Memorable Encounters...A Journey for Whisky in Tasmania..... Part 2

April 04, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

Fabio 2300 7828 Maan and PeterFabio 2300 7828 Maan and PeterMaan and Peter at Belgrove Distillery

Fabio 2300 7717Fabio 2300 7717Columbia Marking Tools Each of these samplings had unique flavors. Flavors are hard to describe however, I can extrapolate on other characteristics. All of them smooth and hit the taste buds different, sometimes on the tip, sometimes on the side, or in the middle of the tongue. So much so that Santa made a comment on it. Each had a body comparable to what you would expect from a fine bottle of wine. Speaking of which, we all know how to ‘swirl’ the beverage in a glass to get it to ‘open it up’ prior to the big open mouth sniff to prepare the pallet. Maan tells us that is wrong. We should not agitate (aka piss off) the liquor. Instead of vigorously sloshing and rolling it about in the glass, we should lay the glass on its side on slowly, gently roll the spirit by turning the glass.

For an attempt on the flavors, though they look young in color there was no harshness even in the higher-octane options. The peated (peat dug from their farm) variations had a light peated taste, not extremely heavy but noticeable, and did not disguise the true flavor of the original mash. The smoked variations had a slight smoked flavor, and still allowed the rest of the flavors to pass. You could taste the oat, you could taste the spelt, you could taste the rye, and no, you could not taste the sheep. All of these whiskeys, I got to say, are some of the finest tasting whiskeys I have ever tasted! This creates a problem, I cannot afford all of them, and there isn’t much room in the suitcases to pack bottles. Poor Santa, something must stay behind. (L.O.L.) Although I did like the Wholly Shit Rye, that didn’t come in a small bottle, so I settled (yeah right..) on the 100% Rye Whisky, Santa really liked the Spelt whisky (they don’t spell whiskey with an “e”) but couldn’t afford it and they didn’t have a small bottle to sell so she took her second choice, the oat whisky. (Maan liked Santa so much, he secretly handed me a two- shot bottle of the Spelt while Santa was not looking that I quickly hid in the bag.) (Maan, she really was surprised by that, and she says, “Thank you very much.”) What we could not pass up was the coffee liqueur. It did come in a small bottle, but the large bottle price made it a no brainer. It came home with us.
Fabio 2300 7695-EditFabio 2300 7695-EditColumbia Marking Tools After all of this you say “WOW!” what  more could there be? But wait! There’s more! Peter brings out what he calls ‘Kissing a Stranger.’ A distilled white dog made from collected spit of rejected whiskey tasting. "What!!?" You say? Yep, you read that right , just make sure you read 'distilled' too. Santa said, "Nope, now way," I thought it was good and wished they had it aged in a barrel and turned into whiskey. I wonder what they would have named that.

I wish we had more time to visit other distilleries. I am left wondering if any of the others are at the grand stage of distilling as Belgrove. The grand stage is like the beginning of the Bourbon Trail right here in the USA and in the State of Kentucky. What was on the bourbon trail at the beginning of the bourbon craze, around 2008-2010, the ‘Trail’ was exciting, edgy, and raw, all now lost to polish and glitter. It is no longer about the whiskey, only about the fame, fortune, and merchandise. Australia is in that beginning stage, which for us, is the better of the two. Let us hope that Australia remains true to the flavors of whiskey and not get caught up in the commercialism that degraded the fun, and the low cost that was once the Bourbon Trail in Kentucky. Fabio 2300 7741-EditFabio 2300 7741-EditColumbia Marking Tools

Belgrove Distillery:

Captain Bligh’s:

Spring Bay Distillery:

Kentucky Bourbon Trail:


All photographs taken with a Nikon Z6II and available light.



Memorable Encounters at the Koala Conservation Centre

March 21, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

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Australia is filled with so many animals that I have never seen or heard in the wild. The laughing sound of a Kookaburra is amazing. Their noisy laughing call is one of the best known bird sounds in Australia. A mix of cackling ‘laughter’, chuckles and hoots, this famous sound is most often heard at dawn and dusk. Often given in chorus as a pair or family group, the laughing call is often given in response to neighboring group, evidently to establish territory boundaries. They make a range of other sounds including soft, croaky calls and loud bill snaps in defense. Not having a long enough lens, I couldn't photograph any, but their sounds were fantastic to hear, and sometimes deafening. You can search on the internet to find how they sound. It's worth it.

Visiting the Koala Conservation Centre on Phillip island was such a treat. According to their sign, koalas are under a significant threat from habitat loss, road mortality, they don't move very fast, dog attacks and a infection called chlamydia, which is a disease that even treated with antibiotics only 50% survive. Even so the main threat is habitat destruction. The population of koalas over the last 200 years has plummeted by approximately 90%. As of 2022 they have been listed as an endangered species. Koalas live in the aromatic eucalyptus forests, and most of the time in the very top. We were lucky enough to see them fairly at eye level due to the risers of the Conservation Centre.

Koalas have large round heads, big furry ears and a big black nose. Their fur is usually a grey-brown color with white fur on their chest, ears, inner arms and bottom. Queensland koalas are smaller than the ones we saw in Victoria. This male probably weighed close to 26 pounds. They have poor eyesight, but an excellent nose for smelling  Fabio 2300 4587Fabio 2300 4587Australia and Tasmania vacation

predators. I almost walked out of the gift store with a huge stuffed toy koala, because they are so cute. I decided my multitude of photographs were good enough!

The larger koala is a male, the smaller one is a much younger female, that did not want any sexual advances from the older male koala!


Located 90 minutes from Melbourne, but I would suggest staying on Phillip Island to not only see the koalas, but experience the Penguin Parade...can't take any photos there to protect the penguins, but it is an awesome experience.

The last photo is of the female we saw walking by us as we stood on the elevated, treetop boardwalks through the Australian bushland. What a treat!
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All photographs taken with a Nikon Z6II and either a Z S 24-120mm or a Z 24-200mm lens. It's cheap and lightweight!

Memorable Encounters: The yingina/Great Lake....

March 09, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

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Fabio 2300 6617Fabio 2300 6617Australia and Tasmania vacation Fabio 2300 6297-zenFabio 2300 6297-zenAustralia and Tasmania vacation Born and raised by our, naturally occurring, Great Lakes, imagine my surprise when we pulled up to our Airbnb in Miena, Tasmania. Our view was THIS! The entire glass wall of the home was filled with this spectacular view! Absolutely the most breathtaking panorama we had had on our trip so far. The downside was that the driveway proved to be extremely scary at a 45 degree incline where our teeny, underperforming car almost didn't make it back to the one lane, bumpy dirt road! Our friends BMW had no problems....jealous!

We were in the central northern part of Tasmania at 3,380 feet above sea level and it was a tad bit chilly, (40's at night and only 50's during the day) it is one of the coldest places in Tassie, even though we visited in the summer! The town was small, with a tiny, well stocked general store, a gas station and a restaurant....that's it. We had to drive 45 minutes to dump our garbage when we left, because they have no garbage pickup. It was perfect! It was a place where we could totally chill, walk the craggy shore and enjoy all the food we had purchased before heading to this remote location.

We drove almost 90 minutes up and down winding eucalyptus treed roads from Launceston to arrive in Miena. It was worth the ride...I should say, since I wasn't the one driving on the wrong side of the road!

The Great Lake was always a lake, but much smaller. In 1922 they damed the Pine and Breton Rivulet (very small streams) and created this 68 square mile water way. The dam provides electricity for the area, and, depending where you read the "fun facts" it is either the second or third largest fresh water lake in the state. Most of the time we were there it had people fly fishing in small boats.

We were greeted by this little fellow a brown bush wallaby. Much smaller than a kangaroo, these live near rocks and water, which the lake had plenty of. Unfortunately, we saw many of these creatures killed by the side of the road. They are like deer here in Michigan, and we almost hit one going to the airport in Hobart! We only saw two wallabies on our stay. They appear not to like humans.

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Yes, the skies were that dramatic and that blue! Those are Tasmanian skies!!!

Photographs taken with a Nikon Z6II with Z lenses.

Memorable Encounters - The Edible Animals of Australia

February 28, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

Fabio 2300 3097-cropFabio 2300 3097-cropAustralia and Tasmania vacation I will digress a moment from the "living" Australian and Tasmanian animals to write about my favorite food while I was traveling the country, which are Eastern King prawns. So every chance I had I would oder a bucket of prawns, while everyone else ordered fresh oysters, which is not my favorite food! Prawns could be found in restaurants, at local fisheries and in any grocery store. They are delicious and I am unable to find them in my local stores, so I'm glad I ate them every chance I had. They were worth the $30 AU/kilo price tag!

They are caught in the waters of South East Queensland, South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania, Australia, and they taste so fresh being caught that morning. I can see why they are the most popular species of prawn in Australia, because of their size and rich and moist flavor. They are cooked with the shell on to keep the juices and flavor inside, which of course can make for a messy, but extremely satisfying and tasty meal. I could eat a kilo, and often did, of these beautiful bright orange prawns in one sitting because they were that delectable.

With a bucket of prawns, a squeeze of lemon, and a glass of local Chardonnay, I was all set.

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Sydney has the largest fish market I have ever visited. This market is filled with restaurants, cafes, a bakery (great bread), a gourmet deli, a butcher and even a bottle shop (which is the only place you can buy alcohol!) Since 1966 the fish market has been located at Blackwattle Bay, but next year it will move to Sydney's inner harbor. In addition to everything else located there, they even have the Sydney Seafood School.

The market was crowded and filled with sites and smells that was captivating. It was filled with colors and textures and of course every type of fish imaginable. Our stay in Sydney was short, but we managed to visit twice for our fresh seafood dinners. The fresh scallop sashimi were the best I have ever eaten, and made for great appetizers...I'm hungry again!

There were bright blue buckets filled with all type of fish, but my favorite were the ones filled with large crabs. For a seafood lover, The Sydney Fish Market is the place to visit, and a visit to Sydney would not be complete without it.

For more information:

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2023 Soup Off
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Photographs taken with a Nikon Z6II camera and Z lenses.

Memorable Encounters....the Animals of Australia Part 1 - Kangaroos

February 27, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

Fabio 2300 1789Fabio 2300 1789Australia and Tasmania vacation Fabio 2300 1860Fabio 2300 1860Australia and Tasmania vacation Not even in zoos have I seen kangaroos. Imagine my surprise when we were staying at one of our airbnb's and the entire grassy area by the beach was filled with as many as 100, of various ages! These groups are called troops or herds ("mobs by Australians.") We were less than a quarter of a block from them. I was in awe and took way too many photographs of these marsupials during our stay, but no complaints, it was the only place on our trip where they were in the wild and allowed you to get sort of close. In these mobs, is a large male, called ("old man," or "boomer") that dominates during mating season. There was no mistaking him as he kept his eye on me. This area had two sets of mobs, one that was laying under the trees by the homes, and the other in a more thick area of trees about 50 yards apart. I would say that this is about the same as here in Michigan having geese everywhere, and not being able to walk without the soles of your shoes being covered in poop! Fabio 2300 1678Fabio 2300 1678Australia and Tasmania vacation

I was warned not to seem like a predator to them. The have have been known to disembowel dogs and humans with their huge clawed hind feet. Which is why I stayed behind trees! Since we were in the eastern part of Australia, the ones I photographed are the eastern gray kangaroo. The alpha male can grow up to 6.9 feet and weigh about 200 pounds. Seeing a couple of females with young in their pouches was fantastic, but was not able to approach them at all. The can leap up to 30 feet, but the ones I saw didn't leap half as far.

The fact that these kangaroos were living so close to civilization was interesting...also was the fact that most of the SUV's had huge bush guards on the front of their vehicles. We saw so many dead kangaroos and wallabies on the side of the roads, which is why we never drove at night!!!!

To have had this experience was spectacular and I could have spent hours being around them, but alas, the rest of Australia and Tasmania was beckoning.

For more information:


Photographs taken with a Nikon Z6II and Z lens.

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