City Life

Trip Start May 31, 2012
Trip End Aug 08, 2013

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Flag of Australia  , Tasmania,
Monday, February 11, 2013

As you are well aware from our last post regarding wildlife, we recently returned from our adventures in Tasmania. As with our posts about Queensland, there's just too much to talk about for one post, so we're splitting it up into a few, so you lucky ducks have some fresh reading material courtesy of us lucky ducks who got to go to Tasmania! Also, Kara's got a new post percolating too. She crafts her posts with such care and attention whereas I just fly by the seat of my pants. Sometimes I don't even know what the post is about until it's done (sometimes even then....?), so you're in for a real treat when Kara unveils her new mystery post. But until then, some more random stories from your friend Dave!

This post actually does have a bit of a focus. We travelled around Tasmania for a week in a camper van and so we decided to split up the posts into wildlife, city life and camping life. We both really enjoyed Hobart and Launceston, the two big cities on the island. We flew into Hobart in the afternoon on Saturday Feb 2nd and, after spending a day and a half touring around the Huon Valley (bugging platypus' and generally making a nuisance of ourselves, more on that in the next post), we returned to Hobart on Monday morning and spent the day there. These were a few of the things we wanted to see, in no particular order; the marina, the maritime museum, the Salamanca market, fish and chips, wooden boats, fancy dinner and the general downtown area. And guess what folks? We did all of those things! Not on that Monday, of course, that's way too much for two people to do in a day. We toured around Tasmania during the week and returned to Hobart on the following Saturday to catch our flight on Sunday.

We did make a trip to the Maritime Museum first thing in the morning on that first Monday. I was interested in seeing an exhibit on Antarctica that I was under the impression was there. It turns out it wasn't there, it was at another museum (that was unfortunately closed for renovations when we were there..... side note, doesn't that suck when you go to a place and one of the tourist attractions you were most excited to see is closed for some reason and there's a sign that says something like "See you in September!" or "Coming soon, in early 2015!" something else equally ridiculous? You won't see me in September, I don't live here! And 2015 is not "soon", tomorrow is "soon". They should.... they should.... umm, I don't know. I don't have a solution to this problem, just a rant. Now back to the story!). We did get to see some old whaling artifacts at the Maritime Museum though which particularly interested Kara who had just finished reading Moby Dick. I liked reading about the fishermen of the past and some of the shipwrecks of the area (tonnes all around Tasmania, as you can imagine).

There was also a cruise ship docked at the marina and I think a lot of the passengers were going through the museum at the same time as us. I asked the guy at the front desk where the cruise ship was coming from and he didn't know. He said they get cruise ships in there all the time, which explains the thriving local businesses and restaurants downtown. It also explains the lady standing on the sidewalk handing out free maps of Hobart for cruisers. We took one.

After we ate some delicious fish and chips and seafood chowder for lunch at 'Fish Frenzy!', we were off to the Freycinet Peninsula to meet some Tasmanian Devils, be harassed by some geese, be ignored by some koalas and to personally annoy some kangaroos (see previous post).

We made our way up to Launceston on Wednesday to meet up with an old friend from high school. My friend Colleen Staples lives in Launceston now with her Australian husband Simon and weird/awesome dog Frank. Colleen was my locker buddy in grade 11 and her brother Andy is one of my best friends back in Ottawa. I emailed Colleen when we booked this trip and was hoping we would get the chance to catch up with them. Colleen and Simon had us over for a bbq at their house which was really nice of them, especially considering Simon's Mom Lynn was visiting and was staying with them as well! But they were such lovely hosts and we had a great time. Lyn was full of stories of Simon when he was young, and it was nice to share experiences with another newlywed couple. We're both at such exciting times of our lives, where everything is a new beginning and the sky's the limit as far as what's possible. Then we slept in a van in their driveway.

We met again in the morning and all went out for coffee together to a place called Amelia's. Launceston also has a lively and busy downtown. For a town about the size of Peterborough where I grew up (pop. around 80,000), I was surprised at the size of the downtown core. We didn't spend too much time walking around there but we got the impression that it was pretty great, and if Amelia's is any indication, then we'd be right. Also, we're generally right about stuff. Ooooh, and another interesting feature in Launceston is the gorge that runs right through town. We arrived on Wednesday a little early for dinner so we did a little exploring. It was close to the end of the business day and we only had to find the conglomeration of parked cars to realize we had found the right spot to park our van and start our trek out to the gorge and swimming hole. There were plenty of people out there; walkers, hikers, swimmers, fat kids, skinny kids, kids who climb on rocks, and us. It was lovely and really cool that this pristine piece of nature was untouched in the middle of the city. We spent a few hours there, dipping our feet in the water and walking around all of the paths that crisscrossed everywhere. It was quite relaxing and very enjoyable.

After leaving Launceston we spent some time at Cradle Mountain and in the central highlands, returning to Hobart on Saturday morning, just in time for the Wooden Boat Festival that weekend. There sure were plenty of wooden boats, and one replica 15th century pirate ship, which was just awesome. The Australian Navy also had some stuff over to the side. While nto exactly wooden ships by any stretch of the imagination, they had the HMAS Sydney on display and providing full tours of her. The queue was really long so we didn't tour her but I did get some nice shots of her exterior (for you Dad!).

We wandered around the marina for almost 10,000 steps (Kara was wearing her pedometer) and then we checked out the Salamanca Market, a very large weekly market that Hobart is famous for. There are lots and lots and lots of stalls selling anything from coffees and drinks, food and syrups, magnets and scarves, carved wood products and music paraphernalia, books and mobiles, and everything in between. We got 3 cool travel posters of Australia that we have a plan for. Kara also got a wood cheese platter type thing that is made from Huon Pine, a very sought after type of pine tree that woodworkers go crazy for. It's a beautiful and thick horizontal slice that is nicely lacquered and polished.

Eating Persian cuisine in the crowds at the marina in Hobart (the market is right next to the marina), it struck me how lucky and happy we were at that moment. Hobart is a beautiful city but I don't think many people really get to see it, especially if you live on the other side of the world. A lot of Australians themselves have never been to Tasmania, kind of analogous to Newfoundland in Canada. An island off the coast of the mainland that a lot of people would like to visit one day, but with nothing drawing them there urgently. Both Hobart and Launceston are unique, lovely and thriving cities that are now among my favourite cities I've ever visited.

We sadly returned our campervan on Saturday afternoon and checked into our little cabin for the night beside the airport. We ate at the hotel restaurant, which was surprisingly good and quite fancy, and enjoyed our last night in Tasmania. We were lucky to have been in Hobart during the Wooden Boat Festival, and even luckier to find a hotel room on that weekend! It was really great to see the city full of people and life.

Next time, I'll enlighten you with all the stuff we did in between Hobart and Launceston. Short story was that we did a lot of walking and a lot of driving. For the long story and some pictures of said walking and driving (trust me, it's more interesting than I just made it sound), tune in next time!

Dave and Kara, signing off.
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