Unsurprisingly we didn’t have much of a plan upon arriving in Tassie and hadn’t actually booked a return trip, mainly on the off-chance that we’d get work and stick around for a while.
After a brief look around Launceston (which was larger than I expected), Paul got on the phone to test the employment waters. After a number of discouraging phone calls – with people suggesting that now was not a good time to be looking for work – we resigned ourselves to being in Tassie for a whirlwind tour before heading back to the mainland for work. All this changed, however, when after making one final call, Paul was offered a six-week contract with a construction company.
It was in Hobart… 200km away…….and he started in a couple of days!!
Not to worry, we packed up the van and enjoyed the drive down to Hobart. We ending up staying at the Hobart showgrounds for the bargain price of $20 a night. The showgrounds were in a really handy location and although the facilities were very basic it more than met our needs. In fact, a couple of weeks after arriving we were lucky enough to secure the job of temporary caretakers. This involved counting the number of vans/motorhomes staying in the grounds and ensuring they had registered.
Hmmmmm, what an interesting experiment in human kind! Lets just say that we were surprised by the number (and age) of people who were not entirely honest. Some people would sneak in late and leave early without paying. Others either just hadn’t quite got round to registering yet or even claimed they weren’t sure how to (the signs explaining this obviously didnt spell it out clearly enough),or better yet – they didnt have any money . Our personal favourite though was when we would knock on someones door and explain we were there to check their paperwork only to watch their jaws drop in astonishment to hear that, shock horror, they actually had to pay to stay! Meanwhile they have connected to the water supply and are plugged into the power!
There was even a grey nomad couple in a huge fifth wheeler and two vehicles (parked over a couple of sites) who refused to pay when their adult son and partner were visiting from interstate. The son had parked his hire camper van in another powered site and didn’t want to pay because, get this, they were sleeping in the fifth wheeler not the camper!
There were a couple of schools within walking distance and the kids were keen to go and mingle with other little people. After visiting a couple of schools we settled on one and got them enrolled. This school only had 100 students and was involved in a pilot program where each student had their own iPad. The kids thought this was fantastic, they also liked their teachers a lot and ended up asking if they could stay until the end of term.
We had already booked a return trip to Melbourne by this stage, as we had heard that the boat fills very fast and getting a spot for larger vehicles could get quite tricky. In fact, by the time we left Tasmania we had met a number of people that had resorted to placing themselves on a waiting list to try to secure a berth. During peak season there are both day and night cruises across the strait but this drops down to just night sailing in quieter times and spots for vehicles over 2.1m in height are limited.
I digress, again.
After a chat with his work, Paul was able to extend his contract (he ultimately got offered a full-time job) and we changed our exit date – we actually ended up doing this once more a bit later. Luckily we were able to do this at no cost over the internet. In fact because we were eventually leaving off-peak the fare became cheaper and we were actually issued a refund!
Ultimately we were very happy with the decision to stick around a while as Hobart (and indeed Tasmania) is such a beautiful spot. Every morning one of the first things we would do was step outside the caravan and look straight up to Mount Wellington, never knowing what to expect. Some days it was completely covered in cloud, others it hosted multiple rainbows or even a sprinkle of snow.
One afternoon we drove to the summit for a look. The drive up was a bit hairy but well worth it when you reach the top. It was a beautiful clear day when we went and the view was breathtaking. Paul and Emma went up again for a look at night-time just before we left Hobart and said it was just as beautiful looking down at all the lights.
Another of Hobart’s landmarks that we enjoyed to look at (and use) was the Tasman Bridge, a five lane traffic bridge spanning the Derwent River. Sadly, in 1975 a ship crashed into the bridge and a number of people, both on the ship and the bridge, were killed. To this day the pylon that was damaged is still missing and in fact the ship remains on the floor of the river. We found it hard to look at the bridge without our eyes being drawn to the gap where the missing pylon once stood. One day I was trying to navigate my way to watch Reardon at a swimming lesson and in doing so manage to cross the bridge four times in half an hour! Needless to say I missed the lesson and am now questioning just how many of my directions Paul actually listens to when we are on the road and just how the heck we managed to get this far!
Hobart is a vibrant bustling city with plenty of history. It is actually the second oldest city in Australia. We enjoyed visiting the waterfront to watch the boats on the water and to visit the famous Salamanca Markets. The harbour is a very busy place and plays host to a number of visiting cruise liners, which this year included the massive liner called The World. The port is also utilised by a number of Antarctic based expeditions.
Paul was fortunate enough to work in a several locations around Hobart including Wrest Point Casino, the Hobart Council Chambers and the University of Tasmania’s Fine Arts Building which is now housed in what was once the original IXL factory (as in jams). He also made a number of friends through work and I don’t think it would take much persuasion for him to convert from a temporary to a permanent Tasmanian.
Now that the weekdays were filled by work and school we decided to devote our weekends to exploring Hobart and its surrounds as well as spending a few extended weekends visiting further away destinations.
In posts to come I hope to get you up to date with our Tassie travels and adventures, including how it seemed like a good idea to take the kids on a ghost tour of Australia’s largest penal colony ………..at the time!!