Port Arthur

Today was another long (but completely gorgeous) day.  We were picked up at 7am, and headed to the Tasman Peninsula, which is home to Australia’s highest sea cliffs. Our first stop was to enjoy the views from Pirates Bay Lookout, and walk along the Waterfall Bay Track ending in the rock formations of Tasman Arch and Devil’s Kitchen.

From here we had the option of going to  a wildlife sanctuary or hitting up the Port Arthur Lavender Farm.  I’d had a few wildlife sanctuaries already, so I decided to try something new and check out the farm.  It was situated on a beautiful lake, and served all kinds of lavender products like lavender ice cream (surprisingly delicious!).

And then we went to Port Arthur itself, Australia’s best preserved Penal Colony.  It was a prison from 1830-1877, and while most of the buildings were destroyed in the early 1900s, some have been preserved.  We had a 40 minute tour of the area, telling us about the history (it was a really dreadful place), some time to ourselves to explore, and then a short boat cruise around the Isle of the Dead, which is where the dead prisoners and staff were buried. We had about 30 minutes to explore some more after the cruise, but it was really hot out so I enjoyed some time sitting in the shade (I really didn’t mind not going to see the cells).  Apparently this site has one of the best evening ghost tours, if you’re ever around at night.

On the way back to Hobart we stopped in the town of Richmond, which has Australia’s oldest bridge.

Our very last stop of the day was at a lookout point across from Hobart, with fantastic views of the city and Mt Wellington.

We didn’t get back til around 7pm, so it was a full 12 hour day.  I picked up some dinner in town, then settled in at the hostel and finalized some of my upcoming plans.

From New Zealand I will fly directly to Brisbane and spend 3 weeks going along the coast from Byron Bay to Cairns.  On March 20, I’ll fly from Cairns to Darwin and spend a couple days in Darwin before doing a 5 day tour from Darwin to Alice Springs to Uluru.  From there I’ll fly to Adelaide.  I haven’t decided how much time I’ll spend in Adelaide, but I’m thinking about 5 days.  I was considering coming back to Tasmania (I love it here!), but I think instead I’ll fly straight to Sydney.

This part isn’t confirmed, but I think I’ll spend a few days in Sydney, soaking up the last of my time in Australia, then head to South East Asia.  I can’t find a direct flight to Bangkok, so I’ll fly to either Singapore or Kuala Lumpur, spend a couple days there then move on to Thailand. I expect I’ll spend 2-3 weeks there, then move on to Europe in the beginning of May.  I’m thinking of hitting Italy up for a week, then spending a couple weeks in Malta, before meeting my friend Zoe in Greece for the Victoria Day weekend. We shall see!

Bruny Island

Today was one of the day trips I was most excited for – a wildlife cruise around Bruny Island in Tasmania.  I booked with Pennicott Tours, which is the number 1 rated tour operator here.  It was going to be a great day!

The bus left around 8am from the waterfront in Hobart, and off we went.  We drove to Kettering, and then got on a 15 minute ferry which would bring us to Bruny Island.  We were able to go on the upper level of the ferry and appreciate the view, which was amazing.

There happened to be an empty parking stop at The Neck, which is the most photographed site in Tasmania! It’s a small bit of land connecting north and south Bruny Island.  Of course we had to climb about 300 steps to get the fantastic views, but it was so worth it.

And then we made our way to Adventure Bay for our 3 hour cruise.  We got to get up close and personal with massive limestone and granite cliffs, see sea cliffs and blowholes, and sail on the Indian Ocean.

Wildlife wise, we got to see (and smell and hear) seals hanging out, and we even saw some albatross flying around. This boat was much less crowded than the one in Dunedin, making the view even more spectacular.

It was actually Australia Day today, so when we arrived back in Hobart this evening I wandered around to see what celebrations were happening.  The only thing I could find was a concert in a town park, but that was packed, so I believe it was the only Australia Day related event in the city.

Hobart & Upcoming Plans

First impressions – I love Tasmania, as I expected I would.  It reminds me very much of New Zealand, but with slightly bigger cities.  I’m so excited to spend a bit more time here.

I flew from Melbourne to Hobart, which is where I’m basing myself for the next 4 days.  There’s a lot of things I want to do here, and not much time, so I’ve really packed these days in.  I’m very seriously considering another week here later on, so we’ll see how those plans proceed.

I got to my hostel at 1 pm, and caught a bus at 1:30 to take me to the top of Mount Wellington.  At 1,200 feet above sea level, it’s not the highest mountain in Hobart, but it does provide the best views of the city and surrounding countryside.

We got back to the city around 3:30, and I thought I’d see what the hours were for the Museum of New and Old Art (MONA).  Everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) I spoke to who had been to Tasmania said I had to go to MONA.  You either love it or you hate it, but regardless of your feelings it’s definitely an experience.  I lucked out, and was able to grab the 3:30 ferry there and the last one back at 6. I really wasn’t sure what to expect – and I knew there was a ferry component but I hadn’t realized you had to take it to get to the museum.

I loved it, but I can totally see why some people wouldn’t, and why they may find certain displays offensive even.  It’s a huge space, 3 massive floors that are divided into lots of little display areas and maze like corners.  I started taking pictures, but realized my pictures wouldn’t tell the story of what this place is really like.   You’ll just have to go yourself if you ever find yourself in Hobart.

Here’s the boat ride up (the most comfortable seats you’ll ever find on a boat!):

Here’s just a few of the exhibitions I favoured, as well as a bit of the grounds outside. I tend to be drawn to the more illusionary pieces, but there were all kinds of stuff (including machines you feed which then poo.  It’s a weird and wonderful place).

When we got back to Hobart, I treated myself to dinner (it’s my 1 month travelling anniversary), and settled into the hostel to figure out my next plans.

This is all very tentative still, but here’s what I’m figuring for March onwards (when I’m back from New Zealand):

3 weeks in Queensland
1 week in Darwin/the outback
1 week in Adelaide & Kangaroo Island
1 week in Tasmania

That brings me to the second week in April, which I think may be my departure time.  I was originally going to try and fit in a week to Fiji, but I think it’s over my budget, so instead I think I’ll come back to Tassy and do a 5 day tour around Tasmania.

After Tasmania, I’ll do a few days in Sydney, then move on to South-East Asia for 2 weeks.  Before I left everyone told me how wonderful Thailand is, and that’s all I’ve heard from the people I’ve met here, so I think I need to give it a try.

From there I’ll move on to 3 weeks in Europe alone, before meeting Zoe in Greece over the May long weekend, and Ashley in Austria at the beginning of June.  By June 10 I’ll be in London with Ashley for a few weeks, before returning home around the 23rd.

Nothing has been booked, and I’ve been constantly rearranging my plans every second day, so this has potential to change.  But I’m feeling pretty positive about it right now. Time will tell!