Van Diemens Land

Posted on Jan 20, 2014
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We are “home” from 12 days in beautiful Tasmania.  We have had a wonderful trip flying into a bright but chilly (after Sydney temperatures) Hobart, picking up a hire car and driving the couple of hours to Port Arthur. There we stayed right by the settlement which has become a museum of convict history and although over our years visiting Australia we have visited various museums and historical buildings related to that time, this was by far the most fascinating and extensive.  It is now a beautiful tranquil place with fabulous scenery and beaches in the locality but it was not hard to imagine what a forbidding place it must have been to those transported there.  We spent a fascinating couple of days visiting the museum and surrounding area before retracing our route to Hobart.


Here we stayed for 3 nights in a very chic small boutique hotel just on the outskirts of the city with views up to Mount Wellington.  The owners apparently live in China and the decor and interior were a mix of modern and old oriental with lots of magnificent artwork and even an original Picasso sketch.  Hobart itself is quite a pleasant place with some nice restaurants and a rather boho vibe.  Again the surrounding countryside is lovely gentle rolling hills topped by mount Wellington which you can drive up to gain fantastic panoramas all around.
The “no wine at lunchtime” commitment went out of the window somewhat, with several winery tastings and lunches!  Wine growing is a big thing in Tasmania but mainly very small family run vineyards (or winery’s as they call them here).  Being a colder climate, they grow a lot of Pinot.  We are not generally Pinot drinkers but found some very enjoyable ones, also the white Pinot Gris.  Unfortunately they export only a small amount so you rarely at the moment see Tasmanian wines in the bottle shops at home and when you do they are pretty expensive.
On our final day there we went to the MONA (museum of old and new art) gallery.  A fascinating building and the art, made very accessible by the provision of iPod guides fitted with GPS so that wherever you were the iPod would pick you up and tell you about the pictures/installations around you.  All very weird, Theo and Ali you would love it!  After the gallery, we found a shady spot on the grass and listened to a band playing to while away the afternoon.
Leaving Hobart, we headed to Freycinet which was about a further 3 hours up the East Coast.  We went through Orford so stopped to take some pictures for the Kemp family.  A bit different to Orford in Suffolk!
In Freycinet we stayed at the fairly recently built Saffire Resort.  Very expensive but full board inclusive of all drink.  (No wine commitment failed again!). Also dinner was a 5 course degustation menu with matched wines.  All great but fortunately, we only stayed two nights!  Having stayed in the area before, we did not do the must see climb up to view wine glass bay, partly as we had done it before and partly as a fall (after breakfast not one of those boozy lunches!) when we were in Port Arthur, had left me with a niggling Knee so was saving myself for walking in Cradle Mountain our next and final destination.  By this point of our trip, the weather had really warmed up and we enjoyed some gentle walking and swimming with Manta Rays in the lovely clear waters of Coles Bay.
We also went on a trip round the local oyster farm, where we waded into the shallow waters and harvested our own Oysters, washed down with local fizz.  The freshest Oysters ever!  Not a fan personally but I did not say no to the fizz!
Having been umming and ahhing about the possible need to buy a fleece to keep me warm at Cradle Mountain, we arrived there in 38deg heat.  With no air conditioning in the resort (such temperatures very rare there) we stifled in our little tin roofed wooden hut but fortunately it cooled down at night.  For our first full day and with the temperature still soaring we settled for a fairly easy walk around Dove Lake at the foot of Cradle Mountain.  A very well walked track with plenty of opportunity to stop and dip your feet in the water.  Even though it was quite busy with other holiday makers doing the same thing we still could find tranquil places to sit and take a break.  The second day gave us more cloud cover so we decided to be a bit more adventurous and tackle one of the walks described as “hard” in the guide.  It was a walk through the Dove river canyon with poorly maintained tracks and several scrambles which verged on Rock climbing but actually in the somewhat cooler conditions, we coped better than the day before.  We walked for four hours and did not see another person.
DOVE LAKE TRACK (with Cradle Mountain in the background)
THE DOVE CANYON TRACK. (Not quite so well maintained!)
Over the three days in Cradle Mountain we saw many pademelons (small native wallaby’s), 3 wombats and 1 echidna.  We did not see Tasmanian Devils, although there was the opportunity to do so at various preservation centres.  Seeing them in the wild is currently a very rare event as their numbers have been decimated by a strange facial cancer.  Scientists have now developed a genetically immune strain of devil which they are gradually reintroducing into contained wild areas in order to try and prevent extinction.
A PADEMELON COMES TO CALL AT OUR LODGE (whose looking at who? I’m not sure!)
WOMBAT (taken at dusk on mobile phone, sorry about the quality)
Saturday was our final day so it was a fairly early start for the drive to Launceston where we were on a lunchtime flight back to Sydney and straight down to Oli and Angies to babysit Jack while they headed off to a wedding.  Luckily he was pleased to see us and tears as Mummy and Daddy left subsided in about 30seconds and he was a little angel for the rest of the evening.
Yesterday was his second birthday so we gathered with some of his little friends and their Mums and Dads for a little party around the paddling pool in O and A’s garden.  Jack is still quite a timid little chap around boisterous children but with these ones that he knows well, he was “joining in” and enjoying their presence.
Love to all til next time.
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