June 23-24

Farewell to Melbourne and hello TASMANIA June 23-July 1.

If you want to view previous segments you can click on these links:
Sydney June 11-16
Canberra June 16-20 and Melbourne June 20-23.
June 24, I'm staying first in Hobart at 'the Montacute, a Boutique Bunkhouse' which are fancy words for a very excellent hostel. I've never stayed in a hostel any cleaner or better organized.
First stop - the Saturday market in Salamanca, a waterfront neighborhood in Hobart.

"The market has an eclectic mix of over 300 stallholders, showcasing the best that Tasmania has to offer. You will find delicious food, artisan jewelry, fine Tasmanian handcrafted timbers, handmade clothing, as well as vintage collectables, pottery, plants and flowers."

I didn't really have the scale of it all until...

...I just kept walking and walking!

I enjoyed a bbq sausage sandwich and a very good fresh hot deep-fried ball of dough with apples and sultanas. Yum.
Several places were offering samples of specialty liquor. Here I had a taste of gin made with sheep-milk whey. It tasted like a pretty tasty gin. I didn't find out how they managed that trick.
It went on and on! They say there are more than 300 stalls.
A peek into one of the city parks.
Next I took the ferry...
... to MONA, the Museum of Old and New Art, opened in 2011, funded by David Walsh and housing his collection as well as other objet d'art.
Walking up from the pier you pass by a cut in the sandstone that makes up this part of the land.

There is one floor above ground with the shop, café, tickets, etc. and the rest...
...is underground with this wonderful sandstone retained as the walls.
It's a crazy place and unlike anything I've ever seen or imagined for a museum.
Ramps and stairs cross through the huge spaces so you can look at the works from many angles.
Cocktail lounge entertainment.
The Museum of Everything is 30 rooms of a fascinating curated collection of objects produced by what the curator calls 'outsider art'.

A-may-zing is all I can say. The exhibit opened in the middle of June and will run for one year. You can read this article in The Art Museum for a discussion that expresses a lot of what I was thinking.

A collection of cats (not a painting) for a work called Kittens' Tea and Croquet Party by Walter Potter (1870s).

It's not as grand as many of the pieces but hey it's cats.
If you're at all interested in the But Is It Art question I hope you'll read the article above.
Arriving back in Hobart I thought to take a stroll around and then I got myself lost. It was dark and cold so I thought to stop in a hotel where they always have maps and wifi for their guests.

I opened the door to what I thought was a little run-down mom and pop hotel, The Shamrock, But Wait! It turned out to be the liveliest place I saw in Hobart. I didn't intend to have any dinner but dinner intended me to have it!
June 25

((I'm typing this from a bar across the street from my hotel on the evening of the 27th because the hotel internet is 'down' and no internet has really worked much since this tour kicked off. On to the story.))

It's the first morning of my Tassie tour and pick-up time was 6:45am. Here we loading other guests. We were 23 in total, a very full bus with only one empty seat.

((If you've checked in you will have noticed that the internet in the bar wasn't so hot either! Maybe tonight? We'll see!)
From the brochure for the first day:

"We leave Hobart and drive through the Derwent Valley – travelling east to west across the island. You’ll see the beautiful Russell Falls, walk among the Mt Field National Park Tall Trees, and visit Australia’s deepest freshwater lake, Lake St Clair. Explore the pristine Franklin-Gordon Wild River National Park and end the day in Strahan."

A look at an example of the small towns where we stopped to pick up groceries or have a coffee break.
Our first rainbow.
And what have we here? Why, it's a kookaburra who is in fact sitting in an old gum tree, not so much laughing and gay though.

Wiki: "Eucalyptus regnans, known variously as mountain ash, swamp gum, or stringy gum, is a species of Eucalyptus native to Tasmania and the state of Victoria in southeastern Australia. It is the tallest flowering plant and one of the tallest trees in the world, second to the coast redwood."

There are more than 70 kinds of eucalyptus and many of then are here.
Tromping through the tall rainy-wet forest of Mt Field National Park...
...for first a view of handsome Horseshoe Falls and then after a while...
...wow, Russell Falls. Gorgeous.
We stopped here just to try to see the platypus that our driver Jacob hoped would be there, but that sadly was not.
That's me sitting in front oh ultimate joy. We were chasing this rainbow for an hour and...
...here she is lookin' good!

Here's what the National Park brochure says about Franklin-Gordon Wild River National Park.

"The Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park was proclaimed in 1981. This park together with the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair and the Southwest National Parks, were declared as the Tasmanian World Heritage Area in 1982. The World Heritage Area is one of only three remaining temperate wilderness areas in the Southern Hemisphere and is home to flora and fauna endemic to Tasmania."
The Visitor's Center at Lake St Clair where we ate our picnic lunch on this lovely porch watching the rain.
And then I made a dash down to Lake St Clair to have a quick look around.
A currawong who looks like a crow or a raven but, according to wiki: "Currawongs ... are part of a larger group of African shrike-like birds including bushshrikes, helmetshrikes, ioras, and vangas, which were defined as the superfamily Malaconotoidea by Cacraft and colleagues in 2004.

"They are thus only distantly related to crows and ravens, which are in a separate superfamily Corvoidea."

So not a crow or a raven.
Here we had a detour off the program to look at more Tall Trees and again, in the rain! we walked...
...to Nelson Falls where we stood just a few feet from this raging waterfall.
It was so huge and blowing off so much water I rushed up for a couple of shots with my phone not wanting to expose my camera to the torrent.
Back on the road, but oh wait, another waterfall just to the side of the road.

We went in to the small town of Strahan for a two night stay.
June 26

From the brochure:

"In the untouched wilderness of Tasmania’s West Coast we will explore the shifting sands of Henty Dunes. Then we continue into the Tarkine Rainforest and walk to Tasmania’s highest waterfall – Montezuma Falls. Or you can choose to join the world famous Gordon River Cruise (optional, at your own expense)."

I didn't do any of these things! The walk to Montezuma Falls took 4+ hours in the rain and ankle deep mud. I decided to do the river cruise instead But the river cruise wasn't running so we had a steam train ride on offer instead.

We both joined the tour from the Montecute hostel and sat within sight of each other on the bus. We had fun!
Mighty gorgeous.
All aboard! Notice the rain.
We were four that chose the train and I'm so glad I did this because that slog to Montezuma would probably have ruined me for the next day.

Upon boarding we could choose between oj or Tasmanian sparkling wine. I'm sure you know which I chose.
The one-man conductor/chef/waiter/narrator did all his jobs with good will and charm.

The engine and cars are "Authentically restored" one dating back to 1896, another from 1898, and a third from 1938.

The engineer filling the tanks with water for the steam locomotive.
A view out the back and the steam trail we leave behind.

Wiki: "The West Coast Wilderness Railway is a reconstruction of the Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Company railway in Tasmania between Queenstown and Regatta Point, Strahan. The railway is significant because of its Abt system to conquer the mountainous terrain through rainforest, with original locomotives still operating on the railway today. Now operating as a tourist experience with a focus on sharing the history of Tasmania's West Coast, the original railway began operations in 1897 as the only link between Queenstown and the port of Strahan."
We stopped several times and after each stop we got another little something to eat.

1) welcome aboard beverage. 2) smoked salmon on toast (the only really tasty bit). 3) scones with buttercream and jam. 4) vegetable soup. 5) cake.
When it was time to turn around they detached the engine and put it on a turntable and pushed it.
Here she comes...
...and is now getting attached to what was the back of the train.

They had everyone switch sides on the way back so my group of four got to switch to the Good Side.
It was great, following along the river.
Those are bits of ice that aren't melting. It was cold!
And then it got bright and beautiful.
This is a photo from their brochure to give you a look in context.
After the ride we walked back to our accommodation and had a grand time.
Photo photo!
From 150 years ago, the post office and Custom House.
June 27

Good morning! We stayed here two nights and every morning this dog came out to greet us.

From the brochure:

"Around 950m above sea level is the World Heritage listed Cradle Mountain-Lake St Claire National Park, where you choose a walk to suit you. With an extensive range of tracks, stroll around Dove Lake or challenge yourself with a hike to Marion’s Lookout. A short drive takes us through Sheffield, the ‘town of murals’, to Launceston."

Marion's Lookout wasn't an option because it was snowing which didn't change my plans.
Soaking up the morning sun.

These sweet ladies feature in my story because on the bus I just turned my head and there they were, and much hilarity ensued.
That's where we're going.
Jacob billed the walk around Dove Lake as 'on a lovely boardwalk', and there was the occasional boardwalk...
...and Ok, maybe these steps can be thought of as a boardwalk since it is made of boards but this was a small section.
There were also these steps.

And most time consuming were the sections of icy rocks, large and small, covering trails at 45 degree angles up and down. I picked my way through those 'paths' because, as we know, #1, No Falling, and once getting past those rocks I didn't want to turn back for a photo.

All the kids hopped and skipped along as if it were in fact a boardwalk, but I wasn't last to arrive back and that's all I cared about, and it was gorgeous and I had fun!
There's Cradle Mountain up there.
Here's another view of Cradle Mountain on this foggy day, not too cold though, and not raining so I'm happy.

The inset photo is from australia.net so you can see what it actually looks like.
Another one.
Back at the parking lot, a wallaby, and a photo-op for one and all. You can never have too many pictures of a wallaby.
Sheffield, the ‘town of murals’, another example of our little towns.
Look how many strokes it takes in Chinese to write Sheffield. In Japanese they would have used a simple phonetic character set used specifically for foreign words but in Chinese they have to figure it out with kanji.
We stopped off at this dairy and cheese farm, scarfed on samples, and many among us bought bags full.
June 28

Jacob gathering the crowd.

From the brochure:

"We make our way to the East Coast and the beautiful Bay of Fires. If the conditions are right, this is the perfect place for a swim. Tasmania’s most scenic coastal drive takes you from St Helens to Bicheno, where you may want to join an evening viewing of the Little Penguins (optional at your own expense and seasonal)."
A tram that wasn't running...
...but we walked up here anyway.
Up up.

But this stop isn't in the program and I don't remember its name. All this not remembering is partly because every day was so packed with activity, the internet, if I could get it at all in the evening, lasted five minutes, and I relied too heavily on finding the details in the program.
This was a swinging suspension bridge high above a river.
Jacob organized a group photo!
A mountain, I don't remember its name and...
...a different mountain and I don't remember its name either.
Our tour bus and all the luggage rides in the trailer.
The program says this is Bay of Fire. It's a beautiful place.
That's Jacob in the distance, and the rocks were great for walking...
...and the waves drew hearty surfers. In the summer this place would be packed.
On the program we were going to see a different animal park tomorrow but the company decided to try out this place instead and it was good.

One reason might have been that it was just the two Under Down Under buses so it wasn't as crowded as it could have been.

They made a speech too about how this was not a park or a zoo but rather a sanctuary for abandoned and injured animals and a breeding program for endangered species.
Just inside the door is a nice mob of kangaroos waiting for the snacks that you could buy for one dollar. I'm thinking these guys must have been hand raised in that the place isn't worried about them punching a tourist in the nose.
Awwww a joey!
Meet a Tasmanian Devil. It looks like a cross between a pot bellied pig and an opossum.
Feeding time and a lesson from the Steve Irwin school of loving on scary animals. The kid was SO enthusiastic it was sweet.
Two young ones running off to huge rolling commotion and very loud screaming.
Some wombats for petting.
She was a great naturalist-guide too and oozing love for the animals.
And then later in the evening we had a chance for a side-trip to see penguins.

It really was a March of the Penguins, the smallest penguins in the world, called Fairy Penguins or Little Blue Penguins, and they marched out of the sea in great numbers, right by we observers even to walking between our legs.

No photos were allowed on the tour so I got these from their website.
June 29

((Here it is actually late July 2 in Broome and I've just paid for internet in hopes I can get this done. Also I've got a cold. Oh well!))

We were off for another 7am call time which meant we got more fantastic sunrise colors.

From the brochure:

"An early start means we are the first to the Wineglass Bay lookout, beating the crowds and the heat for that postcard photo. Relax on the secluded beach or choose the more challenging Mt Amos or Hazards Beach walk. Meet the iconic Tasmanian devil as we stop at Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, before a short drive back to Hobart."

It didn't turn out like this since we'd been to the Wildlife Sanctuary yesterday.
This is the kickoff to Wineglass Bay vistas and we had the choice to do a moderate hike (my limit for sure!) or the hard one.

Here's what the park sign says about the hard one:

"Difficult and very steep. Suited to physically fit, experienced and well-equipped walkers only. Boulder scrambling required - very slippery when wet."

...here's our group who made it with no problems along the way. Good job!
This was the moderate view of Wineglass Bay, and I hope one of the sturdy crowd will send me a picture from the top of Mt Amos of Great Oyster Bay and the Freycinet Peninsula.
This stop was photo photo for an hour.
I'm hoping to get more from other people too. And there are so many pictures of me floating around.
Team Indonesia!

They and I were the only ones staying in a motel instead of the hostel. I think I decided to go for the motel because of the 'rustic' condition of the hostels as noted in the brochure. I totally don't mind bathroom-down-the-hall but bathroom-outside-across-the-lawn-in-the-rain-and-cold I could pass.

So we were together waiting for the bus every morning and got friendly. They called me Grandma, or Mommy, or Aunty, depending. They thought I was SO old. I thought it was cute!

This was my favorite beach. I'm going to ask Jacob to look through these pictures and help me with the names of things.
The sand was pebble-like and the shells were wonderful. I took one, and now come to think of it I wonder if we were in a National Park and I committed a crime?
DJ Sweden!

She ran the sound system from day 2. She must have 10,000 songs on that phone and I liked them all. Jacob was a big knower-of-music and loved to sing along. We really had a good time.
A walk to a lighthouse...
...and the sea looking either to Antarctica or Patagonia or New Zealand.
We were all scanning the sea for dolphins and whales and...
...eating Jacob's favorite food which he shared until the bag was empty even of dust.
Look what she made for me!
Team Indonesia brought a lot of food from home and they knew I liked food so Aunty made me a sandwich out of this delight and I even have a small bag for later.
A wallaby sighting.

I'm leaving this in here because this is a diary afterall.
I knew this guys name, and I will again when I look it up.
Here's the cutest little Information Center and Town Museum.

The museum is made up of what this woman and her family have kept over the decades. She was there and popped out of her office to walk me around, but this was just a coffee break stop so I had to move on pretty quickly.
We ended our last drive with another fantastic rainbow...
...and a view of town.
Ebba and I were staying at the same hostel for the night so we decided to throw caution to the wind and enjoy...
...a fantastic Italian meal at the 'best restaurant in town' according to many.

Wow, Tasmania, you are something!
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