The management wishes to apologize for the delay in this post, the availability and quality of internet is not what it should be in a first world country
May 21st to 31st 2011
Having to wake up at sparrow’s fart and trying not to make the hostel bed creak (which is nigh impossible, as breathing makes it creak), walking to the train station in the dark and catching the shuttle to the airport is always a fun way to start your day. But it’s what you put up with when you are heading off on another great adventure. This time the destination is Tasmania, another far off place I always hoped to visit.
Getting to the airport I walked the mile from the shuttle drop off point to the Tiger Airlines terminal. Tiger air is the type of low budget airline that charges for everything short of using the loo. But it also means you get things like return flights for under $150. Since I only had a carry on and had checked in online I went straight to security where they weighed my bag but didn’t check identification. Then I went through the scanner and managed to get my whole tube of toothpaste through no problem and again no one confirmed my identity. Finally we boarded the plane after a few gate changes and were on our way to Tazzie.
My friend, Rachel (who I worked with in Korea), was able to meet me at the airport. Got to love having friends all over the world. the plan was to spend the weekend in Hobart helping her get her house ready to be rented and then heading up North to the tiny town of Forth, about 15min north of Devonport. Window washing, paint touch ups, wall touch ups were all par for the course and well worth the free ride and accommodation.
The Mona Museum is a must see in Hobart. Its owned by someone who is ridiculously wealthy and comprises of his personal art collection. Presently it is free to the public, but there is talk of charging an entry fee in the near future. Located in the middle of a vineyard (renowned for its wine) and in a very snazzy building with all the latest gadgets, it is a sensory overload.
I started on the ground level which is 3 floors down into the bedrock. The walls are all the natural rock and the sounds and sites from various art pieces are truly overwhelming. There is definate emphasis on grotesque modern art, but there are some amazing Egyptian pieces and some funky interesting things to check out.
I spent over an hour in the museum, managed to get lost on more than one occasion and eventually ended up in the cafe with my exorbitantly priced coffee and cake (but hey the museum was free so I figured it evened out). As I left the rest of Hobart had apparently showed up and the line was almost wrapping the property. Then I wandered around the grounds and to my great pleasure I found bean bags scattered around the lawn and so promptly collapsed in one and waited to be picked up by Rachel. I enjoyed around an hour in the sun, and am not ashamed to admit that I woke myself up snoring at least 3 times, it was just that good.
After finishing a few more things at Rachel’s house and meeting the new tenants we headed North towards the tiny town of Forth, literally a blip of houses a corner store. I got to spend the next 5 days doing not much of anything. Rachel and her roommate worked during the day, so I would write my blog, read my book and cuddle up with Pippa the dog for the day. When the girls returned I made dinner. An excellent relationship to all concerned.
On Monday Rach and I drove to the town of Penguin, where we had an icecream, a photo with the giant Penguin and then drove home, not seeing any penguins, but we did see a stunning rainbow.
Return to Hobart
On Saturday I decided I should probably think of seeing something while I was in this beautiful and unique section of Australia and headed to Hobart with the plan of exploring and hopefully getting on a tour.
Rach drove me to Devonport and I caught the Redline bus to Hobart. I checked into the Central Hostel and went to explore Salamanca Market down at the waterfront, a great farmer’s market that is only on Saturdays. Also met up with a Brazilian friend I had met in Melbourne, Leandro, for lunch.
Saturday through Monday I spent my time exploring the city and hanging out at the waterfront. Due to the sterile vibe at the Central Backpackers I moved to the Pickled Frog (and its bright green building) on Sunday and was welcomed with a fireplace a bar and a great backpacker vibe.
Monday I decided to call one of the tour groups that had been recommended and see if I could get on for a discount, in exchange for writing an article (which I still have to do asap). I managed to get a full day tour to Mt. Fields for $80 vs $120. Not to bad and just able to squeeze it in before I left on Tuesday evening.
Tours Tasmania – Mt. Fields Tour
Jeremy picked me up bright and early at 8am on a very brisk Tuesday morning. The tour ended up being only me and a girl from Thailand, but it made it more personal and allowed us extra time here and there. Driving out of Hobart, we headed to Mt. Fields National Park. Along the way Jeremy frequently explained interesting information about the history of Tasmania, how hopps is grown (Tasmania is the main area for growing hopps) and the different ways they are used to make beer etc.
We made a brief breakfast stop. Then we hopped back on the little white bus and headed to the park. The information center was closed due to winter hours, so we headed out on the trail planning to check in when we got back. There are a number of interesting little critters that can be seen in the park, including quolls, wallabies and pademelons. We were lucky enough to see pademelons (small kangaroo like marsupial) within 10 steps of walking into the trees. Then we saw another and another until they almost became boring…almost. They are super cute and were very relaxed with us around, often just standing and staring at us as if they were posing for photos.
We walked along till we came to some falls, Jeremy, an excellent photographer, gave us some great tips on shooting moving water and using manual modes.
I have not had to use these skills since so I fear I might have forgotten them already. We came across an old tree that had been cut down for safety reasons and its size just blew your mind.
Up numerous stairs to a stunning view of the canopy and what is named Horseshoe falls, some perilous posing on a tree stump in the middle of the river.
Down again we got back in the van and drove up Mt. Fields through 4 very distinct ecosystems: eucalypt forest, temperate, sub alpine, alpine. It was almost as if someone had drawn a line in the sand as to which trees could grow where, the most instantaneous changes I have ever seen. At the top we got a view of the alpine with heather fields and small lump like plants that are actually hundreds of years old and very delicate, dying if stepped on.
Heading to a lake, we walked around and came across wallabies. In fact there was a youngster that we nearly tripped over as he was sitting just off the path.
Jeremy showed us wombat scat (poo), the only known animal to poop square due to the hard plate that runs down its back. I would hate to be a constipated wombat!
The lake had a thin layer of ice over it and was truly spectacular. As we walked through very unique plant systems we reached a grove of Pandanni plants, a type of palm of sorts that can grow to a very old age.
Back in the truck we drove back down the mountain and went on a short “tall tree” loop walk, with some of the tallest eucalypt trees in the area. The tallest being over 79m tall, you can barely see the top and you definately feel small and insignificant when you stand next to it.
Next we drove to a wildlife sanctuary. Unfortunately due to financial issues we were to be the sanctuary’s last group of visitors. Here I got to see Tasmanian Devils, Golden Possums, Spotted Quolls, wombat and most exciting wild platypusses (platypusi?). The 2 females and 1 male live in the river below the sanctuary and it was very exciting to see them, unfortunately they were so far away and it was getting dark so I was unable to get a photo.
On the way back to Hobart we saw a kookaburra on the telephone lines, so another one to cross off my list. So far I have seen in the wild:
kangaroo, koala, pademelon, wallaby, platypus and kookaburra. Up on Mt. Wellington we nearly froze, the wind was so icy that you soon lost
feeling in your nose and the fear of frostbite came to mind. We explored the rocks and took some amazing sunset pictures.
A great day all around and a company I would highly recommend.
With near perfect timing Jeremy dropped me off at the bus station and I had just enough time to pop back to the hostel and grab a coffee before my airport shuttle arrived. I think the next time I visit Tasmania I will do it in the summer and rent a car. But for now it was a great trip with a great friend and new friends made. What more could you ask for.