To celebrate our 12th anniversary we decided to get away for a long weekend to Tasmania or as the locals call it “Tazzy”. The options to get to Tasmania are either 12 hours by ferry or a 1 hour flight. We chose the hour flight so we would have more time to explore Australia’s island state.
After the short flight, we landed in Tasmania and headed to the car rental counter for our next adventure of driving on the left side of the roads.
While checking out the car, we were asked if wanted extra insurance just in case we “dinged a wallaby”. We couldn’t help but smile and laugh at the wallaby warning, it was clear we were in uncharted territory.
Since the extra insurance would have more than doubled the cost of the car; we decided to skip the insurance and mitigate our risk by having one person driving and one on a wallaby watch at all times.
It was a short and wallaby free ride to downtown Launceston and our hotel. After checking in, we had a quick dinner and turned in early as we had to get an early start the next day.
For our first day in Tasmania, we walked down to a farmers market where we had a deliciously fresh breakfast and then headed over to the main city park to see the exhibit of Japanese macaque monkeys.
We sipped our coffee and watched the macaques as some ran about and others stood by tranquilly grooming each other.
Next we decide to walk along the water front and check out the Cataract Gorge.
We strolled along the Tamar River and crossed over the wrought iron Kings Bridge and headed up the wilder tributary river, the South Esk.
As we walked along the path, the river narrowed considerably and the cliffs rose dramatically along side the path. Soon the easy-flowing river changed to a series of rock-filled rapids and the cliff walls seemed to close in around us even more. After a few more minutes along the trail, the natural walls spread apart revealing a wide basin that had a beautiful park spread out below us. As we strolled down into the basin, we passed a restaurant with peacocks strutting about and a chair lift stringing along the top of the basin.
We decided to try out the chair lift and headed up to the access point. Along our way we spotted our first wild wallabies!
Experiencing wallabies and peacocks hopping and strutting about and all in one place was definitely an unusual experience!
We jumped on the chair lift and were pulled across the gorge along what is supposedly the longest span chair lift in the world.
After we made it to the other side we hiked back across the gorge, crossing a pedestrian suspension bridge and then headed out of the gorge. We decided to have lunch at a place that had been recommended by our hotel called Penny Royal. Our first view of the area was beautiful waterfall, but then we caught a glimpse of the zip line and the pirate ship and we realized we had been led to a tourist trap. The cafe in the middle did look nice so we decided to go in and give it a try.
While we enjoyed our oysters and a panini, we got to watch while the pirates ship “sailed” around (it was motoring on tracks in the swimming pool sized pond) and fired its canons. They then stopped at an “island” and did a ghost tour. While cheesy it kept us thoroughly entertained as we ate lunch.
We made our way back to our car and set out for the Bay of Fires.
Along the way we experienced driving on the left side of the road and enjoyed the miles and miles of rolling hills dotted with sheep.
Our goal was to make it to the Bay of Fires in time to see the sunset. We timed it perfectly and arrived with about 30 minutes of sun to spare and enjoyed wandering along the beaches and the quiet beauty of the waves, rocks and fine white sand.
Tonight we are staying at the Edge of the Bay resort near the Freycinet National Park. We pulled up in the dark and found that our cabin was freezing cold, so we turned on the heaters and electric blankets to warm the cabin up and headed out to dinner, hoping that the cabin would be warm by the time we returned.
We enjoyed our dinner featuring wallaby empanadas and then headed back to the cabin. Before turning in we stopped to gaze at the stars as it was a clear night and we were far enough away from any lights that we could see countless stars spread out above us.
It was a bit warmer in the cabin and as we settled in for the evening, we noticed a sound coming from the bathroom ceiling. After exploring the outside and inside of the cabin we realized that we had a possum in our ceiling, enjoying the warmth we were creating.
We crawled into bed, enjoying the warmth of the electric blankets and the scratching of our friendly neighborhood possum.
The next morning we drove into the town of Coles Bay for a quick breakfast and grabbed lunch to eat on the trail – today’s plan was to hike up Mt.Amos.
We passed along the winding roads of Freycinet National Park until the road ended. After parking the car and strapping on our backpack, we set off.
The first 1/4 mile was a easy hike, but then the trail steepened and we were soon scrambling up rocks on all fours. While Mt Amos isn’t too high, it is straight up and very steep!
After about 1.5 hours of climbing we summited and were rewarded with great views of Wine Glass Bay, Coles Bay and the rest of the Hazard Mountains. We enjoyed our lunch at the top and spectacular view of all of Freycinet National Park spread out below us.
After a scenic picnic lunch, we started our descent. After another hour of scambling and sliding down the steep and often slick rock, we made it to the car and headed back to our cabin.
Since the sun was still up when we got back, we grabbed a bottle of wine and went for a stroll along the beaches and watched the sun set over the mountains we had just climbed.
We decided to use the outside open flame grill to cook our meal at the cabin and as we sat down to enjoy our freshly grilled dinner inside, we heard a clamoring outside. We peered out the window and saw our possum had come out of our attic and was on top of the grill, licking the surface where we had recently cooked our dinner. We welcomed our dinner companion and finished off the night with a delicious meal.
The next day was a long drive to Hobart. More rolling hills filled with sheep, orchards, vineyards and stunning sea views around every turn.
We arrived in Hobart in time for lunch, which was fresh fish and chips from one of the several floating restaurants around the harbor (instead of food trucks, Hobart has food boats!)
Next was a ferry ride to MONA – Hobart’s rather unique Museum of Old and New Art. We walked around the museum not really understanding much of the art exhibits and then headed straight to the outdoor exhibit that was a trampoline. We enjoyed the setting sun, bouncing on the trampoline, sipping our wine and thinking that maybe art museums weren’t so bad after all.
The next day we ambled around the historic Salamanca market in Hobart, enjoyed a delicious brunch at a place called Jackman & McRoss, which was a fantastic bakery that served some of the best food we’ve had in Australia.
After lunch, we hopped in the car for the drive back to Launceston.
Along the way back, we stopped by the Bonorong Wildlife sanctuary with hopes of seeing some Tasmanian Devils. And we saw lots of them!
There were numerous exhibits of the Tasmanian Devils and we watched them scurry about and even got to see them get fed. We also saw koalas, numerous colorful birds and dozens of kangaroos. The best part was that we were allowed to walk through the enclosure with the kangaroos and feed them. The kangaroos would hop right up to us looking for food. As we held out a hand full of food the kangaroos would grab our hands and eat all the food and then beg for more or for a good scratching on their chest. It was amazing to be walking through the field amongst dozens of kangaroos with no barriers to separate us.
The kangaroos were all around us; begging food, lazing about and nursing their young – most would allow us to walk right up and pet them and hop away when they found we were out of food. Being so close to the kangaroos was definitely the highlight of the trip!
We finally forced ourselves to leave the kangaroos and head on to Launceston.
We arrived at our hotel after a couple hours’ drive, re-packed our bags and got ready for the flight home early the next morning. It was a great trip and a much needed break from the stress of work and finding our way in our new home of Australia.