There are some days that are just idyllic, here in this Derwent Valley. Today we set off on a mulberry picking mission. Friends had offered us the fruit from their tree, on a property at Bushy Park.
We picked the tree clean of its remaining berries – the best way to do this is to place plastic sheets (old shower curtains will do), and then climb the tree and shake off the berries that will fall onto the sheets below.
Although there are only a couple of kilos in total, even one mulberry is a king’s feast. They are simply the royalty of berries and have to be experienced to be believed.
By the end of that episode, my hands looked like an ax-murderer’s. Indeed the juice stains are hard to remove, but this can be done easily enough with a green mulberry or two.I’ve recently been reading for the second time “Wild Orchard” (by Isabel Dick, first published 1946 by George C. Harrap and Co., London). I have it on good authority that this book relates to the Bushy Park region, and from the landscape and hop fields, it would certainly seem to be the case. Although it’s fictional, it is apparently based on the story of one of the original families of the district, more or less.
I’d mentioned to our Bushy Park friends that I loved this book, which I’d come across when researching colonial era food. I particularly liked the reference to the fact that mostly the women didn’t have an oven for baking, so instead took their prepared dough to the local bakehouse, where the baker would cook their week’s supply for a mere few pence.
Imagine my surprise when we were told that just such a bakehouse still stood in one of the country roads! It simply had to be found.
As accidental discoverers, we found it down a little laneway – still intact, even the sign on the door remains. I couldn’t believe it – overwhelming doesn’t even begin to describe how this felt – it was literally like stepping back in time, into the very pages of the book.
Not only that, there were other historic buildings – majestic old Oast houses, ripe hedgerow fruits growing wild and free, all to the background of the hop fields. It seems fitting that today is the first day of the harvest.
The whole scene was simply breathtaking. What an incredible place this Derwent Valley is. Tourism Tasmania speaks of going behind the scenery and this is indeed what we had done, albeit accidentally, and what’s more, straying onto private property as I found out later.
Still and all, there are lots more laneways to explore, more incredible sights to see, all to the backdrop of the Valley’s beautiful rivers and streams.