Week 26 - September 09, 2018 - September 19, 2018 (a long, wonderful 'week')

TASMANIA!  TASSIE!  TAS!  Do I need to say more?  Well, I will as this island-state has so much going for it and thousands of words are expressed in hundreds of pictures. 

We flew from Sydney, across the Bass Strait, and landed in the Capital city of the 26th largest island in the world, Hobart, Tasmania.  We decided to leave Cinderoo in Sydney as we agreed that with what was purported to be some narrow roads, lots of hills, inclement weather and a substantial number of inexpensive B and B's, we were a tad better off flying to Tassie and driving around the island in a small car. 

   Coastline views of Sydney and along the southern coast                Our baggage helpers upon arrival in Hobart

Upon arrival, we had plenty of time to see a bit of Hobart and its surrounds and started off our self-guided tour with a drive up to the top of Mt. Wellington.  Mt. Wellington watches over Hobart and a drive to the top passes through what feels to be a few meteorological zones as evidenced by the significant drop in temperature and the presence of snow at the summit.  We held onto our hats and roamed around the lookout area while taking in the sights the stunning Hobart landscape.

   Views to Hobart area below                            Just a tad cold and had fun seeing snow

Then, it was back down to sea level with a walking tour of Hobart and to find a spot to just sit and breathe in the beauty of the harbour.  It did not take long walking amongst the older buildings and along the waterfront to find a nice little restaurant.

   Just a few of the buildings with character            Hobart harbour area               Our lunch view

  The famous Salmanca Market is held here and passageway to the upper neighborhoods           Typical houses and street

   Just a nice church                     St. David's Park and cemetery - original cemetery for Hobart, memorial walls

We enjoyed our first night in Hobart in an older home B&B and were off early the next day for a drive to Tassie's southeastern peninsula towns around Port Arthur.  A few stops along the way included the Richmond Bridge (a Heritage listed arch bridge built in 1825), the Tessellated Pavement (cool geomorphic rock formation) and Tasman National Park (Eaglehawk Neck, Blowhole, Tasman Arch, Waterfall Bay). 

   Miller's Cottage at the Richmond Bridge                                Pretty duck keeping a little eye on me

  Just a typical beautiful Tassie cottage                                      Tessellated Pavement - Mother Nature's tile floor

   Eaglehawk Neck (connects Forestier Peninsula to the Tasman Penisula)                  Along the Tasman Peninsula coast
              (Interesting note:  the 100m wide isthmus would have a row of ornery
              dogs chained across it to 'discourage' the convicts from escaping the
              Port Arthur prison - referred to as the "Dogline".)

  Blowhole - ocean enters through the rock              Walking along the Tasman Peninsula coast at low tide

  Tasman Arch - natural bridge                                                   Waterfall Bay and its namesake         

   Fortescue Bay                                          Color is everywhere

You would think that all of this was enough for one day, but wait... there is more sunshine to be enjoyed and a self-guided tour around Port Arthur was squeezed in the afternoon.  Between 1830 and 1877, Port Arthur housed approximately 12,500 convicts who had committed crimes in the colony.  The 'fort' was built on a peninsula and was considered a 'natural penitentiary' due to being surrounded by ocean and its only connection to Tasmania was through the Eaglehawk Neck isthmus, a mere 100m (300ft.) wide.  Between the 'Dogline' and the rumours of shark-infested waters, escape was not often attempted.

   A quick boat trip around Port Arthur                     Isle of the Dead and Port Arthur

  Port Arthur's main prison and a fearsome convict                       Very small cells

   Interesting story of one convict                                                       Guard's Tower and Hospital/Infirmary 
   Officer's building and Prison Cathedral                          Green Rosella or Tasmanian Rosella - present guards at Port Arthur

And, as the sun was still in our favour, we took advantage of the last hour of the day and visited the Remarkable Cave, a cave where the ocean has pounded its way through the rock and created an inner wavepool. 

  Walk to the Remarkable Cave                                        Views along Maingon Bay and to Raoul Bay Lookout

After our dawn to dusk first day and a very good night's sleep, we were off to drive northward, along the east coast of Tassie.  Numerous beaches were on our list and as the weather was cooperating, we took the time to veer off to visit Freycinet National Park and the iconic Wineglass Bay.

   Prosser Bay                                        Little Swanport                            Tasmanian Devil (with a few embellishments)

   Views of the countryside along the coast - stunning                    Spiky Bridge is aptly named - 1840's

     Kelvedon Beach                                              Enjoying local fare - Freycinet Marine Farm

   Hike to Wineglass Bay overlook           Iconic Wineglass Bay

  Some friendly locals waiting for us in the parking lot


   Cape Tourville                                   Surfer at sunset - Bicheno

Easing further up the coast, we were still enjoying the benefits of lovely weather and gorgeous landscapes.  Tasmania, like most of Australia, is sparsely populated and you go long stretches between towns and coastal construction, and it's wonderful.  We made our way from Bicheno to the Bay of Fires and finally landed for the night in Launceston, Tassie's second largest city. 

  A local looking for lunch - Flame Robin                                      Never get tired of these views

   Bay of Fires - the 'fire' is an orange lichen (algae and fungus)

  Plant competing with the Bay of Fires colors                    Beaches and view from The Gardens

   Black Swans and a Pied Oystercatcher                  Landscapes coming into the hamlet of Derby

   Legerwood and its famous tree-stump carvings                 On the way to Launceston

   Our B&B - Hillview House, Launceston - built in the 1840's - room and views were lovely

The infamous Tasmanian climate was beginning to creep up on us so we took advantage of a window of dry time to walk along the Cataract Gorge, just outside of Launceston.  No sooner than we returned to our car, was the rain upon us and our tour around Launceston was made from the confines of our warm vehicle.  Many historical buildings enhance the charm of the city and we enjoyed our bitumen wandering through the town.

   Cataract Gorge and walking across the suspension bridge                The daffodils are in bloom - it's spring

   Just a sample of the historic buildings in Launceston                           We really liked this representation of sails 

We were fortunate to leave Launceston and drive out of the rain and into sunshine once again.  We visited the Low Head lighthouse, where the Tamar River meets the Bass Strait and soaked in the warmth before we turned back into the chill of the rain.

   Along the Tamar River                                                     Low Head lighthouse and its surrounding countryside

An exciting find was the Devils Gullet.  While on our way from Launceston to the Cradle Mountain National Park, we stopped off to see this incredible chasm.  We walked through the tundra landscape and an eerie fog was rolling in.  The trail ended at the Devil's Gullet and we were looking straight down hundreds of feet at otherworldly rock formations and valleys.  Within minutes of our arrival, we were swallowed up by the fog.  As Gerson quipped "Winter is coming!"

   Otherworldly landscape          Devil's Gullet and the engulfing fog

Cradle Mountain National Park was our next stopover and we crossed our fingers for a good-weather day with which to explore the park.  The weather gods listened to our pleas and we had a glorious day exploring the park and hiking up to Marion's Lookout.  The day started with my opening the drapes of our hotel room to be greeted by several local Pademelons enjoying their breakfast and ended with us exhausted with, a camera full of photos and with a mind full of memories. 


  Having breakfast with the local Pademelons (like Wallabies)           Morning views of the national park

   Hiking along the Overland Track - beautiful               Crater Lake

   Up we go                                Views to Crater Lake

  View to Lake Lilla and Dove Lake                       Marion's Lookout and spectacular view to Cradle Mountain

   Views from Marion's Lookout                        Our lunch view                                 Down we go

   Cradle Mountain in all its glory                                    A local visitor trying to mooch food

   Gorgeous landscape throughout the park                 Dinner - stone cooked meats which included Wallaby (no, not our morning visitors)

  Tasmanian Tiger - extinct in 1936.  A thylacine - nocturnal, dog-like, carnivorous marsupial, also known as the Tasmanian Wolf,
became extinct through hunting and with the significant reduction of the animals, the in-breeding sealed their fate. 

Although we loved Cradle National Park, the weather had other plans for us so we drove onward and hoped to be able to view a bit of the southern side (and lower elevation) of the park.  We wandered westward and arrived at Strahan for lunch and a bit of a respite before heading back east and having a lovely stay in Queenstown.  Queenstown, not a town that one might consider as beautiful, at least not by Tassie standards, but even its denuded hillsides (acres of forest were removed for building and mining) have a certain attraction in their brightly hued rocks left bare.  And, as we found a gem in the Empire Hotel and its fantastic Tasmanian Blackwood National Trust staircase, we quite liked Queenstown. 

  Driving west under the fog                        A bit of sunshine along the Southern Ocean coast      

   Strahan was a bit stormy                                   Queenstown, its mountain train and some colorful waterfalls

   The Empire Hotel circa 1901 and its magnificent National Trust Staircase            Gerson enjoying the Empire lounge

Heading southeast from Queenstown to Maydena, there were numerous places to stop off and lookout over the landscape, walk along rivers and up to waterfalls and just take in all that Tasmania has to offer. 

   View back to Queenstown and large waterfall                        Lookout over the quarry and Emerald Lake

  Snowy walk to Nelson Falls            A bit of fun with the snow             View from Donaghys Hill  

  View to the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park - area known for the Franklin River Blockade, a movement that blocked the Hydro
             Electric Commission from building a dam that would have destroyed much of the (then nominated) World Heritage park. 

   Just a little snowstorm to make the drive interesting                                Stop for lunch at Lake St. Clair

   Brady's Lake and just a beautiful rainbow                           Russell Falls

We overnighted in Maydena and set our sights on reaching Hobart with some time to enjoy a bit more of what the city has to offer.  One of those things was MONA (Museum of Old & New Art) as it had come recommended by multiple sources. 

  Walk to Junee Cave                              Junee Cave and its under-mountain waterfall           Maydena area landscape

We made it to MONA and I could spend a lot of time discussing this 'museum' and I would rather not.  Simply stated, it was terrible.  We agreed that of all the museums we have ambled through and of all the 'art' galleries we have pondered, this was by far the worst and a waste of our money.  It was pretentious, absurd (in a sad way), sophmoric and although there were a few pieces that had some interest, they could not lift the rest of the displays out of their horrible holes.

  Water display - Julius Popp Bit.fall - water droplets reflect trending internet words
   Basement carved out of the banks of the River Derwent
   Gregory Barsamian - a comment on our slow cognitive process and that we only realize 'bits' of all the data processed in our brains
   Erwin Wurm - fat car - example of gluttony and wanting more                Mummified cat and Central American artifact

   Best part of MONA - the view from the property     

We opted to stay at the wonderful Lowena Accommodation and Cafe that we stayed at for our first night in Hobart.  The owner, a cheery Chinese man named Kevin, upgraded our room to a two-room suite and we were happy campers.    

   Lowena Accommodation - lovely place

Our last day in Tassie was spent driving (and eating) around Bruny Island and just soaking up our last hours of this paradise state.  We toured the 50k long island from top to bottom, and only the encroachment of night made us leave and go back to Hobart.

   On our way to Bruny Island                                             Crossing the D'Entrecasteaux Channel

   Barnes Bay                                            Dennes Point and northern end views

  Gerson loved the drive-thru oyster place                    Eaglehawk Neck - Isthmus Bay and Adventure Bay 

   Simpson's Bay                                         Lunch in Alonnah was superb

  Touching the southern end - Bruny Island Lighthouse                       Waves battering the rocks

   Lighthouse Bay                      Quiet Bay and Court Island                 Lighthouse Bay and Quiet Bay

Our time in Tasmania was, much like the beloved Tasmanian Devil cartoon character, a whirlwind and our flight back to Sydney gave us some time to reflect on all the wondrous places we saw and the beautiful landscapes we enjoyed.  Although we did not see any living Devils (a few road kills unfortunately), we have no regrets as to anything missed.  What a fantastic place!


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