The true gourmet farmer my brother Jamie

Hi All,

While I was over in Western Australia for my mother’s funeral, I spent a bit of time mending bridges with my brother. I love my brother to bits but all three of us have inherited our fathers hot headed temper and our mothers stubborn refusal to give in which doesn’t make for an easy road for our familial relationships. All is sorted now and my stay with my brother was lovely. I only spent a night at his tiny little cottage out in the scrub but fell instantly in love with it. Despite it being in the middle of summer and the sandy eucalyptus leaf covered soil was too hot to walk on without shoes and everything was shimmering in the heat and parched and dry, this place was special. My brother rents this little cottage from an interesting and artistic couple that run a longboard factory out in the bush, manufacturing and repairing these original style boards that the true diehard surfers use. There are 3 habitable huts on the property. The biggest is the owners (naturally) and an artist lives in the smallest house further back from my brother’s tiny dwelling. To get to his house you have to drive full pelt to make sure that you get through the sand and don’t get bogged. Anyone who knows me well knows that my chief terror in life is getting bogged. No vampire, werewolf or killer whale (yes…I was scared of them too…) could scare me as much as getting bogged. As a child I was large. I guess you am what you am and I was always larger than usual and having a father that refused point blank to let the fact that we had a Volkswagen beetle get in the way of us tackling a 4 wheel drive only track whenever he wanted to go fishing we got bogged on a regular basis and as the largest of the children it was always up to me to push…my phobia of pushing cars, the inherent anger of the bogged driver and the subsequent efforts to get the car free remain clear and present to this day. My brother’s house is at the end of such a track so it didn’t start out well for me!

Here’s that delightful track…

Here’s a photo of my brother with Cradle Mountain in Tasmania in the background. This photo captures my brother at his happiest, when he is exploring nature

This is either a sunrise, or a sunset over the sea. I am going to call it a sunrise for the purposes of this post :o)

This is what you get if you get up nice and early. The beach all to yourself and the pick of the seashells washed up on the shoreline by the relentless waves

Here are some of my brothers early morning treasures. Pretty aren’t they?

One of the reptilian inhabitants of the bushland near Jamies home

After driving at 60km/hour on a track that clearly should have been tackled at 30 so that I “sailed over the sandy bits” I managed to arrive at a little clearing that contained a rugged and rustic little part wood, part stone cottage that looked more like it should be residing somewhere in the French countryside than in the shimmering heat of Western Australia. The house had been built by one of my brother’s friend’s father who was a European stone mason which explained the marvellous detail and quality of the job. My brother had spent much of his youth out on this property and to be able to rent this cottage has been so much more than a trip down memory lane. After having a look inside at the rustic wooden interior with lots of stone arches and a toilet, bathroom and laundry all made out of stone it was time to head off and have a look at the rest of the property. My brother had taken most of mums potted succulents and cacti and other plants and they looked like they belonged there. Jamie is a natural gardener. He works in Bunning’s Albany store and knows what he is talking about. He walks the walk, I talk the talk. I hunted for the elusive seabright bantam rooster who refuses to be photographed. I checked out the massive granite boulders that decorate the area and that refuse to be ignored. Jamie took me for a short drive (we could have walked but I was tired after a long hot day) to the small lake at the back of his house and it was absolutely beautiful. The karri and jarrah trees provide a delicious cover for all of the undergrowth. I love walking through the bushland in Western Australia. I know it. It’s in my blood and I grew up walking the bush tracks in toughened bare feet. The bush has taught me many of my life lessons and tends to be where I head back to whenever life gets tough or some overwhelming problem or emotion wants to drag me down.

A big “Bungara” (The Australian Aboriginal name for these kinds of monitor lizards) posing for the camera

A little female wren on the log just outside Jamies bedroom window

And here is her beautiful partner. He is the prettiest but the females rule the roost!

Western Australian marron. Freshwater crayfish that are both beautiful and delicious…before…

and after…

This photo was taken of my brother “Playing the giddy goat” (one of my fathers sayings…) and climbing up a Xanthorrhoea preissii (Blackboy) that is most probably thousands of years old. He told me that he got up this high and then realised how old this amazing specimen probably was and gently manouvered himself back down to the ground to give it the deferenc this amazingly slow growing plant deserves

I love my brothers little cottage by the sea. He spends hours wandering this countryside with his camera. He showed me pictures taken at dawn, at dusk and at all times in between. He knows this countryside like the back of his hand. I guess he finds his solace in the bush as well. Lights beach and Madfish bay are not far from his house and he regularly heads there to fish and to take pictures. He has a collection of beautiful coral, shells and other things collected from the beaches early in the day. My brother is a morning person. I became a morning person while I was in Western Australia simply because we are 3 hours ahead here in Tasmania and so my usual 5.45am waking time was suddenly 2.45am and 3.30 was a sleep in! I was up with my brother and my sister nice and early. My brother warned me about Roger the rooster and his incessant need to be let out of the hen house from 4.30am onwards and his endless crowing. To be honest, I didn’t really notice Rogers crowing. It was a whole lot quieter than Big Yin’s uproarious outbursts due to his minuscule stature.  Roger was most determined to be let out and I was amazed that on the night I arrived to stay, that Roger and his 2 hens and 1 progeny were all roosting and ready for bed at 5.30pm! My lot stay out till they can’t see any more and it’s not uncommon for the last straggler to be heading to the roost at 9pm. It doesn’t correspond to a later waking up time however; they are up and raring to go at day break. I tried to do justice to my brother’s place in my photos. I tried to show you just what the Western Australian bushland is like. It’s a very unique place with the most interesting flora and fauna. My brother has a most interesting small mammal called a Phascogale living in his roof. It eats the insects that invade his house. He also has many translucent geckoes that live on the roof that eat the moths attracted to his outside light. I was told to put the toilet seat down (difficult to do for a woman) when I used the toilet because otherwise it gets invaded by frogs and a tired early morning toilet call could result in a flushed frog! Here is some information about those little Phascogale’s. Most interesting…

Jamie showed me an orchard of small fruit trees that he had liberated from a sea of weeds when he was clearing around the house. The owner didn’t even know that they were there. He has put a pond in for the frogs and mums plants look so happy nestled in amongst the bush setting. After mums nefarious neighbours had been asked to water her garden and decided that while they were at it, they might steal whatever wasn’t nailed down including many of her ferns and other plants in the garden, Jamie decided to take all of the large tree ferns that she had taken from her old house back out and plant them in his bushland garden. I can’t blame him. These people had been told that they could have many plants when we finished taking what we wanted. They just couldn’t wait and lost more than our respect when they decided to plunder my mother’s humble possessions. They lost their own dignity. They also lost out on plants because rather than let these thieving swine’s have anything, my brother and sister took everything that they could possibly remove for their own gardens. They were originally going to leave them there, but sometimes you just have to make a point and I don’t think that mum would have wanted them to have her precious plants after what they did. The tree ferns will grow out in the bush, under cover, surrounded by trickling water and in memory of mum. She would have been most happy to see them there.

When my brother first moved in he realised that he had some neighbours, a group of Jerusalem donkeys that came up to see if their new neighbour was going to be feeding them regularly. They are called Jerusalem donkeys because they have a dark cross on their backs which is supposedly because they carried Jesus to the cross.

This is a Portuguese man of war. This is as much a part of our childhood on the beach in summer as anything in Western Australia. There are so many poisonous creatures that live in Australia, this one is dangerous when it is out on the water but washed up and dried on the shore it quickly loses its sting

Isn’t this an amazing photo? This is the Hay River and our 100 acres was the next property over from the property on the left of this shot. Who had time to think about not having much money when we had something like this to explore?

This is the bush track that runs between my brothers house and the small lake behind the house. You can see a large karri tree stump and the colours of this lovely place captured in this photo

I am off to stay with my daughters for a couple of days. The garden has regressed into semi-jungle conditions and the blackberries have remained unchecked for so long they think that they own the back yard. I need to teach them a lesson and make it so that the blackcurrants and Josterberries stop accosting the electricity meter reading man because they are not reading the meter (mob of sooks!). It’s not like the girls are housing their terrifying miniature rabbits out there to take out his jugular, it’s mainly because they are a lazy bunch of bollocks who if they can get out of something, they will! I am going to do a couple of posts on my W.A. visit. I have lots of photos of Albany, my brothers little hideaway in the bush and of my friend Kym’s house in Perth where I stayed for a night en route home. While you are looking at pictures and reading light and breezy posts, I will be doing battle with the mother of all blackberries. Patience and sheer stubborn refusal to give up will gird my loins as I tackle the endless tendrils hell bent on taking me out. With each long thorny limb I will render this monster defeated! Does anyone out there get the feeling that I am angling to get a copy of the new Zelda game for our Wii? Well I am! See you all tomorrow when I might do another post on some of Jamie’s lovely photos or I might save them for a special post later on.

The small lake to the rear of Jamies small stone cottage…

One of the local inhabitants of the immediate environment around Jamies little stone cottage. If you don’t remember to shut the toilet lid after you flush, you may be flushing one of these little fellows!

This one is safely ensconced on a log in the pond that Jamie built especially to attract the frogs. They love the little water fountain that keeps the water aerated and I would imagine they keep the mosquito population down

One of the geckoes that emerges at night when the back light is left on. Moths are attracted to the light and these little fellows are able to find enough food in a single evening to lay back for the rest of the day till tomorrow nights feast is laid out flapping and fluttering on their own personal Smorgasbord

One of the rock dwellers on the beach

Lastly here is Jamies new canoe. He wanted it so that he could head up the rivers and into the shallower waterways. He has a lovely big boat to navigate the sea and a 4 x 4 to head out into the wilderness. If its out there, chances are my brother has seen it…

Note: this post was typed out on the weekend. It’s monday and I have sucumbed to some sort of dreaded lurgy that I no doubt picked up on one of my initial flights (or from my niece Sabrina who was ill when I first got there…cheers Sabrina! :o) I am not feeling very well at all and the odds of me attempting to navigate a pathway through the Mother of all blackberries on a 29C day are slim and next to none. I am very glad that I have pre-recorded some posts here for you because I think I might be spending the next couple of days curled up in bed or recouperating on the lounge chair. I will save those spare posts for next week when I head over to the girls to do battle with the blackberries. Hopefully this next week of hot weather doesn’t give her any sort of edge. I need all of the luck I can get with this one…”The force is strong in this blackberry…” I will share another post of my brothers photos with you tomorrow and hopefully you will get to share and understand a tiny piece of this amazing bushland that captured both my brother and I as children and now as adults. It was very hard to isolate Jamies photos down to those shown above. I chose these because they illustrated something about my brother and what his is about. The title of this post was chosen because I just offloaded the 2 D.V.D’s of the first and second series of “The Gourmet Farmer”. A very calculated and planned way to make money Matthew and you are fooling none of us! My brother lives the life that this strategist is trying to portray. He lives on the land. He has a few chooks and he is a very good cook using organic and natural food to fuel his relentless need to traverse the wilderness. Good luck with your T.V. series Matthew. I guess there are enough gullible people out there to believe your ecowank but if you really want to live the life, stop filming and just get out there, before anyone else is up, and head off the beaten track to some of those little offshoot roads that are covered in weeds. That is where you will find yourself :o)


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kym
    Jan 23, 2012 @ 20:27:05

    Hi Fran,
    I have dead headed my roses! Ok it’s not blackberries but I am covered in scratches from the ungrateful roses. I am finding it hard to prune the top of them now as they are so tall. They look really neat now. It has been hot and humid here. They are saying it will be 40 degrees here on Australia day, so I will be in the pool with a cold glass in hand. Happy Australia Day to you all. I’m getting in early just in case lol


    • narf77
      Jan 24, 2012 @ 14:16:39

      We are having our hot day today. It’s 30C in Launceston which might sound like a nice cool day for you in W.A. but over here it is a massive great heatwave and we will most probably lose power today because most of Tasmania will have their air conditioners blasting all day. I know what you mean about the roses but they will reward you with all of those magnificent flowers. We cut a Cecile Brunner rose almost back to nothing and when my dad was alive he saw it and said “you’ve bloody killed it!” It is now threatening to take over Launceston and we are going to have to tackle it again. It’s hard to kill a rose.


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