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Published: April 23rd 2014
My hotel in Hobart was very nice, so on Monday morning I stayed in. I wrote up my previous blog entry and just lazed about until lunchtime. Eventually, I decided I had to head out and do something. To be honest, there wasn’t really much I wanted to see in Hobart but I figured I should head up to the top of Mount Wellington and have a look.
The drive up to the top is a winding road, and quite narrow. But it is a good road, which is handy because there were plenty of cars heading up and down, not to mention the cyclists and walkers. Once at the top, my GPS said it was 1,274m and my car said it was 5 degrees. It certainly was pretty cold, and it looked like bad weather was coming in. I walked around for a bit, enjoyed the view and took some photos before going back down into Hobart. I then went back to the hotel and continued my veg-out day.
Tuesday morning I checked out of the hotel and headed out to the Tasman peninsula. On the way I had to stop and resupply because
I had one more night of camping. With new sausages, bread and milk, I continued on towards Port Arthur. The drive out there is going to be great in a few months or possibly years. Hopefully, anyway, because there were a lot of road work zones but not so much actual road work being done.
Along the way I stopped at most of the tourist spots. The Tessellated Pavement was pretty cool. The rocks have cracked in straight lines in an entirely natural process, but it totally looks man-made. The Devil’s Kitchen and Tasman Arch were okay too, but they all had too many tourists. This was just a taste of things to come.
The day was getting on so I continued on to Port Arthur. Suddenly the number of tourists at the other sites didn’t look quite so much. The first carparks were full and the line to buy tickets was literally out the door. Some of the cars in the carpark were hot-rods too, so the club must be going to all the tourist attractions.
Anyway, once inside it was not too bad because Port Arthur is a pretty
On the edge
Mt Wellington, Hobart
big place. When I bought my ticket they gave me a random playing card (they do this for everyone) which I had to take downstairs and find out which convict I was. Turns out I was an ex-soldier who was sentenced to transportation to Australia for desertion. I was assigned to the chain-gang, apparently.
Once I knew that, I could promptly forget it because that was all there was to it. Anyway, I headed out for the 1:00pm introductory walking tour. It was certainly introductory and there was a short amount of walking. But I hesitate to say it was a tour. But regardless, it was quite an interesting overview of the history of the former penal colony. When that was done, I had just over an hour to look around before I had to head to the jetty for a tour to the Isle of the Dead.
First things first, I headed to the café to grab some lunch. With that done I started walking around, having a look at the buildings and tried to get some photos with as few other tourists in the background as I could manage. The nearest building
to the café was the separate prison, where they did the real psychological stuff to punish the bad guys – isolation, etc. Apparently even the worst of them could only take a week or two of it. I then headed up the hill to walk around the hospital and the military buildings. Unfortunately the iconic building, the penitentiary, is undergoing restoration works at the moment so all I could do was look down at it from the hill.
When it was time, I headed to the jetty with lots of other people for my tour. I was thinking there were a lot of people going, but it turns out most of them were just going on the harbour tour that you get as part of your entrance ticket. Only a few of us had paid extra for a tour of the Isle of the Dead. The island was the cemetery for the colony, and the tour was quite interesting – mostly because of the stories rather than the island itself, which is quite small. As for the harbour, while I imagine it could be very dismal in bad conditions, on Tuesday it was a beautiful day and
they location was absolutely stunning.
When I got back to dry land, the sun was on its way to setting so I walked around to get a few more photos while there was still light. I then had to get a move on because I was planning to camp at the Lime Bay State Reserve, on the end of the peninsula. The drive there was paved for most of it, but the unpaved road in the reserve probably still took as much time as the paved road. Fortunately, there was still just enough light when I arrived so I could grab a free bit of the campground to set up camp. It was definitely the busiest campground I had stayed at in Tasmania, but there was plenty of room.
I had a good night’s sleep there, although I knew it was morning when I heard the first plane fly over. In the morning I got chatting with a couple of other New South Welshmen who were keen on some logs I happened to camp by. They were staying for the Anzac long weekend, as part of their non-stop travelling around Australia.
After packing up my camp, I headed down the road a short way to another convict site on the peninsula. It was a coal mine and there is quite a lot to explore there. The mines themselves are a couple of hours of walking, so I just had a look around the main camp where there are ruins of the barracks and so forth. There were a couple of people there, but nothing compared to the crowds at Port Arthur.
After a look around and a few photos, I jumped back in the Suzuki and left the peninsula. My ultimate aim for the day was to reach my hotel in Launceston but along the way I wanted to check out the convict bridge in Richmond. The bridge is pretty solid, by the looks of things, and is still in use. Like most things built in that era, it is made of sandstone and looks great. Richmond seems quite nice too, if you’re into crafts and stuff. For me, I had some lunch at a pub before heading onto Launceston.
And that was pretty much it. And that is almost it for my
Tasmania trip too. Tomorrow I will be having a look around Launceston before heading back to Devenport and catching the overnight ferry to the mainland. All in all, Tasmania has been great. I definitely liked the west coast and the south-west the best. I think this is because the eastern part of Tassie, although quite nice, is very similar to the rest of south-eastern Australia. The west coast and the temperate rainforests of the Gordon-Franklin World Heritage are very different to what I am used to and absolutely stunning. I certainly hope to visit again one day – hopefully in a convoy of 4wds so I can confidently tackle some of the more difficult tracks in my car.
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