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Off to Swansea

Rise and shine, next morning we were off to Swansea on the northeast coast. We were advised by Greg, an employee of Hotel Collins to stop at Katie's Berry Farm on our way to Swansea. It was a pleasant spot for tea, fresh baked scones with cream and jam. Tasty! After 2 to 3 hours on the road this was a nice break and before we knew it we were in town. It was cold and very windy so we both decided kayaking was a no go. Instead it was the perfect time for the exciting task of washing our clothes. Why here do you ask? Because at the Waterloo Inn the guest washer and drier were free, though perhaps a little temperamental. Sometimes the drier dried and sometimes it just made a lot of noise. What was still wet was hung in our room to dry. On Wednesday morning we drove to Freycinet National Park and hiked up to the look-out over Wineglass Bay. It was a breath taking view though it was crowded with tourists who had the same idea. On our way down we decided to take the cut off to the beach. The trails here are well maintained and we passed work crews on our way. We also came to a spot on the trail where we waited for a 4 foot black snake to cross. Best to give them the right of way since most of the creatures here are poisonous. Upon reaching the sand we saw friendly wallabys amongst the visitors looking for a handout. Feeding these wild animals is strongly discouraged for numerous reasons. Fortunately we had no food so the temptation to feed them wasn't an issue. The water here is so cold I had no desire to risk loosing broken off body parts in the frigid bay. Gordon took off his shoes and waded in for almost 10 seconds. There was even one brave/crazy gentleman in a budgie smuggler (Aussie name for speedo) who dove in. He was out very soon after, looking a little more blue than when he started. We hiked out and this time spied no other venomous or frightening creatures. We grabbed a meal at Coles Bay before winding our way back to Swansea. Next trek on Thursday was northwest to Launceston to the Hotel Charles. Our first day was spent roaming the streets and using the hotel's computer to catch up on our blogging. Friday, we visited the gorge. We splurged on tickets to ride the chair lift across the gorge and wandered our way up and down the trail until we came all the way back to the parking lot. It was beautiful, though it rained on us more than once. A great male peacock welcomed us off the chair lift with all his finery on show. Of course he was just preening and showing off for his ladies, but it was quite impressive. Gordon and I dined on seafood at the waterfront before making our way back to the hotel.


After deplaning in Hobart we walked ourselves and our luggage over to the Red Spot car rental desk. We drove off in a little red Holden Barina. So far on this island of the little Tasmania Devil there are no hookers. Right turns from the left lane, is what I'm talking about and not the entrepreneurs in the red light district. Gordon takes the role of driver and I as navigator. Most of the time it is a good arrangement and this time it went fairly well as we made our way to the Hotel Collins. Our room wasn't ready so we dropped our luggage off with Joe at the front desk. Joe was from Bakersfield, Calif. and actually lived in Ventura, Calif when he was very young. It's a small world. Heading down Collins St we searched for a place to lunch while getting in some sight seeing. At this point we took our first tour of one of Tasmania's Penal Systems. It was Hobart's Old Gaol and the Penitentiary Chapel. We wandered and ducked as we passed through the ruins of the court rooms, cells, and even the gallows site. Very bad Ju-ju there. After walking about a bit and grabbing a late lunch we then headed back to the hotel. The next morning we drove to Port Arthur for a tour of one of Tasmania's old penal colonies. The institute actually closed in 1877 and years later it lured visitors here to search out the ruins. There was a short cruise in the bay that we took around the isle of the dead (cemetary for inmates and workers) and the Pt. Puer (where the young convict boys were held). After spending about 3 hours at Port Arthur we drove down the road to the Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park. Here we saw Tasmanian Devils and just to let you know they don't whirl around like "Taz" did in the Bugs Bunny Cartoons. Yeah, I was real disappointed too. We saw a Mama Devil being fed by a park ranger. She left her babies a little behind her so that we were left with a great close-up viewing of the four pups. We boogied over to the roo, wallaby, and quoll area next. Here we were able to pet the wallys and the roos. There was a bird show in another area where we saw a peregrine falcon, a brown falcon, a frog mouth owl, and a white parrot. The animals at this refuge would have little chance of survival if they were left on their own due to injuries. We headed back to Hobart after our visit here and stopped for dinner near the waterfront at "Barcelona" on Salamanca Place. Aussie word for the day: Budgie Smuggler-- a speedo swimsuit.

Tasmania--a wild and wooly land

November 13, 2011----Again, we must apologize for the lack of photos, believe me, we have some great pics. But, as our laptop has died we are forced to use OPC--other people's computers, and we cannot down load photos. When we get our laptop repaired we will post some awesome photos and even a video clip of baby Tassie devils and a baby wombat.-----------Tasmania, formerly known as Van Dieman's Land, lies south and east of Australia. It was 'found' by Abel Tasman who had been sent by the Dutch East India Company's govenor, Anton Van Dieman, to find a route to India which would bypass the Spanish held Phillipines. Of course, there were aborigines living in Tasmania long before Abel Tasman sailed by-- but they are mostly forgotten now. Captain James Cook charted the islands and Captain Bligh of Bounty fame also explored Tasmania-- he is credited with planting the first apple tree in Tasmania which now has many apple orchards. By far the greatest notariety Tasmania is known for is it's use as a penal colony for Great Britain. In the early 1800's someone in Great Britain had a great idea--"lets send our convicts to Australia!". This accomplished two things--first, they emptied their overflowing jails, and--second, they could populate their farthest colony. While it was a stigma in the past to have a convict ancestor, today it is cool and those with convict predecessors come to Port Arthur to research their history. The English in Australia with convicts in their past are called POMES--'Prisoners of Mother England'. Of course, that is better than what they call us Americans visiting Oz. We are called 'Septics'-- because we were called Yanks which rhymes with 'Tanks' which could be "Septic Tanks'--go figure. Besides the shaded past, Tasmania has a wide variety of flora and fauna -- with really cool animals found nowhere else in the world. The countryside is beautiful from coastal areas to midland plains, to snow covered mountains. It is a wild and beautiful plce and we did a 'circumnavigation' by car -- come along with us. Aussie word for the day -- Dunny: toilet.

Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park

The baby Tasmanian Devil pups playing around.

Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park

We saw a great bird show at the park. This is a Frog Mouthed Owl, called Kermit, who only has one wing after being hit by a car.

Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park

These are Quolls--there are so many unique creatures in Australia that it is mind boggling.

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