Tantastic Tassie !
It was an early start to the Tasmanian leg of our trip with a flight from Melbourne at 6am! It was a pleasant short flight compared to the 24 hour flight I had to endure to reach the land down under. We landed in Hobart, the capital "city" of Tassie and got to The Central City Backpackers hostel which was my first proper taste of what life as a backpacker is supposed to be like! We spent the day wandering around the city and checked out the harbour. We were feeling lazy so ate out in a tapas restaurant that evening.
The following day we went on a day tour to Port Arthur which gave us a taste of what life was like for the unfortunate individuals who were shipped over from UK and Ireland for trivial crimes. We made a stop at Richmond which is a historical site as it was a town built by the convicts. Any convicts who committed further crimes were sent to Port Arthur.
We made a few stops on the way to Port Arthur which showed us the natural beauty of the island. First stop was Pirate's Bay which gave us information about Tassie Devils and how viral cancer is threatening their existence. Next up was Eagle Hawk's Neck which the guide went on to tell us about how dogs and guards were put in place to stop convicts from escaping. We picked blackberries and got to taste "Pig's Face" (a sweet and sour fruit that had the texture of a kiwi) Next natural site was Tasman's Arch, a cliff that was eroded by the sea to form an arch...we went to Devil's Kitchen and finally to Remarkable Cave through which we could see clear turquoise waves crashing against the shore through a small gap, with the gap resembling the map of Tassie!
We eventually made it to the Heritage Site of Port Arthur which was used as a place to imprison convicts between 1830's to 1870's. There was also a memorial site to commemorate the Port Arthur massacre, when Martin Bryant randomly shot 35 people in the Broad Arrow Cafe and in the car park in April 1996. It was sad to hear about how the convicts were treated and how they spent their time there but was very interesting!
We had the traditional fish and chips in Mures by the harbour that night. Silver, our Estonian friend on the trip followed us along and ended up getting a couple of drinks in Knobbies which was recommended as the best pub in town! We left early as we reckoned Silver thought his luck was in that night!!
Saturday in Hobart is the day to go to the infamous Salamanca Market. I have to say I wasn't impressed but Mel enjoyed it and found some rather interesting pieces of apparatus which I'm sure she'll describe to you if you asked her (want to keep this blog as clean as possible!) We mozzied on to The Hobart Museum and Art Gallery for a bit more culture learning! Wouldn't normally spend so much time learning about a country's culture and history while on holiday....must be my old age setting in! Aboriginal history and heritage were covered here and native animals of Tassie were on display.
Got up bright and early on Sunday to start our 5-day tour around the island. Steve, our guide picked us up at the Cathedral on Murray St. Loreto, a really cool canadian chick was already on board. Myself and Mel got on so well with her during the 5 days that we plan on meeting up again in Melbourne and Sydney! The major site for the day was Wine Glass Bay (Freycinet Penninsula) which is on the east coast of the island. We were free to walk to the outlook at our own pace but took most people about 40 minutes. This walk was so beautiful and magical, the rocks had vibrant tones of pink and yellow, water flowing on the rocks were a brown/yellow colour (water from the taps and toilets were all this colour!) Eucalyptus trees were abundant with trunks that looked stripey and spiralling from layers being torn away. The steps up were a bit of a challenge but the pain was worth it when we got to the lookout and admired the view of the bay. The weather wasn't great, with dark clouds and slight drizzle but this didn't make the bay any less beautiful (in my opinion anyway!) We made our way down to the beach which had fine, white sand and clear green water when it met the shore. The dunes around the bay had green shrubs. Rain was starting to get heavier but Mel braved the weather anyway (I didn't think my suede Pumas would survive in the sinking wet sand!) and walked along the beach and took stunning photos of shells and jellyfish. The walk back to the car park was much more challenging and could now understand why a girl on the trip a week before thought she was going to die!! Was completely out of breath and my heart was racing! We stayed in a tiny surf town called Bicheno that night and had a drink in the local pub with the rest of the tour group.
Monday, we made a quick stop at the Bicheno Blowholes which were waves crashing through large holes in rocks....think we took a few good photos to show this! We went on to a wildlife park and were given animal feed to give to the ducks and kangaroos! It was our first time seeing kangaroos and to see them skipping around was just amazing! We took video footage of this. We watched the Tassie Devils fighting each other for the taste of wallaby (a result of roadkill from that morning) and latching onto the ranger's trousers and sleeves. We got to scratch a wombat's tummy (Yogi, was the wombat's name....the adopted son of the ranger) and saw some snakes which I was freaked out about but Mel, naturally, was as cool as a cucumber :P
We got the the Bay of Fires (North-east of the island) which completely blew me away. I finished lunch as quick as I could to get down to the beach and to take photos of the beach before anybody could stand in front of me and spoil my pics! This was voted 2nd best beach and I can totally see why. A good few "wows" came out of my mouth as I was so amazed at what was in front of me. Sand was almost white and very fine and the water was clear at the front with different shades of green and blue blending into the navy ocean at the back. The beach was surrounded by trees and rocks of different shapes and sizes. Was a good spot to surf also as the waves were large. Was reluctant to leave this beach...could have spent the day on it. I took a couple of really beautiful shots which I hope to frame someday!
We went to St. Columba Falls which was a pretty waterfall but unfortunately our photos don't do it any justice as the sunlight overexposed the pics....
Myself, Mel, and Loreto had a bit of energy left in us to go check out the Cataract Gorge in Launceston. the walk wasn't too difficult. Mel took nice pics of the Gorge lit up at dusk.
We stayed in Launceston over night which is the 2nd largest city in Tassie.
Most of the group left us at Launceston and we picked up two more people. Steve told us about the girl "Minge" from South Korea. I enquired about the nationality of the dude that was to join us. Steve immediately saw the opportunity to play match maker....we got to Devonport to pick Grant Mc Carthy up. When we got a glimpse of him the whole bus errupted with laughter....Steve said he probably wouldn't be the best to take home to meet my mother!! Grant was a 50 year with long grey hair tied in a pony tail with a matching grey beard. He was a hardcore rocker with an AC/DC t-shirt that almost didn't cover all of his beer belly and a Rolling Stones cap! The bottle of liquor in his back pocket completed the look! He was a sweetheart despite his tough look!
We made our way to Cradle Mountain and checked into our wooden cabin. We drove to Dove Lake and were free to go on whatever walks we wanted to do. Mel braved the walk to Marion's Lookout, the hightest point. Loreto and I were getting worried when we saw helicopters hovering around that area!! We spotted a couple of wombats in the wild. Discovered bacardi and coke in a can that night....genius idea!
The next day was fairly uneventful, we drove to Rosebury (2nd wettest part of Australia) for a coffee/toilet break and then went to climb the Henty Dunes. Was a struggle to get to the top but was worthwhile to see the view all around when we reached the top. There was a forest to one side and the sea on the other. We paid a visit to Ocean Beach before being dropped off to the small town of Strahan, on the west coast. There wasn't much to do here, bit of a one-horse town which myself and Loreto ended up getting lost in! We walked around the "People's Walk" rainforest where Hogarth's Fall had very little water flowing down it. Dropped into the local pub to try a Bundaberg rum or a "Bundy" as the Aussies call it and coke which was nice!
The last day of the tour was spent going to rainforests and lakes which were on the way back to Hobart. We saw Nelson's Falls which had very little water, unfortunately. Was a freezing cold morning, had to wrap up to keep warm. Saw Franklin River where the toilet facility was a large cylinder leading to the ground, nice! We were all gagging from the smell!!
Got to hug a giant tree which is a must do in Tassie. Had lunch at St. Clair Lake which was very peaceful. The last rainforest and waterfall we saw was Russell Falls at Field Mt. National Park. Took pics of us posing in the root of a tree trunk which was bigger than us!
Got back to Hobart and stayed the night.
Mel is going to continue the blog with our journey to Adelaide and our drive on The Great Ocean Road :)
Caro & Mel xx
Caro & Mel xx