Travels in Tasmania, Pt.2 (And a Melbourne Christmas)

Where I last left off, we (the Canadian “Fellowship”) as Jen calls us, had spent five days road-tripping around Tasmania. We ended up at an airbnb in Dodges Ferry that proved a decent starting point for Wednesday’s adventures. As a group we had discovered that the Tasman Peninsula, though home to the historic Port Arthur, was actually the location of some very interesting natural rock formations and sights that might be worth exploring on the way to Port Arthur. As with most coastlines, the Tasman Peninsula cuts a really rough and unique edge into its waters. Three year prior, I had been to Devils Kitchen & the Blowhole, but we dug even deeper this time. The first interesting spot was the Tessellated Pavement. Rocks have been fractured by the earth’s movements and eroded over time to make for a really interesting view. img_2779

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Erika enjoying the views

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Awkward side pose… it was properly windy!

From there, we continued onto the Devil’s Kitchen and Blowhole. Jen and Camilla opted to share some Tasmanian oysters, since Camilla had been craving authentic seafood for awhile. Jen the ever-exporer noticed some people down along the cliffside and suggested we all go down to take a look. This was in fact a brilliant idea – we climbed up, sat along the edge, and watched as the water eddied and churned below us. It was one of the most beautiful spots that day.

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The Tasman Arch
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Stunning cliff views

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After our geological explorations, we made our way to Port Arthur. I am glad to say I enjoyed the experience even though I had once visited. The weather was absolutely beautiful, and I was in good company, so it definitely seemed worth repeating the history lesson. The girls agreed that no trip to Tasmania would be complete without delving into the story of Tasmania’s first prisoner settlement, and all the people who passed through there.

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View of the main prison from the water
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Isolation rooms. The experience actually felt chilling. 

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When you learn that there was a boys’ prison on a nearby island, and the list of some of the minor infractions (though not all) some had caused, it becomes quickly hard to imagine the kind of lives they lived there. Did they see any beauty in the location, or did the surroundings simply add to the sense of defeat? We’ll never know, but be sure to pick up one of the cards which tells you the “role” you are playing for the day on the guided walk.

From Port Arthur, we made one last stop to check out the Remarkable Cave, a place Erika had found in her researching. If you’ve visited Australia, you know that the place really does name everything in the most simple and appropriate manner. We hit this place at just the right time, low tide, and a careful jump down from the viewing platform allowed us to enter the cave. My few photos do not do this place justice. Such a cool little find.

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Camilla was the first to explore

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The coastline near the cave

After the cave, we retired to the hostel for the night. Thursday was a day trip to Bruny Island which every trip to Tasmania should also include. We decided to forgo Maria Island for Bruny, and I think it was a fine decision. The ferry ride over didn’t take too long, and this time we brought along a German named Florian who’d approached us in the hostel. The island is easily navigable in a day, but you still want to be out early so you can enjoy it. Among our pit-stops were Adventure Bay, Bruny Island lighthouse, and a berry farm for (of course) more delicious berry ice cream. We completed a hike in Adventure Bay which took us up for about an hour, where you were rewarded with stunning views over the sea. The way back down was steep, and our proximity to the water was gorgeous, if not nerve-wracking! Next time I’ll wear proper footwear. We all took a beach break in Adventure Bay and Florian, Camilla and I braved the cold Tasman seas. I’m glad I did it, but I haven’t been that cold since Lake Thun in Switzerland!

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A map in Bruny lighthouse with pins for travellers to place ‘home’

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Walking back down from the Lighthouse
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A muddly flat we found on the drive back down south
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Why so crabby?

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After the day exploring the island, Erika took us to a beach recommended by a friend in Hobart where we watched a beautiful sunset descend over the city. A calming end to another busy day, I was reminded just how fortunate I felt to be there, and how wonderful and full our previous days had been. Friday, the final day, was still full to the brim with activity. We explored MONA during the day, the famous art museum which I can’t express as more than ‘interesting’. There are some deeply engaging pieces, and many that make you scratch your head and think, ‘hunh’? Thankfully the gallery provides you with headsets that offer all sorts of insight into the pieces in the gallery, so you walk out feeling a little more enlightened (though still confused). A must-see in the city. With a few hours left, we cleaned up the car, enjoyed some live music in a courtyard of Salamanca market, and drove up to Mt Wellington for sunset views before booking it to the airport. That week in Tasmania was definitely the best experience I’ve had there, and, though I doubt I will go back in this lifetime, I’m glad I saved the best for last.

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Down-time in Adventure Bay
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The “IG” shot over the Neck, Bruny island

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The girls at Mt. Wellington 
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The final hurrah on Friday night

After the trip to Tasmania, the past two weeks have gone by in a gentle blur. It was nice to come back to the city and see Liam, Conor, Heather, and her siblings, and spend Christmas on the beach. Melbourne endured a stifling 38 degrees and the only right place to be seemed to be at St. Kilda beach in the water! Jen had kindly hosted a few peotple for a potluck on Christmas eve as well. Since then, people have been away or busy with their own time off. I moved out of my apartment last weekend, and my friend Rimma has kindly let me stay at her place until my trip. I am making the final touches for my trip to New Zealand which leaves very early tomorrow. I may attempt on a nap before leaving at 3 am., but I doubt it will be a sound one. I am nervous to travel solo, but excited for the chance to escape a new country. Here’s hoping all goes well, and you are having a great start to 2016.

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A Melbourne Christmas

Much love from Melbourne/NZ,

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