|Hobart – 28 February to7 March (7 nights)
The 135km drive from Swansea to Hobart was very scenic with mountains and coastline all the way.
Hobart is the capital of Tasmania and has a population of about 212,000. Founded in 1803 as a penal colony, Hobart is Australia’s second oldest capital city after Sydney. The city, initially known as Hobart Town or Hobarton, was named after Lord Hobart, the Colonial Secretary. The city is located in the state's south-east on the estuary of the Derwent River and the skyline is dominated by Mount Wellington at 1,271 metres in height. The city is the financial and administrative heart of Tasmania, and also serves as the home port for both Australian and French Antarctic operations. Since the Derwent River was one of Australia's finest deepwater ports and was the centre of the Southern Ocean whaling and the sealing trade, it rapidly grew into a major port, with allied industries such as shipbuilding. Hobart Town became a city on 21 August 1842, and was renamed Hobart in 1875.
On arrival at our caravan park, we were surprised to find that it was located right next to the main runway of the airport. You’d think that by the name, “Hobart Airport Holiday Park” we would’ve had some clue as to what to expect, but I simply thought that it would be nice to watch the planes come and go – silly boy. After setting things up, we drove down the freeway, through the hills and into Hobart city and found that the actual city lies in a basin, surrounded by mountains – very pretty (Lin’s description – not mine - I don’t use words like pretty!!!). Driving into the city you come across a ginormous bridge, which one has to cross over in order to get into the city. My heart rate did a backflip as the actual bridge is like one hell of a roller coaster and at its highest point would have to be a couple of hundred feet above the water – or maybe it just looked that high – not sure as I couldn’t bring myself to look down. Believe me when I say it’s bloody high. We had a walk around the CBD, which is quite concentrated into maybe a dozen blocks and within walking distance of the harbour waterfront. It’s a real mixture of the really old and the relatively new, but strangely enough they seem to blend in together. We had a bit of a drive around some of the suburbs on the way home and once again found them to be, in the main, very neat and well kept. For those of you that know them, it’s almost as if the entire island has been modelled on Jim and Alida McCormick’s garden in Perth.
Whilst in one of those deep sleeps that one gets now and again, we were woken at precisely 6:00am by what sounded like the start of World War 3, which in reality turned out to be the almighty roar as a plane took off from the airport, a couple of hundred metres from my pillow. Having recovered sufficiently and making another attempt at catching up on some much needed beauty sleep, another goddamned plane decided to once and for all, kill any hopes of any further slumber. After much grumbling and carrying on like a pork chop, I decided to get up and believe it or not, actually had to wake the madam up, with her usual morning cup of tea. How she had slept through that racket is beyond belief (and I’m the one that’s supposed to be deaf). It had rained overnight, and there was an icy wind blowing, straight off the Antarctic. Talk about a change in the weather. We had prayed for cooler weather, whilst in good old Queensland, but this was ridiculous. How on earth can it be so cold at this time of year? If this is summer, what the hells is it like here in winter? Now I know where the saying “freezing the balls off a brass monkey” originated. Later when chatting to the guy at the airport garage, he informed me that this summer Hobart only had 1 day when the mercury reached 30, whereas during their normal summer they get up to 5 days of “hot” weather. I know that it’s “horses for courses”, but give me the Perth weather any time. To think that we had originally planned to be here in May/June – gives me goose bumps just thinking about it. Lin spent the morning digging out all the “woolie jumpers” and winter sheets, which had been placed in a suitcase under the bed. Gee I wish I’d bought those thermal jocks.
We awoke the next to more freezing weather, with a forecast maximum of 13 degrees (boy that’s chilly willy), so decided to drive to nearby Sorrell (about 10 minutes away) to get groceries. Whilst in Sorrell, Lin made a hair appointment for later that afternoon, whilst I caught up on this Journal. While quietly tapping away on the keyboard, the wind suddenly picked up and literally hammered into the awning and gave it one helluva shaking, so much so that the poles holding the awning up fell out, in spite of the “anti-flapping” devices being in place. The noise of the poles hitting the deck made it sound far worse than it actually was, but did enough to frighten the daylight’s out of me. How come these things always happen, when it needs 2 people to get things back under control, and you’re on your own, without any help in site? Despite the real threat and danger to life and limb, I tackled the problem head on and single handedly (obviously) eventually brought the situation under some semblance of control – sort of. After averting a potentially disastrous situation, I rewarded myself with a couple of early afternoon Tassie Premium Lagers and sat back and contemplated things. Then I heard the car, with Lin returning, so rushed back to the keyboard and pretended that I had been hard at it whilst Lin was at the hairdresser. No I just made that up – I sat defiantly in my chair and continued to enjoy my reward for bravery. Lin appeared around the corner of the van and voila – her grey stripe “Mohawk” had disappeared!!! This revealed a brand new woman, with a brand new hairdo – and a return to the Lin of yesteryear (colourwise). It’s amazing what a haircut and hair colour can do for one’s appearance. Might have a cut and colour done myself one of these days – well a colour anyway, as there’s not much to cut (last time I went to the barber, I had to pay a $20 search fee!!!). What do you reckon a black or maybe blonde beard would look like – or maybe a bit of both? Watching the evening TV news we heard that it had snowed on Mount Wellington in Hobart during the day. Woweee – I knew it was cold, but not that cold. Might have to buy myself a beanie.
Next day it was still overcast, so we drove into Hobart to get a couple of spare parts for the van. Not being familiar with Hobart city roads and not having an extensive map, we decided to use the GPS and this did the trick beautifully. How on earth those things work is beyond me. We went from the Jayco dealership to the Cadbury Factory, which was on our “must do” list. For $7.50 per person you get entry into the place, receive a free block of chocolate, then go on a sort of guided tour. I say sort of because, these days, you don’t actually get to go into the factory and see the stuff being made, you simply see a video and the guide shows you, on a model basis, what actually happens in the process. There is free tasting along the way. At the end of the tour, you then get to go into their shop, which is a chocoholics dream come true and where they have amazing discounts on all their products. $45 bucks later, we left the shop with 4 big bags crammed with all sorts of choccie stuff and made our way to their café, where we couldn’t resist sampling their super duper special Hot Chocolate drink - spectacular. Now the tricky bit is – how do we stop ourselves pigging out on the stuff – especially me, being diabetic!!! What the hell – everything in moderation – eat till you vomit, then start again.
The next day, which was once again very cold and windy, so we decided to take a 95km drive to Port Arthur and visited the Port Arthur Historic Site, which was originally established in 1830 as a penal station. A tragic chapter was added to Port Arthur’s history when, on Sunday 28 April 1996 Martin Bryant brutally and randomly murdered 35 people (including women and children) and wounded 19 others in and around the Port Arthur Historic Site. He was eventually sentenced to serve 35 life sentences and will never be released back into the community. Pity he wasn’t exterminated at the time of his arrest. Enough said. As a permanent memorial to this horrific event the authorities have incorporated the shell of the Broad Arrow Café, which is where 20 people were killed, into a Memorial Garden and as a place of remembrance and reflection. Getting back to the actual Historic Site – it contains more than 30 historic buildings, extensive ruins and beautiful grounds and gardens and we decided to go on a guided tour. First up we had a 20 minute boat trip to a nearby island, Point Puer, which was the site of the boys prison and then across to the Isle of the Dead Cemetery, which was the final resting place for more than 1,000 convicts, military and civil officers, women and children who were buried here between 1833 to 1877. All very interesting, but all a bit “hum ho” to me. Back on the mainland we had a 40 minute outdoor guided tour of the main Penal Colony, which was very informative, but it was spoilt by the freezing cold – so much so, I was afraid that some of my digits might snap off. After the guided tour (and after a steaming mug of boiling coffee to warm up the old cockles) you are left to your own devices to wander around the various buildings, which have been converted into museums. As I have said previously, I’m not really a museum’y type of person, but there were a number of facets of this place that I actually found very interesting and so ended up having a pretty good time. After about 4 hours at the Historic Site, we decided to drive on further down the road, to what I think is the furthest point south in Tasmania and hence Australia and we ended up at a place known as Maingon Bay. There’s a lookout there with the most fantastic view of the coastline and bugger all else – next stop Antarctica. At the lookout we spotted a sign that indicated that there was a short walk down to a place called “The Remarkable Cave”, so we decided to have a gander. The cave has been created by the ocean pounding endlessly against the cliff face and slowly carving out a cave, to the point where the ocean now flows through the cave and literally explodes on the other side, where there is a viewing platform. All one can say is Wow, really quite spectacular. Then it was time to head home and on the way we stopped at Eagle Hawk Lookout to take a pic of yet another amazing scene.
Another overcast day, so we decided to drive to a place called Bruny Island. To get there you drive to a place called Kettering (about 80kms from Hobart) and then catch a vehicular ferry across to the island (ferry trip takes about 15 minutes and leaves every 90 minutes and costs $28 per car). As we crossed to the island it started to drizzle, but what the hell, we’ll make the most of it anyway. Just a wee bit of gen about the island (from their brochure). “Bruny Island is the same size (in land mass) as Singapore and once you reach the island, take off your watch and throw your mobile phone out the window …… you’re on Bruny time.” Bruny Island was first sighted by Abel Tasman in 1642 and named after Rear Admiral (wait for it) Bruni D’Entrecasteaux. Don’t ask me why the island is spelled “Bruny”, yet his name is spelled “Bruni”. And what about that surname – some dimwit rellie of yesteryear with a sense of humour, no doubt. Right – here we go. We headed off towards the Cape Bruny Lighthouse, but were only able to go as far as Alonnah fishing village, as the bitumen came to an end and a very ordinary gravel road put an end to reaching the lighthouse. So we drove back to a placed called Adventure Bay and stopped at a quaint looking place for a bite to eat. I decided to teach my body a lesson and had a homemade burger, chips and coffee for lunch – pure joy. Take that, body. We then decided to do a 1 hour (easy peasy) return walk to Grass Point and real early in the peace on this trek we were halted in our tracks, when confronted by an echidna (hedgehog). I could have exaggerated and said “killer, giant echidna”, but no, I always prefer to play things down, rather than embellish. The thought of catching, cooking and eating something with built in toothpicks did cross my mind and I was about to make friends with the thing (like I did with that bloody wombat), when Lin reminded me that those pointy things might hurt, so we decided to give it a real wide berth and continue with our little trek. They’re actually quite cute looking things and not the slightest bit perturbed by us – just kept on scratching away at the dirt. A little further down the track and it starts hailing, although I reckon it might have actually been sleet, it was that cold. Being the 2 tough cookies that we are, we solider on to the end of the trek, which is marked by a sign that says “Fluted Cape – 2.5 hours return”. Having a bit of spare time up our sleeves, we look at each other and decide (without knowing diddly squat about the trek, to give it a go. Things are going along well enough, although very steep at times, and we made reasonable progress until we rounded a corner and found that the very rough path was suddenly running parallel to and about a couple of metre’s from the cliff edge. Not good for someone who’s not good with height’s. Very gingerly I looked down at the ocean below and the sight was truly amazing, but when I started feeling a bit “weezy”, I moved back to the path. We continued on and for quite a while and I was fine, until I reached a point (probably about 200 metres above the sea) where the path deteriorated and literally ran on the cliff’s edge. I froze. I couldn’t move – neither up nor down and to put it crudely – was shitting myself. It was a feeling I hope I never experience again and there’s poor old Lin putting on her best soothing and assuring voice, in an attempt to calm me down and all I want her to do is shut up. I did apologise later. God she’s amazing, my Lin. After a while it starts to hail again and this jolted me into realising that I have to keep moving, because we can’t spend the night here, as its freezing. Painstakingly, slowly I inch myself forward and upward inch by inch on hands and knees, moving from tree trunk to tree trunk and not daring to glance to my left (and the vertical drop to the ocean). With the summit somewhere out there we continue this tortoise like progress for ages and slowly, but surely are making our way upwards, when suddenly we come upon a sign that reads “Fluted Cape Summit – 272 metres”. 272 metres my bum, it was surely closer to 272 agonising bloody miles. Lin, very casually took a pic as proof of our stupidity and we turned away from the edge and started on the long (but loving) way downwards. Even the down was pretty hairy as the ground was strewn with rocks, which were wet from the hail, so every step had to be made cautiously. A twisted ankle up here could be disastrous. Eventually, almost 4 hours later we got back to the car park – and safety. If AJ Hackett could reproduce something like that into one of his famous adrenalin rides, he’d make another fortune. The relief was unreal – I actually thought about ripping my clothes off and racing in all my glory down the main street, but thought better of it as some local could have mistakenly thought that the Mardi Gras had started early this year and done god knows what – after all, we are in Tassie. On the drive back to the ferry we decided to stop off at a penguin rookery, but this required us to climb about 500 wooden steps and this was when Lin put her size 10’s down and said “I’ve had enough and can’t do any more steps today” – thank god for that as I’d thought the same, but the old male ego wouldn’t let me admit it. We continued our drive to the ferry and come over a hill near the terminal and yes, you got it right – there’s the damn thing sailing away from the wharf – bugger. The next ferry is in 90 minutes, so we had to find something to do, so started picking our noses. What a day. Whoa – that was really scary stuff.
Next day was lovely and sunny so we went into Hobart and walked around the Salamanca Markets – so many stalls, but for me it was just another market. Had a walk to the Cenotaph overlooking the harbour, which was okay, without being anything special. Then drove back to the caravan park and had a relaxing afternoon and watched the cricket against Sri Lanka.
Next day we drove to Sorrell and replenished our groceries and filled up with juice in preparation for our early departure to Strahan the next day. This leg of the journey is expected to be more than a little stressful, as it’s over 300kms and reported to be mountains all the way. We have been told to allow for between 6 and 8 hours for the trip.
(Hobart Airport Holiday Park) – almost brand new park, situated right next to the airport and at the start of the freeway – about 15kms from Hobart CBD. Apart from the noise, it’s a very pleasant park.
Still sulking after my pounding at Swansea and hoping Lin will lose her momentum by not playing, so ensured we didn’t have time for a game, so no change in status.
So the progressive tally is:-
Next stop is Strahan – 314kms away.