Down Under Wrap-up

Happy New Year and the best of everything in 2018—Darcy, Bullet, and Pat.

Cruising Milford Sound.

Today I’m wrapping up my Down Under blog series and want to share a few parting photos that I hope you will enjoy. As I’ve mentioned on several occasions, I am not writing a travel blog per se. I only post about locations that will appear in future Darcy and Bullet thrillers. So yes, I do plan to set a novel Down Under, and many of the countries in my current posts will be settings for forthcoming books. 

Cruising the Milford Sound

a glimpse into my 2018 blog posts: in the coming months I will post about my Canadian trip and my St. Barth’s visit, also settings for new Darcy and Bullet novels. After these travel posts, I will do a series on art and architecture. Why, you might ask, would I write about these? Because both subjects are dear to Darcy’s heart and mine. Watching a talented person create a work of art, design a structure, or write a book is inspiring unto itself, and art and architecture play a part in my thriller series.


Let’s start with those cheeky keas, heralded as the world’s most intelligent birds. Dubbed “the clown of the alps,” and the only alpine parrot in the world, the kea is native to the forested and mountainous regions of New Zealand’s South Island. The screeching cries of “keeeaa” alert you to the presence of these highly social and inquisitive birds.

Although I haven’t had the privilege, I’ve been told that if you see a kea in flight you will never forget it. The birds transform from olive green to brilliant flashes of orange, scarlet, yellow, blue, and turquoise.

Keas are hardy birds that tolerate a range of temperatures, and they thrive on everything from berries, fruits, roots, and leaves to even carrion. They also loiter around picnic sites—an easy source of junk food. Insatiably curious, charismatic, and mischievous, these natural sleuths are bold, relentless, and downright destructive, but so cute. Easy for me to say when I haven’t experienced their fondness for rubber—destroying car door seals or chewing through wiper blades. I did get a kick out of seeing several board a bus during our tramping tour.

According to a British tourist, he had his passport stolen by a kea. The passport was stored in a brightly colored bag in the luggage compartment of a bus headed for a boat tour of Milford Sound. The kea struck when the bus stopped and the driver was busy in the luggage compartment. The driver startled the kea, which flew away with the passport.

Years ago, when a kea was spotted attacking a live sheep, the birds were branded as killers and a bounty was placed on their little green heads. Tens of thousands were killed, but today they are a protected species.

But why all the signs warning people not to feed them? Besides the bounty, their love for high-fat junk food very nearly killed them off. So for their sake and ours, do not feed the keas.


In the wilderness of Tasmania’s Southwest National Park, the history of its first inhabitants, and later its mining explorers, is being preserved at Melaleuca—renowned for its world heritage area and also for its mining history. A small mining settlement was established in the region in 1930s, where high-grade alluvial cassiterite (tin oxide) was mined. 

While digging deeper into the history of tin mining during my research on Sir Henry Jones, I discovered the life and accomplishments of Charles Denison “Deny” King, an Australian naturalist, ornithologist, environmentalist, painter, and the first tin miner in Melaleuca. To read more about him and the Deny King Heritage Museum,  http://tasminerals.com.au/news/news/about-deny-king-and-the-deny-king-heritage-museum,-melaleuca/

I also discovered during a conversation with one of the “birdies” from our tour of Melaleuca that they were not in search of “simply a green parrot” but were on a heated search to catch a glimpse of “the critically endangered orange-bellied parrot that breeds only around Melaleuca.”

The Melaleuca was originally part of the homelands of the Needwonnee Aboriginal people, and the Needwonnee Walk shares the stories of these original custodians of the land. Photo left: On the Needwonnee Walk.

Black swans at Melaleuca

Today’s Melaleuca is still virtually untouched, with only six thousand visitors each year. Due to the remoteness of the region and limited accessibility—by foot, plane, or boat—the area has maintained its wildness. Visitors’ facilities are intentionally rugged, catering to trampers, bushwalkers, day-trippers, and bird-watchers. As I wrote in a previous post, we flew into the small airstrip and then traveled on foot and by boat to tour the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.

Sadly, this wilderness area suffered a bad bushfire in 2016.  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3429623/Tasmanian-World-Heritage-area-devastated-bushfire.html  


The infamous staircase at The Henry Jones Art Hotel

A last word on Sir Henry Jones. While Jones had a reputation for frugality, he was a very generous man who simply disliked spending money on “fripperies.” Rather than use first-grade timber to panel the Top Room at the Henry Jones hotel, Sir Henry preferred to reserve the high-quality wood for the crates that would be used to export his IXL jams around the world.

This grand staircase, also in the Henry Jones Hotel, has four carved newel posts, which support the handrail. Three have been decorated with stippling. When Jones walked by and saw a young lad from the factory floor working on the last post, he sent him back to work packing crates—an example of Jones’s abhorrence for needless expense.


From the Pont des Arts bridge in Paris to bridges in Melbourne and Sydney, love locks have been cut off footbridges, melted, recasted, and refiled. In some cases, they have become works of art with the proceeds donated to charity. From a previous post of mine: https://patkrapf.com//2015/06/18/europe-2013-the-notre-dame-bells/

My last shot of Australia as we flew back to the Unites States from Sydney.

For now, I will say a fond farewell to the land Down Under, but I will see you soon, Aotearoa—the Maori name for New Zealand, which translates as “the land of the long white cloud”—for we are already planning a repeat visit.

Writers Walk in Sydney.

You will notice I use famous quotes in all of my Darcy McClain and Bullet thrillers and I’ll leave you with one now from Eleanor Dark. “Silence ruled this land. Out of silence mystery comes, and magic, and the delicate awareness of unreasoning things.” The Timeless Land (1941).






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Tasmania 2014: Hobart

Hunter Street, Hobart, Tasmania. Photo credit: Dee Kramer Photography/Above Down Under deekramer.com/

The next morning we strolled the Melbourne waterfront—again. Both of us had fallen for the city. David had always said he would never live in a city, but if he ever did, it would be Melbourne. Two firsts for him: ranching in New Zealand and city living in Melbourne. Sounded like he was ready to be an Aussie or a Kiwi. Seriously though, we have no plans to emigrate, but another visit? Definitely.

In the afternoon, we caught a flight from Melbourne to Hobart, Tasmania. Curious about the locale and its people, I’ve always wanted to visit the island, and I was excited that it would finally happen.

While I call myself an ultramodern minimalist, I love all periods of architecture—ancient to modern. But what fascinates me the most about old buildings is their past. How did they come to be what they are today? So when I saw The Henry Jones Art Hotel in Hobart, I couldn’t wait to delve into the history of the old brick warehouses that front the wharf. Since I was in no position to capture an aerial shot of the Hunter Street causeway, I asked photographer Dee Kramer for permission to use her photo of Hobart, which gives the reader an excellent view of the entire waterfront as it appears today. To the left of the photo is the Drunken Admiral, a restaurant, and The Henry Jones Art Hotel is to the middle right. You can just make out the lettering on the two buildings. The hotel is to the left of the pale blue building. Both establishments will be mentioned in the next few blog posts.

The Henry Jones Art Hotel

After my initial research, I became addicted to delving into the compelling convict history of the island. Why, you might ask? Because from the checkered pasts of their parents, the children of convicts went on to achieve such amazing accomplishments. Some parents’ crimes were petty, while others were quite serious, but so many of the descendants of convicts had much to be proud of. One such person was Sir Henry Jones, knighted in 1919 by King George V. Jones’s citation read, “An architect of his own fortunes and his ability and enterprise had a giant influence upon the progress of Hobart and the state of Tasmania.” The quote is from a magazine article in Tasmania 40ºSouth titled “Henry Jones rediscovered” by writer Craig Sampson, the great-grandson of Sir Henry Jones.

For Tasmanians, even as late as the 1970s, having European ancestors who were “free settlers” was something to feel smug about, as opposed to being stained by those who were convicts. During the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the British sent more than 165,000 convicts to Tasmania. The first jail was built at Risdon Cove, but in 1804 the prisoners were moved to Sullivan’s Cove—soon to be called Hobart. The most hardened criminals were housed at Port Arthur.

In 1804, Lieutenant Governor David Collins stepped onto the shores of Hunter Island in a remote corner of Van Diemen’s Land, the original name for Tasmania. The Dutch explorer Abel Tasman was the first European to explore the island, and he named it after Anthony van Diemen, the governor-general of the Dutch East Indies. The name was changed to Tasmania in 1856. Collins’s arrival marked a new era of change with the settlement of Hobart. Soon Hunter Street was constructed on the old Hobart Town causeway, which once joined Hunter Island to the shores of Sullivan’s Cove. In 1820, a stone causeway wide enough to accommodate two carts passing each other was built over the original roadway, and the first warehouses were constructed to cater to the growing number of ships docking at the harbor. Photo: Front door of the hotel. Inside looking out.

Factories, storehouses, and dwellings emerged, like nearby Wapping, the unofficial name for a closely settled working-class neighborhood alongside Hobart’s first wharf. Like its London namesake by the Thames, it was a low-lying, flood-prone district dominated by the nearby docks. Two streams emptied into the flat, marshy area including the town’s water supply and drainage system, the Hobart Town Rivulet. Over the next fifteen years, the settlement grew rapidly, fed by the thriving whaling and sealing industries, and a steady supply of convict labor.

In the 1830s, a severe depression hit Hobart. The whaling industry collapsed from overexploitation, a new wharf had been constructed across the bay (at what is now Salamanca Place), and the Old Wharf and nearby Wapping were gripped by poverty. The rivulet that supplied Wapping with fresh water had become polluted from factories and slaughterhouses. Disease was rampant, slums proliferated, and the buildings of Old Wharf fell into disrepair. With its brothels, taverns, and nefarious activities, the Old Wharf developed a reputation for wickedness.

In 1869, businessman George Peacock moved his successful jam-making business to his newly acquired warehouses on the Old Wharf—the best location in Hobart for exporting produce. Peacock Jams were in high demand, and the shrewd businessman had a vision and determination to expand his flourishing business.

Jam boiler at The Henry Jones Art Hotel.

Peacock arrived at Hobart Town in 1850 and opened a grocery and fruit shop. By 1867, he had become one of the first manufacturers of canned jam in the colonies. In 1869, he moved his factory to a large stone warehouse on the Old Wharf, with copper pans and two boilers to supply the necessary steam for canning. A hard worker and disciplinarian, according to his factory hands, Peacock was also interested in their welfare. He conducted hymns and prayers at the start of each day’s work, strongly disapproved of blasphemy, and dismissed any man who drank.

Henry Jones was born in 1862 in Hobart Town, the second son of John and Emma Jones and one of eight children—three boys and five girls. Emma arrived in Tasmania in 1848 at the age of eighteen, sentenced to seven years for the theft of£300 from her former employer, and John arrived in 1850, sentenced to ten years for stealing a gold watch.

Young Henry was educated at Mr. Canaway’s school, where he excelled in commercial subjects. At the age of twelve, he went to work at Peacock’s jam factory–his first and only employer. Working ten hours a day, six days a week, he pasted labels on jam tins and within a few years became an expert jam boiler. Henry rose through the ranks of the expanding Peacock empire, and when Peacock retired, took control of the jam company in partnership with A. W. Palfreyman and Peacock’s son Ernest.

With Jones at the helm, new premises were built, the range of canned products was diversified, and the partners entered the hop production business and the overseas export trade. During the partnership period, Jones adopted the brand name IXL (a play on “I excel”) and was himself popularly dubbed “Jam Tin Jones.” He eventually took over the business that bore his name—H. Jones and Co. Pty. Ltd.

In 1902, the partnership was dissolved and a limited liability company was formed—Henry Jones Co-Operative Ltd. Jones was a shrewd investor, but his greatest profits came not from jam but from the Thailand tin-dredging industry. , followed by the Tongkah Harbour Tin Dredging Co. and Tongkah Compound. The word “Tongkah” entered the Hobart vocabulary as an adjective denoting good financial luck.

Sir Henry Jones died in 1886 and was survived by his wife Lady Alice and their twelve children—three sons and nine daughters. Lady Alice received the title “Lady” upon Henry’s knighthood in 1919. She went on to be known as “The Lady of Tasmania” and a major patron of the arts in Hobart.

In the late 1970s, Henry Jones IXL Jams, one of Australia’s most successful companies, shut down, and the properties languished until 2004 when architects Morris-Nunn & Associates (now Circa) won the right to revive the historic site, transforming the former jam factory into Australia’s first dedicated art hotel. At the Henry Jones, sleek modern decor and contemporary art complement the untouched nineteenth-century sandstone walls, and the original warehouse windows offer an unobstructed view of Hobart’s harbor, the city, and the mountains beyond.

In 2005, what remained of the IXL parent company, after mergers and sales, is now owned by Coca-Cola Amatil. And in 2008, Federal Group purchased the Henry Jones Hotel.


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Australia 2014: Melbourne

Melbourne, New Zealand

Sunrise. We slung daypacks over our arms and went downstairs for a hearty breakfast before meeting Trevor, our guide for a wine tour of the Macedon Ranges. On the bus with us were a couple from Malaysia, an Aussie couple, and two women from Sydney, each traveling alone. A friendly group, we chatted most of the way to our first destination—Cloud 9 Farm.

Cloud 9 Farm is a small-scale family-run operation that specializes in wine and cheesemaking, as do many wineries in Australia and New Zealand. This struck me as interesting, because wine and cheesemaking do not necessarily go hand in hand at California wineries. The winery sits beneath the picturesque Cobaw State Forest with beautiful views of the valley below the Macedon Ranges. The owners, the Deeble family, have a passion for good food and wine and pride themselves on healthy and chemical-free products. Susy’s sought-after-cheese, White Velvet, a Camembert-style cheese, is only available at the cellar door, and everything from breeding the cows to milking them and pasteurizing the milk is done at the farm.

Before we headed to our next destination, Granite Hills Wines, we stopped at Hanging Rock Discovery Centre for a snack. Tourists picnicking in the area had spotted kangaroos, one with a joey, and we went in search of the marsupials but disappointingly never came upon them. We did see a colorful Crimson Rosella parrot, and he was a delight in bright red and blue, not to mention being friendly.

Granite Hills Wines is perched atop a boulder-strewn slope of the Great Dividing Range in Central Victoria, at an altitude of around 1,800 feet. The weather is cool, particularly at night, with reliable rainfall and well-drained soils, which translates to little disease for the vines. The winery is home to some of Australia’s best Rieslings and the birthplace of a peppery Shiraz, and we were all looking forward to our wine tasting. The small family winery has won hundreds of awards from local and international shows.

Our group lunched at “The Vic”—the Victoria Hotel Woodend. The fare was pub food. We started our meal with homemade bread and three kinds of mayonnaise. I recall one of them being beet mayonnaise. Because mayo isn’t one of my favorite condiments, I skipped it and ate the bread. I recalled similar experiences in France and Spain when mayonnaise triumphed over mustard for our ham sandwiches and was also preferred over cocktail sauce for our shrimp cocktails.

With lunch over, we motored to our last winery of the day—Paramoor Winery, a boutique winery. Their tasting room is in a rustic barn with comfortable seating. While most sipped wine, I strolled outdoors to snap photos of the grounds and visit the owners’ aging Clydesdale, as I am quite fond of horses, although I’ve never owned one.

During the return trip to Melbourne, everyone on board dozed as Trevor fought heavy traffic into town. At another bottleneck, we told Trevor to drop us at the next intersection and we would walk the two blocks to our hotel. He hesitated. We assured him that we needed to stretch our legs as we’d done enough sitting for one day. Reluctantly, he agreed, saying the turnaround in front of our hotel with all the cabs coming and going would further delay him, and he was already forty minutes late dropping off the rest of the group. We thanked him for the tour and walked the few blocks to our hotel, ready to freshen up. We spent the rest of the day walking the waterfront, watching kayak teams practicing.

That night, we had no dinner reservations. Oktoberfest was in full swing, and most people strolling the wharf seemed more interested in drinking than eating. After perusing the menus of several restaurants, we entered Melbourne Public and asked if they could recommend an eatery. The front section of the establishment was a bar, with their restaurant at the very back of it. We ordered the lamb shanks and the beef cheek, and a bottle of Catalina Sounds pinot noir. The food and service were excellent, and we still rave about the meal.



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