Van Diemens Land.....or perhaps the next track

Trip Start Jun 15, 2004
Trip End Jun 15, 2005

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Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Tuesday 21st December 2004
Flew with Virgin Blue, the Easyjet of Australia and arrived at Hobart International Airport - so sophisticated that you take your own luggage off the trolleys after you've watched the dogs jump all over them looking for fruit.

Hobart looks nice arriving on the bus - hilly suburbs with pretty little houses, though the centre is just the same as any other city - mini skyscrapers and shopping malls.

Stayed at the Pickled Frog Backpackers, simply because I liked the name, though in reality, whilst the bar area is very good and sociable, the rooms are a little on the grotty side, and meet Kasu from Japan, who is also on my Tasmania tour.

Wednesday 22nd December 2004
Another early pick up, at 6.15, and also meet Sandy, from Switzerland, who had also been staying at the Pickled Frog, and then get a free guided tour round town picking up about 14 others.

Today is a bit of a driving day, onto the west coast of Tasmania. Once you get out of Hobart, Tasmania is very green, and isolated, with rolling fields like the UK, and then huge granite mountains out of nowhere.

My diary gets a little confused here, but I think we went to see two waterfalls on a forest walk - firstly horseshoe falls (yes they do) and then Russell Falls.

Onto Mount Field National Park, where we see some very tall trees, as well as the odd wallaby passing by.

Thursday 23rd December 2004
Walked for a few hours to see Montezuma Waterfalls, across a walking suspension bridge which swayed quite strongly when prompted - (usually by me when there is somebody else on it!), with a nice walk there and back.

Onto some sand dunes, which stretched on for miles, for some quad biking, which across the dunes was awesome - just wished they would have let me use fifth gear! Quickly followed by sand boarding - did this on the west coast of the mainland of course, but this time did it standing up - easy - it really was - probably helped by the sand being a little slower here.

Onto the place we were staying at Tullah, where we crossed the lake in canoes, and I had, and comprehensibly lost a canoe water fight. Whilst getting drier (and colder), it was nice criss crossing the lake, with spectacular scenery, and very funny.

Navigation wasnt our strong point - we ended up landing at the wrong bay and wondering why it looked different, but after temporarily kidnapping a small dog into our boat, we made it back eventually!

Friday 24th December 2004
Cradle Mountain - the mountain to climb in Tasmania.

Choice of walks - around the lake, along the side, half way, etc, etc, but I really wanted to climb - unfortunately, the weather was against us - you couldnt actually see the mountain because of the cloud, and hence we climbed halfway, where the weather got worse so we retreated just past "Marions Lookout"

Nevertheless, excellent views, at least intermittently, on the way up and down, of mountainous area, with numerous lakes, and lower down, spotted a solo wombat - now I know you think I made that name up, but see the picture below - they do exist! (Also forgot to mention a few weeks ago I saw a Possum as well)

Weather has the last laugh as well - as we get down, it clears completely, and we can see the spectacular view of Cradle Mountain - but no longer have the legs or the time to climb again

Saturday 25th December 2004
Wake up Xmas morning at 6.00, sharing a dorm with Kazu, the Japanese Guy, and Anchi, the Taiwanese guy, so Xmas is highly relevant here! - Bizarrely though, they do celebrate Xmas in Japan - purely as an excuse to celebrate something!

First of all a nice refreshing walk to Cataract Gorge, and then onto Ross - nice historic town, with all stone buildings - very pretty.

The highlight of the day (or even week) however is without doubt the visit to Freycinct National Park, where we climb, scrambling over slippery granite rocks, Mount Amos - and when you reach the top, the most spectacular view of a bay - Wine Glass Bay to be exact, I have ever seen - stunning.

The reason its called Wine Glass Bay is less beautiful - it used to turn red when they killed all the whales there.

Xmas party in the evening, and as usual one of the last to go to bed at 2.30am (for getting up at 6.30)

Sunday 26th December 2004
Very tired today (cant understand why), and visit local wildlife park - whilst this place looks after injured / orphaned animals (the amount of roadkills you see on the roads of Tasmania is amazing), I prefer to see the wildlife wild.

Nevertheless, saw my first Tasmanian Devil, and Koala, so not all bad, as well as lots, and lots, of snakes.

Onto short rainforest walk (after filling up on huge local delicious ice cream!), and then down to Fortesque Bay - for swimming in theory, but it was just too cold (we are only a couple of inches from Antartica according to the map).

Walk round to penguin nesting area...where we dont even see penguin nests - they only come out at night and we werent very observant.

Monday 27th December 2004
Port Arthur was the worst of the worst penal colonies, where you got sent if you committed another crime after being transported to Australia, and is now the site for a museum.

Port Arthur is also infamous for the murder of 35 people in 1996 by a madman - a subject we are banned from bringing up with any locals for fear of upsetting them - I wondered why, given it is now a long time ago, but when you get there you realise what a small town it is.

Brief tour by the guide, after which we can wander the grounds - fascinating to see how the place developed, with prisons on one side, and nice officers quarters the other. Interesting to learn we only started exporting criminals to Australia after we could no longer send them to America after independence.

Weather is not so good (summer in Tasmania is never that good - we have been lucky) and there is a lot of cloud now and the odd bit of rain.

Afternoon is spent seeing, in the rain, some cliff edges formed by the sea in various shapes - including a map of Tasmania.

Followed by our farewell meal in Tasmania - shame to be leaving as this was a very good group of people to meet - though I will undoubtedly see at least some of them when I get to Sydney.

Tuesday 28th Decemer 2004
Hobart day - wandered around Hobart, which luckily was hosting the "Taste of Tasmania" event, which coincides with the expeted arrival of the Sydney-Hobart yacht race, and has dozens of food and drinks stalls in a huge hangar.

After sampling some of the food and drink, and bumping into a guy from my Tasmania tour, wander Salamanca point, and then back to the hostel for laundry!
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Where I stayed
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