Ravi and I really didn’t know what to expect when we arrived in Tasmania. In my mind I expected the island (which I honestly didn’t even really know was an island until I looked it up after finding out my friend was moving there!) to be more reminiscent of the images I saw while watching Nickelodeon cartoons of the Tasmania Devil making tornadoes in the dust with road runner. In truth the island really was nothing like my recollection from childhood. Located off the south eastern coast of Australia the island has beautiful coasts with beaches often named on the “Top 10” lists around the world, lush eucalyptus forests, numerous waterways from small streams, lakes, mountains, and lots of wallabies and pademelons hopping around. Our friends who recently relocated here from Portland Oregon will undoubtedly have their work cut out for them to explore the abundant outdoor activities during their stay here.
Our main reason for visiting Tasmania was to visit our friends Cassie, Guy and their adorable dog Jag who is really more like a teddy bear when you meet him. We arrived in Hobart after spending a couple days in Melbourne without a plan other than to get out and explore what we could, hang out with friends, and get a sense of what our friends new home was all about. After 11 days on the island we did just that while making time to relax as well. I admit after traveling from place to place over the last 3 and 1/2 months there was something comforting about getting to know the couch for more than a couple days, cooking, doing laundry at home, and watching a bit of TV. We also enjoyed taking advantage of the kitchen and practicing some of our newly learned vegan Thai cooking, which Cassie and Guy graciously obliged to be our taste-testers. For those of you who know me you’d undoubtedly be surprised to know I spent 3 hours one morning making peanut sauce, hummus, cashew sauce, spring rolls, and masaman curry from scratch. I think my mom is wondering what happened to me on this adventure that I am really loving to cook.
Besides the aforementioned relaxing and homemaking we actually did get out and see the island. The island is known for is apple orchards and historically was called “apple island” for it’s mass production of apples. I discovered that many of my favorite apple varieties were actually developed in Tasmania. We spent an afternoon touring the countryside and visiting a few cideries along the way. Australians like their hard cider and there are so many different styles and brands to taste. We found most of the ciders along the way not suited to our taste buds, a trend that continued with the local breweries. American microbrews really are unbeatable.
While Cassie headed off to work Guy, Ravi, Jag and I piled into the van and explored the Tasman Peninsula which is known for its marine life, towering cliffs, and convict history at Port Arthur. We opted to take a couple hour boat ride by a highly recommended tour company (Pennicott) to view the cliffs from the water and hopefully spot some dolphins which we did. It was well worth it and if you are visiting I would do this as a day trip. We also stopped by the Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park to learn about these ferocious but pretty darn cute little creatures and their dwindling population as they are being destroyed by a facial cancer spread when they bite each other which is a common behavior. After hearing the creatures growl at each other you know where they get their name. We spent a few hours at the park, which is quite small, but well run and again would recommend a visit.
Mount Wellington is the towering mountain above the skyline of Hobart. The mountain has numerous hiking, mountain biking, and climbing routes but if you visit you must be prepared for changing weather conditions as it can go from warm and sunny to snowy within a few minutes. You also can drive to the top for the view of the city and surrounding waterways if you aren’t up for a hike. We hiked from the Springs car park to the Summit, along the plateau and back down. The plateau was super windy but the rocks and views stunning. We stopped by the Cascade Brewery for a sampler on the way down but weren’t impressed with the brews. I kept trying to convince Guy to open a good brewery but I don’t think he was t interested in my business idea.
When we weren’t out driving on the 2 lane country roads, we found ourselves wandering around town, relaxing at the many beaches near the city, and finding good places to jog along numerous beaches or up the hillsides. One morning we walked down the rivulet trail looking for the local platypus but we didn’t have any luck spotting one.
After Cassie finished up work for the week we packed up their Delica with camping gear and headed up the east coast to experience to icons showing up on postcards and in guidebooks all over the island, the Bay of Fires and Wineglass Bay. We hiked along the well known beaches on the Bay of Fires and camped for free on nearby beach complete with an evening bonfire. The next morning we drove south a couple hours and made our way to a hike leading to another famous beach, Wineglass Bay, which was named one of the top 10 beaches in the world by Outside Magazine a while back. The weather cleared for the hike and we enjoyed having sunny weather to make it warm enough to take a dip in the ocean. We finished the hike with lots of wallaby sightings and snake just off the trail (Yikes-they are venomous here).
Cassie and Guy moved into their apartment the day before we left so we celebrated by trying out the local pubs nearby in the swanky/hip Salamanca district were we finally located good beer. This morning we hopped on the plane for Sydney, which in light of MH370 was a bit more nerve wracking than usual, and made it to our hostel on Bondi beach. We had a wonderful time in Tasmania and definitely could have spent a long time exploring the island. Cassie and Guy were great hosts and we hope we get to see them again soon. The next couple days we are exploring Sydney before we head to New Zealand for a month.
Pademelon at the beach at Wineglass Bay.