Tasmania from 27 Jan – 9 February 2020 Part 1 of 2

It was an early rise at 5.20am on Monday 27th January and I got a taxi an hour later to the Spirit of Tasmania ferry in Port Melbourne. Although I could have got there by two trams, it was a bank holiday after yesterday’s Australia Day and a taxi had been recommended by the hotel manager, who also gave me $20 towards it when I’d told him the problems with my room, only because he asked me one day as I was leaving.

The ferry was due to leave at 8.30am and check in finished at 7.45am, which was why I wanted to get there early. When I checked in I was asked if I had any fresh fruit or vegetables. I had some apples with me, and was issued with a yellow certificate and told to get rid of them on the boat as they couldn’t be taken into Tasmania as, up to now, they have no fruit flies or diseases so didn’t want to risk them being introduced. I hadn’t realised this to be the case and didn’t remember being asked at the airport on the earlier trip I’d made.

I got a comfy seat on board in what was meant to be a quiet area, which wasn’t as it was situated next to the reception where one of the receptionists had a very loud voice and laugh (I’ve noticed that many Australians are loud). There was also a woman who had her phone on loudspeaker so we could all hear what she and the other person were saying, which wasn’t at all interesting. A couple near me were complaining about her so I told them I’d ask her to be quiet by asking if she knew she had her phone on loudspeaker! Her answer was that she did and that her husband was deaf! He couldn’t have been that deaf, but eventually it did the trick and she soon ended the call saying something rude about me to him. But she didn’t do repeat it.

Goodbye Melbourne

Just before 8.30am the Captain announced that we wouldn’t be sailing until 9.30am as a cruise ship was due in and took precedence. It was 9.40am by the time we set sail. Fortunately the crossing was a smooth one as I’d forgotten to get medication to prevent sea sickness. I spent the whole crossing reading and doing sudokus. There was a cinema on the ferry showing several different films, one of which I’d seen and the others I didn’t fancy much. Maybe there’ll be something more interesting on the return.

The ferry had originally been due to arrive at Devonport, Tasmania at 6.10pm but, given the delay in leaving, arrived after 7pm and then there was a bit of a wait for luggage to come off for the few of us foot passengers. It was just a short walk to the motel where I immediately put on the tv to watch the brilliant match between Kyrgios and Nadal. Unbelievable play which was won by Nadal.

On Tuesday 28th, after a quick breakfast in the hotel, I walked to the ferry terminal to collect my rental car at Europcar. I was given an upgrade on the car I’d booked as the one they were going to give me was due a service. I got a Mitsubishi ASX which looked big to me but didn’t feel it when I drove it. Lovely to drive and so much more comfortable than the car I’d hired in New Zealand. It was fortunate because, at the last minute, I’d discovered Europcar was at the ferry terminal as had originally booked through a company based at the airport, which would have been inconvenient. It was also over $300 more than Europcar. So, Europcar gets a big thumbs up from me!

My Mitsubishi ASX hire car

I drove to Deloraine on the Bass Highway/Highway 1 and had a walk around. A woman I briefly spoke to on leaving the ferry was from here and gave me the impression it was worth a stop, which it wasn’t. The town seemed to be full of cafes and Opp shops. There was an interesting structure in the park along the river which was an Aboriginal Yarning Healing Circle, basically a place where people sit and talk/share their stories and has to be booked to be used:

I then had a lovely drive to Liffey Falls’ car park/camping area and did a nice walk to the lower falls. Like in New Zealand, Australians also seem to exaggerate the length of time for walks as it was supposed to take 3 hours return but took me less than 2. I enjoyed the walk, fairly flat with just a few steps, through forest and soft underfoot. On the return walk I spotted a snake (dark grey in colour) but it slithered away before I had a chance to take a photograph. No idea what it was, and tried to find out later. From its colour it could well have been a Tiger snake.

From there it was another nice drive out of the forested area to Launceston (pronounced Lon-cess-tun) my first stop on this road trip where I’d booked an Airbnb for 2 nights. My hosts were Mag and Nick who have two dogs: Louis a 6 year old cross Tenterfield Terrier with Chihuahua and a bit of Jack Russell thrown in (a dear little thing) and Diva an 11 year old Golden Retriever and two cats, Archie and Boots. Over a cup of tea and home made biscuits they told me they’d lived in Lauceston for two years having moved from Townsville in Queensland on the mainland where they found the temperatures just too much.

Liffey falls walk and pets in Launceston Airbnb:

I took a walk into the centre, about 30 minutes, across the river Tamar and had a very tasty and quick meal at a Thai vegan restaurant called ‘Lotus’.

The main draw in Launceston is Cataract Gorge so after a quick breakfast I headed there. The geological dolerite features of the gorge are estimated to be over 200 million years old, formed during the Jurassic period. Tasmanian aboriginal stories tell of ancestors who were turned into stone monoliths and other features on land and in the sea. The large stone boulders that stand along the river’s edge of the gorge are considered by some Aboriginal people to be sentinels or warriors who care for the area. The Alexandra suspension bridge was officially opened on 29 November 1904 to commemorate the birth of Princess Alexandra. However, in April 1929 the bridge was washed away by severe floods and reconstruction completed in 1931.

It’s a beautiful area, with lots of walks in every direction; an area of gardens and a band stand. I was lucky enough to see a couple of wallabies.

I walked along the Cataract Walk, constructed in 1891 with great difficulty as thousands of tons of rock had to be removed by hand. Numerous bridges were constructed over crevices and around rock faces, many overhanging the water. The pathway was originally very narrow and consisted of ladders and steps at intervals to allow visitors access to the water’s edge. There is a ‘Duchess Hut’, one of only 2 remaining ‘rustic’ huts originally built in the early 1890s and named ‘Bark Hut’ but renamed ‘Duchess Hut’ after a visit from the Duke and Duchess of York in 1827. The original timber rotted and was replaced in 1926.

After 2 hours there I took a drive along the Tamar Valley (one of the tourist drives). The Tamar is the river that runs through Launceston and north to feed into the Bass Strait. I drove along the west side northbound initially and stopped to take some pictures from Brady’s lookout (named after Matthew Brady, a convict who went on the run and was eventually hanged):

All along the route were signs off to vineyards as it’s an area of winemaking. At a place called Beauty Point I went to Platypus House to see the elusive platypus. There were tours on the hour which started with a film about a German researcher who was in Tasmania tracking the platypus and managed to get film of two babies in their nest and follow their progress. Apparently only 2% of Australians have seen a platypus in the wild. After the film a young woman with a loud voice who described herself as an animal activist gave us a lot of information about the platypus and the echidna, not an animal I’d ever heard of and it’s only found in Australia, with a different variety in Papua New Guinea. We saw a male platypus in a tank and two females in a tank. Then in another room were 3 echidna walking along the floor. We were told to remain still. They were fed and they have tongues 15cm long. They looked to me like a mix of a hedgehog/porcupine/small anteater.

I then drove to the northernmost point and walked along Greens Beach to get a view of the lighthouse on the other side.

Then I had to drive south, retracing some of the drive to Batman Bridge to access the east side of the Tamar valley and drove north to Low Head, the northernmost point with a lighthouse, which I didn’t bother taking a picture of. There was a super house there:

Beautiful house in a lovely location (Low Head)

Then I drove back to the Airbnb via a supermarket for a microwave meal, accompanied by a glass of red wine kindly supplied by Nick. After a chat I watched the quarter final tennis match between Nadal and Thiem which was won by Thiem.

Thursday 30th had a chat with Mag over breakfast. Nick gets up late as he trades in futures until about 2am. He tried to explain it to me but I was none the wiser. He told me he’s addicted and has spent a long time learning how to trade. Mag is an artist and the house has a lot of her work on the walls. Some of the ones I liked:

I was leaving today but, having packed the car, walked to the Queen Victoria Museum nearby and spent an enjoyable two hours there. There was a particularly interesting exhibition about a Tasmanian woman called Marjorie Bligh, a ‘housewife superstar’ or ‘domestic goddess’. She recycled everything possible and I was interested to see a pouffe covered with ties, a blanket made from scarves and a crocheted bedspread made from 366 stockings:

She wrote lots of cookery and gardening books and was often on TV.

I returned to the Airbnb and sat down with Nick and Mag to a cup of tea and final chat. I was sorry to leave them. Mag would really love to travel but Nick isn’t interested although she’s working on him as she’d love to go to Europe, particularly England and Italy. I took a picture of them in their lovely back garden:

My next stop was St. Helens, just over 2 hours away, and I chose the route via the A3 which went through forest (Mount Maurice Forest Reserve) with winding roads around the top. Lovely driving here as the roads are pretty empty just like NZ. I made a stop in a town called Scottsdale in a cafe within a small art gallery which doubled up as a tourist information office. I got chatting to a couple of women who gave me some tips for stops on the way to St Helens.

Back on the road I saw a sign to Legerwood announcing ‘carved memorial trees’ so, as it was only a small diversion I took a look. There were 9 large carvings out of trees that had been planted in 1918 to honour soldiers killed in world war 1 who came from the area. The village, named after Legerwood in Scotland, was put on the map in 2005 when Eddie Freeman, from Ross, sculpted the trees with his chainsaw at a time when they’d got to a dangerous height and needed to be lopped. Each sculpture has a plaque giving the history of each soldier the carvings relate to.

A stop one of the ladies in the cafe had suggested was the myrtle forest: Weldborough Pass Rainforest. This was a short, circuit walk through a rainforest of myrtle trees with child friendly information boards talking about the history of earth and the gradual demise of the rainforest. A lot of the trees had fallen or were diseased:

I’d booked 3 nights at the Bay of Fires apartments, rooms really. I was pleased with my room with huge bed, microwave, fridge and nice en-suite although didn’t initially think I’d get in. It was a keyless system and 3 fingers had to be held on a black pad which then lit up with numbers to enter the code given. I must have been pressing too hard as nothing happened however someone came along to help. Having dropped off my bags I went next door to a restaurant called ‘Nina’s’ and had a veggie curry, which was served in a bowl and was more like soup with rice in the middle. I didn’t hang about as wanted to watch the match between Federer and Djokovic but, despite the large tv being advertised as brand new I couldn’t access the tennis channel, so was very disappointed. Djokovic won in 3 sets. I sent a message that night to the owners who eventually replied on Saturday morning to apologise but said that they had watched it in one of the rooms! They later asked the cleaner (a young woman from Woking) who’d served me in ‘Nina’s’ to check but she couldn’t find the channel either.

On Friday 31st I slept until 9am (although had woken at 4am and spent an hour on my iPad…..don’t do it Sheryl!) owing, no doubt, to the blackout blind in the room and the fact I hadn’t slept that well or long the previous few days. I thought I’d start off with driving to Mount William National Park in the North East corner of Tasmania, 60 km from St Helens but, a few kms into the drive the road changed to unsealed and was very bumpy so there was no way I was going to bump along for so many kms, turned around and drove to Binalong Bay, to access the Bay of Fires – the big draw in this area and one I was looking forward to.

The Bay of Fires extends from Binalong Bay (where I went) to Eddystone Point in the North – 26 nautical miles. The name was given to the area by Captain Tobias Furneaux in 1773 when he saw the fires of the Aboriginal people along the coast which led him to believe the country was densely populated. The huge boulders and rocks in the area are coloured orange from lichens, the sea is crystal clear and the sand white:

I was rather underwhelmed.

After a quick lunch in a bakery back in St Helens I decided to drive to Campbell Town as Nick had told me there were rows of bricks in the street with the names of convicts, which sounded interesting. I hadn’t realised just what a lot of driving I’d be doing. I drove along the A4 road which had recently seen bushfires but now okay, there were some roadworks however. I can’t say the drive was as pleasant as yesterday’s as it went through very dry countryside with hardly anything to see en route.

By the time I got to Campbell Town it was after 3pm and was very hot when I got out of the car, having had the air con on all the way. There was a small park with a statue of a woman and a ram who I learnt was Eliza Forlong who, in the 1820s, had walked 1500 miles throughout Saxony (now part of Germany) selecting from the best flocks of Saxon Merino sheep. She was born Eliza Jack in Glasgow in 1784 and married John Forlong, a Glasgow wine merchant. After the loss of 4 of their 6 children from tuberculosis they accepted medical advice to move to a warmer climate and decided to emigrate to New South Wales, Australia where they invested in sheep and wool production. Eliza and her 2 sons travelled to Saxony where the best sheep were and selected the best sheep at many farms visited, collected them and walked them to the port of Hamburg where they travelled by ship which called at Hobart, where they were offered 2600 acres of land to stay in, their sheep forming the basis of the Winton superfine stud, Australia’s pre-eminent superfine wool stud and the neighbouring St Johnstone stud.

There was also a lovely house called The Grange, built in 1847 and originally the home of Dr William Valentine who emigrated to Van Diemen’s Land with his family from Somerset in 1839. He took over the position of doctor in the town helping establish the first public hospital giving his services free for the first 3 years. He was also a lay preacher at the Anglican Church, set up a reading room, Turkish baths, a library and hand-built two pipe organs. He had made his mark in England as, before he left, he’d worked at Nottingham infirmary where he became the first British doctor to crush gallstones in the bladder. He died in 1876 and in 1964 the house was bequeathed to the National Trust of Tasmania but is now a private residence as was obvious from the string of washing pegged out!

The ‘convict bricks’ Nick had told me about were set into the pavement of the High Street on both sides of the road running along its length. They’re dedicated to some of the nearly 200,000 convicts who were transported to Australia for almost 100 years from 1788 onwards. The first brick was laid by the Mayor on 28 August 2003. Bricks were purchased privately and the detail on each was provided by individuals or ancestors of the convict identified on the brick. In general the name of the convict, age, ship arriving on, offence and length of sentence was on the bricks.

At the end of the High Street was The Foxhunters Return, an old coaching inn.

The Red Bridge at the end of the High Street resulted from Lieutenant-Governor George Arthur’s emphasis on road and bridge construction in the colony of Van Diemen’s Land. It was completed in 1838, built by convicts and is the oldest brick bridge in Australia. Near the bridge were some carvings and, like the ones in Legerwood, had been carved out of the original trees with a chainsaw.

I unwisely popped into a second hand bookstore, given that I’ve still got 2 books (albeit non-fiction) on the go and got persuaded to buy two fiction books of interest after having a chat to the lady owner just as she was about to close, one being ‘For the term of his natural life’ written in 1871 by Marcus Clarke which I thought would add to the atmosphere of my forthcoming visit to Port Arthur.

Then it was a short drive to another interesting town, Ross, which was very quiet. It’s noted for its historic bridge, original sandstone buildings and convict history

I drove back to St Helens by a different route which took a lot longer, and was quite tedious, and was pretty tired by the time I got back.

On the morning of Saturday 1st February I was conscious a historical event was taking place back home as at 11pm their time (10am here) we were leaving the EU. A very sad day indeed. I decided to have a lazy day, especially as my left foot was painful (I feared plantar fasciitis having had it before) and the forecast was for rain later in the afternoon, so I spent some time in the library in the morning, went to the History Room (a small museum) next to the tourist information office and found a second hand bookshop (I didn’t buy any books) with a little cafe inside. I felt a bit down in the dumps today but it will pass.

Sunday 2nd I was booked into a cabin in Triabunna for 2 nights but on the way wanted to go to Freycinet National Park. Fortunately my foot appeared to be okay. I got to the Visitor Centre in the park at 1130am after a drive along the East Coast (allegedly one of the greatest drives in Australia – a bit lost on me) stopping to take a photo of a particularly nice beach:

There were a lot of Chinese people at the park, in fact there are lots of Chinese in Australia and they own a lot of businesses. I queued and was dealt with rather brusquely by a bored young female ranger who, when I said I had 5 hours and could she suggest a walk, marked with a black felt pen a circular route which she clearly does many times every day and said it should take 5 hours. The walk was apparently 11kms long and went initially up to Wineglass Bay Lookout, where there were lots of other people (some I think were just walking up to there as there were quite a few steps) and then down 1000 steps (others were walking back up them) along the Wineglass Bay Track to the beach (Wineglass Bay) on the east side of the park. I stopped for lunch sitting on a rock and chatted to an English couple in their early 60s who had been travelling in NZ and Oz for 4 months and were going back home soon.

Then it was a walk through ‘bush’ west along the Isthmus Track with at times sandy paths and at others smooth rocks with views of the coast intermittently to meet Hazards Beach on the west. The path went north along the beach before going back north east into bush and eventually arrive back at the car park. The only animal I saw was a wallaby. The waters around Tasmania support about 40 known species of whales and dolphins and humpback and southern right whales are regularly seen during their annual migrations. During the whaling era of the early 1800s thousands of whales were taken from Tasmanian waters and came close to extinction but since then have been protected. I didn’t see any. I got back to the car park after 4 hours of walking which had been very enjoyable having not done much exercise recently.

I then drove to Cape Tourville, marked with the black felt pen, still in the National Park, where there was a lighthouse and some lookout points.

I arrived at Triabunna at 6.30pm and was shown to my room in a house. A very quaint old house with wood panelling and, low and behold, a TV which had the tennis on so I was able to watch the final between Djokovic and Thiem which unfortunately was won by the former.

The reason for stopping in Triabunna (which the next day looked to me quite a God forsaken place although historical) was to take the ferry to Maria Island. I planned to do that on Monday 3rd February but the weather forecast promised 80% chance of rain, strong winds and possibly hail so I decided to go on Tuesday before travelling to my next stop. So a bit of a dull Monday after checking out the ferry times at the tourist office and popping into a men’s’ shed, where a man was renovating an old boat, a lovely old carriage was on display and some bric a brac (rubbish) and books for sale. My left foot was playing up again.

The area I was staying in was called Spring Bay and I was interested to read about Dead Island, a few meters from the land, which was used as a burial site in the 1800s. Access is only possible at very low tide so coffins would have been carried by boat. The headstones date from 1846 – 1860 but some are now indecipherable. The 3 earliest are those of people connected with the 11th Regiment of Foot Soldiers, stationed at Spring Bay. A few buried there are: John Turner, a soldier aged 36 died 7 April 1847 of inflammation of the brain; James Hogan, soldier aged 31 died 28 February 1848 of pneumonia; Daniel Hunter, just 7, died in May 1846 of an illness he’d had for 2 years; James Davis, a shoemaker aged 42, who died on 8 September 1855 having hung himself during a period of insanity.

I’m finding that food, particularly fresh fruit and vegetables, in out of the way places is pretty expensive here but petrol is cheap. The cheapest has been $1.50 per litre which equates to about 76p! Then I’ve bought 3 oranges and a punnet of cherry tomatoes for the equivalent of £5! Might have to stop eating..

On Tuesday 4th, after a chat with the friendly manager as I checked out, I took the 1030am ferry to Maria Island (pronounced as in ‘Black Maria’ – old police car) a 30 minute trip from Triabunna. It’s now an island sanctuary and one of the best places in Australia to observe wombats, Tasmanian devils, Cape Barren geese, kangaroos and wallabies. Also 125 species of bird life including the endangered Forty-spotted pardalote and Swift parrot. Some people were staying overnight either camping or bunking in the old cells as convicts had lived here. First walked to the Painted Cliffs, one of Tasmania’s 60 Great Short Walks, which was where most of the others were heading but as they were to be visited within two hours of low tide this was the ideal time. I then walked via a ruined oast house on to the Fossil Cliffs Circuit, another of the great Short Walks. Some lovely views from the cliffs and an information board with details of the various fossils that could be found, with strict instructions not to remove any. Then along past a small cemetery….

I took the 3.30pm ferry back and chatted to an Australian couple who’d been planning to travel around Australia for 2 years, leaving their Queensland home just before December, which they’d rented. They had a caravan but their new VW car kept breaking down so decided to go back to their home town to get it sorted out as it was under warranty. Then they’d continue travelling.

I then had a 1hr 40 min drive to Port Arthur/Tasman Peninsula, my next stop for 3 nights. Google maps sent me along a couple of C roads which were unsealed but not too bumpy and it felt quite adventurous. Eventually I got back onto a sealed road. 

I got to the Airbnb at 6.20pm, a cabin in the garden of the lady owner, which I liked instantly. Kathy, the owner, didn’t seem to want to make conversation but quickly explained a couple of things and told me there was a lot of information provided. There was no WiFi nor working TV, although a TV provided for playing dvds. There were instructions to try not to use too much toilet paper as there was a septic tank and to keep water usage to a minimum. I wasn’t even to wash my dishes but to leave them in a container to be collected by Kathy at the end of my stay. Fine by me!

I spent the evening watching dvds of a Tasmanian tv comedy series called ‘Rosehaven’ which was entertaining and went early to bed.

The next day I walked to the Port Arthur Historic site, just 30 minutes away. I walked through a wood into the site, which I don’t think was the thing to do especially as I saw people wandering about with lanyards on so it would have been obvious I’d snuck in. Not that I didn’t intend paying and went straight to the visitor centre having been unchallenged as I walked about lanyardless. I later found out from Kathy that I should have walked along the waterfront to the site. I was impressed that the entry fee was just $40 which included an introductory guided tour of 40 minutes and a 20 minute harbour boat trip. On paying the entry fee I was given a playing card with a man’s picture on the back. There were no doubt 52 different characters on and in an adjoining room I found out my character was Smith O’Brien with details about him. I had already heard of him as he was an Irish political prisoner who’d been at Maria Island also. Around the site were various information posts about the different characters, some convicts and others, people who worked there. The site is enormous and the fee covers entry for 2 days.

I got on the 1030 tour given a chap called Paul, looked around a couple of the buildings then went on the 1140 boat trip which went past Point Puer Boys’ Prison (on a small island) as it was felt young offenders should be kept separate from the older convicts to protect them from criminal influence. This operated from 1834 – 1849 and was the first juvenile reformatory in the British Empire. Most of the boys were aged between 14 & 17 with the youngest just 9 years old. Point Puer was renowned for its regime of stern discipline and harsh punishment but many of the boys received an education and some were given the opportunity of learning a trade. The boat trip also circled a smaller island known as the Isle of the Dead which was in use from 1833 – 1877 during which time around 1100 people were buried, not only convicts but also civilian and military officers, their wives and children.

Port Arthur was more than a prison, it was a complete community. Convicts started cutting down trees and lugging the timber down to the shore for ship building, then other trades were offered such as carpentry, blacksmithying etc producing goods and services for use locally and for sale in Hobart and beyond. There are more than 30 historic buildings, extensive ruins and beautiful grounds and gardens.

For me the most impressive building was the Penitentiary which was originally constructed as a flour mill and granary in 1845 but was converted into the Penitentiary between 1854 and 1857. The lower floors housed 136 separate cells and on the uppermost floors accommodated 348 men in bunk-style beds. It was used to house prisoners until the settlement closed in 1877 and devastated by a bush fire (as some other buildings were) in 1897 leaving only the masonry walls and barred windows.

The Church was just a shell having been irreparably damaged by fire in 1884. The men were expected to go to church each Sunday. The bells there are the oldest chime of bells in Australia and would have been played like a musical instrument probably by a convict. Unlike swinging bells these were struck by a metal clapper. There were originally 8 bells, one is missing:

The Separate Prison was designed to deliver a new method of punishment and reform through isolation. Convicts were locked in single cells for 23 hours each day with just one hour a day for exercise, taken in individual yards:

Port Arthur is remembered also for the massacre that occurred on 28 April 1996 when a gunman killed 35 people and wounded 19 others in and around the site. Among them were members of staff. The Memorial Garden incorporates the shell of the Broad Arrow Cafe where 20 people were killed. The garden was created as a place of remembrance and reflection:

On 6th February I drove to Remarkable Cave, not far from my Airbnb:

Then I walked to Cape Raoul, a walk suggested by Paul, the guide from Port Arthur, which is another of Tasmania’s Great Short Walks and one of the three capes of the Three Capes Walk – a long distance walk. I’d initially planned just to walk to a lookout point, 45 minutes from the car park, but once there decided to walk on and was glad I did even if it was tiring by the end and 10 miles in total.

Along the walk I met an English chap called Will who works as a ranger for the Tasman Parks and his Australian girlfriend who’s a Radiographer. Will was from Chichester but has worked in Oz since 2010. We had a nice chat as we sat and had lunch. 

On Friday 7th I chatted to Kathy before I left to discover that her great, great, great grandmother was an Irish orphan sent out to Tasmania in her teens. She’d married a convict who’d stolen 14 sheep and was sentenced to be hung but that was commuted to transportation. Interesting to meet someone going back to original settlers and I thought it a shame we hadn’t had more of an opportunity to talk.

I did a couple of stops before driving out of the Tasman Peninsula: Devil’s Kitchen – getting its name from ‘the cauldron of foaming fury’ crashing into the base of the tall cliffs; Tasman Arch – a tall natural bridge in the sea cliffs 100 meters from Devil’s Kitchen lookout; Tesellated Pavement – which in geology is a relatively flat rock surface subdivided into regular rectangles.

On to the town of Ross, famous for its bridge over the Macquarie River which is Australia’s oldest, built by convict labour from hand-hewn sandstone and opened in 1825. Legend has it that the bridge has a ghost: the stone quarries nearby was pushed to the site in handcarts. A cruel overseer rose on top of a load and was attacked by the work gang pushing the cart. They threw his body onto rocks below the bridge and his ghost is said to haunt the arches:

I had a short walk into the small, quaint town which was quite full of tourists. There are lots of original sandstone buildings and a jail or rather ‘gaol’.

Then it was a short drive through the countryside to Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, a rescue centre offering up-close viewings of endangered native wildlife which I’d read was one of the best in the country. The name ‘Bonorong’ is derived from an Aboriginal word meaning ‘native companion’. There were lots of Forester Kangaroos of all ages which you could hand feed, if you so desired, with food in small containers dotted about. I was told that for a kangaroo to quickly befriend me I just needed to scratch him/her on the chest and it was clear they enjoyed this. There were some Tasmanian Devils (I’d only seen stuffed ones until now), two sleeping koalas, a 100+ year old grumpy cockatoo, wombats, lizards, a Tiger snake (which definitely looked like the snake that had crossed my path on the Liffey Falls Walk I’d done) lorikeets etc. The sanctuary is on call 24 hours per day and most of the animals there were injured on roads or orphaned.

Then it was on to Lyn’s in Hobart (my previous Airbnb hostess who I’d arranged privately to stay with again) and I was looking to some conversation and a laugh as have been a bit in the doldrums of late – mainly a touch of homesickness and missing friends and Shaun, thinking of the months I can’t ever make up with them and worrying if something should happen to any of them while I’m away. I’m sure it will pass and also think it may be because I haven’t had a housesit for a while.

I’d told Lyn to expect me at 6pm so when I arrived at 5pm she greeted me in her dressing gown, having just showered, and gave one of her big laughs. I’d picked up some food on the way but, as before, Lyn had made some dessert (blueberry flummery) which she shared with me and watched some episodes of ‘Years and Years’ on Netflix. I feel very relaxed at Lyn’s.

The reason for coming back to Hobart was to attend some of the Royal Regatta, an annual affair which first started in 1838, over three days of this holiday weekend (Monday being a bank holiday). It seems many of the locals aren’t that interested and Lyn doesn’t generally go. I planned to pop along on Saturday but had decided to go first to Salamanca Market, a ‘must see’ in Hobart every Saturday from 8.30 – 3, which I’d missed on my previous trip, although I didn’t get there until 11am. It’s located near the waterfront in Salamanca Place and is one of Australia’s largest and most vibrant outdoor markets with over 300 stalls with arts, crafts, jewellery, collectibles, homewards, food stalls, produce and drinks. It was first held in 1972. Alongside were warehouses with other shops, furniture, galleries and knick knacks.

Also nearby was St David’s Park where there were some interesting memorials to some of the first settlers:

From Salamanca Place were some steps leading up into Kelly Street and an area known as Battery Point which had looked interesting when I was on the hop on- hop off bus on my first trip to Hobart. It’s named after the battery of guns which were established on the point in 1818 as part of Hobart’s coastal defences. The area has retained its winding streets, colonial architecture and historical ambience and has become one of Hobart’s most fashionable suburbs. I enjoyed walking around the streets photographing some of the houses and cottages. I came upon Narryna Heritage Museum, an 1830s merchant’s Georgian house built by a Captain Andrew Haig who built warehouses facing Salamanca Place in 1834. The house became a home to large families, a boarding house, hospital and now museum with articles and furniture of the original period.

I walked back to Lyn’s stopping to take more photos along the way of buildings that caught my fancy:

Sunday 9th was day 2 of the Regatta and I decided I should see something of what was going on so after a morning of writing my blog and chatting to Lyn I drove Lyn and I to the site. There was a funfair, a few yachts in the ocean but nothing being announced. We watched a couple of woodchopping competitions, with a handful of spectators, then sat on beanbags awaiting a free concert featuring the Australian Army band of Tasmania (reservists) with a female singer doing covers, a male singer called Tony Voglino and the Royal Australian Navy Rock Band of Tasmania, with three female singers also doing covers. It was enjoyable but we left before the end.

I’ve enjoyed my second visit to Hobart and it’s been great staying with Lyn again. Having felt a bit in the doldrums we’ve had a laugh and some good conversation – just what was needed. Her next Airbnb guest (she doesn’t get many) is a man coming for 2 nights to compete in a ten pin bowling competition!

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