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.

australia – not a moment too soon!

oh, december is finally here! – those were my exact thoughts several days ago when i realized that the time for a big trip has come. it’s been more than a year since we started planning this trip – and i cannot believe that in a couple of days we’ll be flying off to the land down under.

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so, how did we get here..

it all started last year when our friends went for a 7-month trip to south america. we started talking how great it would be if we could go for a bit longer trip.. and somewhere as exciting as south america. just for fun, we started discussing the places where we would like to go. my top two were australia & south africa, while tarik talked about canada & australia. since it was in both the lists, we figured it would be australia. as simple as that..

then, of course, we had to figure when to go to there & for how long we can stay. okay, anything less than a month is definitely not worth it, for many reasons.. where do you want me to start – the price of tickets, the distance, or the size of a country.. and when would we want to go – well, in december. we already have plenty of holidays.. and it’s summer there!

so, we started preparing for our trip..
first, we opened a savings account and made a plan to put a certain amount of money every month, so that we don’t come back without a penny!

then, we purchased several guide books & downloaded a couple of documentaries so that we can decide where to go. well, australia is quite big and very soon it became clear to us that we’ll not be able to see all of it and that we would have to narrow it down to several points of interests.

i would like to recommend the documentaries we watched; the first one was “australia with simon reeve”, where we got to see his trip starting from the “red centre”, i.e. the ayers rock, continuing through the northern territories and the great barrier reef, and ending the journey in sydney and melbourne.

the other documentary i really liked was the one prepared by the coast team & neil oliver – “coast australia”. the team visited all the coastal regions of australia: the kimberley, coral coast, victoria, sydney region and of course, tasmania.

and finally, we made a plan: we’ll visit the east coast of australia, the cities of sydney and melbourne, go for a ride on the great ocean road, experience tasmanian wilderness, dive in the waters of the great barrier reef, hike in the blue mountains.. and finally, we’ll spend the new year’s eve looking at the fireworks in sydney.

so, yes.. that’s what we’ll do.. God willing, of course.