When I first arrived in Aus, I was told Tasmania was treated like Canada treats Newfoundland. It’s like the little brother you left at the beach but your parents weren’t all that concerned when they found out. Despite its reputation, I had a good time in Tassie (Although Jetstar and humid hostel rooms tried their best to ruin my vacation).

Landed in Hobart (3 hours after we were supposed to, Thanks Jetstar!) and headed out to Port Arthur. But first, we stopped at the Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park. The Tassie Devil originally got its name from the first European settlers who had no lights. When they heard this low grumbling sound in the dark, they thought it was the devil. Turned out to be a carnivorous marsupial! Did get some great footage of them fighting over wallaby meat. The poor devils are besieged by devil facial tumour disease, that is caused by a virus and transmitted when they bite each other. They were also all over the roads, killed by speeding cars.

Port Arthur is a former penitentiary (second jail/gaol I’ve been to in Aus) that is now a historical site. It was really interesting as it was one of the first ‘reform’ prisons – as in rehabilitation over punishment. It still had severe penalties for disobedient like solitary cells. Those in isolation were placed into a cell for 23 hours a day, one particularly creepy room had 2 sets of doors, lest the prisoner witness daylight. Even creepier was the chapel in the Separate Building (solitary) as it had a recording of men singing hymns and chants. Prisoners were even isolated from each other during services – pews were divided into cells.  Ironically, the grounds of Port Arthur are beautiful and serene, overlooking the harbour.

After Hobart, we headed up to Coles Bay, the township surrounding Freycinet (it’s French, pronounced without the t) National Park, and watched the sunset on Muirs beach. The next morning, we headed out on the water in a 2-person kayak, something listed as #4 on the list of things to do before you die.  Of course, the uncoordinated klutz that I am had issues with getting the paddle movements right, while D, an experienced canoeist, sat in the back to steer and paddle at the same time. Now that’s real talent. Although we had fairly sore arms by the end, it was definitely worth doing and probably the best way to see the harbour. A penguin was spotted at one point, and I was bitterly disappointed that I didn’t get to see it. They generally aren’t on that side of the peninsula, so our tour guide concluded that the poor penguin was lost.

As a condition of our trip, I was allowed to dine at seafood restaurants in front of a vego in exchange for doing a bushwalk in the park. However, the walk ended up being 11km (!) over mostly rocky vegetation. Carpark – Wineglass bay lookout = 1.3km, Lookout to Wineglass Bay beach =1, Wineglass to Hazards beach via the Isthmus track = 2km, Hazards = 1km, Hazards back to carpark = 6 km. Ouchy. And only 3 mozzie bites! (I was lathered in insect repellent) We also started pretty late, after 2 pm but were rewarded with gorgeous views and I think one of the coolest things that has ever happened to me in Oz. We took a break at the beach at Wineglass Bay, and sat on some rocks, cleaning the sand off after dabbling in the water. I turned around and there was a wallaby less than 2 metres away. I think I may have bruised D from hitting her to get her attention. I told the wallaby (who I thusly named George) that he had sand on his muzzle. George loped into some rocks nearby, then I realised why he had come down to the beach. Not to surf but to pick up people’s leftovers (which you’re not supposed to do! if they eat human food, they can develop a condition called lumpy jaw. Although, he snacked on a banana, so I’m not sure if that qualifies). We also spotted more wallabies along the inland track, but they didn’t give 2 hoots about us, as my camera made many beeping sounds. And yes, I named the rest of them (Sally, Hoppy, Walter and Julio).

Our last day in Tassie consisted of driving to the lighthouse in Freycinet only to be greeted by some morning fog and a drive to Launceston. We didn’t actually see the town as we went to Cataract Gorge. A couple of chairlift rides and obnoxious teenage boys jumping off the rocks into the water later, we headed to the airport for our flight home, sleep-deprived and overheated.

Tassie, good place to visit. Wouldn’t live there. And for some reason, full of French backpackers.

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