Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Our great adventure - the week in Tasmania

We just returned from our latest adventure, a 17 day trip to Tasmania, Melbourne, Adelaide and Kangaroo Island. James put in many hours of planning in preparation and, although I teased him a lot about his spread sheet, he did an amazing job. We packed in so many different sights, tastes and experiences into our trip. I wrote this blogs tonight on the plane from Adelaide to Brisbane so that my memories wouldn’t be too distant. I’m really wishing I had an iPhone and could have done a quick daily blog and update! I’ll start you at the beginning… For now I’ll post about Tasmania, and I’ll upload the others tomorrow. I hope you enjoy reading about our adventures…

Our first destination was Tasmania, that little island down South that not many young Brit travellers seem to visit on their Oz experiences. Well, if you’ve been to Australia, or live here, and haven’t been to the Tassie state – you are missing out!

I was a bit dubious about a week in a campervan… I’m not usually naturally inclined to camping style endeavours (which reminds me – I must do a reflective blog on camping at Rainbow Beach with my cousins a few weeks ago…) Anyway, as it turned out, I LOVED our campervan! It was so fun touring around in it, it was cosy and it meant you get to carry your clothes around with you all the time, a plus if you are a fan of the last minute outfit change. I’m going to break these next few blogs up into days, starting with day 2…

Day 2
Our first full day was spent in Hobart taking in the views from Mt Wellington, sampling the beers at Cascade Brewery and eating lunch in Salamanca. In the afternoon we parked our camper up at the campsite handily positioned across from MONA (The Museum of New and Old Art). Hobart has been listed as one of the top 10 cities in the world to visit by Lonely Planet and MONA is a big part of that award. It’s adjoining to Moorilla Winery, which is a brilliant idea! Why not get a little bit tipsy before going to an art gallery?! So commenced the first tasting of many for James and me over the next few weeks… It was at Moorilla that we came up with our genius system for deciding on what wines to buy. We get the tasting list and make a ‘M’ column and a ‘J’ column, if I like the wine I put a tick, if I don’t then a cross is given. Same goes for James and if we have two ticks on a bottle we have to buy it! Clever hey? After we purchased the wines we like and arranged to post it back to Queensland (I can’t remember how many, too many wineries ago – we’ll see what awaits us at home!) we ventured into MONA.

MONA is often described as ‘confronting’ and I can now understand why. None of the art work is labelled or explained on the wall like usual practice at a gallery, instead we were given iPhone type devices where if you see something you want explaining then you search for what is in close range on your ‘iPhone’ and it tells you about it. One of the pieces of art that I looked up was a dummy of a body curled up in the foetal position facing the wall. I can’t remember the artist but it had been made to show what the artist felt upon visiting MONA. Essentially, he said that often art is something that is used to show what is possible, what is beautiful and what we dream of – but MONA does the opposite, it takes us into our nightmares and forces us to confront what makes us uncomfortable. For me this sums up a lot of the art at MONA, interesting but not beautiful.  If you go to Hobart you have to visit MONA, without a doubt, but makes sure you go to Moorilla for some wine first! 

At the top of Mt Wellington

Samples at Cascade Brewery

Day 3
The next day we visited Port Arthur to see the convict site. We took a day tour around the ruins and the existing buildings and learned all about the history of the penal prison and a bit about some of the prisoners and civilians living there. It was a fascinating day and we finished it off with a ghost tour in the evening which was a bit of fun but no supernatural sightings!

Isle of the Dead at Port Arthur

Day 4
After an early start we arrived at Freycinet National Park and set off on the 5 hour hike to Wineglass Bay and Hazards Beach. Even though the water was really cold at Wineglass Bay James still plunged in for a swim, he didn't last long. It was stunning but Hazards Beach totally took my breath away. As soon as we emerged from the clearing and stepped out onto the white sand I knew it was the most beautiful place I had ever been to. As it’s in a bay the water is really still and you can’t see any form of civilisation. It’s hard to describe how serene it was, I just loved it.

Wineglass Bay lookout

Hazards Beach

Day 5
If you have read my blog recently you will know that James now thinks himself a bit of a fisherman. After Freycinet we hooned up the coast to St Helens which is known for its fishing, so this was the day that we decided to go out on a boat and see if James could finally catch something.

We met Captain Lionel and his deckhand Wade (who reeked) at the jetty early in the morning and set off on the ‘Keen Angler’. Our first stop was a bit of reef fishing where we dropped our lines down to the reef floor, 65 metres down. As I am used to my light weight pink LadyFish rod, I had to have a reel belt on, mind you so did James – the pictures are pretty funny. As soon as we dropped our rods down the fish were nibbling and we were reeling in! We caught a fair few Gary Gurnets (not what you want to catch – little pests), some Cod and a few Morwong. The big catch of this part was James’ Striped Trumpeter, Lionel and Wade were very impressed with that big bad boy! Turns out he CAN fish!

After a quick change of location, and a cup of tea and a mince pie, we dropped our lines 80 metres to find some tasty Flat Head. James steamed ahead which several fish but I was starting to get sore arms and could feel the sea sickness creep in… I persevered and caught my own Flat Head and a baby shark (we put him back). But after Capt. Lionel made me touch the shark’s skin, and Wade stood close (he had been filleting our fish and now smelt even worse), I began to think the mince pie was a mistake. I bowed out and tried to concentrate on the land and not being sick overboard. James, however, went from strength to strength catching more Flatties and a freaking Gummy Shark – but Wade dropped the Shark and he swam off. James was very disappointed. Then something strange happened, all the birds that had been sat on the sea around the boat flew off. Capt. Lionel and Wade sprung into action – a Mako Shark was circling! Out came the heavy duty reel and rod and a spear! Capt. Lionel tempted the Mako with the bait and hooked him and passed the rod over to James to reel in. I momentarily forgot my desire to vomit and watched as the dark object moved closer to the surface, but then he spat out the hook and swam off… No Mako for dinner.
Once we were safely back on land we headed inland towards Cradle Mountain and parked up in Mole Creek for the night. James cooked up some of the fresh Flat Head and oh my god it was so yummy.

After Capt. Lionel made me touch the Shark

James and his Striped Trumpeter

My Flat Head

The Flat Head tastes sooo good

Day 6
We set off on another National Park hike, this time around Cradle Mountain’s Dove Lake. It was yet another perfect day but I did learn the valuable lesson of why you don’t take your backpack into public toilets – the floor isn’t usually clean L However after ½ a litre of mineral water the problem was almost solved, it could have been worse – like if Wade had been in close proximity again…

That night we stayed in a place called Deloraine where the campsite was situated near a river. Now James has a history of attracting Ducks (see the Montville blog). Shortly after arriving I was on my way to the bathrooms when I notices a group of Ducks hanging out down stream, I thought to myself I bet they are with James when I return. And when I got back, there he was sat in the centre of his friends the Ducks.

Dove Lake with Cradle Mountain behind

The Campervan!!!

James 'the Duck whisperer' Rumbles chilling with his boys

Day 7
For our final day in Tasmania we visited a few of the Tamar Valley Wineries. Kicking of the tasting at 10am we popped along to 9th Island where our cellar door man wasn’t all that friendly. I saw him eyeing up our ticks and crosses so I explained our tried and tested buying method, James also mentioned that we both like a sparkling wine. Then a sparkle appeared in Adnam’s eye and he produced a few more sparking varieties, correctly anticipating more double ticks. Fresh from our fishing trip a few days before, we mentioned the Mako incident and suddenly Adnam was our best friend! A keen fisherman himself, he warmed up and showed us some YouTube videos of Mako’s jumping – they jump! Into boats! What was Capt. Lionel thinking?! We are lucky to be alive, I swear!

Next up, we went to Velo – which is owned by a former Tour de France winner and his wife. We purchased a few more bottles from this charming and modern winery.  Then it was time to bid farewell to our campervan and head into Launceston. Turns out there isn’t that much to do there… we visited the James Boags Brewery for a drink, and took the chairlift over the gorge and walked around a lot... if you’re heading to Tassie I wouldn’t bother taking a trip to Launceston but everywhere else was really amazing, one of the best holidays that I have taken – who knew campervan’s are so great! 

11am tasting at 9th Island Winery

Next up, Melbourne - to be continued...

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