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Channel Ukrainians tell their story
It is now more than 70 years since Ukrainians first began to carve out a new home for themselves in Tasmania.
A small number of families settled in the Kingston and Channel area and their stories are featured in the Channel Museum at Margate (currently closed). 
The Ukrainian community is celebrating the 70-year milestone with a newly published book, With Ukrainian Greetings: A History of the Ukrainian Community in Tasmania.
The book was launched by Senator Catryna Bilyk earlier this year at
a gala event featuring a lavish display of Ukrainian dance and song by interstate and local performers.
Numbering just 340, Ukrainians first came to Tasmania as displaced refugees after World War II. With Ukrainian Greetings tells the story of those first Ukrainians in Tasmania, and the journey of the community over the years since first settlement.
Employment at the Electrona Carbide Works was a condition of settlement for most of these families. Refugees in the post-war era were required to remain in a government-allocated post for two years.
For the Ukrainian settlers, however, life in the rural environment of the Channel area offered some familiar opportunities.
Ukraine was once the breadbasket of Europe and Ukrainians descend from an ancient agrarian culture which was reflected in the lifestyles of many of the newly arrived immigrants. They supported each other as much as possible and strove for self-sufficiency. Some even established small working farms to supplement their incomes and provide for their families.  Being able to grow, cook, eat and preserve their own food and share traditional Ukrainian dishes was both a way of life and an important connection to their homeland and their
cultural heritage.  
Maria Wooley (nee Didocha), one of about 20 second-generation contributors to the book, recalled how hard work on the land was for her family, a reflection of what happened in Ukraine:  “ Everyone had a garden… I don’t think we had to buy vegetables. I think we were just self-sufficient the whole time … Whenever Dad sought services from people like his lawyer, or the berry fruit company, as a thank you for any services, he would bring
a box of vegetables to them… That’s the traditional way for Ukrainians to offer their thanks.”
Only a handful of these original Ukrainians are still alive and living in Tasmania. Senator Bilyk said the book was a fitting tribute to the contribution of this small community of Ukrainians who settled throughout Tasmania.
“Sadly we don’t have their voices any more but their songs, dances, the language and the food they left behind is remembered through this book. Diversity of language and culture is now one of the hallmarks of community life in Tasmania and the Ukrainian story fills out our understanding of what it means to live in a multicultural community.”
The book is not a serious academic study but more of a community memoir. It’s a vibrant and attractive coffee-table style production telling the story of this minority Tasmanian community. Beautifully detailed in traditional patterns, it depicts the people, events and feelings of post-war refugee settlement and speaks to our evolving identity as a multicultural Australia. Oral histories of second and third-generation Ukrainian descendants and rich archival material, including photographs and administrative records, inform the publication.  The authors are Way Back When Consulting Historians in collaboration with the Ukrainian community in Tasmania. Contact the association by email at for more information.
Marina Ladaniwskyj
President, Association of
Ukrainians in Tasmania

Fire Country by Victor Steffenson (book)
Re-Inventing the Greenhouse (online)

The Kitchen Garden Guide - June
with Kate Flint
Many people have become coronavirus gardeners, growing food for the very first time. If that’s you, then welcome to a whole new world of joys, tastes, weeds, disasters and, amongst it all, the glorious feeling of coming home to something deeply satisfying, something deep within the soul of all of us. My tip is to relax; observe the details of what is happening to each leaf that grows, admire closely every insect and bird that visits, and follow the path of the sun and wind as they wind their way through your day. There is no rush.
As the sun dips low in the sky and the temperatures drop, plants are relying on their strength to remain healthy, just as we do. Problems become evident quite quickly sometimes, especially in pots. My citrus, in big concrete pots on my sunny verandah, are laden with fruit. Their leaves have been green and the fruits growing well but I can see signs of yellowing of some older leaves, which could be a sign that a dose of magnesium might help. Purple, red or brown may also appear on the leaves of other plants. We all need magnesium and if our plants are short of it then we who eat the plants will be short of it too. It is vital for photosynthesis, which obviously happens less on these short days, which is why it raises its head now.
Add about three tablespoons of Epsom salts to a 9-litre watering can, stir well to completely dissolve, then water the root zone. For pots,
you can also mix into a spray bottle and spray the leaves. Repeat as
required. It is a gentle remedy.
Epsom salts were discovered bubbling up in ponds in the English town of Epsom in the 1600s. Farmers noticed that the wounds of cows that waded through the bitter-tasting water healed quickly. Many people in England began to travel to Epsom to experience the apparent health benefits, particularly the supposed relief from the painful symptoms of gout and for the natural ‘purging effects’ of the water.
Tasmania is surrounded by sea, and we are now learning to forage the shores and shallows for food.
As a longer-term strategy, magnesium can be added to the soil simply by adding seaweeds to your compost or liquid feed. Magnesium can be added to your diet more directly by eating the seaweed yourself.
All of the longest lived peoples of the world eat many different sea plants; think Okinawa (Japan) and Sicily.
A dash of
another season
It is the weather for soup and none is more satisfying and cleansing than garlic soup which I make from a recipe a woman in France gave me. Oh la la la la! It was one of the best soups I’d ever had. She wrote it out for me in French, which always adds another challenge when I decide to make it. In the freezer, I have some stocks made with bones from animals raised locally, ethically and without chemicals. These form the base of all my winter soups. In summer, I usually use vegetable stock or bottles of my tomatoes.
As the garlic cloves which have not been planted begin to sprout,
I follow a Chinese friend’s lead and stand each clove upright, side by side in rows, and give them a little bit of water from time to time. You can
then snip the tops with scissors.
Every meal from my kitchen has a dash of another season in the form of fermented vegetables which have been brewing for
a few weeks or months. I have just started a jar of my brined, lacto-fermented green beans, made from my garden back in March, when my beans were prolific. They are
crunchy and totally delicious.
Following the advice of the wonderful owner of a cafe in Franklin, whose Turkish mother evidently made the best lacto veg ever,
I always include: two dry chickpeas, a pinch of mustard seeds, and one sultana. As instructed, I top the lot with either a grape leaf or celery leaf, whichever is in season. These tips ensure success and keep vegetables crisp. I have been doing it for about a year now.
The liquid lives on too, once the vegetables are finished, in salad dressings, for months more.
Fruit from outside the square, to plant during winter
Irish strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo) Drought tolerant, evergreen, pretty, small tree native to Europe and Ireland, with late fruits turning from yellow to orange then red. I walked to a lake in France when these were ripe and gorged on them the whole way. There they were growing in sandy soil but mine here is growing happily in solid clay. Plant more than one, for pollination.
Persimon (Diospyros kaki) Deciduous, small tree with large, red fruits on bare stems in winter. A glorious sight. I love the old fashioned sort, where the fruits have to ripen to very soft, on your window sill. Decadently sweet and flavoursome.
Carob (Ceratonia siliqua)
Evergreen, drought tolerant tree/hedge producing very large pods which, when picked and eaten fresh, are heavenly. Don’t be put off by your impression of commercial carob powder! I had a tree in Adelaide and highly recommend its luscious crop.
Loquat (Eriobotrya japonica) From China and Japan: flowers appear in late autumn and in frosty areas may not set fruit, which would normally be ripe in late winter. The small tree is very drought tolerant and worth growing because of its open habit and fragrant flowers. The fruits are yellow and succulent with several quite big, shiny stones.
June jobs
Sow in the garden
Broad beans
Salad and spring onions
English spinach
Plant in the garden
Asparagus crowns
Divide rhubarb
Winter herbs
Winter flowering annuals
Globe artichokes
Asian greens
Sow in trays to plant out later
Globe artichokes
Asian greens

Perfect timing
Just a few short weeks ago my lovely young niece embarked on her nursing career. Although a beginner in the field, she’s no stranger to masks and gowns and gloves – and coronavirus testing. Following graduation, she set off for a well-deserved holiday overseas, a holiday that was cut short when she realised she was heading into the pandemic of the century. Once home in Australia, very relieved to arrive before borders were closed and flights impossible to get, she isolated herself in a separate part of the family home. However, within ten days she had developed the dreaded symptoms and tested positive to coronavirus. Now, after several negative tests, she is able to take up the career she was so looking forward to, entering the world of masks, gowns, gloves and testing from another perspective. It seems appropriate, somehow, that these two momentous occurrences in her life have come together this year.
All eyes upon them
This year, 2020, will be marked as the year of Covid-19. It’s also 200 years since Florence Nightingale was born. With what might seem uncanny foresight, long before the world knew anything of coronavirus, the World Health Organisation declared 2020 the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife. We shouldn’t have needed, probably didn’t need,
a pandemic to make us appreciate our nurses. But it has certainly helped. In cities all over the world, appreciation has been shown for healthcare workers, including nurses, in informal and often spontaneous demonstrations of clapping, musical tributes, coloured lights and placards.
The World Health Organisation says, “These are the people who devote their lives to caring for mothers and children; giving lifesaving immunizations and health advice; looking after older people and generally meeting everyday essential health needs. They are often the first and only point of care in their communities.” This International Year was declared “to celebrate the work of nurses and midwives, highlight the challenging conditions they often face, and advocate for increased investments in the nursing and midwifery workforce.”
Making a difference
Having seen the unfolding of the pandemic, the WHO have now said,“Let’s make 2020 a catalyst for a brighter future for healthcare around the globe, so that we will be able to look back and say ‘we turned this situation around’ and nobody will have to live their life without the healthcare that they need.” Her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Cambridge, in an open letter to nurses said, “I was continually struck by the compassion that those of you I spent time with showed, and the incredible work ethic you demonstrated on behalf of your entire profession… working tirelessly through the night to support people at their most vulnerable. The founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale... once said this: ‘I never have, or took, an excuse’ and it is that mantra that I have seen time and time again in all of my encounters with you.” ( The gratitude of the soldiers of the Crimean War to the Lady with the Lamp is legendary. But it was in professionalising nursing that Florence Nightingale made her most important contribution. Today’s nurses work in a technological and medical world undreamt of in the 1800s, but the care, compassion and dedication that were the foundations Florence built on still prevail. “We want to use 2020 to bust myths and traditional stereotypes about nursing, show the public the reality of 21st-century nursing and the amazing difference nurses can make when they are enabled to perform at the top of their game. Nurses are not the only solution to healthcare problems but, when they are properly supported and well educated, their contribution can be extraordinary.” (
Making gratitude uniquely personal
Sophie Usherwood is a young woman living with her family in New Hampshire, USA, a country that knows all about coronavirus. Sophie’s parents are immunology researchers whose workplace deals with an average of seven Covid-19 patients daily, so Sophie is well aware of the difficulties faced by healthcare workers. Living within stringent lockdown restrictions, and constant news updates of New York’s coronavirus numbers, this creative young woman turned to her pastime of origami, becoming along the way something of a celebrity origamist. Sophie says, “Connecting with other folders is especially important during the difficult Covid-19 pandemic that is isolating us from one another.” She has produced an origami tribute to healthcare workers. You can watch her on YouTube. Follow her story at
Virtual hugs only, please
We will all have our own ways of showing appreciation to our healthcare workers and, in 2020 especially, our nurses. My niece not only benefited from their care while recovering from the virus, but is now enjoying the start to her career in a supportive, mentoring environment. With our Australian nurses, some of the best in the world, to encourage her along the way, she can’t go wrong. Just visit  and you’ll discover the scope of today’s nurses’ work.
Judy Redeker

A road from here to there
Many moons ago, I used to teach at Glenora School in the Derwent Valley. People would ask, “Isn’t it a long way to drive to work?” But I always said no: whatever the season it was always a pretty drive, the sort tourists would pay to do.
Since then, there have been many trips to see the autumn colours – but not this year.
We take it for granted now that there will be a road connecting two places, but in the early days of European settlement there was only the river.
Up until 1807, the population on the Derwent was said to be “483 starving persons”. Food was so scarce convicts were being sent into the bush to kill kangaroos so meat could be issued from the stores. Starting in November 1807 and on through the following year, people from Norfolk Island in the Pacific were persuaded to come to Van Diemen’s Land by offers of a generous exchange of land (four acres for each acre held on Norfolk Island), a house of similar standard to that left behind, two or four convicts to assist them in clearing their new farms, and food and clothing from the stores for 12 months.
By late 1808, 544 soldiers, convicts, and free settlers had arrived. They put an enormous strain on the colony’s fragile economy. However they did form a basis for the settlement of the district and provided many skills and professions that were lacking. Their number included two bakers, two blacksmiths, four bullock drivers, a butcher, 13 ex-constables, two gardeners, a harness maker,
a milkman, a stonemason, eight overseers, a painter and glazier, two salt boilers, two sawyers,
a cooper and two carpenters.
But it was not until 27 May 1818 that work began on the Hobart to New Norfolk road, the first arterial road in Tasmanian. The road opened 12 months later.
A Mr Denis McCarty was awarded a contract to build a road that was 24 feet (7.3m) wide from Hobart Town to Austins Ferry. From there to New Norfolk it would be 16 feet (4.8m) wide.
In return, McCarty obtained a grant of 809ha of land, 15 men on government rations for a year, a cart and eight bullocks, a tent for the men to sleep in, tools suited to the work to be done, and 2,300 litres of rum.
McCarty was mentioned in the 30 May 1818 edition of the Hobart Town Gazette, in which he announced: “As this road embraces the communication with the populous village of New-town, and forms the first 15 miles (to the ferry) part of the principle road to Port Dalrymple, it cannot fail to be of benefit and advantage to the Settlement.”
Denis McCarty was a farmer, born in Wexford, Ireland. He arrived in Sydney in February 1800 on the Friendship. The ship carried no convict indents or records from Ireland, but most of the prisoners were captured Irish rebels, that is to say political prisoners.
McCarty was sent to Van Diemen’s Land in 1803, and quickly moved into positions of power. In April 1808, he was made
a constable for the district of New Norfolk whilst still completing his sentence. He also built the first house in New Norfolk and operated a boat between the two sides of the river, roughly around Ferry Street.
McCarty received his pardon in 1810 and was soon producing wheat and potatoes for Hobart and Sydney. In 1811, Governor Lachlan Macquarie was a guest in his house. The governor had previously referred to the “hearty rural and honest welcome” he had received when he and his wife had stayed for a night at McCarty’s comfortable Birch Grove Farm.
There were even attempts to make New Norfolk the colonial capital until the idea was vetoed in 1826. A convict hospital was established in 1827, its main building being Willow Court. It developed into the Royal Derwent Hospital. Hops were established at New Norfolk in 1846 and remain one of the Derwent Valley’s most important industries. The Bush Inn (1825) is reputedly the oldest continually licensed hotel in Australia.
Thankfully, we will soon be able to explore New Norfolk and all the delights of our state again.
Marian Hearn

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