a year on -> recap [australia #14]

this time last year we were in australia. well, we had just arrived and the whole adventure was still ahead of us. and when i say adventure, i really mean it.

so, this is where i end my australian trip, even though it is not where it actually ends. after visiting hobart, we flew back to melbourne, where we would spend a couple of days. we hang out with some of our friends and finally did some shopping (on boxing day, of course!).

then we headed back to sydney. the weather was truly amazing then, so we finally decided to visit one of sydney’s famous beaches – manly beach. the waves were really strong, but we decided to go with the flow – we always wanted to get destroyed by the waves, but never had a chance!

we visited blue mountains, which were very disappointing – for the amount of people encountered there. we really didn’t expect them to be so touristy. of course, we visited the famous three sisters, but we decided not to stay there too long. sydney was far more interesting; especially since we had discovered some new neighborhoods, such as paddington, surry hils and darlington.

and then, there was the new year’s eve – which we spent in sydney harbor, watching the unforgettable fireworks. and i really mean that.

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so, why aren’t i writing separate posts about these events? the reason is simple: i have no photos. the photos from hobart are the last ones we transferred to external disc, before heading to cairns -> and in cairns, only 4 days after the incredible new year’s celebration, our camera (and so many other valuable things) with the remaining photos, got stolen.

so, a year after -> what can i say about our trip to australia. as i already said, it was an adventure. we didn’t stop talking about it. even about the last week, when our most valuable items were stolen, and the return trip back home (without passports!).

while solving these problems, i learned several valuable lessons:

  1. do not tell people more than what’s absolutely necessary – you might confuse them, which can create further problems;
  2. go one step at a time – if you try to think too much ahead, you’ll go crazy;
  3. it is nice to travel in a group (well, we were in a couple, but it still helps) – everyone has its own problem-solving method, and that is very useful in this kind of situations.

i hope to go back to aussie. it is one of the most beautiful countries i visited so far, and every time i think about it i feel extremely emotional. i know i will continue to compare all of my further trips to this very special one.

charming hobart [australia #13]

our trip to tasmania was focused on its wilderness, about which i’ve written in previous posts (fraycinet, bay of fires and cradle mountain); however, we had to stop by hobart, tasmania’s charming capital.

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hobart is australia’s second settlement (sydney being the first), it was founded in 1804 as a penal colony. ties between these two cities remain strong until today – one of australia’s most important events is sydney to harbor yacht race – starting in sydney, in its spectacular harbor, on 26th december.

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hobart was founded on the waterfront, just like its “big sister”, sydney. its most important site is still the harbor, which is composed of  two docks – victoria dock & constitution dock. constitution dock serves as the arrival point of the yacht race.

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when in hobart, one must visit salamanca place, the site of a pulsating sunday-morning market, as we were told. unfortunately, we were staying in hobart for a very short while,  but even without that, we found the old stone warehouses atmospheric and appealing. there you may find a lively arts centre as well as the usual selection of galleries, bars and cafés.

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what i loved about hobart were its warehouses (we were staying in a hotel which used to be a warehouse), galleries, colonial architecture, and of course, the most amazing oysters (and seafood in general).

the following pictures show only a tiny fraction of many hobart’s beauties.

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we were told that the view of hobart is the best from mount wellington, but we never got to it. we had to leave something for the next time :)

cradle mountain [australia #12]

the first sight of cradle mountain, emerging up across the dove lake, is often compared to the first sight of sydney opera house. it was definitely one of those magical travel moments -> i remember seeing its picture, but i was still blown away by the real thing.

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the cradle mountain, a part of the unesco heritage site tasmanian wilderness, undoubtedly offers numerous walking tracks, the most beautiful ones in tasmania (and some would say even the world!). it is a starting point of the overland track, australia’s most famous hiking trail, a 65km & six-day traverse of tasmania’s central plateau, through the heart of the cradle mountain – lake st clair national park.

when planning our trip, we could spare only a week for tasmania altogether (meaning: fraycinet & bay of fires, cradle mountain and hobart were to be covered in a week), so it was impossible to squeeze in the overland track into our jam-packed schedule. instead, we opted for shorted walks, two of which were listed as 60 great short walks.

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since we arrived in the afternoon, we decided to go immediately for our first short walk, dove lake circuit, a 6km track around dove lake and beneath the peaks of cradle mountain. the dove lake circuit took us also through a magnificent cool temperate rainforest known as the ballroom forest.

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on the shores of dove lake stands the often-photographed boatshed, built by the first ranger at cradle mountain in 1940.

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the boatshed was also a starting point of our second hike, a bit longer and more difficult one – cradle mountain summit, which we planned for the following day.
it was a sunny day, but we were cautious, since the weather forecast was not quite the best -> it was supposed to rain in the afternoon.. but we still didn’t want to miss the chance to climb the cradle mountain.

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the start was quite easy, track was boardwalked for much of the way.. and there were a lot of people around. since aussies are very friendly people, we chatted away with a lot of them. one lady was so nice to offer to take picture of us. it is not maybe the best picture, but it’s the only one we have from cradle mountain.

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so, we went on.. all this while we admired the lovely scenery.
however, out road soon turned to be rocky. and i mean – really rocky!
fortunately it was a granite rock and it was not very slippery.. but still, i started feeling a bit uneasy.

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when we were 60-70m below its highest peak, i decided i can’t continue. it already started raining, the rock was getting a bit slippery and people were going crazy a bit.. and i was simply too scared to go on. i found a cosy spot and waited for tarik, who went all the way to the top.
he managed to find a nice fellow who took a picture of him, on the highest peak of the cradle mountain.

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after an hour or so, tarik returned and we started our descent. now it was raining really heavily and we started rushing back to our car. on the way there he was telling me his impressions from the summit and was completely mesmerized by cradle mountain. well, who wouldn’t be..

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once we arrived to the boatshed, the starting point of the hike, we hopped into a car and continued our trip. we  headed to hobart, where we would stay for two days. on the way there (it was quite a long drive) we talked a lot about what we saw while climbing the cradle mountain. i also started to regret my decision..

i hope i did the right thing (who knows, something could’ve happened to me), but somewhere deep down i hope to go back to cradle mountain.. the next time i will go all the way to the highest peak.

tasmanian wilderness, no.181 [australia #11]

tasmanian wilderness, australia’s largest conservation zone, satisfies all four natural criteria for world natural site. its rocks represent every geological period, the wide range of plants are unique to the area and it is home to some of the oldest trees and the longest caves in the world. one fifth of the island is designated as a unesco heritage site; it has been on the list since 1982.

the insularity of tasmania has contributed to the uniqueness of the region. tasmania was cut off from the mainland australia by the flooding of the bass strait more than 8000 years ago, causing isolation not only of the aboriginal inhabitants, but also of its flora and fauna.  the vegetation has as much in common with cool, temperate regions of south america and new zealand as with the rest of australia. in addition to climatic factors, the vegetation has developed in response to fire. the fauna is of world importance because it includes an unusually high proportion of endemic species, the most famous being the tasmanian devil (whom we didn’t get to see!)

tasmanian wilderness covers the area of the cradle mountain, lake st clair, franklin-gordon wild rivers national park and many more. on our week-long trip to tasmania, we managed to see the cradle mountain only.. nevertheless, we captured some examples of tasmanian wilderness..

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the next entry will focus on the cradle mountain only.. our ascent and some of the breathtaking views..

bay of fires [australia #10]

before leaving tasmania’s eastern coast, we had to make one more stop.

the bay of fires is a region of white beaches, blue water and orange-hued granite.
this unusual name was given to the area by captain tobias furneaux, in 1773, when he noticed numerous fires along the coast. this led him to believe that the country was densely populated, which wasn’t the case. and it still isn’t.

the bay of fires is situated in the northeastern tip of tasmania. since there are no cities in the area, you may enjoy its pristine beauty.

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i have never seen anything like it before.

freycinet national park [australia #9]

as soon as we landed in, we hopped into the car and started our road trip.

we drove in the north-east direction, towards the freycinet national park, which occupies most of the freycinet peninsula and looks out to the tasman sea. this national park is also home of one of the world’s most beautiful beach – wineglass bay, as well as dramatic pink granite peaks, secluded bays and rich wildlife.

while driving towards the freycinet peninsula, we were stopping quite often – sometimes it was simply to take pictures of a beautiful scenery, but also to have a lunch. fortunately, just like in the other parts of australia, there are lots of barbecue spots in tassie.. they are free to use and since the electricity switches off every 10 minutes or so, you don’t need to worry about forgetting to switch it off.. you only need to clean it up afterwards and, of course, to get your supplies – we opted for kangaroo steaks & salmon.. okay, we had some vegetables too..

finally, in the late afternoon we arrived to the freycinet national park. we got the camping spot, set up our tent & then went for a walk along the beach. even though it was quite windy, we stayed there for a long time. these sights were keeping us forget the cold.

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tomorrow morning we decided to go for one of 60 great short walks in tasmania, namely: wineglass bay and hazards beach circuit.

oh, but before starting our hike, we had to say hello to our little friend: the wallaby! it was one of many wallabies we encountered in tasmania, but the only one we took a picture of. they were usually too quick for us.

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and then we set off..

before getting to the wineglass beach itself, we discovered plenty of little bays, whose waters were even bluer in person and whose white sand was actually made of decomposed shells..

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as you may have noticed, even the sky tends to be more beautiful in tasmania..

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after a walk along the wineglass bay, we started climbing towards the wineglass bay lookout, to get the proper view of it.

and here it is.. unfortunately, by the time we got to he lookout, the weather had already changed (apparently, there is a saying in tasmania “if it’s raining, come back in five minutes” – that’s how frequent the weather changes are).

nevertheless, the view was still spectacular, don’t you think?

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even though this was our first stop in tasmania, we immediately understood that this is truly the island of wonders..

to be continued..

tasmania – explore the possibilities [australia #8]

“how beautiful is the whole region, for form, and grouping, and opulence, and freshness of foliage, and variety of color, and grace and shapeliness of the hills, the capes, the promontories; and then, the splendor of the sunlight, the dim rich distances, the charm of the winter glimpses!”

such were the comments in mark twain’s travel diary when he visited tasmania in the 1890s. even though my visit happened 120 years later, i would have written something of that sort.

tasmania.. the smallest and remotest of all australia’s states was a highlight of our trip down under. even now, when we talk about it, the words simply fail us.

during our week-long journey across tasmania, we got to see its pristine beauty.. in the following posts i will get into details of our road-trip, but here’s a sneak peek into it.

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it is true what they say, tasmania really gets to you.

the otways [australia #7]

the great otway national park, also called the otways, is a national park located in the region of victoria, along the great ocean road. the national park is known for its diverse range of landscapes and vegetation types.

the otways was one of the stop-overs on our great ocean road trip. initially we weren’t planning on stopping, but the scenery was too beautiful to be missed.

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following the small path, we arrived to the tip of the cape otway, where we visited the cape otway lighthouse – one of australia’s iconic lighthouses. while visiting the lighthouse, a tour guide told us it was the second lighthouse established on the australian mainland and the one with the longest continuous operation (from 1848 to 1994).

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during our tour we also learned that during winter and spring, the lighthouse can serve as a point for whale watching, as migrating whales swim very close to shores. since we were paying a visit to the lighthouse in december (it didn’t seem like summer, though!), we missed the whales. however, the view from the lighthouse was still pretty spectacular.

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the scenery, the lighthouse & the view were truly magnificent – but what really defined our visit to the otways is a close encounter with one of australia’s icons -> koalas!

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we spotted a group of people along the road we were taking and then, wondering why there were so many people there, looked towards eucalyptus trees.. and there they were.. sitting on the tree and proudly posing to the excited tourists!

the great ocean road [australia #6]

after the first couple of days spent in melbourne, it was the time for a road trip – towards west. of course, i am talking about the famous great ocean road.

the great ocean road is a stretch of road along the south-eastern coast of australia and the essential part of the state of victoria. it was built by returned soldiers between 1919 and 1932 and dedicated to soldiers killed during world war I and it is the world’s largest war memorial. this 243 kilometers long road hides several prominent landmarks of australia, such as the twelve apostles, loch ard gorge and london arch, but also passing through the great otway national park (which will be the subject of a separate post).

our trip lasted for three days, during which we saw a lot of stunning views, went camping, fought very strong wind and, of course, took a loot of pictures!

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several things stuck us immediately: the wild beauty of australia (which we would experience even further in tasmania), the shape of the southern coast of australia and the cleanliness of air and water which may only be encountered in wild and remote places (and in australia, there are plenty of such places).

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we encountered a lot of people during this road-trip and even more animals! unfortunately a lot of them were lying dead on the side of the road, even though the warning signs were quite everywhere. but it was quite interesting how free these animals were. the first night we were staying at the rather shady camp, somewhere close to apollo bay. that camp left a lot to be desired, but it gave us quite an experience.. in the morning, our first sight was this:

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the second day was completely dedicated to otway (my next post!), but on the third day & after a long drive, we have finally arrived to the twelve apostles.
even though there are only seven of them left now (the last “apostle” collapsed only in 2012.), they are quite a sight! only when seeing these formations, one understands the true power of the southern ocean. oh, it was very windy (and crowded!), but we were so happy to see the twelve apostles soaked in sunlight.

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only a few minutes drive from the twelve apostles is another important sight of the great ocean road – loch ard gorge, named after a shipwreck of a sailing ship called loch ard, which departed from london on 1 march 1878 and was about to arrive to melbourne after nearly three months. only two people survived..

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our last stop on the great ocean road was london arch, formerly known as london bridge, because of its similarity to the actual london bridge – until 15 january 1990, when the middle part of the “bridge” collapsed out of a sudden. two tourists were left on the part which remained (and is now knon as london arch) and were eventually rescued by helicopter. the failure of the second arch is foreseen in the near future, so i guess we were quite lucky to take this picture!

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on the third day we headed back to melbourne. it was quite a long drive, which gave us plenty of time to discuss what we saw on our trip. aside from the above-mentioned sights, we were both amazed by the ever changing weather and strong wind, which followed us since the beginning of our trip. we loved seeing all those friendly people (even if the great ocean road is much more touristy than we have imagined). but the most amazing feelings we got from this trip is the force of the mighty ocean, which changed the scenery of this region. and which keeps on changing it every day.

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i hope we’ll have the chance to visit the great ocean road once again. and i hope to find it altered. for the better, of course.

royal exhibition building and carlton gardens, no.1131 [australia #5]

the royal exhibition building and the surrounding carlton gardens were designed and built for the 1880 and 1888 international exhibitions. in 2004 they were inscribed to unesco heritage sites’ list, as the representative of the largest events staged in colonial australia, which helped to introduce the world to australian industry and technology. the royal exhibition building is one of the very few remaining buildings from XIX century world exhibitions.

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the royal exhibition building is constructed of brick and timber, steel and slate and it combines elements from the byzantine, romanesque, lombardic and italian renaissance styles. like the majority of exhibition buildings from that period, its aim was to present material and moral progress through displays of industry from all nations.

the building itself is in the northern part of melbourne, away form the CBD and crowded city spaces. it is also close to brunswick street and fitzroy – former student quarters, now up & coming neighborhoods. while we were in the area, we took a walk and checked out numerous cafés & bars, artisans’ workshops and alternative fashion shops. in this neighborhood you can see melbourne in its true colors.

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while i was admiring the building itself, i couldn’t help thinking how the focus of the world’s interest changed with respect to the XIX century and especially in the last decades. the focus of the world’s exhibitions at that time was mainly achievements related to the industrialization, along with art, science and education.

this year, almost 150 years after the melbourne international exhibition, universal exposition (expo 2015) will be hosted by milan, the city i have been living in for seven years. expo 2015 will be held under the theme “feeding the planet, energy for life”. even though i will not be living in milan during the expo, i plan on visiting it. aside from wanting to see what’s new out there, i would like to explore the link between technology, innovation, culture, traditions and creativity with food and diet. i can say for sure that i would be wondering how these events used to look like in the past, when the focus was totally different. and of course, i will be asking myself what what will be the focus of future world exhibitions.