The Island at the Edge of the World
FIRST STOP is Tasmania, an island that lies 240 miles south of mainland Australia. In 1642 the Dutch explorer, Abel Tasman, sailed along the western coast and named the area Van Diemen's Land, after his commander. In honor of Tasman, the name was changed to Tasmania in 1856.
After spending a couple days in the capital of Hobart, we traveled north to Launceston, stopping at many interesting and unusual places along the way. Our first introduction to Australia was a success! From Bundaberg Ginger Beer and meat and veggie pies to Tasmanian Devils and convicts.
Described by DiscoverTasmania, Hobart's Museum of Old and New Art, MONA, is Australia's largest private museum and one of the most controversial private collections of modern art and antiquities in the world. Yes, there are some very controversial art exhibits, as you can see in the pictures. It is described by its founder David Walsh, as a "subversive adult Disneyland." I found it fascinating and didn't get to stay long enough to visit all the exhibits. Enjoy some of my photos and check out the website - MONA
Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary
Bonorong is a rescue and rehabilitation sanctuary just outside Hobart. The animals here include wombats, devils, quolls, native birds, koalas, echidnas, lizards, snakes, and emus. Volunteers throughout Tassie are on call 24/7 to help animals that have been injured or orphaned.
We experienced wombats and devils up close (well not too close to the devils as they can jump), and wandered among the kangaroos and wallabies, feeding them as we walked. We learned that the Tasmanian Devil is now a vulnerable species due to "devil facial tumor disease (DFTD)", a rare contagious cancer that causes large lumps to form around the animal's mouth and head. Unable to eat, they starve to death. No cure has been discovered, but steps have been taken to segregate healthy populations.
I always carry my Santa hat to make a Christmas card. My choice for 2018
Port Arthur was once known as the "inescapable prison," housing hardened criminals who had re-offended since being in Australia or "rebellious" convicts from other prisons. Prisoners did attempt to escape, including one disguised as a kangaroo, but he was one of the failures.
The Port Arthur Massacre
took place over 2 days in April 1996, when a lone gunman went on a killing spree in and around the area. It left 35 people dead and 18 wounded. Less than a month later, the Australian government created extensive licensing and registration procedures and banned certain firearms.
Along the Road in Tassie
There's a lot to see in Tasmania. The Tessellated Pavement is unbelievable. At Railton, imaginative topiaries grow in the yards of the townspeople. Drive through the town of "Doos" and then continue on to Sheffield, the "mural" town, and catch a game of lawn bowling. Don't forget to wander through Entally House, a historic home built in 1819. You might even meet a couple of interesting characters along the way.
I've read how the sand continually washing in over the rock causes the erosion, but I still find it hard to understand how it makes almost perfect lines and blocks. It was amazing to gaze down upon the patterns. Isn't nature amazing?
Railton - the Town of Topiary
More than 100 imaginative topiaries line the main street
If you live in Doo Town, you could live in a house named Doo Wah Ditty, or how about Doodle Doo. If you like music, there's Love Me Doo and maybe Doo Wop. About 40 homes have a "Doo" name. What would you name your home? Doo Drop Inn and visit.
Sheffield, The Mural Town, has been using murals painted on the side of buildings to attract tourists. The many murals reflect the history and culture of Tasmania.
The Tasmanian Tiger - is he extinct or just very elusive? There's still a debate going on, although one hasn't been seen since 1936 when the last known one died in captivity.
The Sheffield Bowls Club takes their bowling seriously
Entally House, complete with a fancy bathtub
A walk in the rain in Ross while heading to a nice local wool shop where I bought a pair of warm socks and a purple wool "cloche."
All sorts of interesting sights in Campbell Town including the Red Bridge. The bricks and bridge were built in 1838 by convict labor. The Convict Trail of red bricks commemorates the men, women, and children who were sent to Australia between 1788 and 1868.
Cradle Mountain - Lake St Clair National Park
This beautiful wilderness area lies in the center of Tasmania. At 5,069 ft, the weather can be iffy. We arrived in the cold and sleet, but that didn't stop us from taking a walk around the lodge. The wallabies and wombats roamed freely as we hiked along a trail to a waterfall. On the night drive, there were more wallabies, wombats, possums, and even the blurr of a spotted quoll racing down the road.
The lodge was warm and inviting and the meal delicious. Sadly, the next day was rainy as well, but some of us hiked along a trail by the lake.
Gustav Weindorfer was an Austrian who moved to Australia in 1900. He was a mountaineer, amateur botanist, and naturalist and fell in love with the Cradle Mountain wilderness area. Gustav was determined to make the area a national park, remarking "this must be a national park for the people for all time. It is magnificent, and people must know about it and enjoy it.’
’When the ground is all covered with snow,
I do build a big fire, open my door,
seat myself very, very quietly in front
of the blazing logs, and presently
they come in one by one, the wild animals
without their usual fear of man, or one another,and share with me in stillness,
the grateful warmth”
Gustav Weindorfer (1918)
Reflecting these words of Weindorfer,
a mural in Sheffield
Gustav built his home from the ancient King William (King Billy) pines of the area and named it Waldheim, or "forest home." He lived there with his wife, Kate, from 1912 until her death in 1916. His dream for the area became reality when, in 1922, 158,000 acres were proclaimed a Scenic Reserve and Wildlife Sanctuary. He died of a heart attack in 1922 at Waldheim while trying to kick-start his motorcycle. His body was discovered several days later and buried in Cradle Valley.
Waldheim deteriorated over the years but was reconstructed in 1976 using much of the original materials, doors, ceiling, and floors.
The original Waldheim, circa 1920
Archives of Tasmania
I am so glad that I got to visit Tassie. It was so full of interesting places! Anyone planning a trip down under needs to include Tasmania.