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Published: November 6th 2010
The Spirit of Tasmania I
Tasmania. Tassie. Van Dieman's Land. The Holiday Isle. The Part of Australia Where Everyone is Supposedly Inbred. Tasmania is, at the very least, interesting. But I'd say 'amazing' is a better word. I don't normally take over 300 photos over a span of 5 days, so that right there says a lot about how beautiful it is. Or how much of a crazy tourist I am. Take your pick.
I went on a 3-day tour down the east coast with my friend Marieke, as well as a bunch of other tourists from all over the world. China, Brazil, France, Germany, the UK, Canada, and the US were all represented in our one little bus (and of course our guide was Australian.) The other 2 days, if you're wondering about my seemingly suspect math, were spent wandering around Devonport and Hobart, the starting and ending points of the tour.
So, might as well go chronologically. We took the ferry from Melbourne to Devonport, which was actually pretty cool, though I'm not sure I'd want to do it again. The Spirit of Tasmania is basically a cruise ship, complete with expensive buffets, a bar, a bajllion or so cabins, garages for
The lovely chairs I hope never to sleep in again
peoples' cars, and a cinema. We watched Pirates of the Caribbean in the cinema, which I have to say felt a lot more like being in the movie than usual, thanks to the rocking of the boat. (And there was actually one point where the rocking of our ship was in sync with the rocking of the ship onscreen!) Because we like not being broke, Marieke and I went with the cheap option of sleeping in 'ocean recliners,' which are basically just more comfortable versions of airplane seats. They weren't more comfortable by much though. I think I got about 3 hours of sleep that night, but on the bright side, at least I wasn't seasick.
We arrived in Devonport around 6 in the morning, so the very first thing we did after getting off the boat was hunt down a cute little café that was open for breakfast. (I had pancakes with lemon and cinnamon sugar. Pure deliciousness.) We then had approximately 7 hours to kill before we could check into our hostel, so we took the ferry over to the side of the town that actually has shops and a visitor's centre. (It's a small town. Proof:
The self-explanatory lighthouse
we ran into a guy walking his dog who took one look at us and gave us directions to the ferry without us even asking).
So anyway, we got some recommendations from the people at the visitor's centre for things to do. We ended up taking a walk up to a cool little lighthouse, going to a homemade leather shop where they make (and demonstrate tricks with) whips, and running through the rain and hail before finally taking shelter inside Pizza Hut for lunch. After that, we camped out in the semi-deserted cinema to wait for Despicable Me's showtime, but as it turned out, the cheap $9 Tuesday prices didn't apply to 3-D movies, so we decided to spend $9 on The Sorcerer's Apprentice instead of $18 on Despicable Me. It wasn't that great of a movie, but since the goal was to kill time and not get drenched, I'd say it was still a success.
Our hostel for the night was actually more of a house where they rent out the rooms. Hence its name being Hawley's Gingerbread House. It totally looked like one too. It was a cute little place with stained glass windows and a
sign out front with a witch cooking two children (though happily the people who run the place aren't actually cannibals).
The next morning, we joined up with the tour and set off for Launceston, which is where my friend Nicole (the one we call 'Tassie') is from. Most of you have probably already seen my pictures from the first two days on facebook, but I'll include some of them on here anyway, because Tasmania is just so darn pretty. Who wouldn't want another excuse to stare at it? Our first stop was Cataract Gorge, which was a lovely walk through... well, a gorge. There were pretty stone cliffs, and peacocks that entertained us by displaying all their tail-feathers, and flowers, and a path that we weren't supposed to take-- which luckily Marieke, Lindsey, and I realized before we got too far off track. (Lindsey is the girl from British Columbia we hung out with quite a bit during the tour.)
Our next stop was a picnic by one of Tasmania's many bays, and after that we were off to the famous Bay of Fires. Evidently it's one of the top-rated beaches in the world, despite not technically being
The Bay of Fires
one beach, but a whole string of them. We went to a beach called Cosy Corner (Australian spelling seems to avoid the letter Z, which they pronounce 'zed' by the way, whenever possible. Realise, cosy, Aussie, Tassie, etc. They could easily just get rid of the letter, and no one would notice, except maybe people whose names are spelled with a Z.) But enough of the random tangent: the beach was absolutely gorgeous (haha, gorge, I'm so punny), with squeaky white sand, teal water, and huge rocks that ranged from beige to grey to bright orange. As a side note, they were very fun to climb. I just could not get sick of the orange rocks, and therefore took lots and lots of pictures. I used one of them for a desktop background immediately after returning to school. Evidently it snowed a little while we were there, though I thought it was just a bit of light rain. Our guide was in shock, and said no one would ever believe him that it snowed on the Bay of Fires, because evidently this never happens. Maybe it was just the abundance of Canadians and Americans, and snow is just attracted to
us like a magnet. At any rate, the combination of sun and freakish snow/rain produced a really cool-looking rainbow, which we tried frantically to photograph out the windows of the van once we were on the road again.
Our last stop of the day was Bicheno, which is another tiny town on yet another coast. I'm a little fuzzy on the history our guide told us now, seeing as it's several weeks after the tour, but the whaling industry was a big part of it. We took a walk up a hilltop from which they used to watch for whales, and evidently there's a flag up there that they used to use to signal when there was a sighting, but Lindsey and I didn't go up that far. We didn't see any whales either, though there were a couple of seals, and the view of the town in one direction and the sea in the other would have been worth it anyway. All the same, I don't plan on moving there permanently, which is what one girl who took this tour 5 years ago ended up doing. If I was going to live in Tasmania, I would probably choose
I'm quite proud that I caught this seagull in this shot.
Hobart, not Bicheno. But I'll get to Hobart later.
This concludes day 2 in Tasmania. Come back... sometime... for the next installment of this riveting tale. Unless I decide to write about something more recent next time instead. It'll be more suspenseful if I don't tell you for sure. And on that subject, sorry for the long silence. My life has been a crazy mix of too busy and too interesting since break, so it's rare that having time and having motivation to write on here coincide.
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