Tasmania – an excuse to get away for the weekend

Recently I’ve started to realise I need to see more of my homeland. It embarrasses me somewhat when visitors to my country have seen more of my great country than me.

I guess I’m a typical Australian. Overseas countries have a sense of mystery and I think: “I’ll just do Australia when I’m older”. But that’s not really good enough is it? So, I’m changing my thinking. I’m going to put aside time each summer to travel to some of the amazing places in this big brown (and stunningly spectacular) land.

So, biting the bullet we decided to fly to Hobart. Take a four-day break and enjoy the sun. Yes, before you say anything, it might not be warm in Tassie over the summer but it can still be sunny!

Day 1: Hobart

Hobart

Mawson Place, Hobart

We woke up on Saturday to head to the Salamanca market, one of the best markets in Australia. I’m not a market kinda girl, but the crepes and coffee we enjoyed for breakfast warmed me up and the relaxed atmosphere won me over.

A band playing on the street at Salamanca Market, Hobart

Music at Salamanca Market, Hobart

And then there was the trike… For those of you who follow Michael and I, we like to try new types of transport. There’s the microlighting and white water rafting in Zambia, motorbiking in Vietnam, hot air ballooning in Kenya, the great Mongolian train ride, the Yangtze River boating excursion and the paragliding in Pokhara to name a few. But I’d never done a trike. And now I have.

On the trike

On the trike

Thanks to David from Hobart’s Trikemania Adventure Tours for a fun filled 30 minute trip around Hobart. I’m not sure what I enjoyed more: the “thrill” of hurtling around corners at high speed or just the breathtaking views of the Hobart port.

On the trike

On the trike

If you look carefully, you’ll see a teddy on the back of the trike. Why, you ask? Well, it was time for the annual Tasmanian toy run. A chance for all motorcyclists in Tassie to donate toys and other items to the Salvos. For over an hour, we watched motorbike after motorbike arrive into Salamanca place complete with matching sounds. Harley’s, sports bikes, trikes and the occasional scooter were all decked out with toys and the riders equally decked out in a variety of costumes.

Tasmania toy run 2013

Toy run 2013

Toy run 2013

Escaping the noise, we headed off to Mt Wellington Descent for a slow ascent up Mt Wellington and a speedy descent on our next form of transport, the good old bicycle. Whilst it was a touch nippy, there’s nothing better than speeding down a hill on a pushbike with the wind blowing through your hair and a chance to view some spectacular scenery from the forest through to the outer rim of Hobart.

A girl on a bike paused on her way down Mt Wellington

Riding down Mt Wellington

Day 2: Museum of Old and New Art (MONA)

MONA is not just a museum. It’s an experience. From the moment you are transported from the main Hobart dock on the MONA ferry to the moment you return, you are in another world. The museum is completely surreal with exhibits ranging from dried insects to “soul capturing” light globes, impossible table tennis tables and a replica of a suicide bomber made entirely out of chocolate. And around the museum, you can find a winery (complete with wine tastings), a brewery (complete with beer tastings) a cheese bar and an outside performance area. Not to mention the tennis court. Unfortunately due to MONA restrictions, I can’t post photos of the exhibits but I can highly recommend the experience. And make sure you take a day to do so!

Mona boat

Mona boat

Moorilla Winery

Moorilla Winery

Day 3: Tasman Peninsula

An eerie view of the impact of the 2013 Tasmanian fire season greeted us as we travelled down the Arthur Highway to the Tasman peninsula. No matter how many times I drive through the aftermath of fire, the ferociousness and speed of the flames horrors me and I feel ever so sorry for those caught up in the event.

We were heading to Point Arthur, that carries an equally erie history as the most famous and particularly gruesome prison site in Tasmania.

On the way, we stopped off at the Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park, home of one of Tamania’s Tassie Devil breeding programs. I’d never seen a Tassie Devil, and I immediately fell in love with this oh so ugly but oh so loveable creature with such a loud scream. We watched them feed, frollick and roar for about an hour before Michael dragged me away.

Tassie Devil

Tassie Devil

And then I dragged Michael to the kangaroo and wallaby feeding. I can’t remember the last time I hand fed a kangaroo or wallaby and it was wonderful to enjoy some up close and personal time with our native animals.

Feeding the Kangaroo

Feeding the kangaroos and wallabies

This time, Michael managed to really drag me away. We drove down to the Port Arthur historical site, site of a brutal colonial prison and one of the first to attempt prisoner reform. The psychological punishment drove many to the asylum rather than freedom. The prison closed down in 1877 and has been a tourist attraction ever since, despite the attempts of locals to distance themselves from its history.

Port Arthur

Port Arthur

After a visit to Point Puer, the first boys reformatory in the British Empire and the Isle of the Dead, where convicts and prison workers were buried, we partook in the lame but necessary evening Historic Ghost Tour. We spent hours walking around the entire site and I can confirm that there is still a feeling of sadness here, somehow soaked in to the walls through years of terror.

Sitting in the memorial for the events of 28 April 1996, known to the world as the Port Arthur massacre, you can’t but worry that the terror is not yet over.

Port Arthur

Port Arthur Massacre memorial site

Day 4: Cascade Brewery and Richmond

Our final day in Hobart, and Michael finally got the chance to do the one thing he really wanted to do – visit the Cascade Brewery. I’d have to say that brewery tours are all becoming alike for me now. Did you know that beer is made from hops, malt, yeast and water? Yep. Did you know that there are many different types of beer? Yep. Did you…blah, blah, blah. I like beer. But I’m not a fan of brewert tours. This one involved bright orange high visibility vests, lots of walking, some stair climbing and a load of listening to boring facts. But the garden was amazing.

Cascade Brewery

Cascade Brewery

A bite to eat and a massage (hell yeah) and we still had a couple of hours to fill in before our flight back to Melbourne. Thought we’d take a gander at Richmond. I lived in Richmond – the Melbourne suburb – for a few years, so it was a bit weird to ‘head to Richmond’. It’s famous for being preserved as it was in 1872, when the causeway was built and it was no longer on the route between Hobart and Port Arthur. The church here is the oldest Roman Catholic church in Australia. And it’s got great devonshire tea houses.

We left Richmond after a quick tour, and a scone with jam, and headed back to Melbourne on Tiger Air (which delivered us there and back safely and kind of on time).

Richmond

Richmond Roman Catholic Church