After an extremely short flight of under an hour we arrived in Tasmania, at Hobart Airport. The first place we were staying in Tasmania was a small town called Sorell, about 20 minutes from the centre of the capital, Hobart. We were staying in Sorell Barracks, which was a converted barracks built in the late 1820s that British soldiers who were responsible for helping maintain the law and order of convicts and locals used. It was a really cute place like a little English cottage.
On our first morning we visited Mount Wellington early, although unlike us, we decided to drive to the top rather than climb. The top had some great panoramic views across the city.
After this we went into Hobart centre to catch the ferry to the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA). The ferry ride was about 20 minutes on a pretty strange jungle style boat, with tigers and monkeys on, and some music playing that sounded like it belonged in an ‘adult’ film. The museum brought more strangeness with a cave like building housing really unusual pieces of artwork. It was definitely different and we did quite enjoy wandering around. Unfortunately, as the day went on Lauren became more and more ill, coming down with a bad case of the flu so unfortunately we headed back for an early evening.
The next day we travelled to Port Arthur. Port Arthur is a 19th century penal colony established in Tasmania, where many convicts from England were sent, many for very petty crimes such as stealing 50 yards of silk and 50 handkerchiefs (in this instance the boy was only 15 years old). Their youngest convict was only nine years old.
The prison was considered inescapable surrounded in bushland and water but many did try. The most notable was a man who disguised himself as a kangaroo, covering himself in the skin of a kangaroo he had killed, and even hopped away when he thought he’d been spotted out in the bush. However, the thing he failed to consider was that guards shot kangaroos to eat them, so ultimately he was shot. He didn’t die from this and after giving himself up he was taken back to the prison with 150 lashes as his punishment.
Port Arthur was a vast area with lots of interesting history and areas to wander around. Unfortunately, there has been two big bush fires over the years and some of the buildings have been destroyed and others damaged. The ticket included a really interesting guided tour and cruise around the area. We were glad we visited.
This was a place that we were told about by the owners of Sorrel Barracks described as, “nothing that you will see anywhere else”. They were right, the Tesselated Pavement is an extremely rare natural formation only being found a few places on Earth.
The Tessellated Pavement is a unique geological formation made up of a relatively flat rock surface that has been naturally subdivided into, more or less, regular rectangle blocks. These rocks have been fractured by the movement of the earth and have been eroded by the waves and sediment of the Tasman Sea. The result is what looks to be a man made structure but that is completely natural.
The most well known example of a tassellated pavement is the one we visited, found at Eaglehawk Neck on the shore of Pirates Bay found on the Tasman Paninsula.
Driving from Hobart to Launceston (stopping in Ross)
We were really lucky to have Daniel’s step sister Carly and her partner, John, living in Launceston, to stay with. We made the now ‘short’ drive to us (a mere 201km) up from Hobart after spending the morning seeing more of the city.
We made a short stop in a historic village called Ross, where we had some lunch and stretched our legs.
Our stay with Carly and John
We arrived in Launceston late afternoon and were met by Carly and John, who drove us back to their house. It was great to see them and to meet lots of their animals back at their place. They have dogs, chickens, goats, cats, ferrets and then visiting black cockatoos, possums and pademelons, which are small wallabies, plus the occasional other animal – you just never know in Australia!
We spent the next few days at the house as Lauren was feeling under the weather and needed some recovery time. So we relaxed watched a bit of TV and caught up with Carly as it had been around three years since we last saw her. During the day, we had a proper look around the property, met the goats – Albert and Arthur, saw one of the two cats as Wuan was very nervous around new people, and saw loads of chickens. It was really fun exploring the land around their house as it felt like proper Australian bush – just awesome!
We were also taken off road around their property, which was 20 acres, in the ute (a 4×4 truck), which was a very bouncy ride ploughing over and through trees, bushes and even rocks. We couldn’t believe what the car could handle and how high up we reached. It was like driving up a steep forest. Daniel also had a go driving the ute, which he very much enjoyed!
Bridestowe Lavender Estate
The next day, Carly suggested that we visit the Bridestowe Lavender Estate, this was somewhere that we had heard about and read that it was very picturesque. It didn’t take long for us to arrive and we weren’t disappointed with the views across the vast lavender fields. The only problem we encountered was that we were not alone and that the fields are now a very popular tourist destination in Tasmania. We had fun wandering amongst the lavender. Interestingly the smell of lavender wasn’t as overpowering as you might expect from being surrounded by it and you were able to purchase pretty much anything related to lavender from the estates shop.
Cataract Gorge was right near the centre of Launceston and a beautiful place to visit. However, we instantly noticed a giant Buddha like inflatable in the middle of the Gorge when we arrived, which kind of spoilt the natural setting. From the suspension bridge and walking area the statue was also facing the other way, which meant you just had a view of his backside the whole time. Apparently it was there as part of a festival around the city and linked to meditation – we weren’t very impressed to say the least.
They also had the ‘worlds longest single chairlift span’, which with a title like that we just had to go on…
Fairy Penguins at Low Head
Something we were very excited about was seeing Little Penguins, also known as Fairy Penguins. They are known by this name because even when fully grown they weigh only 1kg and grow up to 30cm high. We waited for sunset and to see them swimming up from the sea after a day of fishing and then making their way across the beach. We weren’t sure how close the penguins would come but were so happy that they waddled past us a few times really close. We also saw them coming up to the rookery area to feed their chicks, which was amazing to see. It was very difficult to not sneak one (or a family) home with us – they were just so cute!
We hired a car to make the drive to one of, if not the most popular spot in Tasmania, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. We parked up and got the shuttle bus to Ronny Creek in the hope of seeing a wombat…and we did! It was right by the boardwalk and was just munching happily on the grass by the side. We were very happy to have seen one of these cute and fluffy creatures!
We carried on our walk to Dove Lake, which is the most iconic part of the National Park and where you can see Cradle Mountain.
Surprisingly, we saw thunder and lightning and it began to rain. So, we took cover in the interpretation centre for a while and took on some of the smaller walks. Then we went back to Dove Lake a little later when it was sunnier and enjoyed spending a bit more time there admiring the view.
We loved our time in Tasmania and all the things we did. It was a beautiful place with wonderful scenery and did remind us of England. Unfortunately, Lauren’s illness affected our trip a little in terms of things we did but we still managed to see lots and have a great time.
We absolutely loved staying with Carly and John and getting to know them better and hearing lots of John’s stories. It was also great for us to be living with all the animals especially the dogs, Betty and Judy, and we thoroughly enjoyed the evenings where lots of pademelons would come to the house to be fed carrots and apples – a wonderful experience. We felt sad when it was time to leave.
Daniel’s favourite thing – Spending time with Carly, John and all of their animals
Lauren’s favourite thing – Staying with Carly and John and seeing all the fairy penguins coming up from the sea along the beach
So that’s it for Tasmania and now to back to the mainland and to Melbourne…