from mangolds to whisky – Nant Estate

Via The Mercury (Hobart) – 6 August 1889, a story of a large mangold (root vegetable) which had apparently taken the form of a human hand.  The mangold photo here is from an English website dedicated to the fine sport of mangold hurling.  Keep your tongue firmly in your cheek as you read!

mangold - Nant distillery

mangoldThe Nant Estate (where the disfigured mangold was discovered) is now home to the Nant Distilleryhome of the only commercially operating water-powered flour mill in Australia.  This now heritage site, an hour north of Hobart, produces single malt whisky.

Probably not a mangold in sight these days!

on bees and honey

Bee-keeping Syd Gazette

Bees in the hive

One of the earliest references to bee-keeping in Australia comes from The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser of 5 May 1805 where reference is made to a gentleman removing bees from a tree hollow into a case and apparently being “not the least discouraged by their transposal”.

From the same newspaper of 1 November 1822 came this happy note about baby bees emerging from established beehives on a property in Homebush near Parramatta; and an acknowledgment of the ‘fragrant’ variety of plants in the colony pointing to high hopes of local honey and wax production. These bees were no doubt the result of the importation of Apis mellifera into the colony that year.

Indigenous Australians had long known that native bees were a stingless source of honey.  These days, native bees are growing in popularity among agriculturalists and gardeners as a great pollinators with the bonus of sting-safe hives to have around the home garden.

young bees produced from two hives

By 1846 many in the press were speculating about the cost and value of early attempts to export honey as a commodity.

Towards the end of the century, there was enough interest in the industry for the Barnes family to be setting up this bee-keeping supplies stand at the Royal Melbourne Show (ca 1890-1918).  Source: State Library of Victoria (out of copyright image).download

 These days, Australia is a modest player in the world’s production of honey, not rating at all in the top 20 countries.


The colour illustration inside the hive is by Edward J Detmold from the the 1919 book – The Children’s Life of the Bee via Project Gutenberg.

Project Gutenberg's The Children's Life of the Bee, by Maurice Maeterlinck

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predictions: olive trees will grow well in Western Queensland

RGSQ - JP Thomson - CM 17 April 1940

At the bottom of this Courier Mail par (17 April 1940) about a meeting of The Royal Geographical Society of Queensland, there’s a mention of a lantern lecture by Mr D A O’Brien.  He predicted that Charleville in Western Queensland could become one of the greatest olive-growing centres in the world.

Yes – they are growing olives in Charleville today. Watch out world!