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Tuesday, December 17, 2013


We scored a couple of extra days off of school in November and decided to get a long weekend to Tassie in. It was a packed little holiday chock full of outdoor activities - rain or shine.

Hobart is just a short hour long flight and we landed in around dinner time, giving us the night to settle in before starting out on our adventure.

Saturday morning we headed out to find some breakfast and do some shopping at the famous Salamanca Market.  This market has more than 300 stalls and operated every Saturday rain or shine. We found some great items to bring home with us.

After the market we wandered the waterfront and picked up some fish and chips from one of the many floating chip stands.

Much to the kids delight, the afternoon was then spent touring around some of the local attractions.  What 6 year old doesn't like touring an old prison and a brewery? It was raining by then so really, our options were limited!

First up, the Cascades Female Factory where approximately half of the 25,000 female convicts transported to Australia served their time.  Most fascinating was the cramped quarters the thousands of women and children here shared, and consequently the very high infant mortality rate. 

The Cascade Brewery is the oldest operating brewery in Australia, originally started by on of the many convicts transported to Tasmania . Unfortunately we couldn't do a tour with the kids, so Scott had to be content with wandering around the property.  

Scotts happy place
Finally we headed up Mount Wellington, an impressive sight, we're told often covered in snow and offers the most impressive view of the city from the pinnacle. 

During the trip up the mountain you can't help but notice the surroundings change from rainforest to forest and eventually glacial rock.

When you make it to the pinnacle at 1, 270 meters the view of the city should look like this:

We weren't so lucky to take in that incredible view, we got this instead!

The next day the weather wasn't much better, but not deterred we hopped in our car and headed off towards Port Arthur with a few stops along the way.

First up the tessellated stones. An amazing stone slab that has been worn away naturally in the pattern of individual stones.

 We stopped for lunch at the blow holes. Fish + scallops + calamari and chips = yummo!

When in Tasmania you just have to visit the tassie devils sanctuary. These little guys are awesome. They only live about 10 years and they are fighting against a genetic facial cancer that is threatening to drive their species to extinction.

It was feeding time when we arrived.
The noise these little guys make when they crush bone in their teeth is incredible!

In every wildlife park and zoo here there are more roos! We never miss an opportunity to pat these critters.

Late in the afternoon we made it to our final destination - Port Arthur.

Established in 1830, Port Arthur was established as a penal station for convicts transported from Britain.  By 1840 more that 2000 soldiers and staff lived at Port Arthur. Convict transportation ceased in 1853, closing the penal colony in 1877.

"convicts are only to be addressed by the number of their cells, and no man must ever use his name in communicating with the officers placed over him"

The ruins are interesting especially if you remember while looking at them that every building here was built by the convicts themselves.

There was also a boys prison where boys as young as 9 were sent for crimes as small as stealing a handkerchief, or an orange. When we first got there there was a neat interactive area where the kids could follow the lives of some of the prisons youngest convicts. It was a bit eye opening to them to say the least!

Part of the reason for the Tasman peninsula was chosen for this penal colony was that the only acesss to it was by ocean or the small strip of land called "Eaglehawk Neck" connecting it to the mainland.  Along the narrowest point of land there was the "Dog line" where a line of ferocious dogs were placed across the land on these pads with a barrel to sleep in and a light to see by.  There job was to look for convicts attempting escape. There were also a number of dogs placed out on floating stages in the ocean to help prevent escape by sea. 

The Separate Prison was a seriously creepy area. It was designed as a "solitary confinement" type of punishment

The chapel in the separate prison. Note
the separations in the pews so that
convicts couldn't touch each other. 

Finally the sun came out and we made the best of our day outside! First stop - the Cadbury factory for some treats and the best hot chocolate I think I've ever had! Real white, dark and milk chocolate shaved and melted in steamed milk.

After our chocolate infusion it was off to the Huon Valley to spend some time walking up amongst the immensely tall Huon pines and swamp gum trees.

Part of the air walk is the cantilever, and it's worth every step. It's the perfect vantage point to see the Huon and Picton Rivers converge.

Another part of the walk were the swinging bridges. The adults admired the view, the little people had way more fun running along the bridges giving us a great demonstration of why they're called "swinging bridges"!

Our last day was planned to be action packed. We were booked on a tour of that would takes us far into the Southern Ocean to Bruny Island.  There really isn't anything beyond Bruny Island and Antarctica but ocean, so we happily rugged up in our red jackets and took off on our incredible day.

 We saw sea caves and arches worn away over the years,

and massive 300 meter high cliffs that are some of the highest in the works formed over 160 million years ago.

There was the "breathing rock" and the sisters too.

And of course there was heaps of wildlife to be seen. Where the Tasman Sea meets the Southern Ocean there is a haulout that is home to thousands of fur seals.  They smell terrible, but it was great fun to see them lounging in the sun and occasionally swimming out to check out the boat.

After a wonderful and busy day out on the water it was time to head back to the mainland and catch our flight back to Melbourne. There's a bit of a story there, but lets save that for another day!

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