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Published: March 13th 2006
A view over Hobart
I think this demonstrates the quirky houses thing I mentioned
Ah tassie, land of uncomprehensible cartoon characters......................well this and so much more. Often compared to scotland by travellers i've met, tassie is quirky. I like that. For example on arriving into Hobart the roof's of all the buildings are different colours, each house has something a little different about it, they are all individual and thats why it works. Kind of gives it a quaint fishing village look to it (except for the larger buildings in the city centre of course but there aren't really huge skyscrapers here).
So Day one: Hobart
Following the advice of a nice polish girl in my room I decided to do a circuit of the city which involved walking beside a river (stream really, thats an exageration) to the ex women's prison (now a historical site with fudge shop -yummy) and then onto Australia's oldest brewery, the Cascade brewery. Then back into town taking in battery point and the salamanca area by the harbour and walk to the botanical gardens (and back). It was good advice however it was also 35 degrees C today!! No to you beer lovers out there I did not do the tour of the brewery but it did come
with a nice beer garden and general gardens to wander round so I took advantage of the shade. The women's prison was actually really interesting, lots of the women were really young, infact some were teenagers and sentenced to say 7 years imprisonment for shoplifting for example. They did get treated pretty badly, with only a handful of people actually trying to help these women e.g. a doctor who was appalled at the infant mortality rate and worked with these women despite mountains of disapproval from the authorities. The conditions there were pretty harsh with the women completing hard labour for up to 12 hours a day. There's a lesson there somewhere, maybe crime never pays? On the walk to the prison I passed a leather tanning factory, it was a delicious smell, it reminded me of my time at the stables.
I must say the royal botanical gardens did not disappoint, they included a subantartic garden (set at 12 degrees C -heaven as you can imagine) as well as some interesting sculptures and herb garden, sensory garden and japanese garden. Whilst I was at the gardens someone was getting married in one of the gardens, and there are
also evening plays put on in the park too (currently a comedy of errors by william shakespeare). I should probably point out that Hobart is probably the closest I will ever get to antartica (I think thats quite exciting), hence why they had a subantartic garden. Closest of course until of course Mr Branston Pickle (I think you all can guess who I mean) starts running ridiculously expensive holidays there which I will obviously be able to afford (has he done that already??)!
Day 2: Hobart
Well in a stark contrast to yesterday's weather - it was 17 degrees C and drizzling! The weather really is changeable here and it gets pretty cold at night here too. Today I went to the famous Salamanca market which was really fun, lots of free samples of cheese and fudge to try (delicious!) as well as loads of amazing arts and crafts and local produce. Sadly though of course I could not buy much because of my backpacker status (no where to put it, it might get broken and the cost of posting heavy things home is probably going to cost as much as buying it in the first place - but
Sculptures down at the harbour
These were part of several celebrating a tasmanian born scientist/ antartic explorer
like the murphys, I'm not bitter!) but i did get a few presents for people (which aren't very heavy or likely to get broken so no one feel guilty). It was fun to be there, just to soak up the atmosphere and also playing spot the evidence of colonialism amongst the stalls and musicians. For example they were selling 'favourite Norfolk recipes' and there was a bagpipes band performing on and off for most of the day! As you can probably see from the photo's of Hobarts architecture, there is a fair amount of colonial architecture still present today.
Day 3: Mount Wellington, Tasman Peninsula, Port Arthur
Today was the first day of a five day tour I booked myself on with under down under tours (www.underdownunder.com.au) and one of the first early starts I had had for a while so it came as quite a shock! The day started with a trip to the top of mount wellington which is approximately 22 km from Hobart but still overshadows it -I think its 1267m high but don't quote me on that. From the top we had amazing views across tasmania and I think this was the first time tassie
began to remind me of scotland - beautiful lakes, mountains and rivers as far as the eye could see. Just look at the photo's. On the way down we stopped to fill up our water bottles from a mountain spring, it was deliciously cold. Then we drove to Port Arthur taking in the scenery of the tasman peninsula. To get to Port Arthur you have to go through a place called Doo Town and most of the residents have given their houses amusing names with the word 'doo' in, for example 'love me doo', 'sheil doo'.
Port Arthur was a massive penal colony from 1833 to 1877 and was chosen because of its location, e.g. the prisioners would find it very hard to escape, especially if they believed the lies that the waters were shark infested. It included a prision for boys too which had very harsh conditions which included bathing every morning down at the beach - imagine washing in freezing cold water when the outside temperature is -5 degrees C. As a part of our visit there we had a harbour cruise which took us around the isle of the dead (there are approximately 11,000 bodies buried
there) and the island on which the children's prison was and had a running commentry of interesting facts and anecdotes. We were also given a playing card on entry to port arthur, which in a similar way to the Titanic exhibition, was matched to a previous inhabitant of Port Arthur and you had to follow their story through the exhibition. Mine was william day (I think) who was generally a well behaved prisoner and worked in the store - his crime was bigamy! On the way back we visited the devil's kitchen, tasman arch and the blow hole (some of the highlights of the beautiful tasman peninsula) - I think I speak for the whole group when I recommend the berries and ice cream we had when we visited the blow hole. Basically I think a blow hole is (incase you were wondering) where a cave in the cliffs is bombarded by the powerful waves and the roof collapses exposing a hole in the top of the cliff and when the waves are particularly powerful, the water comes crashing out of the cave in a dramatic spray of water - unfortunately i don't have a photo of this to demonstrate.
Day 4: The historic town of Ross, Freycinet National Park, Nature world, Bicheno!
Our first stop was the historic town of ross which had one of the female factories (female prisons) and is also famous for its bridge which was built and designed by convicts, the designs over the arches are in fact a satire of the men in positions of authority at the time and it was the convicts way of getting back at them. Ross is also famous for the little dog who lives there who follows tourists around! he's a little jack russel and very cute! Proud of its scottish roots it has a scottish shop and lots of the people who work places tourists visit wear traditional scottish costume.
So from here we went to freycinet national park, stopping on the way at a look out point over the bay below (it began with M?) and then onto Coles bay to have lunch. Then we entered the national park and began the climb up to the lookout point over wineglass bay. It was a bit of a climb but worth it as it is beautiful - scotland maybe many things but it doesn't have
a bay and brilliant white sand like that, that i'm aware of. Have a look at the photo's. Now this is where we get to the negative bit of the trip - those of us on the trip for more than 3 days had to leave the people we had got to know over the last 2 days and get a different tour bus with a different guide ergo mostly different people on the trip too. It was also annoying as those of us changing buses were unable to go down to the beach itself as we would be late for our bus however from what I heard of those who did do it, it as a pretty arduous climb down and back up so maybe that was a blessing in disguise! Can't say that changing buses was a completely negative thing though as I got to know an equally fun bunch of people on the other bus and our guide was more informative and enthusiastic about his job and had better musical taste (that cheque is in the mail right Sean?).
So having switched buses we went to nature world in Bicheno which was a great way to
see some of Tassie's and indeed australia's native animals up close. We were lucky enough to arrive at feeding time so saw the tassie devils feeding as well as the wombats, koala's and wallabes! They also have a fantastic avairy there which you can wander through - a couple of the girls had a cheeky black and yellow cockatoo try to nibble their hair in there which was quite amusing!This was actually run by some brits who were kind enough to let us stay late, if you are in bicheno go visit it!
Day 5: Cradle mountain
Well today started with a visit to a chocolate factory with free samples which was great! We certainly needed the energy as in the afternoon we went bushwalking in the cradle mountain national park. In the morning we stopped off in Sheffield also known as the town of mural's. The murals depicted around the town are mostly centred around the story of a couple who lived in the area who loved the mountains and the wildlife of the area so much that they purchased as much as they could and left it in their wills to the people of tasmania as a
One of the market stall holders at the salamanca market
This lady actually works for the wilderness society in tasmania and I did promise i would email her but i lost her email! The green party and wilderness society are very active in tasmania which I think is a good thing, they are currently trying to stop a pulp mill being built which would mean the loss of precious forests.
national park, having spent a lot of time enjoying its beauty when they were alive. There are some interesting mural's depicting the history of the area.
Cradle mountain was cold and wet but it was worth the bush walking and if the sun had been shining I'm sure we would have complained that it was too hot! We started to walk up to maria's lookout but when we were halfway there we could see that it would not have been worth it because of the weather so we decided to change our plans and went on a walk around Dove lake which took us through some beautiful forest. Cradle mountain is definately worth visiting if you are in tasmania, it was also the first place I saw a wombat in the wild!!! We also saw some wallabies too so its a great place to see some australian wildlife. It was cold though, after the walk I think most of us stayed in the kitchen which had a great log stove which kept us warm all night long!
Day 6: Montezuma falls, Henty Sand Dunes and Ocean beach
This morning we did a bush walk to the Montezuma Falls
- because of the rain we had been having they were in full flow and truly spectacular with a narrow rope bridge to cross over them for the best views (the rope was metal, nobody panic). The bush walk was as the entire group agreed, great for the first 15 minutes and then became a little boring, its a shame the track isn't a bit shorter / more interesting e.g. goes down beside the river we can hear gushing below.
In the afternoon we went to visit the famous Henty Sand dunes which were beautiful and we had a pretty interesting climb up the face of one of the major ones. Sean took us to one which isn't visited often and according to him is one of the hardest to climb - thanks for that! No really it was fun! We spent a while exploring the sand dunes and ended up building a sand sculpture of a turtle with some of the people on the trip, we were regressing to childhood I think! The henty dunes stretch all the way to ocean beach which was a little too far for us to walk to (a few miles i think)
so Sean kindly drove us there instead! I'm not sure if I am explaining this correctly but supposedly ocean beach is called that because it is the longest stretch of ocean in the world - this basically means that the current starts there, goes round tasmania and all the way to argentina. Either way its a nice beach which we had a wander on collecting the occasional shell and braving the elements (we were 3 brits and a german, we're not afraid of a little wind and rain!), actually the weather was not too bad and the sun came out eventually. We also walked along the beach by the estuary of the Gordon River which is nicknamed hell's gate. It was called this because it is a place of extreme beauty leading to a penal colony on Sarah's island(I'm not joking), a place of terror for convicts. This evening by a unanimous group decision we had a group BBQ which was delicious! I can't take any credit for the cooking, I think it would have been a case of too many cooks but thanks to those guys that did, you are welcome to cook for me anytime!
Strahan, Nelson Falls, Lake Burberry, Franklin River, Derwent river, Lake St Clair, Russel Falls, Tall trees walk
The next morning a little sleepily we headed down into Strahan which was our home for the night and sits on the Gordon river. It was beautiful and apparently was the epicentre of protests to stop the australian government from damming the gordon river for hydro electricity purposes. An impressive thing about tasmania is that all of its electricity is provided by hydro electricity however they did not need to dam another river, they had enough power, hence the protests. Next we did short walk to the beautiful Nelson Falls which was a lovely walk through some rainforest. Then a quick stop at Lake burberry, a manmade lake and much prettier than a clothing line with which it shares its name, it really reminded me of Scotland. We had lunch beside the franklin river and another quick walk in the forest, filling up our water bottles from the river.
On the way to lake St Clair we stopped at the Derwent river to see the start of the river which opens up into Hobart's huge harbour. Lake St Clair was lovely,
Kind of cross between a porcupine and a hedgehog - in this photo we have scared the life out of it
we could see mount olympus there and we also had our group photo there (it had to be done!). Then onto mount Fields national park to do the tall trees walk and see russell falls. The tall trees walk was great - thay are some of the tallest flowering trees in the world and I struggled to fit them into a photo. I also scared the hell out of the people I was on the walk with when a wallaby started moving in the undergrowth and I mistook it for a tassie devil! The forest was beautiful and you could really see the circle of life (cliche phrase, sorry but its true) with all of the moss, lichen and living and dead trees in the forest. The walk takes you to the horseshoe falls and russell falls - I never tire of waterfalls! Then sadly it was time to return to Hobart and for some of us sadly to leave the trip. I had booked myself on a flight that evening so we had a bit of a race back to hobart but I managed to get my bus to the airport on time. Met some great people on the
It's a wallaby!!!!
Saw this one in Freycinet national park but saw several in tassie
trip, had a lovely time in tassie, would recommend the tour and going to visit tassie to you all. Hopefully will see some of the people on the trip if they come to Sydney/ back in the UK. Sorry its a long entry but i did have a lot of fun - hope you like the photo's!!
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