After some minor drama in the Sydney Domestic flights terminal (23kg allowance?! But we have 30…. oh we’re okay) we boarded our tiny little plane to take the 1 hour 50 flight from Sydney to Hobart. The plane goes up, you get served a drink and a cranberry and white chocolate cookie (yum) and then the plane goes back down again. The views from the plane over Australia as you fly out and then across Tasmania as you come into Hobart were amazing! I loved this flight, even though it was a tad windy and as we came into land the plane tilted left, then right, then one wheel down, then the other wheel down, and oh we’re safe it’s okay!
We met up with Dad, Chris and Becky and headed to Dad’s place to settle in. It was about an hours drive from the airport and I was in awe for the whole hour! Tasmania is a wild, rugged country. Once you’re out of Hobart it’s brown/green fields and hills and mountains everywhere. The land stretches forever! Into Oatlands where we would be staying and it reminded me of an American Wild West Town. Don’t get me wrong, it was very Australian, but it was the nearest comparison I could think of. Wide roads, old buildings, quiet streets, everyone knows each other. It was strange even for a country bumpkin like me! But I liked it.
On Sunday we walked to the local pancake shop for some breakfast/lunch. I was contemplating upgrading to two pancakes (pancakes aren’t that big right?) but stuck with one… boy was that the right decision. Out came this HUGE pancake, filling a massive plate and it was topped high with berries and sauce and ice-cream. I managed about 3/4 of it. Wow Australia is gonna make me fat. That afternoon Ash and I went for a few hours walk with Dad, past the lake at the front of their house, along country tracks and footpaths past farms, endless fields and a random truck scrapyard/graveyard. We circled back into Oatlands and passed the hospital, police station and windmill. We saw black swans and wedge-tail eagles amongst other things. Just gorgeous!
After an Aussie-style BBQ we headed out into the woodland at dusk to try to see some wildlife. There’s a kangaroo! Oh there’s another! Wait there are loads of them. All along the roads. Lots of different species too. They sit along the roadside and then at the last moment will run across in front! No wonder they get hit a lot. We also saw a wombat! They have such funny faces. We drove to Interlaken and then back again along the twisty gravel tracks. I was in heaven!
Monday morning, time to get busy! First stop, Cambletown. Lining the streets are bricks inscribed with the name and details of British prisoners who were shipped to Australia to serve their time. Thousands of bricks along both sides of the street. It was fascinating to see and read. Of course I found a Turner!
Onwards to Cataract Gorge in Launceston. Very picturesque and we ventures off for a walk along the gorge to Duck Reach Powerhouse. A very enjoyable, but slightly steep, walk along and then across the bouncy swing bridge and back through woodlands to the lake.
Cataract Gorge are the proud owners of the World’s Longest Single Span Chairlift! So of course we had to have a go. Hop on, watch the ground drop below you, and hop off at the other side. Much fun. We also saw some wallaby just mooching around. They are a little tame but do run off if kids chase them, which happened.
Time to go home and I drove the SUV back. That’s right, I have driven an SUV in Australia, too cool!
On Tuesday we headed in Hobart. After a few hours strolling around the shops and harbour Dad, Ash and I met the guys that were going to take us on a bike ride down Mount Wellington. It’s an organised experience that starts with a mini-bus ride up to the top of Mt. Wellington and then you hop on a bike which they provide and cycle the 22km down and back into Hobart.
We got to the top and you can see for miles! It was a little misty and windy but nothing to extreme.
We set off riding down and oh it’s fast! Eeek. I would say I’m quite good on a bike, but I don’t think I’ve ever gone that fast on a road before! I wish we had speedos on them. 90% of the journey is no peddling and I was probably on the brakes most of the time. But it’s great! A guide goes at the front on his bike and then the mini-bus follows behind warning cars and picking up anyone who has a problem. You stop regularly to regroup and you set your own speed the whole way. A few people were behind me but most of the lads were off ahead. I didn’t mind.
Ash whizzed off and then for the later sections he slowed down to enjoy the views rather than just concentrating on not falling off! Probably a good idea.
At one point there is the option of doing an off-road section. The other two girls in the group chose not to and continued on the road but I went for it. Okay I’m now thinking I’m actually quite rubbish on a bike! I went slow and didn’t fall off so that’s an achievement right. The track was well rough, big rocks you need to navigate around, natural drainage dips which try to throw you off, and slippery gravel. But I loved it and enjoyed myself and at my own speed (even if I sound like an old woman right now).
Back onto the road and we cruised down past the Brewery and stopped to look up at where we had come from! Quite a journey. Then through parks and side roads, along past the harbour and back to our start point! Woooo! I’m not sure how long it took, maybe a few hours, but what fun! I love love loved it!
That evening we scrubbed up and went into the Gold Class Cinema to watch Taken 3. Cocktails first and then into the screen and you each have big chunky recliners! Wow. Then your food is served to you during the film. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to go to a normal cinema again… this is the way forward!
Wednesday was surprise day… completely out of our control. We walked towards Hobart harbour and were shown the boat that we would be going on! Kerching.
The Peppermint Bay Cruise, and sitting in the Captain’s VIP section too! How posh are we! It was great. A lovely boat trip along to Peppermint Bay, then a 5 course meal in Peppermint Bay Hotel which sits in the small town of Woodbridge. The meal was lush! Woodbridge is a really interesting little town too, all of the building were built in the 1890’s so it’s got a real old age quirky feel to it.
Thursday was another surprise day, I was getting nervous about this one as people were saying it was going to be scary! Turns out it’s a Tree Top Zip Wire experience! YES!! A couple of hours journey down several zip wires, the highest point you reach is 50 metres and you can travel at up to 70kmph on the fastest one.
It’s similar to our Go Ape but only zip wires and two guides accompany you during the adventure. It’s a lot of fun! Different to anything I’ve done before. Each zip wire is different, on one we all did bird calls and flapped our arms (there will be a video coming soon), on another they suspend you halfway along to take photographs and give you a chance to lean back and really look down, then the two long ones are really fun and fast! Then for the shortest, final one you are told to free fall sideways off the edge. Scary but I managed it!
Our final full day, Friday, we went shopping in Moonah and Hobart. Big shout out to Lilium Gifts in Moonah… oh my god! That guy can make a candle smell like anything! The shelves were full of tubs of candle pieces with different scents… coffee, chocolate orange, watermelon… all pretty normal right? Well then there was fresh-cut grass, wood smoke, motor oil, dirty nappies! And they are spot on! I’ve never known a candle to have such a perfect smell of what it should be. Wow. I was so impressed. Plus the guy was super nice. He showed us the back of his shop, talked about how he had started with 300$ and a table in the market, and gave us some great deals and offers. We brought home many different scents. I can’t wait to have the wood-burner lit at home with the smoke scent candle burning, that is my bliss!
On Friday afternoon Dad took me to see his friend who works his dogs on sheep farms. He had a Kelpie and a Huntaway! I was fascinated to see and learn about the huntaway, I’d never heard of them before. Because the herds of sheep are so large in Australia and New Zealand, and you are moving across vast distances, the huntaways are used to move the sheep along by running and barking at the flock. Boy they can bark! A big, deep boom that certainly gets the sheep moving. The kelpies then come in for the yard work and herding smaller flocks in to the shepherd. Fascinating!
It really made me think about what dogs are bred for and how they pick up and use their natural instincts so well. Which led me to think about the number of breeds we keep at home and how we often conflict against their breed instincts. Very thought-provoking.
On Saturday we packed up and headed for a nice meal on the outskirts of Hobart next to the river, before catching our plane to Melbourne which would take us onwards to Dubai. It was a stunning meal and finally on our last day in Australia I ate kangaroo! Nom, I’d be happy to have some of that again!
Sad to say goodbye to family but onwards to our next and final chapter…. Dubai here we come!