Joined September 2017Living in: Cairns City, Australia
  • Day9

    You saucy little devil you!

    May 10 in Australia

    Today is our last day in Tasmania and we had ticked most of the boxes except one, Tassie Devils, ok Tasmanian Tigers as well but my time machine is broken. There are plenty of wildlife parks but Ann wants to go to Trowannin which she saw in a dvd on the day we went to Port Arthur.

    After a week of touring it was nice to have a sleep in and we headed off at the crack of 11am. We thought we would pick up lunch at the local bakery but it turned out to be more souvenir shop than bakery so we stoked up on souvenirs instead, although I did try one of their slices.

    The sanctuary is just past Mole creek but what they failed to mention is that at Mole Creek is Bee World. Unfortunately Bee World is closed due to unforeseen circumstances, what like bees are not that exciting??? But the honey gift shop is still open, a final chance to stock up on honey infused band aids and body rubs, they give you a nice golden tinge just don’t stop for too long or the ants will eat you alive. The lady in the honey pot was surprised we didn’t find anything we liked, Ann meanwhile found a local restored building where I suspect the owners had some problems getting approval for the repairs they planned.

    But enough frivolity we have come all this way to see the devils or was that the fire? For me the fire for Ann the devils. We turned up with just enough time to spy on a few Devils before the guided tour. Most of the animals here get released back to the wild so their human interaction is limited, but with only four of us on the tour today we were in for a treat.

    First we met Tina the wombat, Matt, her brother has matured a little faster and being a solitary animal has decided he doesn’t have the time for public shows. Tina on the other hand still thinks it is fun, but according to the guide she is getting less and less interested. Today we caught Tina on a good day and she was more than happy to interact with us and have her photo taken.

    Next stop the Quolls and was he more interested in eating the guides sheepskin coat. The quoll was a teenager and had recently been separated from his roommate because he was getting real interested in her, so he was pretty antsy, so much so that the guide decided to put him away.

    And now the main event the Tassie Devils and today they are feeding the teenagers, there are eight of them in the enclosure but only half of them are interested in come out for a feed. They are semi-social animals so live a solitary life and only come together for eating and one other thing. One of the young males wasn’t that hungry so he thought he’d try his luck at some sweet loving. But if you are a Tassie devil it is anything but sweet loving, you grab her by the neck sink your teeth in and hang on. It seems his rodeo skills need work so he went back to eating.

    After a while of snarling growling and generally fighting for food or fun the devils then decided the guide look tasty and as a group they headed over to check out his leather boots. Andrew decided this was the time to end the show before he became part of it.

    Ann still had animal itches to scratch so while she headed out to see the devils in retirement, the raptors and the rest of the zoo I headed back to the fire. After thawing out I took some food out for Ann to feed the kangaroos, well more to wrestle with one big roo that wanted all the food. This included him boofing the smaller roos out of the way and sticking his head in the food bag while Ann was distracted. All this feeding frenzy reminded us it was mid afternoon and we hadn’t had lunch ourselves, so we headed to the DeLorian or was that Deloraine?

    Our most important consideration was somewhere warm and as a result we stumbled into a vegan paleo café, but they let me in even though I did not have enough hair for a top bun. I decided to go fully paleo just like the caveman did and ordered a hot Nutella drink topped with almond milk, which actually wasn’t too bad, but I am not sure how the cavemen made frothy almond milk, maybe the Nutella might have been a problem too?

    On the way home we detoured to Cataract gorge as the sun was setting, ie 4.30pm. The rain hadn’t eased up so we only did a few short walks including the suspension bridge. The whole area is amazing with the gorge opening up ono the parklands. On the walk back to the car the pademelons were out feeding, and there was a group of running trying their hardest but unable to raise a sweat.

    Ann was keen to hit the Prince of Wales for the third night in a row but I insisted we try somewhere else, that may have been a mistake. The place was much flasher than the pub but they tried too hard with their meals, the presentation was awesome but the flavour not so. I also tried the Meade, was offered a tester but turned it down, manned up and ordered a pot. I had two mouthfuls, only because I thought I must have inhaled a stink beetle on the first one, nope. Just to prove it is a small town we ran into the world’s happiest retiree who we shared the fire with in the pub two days ago.

    Back to the chapel to try and see if I can cram everything in the suitcases including the kilos of smelly cheeses I bought. Since I am doing the packing I ran out of room in my suitcase for the cheese and they ended up in Ann’s bag, hopefully they won’t stink out her clothes too much.

    It has been a great time in Tassie with only one wet day, we have seen heaps and still leave wanting to come back. The weather has threatened rain every day but mostly been good except it looks like Hobart is experiencing the worst weather in years, luckily we are heading home.
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  • Day8

    Today we are to Cradle Mountain, and for our most outdoorsy day the weather has finally delivered on what it has threatened for the past week, rain.

    Because we are staying out of Launceston we have had to get up a little earlier and through some miracle, and a fear of running out of hot water, we arrived at the designated meeting point 10 minutes early, only to find out the parking station is closed for maintenance, whoops.

    We managed to find one nearby but by the time we park the car and head back to the meeting point our guide Graeme is on the phone trying to rustle us up. Here we all were rugged up for the cold and Graeme was in shorts, it appears he doesn’t worry about long pants unless an ice age is due. It is almost a full tour today and after one more pick up we are off on our adventure, with just a few stops on the way.

    Our first stop breaks the trip in half and is the last chance for us to buy lunch for the day. After the last experience I steered clear of the chocolate muffin despite the fact that it looked awesome.

    Graeme takes some side roads which are more scenic than the main roads and offer us a better chance to see some wildlife, but all the animals are sensibly tuck away in their burrows. All up the side roads only add a few minutes to the journey but the scenery is so much better than the highway. The last stop on the way is Sheffield the town of murals which is just near Railton the town of Topiary, both of which are near No Where Else on the way to the Promised Land, yep all that is true. I was slightly disappointed we didn’t stop in the middle of No Where because everyone always talks about going there! Sheffield for me the particular highlight, it wasn’t just the park dedicated to the murals, the ones that fascinated me the most were the murals scattered around the businesses and homes in town, people get to buy a mural although I think that might push the friendship if I tried to take one on the plane home.

    Back on the bus to warm up and off to Cradle Mountain, on the way we moved into dairy country with Graeme commenting that most of the cows were Friesian, so was I. Once we were checked in at the national park office we headed off on a short walk to see Pencil Pine Falls. The local Pademelons, small wallabies, kept us company on the walk while Graeme showed us the features of some of the local plants, including the pepper bush. The leaves when crushed have a peppery taste and Graeme’s suggestion of not chewing them unless you have water on hand is good advice. Of course I wasn’t the only one who didn’t follow this advice, we were the people walking back to the bus with our tongues out to catch the rain.

    Pencil Pine falls were nice but the main attraction was Dove Lake, and now we had to make a choice, walk around Dove Lake or walk to the top of Mount Marion for a view over the lake. Two hours of easy walking or a much harder 3 to 4 hour walk, no brainer really so we rugged up and headed up the hill. On the way we past Wombat Poo in more ways than one. The lake was actually called Wombat Pool but the “L” was missing from every sign, but also the trail was dotted with real wombat poo. Now normally unless I am at MONA poo has no interest for me but wombat poos are cubes and where the cubes are there should be wombats. Maybe it was just a joke played out by the park rangers because that was the only evidence of wombats on the walk.

    The walk to the top of Mt Marion is strenuous, and we went the easy way. The weather was not helping with horizontal rain that found any openings in our wet weather gear. But the views on the way made it more than worthwhile. The walk is dotted with a myriad of small lakes and always off in the distance Cradle Mountain and Dove Lake.

    We thought we were making good time until we got to the junction to be greeted by Graeme. He had taken a group partially around the lake and despite setting off nearly an hour after us and taking the steeper route was waiting there to make sure we went the right way, LEGEND, and it only reinforced my thought that he is the love child of Chuck Norris and Les Higgins. We left Graeme as he headed off on the overland trail and a brief swim to Antartica, and we headed to the lookout. The last bit of the walk is the steepest and Graeme’s suggestion of coming back down for lunch was again spot on. The wind picked up on the way to the lookout and added a bit of sleet into the mix as well. On making it to the top we were rewarded with a magnificent view and thanks to the changeable conditions for a brief moment we had clear skies and a view all the way across the mountain. It stayed that way long enough for a few pictures then gave us a windy reminder it was time to head down. The steep trail down has chains and the like to make the going easier but it was slow going in the rain. Luckily it didn’t rain all the way, we had snow as well.

    We made good time coming down and joined the main Dove Lake trail with heaps of time to spare so we decided to see if we could add that walk to the day as well. Twenty minutes in we ran into others in our group who were completing their circumnavigation of Dove Lake. Normally at this point I want to turn back and Ann wants to see what is just around the next corner, but for some reason the roles were reversed. Maybe it was Graeme’s briefing in the bus that it was a long walk back to Launceston.

    I managed to force the issue and we headed a little further to get a superb view of one of the many waterfalls but Ann’s patience ran out and we turned tail for home with me bleating that continuing on would be the quicker way home.

    On the way back we passed the Boathouse and across the lake we could see Glacier Rock and I had to admit the walk on the other side looked quite arduous so maybe Ann’s judgement was right. More than I thought because when we got back to the carpark it was empty, no bus no Graeme. I was sure everyone would be in the hiker’s shed out of the rain but nope that was empty too. I was sure we were early but my phone had taken one too many pictures in the rain and was not cooperating. Still if we were going to spend the night here may as well get out of the wet weather gear and freshen up, with freshening up the operative term, the toilets were clean and dry but with the world’s coldest toilet seat, they don’t mention that in the brochures!

    We headed back to the shelter to find Graeme waiting for us, and he happily confirmed that we had heaps of time to come back the other way around the lake and joined the 1% of hikers that do both walks. But I was inside a warm bus and saw some awesome views so who cares, and the day wasn’t over!

    Since we hadn’t seen any wombats we headed to Graeme’s secret wombat spotting location which more than delivered. Multiple wombats including a very photogenic one, maybe Graeme is a wombat whisperer as well? What a day amazing walks, all sorts of weather, sun, rain and snow and wombats with one more surprise on the way home.

    Stopping at the cheese factory wasn’t the surprise it was the number of people who couldn’t resist the ice cream, including Ann. Me, I stuck to the cheese tastings and stocked up on some very unique cheese blends. We got back to Launceston on dusk and despite a few restaurant suggestions in town decided to head back to Evandale for a hot shower before dinner.
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  • Day7

    Tally Ho bart

    May 8 in Australia

    After almost a week of guided tours today we are on our own heading towards Launceston. First order of the day was picking up the hire car. Which was all going OK till the rental car man suggested I should take some photos of the car before and after I return it, that way if there is a dispute I would have some back up. Now wouldn’t that have been nice if Budget suggested that to me a year or two ago!

    We headed back into Hobart to see the Antarctic Museum at the replica of Mawson’s Huts. We weren’t expecting much but were pleasantly surprised, the place is a treasure trove of the early expeditions to Antarctica. Mawson, being the boss, got his own separate room, but being a separate room the heater didn’t reach in there so he often woke with his blanket frozen to the wall. We found that out along with another 5 million useful snippets from one of the volunteers who was a little too keen to share.

    We grabbed lunch and headed up to Mount Wellington. Ann was keen to drive up but preferred I drive down so she could enjoy the scenery and not become part of it. The view from the summit is spectacular and it gave me an understanding of what Mawson felt each morning as my clothes froze to me. It wasn’t just cold it was blowing a gale as well for the full Mawson experience. Just to prove it is a small world we ran into the people from Cairns we had met on our first days tour.

    It was now three o’clock and with the sun setting we headed off to Evandale, a little town near Launceston, and allegedly the third town established in Tasmania. As is common everywhere the highway by-passes a lot of the smaller towns so we detoured into some of them to see what they offered.

    Our favourite was Callington where they have restored the windmill which is now back to grinding flour for making bread. In its life it started as a flour mill, got abandoned, then was sealed up and used for water storage and now has been returned to its former glory.

    Tonight’s accommodation is at the Old Wesleyan Chapel in Evandale, which unsurprisingly was built in 1836, pretty much like everything in Tasmania including the pub we had dinner in. I was assured this wasn’t a church but chapel, not that I would know the difference, but I was a little unsure how much I would have to behave myself in a church.

    But I need not have worried there was little to let me know this was once a place of worship, aside from the confessional doors, the painting of Jesus, the Jesus and Moses pillows and the Holy Messiah air freshener and night light. If that wasn’t enough the floors and windows are holier than thou, but they have their work cut out for them against the hotter than hades hot water system which Ann has accepted as a challenge. It is now a National Heritage B’n’B, a far cry from its other uses as a Scouts Hall and Druids meeting room.

    We headed to the local for dinner with drizzle setting in and the temperature struggling to stay in positive territory. As we snuggled by the fire we were joined by another dinner who was eating outside and just popped in to warm up. She thought it was too much of a pleasant night to be cooped up inside!
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  • Day6

    A Wineglass and a half

    May 7 in Australia

    After a big day yesterday to Bruny Island it was a little hard getting out of bed to be ready for another early pick up, but it was sure worth it.
    There was one other surprise as the other passenger on the bus was the same person we went to Bruny Island with yesterday. The same surprise struck another two couples as they met up with people they had travelled with recently as well! Maybe Tasmania is smaller than we think?

    On the way to Freycinet National Park, which I have been educated is pronounced ‘fray sin ay’ and not ‘Fry can net’, we stopped for morning tea and a chance to pick up lunch for the day. I didn’t need to buy a separate lunch as I spread most of my chocolate muffin on my pants for later. I then tried using water to wash it off and ended up looking like a MONA piece of art.

    The next stop is to a wildlife carer who is rehabilitating Wallabies and Kangaroos and we got to feed them breakfast, and they were hungry! They were a little shy but soon hungry beat shy. They have everything a wallaby needs to get ready for life back in the great outdoors, food, shelter and a trampoline to practice their hopping on. OK maybe they use if for shade but it is a good story. One of the paddy melons thinks life here is pretty good so every time he is released he keeps finding his way back.

    Our next stop on this amazing coastline is at Friendly Beach named because of the friendly meeting between the early Europeans and the traditional owners. The traditional owners were naked and the captain made one of his crew strip off to show they were all the same. It was pretty cold today, so if it had of been me that stripped off I would probably be regarded as the female of our group.

    We also took a side tour to the Spiked bridge, which wasn’t built in 1836, I know surprising. The bridge gets its name because the top of the bridge is covered in spikey rocks to stop the convicts jumping off of it and escaping. Me I would just run down the road and not risk a fall to my death off the bridge.

    We then stopped at Freycinet Marine Park where there was a range of Oysters, muscles and of course scallops. This is the third place we have seen so far that has Tasmania’s best Scallop Pie, mmmm Scallop Pie or chocolate muffin off you pants or head into the bakery Coles Bay, which is where I went. While my toastie was cooking I looked around the store and it appears as though testing the flour drug dealer style was OK as long as you stuck it back up with sticky tape. My chocolate pants are looking more promising. We were going to eat it on the beach overlooking Coles Bay, but with the strong winds blowing and it being a little cool (ok cold for me) the warmth of the café won over a cold sandy toastie.

    With everyone rounded up we headed to the Wineglass Bay lookout walk. The walk is relatively easy although the path is uneven at times and there are lots of steps particularly near the top. But you get a stunning view over Wineglass Bay.

    Now it is choice time, walk down the 900+ steps to Wineglass Bay or take the two easier walks. Ann and I decided to walk down to the bay while the rest of the group went on the easy walks, no surprise there. The path was well defined and easy going down but by the looks of the people returning the 900+ steps up might be harder than the 900+ steps down. It is interesting to see the change in the vegetation the closer you get to the beach and also the growing glimpses of the azure water in the bay. And then the path opens out onto the beach and the view is stunning.

    The walk comes out at one end of Wineglass Bay and we almost had the complete beach to ourselves. Well that was excluding the pair who went for a swim a few hundred metres along the beach. The rumour was they were skinny dipping and I thought they were brave enough just going for a swim. We had at least half an hour before we had to head back to meet the group but when we looked at the watch we had already been there 40 minutes so we had to power up the hill.

    We timed it perfectly and arrived back in the carpark just as Phil rung us and arranged to take us back to Honeymoon Bay to meet everyone else. We didn’t get long at Honeymoon Bay but it meant we only missed out on one walk and we got to dip our toes in the waters of Wineglass Bay.

    The sun was setting as we headed back to Hobart but after a couple of walks and being warm and snug in the bus there might have been a chance I had a little snooze. I was rocked to sleep by the gusty winds from the cold front moving in. it didn’t slow our bus driver down until we crossed the Tasman Bridge and one gust tried to get us to join the Lake Illawarra on the bottom of the Derwent River. Back in town the wild weather had certainly set in with the driver having trouble opening his door against the wind. In our hotel the wind was rattling the windows and it was nice to be snug inside.
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  • Day5

    Where's Wall(ab)y

    May 6 in Australia

    We woke up to another perfect weather day in Hobart. Each night the weather forecast for the next day is rain and each morning we wake up to blue skies, just hope I haven’t put the jinx on it now.

    I had to hustle Ann to make the designated meeting point only to get a call that the guide was running late. As is becoming standard fare in Hobart the meeting point is on a corner so as I go around one corner to check if we are meeting in the right spot the bus turns up where I was originally and I need to run back, this time up a hill!

    We learnt a little more about MONA today, Matt (our guide) told us more about the poo machine exhibit. You can buy a poo for about $5,000. Makes me think Riley is just a money generating machine.

    The Bruny Island ferry which is a pretty cool double decker car ferry. The ride is very short and the sea so calm it is hard to actually tell when you have left the wharf, and no risk of someone getting seasick.

    First stop on Bruny Island was Bruny Island Cheese where I picked up some cheese to take home. But my favourite part was the wood oven they use to bake their own bread, fresh bread and a warm oven, beautiful.

    Next stop Bruny Island Honey, at least I tried some of the honeys while Ann was more interested in patting the dogs. Although I must say I was a little hesitant on rubbing the honey on my skin, but it is meant to be good for you, so what are you to do. At least I was popular with the ants for the rest of the day, although when I learnt about the jumping ants that most people are allergic to, I regretting the honey rub.

    We skipped the ‘neck’ lookout on the way to the lighthouse as the crowds are always bigger in the morning. This also means that when we got to the lighthouse there were not too many people there. The lighthouse, just like almost everything else in Tasmania was built in the 1830’s. It is a short hike up to the lighthouse where there is nothing between you and Antarctica. The wind comes straight off the ice and is rushing to head north and get warmer, so it doesn’t go around you it goes straight through you, brrrrrr. Surprisingly, for a small circular structure, the lighthouse provides good protection from the wind.

    I wanted to take the optional lighthouse tour and discovered I had left my wallet in the bus. We were all going back to the bus anyway so I ran down grabbed my wallet and headed back to the lighthouse while everyone else headed to the beach. There was a tour group on their way so I got a shortened private tour before they arrived. You get to learn about the history of the lighthouse and the keepers and if the wind isn’t too bad a view from the top. As the guide is struggling to open the door against the breeze he commented it was a nice calm day today, before making sure all my pockets were zipped up and everything was tied on, not sure I want to be there on a windy day! The view from the top is spectacular, as long as you stayed out of the wind.

    I hustled down from the lighthouse and took a quick detour to the museum before heading to the beach. I met the rest of the group on the way up where they were all frozen in their tracks. I thought it might be from the sea breeze but it was they had spied a Tiger snake a few metres off the track. The snake was basking in the sun and not interested in tourists. While everyone else headed up the hill I headed down to the beach for a quick swim. Unfortunately I didn’t have the time so I just dipped my toes in the water. I caught the group back at the light house keeper’s station where we stopped to sample some cheeses collected earlier in the day. Apart from the awesome scenery we had seen Rabbits, Snakes, Echidnas and lots of different sorts of birds, and sampled some wonderful local cheeses and honey and the day is only halfway through.

    On the way to spot the White Wallabies we stopped at Resolution Creek in Adventure Bay where Captain Cook stopped in 1777 on his second voyage to Australia. What is most amazing is that one of his crew did a painting of the landing and it is reproduced on a plaque there. Aside from the road very little has changed in over 200 years with the same trees still visible, just to clarify here was no road in 1770.

    Now it is white wallaby spotting time! The grey wallabies were camera hogs but the white wallabies a little shyer. Just to trick you there are a few sheep in the distance and just when we were about to give up we spotted a large male (according to Matt) just on the edge of the tree line. As he was too far away to get a good photo we went to another spot and again the greys were abundant and the white wallabies hiding from us. But then Ann spotted not one but two white wallabies. The white wallabies and much shyer and stayed well clear of the roads, so we left them to their grasses.

    Matt offered us the option of Oyster tasting but we all decided to skip that so we headed back to the ‘neck’ which is the narrow isthmus that separates the two main parts of Bruny island. Matt’s suggestion to leave it till later in the day was excellent as there were not many people there, which is important as the viewing platform at the top of the 200+ stairs is quite small. Although it did look large enough to perform CPR on the couple struggling to make it up the stairs.

    While we waited for the return ferry I decided to check out the comfort of the back seat of the bus and can attest that the ferry ride back is just as smooth as the ride over, Ann for some reason refused to sing ‘Soft Kitty’ to me, but no matter I still caught some zzzzzzz’s
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  • Day4

    110 Maps of Tassie

    May 5 in Australia

    An easy day today as we head off to do the two most popular tourist attractions on a Saturday in Hobart, Salamanca Markets and MONA.

    The easy way to the markets would have been to walk straight out of our hotel and turn left, but nope we chose right and went for a wander through the back streets of Battery Point past all the glorious cafes and bakeries, through a park and onto getting lost. We were helped out by a parking inspector who was kind enough to tell us he was a local and knew how to get to the markets. I am glad he told us he was a local because you have no idea how often it is that I run into a tourist writing parking tickets??

    Of course we could have followed his directions but instead we ended up a few blocks away from the markets, but we got there soon enough. The markets are huge and 99% local produce, arts and crafts. We wandered around the markets for couple of hours and then were distracted away by a pipe band warming up in the park. I reckon these guys and gals were good because their bagpipes did not sound like two Tassie Devils mating.

    We also ran into the two people from Cairns from yesterday’s tour and just to prove it is a small world when we got back from MONA we ran into another couple from the first days tour! The biggest problem we had was limiting ourselves to how much we bought there was so much good stuff. Of course Ann saw the perfect gift for one person, which led to buying another gift and so on and so……..

    We headed home via Kelly’s steps, which I am lead to believe is significant, and prepared for MONA as there was a 25 minute boat trip and I wanted to be warm.

    Even though it was windy the water was calm and the ride giving another great vantage point over Hobart. I stood out the front for a while and straddled the, hopefully, fake missile, Cher style, no singing though.

    MONA is an underground labyrinth of exhibitions tunnels and halls carved into the sandstone cliffs. Our favourite was the Pharos Exhibition which is half art and half science, including a psychedelic grotto and a room a metre deep in engine oil, seriously.

    We then headed to the main exhibition hall where they wanted to ensure you never got lost, on display were 110maps of Tassie. Well to be honest 110 plaster casts of different vaginas, and it seems the staff get a little upset if you touch them, they are only there for looking at, which seems a bit of a waste, but really 110 vaginas! The best part was listening to the fathers trying to explain to their kids what the exhibit represented.

    It turns out we missed one of the highlights, the ‘poop’ machine. There is a piece of art where you put food in one end and out the other end comes poo. I almost cried thinking off all that art Riley had produced and we just scooped it up and threw it in the garden.

    Tonight we headed to the New Sydney Hotel established in 1835, and it would appear as though they have not updated their kitchen or systems since then. The meal was good, but the staff disorganised, two of the group that shared our table had finished their meals before the rest of their meals arrived. We had three staff members checking our order with us, seems good but two of them did it at the same time, not together! While one person was checking on what we ordered they were interrupted by the other person doing the same thing, but neither of them stopped they both kept asking the same questions. But the food was good and the fire warm so on a cold wet Hobart night who cares?
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  • Day3

    Any Port.....

    May 4 in Australia

    Wow our second full day in Tasmania, although today there is a little less time to sleep in as we need to be ready to join our tour at 7.30am. But today we don’t have to walk anywhere as we are being picked up at the front door.

    Today we are going to Port Arthur but first order of the day was catching the bus. Our ‘hotel’ is on a corner so which corner do we stand on? Needless to say I picked the wrong one, the bus stopped on the other corner and as we walked around the corner Mark seeing we weren’t there headed to where we were, passing us on the way. When I turned back and couldn’t see him, I assumed he headed into the carpark so detoured the back way to there but he had done a ‘blockie’ and was back to where he started. But after a bit of ‘keystone cops’ running finally met up with each other. Since we were the first people on we went off to pick up all the other passengers. As each party joined the group we were all introduced and found out we weren’t the only people from Cairns on the tour, small world.

    After picking up the last of our group we headed out of Hobart. Yesterday we were told where the old Hobart Zoo was, today we took the side tour there. The zoo’s famous for the last known Tasmanian Tiger which died in the late 1930’s and shortly after that the zoo closed, nearly 100 years later this prime piece of real estate remains abandoned. We then went past the Governor’s mansion but she was a little too busy to pop out and say hello, there is an election coming.

    We crossed over the Tasman Bridge and went to Rosny Hill lookout. From here we could see across the Derwent back to Hobart and learnt all about when the ship, the Lake Illawarra, crashed into the bridge over 40 years ago. I was happy that Mark decided not to tell us, till after we crossed over the bridge, that two of the support pylons were never replaced. He also told us the horror story of how a perfectly good Monaro nearly fell into the river. If you see the images it was a HQ Monaro and an EH Holden that were tettering on the edge of the bridge, too good to throw away I presume.

    We then headed down to the beach near Bellerive Oval although none of us were game enough to even put a toe in the water. We left here to head to historic Richmond.

    Richmond is the third oldest city in Australia with a myriad of colonial sandstone buildings and Australia’s oldest bridge. But who cares about bridges when you find an antique shop selling classic vinyl records and the famous Richmond Bakery. I had heard so much about the bakery and was not disappointed. I chose a healthy apple slice, it contained fruit and dairy, ok maybe the dairy was a big dollop of cream but it was divine. It is funny how when you step back into time at a historic village time seems to slow down. We wandered around looking at old buildings and churches, the bakery, into antique shops, back to the bakery, souvenir shops and finally just in case I missed something the bakery. All of a sudden our time was almost up in Richmond and we had yet to stop and see the bridge. I suggested to Ann that maybe one more trip to the bakery was warranted but for some strange reason that wasn’t a popular decisions. BTW the bridge is amazing, but so was the bakery. There was one place that seems to be forgotten in all the tourist brochures, it is the Pooseum, not sure what’s on display but fortunately it was closed today.

    We stopped at the dog line and the ‘neck’ two ways to keep the convicts from escaping, although if they knew how to swim it would have been a short 50m dash. Although to be honest Port Arthur didn’t seem too bad a place so why would you want to escape. Nice manicured lawns, beautiful buildings, no one allowed to talk to you, meals provided, sounds like an awesome hotel, just lacking a roof and windows. Okay maybe when you were the one making the buildings or hand grinding the wheat for the bread life might not have been as rosy.
    We went to the ‘separate prison’ where they tried to break new convicts. No talking, no noise, no eye contact with anyone, today that would be called a reflection day spa and there would be baristas with top buns serving you almond milk lattes.

    The size of the site is staggering, even more so when you see the old photos and drawings and realise that there are only a fraction of the buildings remaining. Some were burnt down, some sold and other pillaged for the bricks. But our favourite is one that is currently a private residence. We also did a cruise in the harbour out around the ‘Isle of the dead’. It would have been nice to take the tour of the island but we were on the last cruise of the day so no tour for us.

    After a brief visit to the gift shop we headed off to Remarkable Cave, a sea cave in the massive sandstone cliffs that line the coast in this area. What is Remarkable is that I didn’t get a cramp walking back up all the stairs to the bus.
    On the trip home Mark put on another video, this time focusing on someone who appeared to me to be a cross between Paul Hogan and Steve Irwin. His work with the Tassie Devils is amazing, might have to visit his sanctuary when we are in Cradle Mountain. I stayed awake the whole trip home but after a full day some people caught some shut eye on the drive home, Ann!

    Having an early night as tomorrow we hit MONA and Salamanca Markets.
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  • Day2

    (Mt) Field of dreams

    May 3 in Australia

    We worked out today the shower wasn't possessed, turns out Ann's need of hot water exceeds well.... everything. Unfortunately it took another lukewarm shower for me to work this out.

    After thawing out by standing in the fridge we headed down to Brooke Street Pier to meet our tour. We are going to Russell Falls with Gray Line on this tourhttp://www.tourstogo.com.au/tour/58957-russell-falls-day-tour

    On the walk to the pier Ann got her doggie fix for the day and then while we waited for the bus to turn up the surprises kept coming.

    First one was the supply ship for Antarctica was docked on the pier next door and then we found the water was teeming with starfish of various sizes and shapes. Not exactly what we expected to see in Tasmania.

    Sue our guide turned up and we were off to Mt Field National Park. The view from the coach was great, which was good because from the moment we started Sue was filling us all in about Hobart and its history.

    We drove along the Derwent River towards the Salmon Ponds which turned out to be another piece of serendipity on what was turning out to be a day of surprises. First point of order was morning tea (which is included in the tour), pancakes and ice cream. I told Ann they were Salmon pancakes and was just about to tuck into hers when the staff assured Ann they were not Salmon, so close.....

    We then headed to the Salmon Ponds to feed the trout? Slightly confusing I know. it turns out the original idea was to breed salmon but trout are more suitable but the name stuck. What I wasn't expecting was the 50+ species of trees from all around the world surrounding the ponds. The ponds are next to the Plenty River which we had to check out in the hope of seeing platypus. Any sensible platypus would be snuggled up next to a warm fire and not swimming in a river, so not surprisingly we didn't see any.

    Don't fear Ann was about to get her pancake revenge. The first pond contains small trout so when you feed them then splash about in a controlled manner. The next pond has a few albino trout which have snuck over from their pond. So I turned up at the third pond and crouch down close to the water hoping to see little trout or maybe the elusive 'Tiger' trout, what I didn't know was this pond contained the breeding stock. Ann threw a handful of food in and the feeding frenzy began, I had to quickly jump back before i became part of today's menu.

    I dripped dried myself and headed back to the bus for the next part of the trip to Russell Falls. Sue was pretty organised getting us to plan our lunches on the way so we can have more time in the National Park and less time in queues.

    The walk to the falls was very easy along a paved path, along the way we stopped regularly for heaps of photos including some very cool looking mushrooms, massive tree ferns and some Tasmanian Oaks, which are not Oaks but eucalyptus, now that's not confusing.

    Russell Falls were amazing, sheets of water cascading down various rock walls. There are two vantage points and it is worthwhile to view the falls from both places as every time you look you see something different. Unsurprisingly we were the last to leave, Sue was a little worried we might stay there all day.

    We eventually made it back for lunch and found our new best friend, a wood fire, mmmmmm. Again we were last to leave, I didn't want the fire to get lonely.

    On the way home we went up the other side of the Derwent River to drop some people off at Boonorong Wildlife Park. We also crossed over the stone causeway built by the convicts just after Hobart was settled and we got to see a few baby Black Swans in the shallows. Turns out it is unseasonally warm so the Swans have yet to head north, not sure I think it is warm but then again I am not paddling around in the water.

    But the surprises were not over yet. There is only one train in Tasmania and it only comes into Hobart every couple of days. So just as we pull up to the train crossing the lights start flashing and along comes the longest, slowest train in Tasmania. It gave us a toot, so we returned the favour. The driver in front thought maybe we were beeping him to move on so he did. Fortunately he realised the train was not a mirage before he found out the hard way.

    We got dropped back in town, did some shopping and headed home, we also found a nice tea shop and a lovely antique shop to browse along the way.
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  • Day1

    Tassie come back

    May 2 in Australia

    I am fairly certain that Tasmania is part of Australia, OK 20 years ago they forgot about it at the Brisbane Commonwealth Games but this year the Gold Coast got it right, or so I thought? Well imagine our shock when we rocked up at the airport and they asked us for our passports! After a moment of panic we convinced them Tassie was in Australia and off we went to start our little Australian adventure.

    I felt quite safe on the flight, our trolley dolly looked like in an emergency he could rip the door off the plane and carry us out on our seats. First stop was Melbourne and that definitely didn't put us in holiday mode, the airport was filled with lots of very important executive types rushing to their next very important appointment. But all that ended when we boarded the flight to Hobart, everyone seemed relaxed which was helpful for when we arrived in Hobart.

    There are two ways to get to Tasmania, steal a loaf of bread uh sorry they have stopped doing that, fly or come by boat. We chose to fly but it seems our suitcases came by boat. But the airport does quite a lot to keep you entertained while you wait. First they keep starting up each luggage carousel and putting on only one or two suitcases once everybody runs over they start the other one and we get to run back. Then there was the man walking his dog on the carousel.

    Much later in the night with suitcases in hand we hopped in our taxi for the trip into town. I might have slipped into holiday mode a little sooner than I thought. Here I was thinking the taxi was zooming along when it turns out the speed limit is 110 almost all the way into the centre of town, think I might have to move here.

    Our room is in historic Battery Point and Ann loves it, unfortunately for me the ghost in the room doesn't like me so the stay might be challenging. When I hopped in the shower the door kept sliding open, then the hot water Ann had just enjoyed stopped. Ann tried the sink, water still hot, but my shower was still cold, and when I tried the sink the water was cold, mmmmmmmm might have to buy some holy water when we go shopping. There is a chance that Ann used all the hot water or worked out a way to keep it for herself, but that's a small price to pay for a beautiful room in a nice part of Hobart

    This 'holiday' is going to be slightly different to our usual soirée in that I am organising it and we are going to experience the guided tours we promote at www.tourstogo.com
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