about driving on them. David has also observed the road difference. On the plus side, the mainlanders as a whole really value the historical buildings and often preserve what was left to crumble. I think new blood is always good and welcome but I would hate to see any influx push property prices up too much. My sister can no longer afford to buy. Compared to Sydney prices it's still heaven down there. The show sounds wonderful. I shall try and catch it on Foxtel as I've probably missed it. xx