Hello. My name is Andrew Caddle. I have lived here at Pineleigh in southern Tasmania with my partner Jan for the past ….. eleven years last February! Pineleigh is a 40 acre farmlet located near Tunnack in the Southern Midlands of Tasmania, about an hour North East of the Capital of Hobart. It is my intention on this website to present our life here as we have viewed it, hopefully from a rational and realistic perspective.
The past ten years here have provided endless pleasures for us, beyond anything we could have hoped. The property has consistently produced bountiful rewards for our efforts, both in the vegetable patch and with our livestock. We have enjoyed the environment here and have been delighted with the procession of ‘locals’ (wildlife) who have kept us company over the years …. not ALWAYS happily! Here at Pineleigh, we have regular visits from Bennets Wallabies, Grey Forester Kangaroos, Wombats, Bandicoots, Echidnas, Native Hens, Possums and even the occasional Tasmanian Devil! There’s a wonderful variety of birdlife and we have a population of resident Kookaburras who keep us informed of impending rain (so Jan claims!) and who’s raucus chorus wakes us regularly. For the most part, we enjoy sharing our world with all these creatures but, as you would expect, there are the inevitable aggravations …. like having a newly producing fruit tree browsed by a local wallaby or finding that the possums have vandalised that box of treasures you left stored in the barn loft! Echidnas are easily the cutest characters around here and you just haven’t lived until you’ve sat quietly next to one and watched it go about the business of digging up its dinner! A more endearing animal is hard to imagine.
Since arriving here, we have endured some extraordinary weather events ….. the worst drought in living memory which seemed to go on forever, as well as a couple of remarkably wet years, complete with flooding. Through all of that however, we still enjoyed ample produce from the garden and we never did run short of water, either for our domestic use, or for the livestock. We have kept around twenty sheep and up to ten dairy goats throughout our time here.
We have created a large vegetable patch and orchard of approximately 2400 sq metres (about .6 of an acre) with vermin-proof fencing. We also constructed a small glasshouse. We are therefore able to enjoy our gardening free from unwelcome incursions from wildlife. That is, all except the airborne division! I never did come up with a solution for the birds but, to be fair, they don’t seem to do much harm in the garden. A few strawberries or some pecked fruit seems a small price to pay for their company.
The house here is very cosy, being fully insulated (walls and ceiling are both insulated with sarking as well as pink bats)and warmed by a wood stove in the living room which easily heats the whole building very efficiently. The land provides ample firewood and will continue to do so indefinitely. Approximately 1/3 of Pineleigh’s 40 or so acres is recovering bushland. Previous logging operations (read, environmental vandalism!) has left a massive amount of dead timber already on the ground. It has kept us warm these past years and we never did manage to make much of a dent in it. There is also the occasional tree brought down by the wind and these have provided us not only with firewood, but also with timber for various projects, including repairs to the barn when we first arrived here.
The climate here is cool and at an altitude of about 500 metres, the growing season in summer is relatively short. Lowland summer crops like tomatoes, cucumbers and some stone fruits need to be cultivated under glass to have much chance of success. However there is an abundance of alternative crops to choose from. We have enjoyed excellent yields of peas, carrots, and potatoes, pretty much every year. Winter crops like cauliflowers, cabbages and Brussels sprouts have done very well also. On the fruit side, we have planted a great many fruit trees. The peaches and nectarines promptly died! Everything else has survived, so we have multiple varieties of plums, apricots, pears, apples and cherries. Indications so far ….. cherries and apples and (I expect) pears can be counted on every year. Some years will provide excellent crops of plums and apricots while other years will produce very little. Our fruit trees are just coming into production now. Pretty much any kind of berry will thrive here and we currently have strawberries, youngberries, raspberries and wild blackberries. There’s a Gooseberry bush still trying to survive amongst the raspberries, which seem to grow like weeds!
This year is the first one since arriving here that we haven’t kept up the vegetable patch but we are busy preparing to leave here and it will have to wait for someone with more time and energy.
Whilst I consider the winter climate here to be quite mild and pleasant for the most part, conditions can become quite harsh for livestock at times. We have suffered the loss of quite a few ewes and lambs over the years, due to their insistence on birthing lambs during the coldest month of the year (August) and on the coldest part of the farm! We get just enough snow for it to be a wonderful novelty and never enough for it to become a nuisance. It rarely stays on the ground for more than 24 hours. The cool climate and moderate altitude means that there are virtually no Mosquitoes or midgies and I don’t believe I’ve been bitten by one since moving here!
Pineleigh is situated a couple of K’s out of Tunnack, a small rural hamlet, about 25 kilometres south of Oatlands in Tasmania’s Southern Midlands. Oatlands is the seat of local government here and boasts the largest collection of pre-federation sandstone buildings in Australia. There’s a wonderful, restored wind-driven flour mill which was recently brought back into production and a large area that has been established as a museum complex. The town provides schooling (reception to year 12, we think) Pub, draper, news agent, post office, IGA supermarket and council chambers, hospital/medical centre, chemist and Roberts livestock and farm supplies. Tunnack has an active community club where members are able to enjoy a drink or meal and some good company. The area, like most of Tassie, is very scenic and Craigbourne Dam, 15 minutes away is regularly stocked with trout and provides wonderful fishing for trout, redfin and eels. The East Coast town of Orford is a forty minute drive and the East Coast provides excellent sea fishing. Good boat ramp facilities are available at Craigbourne Dam, as well as at Orford and other East Coast fishing venues
The state capital of Hobart is about an hour’s drive away or, if you believe the average real estate ad …. its only forty minutes! The rural coastal town of Sorell is also a forty minute drive and is the gateway to the South East coast. The commercial centre of Cambridge and the shopping precinct of Eastlands are a similar distance.