Views from Wrestpoint & revisited #2: Bruny Island

After many Hobart weekends with more or less important social obligations, we took the chance to get out of town. We just made a little detour to Wrestpoint Hotel and Casino to do a tour there as part of the Open House Day weekend. Despite the mixed weather, we had amazing views from the revolving restaurant in the tower. Wrestpoint is a historically rich place with architectural heritage and many stories associated with the place. It got famous as Australia’s first casino in the 70th.

The weather was exciting with rain on the ferry, high waves on the beach, and frequent showers. I did my favourite walk to Fluted Cape again, which provided ‘William Turner’-like views of the sea. After that, we climbed the highest mountain on South Bruny, Mt. Mangana. The track takes you through beautiful forest while the summit is rather disappointing. It comes with some solar panels and just a hint of a view. Nevertheless, we can claim to have reached Bruny’s highest point.

Mount Misery

How to spend a perfect Sunday? In Tassie the answer is always: Go bushwalking!

We made Sunday even better by starting off with free yoga at Lululemon and then heading off to Mount Misery, a private walking track that is maintained by the Huon Bush Retreats.

Before we got there we took a 30 min detour because my phone tried to make us get there from the other side of the mountain where there is no road. It was a scenic detour which came with the sight of a black swan post box and a bag of Lucaston apples.

The walk to Mt. Misery summit is worthwhile although the summit is rather disappointing. The track great though. It gently climbs through lush rainforest and leads to a heathland plateau with great stone formations.

The (Royal) Hobart Show

Agricultural Shows are apparently a worldwide phenomenon. I don’t know about their importance elsewhere but in Tassie and Australia they’re big although they are struggling to exist. You even get a day off work to attend the show! The Show in Hobart has a reputation of presenting agricultural related things of minor extravagance while attracting people of major peculiarity.

There are breeding shows presenting the “best” dogs, cats, guinea pigs, pigeons etc. Some of these are interesting others are disturbing. Other competitions also cater for special characters such as baking, various handicraft, needlework, fleece, and “medieval” sword fighting (yes, and yes despite the fact that no knight ever set foot onto Tasmanian ground).

The woodchopping contests are everyone’s favourite and they were ours too. And it is even a true Tasmanian invention:

“The modern sport of woodchopping is said to have had i[t]s genesis in 1870 in Ulverstone, Tasmania, as the result of a £25 ($50) bet between two axemen as to who could first fell a tree.” Wikipedia

Another part of the show are the amusements which mainly come as outdated rollercoasters, carousels, and bumper cars. If those didn’t swallow all your money yet you can get slushies in rainbow colours, a hotdog on a stick called Dagwood Dog or a show bag which contains either trashy plastic toys or sweets. And those kind of amusements attract particularly interesting people too.

To summarise, the Hobart Show provides uncountable opportunities for people watching, is a true Tasmanian experience, and definitely entertains if you’ve never seen it before.

A hint of spring – Bike tour to Snug Falls

We’re getting there. Sometimes the weather is really nice these days. We embraced one of these days by cycling 60 km to Snug Falls and back. And let me stress one thing: 60k in Tassie are not comparable to the Rheinland where you can easily do 90 k in one day. Here there are rolling hills all the way which makes going down at 50k/h a lot of fun but going up the hill is equally dreadful.

Snug Falls, close to (surprise) the village Snug, is really pretty and so is the route via Margate, Kingston, and Taroona. We stopped at Kingston Beach on the way back.

Hartz Peak

Spring is nearly here. Quoting my colleague:

“Welcome to Tasmania. If you don’t like the weather, come back in five minutes”.

Between rain and storm there is sun. So we decided to tackle Hartz Peak last weekend. Verdict: recommended.

On the way back we stopped in one of my favourite cafés in Huonville (DS Coffee House).

Overland track – guest entry

During the week where Juliane was on the mainland I had to spend time on my own. I chose to walk the famous Overland Track in the Highlands of Tasmania.

This track leads you 65 km from the Cradle Mountain area through alpine areas and high moors to the Lake St. Clair in 4-5 days. On my first day I parked our car at the Lake St. Clair Visitor Center and hitchhiked to the Cradle Mountain Visitor Center, where I warmed up with a few short walks, before I started the trip on the next day in glorious weather.

During the next 4 days I climbed Cradle Mountain and Mount Ossa (1617 m), Tasmania’s highest mountain, which is still loaded with snow at the beginning of spring. During the day I mostly walked alone, but in the evenings I met the same people in the huts almost every night.

The finale of the Overland Track is a ferry ride to shorten the last kilometers from one side of Lake St. Clair back to civilization.

About the author: Renke lives in Tasmania and is an enthusiastic traveler (Link to Facebook profile)

Richmond & Zoodoo

Spring brought us a sunny weekend and we decided to use it for a day out to Richmond and Zoodoo Zoo. I have done this trip before (see older post) but it is always worth going a second time.

Richmond is great because it reminds me of England and the zoo, well I just adore animals. Although zoos are not necessarily great examples of well treated animals, they do offer the opportunity to get in touch and educate.

Back in Hobart we stopped at the townhall which turned 150 this weekend. It came with old trams and everything. We still hadn’t enough of the sunshine and finished the day with a little bike tour along the Derwent.

 

¡La primavera me gusto!

Fowlers Gap – Fieldwork in the outback

‘There is this UAV*2 workshop coming up. Do you want to come?’ ‘YES!!’

And this is how I ended up travelling 1800 km to a place called Fowlers Gap in the outback. The nearest town, Broken Hill, is 150 km away. The only reason for Broken Hill‘s existence is a mine. The lead mined in broken hill is famous since it is deposited in nature and people all over the world.

If you want to take a whole lab of drones to such a place, you have to do it by road and ship. So I and my two dear colleagues packed everything in a Ute and trailer. Ready for the road trip!

We first drove to Devonport, in the north of Tassie, where the Spirit of Tasmania II would take us to Melbourne. The night ferry takes 12 hours to cross Bass Straight. I had a cabin to myself and slept well until the swell woke me up. Even though it is a big ship, the waves shake it around quite a bit. Luckily I could go back to sleep. When I woke up the next time, I saw Melbourne’s skyline.

Next we had 900 km of Victorian and NSW’s*2 roads ahead of us. We headed for Bendigo (yay!), another mining city, through sleepy villages and over rolling hills. Half way we stopped in Mildura for lunch. Mildura has an impressive amount of vineyards and is known for being Victoria’s food bowl. After Mildura, the big nothing takes over. The landscape is flat, open and the skies are huge with impressive cloud formations. This is where the outback starts.

After a while it gets really boring to drive on dead straight roads. Time for games! First I gave some German and Spanish lessons: road, bush, tree, flower, water, sky, sun, shadow, bird, and goat.

Game over. For the last 85 km we decided on a new game: Each player has to spot as many interesting things as he can during a 5 km stretch of road. After 5 km the next player takes turn. Interesting things are: signs, side roads, animals on the road, emus, road trains, powerlines over the road, and overtaking cars. Great game!

Coming up to Fowlers Gap the landscape changed to bushes and red hills in the background – stunning. Fowlers Gap is a well-managed research station consisting of several cottages and large paddocks. These paddocks were subject of our research for the next three days.

Waking up with grazing kangaroos in front of the cottage all set in a nearly undisrupted landscape is very special for a European like me. I always enjoy fieldwork but it is even better in good company and pretty surroundings. And the company was just as great as the landscape. Researchers from universities all over Australia were present and buzzing to collect data. We got up at 6 in the morning and were not released to our rooms until 10:30 each night. Despite the long days everyone was super enthusiastic about going into the field each day. If everyone was so passionate about going to work each day, things like depression or burnout would not exist.

Before I end up writing a novel, I better let you take a look at some photos…

*1UAV = Unmanned Aerial Vehicle – commonly known as drone

*2NSW = New South Wales

Maria Island

To get to Maria Island, you need to take a small ferry from Triabunna to Darlington, the only settlement on Maria. There are no cars allowed on the island and nobody lives there apart from a few rangers and the visitors.

The buildings on the island stem from a convict settlement in the 19th century and an attempt to run a cement factory in the 1920s which was followed by farming until the 1980s. In 1972 parts of the island became a national park, which was extended again in 1991. Today, wildlife has taken over a lot of the island. Wombats and wallabies are happily grazing away on the sparse lawns and make it an ideal place for wildlife lovers.

We managed to get on the free ferry that ran from June to August due to the Centenary of Tasmanian Parks. You can either sleep in bunk beds in the old Peniteniary in Darlington, or use the nearby campground. Since all bunk beds were booked, we took the tent. That turned out to be a good idea because it is like camping in a zoo.

The island is not only great for wildlife watching but also for biking, BYO*1 or rent one, hiking, and to amuse the curious Geologist/Geomorphologist. We first climbed the twin peaks Bishop and Clerk, not to be mistaken for the two peaks of Kilimanjaro (hint: only the Monty Python connoisseur will get that one). The 620 m summit is made from dolerite columns. It involves some serious climbing to get up there, but you are rewarded by the view and the feeling of freedom.

On the way back we stopped at the Fossil Cliffs that is ‘recognised as the best example of lower Permian strata in Tasmania, if not the world’. Go home Kliff von Bartolfelde*2! This one is so much cooler. There are fossils everywhere.

My geomorphological delight could only be topped by the Painted Cliffs, which we visited the following morning. The colourful sandstone outcrops truly looked like a painting in the morning sun. Our research spirit merely came to hold when parts of our footwear decided to fall to pieces. What a great trip!

*1 BYO = bring your own

*2 Kliff von Bartolfelde = Another fossil cliff that I visited on a Geography field trip back in Germany. It became an in-joke afterwards.

Tasman Peninsula

Since I brought back another immigrant from Germany via Cuba, I now have to visit Tasmania all over again. Hence we decided to start with a classical Tasman Peninsula round trip.

On Saturday we tackled Cape Raoul, a walk with great views of the coastline including Bruny Island. The track is known for heavy winds on the peninsula. We picked a super calm day and enjoyed sitting on the exposed rocks on the edge, looking down at the waves and listening to the seals. Afterwards we made our way to White Beach Tourist Park where we had a Cabin booked for the night.

On Sunday we visited the Coal Mines Historic Site first thing in the morning. We were all alone apart from a very hungry echidna* that was searching the ground for food. The place features ruins and other remains from a coal mine, all nicely explained on informative panels. The convicts were sent down the tunnels to get low quality coal out. In 1848 the mine was closed due to ‘moral and financial grounds’. ‘Moral’ apparently means that homosexuality was unacceptably widespread for the moral principles at the time.

Anyway, we went on to see Devil’s Kitchen, Tasman Arch, Blow Hole, and Tessellated Pavement. They are all excellent examples of forms of coastal erosion. To add a distinct culinary experience to the trip, we stopped at Federation Chocolate Factory and stocked up on some yummy chocolate bars.

*I think echidnas are heavily underrated and should get as much publicity as the platypus! So here you go echidna: have your own photo gallery.