Archive | April, 2013

Encounters with Tasmanian Devils

30 Apr

I recall that during my childhood days, I was interested more in cartoons from Looney Tunes than the Disney ones (no offense to Disney fans out there :D). My favorite back then was Tweety. Taz, the destructive one, was one of the other characters I had fun watching.

I’ve seen kangaroos, koalas, and wallabies here in Australia but I’ve yet to see a tasmanian devil in the flesh. So I remember telling my husband how disappointed I am when we went to Healesville Sanctuary because the only tassie devil in the park chose to nap when we were there πŸ˜›

Hence, checking out a tasmanian devil was on top of my list when we went to Tasmania.

Choosing between Bonorong Wildlife Park and Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park, the latter won out because of its proximity to Port Arthur. We wanted to see if we can swing by the historical site after our visit to the park.

Tasmanian devils are not exactly cute, little, cuddly creatures. They look more like giant rodents, understandably because they are now considered the world’s largest surviving marsupial –

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Now we can actually note only a very little resemblance to our mischievous Taz, huh?

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Our brief visit to the conservation park made us feel sympathetic to these fierce-looking, high pitch screeching marsupials, as we came to know that they are already considered endangered species and now face a grave threat from a cancer known as the facial tumor disease. We came to understand that the relatively expensive entry fee ($33 per person) we had to pay for this seemingly unkempt park is being used to care for them and keep them from extinction.

In fact, much effort is being done to keep their habitats as natural as possible, and so they let these devils just wander about in the wild around the area. That’s why you can see warning signs for these wildlife while on the road –

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We’ve been told that cameras are installed around the vicinity to monitor these animals.

While in the park, we were given the chance to get up close to these creatures:

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Forgive the photo, it was the best my husband was able to take of me while in the observation glass. But seriously, they could have tried to keep the glass cleaner and clearer so we can see better, don’t you think so? πŸ˜›

We were able to witness a feeding of these tassie devils. We learned that it was a long ritual of finding the meat, running off and trying to chase the one who was able to take the meat on its jaw, and then a seemingly tug-of-war mutual feeding of the meat. They normally feed on wallaby meat, so that’s what you can see them feeding on in the following photo.

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There were other animals in the park. And birds too. I was able to take a photo of the Eastern quoll below.

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After quite a number of visits to different Aussie parks, I was finally take some decent photos of kangaroos, and get to actually touch one and get a souvenir photo of the moment.

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This is a big step for a ‘neutral’ person like me who neither likes nor hates pets. I just enjoy looking at them πŸ˜‰

So that caps off our visit to the park. We dropped by Port Arthur to see if the little time we have left is worth paying the expensive entrance fee.. But ended up just having lunch at the cafe there πŸ˜€

We then decided to go to Mt Field National Park instead, because Law wanted to see Russell Falls.

You need to pay for a National Parks pass when entering Mt Field, and the hike to the falls takes about 15 minutes. It’s good that it wasn’t such a challenging hike because we were a bit disappointed because the falls at that time seemed dry 😦

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Then, as if we haven’t tortured ourselves enough from the long drive back to Hobart city, we made a quick visit to Mt Wellington summit. I think it was one of the scariest nights in my life πŸ˜› I was horrified by the steep, narrow, winding road going up the summit. Add to that the fact that the sky was already pitch black when we were up in the mountain already, and we’ve almost committed several road kills along the way.

Good thing the ride back to Zero Davey was a short one.. And we were able to give ourselves an excuse to indulge in some more seafood at Fish Frenzy in Elizabeth St Pier;)

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Finally concluded this quick but delightful trip to Tasmania. I wouldn’t mind going back πŸ™‚

 

 

 

 

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Under The Tasman Sun

29 Apr

We’ve devoted most of our weekend in Tasmania to checking out different sights around Hobart.

We joined a Tours Tasmania day tour on Sunday. There were just six of us on the tour, all Asians. The van was a decent one. Our tour guide is a 23-year-old lad named George, who just started going to university because he spent some time living in Europe and in Asia.

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The first stop in our tour was Kate’s Berry Farm. A farm on just a small plot of land, I think the charm of the place comes from the cozy shop that Kate has installed, which showcases the produce from her land. There’s a berry-tasting table to help you decide which berry jam suits your taste. There are sugarless options (which are still sweet by the way) for those trying to cut back on the calories. We’ve bought a raspberry jam and tried out a berry ice cream.

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Majority of the itinerary of our tour is spent at Freycinet National Park. You just have to buy a National Parks pass when visiting parks here. Our tour is inclusive of this pass.

Looking back at the pictures I was able to take, it seemed like majority of our time was spent bay hopping.

First bay up was Coles Bay. There was a bit of activity when we arrived. People were fishing, some on a boat, some on the deck. If I were a fishing person, I’d probably spend some time here. The place seemed so serene and relaxing.

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We then went on to Wineglass Bay Lookout. This part of the tour gave us a surprise because we didn’t expect that we need to climb up a considerable height to be able to get to the lookout.

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Totally unprepared, the hike was a challenge to both of us – for me, who had a back injury a few years ago and has been told to avoid using the stairs, and for Law, who found the climb difficult on Β his shin. I realized how unfit I was as well at that time as I was panting so hard that it feels like my heart’s going to pound out of my chest πŸ˜› This is definitely a no-go for old people and the weak of heart.

We're such good posers, eh? You couldn't tell how tired we were already ;)

We’re such good posers, eh? You couldn’t tell how tired we were already πŸ˜‰

Anyway, the climb was worth it –

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There is actually a lookout further up the mountain which gives you a more spectacular view as you can see the entire bay and how it seems like a wineglass, hence the name. But of course we didn’t opt for that, this lower lookout was already too hard for us to get to πŸ˜›Β It was a good thing that we joined the tour. Otherwise, we would’ve been too exhausted to drive back πŸ™‚

Next stop was Honeymoon Bay.

I was quite intrigued by the name, and true to its name, this bay provides a romantic, secluded atmosphere.Β This is where we had our lunch (which we bought from a bakeshop along the way). There are no public establishments here, and no toilets even. That’s how ‘true to nature’ and virgin this place feels like.

What impressed me the most were the mixture of colors around the area. I loved the combination of hues of blue and green in the water and of hues of earthy red of the soil, rocks and sand here.

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The last stop was a ‘marine farm’. Supposedly. But we didn’t see anything, except that the sign says it’s a farm for oysters and scallops. This bit of the tour would have been really disappointing if it weren’t for the splendidly cooked scallops that we ordered from their kitchen –

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So there goes our Sunday tour adventure. I’m going to have to cut this post short as I’ve realized it’s kind of long already. I’ll be posting soon about our encounters with Tassie devils and our brief visit to Mt Field’s Russell Falls.

Our Tassie Weekend

28 Apr

Wanted to make the most out of our free days before I started work last March, and well, celebrate our anniversary πŸ™‚ From Melbourne, Tasmania was one of the closest and cheapest places that we found interesting and worthwhile for a quick, spur-of-the-moment, out-of-town trip.

Spent just around $250 for a late-booked airfare to Hobart because one of us travelled for free, thanks to that once-a-year free Virgin Australia round-trip ticket that American Express gives to its clients here πŸ™‚

Hobart CBD is very near the airport. Taxi fare would cost you just around $30-$40 dollars depending on where you are staying, plus $5 airport surcharge. Since there were just two of us, we opted for the Airporter shuttle from the airport going to the CBD, which charged $17 per person.

We decided to just chill and relax on our first day. So we went for a stroll around Hobart CBD and the Salamanca Market. This market, which showcases so many stalls and products along Salamanca Place, is open only on Saturdays so it was really great that we were able to come by.

A band of men in kilts playing bagpipes welcomed us –

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We went around lunch time, but thank God that the weather was not so hot (16 degrees) even though the sun’s high up, because of the Antarctic breeze. I enjoyed checking out the different stalls, but I must admit that the scent of bratwurst everywhere is absolutely distracting, making you want to stop and eat everytime :p

I’ve taken pictures below of some interesting finds.

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The tasmanian devils above don’t really look much like Taz in the Warner Bros cartoons, huh? πŸ˜›

And of course, I had to take a pic of one of the bratwurst stalls –

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You’d pretty much be covered for lunch while going through the market because there are several stalls that sell food, plus, we’ve found a particularly interesting both selling unique drinks below.

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We were hungry but we held back eating because we wanted to get the most out of our experience and have a bite of what Tasmania is known for – seafood.

After a look around nearby places, we decided to buy lunch from Flippers, because we were curious about why there’s a really long queue here.

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The food’s nice. We liked the scallops and the fish seemed really fresh. We just ate our lunch while sitting in the benches surrounded by trees in St. David’s Park below.

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The CBD of Hobart is so small that someone who walks at my pace can just walk around in 30 minutes to an hour on foot. It is a city surrounded by water, which we found really refreshing. There are neighborhoods just around the city sidelines. I’ve found the ones going uphill from Davey St to Mt Wellington particularly charming, as they offer a nice view of the waters while being in close proximity to the CBD.

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Found a giant chess board similar to the one we have back in Melbourne, along Swanston Street πŸ™‚

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Above is Hobart’s version of the red decker bus, which provides service around the city loop.

So there goes my account of our days in Hobart CBD. Will be posting on our visit to national parks and some of Tasmania’s beautiful bays next..