Monthly Archives: November 2014

TG #26

In Issue Twenty Six:

Alone in the Storm + Huon Apples Part Two + Orbit + International Wall of Friendship
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Back in Tasmania for the long days and the fine weather. It’s very much a spring season here – the Bedfordia is flowering and the rain comes unexpectedly!
This issue, we travel from mountains to orchard to planetary orbit to downtown Hobart CBD.
We start with Tristan Stuart’s recollections of a whiteout blizzard on Mount Field, and join him in spirit as he navigates through the mountain alone in the storm. And in sunnier and warmer places, we rejoin Beth Hall for the second half of her history of the Huon Valley apple industry. There’s fresh apples in the markets so you should get your Croftons and Pink Ladies!
Selmes Films has compiled an incredible timelapse from the International Space Station – it’s a glorious planet and they’ve got the best possible view. Keep your eyes open for a meteor hitting the Earth’s atmosphere!
And we’ll leave you with a reminder of Tasmania’s international links. Did you know that Hobart has an International Wall of Friendship? Representatives from around the world have donated sections to the wall – it’s worth a look!
All the best!
The Editor!

The International Wall of Friendship

Did you know Tasmania has friends from all over the world?

The International Wall of Friendship is located at 188 Collin Street, Hobart CBD. It’s worth a look.


International Space Station ISS fly over earth time lapse in HD. Compilation of NASA time lapse footage and Astronaut / Cosmonaut space to ground audio communications.

Inspired by the work of David Peterson and others my goal was create an experience that allows us to marvel at wonders of this world from the unique perspective of only 370km above our heads. Audio recordings in English and Russian are taken from actual space to ground communications on the International Space Station. I have included the audio clips at the beginning and end to remind the audience of the humanity that inhabits the space station. I have kept audio and title distractions away from the major part of the footage to allow the visuals to speak for themselves.

Post Production – Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects

Learn more about Selmesfilms on Facebook


Apples of the Huon – Part Two

…continued from Apples of the Huon – Part One


The Apple Calendar
The annual apple calendar was a busy one. Fruit picking, taking the crop for processing, pruning, spraying and watering provided work for the whole family. There were also times when the trees had to be replaced or re-grafted. While it is fair to say that growing apples was a lot of hard work for entire families, there was also a social aspect.

Church parades were held to bless the blossoming apple trees in the spring. For twenty years from 1952 the Cygnet Apple Festival was the biggest event on the Apple Calendar.  There were float parades, balls and other social events. Each year an Apple Queen was crowned. Many competitions at the Apple Festival displayed the skills of the orchardist. Apple packing, case making and wiring, and case milling were but a few examples.

The spring apple blossom drew crowds of sightseers from the city. They traveled by road and by river to look at the blossoms. The scented trees were a sight to be seen on the farms that lined the water way. Orchards could be seen all down the channel coastline as well as up the river.  Visitors also came from Hobart to attend the yachting regattas

The transport of apples to market

As apple orchards expanded in the colony, the owners looked for sources of income. In 1849 the 71 ton schooner John Bull shipped seven casks and fifty three cases of apples to New Zealand from a Sorrell orchard. Huon growers were quick to catch on to the idea of export. The Huon River became their highway.

Apples were initially taken to factories by horse and dray. Later steam tractors provided the pulling power. The Huon River provided a highway for the transport of apples and manufactured product. Many wooden boats were built at Wilson’s yard at Martins Point and Robleys Point in Port Cygnet for this purpose.

Apples were loaded from jetties in many of the small bays along the river coastline. Crooked Tree, Gardeners Bay, Deep Bay, Abels Bay, Gardeners Bay, Herlihys Bay, Petcheys Bay, Wattle Grove, Lymington, Glaziers Bay, and Randalls Bay. Small boats and barges took the apples to Cygnet for processing.

The Cygnet Steamship Company operated steam ships that loaded apples from the deep water wharves along the river. A daily schedule operated between Cygnet and Hobart. Ships called at Woodstock, Cradoc, Cygnet, Garden Island Creek and Woodbridge.

When the apple era was at its peak Port Huon became a very busy port. Thousands of boxes of apples from the upper Huon and the Huon Valley were loaded on to large ocean going vessels. This meant that export apples were handled only once before they reached their destinations in Australia, New Zealand, America, Britain and Europe.

The volume of apples
Mercury reporters regularly visited Cygnet and reported on the fruit production. In  1935 fruit from the Cygnet area included 644,800 bushels of apples, 27,170 bushels of pears, 5470 1bs of gooseberries, 31,890 lbs of black currents, 100,750 lbs of raspberries, 160,880 1bs of strawberries. Fruit and jam from the area helped feed nations. It was also sent to soldiers serving overseas during the World Wars.

From orchards that had just twenty to thirty trees in 1915 the acreage under apples expanded to reach its peak in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1962 The Australian Women’s Weekly reported that twenty six thousand acres were in apple production in the Huon and Derwent Valleys. Some of the best known Tasmanian apple varieties of the era were Alfriston, Celopatra, Cox’s Orange, Crofton, Democrat, Delicious, Geeveston Fanny. French Crab, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Jonathan, Scarlet and Sturmer.

In the 1960s Tasmania was exporting over six million boxes of apples out of Tasmania. The United Kingdom, Scandinavia and Europe were the main destinations. Tasmania was known as the ‘Apple Isle.’

The downturn in the apple industry
The Huon apple industry remained competitive for many years through its technology, diversity of product and quality of its pest free fruit. Unfortunately the industry was dependent on international export markets. The down turn started when the British market started to prefer apples imported from Canada and Argentina.

When England joined the common market in 1973 the death knell for the Tasmanian Apple Industry sounded. There was little warning and the export market was stopped in its tracks. Initially the Government encouraged farmers to remove older poorly producing trees and to reconstruct their orchards.

So many growers were in financial difficulties that the Government was forced to sponsor The Tree Pull Scheme. From 1972 until 1975 many Huon farmers took advantage of this scheme. Over a decade almost seven hundred orchard owners left the industry.

The number of commercial apple growers eventually fell to just sixty from more than thirteen hundred. The Cygnet area was severely impacted by these circumstances. Ultimately many farmers subdivided their land into small lifestyle blocks and left the area.

Looking to the future
Apple growers have looked to the Asian markets since the 1980s. Orchards were replanted or re-grafted. Since the millennium the super market requirements of size and colorful display have dictated the apples grown in Tasmania. Pink Lady, Royal Gala and the new variety Jazz, are supermarket favorites.  Another apple called Envy is about to enter this market.

Tasmania currently produces twenty five million apples. This is about sixteen percent of apples grown in Australia. The high Australian dollar and the lack of ships sailing from Hobart to international ports continue to be issues for growers.

There is hope that the export market will increase. New apple varieties have been developed for specific markets. Tiger Fuji is destined for the Chinese market. A rich red colored apple called Ruby Gold will be tried in Hong Kong and other Asian markets.

There are few large orchards left in production in the Huon area. Willie Smiths is a historic organic orchard situated in the Huon Valley. In addition to apples cider is made on site. The orchard hosts a well supported mid-winter festival to celebrate the region’s apple growing.

Older apple varieties can still be purchased from the roadside stalls around Cygnet and at the markets. Cherries, blueberries and strawberries are also available. For those who wish to grow heritage apples in their gardens, heritage apple trees are available from Cradoc and Woodbridge.

Relics of Cygnet’s apple industry
When driving down the Channel Highway it is worthwhile remembering that most of the green fields that you see used to be apple orchards. There was a time when apple orchards were spread from Margate to Cygnet, Cradoc to Huonville, Franklin to Dover and throughout the Huon Valley. While apples and cherries are still grown in the Cygnet area and cider is made here and in the Huon Valley, the large processing factories of the Harvey era have gone.

Relics of the early apple industry can still be seen around the town. If you look closely as you drive you will see packing sheds, old steam engines, apple pickers’ huts, and the original brick apple dehydrating kilns made of brick. The remnants of old wharves are still in many bays. A few very old apple trees can be seen in paddocks or on the roadside.

At Burton’s Reserve in Cygnet remain a few buildings from the apple processing era – the Weighbridge, the Bridge Cottage and a shed that is now used by the Cygnet Scouts. For those who are interested a model of the Harvey and Burton factories that stood on the site is on display. There is also an interesting steam engine. The Cygnet Living History Museum is in the main street of Cygnet. It is worthy of a visit.  Further information about the apple era can be found there.

So as we have traveled through the history of apple growing on the Huon we can see that Cygnet, historical events and the apple industry were closely entwined. Land grants for settlers, Lady Franklin, convicts, probation stations, freemen, retired military men, immigration schemes and boat building were important factors in getting the industry started. The climate and soils were suited to the growth of small fruits and apples.

The largest apple processing and dehydrating factory in the southern hemisphere ensured that every bit of the fruit was used and sent to market. Ships that plied the Huon River transported Cygnet products to the world. Indeed it is fair to say that all these factors were the ingredients of a successful apple export industry that spanned in excess of one hundred years. We can truly call this is Cygnet’s apple pie.

Alone in the Storm

“I finally make it back to the pack at the bottom of the trail just as the storm rolls over my head. The day turns dark as the heavy cloud sets in. Only moments later the darkness turns a heavenly white. The mountain sings a loud song of sharp winds, and heavy snow.”


It is the middle of the week and I’ve managed to acquire a few day off work. Winter is coming to an end and the sun has risen its’ head from what seemed like a long hibernation behind rain clouds. I can’t think of anything better to do than head for the mountains. I plan a one night trip to back of Mt. Field, following the Tarn Shelf on the first day, and on the second taking the back route up the Newdegate Pass, then over the Ranges and back home. It wasn’t long before I realised things were not going to happen as I planned.

I start the first day with a quick stop at the various waterfalls in the Mt. Field National Park, before making my way up to the mountain for an early afternoon start. Small pockets of snow cover the famous lakes at Tarn Shelf. The day goes by relatively quick. Soft winds and a gentle sun accompany me along the Shelf as I take various photographs. As the day comes to an end, I get excited about setting up camp, as I have brought a new tent to try. Just as I finish constructing the frame, clouds crest the ranges and rain starts falling. I crawl into my sleeping bag, but as the night sets in I feel small drops of moisture fall onto my face. The moisture building up in the tent makes it feels as though it’s raining inside as much as out. “This is the last time I ever take an untested tent into the wilderness”, I think to myself as the rain starts leaking through the seams.


As is common to the Tasmanian climate, and most certainly to the highlands, the promise of a sunny day is a fool’s dream. Light snow starts to fall as I set out early for the Newdegate Pass. “At least it’s not rain”, I tell myself, “a few quick photos and I’ll be around the back, over the top, and descending to the car park in no time”. Unfortunately, like many photographers I’m often incredibly bad with time when  I come upon a scene worth capturing. After spending some time taking photos on the highlands I come across the formation know as the The Watcher. This collection of rocks, like giant toothpicks protruding out of the earth, stands tall above the flat highlands. In my mind’s eye I can already see the amazing photograph from the top of those giant toothpicks. The day is getting late, but I cannot let the opportunity pass.

I drop my hiking pack at the bottom of the trail up to The Watcher and start climbing with my camera gear. Weaving in and out of the cracks and crevices along the path, I scramble atop the final rock to a view that shocks me. It doesn’t shock me because of its beauty, but for two reasons I didn’t foresee. The first is that rather than the magnificent view I had envisioned, a long valley of logged forests confronts me. This valley is hidden away from prying eyes, tucked behind the thin veil of the National Park’s boundary. The second unforeseen reason is that an ominous storm of thick dark clouds is thundering towards me. A slight panic seeps into my body. “Still time for the shot”, I tell myself. I quickly pull out the tripod, look for the best angle I can find, and start fumbling for the camera. Click, click, click. “Quickly pack the tripod up, don’t drop your camera, careful on the rocks”, I mumble away. It’s funny how we often talk to ourselves in moments of panic. As if a voice spoken aloud could somehow protect us from the inevitable disaster. “I should have bought a better coat”, I tell myself.

I finally make it back to the pack at the bottom of the trail just as the storm rolls over my head. The day turns dark as the heavy cloud sets in. Only moments later the darkness turns a heavenly white. The mountain sings a loud song of sharp winds, and heavy snow. The ground is covered white with fallen snow, the track hidden beneath. The cloud is so thick I cannot see more than ten metres in front of my position. Soft light from the vanishing sun reflects a white hue in all directions. The only way I can describe it is to imagine yourself in a purely white room full of fog, a freezing white room. Mountaineers know it as a ‘whiteout’. These storms are near impossible to navigate through. I realise I will be stuck here for a second night, unless by some miracle the storm clears. Of course, no miracle occurs.

I consider my options. Should I setup my soaking wet tent? The idea doesn’t seem very promising; I don’t like the thought of being a frozen popsicle in a leaking tent again. I open the map and carefully consider my position. I notice an emergency hut around two kilometres away and decide it’s the best choice. Luckily, I had a compass with me. Attempting to move one kilometre in a whiteout without one is the stuff of disasters. I triangulate my exact position off The Watcher I had descended, and the track I followed, and take a bearing for the hut.

After two hours of very slow and careful navigation, I sit down on one of the wooden benches inside the hut and start boiling a cup of tea to get some warmth into my frozen form.


It’s amazing how quickly confidence can shrivel to loneliness and fear in moments of isolation-  when the body is cold, and the hands are bright pinkish purple. It’s 3:00 AM and only small pockets of sleep have come and gone. The mountain still sings its song of white outside the small hut. I keep my hands tucked into my groin trying desperately to warm them. My sleeping bag isn’t doing the job it’s theoretically capable of because it is still wet from the previous night. Pulling myself out the sleeping bag, I decided a warm cup of tea will help the chill, and having a task to perform will shift my mind away from lonely thoughts. The hot tea invigorates my body from the inside, and a few nuts provide some energy for the coming walk. “When the sun rises, I’m walking over this mountain”, I tell myself. I look out the small window and ask the mountain to be kind tomorrow before falling back to sleep.

It’s 9:30 AM. I’ve managed another hour of sleep here and there and decided the time has come to trek over the Range. As I open the door of the hut a wall of snow confronts me! A small gap the width of my hand remains clear at the top of the doorway. “Drat”, I think to myself, “this is going to be a long trek”. After shoveling an escape hole, I start my ascent for the peak. The weather has cleared a little and I can feel a slight warmth from the light glow of sun through the still thick cloud cover. At least the snow has stopped falling and the wind has died down somewhat. It doesn’t make the walk much easier. Each step I take is grueling, and the snow comes to just below my waist. The track is largely invisible, and every few hundred metres I fall down into some unseen crack between the rocks. Each fall drains my energy and spirit, nonetheless, I am committed and forward is the only direction I’m moving in. As I continue the ascent, I enter the cloud line, and find myself in that white reflective room once more.

A few hours of painfully slow movement pass until I enter what appears like a den or oblong colosseum. Tall rock walls surround me. The snow grows deeper, coming above my waist. The cloud is so thick and close to my head I can reach up and scoop it from the sky into my hand for a fleeting moment before it dissipates. It’s like a white blanket floating atop my head. I must be high on the peak of the mountain and deep in the cloud. For a small moment the wind silences itself to a whisper. “It’s beautiful”, I think to myself. I want to unpack my camera and take a photo, but something stops me. I don’t know what it is exactly, the cold metal camera body and the pain I know it will bring to my fingers? Perhaps it’s the fear of being stuck here longer? I sit silently for a moment taking solace in the peace, and building energy for the final push. I leave my camera packed. Some images are meant to remain uncaptured. It’s as if nature had offered her most beautiful side when she knew I could not capture her. Or perhaps a moment of peace was my reward for reaching the peak of the mountain?

By my calculations, I am around three quarters through the range. I’ve developed a love affair with my compass and the occasional orange trail markers that poke out from beneath the snow. These little orange caps  atop pole are like small dots of relief and joy, and each one give me faith in my bearings. I go half an hour without finding one and my spirit grows heavier. Doubt enters my mind. I recheck my bearing, retrace my footprints, modify my bearing by a few degrees and set out again. Another marker! I am hopeful once more until too much time passes between markers and my hope fades.

This dance of hope and worry drags on until I notice something. “Am I descending?” The cloud seems lighter, my vision stretches a little further, when suddenly, an ecstatic joy fills my body as I breach the cloud line and my visibility returns. I can see the way out below. A flat layer of snow hugs the walking track. I yell thankfully into the mountain pass.


As I’m driving out of the National Park I reflect on the fact that in mere moments, I have travelled further than I was able to walk in three days. Hot air blasts from the heater as the car engine warms up. My frozen feet start to thaw and a tingling sensation runs through my hands as heat returns to them. My backside is finally comfortable on the cushioned seat, and my face untouched by the heavy wind, encased in the security of the glass and steel car. It’s amazing how far technology has brought us, and the subtle comforts it offers. But as I sit there thawing out comfortably, with kilometres speeding by in moments, I cannot help but feel a sense of loss and disconnection from something deep inside myself.

Some kind of inner primal self calls back to the mountain. It longs for the adventure once again. It is as if the mountain took a piece of me, or perhaps as if something inside me can only be uncovered when walking slowly across the land. In that slow walk I was connected to each and every bend and corner, to every stream that I drink from, to every hill that I climb. The warm comfort of my car seems sterile and lifeless in comparison. I have flashes of the logged landscape when sitting on The Watcher. I look out at the forest around me and wonder if it also is just another thin veil over a hidden and devastated wilderness? The speed of the car keeps me ignorant of such matters. I think of the moment when I was struck by the beauty of nature in the throes of the storm atop the mountain, and how in the slowness of walking I was more connected to the changes and movements of nature. Moving with such speed seems to make me a disconnected observer, rather than a sensing, and feeling participant. The speed of modern living has locked us away from the elegance of nature, which reveals itself only to those with patience and sensitivity to its subtle changes. Thoughts of how the speed of modern living have changed our connection to the land, and politics of nature, haunt my thoughts as I drive home.