A trip to the Zoo

Memories of Adelaide Zoo and why Hobart doesn’t have one.

Beaumaris Zoo

I was disappointed to learn that Hobart no longer had a zoo. I know not everyone approves of them but modern zoos where the animals live in a habitat close to what they would have in the wild and where breeding programs are carried out are a good thing I think. It means that people can see animals that they might never see otherwise and if you see them and learn about them you care about them more and are more likely to want to support animal welfare and research projects.

Zoos have improved a lot in my lifetime. I remember being taken to Adelaide Zoo as a child and seeing Samorn, the zoo’s sole elephant. Samorn lived in a concrete enclosure and sometimes gave rides in a grassed area near by. She spent the last few years of her life at Monarto Zoo in more natural surroundings. I was glad for her as I wondered even then if she was lonely and if that concrete pen was comfortable. It looked  pretty grim.  I also remember “George” the orangutan. He was quite famous in Adelaide. Back in the day if  a guy said his name was George he would often be told “That’s a monkey’s name.” As far as I can remember a lot of the enclosures at the Adelaide Zoo were concrete and iron bars in the 1960s but by the time we moved away  in 2002 it was a very different place. You can read about some of the most loved animals at the Adelaide Zoo here.


I found the gate to the old Beaumaris Zoo in Hobart when I was walking near the Botanical Gardens one day and read a short history of the zoo on a plaque there. There is a very good article about the history of the zoo on this blog too.  It explains in detail how the zoo was once a private collection owned by Mary Grant Roberts. Mrs Roberts was a pioneer of the successful breeding of Tasmanian Devils. Her collection, which included several thylacines, (Tasmanian Tiger) was kept at her home in Sandy Bay, an inner suburb of Hobart. The entire collection was roughly 200 mammals, marsupials, reptiles and birds. I can’t help wondering what the neighbours thought about it.  On her death in 1921 her family offered the collection to the state government of the day as the basis of a zoo but they declined. The Hobart City Council agreed to take it on if the government would subsidise it.

The zoo opened in 1923 at a site on the Queens Domain. It was closed in 1937 when the cost of running it could no longer be borne. The zoo is mostly known as the place where the last Thylacine died in 1936. Whenever I see the following footage of the thylacine at the zoo I feel so sad. They were wiped out by humans. Some people believe that somewhere deep in the Tasmanian wilderness thylacine may still exist. I doubt it but like the Loch Ness Monster if they are out there I rather hope nobody ever finds them again.

What struck me especially about the zoo gates was that all the animals look really sad. I don’t know if this was intentional on the part of the artist but to me the images are very much what the old style zoos were about.

metal elephant metal lion metal peacock

Tasmanian Tiger

Metal Monkey


Today there are wildlife parks in Tasmania. Zoo Doo in Richmond is not far from Hobart and has both native and exotic animals. I visited there a few years ago but hope to go again in the near future. The Tasmania Zoo at Riverside near Launceston is another privately run wildlife park. I have not visited it as yet but will post something about it when I do.
Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary is near Brighton, north of Hobart and it’s focus is on native animals. Injured wildlife is cared for at Bonorong. In the north of the state Wings Wildlife Park has a similar function. I did visit there some years ago and it was very interesting. You can actually stay on site at the park and it is not a bad idea as it is in quite an isolated spot. The nearest sizeable town would be Ulverstone on the north-west coast. I have included links to all of the places mentioned. There are many others around the state as well.



Beaumaris Zoo Gates

Sweet Dreams

Last year, about the time I started this blog, Hubby and I bought a new bed. It was the third one we’d owned in 36 years of marriage. I’ve read that ideally you should get a new mattress every 10 years but our first one lasted us for about 25 years although that was definitely several years longer than it should have been.

It wasn’t a new bed when we bought it just before we were married. I got it from a relative; I can’t remember what we paid for it. It was a couple of years old when we got it. We had the normal arguments about who was hogging the bed covers in winter. In summer we sweltered under a ceiling fan which did little more than create a warm breeze. We shared the bed with an assortment of dogs and cats and over time it grew saggier and more uncomfortable despite me regularly turning and flipping it.

Eventually I found that I was waking up stiff and aching every morning. I bought a wool underlay and that helped for a while but when we moved to Tasmania the old bed went to the dump. We would start our new lives with a nice new bed.

The new bed had a wooden slat frame and a wonderful cushiony pillow top mattress. I thought that when we needed a new mattress again we could just replace it and keep the bed, saving us money. I reckoned without Hubby though.

For several years everything was fine, we shared the bed with Tessie our old dog until she could no longer jump onto it, we got two more cats that also slept with us. After Tessie was gone and we got Cindy I said “No more dogs on the bed.” Cindy is a much larger dog than our previous ones and as both Hubby and I were putting on weight I didn’t think there would be enough room for all of us. Cindy would still sneak up to the bedroom if Hubby went to bed early though and I would have to chase her out. I relented one cold winter after I’d stopped working; the house was so cold at night that I didn’t like to think of Cindy sleeping in the back porch so she joined us on the bed. That left a bit less room for my feet but she was good and didn’t fidget unlike Hubby who had gradually commandeered more and more of the available real estate. The fights over bed covers were still going on too.

There was another problem though. One night I was woken up by a thump, followed by swearing. The bed frame had broken on Hubby’s side. I was able to repair it, Hubby has bad knees and can’t kneel so I get those jobs. Some months later it happened again so I added an angle bracket and a block of wood to act as an extra leg. I’m not a DIY person really, neither of us is but I thought that would do the trick. It did for some time but the force of Hubby sitting down on the bed eventually weakened it and when it broke for a third time we had had enough. By this time our mattress was 11 years old so it was time for a new bed.

We had a lot of discussions about what to buy. I looked on the internet to see what sort of beds and mattresses were suitable for heavy people. I now knew that anything that involved a base screwed to a bed head would not work for us. I also knew that we needed a bigger bed. One night after Hubby had gone to bed I measured the space left for me. It was about a foot and I had to share that with Cindy! I was horrified to find out how much a good bed and mattress cost but obviously a cheap one would not do it. It’s worth investing money in a decent bed considering how much of our time we spend in it.

Our new bed
Our new bed

Eventually we settled on a king sized ensemble which the helpful manager of Forty Winks in Hobart helped us choose. We even lay on our chosen mattress in the store for fifteen minutes or so to see how it felt and Hubby was in heaven. He likes a firm mattress, I like a slightly softer one but the softer the bed the more it costs so it’s back to the wool underlay for me.

Now you would think our troubles would be over. We have a nice new bed that shouldn’t collapse in the night, plenty of room for both of us and Cindy when she chooses to join us. Then the other night Hubby asked me. “Do we have any more blankets?” “No.” I told him. We have a warm doona but no king sized blankets. “Why?” “Well, “he said. “You seem to be pulling all the covers to your side.”

Sweet Dreams! Our old bed, repaired for the third time and recycled as a spare bed.
Sweet Dreams! Our old bed, repaired for the third time and recycled as a spare bed.

Reflections of a Revhead -Adelaide Alive in 1985

Pit Straight Adelaide c1989
Pit Straight Adelaide circa 1989

Well actually that’s a very misleading title because I’m not really a rev head but it sounds good doesn’t it?  When I’m asked what sports I like I invariably reply cricket and Motorsports. I probably watch more cricket these days and I go to cricket matches in the summer but for about ten years while we lived in Adelaide I was a very keen motor sport fan and I still enjoy watching it on TV especially now that we have an Australian driver for me to support.

I’m probably a very unusual kind of fan, I can’t drive a car and can be a nervous passenger at times. I don’t see the point of road cars that can do more than the maximum speed limit, where are you going to drive them legally? I regularly watch and enjoy “Top Gear” but my favourite presenter is “Captain Slow”, James May, and I can get very cross with Jeremy Clarkson at times. (Doesn’t everyone?)

I first became interested in Formula One around 1984-5. Hubby, who normally goes to bed long before I do, was sitting up late to watch the races on TV. This made me curious. What was so interesting? Wasn’t it just race cars going round and round? I think that the first race I watched with him was the Monaco Grand Prix. Seeing the cars racing around the streets of Monte Carlo fascinated me. I soon realised that every F1 circuit was different and that there was a lot of tactics involved. It wasn’t just cars going around the track very fast. The other thing that got me interested was the commentary. In Australia we got the British commentary from Murray Walker and James Hunt. I think that Murray’s enthusiasm rubbed off on me, you could tell that he just loved it all. There were a few British drivers at that time and of course for the benefit of British viewers he reported on them regularly. They all sounded ultra British; Nigel (Mansell), Derek (Warwick), Jonathon (Palmer) and I think a very young Martin Brundle. I started to enjoy hearing about the drivers. Murray regularly mentioned Jacques Lafitte of the Ligier team who was the oldest driver in F1 at that time at 42. He would explain that he lived in Stoke Poges and co-owned a golf course with Alain Prost at nearly every race.  Ayrton Senna was “A grimly determined young man.” Nigel Mansell was a special constable on the Isle of Man where he lived.  See, I still remember this trivia after thirty years!  James Hunt, on the other hand, used to annoy me by making rude remarks about the other drivers.

Murray Walker circa1988
Murray Walker circa 1988-89

I was aware that Adelaide was to get its own F1 race starting from 1985 and prior to watching the races that season I really didn’t understand what was going to happen. I was imagining cars hurtling around the CBD but by the time the first race drew near I had watched enough races to understand and was caught up in the general excitement. In 1985 the Grand Prix was the biggest sporting event that Adelaide had ever hosted. The circuit was around the parklands not right in the middle of the city but an easy walk from it. It was quite exciting to watch the over bridges and grandstands going up a few weeks before the race. The meeting was to be over four days and a few days before the roads that were part of the circuit were closed to traffic. They were not closed to pedestrians though and soon hundreds of people were walking around the circuit examining it, looking at the stands and even climbing the stairs to look in the window of the temporary media stand on Pit Straight. People walked it, ran it and even rode skateboards and bicycles on it. In the midst of all this the cars arrived and there was something new to look at as the mechanics worked on them.

Formula one car chassis' circa 1988-89
Formula one car chassis’ circa 1988-89

The drivers arrived too and as they didn’t have the sophisticated simulations that they have today they also walked or drove around the new circuit to have a look at it. Their verdict was “It looks fine but what are all those people doing there?” This is how the circuit looked back then.
Adelaide Street Circuit photo AdelaideStreetCircuit-FormulaOneCircuit.jpg

There were quite a few off circuit events to go to during Grand Prix week. I don’t mean the official ones like the Grand Prix ball, Ladies day and so on that were expensive or by invitation only. Adelaide always had a few fun, free events as well. One was the Canine Grand Prix. I don’t think this was held at the circuit the first year but it was a regular event the weekend before the race for most of the time Adelaide had the race. I always wondered what the F1 drivers would have made of hundreds of people walking their dogs, many of them in themed outfits, around the circuit if any of them had ever seen it.

The start of the Canine Grand Prix.
The start of the Canine Grand Prix.

There were also appearances by drivers at some car related businesses. I can remember going over to Burnside Shopping Centre one year on the chance of seeing Nelson Piquet. He didn’t show but I did see his team-mate, a very young Michael Schumacher. Some of the F1 teams used to get involved in family days. One year there was a billycart racing day in North Adelaide and there was a F1 car there on display. I didn’t get to that but I did get to an event that was held near Tea Tree Plaza Shopping Centre another year. I think it was a Brabham that was on display that day. After the event was over the car was to go to the shopping centre to be displayed for the afternoon. Instead of loading it on to the waiting trailer someone said “Let’s just drive it there.” and they did! I loved seeing a Formula One car sitting at the traffic lights. It was good fun. On another occasion I stayed in town in the evening to see the Jordan F1 drivers, Eddie Irvine and Rubens Barrichello arriving at some event at the Adelaide Casino. I found the Jordan F1 car down near the Torrens Parade Ground guarded by several policemen, all with cameras I think. Security duty at the GP must have been a tough gig! One of the drivers drove the car up the road to the Casino. I liked that about the Adelaide GP; it didn’t take itself too seriously.

Bennetton on display at a shopping centre.
Benetton on display at a shopping centre.
Bennetton F1 car circa 1988-89
Benetton F1 car circa 1988-89
Brabham F1 car at a support event. Photo by D Jensen
Brabham F1 car at a support event. Photo by D Jensen


Brabham F1 car circa 1988-89
Brabham F1 car circa 1988-89

I didn’t go to the 1985 race though. We did the circuit walk and Hubby was given a general admission ticket for race day which was the Sunday. I went to visit my mum that day and my sister and I watched the race on TV together and both absolutely loved it. In fact we enjoyed it so much that when they replayed it later in the evening we watched it again. I was quite late leaving mum’s place because of that and caught a bus to the city after 10pm. Adelaide on a Sunday night was usually very quiet. I’d get off the bus in King William Street  and there would normally be so few people around that you could fire a cannon down the street and not hit anyone. At the railway station it would be the same, just a few people waiting for the last trains or buying food at the Pie Cart outside on North Terrace.  On this night though there were people and cars everywhere. There was a policeman directing the traffic at the intersection of King William Street and North Terrace. I had never seen that before at night.  The city had been transformed.

We bought tickets for the 1986 race as soon as they went on sale.


Oh yes, Ayrton Senna was on pole and the race was won by Keke Rosberg, father of Nico.

Further information:


Share Your World – 2014 Week 29

Share Your World – 2014 Week 29

HMAS Sheean 01 gnangarra.jpg
HMAS Sheean 01 gnangarra” by Gnangarra – Own work, digital photograph. Licensed under CC-BY-2.5-au
via Wikimedia Commons.

Have you ever been in a submarine?  If you haven’t, would you want to?

I have been on a submarine. It was when I was a teenager and there was one visiting Port Adelaide, not far from where I lived. I wanted to see what it was like but I found that climbing up and down ladders was too scary for me. I’ve avoided them since then.

Are you a listener or talker?

Good question. I think it depends on who I’m with. In a large group I don’t say much unless I know a lot of the people well but otherwise I guess I talk as much as the next person.

Do you prefer crunchy peanut butter or smooth peanut butter?   Anything with your peanut butter?

I like smooth and I don’t usually have it with anything. You don’t really need butter or margarine on bread with peanut butter but you will need something to stop it sticking to the roof of your mouth.

Have you ever been drunk?

I’ve never been dead drunk. I don’t like spirits so I only drink wine, cider or beer usually. I know I have been light-headed and probably tipsy but I don’t really drink much or often. I would not like to be so drunk that I didn’t know what I was doing. I like to be in control of myself._DSC3219_155web (2)

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I ended the past week with a visit to my sister where as usual we talked a lot, laughed a lot and sat up way too late. I don’t know what this week will have in store for me but I hope there will be a trip to the “big shops”, a doll dressing session with photos for my doll blog, visits from more wild birds to our garden and possibly the sight of the first jonquils as we have some that look ready to flower any time.


Five Favourite Things About Hobart

I was walking through the Hobart CBD yesterday and thinking about how much I like the city. Today, just for fun, I thought I’d make a list of a few of the  things that I like about Hobart. They are highly personal choices and the list is not in any particular order.

  1. Historic buildings – There are very few modernhigh rise buildings in Hobart. Instead there are a lot of interesting old ones ranging from Art Deco to Georgian.

    The Hobart City Council Offices.
    The Hobart City Council Offices.
  2. The waterfront- I love walking down by the docks. The fishing fleet is there, there are tourist boats, yachts, cruisers and historic wooden boats. In summer there are cruise ships, in winter ice breakers from the Antarctic.DSCN2166
  3. Salamanca Market – I’ve written about it before. It’s touristy I know but it’s colourful and interesting and I don’t get tired of it.

    Salamanca Market
    Salamanca Market
  4. Parliament House Lawns – A little patch of green outside Parliament House it became a favourite spot of mine when I discovered it had oak trees. My favourite time to be there is autumn.

    Parliament House Lawns
    Parliament House Lawns
  5. Cat & Fiddle Arcade – Every hour on the hour the clock in the arcade plays the tune of the nursery rhyme while animated figures re-enact it. If I’m in the area near the time I usually stop and watch.Cat & Fiddle Arcade