Trip Start Jun 27, 2006
Trip End ??? ??, 2007

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Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Did you guess Tazmania? If not you are stupid...where else in the world are there devils?(besides hell)...So I went to Tazmania with a couple keen backpackers I met in Melbourne. This included Jim from San Francisco and Joseph from Barcelona, Spain. So Jim and I boarded a ferry to Tasmania late at night which arrived into Devonport Tazmania early the next morning. Joseph from Spain would meet us there in a few days. Jim and I decided to rent a car (Toyota yaris baby!) to tour the entire state. We saw the major highlights, most of which involved the outdoors and spectacular scenery. This included Freycinet National Park, Mt. Field National Park, Penguin Town (a town full of everything Penguin--vet, cafe, garbage can, statues),Queenstown (old mining town), Richmond, Bicheno. See pictures of all these places to get an idea for what they were like as I don't feel like describing them in great detail. The only parts of Tazmania we did not see were Hobart and the Tasman Penisula. This would be reserved for after our major hike. Yes that's right Jospeh, Jim and I decided to do the "Overland Track" which is a popular bushwalk from the North of Tasmania (Cradle Mountain) to the South (Lake St. Clair). All in all its about 80km of hiking plus the various side tracks which are optional. We spent 7 fabulous days on the trail. We of course had to bring everything with us for those seven days. (We overpacked and my pack weighed about 55 pounds at the start of the trip). I actually ended up hiking with a dutch backpacker named Reinder and 3 older ozzies (from Melbourne) as Jim and Joseph were too slow and took smoking breaks while hiking (yes smoking in the wilderness). My new group proved much more entertaining and fun. Several of the ozzies had extensive knowledge of the bush which was certainly a bonus. The Overland Track was like nothing I had ever hiked before...the habitats were constantly changing from dry grasslands, to temperate rainforests, to valleys, to rocky barren slopes; all with unique wildlife and flora. Each day included varied terrain with a different side track. The best side track of the trip was up to Mt. Osa, the highest peak in Tasmania.. Though it was not very high, the ascent was very rapid and the path was made up of  rocks. At the top of the mountain were 360 views of the park...and luckily the day we climbed Mt. Osa it was blue skies and clear...what a view. The other great bonus of hiking in Tazmania is that the water is clean and you can drink out of untreated creeks, springs and rivers. And at the huts on the Overland Track there were giant tanks of rain water for drinking as well...imagine that...drinking rain water and being ok! I saw heaps of wildlife on the track including a tiger snake, wallabies, beautiful grasshoppers, a big fat wombat, possums everywhere, echidnas, gross leeches and a beautiful caterpillar (sadly no frogsL). I know you are wondering if I saw a tazmanian devil...the answer is Yes but it was dead and only the skull remained...but very cool nonetheless. (Seeing a devil in the wild is very rare...they are typically noctural and shy...in fact you are more likely to see one on the side of the road eating a dead carcass as that is their diet). The biggest drama of the trip was when Steve one of the ozzies I was hiking with had to be airlifted via helicopter off the track because he dislocated his shoulder (see pictures). Other than that the hike was great...it had been awhile since I had slept in a tent, ate dehydrated food, hiked in wet shoes, felt dirty and smelled 24/7 and enjoyed it! I hadn't felt that close to nature in a long time and boy was it good to be back.
After the Overland Track, Jim, Joseph, Reinder (my dutch friend from the hiking trip) and I rented a car to explore the Tasman Peninsula. The Tasman Peninsula is known for Port Arthur, a restored penal settlement covering several acres (includes penitentiary, asylum, church, watch towers, gardens etc). We spent a solid day there learning about convict life, the legal procedures at that time and enjoying its beautiful estate location. Upon entering the premises (and paying the $25 admission!!) you got a random card with a number on it which corresponded to a certain convict. Your task was to go into the musuem area and find your number on a mailbox door which you opened up to read about your convict.  This was an interactive way to understand convict skills and why they were sentenced to Port Arthur (the most serious and strictest prison in Australia). I had #9 who was William White. I was sent to Port Arthur for attempting the crime of buggery with my good ole pal John Norris. And I would like you to note that I went on Wikipedia to look up "buggery" and it said it was very closely related to "sodomy". AND in the Middle Ages, the terms "sodomite" and "buggery" were defined as homosexual practices. Interesting eh? What would we do without Wikipedia?

While on the penisula I had the opportunity to scuba dive at Eaglehawk Neck on the Tasman Penisula. These dives were different than any previous ones as I had to wear a thicker wet suit because of the colder water (16 degrees). The first dive was through a kelp forest and the second in an area called Waterfall Bay which was surrounded by cliff faces and a cascading waterfall. The highlight of the dives was seeing a maori octopus and beautiful sea dragons.

On the Tasman Penisula we also visited several geological wonders including Tessalatted Pavement, Devils Kitchen and Tasman Arch. The last couple days in Tasmania were spent cruising around the Hobart Harbour and the famous Saturday Salamanca market.  At the markets we ran into a couple folks we met on the Overland Track....small world!

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