Towns of Tasmania, A Journey Through Time Bert Spinks and Pen Tayler Forty South Publishing, $65
Twelve Tasmanian towns are rhapsodised over in words and pictures in this local hardcover for hardcore Tassie lovers. The journey through the delightful dozen starts on the West Coast at Strahan, before heading north to Stanley, east to Ross in the Midlands and onwards to Richmond, Evandale, Deloraine, Bothwell, Queenstown, Derby, Franklin and Beaconsfield. Amid all those quaint historic villages, the fishing town and former forestry town of Triabunna on the East Coast is a surprise inclusion that adds depth to the commentary about contemporary socio-economic and environmental challenges. Derby is offered as an example of a successful small-town revival. “It was a town replete with beauty and odd characters,” says the book’s author, Bert Spinks. “But for a long time, Derby was on struggle street. Yet today it’s going off its chops, and it’s all thanks to mountain biking.”
DO IT YOURSELF
Tomato: Know, sow, grow, feast
Penny Woodward, Janice Sutton and Karen Sutherland
Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens, $60
Tasmania has a long and proud tomato culture. Every summer gardeners around the state rise to the challenge of growing a tasty tomato. And, every summer, the Tassie climate tosses a few curve balls to keep growers on their toes. This year a new book should help gardeners in the annual tomato growing challenge. Aptly titled Tomato, the hefty 360-pluspage book, is subtitled ‘know sow grow feast’. Written by tomato experts Penny Woodward, Janice Sutton and Karen Sutherland it was launched in October to form part of bicentennial celebrations at the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens. The book’s focus is heirloom tomato varieties with information on how to grow them and tips on how to develop your own tomato variety. A large chunk of the book (titled Feast and written by Janice Sutton) is about recipes to preserve and use tomatoes. Some are from well-known Australian cooks and chefs including Tassie’s own Sally Wise. JENNIFER STACKHOUSE
Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery Jill Dupleix Blackwell & Ruth, $34.99
Are you hungry and holier than thou? Diners want to know chefs care about the same things they do, says veteran food writer and reviewer Jill Dupleix in Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery, a guide to ethical and sustainable restaurants. Fear not, Dupleix rushes to assure readers, the reviewing team’s first selection criterion was deliciousness. Then they wanted to know where the food came from and whether it had been cooked with care and without high fat, salt and sugar levels. Energy and water use, seasonality, community involvement, recycling, meat alternatives and kids’ menus were other considerations. One-use plastic straws were noted, disapprovingly.
The book lists the eateries first by region and also has an index. Eighteen Tasmanian eateries are included in this national wrap-up, including A Tiny Place at Battery Point, Aloft at Brooke St Pier and Peppermint Bay Hotel at Woodbridge.
An odd omission is Hobart’s trailblazingly sustainable Farm Gate Market, which set the bar high years ago. Apparently farmers’ markets were chef-nominated, but still ...
AMANDA DUCKER ARMCHAIR TRAVELLER Wilderness: Celebrating Australia’s Protected Places
The Wilderness Society, $125.
This beautiful hardcover celebrates 40 years of wilderness campaigns across the nation. It includes more than 100 striking images from some of Australia’s most beautiful places including Kakadu, the Kimberley, Cape York, Gippsland, Daintree Rainforest, Great Australian Bight and Great Barrier Reef. Tasmania features prominently, with amazing images from Lake Pedder and the fight to save the Franklin to the Styx, Weld and Florentine Valleys and the Douglas-Apsley National Park. Veteran conservationist and former Wilderness Society campaigner Geoff Law wrote the text, which includes a foreward by former Australian Greens leader Bob Brown. The cover image is Peter Dombrovskis’ iconic Morning Mist, Rock Island Bend, used in the Franklin campaign in the early 1980s. LINDA SMITH
Hardie Grant Books, $70
It’s never too early for this garden photographer to rise and shine, as Claire Takacs does again and again in her extensive magazine work. This book is a beautifully sunlit and composed collection, but it’s not just a gorgeous glossy. It’s a reference book too, subtitled The art of planting in gardens inspired by nature. Having identified the emergence of a less formal and structured, more naturalistic style of gardening, Takacs records some of the best from around the country, along with ideas and advice from their creators, who include Tasmanian landscape designer Catherine Shields. Many gardeners talk about their pleasure in creating environments that enrich biodiversity. “It became apparent what great pleasure they take in observing the life they have brought into their gardens,” writes Takacs. Sweeping rural and bush backdrops form part of the dreamscapes. AMANDA DUCKER