We always have time for a beer!

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Oceania » Australia » Tasmania » Hobart
February 18th 2010
Published: March 2nd 2010
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A familiar sightA familiar sightA familiar sight

After 10 months away from our beloved Tradeteam we were pleased to see loaded keg vehicles.
Day 298 - Coles Bay to Hobart

We have a Happy Birthday wish to deliver to a lovely lady back home in Bristol, Norfy it’s you! Our lovely Lisa is celebrating today. Happy Birthday chick, see you soon for a good ol knees up! Lots of love from both of us x x .

Once we’d decided to have a go at a day trip to Port Arthur from Hobart rather than staying in Port Arthur itself, the only other thing we needed to sort out was where to stay. There are no free campsites around the city, the Showground is the most economical place at a mere $16 per night with power but you need to be self contained which we’re not. It turned out that the only other practical option available to us was the Big 4 Barilla site 15 minutes from Hobart city centre. The chap who answered my enquiry on Tuesday had been really helpful and seemed very down to earth but also reasonably insistent that if we wanted the pitches we should book them up right away, so I did - even before I’d spoken to Tony and Jane. Well when you’re out of options what do you do - you take what’s on offer! Luckily they were in agreement and today we were heading for Hobart.

We travelled down ‘Break me neck hill’ without breaking anything and then successfully managed the 336m drop down ‘Bust me gall hill’. You have to be determined or mad to cycle round Tasmania with all these steep climbs. We notice a change to the water crossing naming convention to; they are no longer creeks or rivers but ‘Rivulets’! Beautiful, “Hun we have just crossed the Brushy Plains Rivulet”, you can imagine Darryl’s response.

On the journey to Hobart my focus switched from the blog updates to getting things sorted for the next couple of days. There’s a lot to do in and around the city, already we’ve discussed some specifics like taking in a trip to the Cadbury Chocolate factory and Cascade Brewery. Unfortunately I find after a few phone calls that by the time we get to the caravan park we’re not going to have enough hours left in the day to do both this afternoon unless we purchase some roller skates! I phoned the brewery back to see if they took tours on a Saturday and was told that they do but it’s not half as much fun because the bottling plant would be deserted. If we stuck to the plan of going there this afternoon however it would be operational and we’d be able to see the bottles whizzing around. With agreement from Tony & Jane via the UHF radio I booked us onto the last Cascades tour for this afternoon and kept my fingers crossed that we can somehow fit in a bit of chocolate at some point. What with that and researching our Port Arthur trip plus trying to book ahead for a camp spot at Strahan or Queenstown I had my work cut out but I managed to get it all done by the time we pulled into the Big 4 caravan park.

We have to say that we were pleasantly surprised. Pat, the lad who took our booking over the phone, also checked us in on arrival. He was fabulous, very polite, very helpful and absolutely un-apologetic for running a very ship shape park! Good on you Pat, we were parked up in two perfect sites within no time at all.

We managed a quick lunch and then the ‘Howells Tour Bus’ was blowing its horn for the trip to the brewery! We all needed to change out of our shorts and into long trousers plus closed shoes, in the name of Health and Safety of course. We arrived in the nick of time and even managed a photo session with the Tasmanian Tiger - Cascade’s mascot.

Our guide Jenny was very knowledgeable and made it easy for us to listen to her talk about the yeast and the hobs and how the yeast does all the hard work to ensure great fermentation. Cascade is Australia’s brewery and despite being severely damaged by bush fires it has continuously produced its beer since 1824.

The tour starts in a small side room where Jenny walks us through the various Cascade brands and explains those that are single versus double malt. Then we wander outside to get ourselves kitted out with a hi-viz vest so we can continue into the brewery itself. We feel a bit emotional now being so close to ‘our industry’ across the other side of the world. It’s rather comforting to see kegs getting loaded onto the back of wagons, there’s no sign of a WMS here though - an opportunity perhaps! We’ve been working for Tradeteam, the logistics arm of what was Bass Brewers and is now jointly owned by Coors and DHL, for the last 20 years. It is Tradeteam that gave its permission for us to take a year out of work for this exploration of Australia. On May 3rd this year we will return to roles within the industry so although it might seem something of a busman’s holiday coming here today, it’s the push we needed that reality is just around the corner. That in itself is actually quite exciting. Our expertise in more recent years has been the warehouse management side of the business. We’ve never been involved in the production of beer so today we’re interested to learn a few modern techniques and secrets!

When we get inside the brewery itself we’re walking alongside the route semi-trailers take when they come to collect the filled kegs so Jenny is keen that we keep moving. However, the automated keg filling robot is right alongside the walkway and we are all completely distracted trying to take photographs of it without getting flattened by a forklift truck or a wagon!

Viewing the vats is quite interesting and Jenny does another talk about the brewing methods and how important the quality of the water is to the brewery. We don’t know what the overall floor space of the brewery is but it gave us the impression of being very compact, not small, just compact. What did surprise us were the boxes of hops with New Zealand labels on them and there was us thinking it was all locally grown!

Cascades Brewery seems to operate with the ‘good old days’ attitude of early doors on a Friday if all the work has been completed. Could that be the reason the bottling conveyors are empty and there is no whizzingness to be seen. We’re gutted. I thought back to the conversation I’d had with the chap who had been so insistent for us to come during the week because watching the bottling plant in action is a great experience. We took the disappointment pretty well but other people weren’t quite as forgiving. Jenny got a bit of a hard time - it wasn’t her fault but I hope people followed it up with the visitors centre and perhaps got offered a second chance to return another time.

Most people’s highlight of the tour (if the bottling plant isn’t on!) is probably the tasting session at the end. We were given three bottle tops each which you exchange them for a 275ml tasting glass of whatever your heart desires! Dar enjoyed the Pale Ale, the Green Label and the Draught. I just had a Sweet Cider, Ginger Beer and Pale Ale. What a mixture! The brewery gardens were lovely so it was an easy place to sit and sample the products. It wasn’t long before we were roaring with laughter as Darryl told the ‘Staircase to the Moon’ story when we were with the gorgeous Elliotts in Broome. We were waiting for the moon to work its magic when an old lady wandered up to us in her nightie. We were in the grounds of a rather posh resort at the time and she was just a hoot although we don’t think she meant to be. What got us all was when this beautiful lady who we presumed to be well in her seventies maybe eighties told us that she couldn’t stay out long because her husband was back in the room with his Dad! We thought it was a story where you ‘had to be there’ but Tony & Jane roared too, I guess it’s the way Dar tells it!

From the brewery we made our way up to Mt Wellington which towers over Hobart and provides us with the most wonderful views of the city. It was a bit breezy up there but well worth the drive, there was no need for much walking! We did see some crazy cyclists doing it the hard way though.

We needed some supplies but finding a supermarket in Hobart seemed a lost cause, they are well hidden, so we travelled out to Richmond and their IGA. Richmond is another quaint and pretty town in Tasmania with lovely, olde worlde buildings and murals over the walls. It was a shame it was such a short visit but time was running on and we wanted to order a pizza for dinner. The campsite has its own ‘wood fired’ pizza place on site so we thought we’d spoil ourselves with a takeaway, it wasn’t half bad either and very cheap at just $16.90.

That rounded off the evening so we finalised our start time for the morning and then said goodnight to Tony & Jane. It’s the big day trip to Port Arthur tomorrow so a good nights sleep is in order.

Dar and Sar

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