It didn’t take too long before we had settled into a ‘normal’ routine in Hobart throughout the week, then acting more like tourists on the weekend.
We were fortunate enough to be invited for lunch at long time friends of Paul’s parents. Robin & Sue have a beautiful home overlooking the Tasman Bridge. When they pulled out a map to show us the ‘must sees’ of Tasmania we soon came to realise just how much this seemingly small state has to offer.
Not far from Hobart is the quaint village of Richmond. We visited here a couple of times and managed to see something different each time. Historically Richmond is a very significant town. It is home to Australia’s oldest Catholic church as well as gaol and there are a number of striking Georgian-style buildings to admire. Australia’s oldest bridge can also be found in Richmond, it was built by convicts and is said to be haunted by more than one ghost!
There were a couple of mazes in town which we tried to get lost in but were a little disappointed and think that the $25 fee for about 20 minutes of following a well beaten path was a tad overpriced.On good authority from a Perth friend we headed to the bakery and indulged in a very yummy curried scallop pie. You were right Fran, delish!!
We had heard about Zoo Doo, also in Richmond, from other travellers. The kids were keen to see a Tasmanian Devil so we headed out to this wildlife park and although we did enjoy ourselves it unfortunately didn’t quite hit the mark. Entry to the wildlife park cost $70 and what we thought would be a full day out turned out to be about a half day instead. Riding the ‘safari bus’ and hand feeding a few animals was fun. We also enjoyed seeing some big cats with the kids being able to push strips of meat through the tiger enclosure. The average age of the staff was around 12 ( ok 15) and they weren’t always engaging but maybe we shouldnt have expected so much from the teenage brigade – like eye contact when giving an animal presentation!. The highlight for the kids didn’t end up being any of the animals. It was the waterballs! These were inflatable balls that the kids jumped into and then rolled around in, on water. They seemed more than happy to part with an additional $7 each of their own money to do this. Other people have loved the place, we thought it was ok but don’t take our word for it. Next time you’re in Richmond, Tasmania check it out for yourselves.
Another weekend’s destination was Bruny Island. To get here was a 45 minute drive from Hobart to Kettering, where we boarded the car ferry The Mirrambeena for the 15 minute ride over to North Bruny. This included a $35 vehicle fee. It is possible to take caravans over to the island but the fee increases with the length of vehicle so would only make sense if staying for a while.
Bruny Island is actually made up of two islands (north & south) and these are joined by what is referred to as ‘the neck’. We didn’t spend a lot of time on the north island but did enjoy stopping on the neck where a game reserve is located. There is a penguin walk here and a great lookout at the top of a large flight of timber steps from here you can get a 360 degree view of the whole island. We were fortunate enough to spot a baby penguin.
Across the neck is the South Bruny National Park so we ensured we purchased a National Parks Pass before heading over. It was more cost effective to purchase an annual pass due to the number of national parks we were to visit.
One of the first things we did was head into The Berry Farm to handpick some fruit. Tasmania produces beautiful fruit and veggies and we were hoping to pick a selection. Unfortunately only strawberries were available but we still had fun and some of them even made it into the bucket!
We decided to head to the beach across the road from the farm to eat the strawberries and do some beachcombing. I am so glad that we did. Paul is a prolific plaque reader (sometimes to the annoyance of the rest of us) and made a bee line to the one pictured below. It told a little of the history of this area and included a picture of two trees painted in 1792 by an artist accompanying Captain Bligh on an expedition. It was very cool to look up from the painting and being able to see the original two trees depicted. I found this very exciting but the kids were more interested in the colourful shells and starfish in the rock pools!
Also on the south island is the Cape Bruny Lighthouse. We always enjoy visiting lighthouses and had a great chat with volunteers carrying out maintenance on some of the out buildings. Apparently this lighthouse is the third oldest in Australia and was also built by convict labour. We were able to take a walk all the way down to the beach at Cloudy Bay and on the way passed the two graves of children of one time lighthouse keepers, who had died here in 1875 & 1898.
Cape Bruny was also a great place from which to admire the views of the amazing coastline.
We had packed our camping gear and intended to do an overnight stay in one of the campgrounds, which all looked good. But the weather was a bit wet and we were happy with what we had seen, so a sleep in a dry van won over a wet tent in the end.
Next time I’ll write about our weekend visiting south east Tassie with the focus being on Port Arthur, a beautiful place with a violent history.