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Tasmania – an island with spectacular contrast to mainland Australia

AUSTRALIA | Monday, 23 December 2013 | Views [297]

Christmas holidays are out, yippee!  Two weeks spending some quality time with family in Sydney to celebrate Christmas 2013 and off to Tasmania afterwards for some more touring around.  Surprisingly the weather wasn’t so hot in Sydney over Crimbo but that didn’t dampen our spirits.  We ate, drank and were merry.  Cheers to the Chandlers for having us.  Big ups to John for his cooking.  Would recommend to a friend.

 

After a few days in Sydney we were off once again to explore another corner of Australia - Tasmania.  After an early flight Friday morning we landed in a foggy, cold Hobart to pick up our Ford Falcon and head up the Tasman Highway to our first port of call, Swansea.  We threw on our walking boots and set off for an 11km hike through Freycinet National Park to breath in all that it had to offer.  On the way back we checked out the Wineglass Bay Lookout before stopping off in a nearby Marine Farm for some delicious mussels.  Before making our way further up the coast the next day we stopped into Kate’s Berry Farm to sample some chocolate and enjoy a nice coffee to set us up for the day. 

 

Next stop Launceston, Australia’s third oldest city.  We spent a couple of days here exploring Cataract Gorge, an oasis right in the heart of the city.  We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to hop on the world’s longest single span chairlift and take in the views across the gorge on a sunny afternoon.  After lots more walking to see an old hydro powered electricity station we signed up for a tour of the James Boags brewery dating back to 1881.  Not a bad way to end the day with a few midis and cheese tasting.  Definitely worth the visit. 

 

Next up we headed further west through picturesque Cradle Mountain Country onto where we would spend New Year’s in Strahan.  On the drive there we took a trip to see Mackintosh Dam before stopping off at Montezuma Falls, Tasmania’s highest waterfall at 104m just outside of Rosebery.  There we walked a tight bridge ‘I’m a celebrity get me out of here’ style and saw a mine shaft similar to those scattered through the surrounding hills.  In Strahan we had delicious homemade Irish grub and nestled in for a few days.  Though a sleepy fishing village, it’s worth a stop as we took a New Year’s Day cruise on the Gordon River surrounded by beautiful rainforest which was once integral to Tasmania’s timber industry housing Huon Pine, Blackwood, Myrtle and Sassafras to name a few.  We made a stop off on Sarah Island to learn about its days as a convict settlement, infamous for its harsh treatment of prisoners, daring escapes, murders and cannibalism.  The weather was pretty rough as we sailed out through Hells Gates to catch a glimpse of the lighthouse and Atlantic salmon fish farms.  Not for those who get sea sick from a rocking boat but a great experience. 

 

From there we made our way back down to Hobart stopping off in Queenstown, an unfortunate town lined with multiple stores for sale, remnants of its former glory days as a booming mining town.  Early mining practices have left many exposed hills around the town, an interesting vision.  Quite contrasting from many other areas of Australia.  Before leaving the urban lifestyle behind us we stopped off at Nelson Falls to walk the trail. 

 

Arriving in Hobart we were greeted by Mt Wellington and the aroma of Tassies finest wines and cheeses along the waterfront as the Taste of Tasmania festival was in full flow.  We had to call in for a little look and taste of course.  We also took a stroll along Sullivans Cove where some of the yachts still remained from the 2013 annual Sydney to Hobart Yacht race we had watched leave Sydney a week earlier.  A visit to Hobart wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the Salamanca markets where we picked up some Huon Pine coasters as souvenirs.

 

Last on our list was a day at world heritage site Port Arthur to explore the sites historic buildings, extensive ruins and beautiful grounds and gardens.  Formerly known as Van Dieman’s Land, originally established in 1830 as a timber-getting camp, it became a major industrial settlement by 1840 housing more than 2,000 convicts, soldiers and civil staff.  Among the most interesting of buildings was the penitentiary which housed over 600 convicts, the commandants house, the church and the asylum, an institution for physically and mentally ill convicts.  While there we also took a short boat ride around the Isle of the Dead, the final resting place for over 1,100 people buried in the settlements cemetery.  To round out the day on the drive back to Hobart we made a few stops at the Tasman Blowhole, Tasman Arch and Devils Kitchen as the sun was setting.

Tags: boat cruise, brewery, convicts, driving, ford falcon, walking

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