World Trip, Part Nueve - Tasmania

Trip Start Jul 30, 2008
Trip End May 02, 2009

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Flag of Australia  , Tasmania,
Sunday, November 23, 2008

Well, Melbourne might be a great city "to live in", and it most definitely has a fantastic skyline and some interesting and eccentric buildings, but there is honestly not a lot of things to do there for a tourist. So, it was time to move on to my next destination.

Welcome to Tasmania!

The Place:

Alas! I made it! The home of the little devil! Yeah, you know the one - the one that spins around a million miles an hour, carving thru trees, has bad breath, a long tongue, has "that growl", and is easily annoyed by that character with the carrot! Ha!

To avoid arriving near midnight on the only Qantas flight, I took an earlier flight on Qantas' budget affiliate airline "Jetstar". Even the crew was "budget", if you catch my drift, but, I guess you get what you pay for! Yoiks! As I arrived, I just knew Tasmania was going to be a great stop. I could feel it in the air. And, I didn't even have to change my clock! I arrived at the YHA, and quickly found Dan, who had arrived just before me and whom I was glad to see. We would have the whole next day to see the spectacular capital, Hobart, in all its glory before Mattieu arrived.

Despite it being nicely cool and grey, Dan and I started with the Lonely Planet's walking tour in the AM. Our first stop was The Henry Jones Art Hotel, which is one of the oldest buildings in Hobart and was, formerly, a jam factory. Luckily, we decided to go in, only to find that it has an incredible inner courtyard. We also got to see some of the extraordinary rooms (which were being cleaned), and the Head Hostess even took us to the upstairs display room which gave a pictorial history of the hotel via viewfinders. Very cool.

After touring the port, and an excellent lunch of fish n chips on a floating restaurant, we headed to Hobart's Parliament Building for a quick tour by one of the security officers. Then, it was on to Battery Point, where we found the best coffee and pastries, and restaurants with maybe the best food in Australia! We could have just stayed there eating all day! We also stopped at some incredible parks (Arthur Circus and Princes Park), went down to the waterfront, stepped down the famous Kellys Steps, and meandered along Salamanca Place. We ended a packed day by going into the city center, walking around some more, being silly, and taking care of some business.

Well, Dan changed rooms to mine, and as we were chatting the door opened, and voila! there was Mattieu. I don't think I will ever forget that great expression on his face. :) The three amigos were back! Tasmania beware!

It was truly one of the those sights to see. The next morning, it wasn't just raining; it was pouring. Dan and I fetched the rental car, and the three of us and the two German girls we convinced to come with us, stuffed ourselves into our tiny car with all our piles of luggage. I think we all knew what sardines feel like.

As we left Hobart, the weather somewhat cleared and we really got to appreciate the awesome scenery of Tasmania. It's simply incredible! Our first stop was Mount Field National Park, where we hiked in the rain to two awesome waterfalls. It was also our first sight of wallabies in the wild and up close. After the waterfalls, we hiked on to the Tall Trees Forest. It was amazing. They say the Redwood trees of California are taller, but I'm not entirely convinced. They were awesome. Just as we arrived at  the Tall Trees Trail, we heard this loud, thundering sound, and witnessed this branch - as long as five people - come crashing down from the clouds above onto the forest floor! "Well, there is the answer!", I said to the gang, and started laughing hysterically, almost falling over. No one else got it, which made it even funnier! (If a tree falls in the forest, does anyone hear it!?? - Well, "YES!" - if you're there.) Foreigners! I swear to sense of humor! Ha!

It was another amazing drive, north this time, passing thru Oatlands, the "duck" town. Yes, folks, there was the giant duck-shaped hedge, the duck weather vane, the duck-crossing road sign, other duck things, and, of course, the live and true duck on the road - with attitude! The duck wouldn't move as it was surely king (or queen - I didn't check!) of the road. (The only thing more uptight in Australia than this duck were some Qantas/Jetstar employees!) Next, it was on to Ross to the reputed bakery for a snack. This quaint town also had some interesting historical buildings.

As we were bobbing along and singing a song (Salut, Ca va) with more awesome scenery, Mattieu spotted a winery, and a la Adelaide, we had to stop for some tastings. It was a blast! The host was really nice and we even popped out to the balcony and chatted with her, her family and the vineyard workers. It was another great Hallmark moment! :)

Finally, we made it to Cole's Bay for the night. Our drop-off for Freycinet National Park and the infamous Wineglass Bay - my real reason for coming to Tasmania. The YHA was packed, and we met some great people and had some great conversations.

Well, everyone knew that the next day was going to pack-filled, and that we would be up early, but I had no idea that I would be up THAT early. I guess I was too excited and found myself walking the entire Cole Bay beach at the 5 am sunrise with an amazing backdrop of Freycinet NP. Awesome!

The five of us set off on a long three-hour hike of Freycinet NP. The hike was awesome, but Mattieu and I being the slowpokes we were, lost Dan and the two German girls, who motored ahead with that juvenile I-gotta be-there-first attitude. Altho Mattieu and I did have a great hike, including feeding the wallabie with junior in her pouch on Wineglass Bay beach, shelling, and seeing other great sites, we rushed to catch up with the others and completely missed the Wineglass Bay lookout from the mountain (which could not have been well marked anyway) - something that completely pissed us off - Mattieu more so, who wanted to re-do the hike just to find the lookout. Three hours of spectacularness later, we made it back to the car park, where the girls were already there by an hour (they were fast!), but where Dan was not. We waited an additional 1.5 hours for Dan, who nonchalantly strolled in late, walking with another hiker, and somewhat botching our planned schedule. We found out he decided to hike an additional bay in the NP. So much for sticking together! Altho my outspokenness seethed slightly (No! Not me!), I don't think poor Dan ever understood why we were all so pissed off with him (But, hopefully he will when he reads this! :)) The life lessons and considerations toward others we learn...oh me, oh my!

Back on the road, we stopped quickly at Friendly Beaches, which were just incredible. Then, we headed south to Port Arthur. Just past Sorell the rain started again and hard, but this wouldn't keep me and a couple others from visiting the Tasman Blowhole, the Tasman Arch and the Devil's Kitchen, which were simply awesome land-meets-sea formations. Wow! Wow! Wow! And, wet! Wet! Wet!

We made it to Port Arthur, which is another expensive Australian tourist trap. It was getting late, and pouring rain. We all decided to head back to Hobart. With yours truly at the wheel, Mattieu suggested going left to see if we could see some of the Port Arthur settlement, but it was off limits to unauthorized vehicles. Of course, I told everyone that all of a sudden I deemed our vehicle "authorized" and proceeded down the roads, where we got views of the settlement, including the penitentiary, the church, and other settlement ruins. We all rolled down our windows and took pictures. Hee hee! Well, Port Arthur, that's what ya get for trying to rip off the tourists! Tsk! Tsk! Tsk!

Back in Hobart, we checked into the Hobart Hostel, which was a nicer hostel than our first. We all detoxed and dried off from a great trip! The trip to Tasmania ended with Dan, Mattieu and I touring the town again some and visiting the infamous and incredible Salamanca Market on Saturday.

The Food:

More groceries, excellent wine at Milton Wineries, excellent pizza in Hobart, excellent fish and chips at the floating restaurant, and some excellent fair food at the Salamanca Market.

The People:

The people in Tasmania are so friendly and nice, it's almost unbeatable, or unbearable! I don't know what the heck they eat or what they lace their drinking water with, but I need more of it myself, and so does the rest of the world! They were so incredibly friendly, in fact, that I almost (but hesitated) asking for, a-hem, other "things". Ha ha ha ha!

Of course, Dan and Mattieu are great, and I will miss not seeing them in my near-future destinations. Sniff, sniff. :(

Rhetorical Questions/Comments for Australians in Tasmania:

* I totally dig your hysterical road signs.
* You sure like your roses and flowers! :)
* You people are as trusting, honest, kind and gracious as the Japanese and the Taiwanese! (A good thing!)
* Note to the stuck-up duck (and some Qantas/Jetstar employees): Please remove the pickle from said smelly orifice!
* Mosquitoes don't come larger than those at Wineglass Bay beach! They are giant!

Photos: On blog.

Next Stop: The real reason for my trip to Australia - to visit some excellent, long-time friends! (Oops, I am long gone!)
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