New Zealand

Canada 2015: Vancouver to Whistler, BC

Flying over the snowcapped Rocky Mountains.

For years, a train ride through the Canadian Rockies has been on our bucket list. What reignited this interest was a comment from Diane, who we met at the Hermitage in Aoraki/Mount Cook, New Zealand, in 2014. As I gazed out the windows of the Old Mountaineers’ Cafe, Diane said, “Do you find these mountain peaks impressive?” I replied that I certainly did. She shot back with “Have you seen your Rockies?” I said I had but only certain sections of the range. “The Rockies, now they are impressive,” she informed me.

Diane’s comment revived our desire to see this entire majestic mountain range. We would start with the Canadian Rockies and eventually make our way south. The Rocky Mountains stretch from British Columbia and Alberta, Canada, through Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and into northern New Mexico in the United States—for a total of three thousand miles. I’ve seen a portion of the Colorado Rockies, and I’m quite familiar with the southernmost range, which is the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in New Mexico.

When we returned to the US after our Down Under trip, we began to map out plans for our Canadian rail tour, and the following May (2015) we flew from DFW to Vancouver, BC. On previous stays we booked bed and breakfasts throughout the city, but this time, curious about the Fairmont hotel chain, Dave decided to reserve a Fairmont whenever they were available.

We arrived in Vancouver late on a Friday afternoon, took a leisurely stroll along the wharf, and returned to the Fairmont Waterfront to dress for dinner at Miku Vancouver. We sat on the patio, a tad chilly, but the waitstaff immediately brought a blanket to drape over my legs, and I turned my attention to ordering sushi and hot sake.

After dinner, we took a tour of the Fairmont’s rooftop herb garden and watched the beekeepers tend to the hives, pleased to see Executive Chef Karan Suri’s sustainable creation. And while I am all in favor of minimizing our carbon footprint on the earth, the Fairmont’s sustainability program threw a small wrench into my “good night’s sleep.”

Around midnight, when we were sound asleep, our smoke detector blasted us awake. I went to the window and saw no lights on in the hotel, and the lights in our room weren’t operable. We called the front desk and they asked us if we had read the hotel notice left in our room. Bottom line, we never found a letter in our room stating that for conservation purposes, the electrical system would be shut off and only emergency lighting provided for the rest of the night. Neither one of us had a problem with this. We just wished we had been notified beforehand, such as at check-in. To add to the fitful night, we were dozing off again, after lying awake for three hours, when the electricity came back on and once again our smoke detector blared to life.

Bleary-eyed at 5:00 a.m., we packed to catch our taxi to the railway station. At checkout, the front desk manager apologized profusely for housekeeping not leaving the letter. We suggested that they tell their guests upon check-in rather than rely on a notice being left in the room. Having the smoke detector wake us from a sound sleep, twice, was certainly disruptive.

A bit surprised that the manager did not comp us in any way for a lousy night’s sleep, we hopped into a cab, only to discover that the driver had no idea where the rail station was located. While he was contacting dispatch, David dug out his cell phone and gave the cabbie directions.

“This isn’t starting out well,” I mumbled as I stood on the railway platform shivering in the blustery early morning, waiting for the train—the Rocky Mountaineer Whistler Sea to Sky Climb—to take us from Vancover to the resort town of Whistler. Our seats were at the very front of the train and on the upper deck, giving us a panoramic view of the vivid blue sky overhead and nothing but snowcapped mountains all around us.

Three hours later, we arrived in Whistler and boarded a bus to the Fairmont Chateau Whistler. Upon check-in, the front desk clerk informed us that management had upgraded our room to a luxury one-bedroom mountain-view suite and apologized for the previous night at the Fairmont Waterfront in Vancouver. He wished us a pleasant stay in Whistler, albeit a short one.

We unpacked and walked into town for a light lunch at Brew House and then spent the rest of the day wandering the shops. On the way back to our suite, we stopped at Marketplace Shopping Centre for wine and made a second stop at La Cantina for tacos. We ate on the small balcony off our room, watching the sun sink over the mountains and Whistler Village. By the way, the tacos were delicious.




Sharing is caring!

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.


Sharing is caring!

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.



Sharing is caring!

Follow by Email