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..

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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.

neutral bay & cremorne [australia #3]

once we safely arrived in sydney, we settled in neutral bay, a quiet quarter in north sydney, and we stayed there for several days, before going to melbourne.

we were staying at carla’s, who rented a room in her apartment. not only that her place was super-cute, but there was an access to the small garden overlooking neutral bay. it was perfect spot for breakfast and our morning coffee.

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in order to reach sydney, we had to take a ferry. even though the ferry rides followed rather strict timetable, we didn’t mind taking the ferry every day, since it would give us the view of lovely sights. i have to admit, even though sydney opera house is the landmark of sydney (and entire australia), harbor bridge managed to amuse me even more. it’s a great work of structural engineering (well, i’m an engineer after all!) & knowing how advanced was the project for its time (it was completed in 1932, after eight years of construction), i couldn’t help admiring it. it is truly inspiring piece of engineering.

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one day we had to postpone our daily trip to the city center, since the airport people were finally delivering our luggage, which got lost on the trip from vienna – through paris & kuala lumpur – to sydney. since we spent a couple of days without our clothes, we definitely wanted to wait for its delivery (even though our hostess told us she could receive it for us).
of course, it was quite depressing to sit at home and wait for it, so we decided to take a walk in the neighborhood. then, carla suggested that we should go to the cremorne point, where the nature is splendid and views of sydney harbor are stunning.

once we entered the cremorne reserve, a wonderful loop walk around cremorne peninsula, we suddenly noticed the mix of formal gardens and random bush. the signs along the way helped us to discover something of its original aboriginal inhabitants, the architectural heritage, as well as the impact of development on the reserve’s flora and fauna and the work being done to bring back the bush.

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we loved this part of sydney so much that we decided to come back tomorrow for a morning run (a bit slow and lazy one!). also, every now and then we would stop to take pictures.

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finally, we arrived to the tip of cremorne point, to the lighthouse mounted on a rock and connected to shore by a footbridge. from cremorne point lighthouse, so-called robertson point light, we could see what carla was talking about. the view of sydney harbor was amazing.

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we were already on the way back when carla called us, saying that our luggage has arrived. we rushed home & headed to the city center. our holiday was finally beginning!