Sunday, July 06, 2014

Tassie to the Tropics: Hobart to Cradle Mountain, Tasmania

During the month of May, Brian's family made the long trek to Australia knowing it was their last chance to visit while we were still living there. We spent the month traveling to some stunning places up and down the east coast. With the move overseas and the time it's taken to sort through the thousands of photos from the trip, I'm only just getting these posts up now. Enjoy this virtual tour through some of Australia's finest landscapes!

Since our time in Australia is about to expire, we decided to plan one more great big Aussie adventure. And when I say great and big, I mean eleven McMillins traversing the country for four weeks across the two drastically different climates of Tasmania and Queensland.

Carl and Jan arrived in Canberra first and spent a week with us seeing a few sites but mostly helping out with looking after the boys and doing school pick ups while I worked or visited with friends.

Then it was off to Hobart to meet up with Heather, Aaron, Teagan, Cael and baby Porter. We spent the first week of our journey in a holiday house in Kingston Beach just south of Hobart. 

 Sunrise from our headquarters on Kingston Beach with morning mist rising from the sea.

After a day to recover for those who'd just flown in from the US, we spent the next week getting to know the Hobart area. We visited the Salamanca Markets and then spent a day at the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary.

 Kangaroos hang out near the entrance and the kids get to hand feed them special pellets.

This young kangaroo was fond of Riker's handouts. 

Riker is a budding photographer and I love this shot of him getting his subject in frame!

 Our first glimpse of the endangered Tasmanian Devil.

 This beautiful bush property houses a wide variety of Australian fauna.

 Sometimes the roos could be a bit demanding! Teagan does her best to distribute the food fairly!

The Bonorong Wildlife Park acts as a sanctuary for the Tasmanian Devil which is the world's largest carnivorous marsupial. It is extinct on mainland Australia and is fully protected in Tasmania. They have poor eyesight and so aren't very good hunters but they are excellent scavengers thanks to their strong sense of smell and powerful jaws. They are nocturnal and bluff to establish their dominance with other devils but will also share big carcasses with other devils.

Tasmanian devils live for about seven years but since the appearance of a devastating epidemic of a facial tumor disease, 80% of the population has been wiped out. The devil's disease is one of just two known cancers able to spread like a contagious disease, and is transmitted when one devil bites another. Large tumors form on the faces and necks of the animals, making it impossible for them to eat. Many of the afflicted animals subsequently die of starvation.

 The Tassie Devil is a fascinating creature suffering a miserable fate. 

 Eastern Rosellas

 Aaron and Porter get to meet a koala.

My chance for the koala photo op.

 Heather and Teagan. Are they not adorable?

Back at the beach house, Carl and Jan don their newly acquired Tasmanian souvenirs.

Next we took a three hour cruise down the spectacular coastline of Bruny Island with Pennicott Wilderness Journeys. After umming and ahhing about whether or not to bring all five kids on the cruise or go out in two separate groups in order to leave the littlest kids on land, we decided to bring all five along. We were glad we did as they were well behaved and had a good time.

 Ari geared up in windbreaker and hat. It was cold out there and we were grateful they had kid sized gear!

On the way out, we were fortunate to see a blue whale! Despite being the largest animal on earth, sightings of these giants are relatively rare and our guides assured us that this was likely to be a once in a lifetime experience.

 We only really caught glimpses of its back but it was spectacular nonetheless! What a privilege!

 Speaking of spectacular, the coastline was was rugged and beautiful.

With these purpose built yellow boats we were able to maneuver close to cliff faces and into deep sea caves. 

 Bruny Island is home to abundant sea and coastal wildlife such as these seals.

 The rocks were covered with them!

 A young seal gets a cuddle.

 Big fella.

We even saw a pod of playful dolphins follow alongside us for part of the journey back to Adventure Bay.

I just love doing interesting things with the kids. Sometimes it seems like too much trouble or too much risk of encountering meltdowns but it's usually worth it and such a joy to see them experiencing so many terrific things from a young age.

 Before leaving Bruny Island, we had lunch at a lovely cafe with a stunning vista.

 Grammy Jan and Grandpa Carl

 Amanita muscaria in case you wondering the species of this vivid mushroom.

 Bruny Island Neck is an isthmus of land connecting north and south Bruny Island.

Timber stairs known as the Truganini Steps lead to the lookout and a memorial to Truganini (considered to be the last full blood Aboriginal Tasmanian) and the Nuenonne people who inhabited Lunnawannalonna (Bruny Island) before the European settlement of Bruny.

The Neck lookout offers stunning 360 degree views and is well worth the climb to the top.

 Sunset was the perfect time of day to visit the Neck and once the sun sank, we had just enough time to catch our ferry back to Kettering.

On our last day in Hobart, most of the gang went on Louisa's Walk, a mobile theatre production dramatizing the life of one unfortunate female convict who found herself exiled to Tasmania for seven years for stealing a loaf of bread to feed her three hungry boys. I opted out of that heart wrenching story to catch up with my friend Millie who was one of my colleagues in my early days at ANUgreen. It's always so lovely to catch up with friends and hear about wedding plans and life decisions.

Sunset on our last day at the beach house.

Then it was of to Launceston to collect our friend Chris from the airport so that he could join Brian and Aaron to hike the Overland Track. En route to the starting point in Cradle Mountain we stopped in the adorable little town of Ross to visit John, a former colleague of Brians.

Grandpa Carl in front of John's little stone cottage that he's renting while building a house in Ross.

Our last stop before Cradle Mountain was at Seven Sheds brewery and meadery.  As you know, we like to take every opportunity to taste meads from around the world. Despite having called them in advance to arrange our visit, we arrived to find that not only were they not doing tours of the mead facility, they were fresh out of mead! Bit of a bust that stop.

Seven Sheds might not have had mead for us to try but as least as I came away with this adorable photo of Teagan and Porter!

On we went to Cradle Mountain to have a nice meal before sending Brian, Aaron and Chris off on the Overland Track early the next morning. In the next post I bring you some spectacular scenery without the six days of walking normally required to view it. Stay tuned!

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