Larry and I are privileged to live in one of the most beautiful parts of Australia and are delighted to share with you glimpses of life in this wonderful corner of the world.
|Posted on 21 June, 2018 at 8:35||comments (1)|
There weren't any on our land when we bought it. It had been meticulously sprayed with a cocktail of herbicides, pesticides and fertilisers that banished everything but pasture grass for the sheep that were grazing on it, and I have to say it looked great.
Never having managed anything larger than a postage-stamp sized courtyard in the city, we were inclined towards a more natural approach to living on the land and were determined to not use 'nasty' chemicals in our home or in our garden.
We really didn't notice the first few weeds that came to live here as the pasture appeared to be in such good condition. But as soon as we started to disturb the soil to plant our native gardens it was like being overrun by a weed tsunami. Almost every day we saw a weed we had never seen before, cheekily claiming its place in our garden.
For almost 20 years, on hands and knees we laboriously hand pulled the weeds in the hope of getting every part of its root so that it didn't return. But no matter how careful we were, they came back - and brought their friends with them!
Going on holiday was a nightmare for us. As soon as we turned our backs they invaded every vacant space and we would come home to knee-high weeds.
But we think we've found a great solution and I'm so excited I want to share it! A friend, who grows olives and makes award-winning olive oil. recently posted on Facebook a recipe for a simple non-toxic weedkiller, which I immediately made and ... I can'tbelieve it ... it's brilliant! We have tried this recipe on all types of weed, from capeweed and thistles to small weeds whose roots travel long distances underground, and it works.
Some weeds start to die before your very eyes, while others seem to take from 24-48 hours to start looking sick. And, to our very best knowledge, there are no unintended consequences to the soil, the soil's inhabitants or any other living thing.
So, here's the recipe.
- 4 litres cheap white vinegar
- 2 cups magnesium sulphate (Epsom Salt)
- 1/4 cup dishwashing detergent
That's it. It's so easy, so inexpensive and so effective and non-toxic I don't know why we didn't know about it before. Forget RoundUp ... this recipe is the gardener's new best friend.
|Posted on 5 May, 2018 at 5:50||comments (0)|
It's now more than two months since we said our tearful farewells to Nellie, our faithful, wonderful, tawny Abyssinian cat who for more than 18 years slept every night in my arms. She loved us as much as we loved her, and parting with her has left a gaping hole in our lives.
I hope she can't hear me saying this, but Nellie was more dog-like in her manner than cat. She followed us everywhere. Whatever we did she was there to supervise. Wherever we went she wanted to come too.
She was just a kitten when we were still living in Melbourne but building our house here, and she, with her twin brother, Walter, happily made the two-hour trip on weekends to supervise the building of our 'forever' home, which they would share with us.
We wanted them to be indoor cats and to this end Larry built for them what we call the 'Palace de Puss' - a palatial enclosure complete with tunnels, spiral staircase, scratching posts, places to lounge in the sun or shade - and the full run of the underneath of our house.
Clearly, Larry's efforts weren't good enough, and those young cats drove us crazy in their determination to be outside.
They loved the freedom that this place offered them, and they took far too much advantage of it in the early days, sneaking off to the gully where all sorts of dangers lurked.
Sadly, Walter didn't see his first birthday as the dangers we feared became his reality. But Nellie steamed on to live to a grand old age. Not old enough for us, but she gave it her best.
In her young years she, like most cats, had a penchant for hunting. If there's one thing we don't love about cats it's that. But Nellie was a lover, not a killer, and almost without exception, every gift she brought in for us was alive and well. The catch was her goal, and once caught, she would let the terrified creature go - always under the dining room table! So, for many years we found ourselves hurling across the floor, cupped hands outstretched, to capture and release a bushrat, mouse, bird - or - no hands involved in this one - snake! So many hysterical memories there, and a great learning for me to be brave and appreciate the rare privilege of being able to hold these beautiful creatures in my hands and be less scared. With some TLC from us, most of these victims lived to tell the tale.
By the time we opened our home as a B&B, Nellie was quite a senior lady. Her days were spent luxuriating in the morning sun on the deck, and in the afternoon on the garden side of our house, but her favourite place was stretched across our shoulders as we went about our daily work.
She loved to welcome guests and would sit at the bottom of the steps as they arrived and pierce them with her amazing Cleopatra eyes, demanding attention and admiration. It was her way of making guests feel at home - and of stating that she was the real boss of this house. And of course she was.
Larry and I have lived with and loved many cats, but none were as purrfect as the beautiful Miss Nellie. Rest in peace beautiful girl.
|Posted on 6 February, 2018 at 0:40||comments (0)|
View from Mount Bishop
We really don't get it. The tourism literature that guests rely on when planning their holiday downunder seems to down-play this corner of Australia. Yet, time and again guests say that their visit to 'Prom Country' has been an unexpected highlight of their journey and they wonder why they didn't plan to stay longer.
So, here are some ideas about where to go and what to do while you are in this corner of the world.
- Walk at Wilsons Prom - the southernmost tip of mainland Australia. Wilsons Prom is the jewell in this district's crown, and one day there is definitely not enough. The landscapes, the wildlife, the vast, pristine windswept beaches will pull you back again and again. There are so many short walks, day walks and overnight hikes to choose from that you could spend a month there and not see it all. Larry and I have done most of the walks, and are more than happy to share our local knowledge to help you plan a short walk, a combination of walks or a day-long hike, to suit your level of fitness and interests. Book in for dinner at the Fish Creek Hotel (Open 7 days) on the way back.
- Return to Wilsons Prom to experience some totally different but equally stunning scenery and wildlife at the northern end of the park. The walk to Mt Vereker is spectacular. For the first kilometer or so, the walking is easy through the coastal banksias and grass trees. It gets a little steeper further along as you clamber up through the granite boulders, but there is so much to see along the way that you’ll barely notice the climb. As you turn around some of the corners, the topography changes dramatically from the open heathland to stringybark forest and then up various natural rock staircases to the top of Vereker Outlook. The Big Drift is just wonderful, and another northern walk not to be missed.
Come home, relax in our outdoor hot tub to soothe those aching muscles, and enjoy dinner at Wiggy's on the Green at Foster Golf Club (open Wed-Sat for dinner)
- Start the day with a relaxing or deep tissue massage in Foster or Port Franklin (or, if you are here on a weekend, in your very own room, with prior booking), and then head out for a fixed wing or helicopter flight over the Prom and spectacular southern coastline. Have lunch in one of Foster's or Fish Creek's cafe's - or at the fabulous Gurney's Cidery (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) just outside of Foster - and enjoy Dinner at Trulli Pizza - the best authentic Italian woodfired pizza in Victoria (according to me!). Closed Monday and Tuesday
- See Wilsons Prom from a totally different perspective - from the water, and from September to early December watch for whales as they migrate back to Antarctica. A few cruise companies now operate from Port Welshpool and Port Albert - and soon also from Norman Beach at Wilsons Prom - and provide fabulous short, half and full-day outings. Dinner at [email protected], Fridays and Saturdays only.
- Drive into the hills and visit Turtons Falls, Agnes Falls (Victoria's highest single-span water fall) and the wonderful Tarra Bulga National Park, a pristine temperate rain forest a little more than an hour's drive from here and it's full of Lyre Birds. Enjoy fish and chips at Port Albert on the way home.
- Explore the wonderful galleries, museums, wineries and cidery this district has to offer. Foster, Fish Creek, Meeniyan, Toora and townships beyond have a wealth of creative talent to stimulate the senses and maybe even tempt you to purchase a memento to take home with you. A new restaurant is soon to open just down the road from Llarrinda, with magnificent views to Wilsons Prom. We will let you know as soon as it's open for business.
- If you still haven't seen a wombat in the wild, then Larry will take you out on his 1-hour 'wombat safari'. The most he has spotted in one night is 12, but usually it ranges between 3 and 5, plus the odd koala, kangaroo and brush tail possum.
- Interested in birds? Then spend some time in our garden, where we have recorded 65 species of birds - some resident, some visiting. Then, take your binoculars and head to the Toora bird hide to see how many species of migratory birds you can observe. Corner Inlet and the coastline to the east is recognised as a wetland of international significance for migratory birds under the Ramsar convention. Thirty two species of migratory waders have been recorded, and at low tide these birds can be seen feeding on the mudflats. Still want more sightings? Then head for the Bald Hills Wetland Reserve, which is alive with birds and other wildlife. Then come home to a BBQ of locally sourced, prime quality meats, seafood, vegetables to your taste.
So, hopefully that gives you an idea of just some of the things you can see and do in this beautiful corner of the world, and there is still more I haven't mentioned, such as local markets, theatre and live music. So please, do yourself a favour and don't stay for just one night or even two. Despite what the tour guides say, this is a part of Australia that deserves a longer stay.
|Posted on 18 December, 2017 at 21:35||comments (0)|
Garden view from our kitchen window.
If there is one place in all the world that Larry and I love to be - apart from with our respective families in England and the USA of course - or, in Larry's case, on the golf course - it's in our rambling garden.
When we bought this land back in 1997 it was just a sheep paddock. No trees, no shrubs, no flowers; just grass - and a small flock of black-faced, black legged Suffolk sheep. For me, it was as though the stars had aligned, as I grew up in the county of Suffolk in England, and knew only too well the sound of those lovely sheep bleating in the fields nearby. It was like coming home.
Before we had even built the house, we joined our local Landcare and Land for Wildlife groups to learn what we needed to do to create habitat for local wildlife, and so began our passion for Australian native gardening.
We learned the importance of planting upper, mid and under-story trees and shrubs that are indigenous to this area, to attract and cater for the needs of feathered and furry creatures large and small. We learned to minimise our use of herbicides and pesticides, to provide a source of water for wildlife, to pull weeds by hand, to compost everything compostible, and to let the balance of nature take care of most pests in the garden.
To my relief, we learned that it's OK to mix some exotic plants, like roses, salvias and lavenders into our native garden, to provide a burst of colour when many of the native plants have finished their flowering season. To our delight we've discovered that many native birds and bees don't discriminate between local and exotic plants. For them, if there's a flower there's pollen and, year round our garden is a hive of activity.
Almost every plant we've bought, we've bought locally and, with few exceptions everything has thrived - with virtually no help from us. Even in the driest years (2009 was a shocker!!) we have been lucky to still have lovely morning dews and the occasional morning fog, which enable plants to take in moisture through their leaves if not their roots.
Since opening our home as a B&B back in 2014, we are busier than ever inside the house and have far less time to spend in our wonderful garden. We desperately miss being able to sink our hands into the soil and truly connect with nature. But regardless of how busy we are, every now and then we can pause and look through any window in our house to see our magnificent view, our beautiful garden and the wildlife that lives in it.
We live in paradise and couldn't be happier.
|Posted on 13 October, 2017 at 6:45||comments (0)|
Some things are just meant to be.
Larry and I arrived in Australia in 1983 and two weeks later I found a wonderful job with a company that no longer exists: Elders IXL. Elders was a complex organisation, comprising a multitude of companies in a variety of industries which had amalgamated over many years. One such company was Goldsbrough Mort & Co., a wool broking and auctioneering company founded in 1888, later to be known as Elder Smith Goldsbrough Mort.
In 1981 Elder Smith Goldsbrough Mort & Co Ltd became part of the Elders IXL group of companies, which I had just joined.
In the first few months of my time at Elders, their offices in the old Jam Facrtory in South Yarra underwent a massive renovation to absorb the head offices of all of the recently acquired businesses. Walls were demolished, plush modern spaces created and many records of the old, pre-merger businesses were piled in the corner to be taken to the tip.
Now, I'm from England and have a certain regard for history. So, hating to see old records destroyed, I 'rescued' a few pieces from the debris, including a leather-bound book of hand-written Goldsbrough Mort minutes dating from 1916 to 1967.
That Minute Book has sat proudly on our book shelves or 34 years, initially in Melbourne, and more recently in Foster. I suspect that no one other than me has ever looked at it. Until now.
In July this year guests from Melbourne checked in to Llarrinda Bed & Breakfast for two nights. The reason they chose to stay with us was not because of our comfortable accommodation, wonderful views and abundant wilflife, but because our name, Llarrinda is so similar to our guest's name, Laurinda. The first of several coincidences.
They could have chosen to stay in any of our three guest bedrooms, but chose to stay in our 'Panorama Suite'.
Laurinda's husband, Ross, was immediately drawn to a picture on their bedroom wall containing the front and back covers of the June 1906 edition of Goldsorough Mort & Co's 'Australian Pastoralist's Review,' which I had also salvaged from the skip and had framed. It gave him a shiver, as his grandfather had worked for Goldsbrough Mort and Co for 49 years, and had served as Company Secretary from 1928 to 1945.
Then Ross spotted the leather-bound Minute book and opened it. And there he saw the hand writing of his grandfather. It was a goosebump moment for him and for me, when he told me about it the next morning.
Ross told me about his Dad, now well into his 90's, and how much he would love to see that book. Of course, it was never mine to keep, and I am so very thankful that what would have been destroyed forever has now found its rightful home, with Ross' father - the son of the man who wrote the minutes.
It's a small world out there, and it's very special when one coincidence leads so happily to another. Enjoy that salvaged treasure, Mr Eddington, and we hope that one day we will to able to welcome you, too, to Llarrinda.
|Posted on 13 September, 2017 at 1:10||comments (0)|
The tail of a spectacular Humpback Whale.
Each year between April and November, Australia's eastern coastline comes alive with Humpback Whales and the more rare Southern Right Whales, as they travel on their migration routes from and to Antarctica. Now that Spring is here, they are heading back to their icy feeding grounds in the Southern Ocean, having spent winter in warmer waters, mating and giving birth.
Humpback whales migrate a mind-blowing 5,000 km on average, one of the longest migratory journeys of any mammal on earth! They are known to go north to the tropical waters off Far North Queensland, whereas the Southern Right Whales head to the much cooler waters off the south coast of Australia, including Wilsons Prom, one of the most beautiful and remote areas in the world.
Without doubt, Humpbacks are the stars of whale migration, with their spectacular leaps into the air creating never-to-forget photo opportunities for those fortunate to see it.
Southern Right Whale females have their first calf at 6 or 7 years of age, and they then have one calf every three years. They are slow breeders, which is why their numbers have not recovered well from the whaling days of last century. Female Southern Right Whales usually come back to the same coastal waters to raise each calf, often where they themselves were born.
Visitors to this corner of Victoria will have an ideal opportunity to view these magestic creature during October and November, when Wildlife Coast Cruises will conduct whale watching cruises around Wilsons Prom. Additional cruises are scheduled during December, February, March and April. Larry and I are fortunate to have been on several Wildlife Coast Cruises, and this Bed and Breakfast near Wilsons Prom can't recommend them highly enough.
For enquiries and bookings visit www.wildlifecoastcruises.com.au or call 1300 763 739.
|Posted on 8 September, 2017 at 22:55||comments (0)|
How lucky are we!
Guests often say that looking out of the windows at Llarrinda is better than watching TV. And we couldn't agree more because, with every minute of every day, our panoramic view changes. Being high on a ridge overlooking farmland, to the waters of Corner Inlet and the northern mountains of Wilsons Prom National Park beyond, we can see the weather come and go and have a bird's eye view of all the passing wildlife. None pleases us more than the multitude of birds that come to feed on our deck.
We never saw Little Corella's here in the early days - they were always flying in large and noisy flocks over the low lands looking for food. Little Corellas usually feed on the ground, but occasionally in trees and shrubs. They eat a variety of wild and cultivated seeds and regularly feed on lawn grasses in urban areas, and on crops such as wheat, barley and corn, so it's no wonder that many people struggle to love them.
A few years ago a lone couple of Little Corellas discovered our bird feeders and came back every winter and stayed for a few months. Then there were two couples, and now three couples - six Little Corellas in all - which are reliably here on our deck almost every day for breakfast, lunch or dinner, feeding on the wild bird seed mix we put in our feeders.
This year though has brought something special. They have chosen Llarrinda Bed & Breakfast as a place to mate, nest, and raise next season's young.
We admit to feeling slightly awkward about watching and photographing this tender and loving act but at the same time are enthralled to be able to witness nature at such close range.
We have read that Little Corellas can live up to 80 years (although I suspect that's in captivity), and that they mate for life. You can see in the way they relate to each other that there is genuine affection. We love their cheeky personalities, the way they waddle and the way they show off by hanging upside-down with their feet or beaks. And, if you listen closely you can hear them having deep and meaningful conversations, using an impressive range of vocabulary.
They are not blessed with the most melodic voices, but they make up for it in sheer personality and incredible beauty. This Bed & Breakfast accommodation near Wilsons Prom is truly a nature lover's paradise.