I’m excited to share Part II of Steph’s blog in TASMANIA! Isn’t she an amazing writer?!
[Click on any pic to enlarge & flip through frame by frame]
We are now in an Indian Restaurant in Hobart, Tasmania. We arrived last night and planned on leaving this morning for the wilderness after a quick stroll around the city. From the second we went over the bridge heading into the city we were captivated. It was so unexpectedly beautiful and cool. We were staying at The Jones Art Hotel. It was a renovated Jam factory on the wharf. So, so, cool. Lots of displays of very contemporary art. Great architecture and really awesome rooms. We left the hotel and went to a restaurant that specializes in local cuisine. Tasmania is known for it’s small farms that produce everything from wine, beer, whiskey, cheeses, vegetables and fruit. It is also the largest grower of poppies for medicine. The economy is thriving and the younger generation were staying and were able to succeed so their contributions make the stores, restaurants, and culture very hip. We got up this morning with the intention of spending a few hours at the MONA. Museum of Old and New Art. It is a private museum collection of David Walsh. He is a mathematical savant that made all of his money gambling. The museum cost seventy million. We took a special MONA catamaran to the museum complex. The building itself was so impressive. It was 99 stairs to the entrance and than you descended either down 99 stairs the beginning of the collection or you could take a round tubular elevator. He wanted the feeling to be a bit like Alice going down the rabbit hole. How appropriate since the current show was called The Red Queen. When you entered the beginning of the exhibit you are surround by the bare stone walls that were cut away to make the building. We were given ipods and headphones. You started the tour on them and as you moved around it would continually update with your current location and near by art work. You select the piece you are interested in and you get basic information. There were tabs that would give you more information, like reviews, or music or conversations. At any point you could tab love or hate and a comment or number would appear. Rumor had it that if there are too many Loves, David pulls the piece. That I pod and the building were a value added. What was beyond description was the collection itself. There were the most diverse, interesting, compelling artwork imaginable. Matt and Lindsay and I were completely overwhelmed and impressed by the collection and breadth. Nothing like we had ever seen. We are still talking about individual pieces. We may even go back tomorrow. We could spend days there. Just google it. After the museum Lindsay and I went and explored the town and Matt and I went to a free Jazz concert. What an amazing city. Matt and Lindsay wished they would of considered coming here for their work.
I just love saying I am in Tasmania. How exotic. At least in my own mind it is. We went out to the Tasman Peninsula today. Tasmania was really started by British Convicts. They were sent from the Mother Land for anything from stealing a loaf of bread to murder. They needed labor here and that was a free way to get it built. Port Arthur on the Tasman Peninsula was where the Prison and compound was. They had a great museum. Glad we came, but we did not stay long, deciding on a hike instead. We had some time to kill before out private tour of the Boonorong Animal Sanctuary so we went back to MONA. I wanted to buy Dan a hat and we wanted to check out some of the exterior sculptures that we did not have time for. On our walk David Walsh, the owner walked right behind us. Of course, we were not sure until we got back to the car and googled him. We all wish we had said more than Hi to him. A little collection envy from all three of us.
We ﬁnished our day at the Sanctuary. The Marsupials are the most active at dusk. Our tour guides name was Nick. The ﬁrst place he took us to was the Kangaroo park. The rescued and housed about 100 Kangaroos. We had some grass pellets and they came right up to us and ate right out of our hands. All ages and sizes. Of course, the little ones were the cutest, but they were all amazing. As I turned around to leave one of them kept pushing back with their front legs. I had thought it was the kids gooﬁng around. Really funny. Next stop was a Wombat named Lucy. Ok, I am not sure which species would win the cutest Marsupial contest. Round, pudgy, snuggly, soft and oh so, so cute. They are super itchy, so we got to scratch her. She kept asking for more. Next stop was to see Kate, the Koala. We caught her awake and got to scratch, observe and photo her to death. I was embarrassed by how many I took. It’s not as if she did anything. Just sat there looking so cute. Than on to the Tasmania Devils. Not cute or cuddly. They are carnivores and we observed him eating a wallaby leg. They are on the endangered list, mostly because of a horrible mouth cancer that has reduced their wild population by 80 to 90 percent. There was a very good conservation program and they are optimistic about their future. We also saw some other Marsupials that I had never heard, Potoroos, and Batong. They were small like a gofer, but hopped like a Kangaroo. We got to see on of the young jump in the moms pouch, upside down. It was so funny because their legs and tail was just hanging in the air. They also had a few very talkative Cockateels, an Albino Possum and Sugar Gliders, a type of small ﬂying animals. I think those were Matt’s favorite. This sanctuary was amazing. It rescues about 5,000 animals a year. It trains anyone who is interested to check pouches of animals that were hit by cars. Sounds odd, but both Wombats were found in their mom’s pouch after she was hit.
This morning we started out early for the East Coast and the Bay of Fire. It is said that it is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. It is 29 KM long. How could we miss something with those kind of accolades. We were pretty good travelers so we thought we could make a pretty fair assessment. I hate to admit it but even as we pulled up and took our ﬁrst glance we were in awe. The sand was so white and ﬁne it looked like caster sugar. The water so clear and blue that it gave new meaning to the Crayola color Aquamarine. We hiked down the beach for about a mile and came to these huge climbing rocks. They form a kind of a Peninsula and link up to the next bay and beach. They were fun to climb on and maneuver ahead. There is also a slight coastal track that links all the bays and beaches. They offer three day hiking treks of the whole thing. Matt and Lindsay went for a swim but the most I would do is cross a Lagoon in knee deep water. It was coooooold. Tonight we are staying in Freycinet National Park. We should get there in time for dinner and another amazing sunset. Rough life.
We ﬁnally got to do a Kayak trip. The water was too rough everywhere else we went. We signed up for a half day that went around parts of Oyster Bay. They were doubles and my mate was a woman from San Francisco, visiting, on her way to Sydney for business. How funny. Our guide took us to an Oyster farm and we met a woman who owned the Freycinet Marine Farm for 28 years. A real passionate Oyster expert. We learned all about farming Oysters and other shellﬁsh and the trials and tribulations of the industry. She brought about a dozen Oysters for us to try and explained the differences. We just squeezed some lemons on them and slurp, slurp, slurp. After tasting one it is hard to think about eating ones that are not directly out of the water. We were on an estuary. I am not a big bird person, but I better mention some of our encounters, because they were amazing. The largest population of Black Swans live and breed here. They are big, and incredibly majestic. There were also Pelicans, Comrmorands and many more that I could not identify. When you hike you see Cockatoos, Parrots and some of the most colorful looking birds you could imagine.
Australia and Tasmania are a wildlife wonderful. I guess they all have an opportunity to thrive when you don’t have a lot of people to screw it all up. The afternoon was taken up with a magniﬁcent hike to the famous WineGlass Bay, but than we extended our hike and walked to Hazards Beach and around the mountains. There are tracks everywhere. Well marked. A directionaly challenged like myself couldn’t even get lost. We had some problems at our lodging, but all worked out in the end and as we speak we are on our way to Auckland. Farewell to Australia. I do not know if it will be a reality but I would love to come back. It is a very special place. And it was made all the more amazing by being able to enjoy it with Matt and Lindsay. Great travelers and friends.