Back on Canadian Terra Firma

As you probably read before sleeping at home was a trick and a half.  Getting the kids (and us) back on schedule was no laughing matter.  It took WEEKS to adjust back to Canada time.

We did have distractions though.

Granny (my mom) took the time to make Roland’s belated burthday present extra special.

While we were in New Zealand we saw a pedalless puck bike that would be perfect for Roland.

Granny took Roland out to our local bike shop and had him fitted for a brigh green bike and he LOVES it!

 

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Traveling has lest quite the impression on Roland.  It’s all he talk about.  When is the next trip? When do we get to go back on the camper?  When is the next plane ride?

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In lue of a formal birthday party for Roland, our wonderful family and friend got together and threw us a welcome home party.  It was especially wonderful since I didn’t have to do anything.

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Time to go back to regular lift for a while.

Maternity leave will be over soon and I will go back to my “regular job”.  Only question is where will our next trip be?

 

 

Thank you everyone for following along our crazy long journey.  It;s been a blast and something I would recommend to everyone with or without kids.

Our last day in Australia

I am willing to admit it.  We’re all a little fried from traveling 10,773 km in the last 6 weeks.  Waking up in a hotel was just lovely.  We ate leftover pizza and watched TV.

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We are located in a rather interesting neighborhood.  We’re not quite sure if it is dying or up and coming.  We hope for the latter.

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There are several murals on the local buildings and trendy shops like doggy daycares and I’m not even sure how to classify shops.

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Sadly we had to leave that comfortable space and head out into the streets.  The Central Station was close by so Roland had a blast looking at all the trains.

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Note to self, look at the weather before leaving.  It rained.  A lot.

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We headed inside to a cafe and grabbed a bite to eat while we waited out the rain.

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The rain ended and we chanced a walk back to the hotel and called a cab.

We were at the airport with HOURS of time on our hands.  Security was a minimal wait and we plunked ourselves down with a view of the airplanes.

 

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He looks like he’s about to drop a beat.

 

We explored and tried on some new hats.

 

Took Selfies

 

And found Dan’s Favourite cookie “Silm Slams in the Jim Jams” as he calls them

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I met another traveling mother with children of similar ages.  As we chatted she let me in on a seriously good deal.

There looks to be a lot of good deals here.  I will let you know if we get to use this or not.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We boarded our plane and took off. Kids did great and it was a short flight (comparatively speaking) so I didn’t even get any pictures.  I was still trying to watch La La Land when we came to a screeching halt, on the ground.  Ride over.

Dan and Roland shared three seats.  Scarlet and I shared the three seats on the other side~~ How lucky are we!!  We had soo much room to spread out.  Scarlet even got to roll around on two seats for a while.  I just used the infant seatbelt that Quantas provides with the regular belt to help make sure she stayed on the seat and not falling to the floor. I was still trying to watch La La Land when we came to a screeching halt, on the ground.  Ride over.

The flight was so short that I was still trying to watch La La Land when we came to a screeching halt, on the ground.  Ride over.

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Amazingly (haha I know) there were cabs waiting right out the door to take us into Christchurch.

The moment we got in the door Roland takes of yelling “Take My Picture, Take My Picture!”

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Now Roland did not nap today.  He did not sleep on the plane (It was a go ahead and watch TV kind of situation).

So the moment he put head to the pillow, with minimal cuddling he was totally OUT.

Thus ends our time in Australian and we begin a new chapter in New Zealand.

Distance Traveled: 2163 km plus

P.S. Happy Anniversary to my wonderful husband who I have been joking that I am taking him to New Zealand for our Anniversary.

Australia Day 41 – We say goodbye to “The Beast”

How far can you drive a camper with two little kids in 6 weeks? The last picture will give you the answer…

Packing, no one likes it but it is a necessary part of travel.

One of the biggest reasons I wanted to travel by motorhome was so I didn’t want to pack and unpack every few days into and our of different hotels.

When we got our camper I unpacked everything and there it stayed for 6 weeks.

Well, it appears we have added a few items over that time and now it just doesn’t fit.

We started our Australia/New Zealand trip with just one suitcase a few backpacks, not bad Eh?

We are at the Discovery Park Easts Beach.  It is likely the largest park we have been in and it is FANTASTIC.  Children’s toilets, baby bathtubs, child size showers, playgrounds, space, beach, the list goes on.

Dan took Roland for “A Run” (as we have taken to calling it)

This way I could get some packing done without the little dude trying to undo everything.  Scarlet was a willing participant that did not complain too much.

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This little duck decided to visit.  Clearly, a local favourite as to hoe friendly and hungry looking it was.

I have the added bonus today of a 1-hour massage, booked by Dan and an anniversary/mother’s day gift.  And I need it!  My right shoulder has been killing me.  It’s not a new issue but certainly aggravated by the driving and child wrestling that has been going on.

My massage was fantastic!  James, a seasoned Iron Man triathlete gave a great deep tissue remedial massage.  As he put it “A good Flogging”

All packed up we headed north to the Maui dealership.  Before leaving town we took in a few sights.

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Discovery Park Easts Beach

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Little Blow Hole

On the way back to Sydney,

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We might have left it looking a little dirty compared to the clean and ready to go models…

We took a quick taxi ride to our hotel and made the quick decision to get a new duffel bag to hold all our extra stuff.

The hotel staff had suggested a local shopping center that was close walking distance.  Thinking I wouldn’t be long I headed off and left Dan with the kids, planning to bring supper home with me.  It was about 4:30.

The shopping center had a Woolworths, foot locker and some various other shops (including the Japnese version of a dollar store) but no luggage to be seen.

Chatting with the employee of Foot Locker, he suggested a luggage store located in the World Square Shopping Centre.  Not having a clue and not having any data on my phone, I headed off in that direction.  A “short ” walk through China Town and I found the place mentioned.  Their quality was second to none but so was the $400 price tag on a small duffel bag.  I do love good quality but I also have a budget I need to follow.  Lucky me, I found a “dollar store” downstairs and they had the cheapest looking bag you have ever seen.  This thing might not even make it to New Zealand (and I packed it accordingly).

Well, there was NO way I was going to make it back to the hotel within a reasonable amount of time.  I had several kilometers to cover in the dark and hoping I didn’t get lost.  Thankfully I did grab a paper map before leaving and grabbed a bit of free WiFi before heading off.

Dan and I could also text.  He ordered pizza and I worked for it getting back.

Scarlet is SOOOOO close to crawling!  It is such fun to watch her try and she want so move too.

Anyone know what our totak driving was?

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Oh, and today we only drove 132.6 km

Australia Day 40 –

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This morning was started with a quick ocean side photo shoot.

Scarlet is now 8 months old.  She was just about 1 month old when we started to plan this trip and now we are here. Living life on our terms!

We are so glad we skipped the main highway or the slower route that takes us through so many small towns.

We are in Eden today and with the advice of the local park staff, we have headed into town for some breakfast.

 

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Growing Boys need a good breakfast!

 

The Big Breakfast at Wharfside Cafe.

 

 

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Australian Bush Truck

Do you see the black thing on the front of this truck?  It’s a snorkel so it can breath when driving the flooded roads.  Crazy. And they are everywhere.

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We rounded out our drive with more breathtaking scenery and finished our drive in Kiama, a wonderful and beautiful Ocean town.

358 km today.  We are now just about 2 hours from Sydney where we will drop off our camper and stay one night in a hotel.  Tomorrow, Dan has booked me a 1-hour massage too!! Happy Mothers day and Happy anniversary to me 🙂

 

Australia Day 39 – It’s still not enough time to see everything

Crossing the Bass straight at night is by far the best use of our time traveling.  We have covered so much ground on this trip and hardly scratched the surface.

Children are great when a routine is involved.  Having been in the camper for over a month, both kids are well adjusted to when and where they sleep.  Now we have gone and taken them out of that and thrown a big boat sized wrench into it.  Roland is super happy to get on the boat and loves the idea of sleeping on a boat.  He, however, usually asks to go sleep in the camper once we are actually getting him into bed.

Our room is set up with two sets of bunk beds.  Scarlet is in a baby cot and Roland is on one of the bottom beds.  Dan takes a top bunk and I stay down low with the kids.

As I stretch my legs out I found an obstacle on my bed that was not there when I fell asleep.  It was 3:30 am so I just moved my pillow to sleep with my head by him rather than move him or risk kicking him (all measures to keep him sleeping).  It was actually rather sweet.  He did move a little more and put his head on the pillow beside me and was super cuddly in the morning when we woke him up.

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We landed in Melbourn at 6:30 am and sadly could not stay to explore it.  We need to drop off this camper in Sydney in just a two days.  We have decided to drive some more of the coast and take those two days to see a few more small coastal towns rather than drive the big highway.

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Sometimes our GPS picks strange routes.  This was no exception (although it had a reason, construction)

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We found ourselves looking at the former town of Yallourn, now moved for the purpose of coal mining.

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We did get back on the highway and Dan found this truck rather amusing.

 

We found a great place for Roland to play.  He has taken a liking to saying “I needs to play” when he sees a playground.  It was beautifully situated across from a pond where it appears everyone goes to eat lunch.

 

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We also found Stratford on the Avon too.

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The mountains, valleys and ocean views keep changing on this road.  We are taking the Princess Highway, a continuation of the “Great Ocean Road” continuing toward Sydney.

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I love these trees.  They are so ornate and large with the most interesting foliage.

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Much like fall in Canada, Australia is undergoing a change in the colour of the leaves.

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As per usual, it appears we will be parking in the dark. (it’s only 5 pm)

 

We chose the town of Eden to park for the night.  It is right on the ocean and we would hear the waves crashing from our camper.

 

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It was such a beautiful sight with the full moon reflecting off the water as it rolled in.

 

We have seen so much on this trip.  I’m sure when I add it all up we will have driven over 10,000 km.  We have seen all but one state (sorry Western Australia), coast, mountain, desert, and everything between.  Animals, both farm and wild, unique and mundane.  Historic and legendary locations. Yet, there is so much more.

This is a large place, to say the least, and warrant further exploration in my opinion.  Plus I never got to dive on the Barrier Reef.

We are not quite done our time here.  We will head to Sydney, drop off the camper and spend one last night in a hotel before heading off.

For now, I will fall asleep listening to the waves.

Australia Day 38 – The last leg of Tasmania

We woke to some pretty spectacular views.  Located in the old copper mining town of Queenstown.  We had arrived after dark last night and it was spectacular driving (this is the nice way of say SCARRY as you know what going down a mountain in the dark with a cliff on one side)

 

Fog.  That was all we could see of the mountains.  Fog, or perhaps we could even call them clouds.  A quick drive around town was all we did and we hit the road with the plan to stop for lunch along the way.

The harbour-side town of Strahan has a long and interesting history including Sarah Island and The Ship that Never Was

We found a nice little spot to have some lunch looking at the boats.

We had a boat to catch so we did not get the opportunity to stay and explore.  It looks like a fascinating place to spend a few days.

Our drive is always interesting.  We have seen all sorts of farming, forests, lakes, rivers, ocean and industries like fishing, forestry, and mining.

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And then there is the construction.  I have often complained about the construction at home but we have seen more equipment on the roads of Australia than my whole life combined.  Roland loves it!

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This was a two for one picture of the fire truck and the construction!

This is all made up for by the amazing sights.

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This drive was mainly forest so it was such a relief to me when I saw the ocean again.  I even said to Dan how it made me feel was similar to when I arrive at the cottage.  There is this sense of relief that is only provided by looking at a large open body of water.  For me, there is nothing else.

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We were treated to some spectacular ocean driving before arriving in Devonport for our Ferry home.

There was no shortage of amusement as we waited in line to board the ferry.

There was going to be a Boat on the Boat and a Car on a Car on the Boat

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And you don’t want to forget The Jolly Lolly Trolly!

As we say goodbye to Tasmania it is bittersweet.  I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in this unique state and I wish we had longer to explore the area.  I am. however, excited to know that we are one step closer to New Zealand and all the new experiences we will have there.

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Australia Day 37 – Heading to Tasmania’s West Coast

There’s not much in the way of people, towns or roads on Tasmania’s West Coast.  Often skipped for more popular places, such as Hobart or the Cradle Mountain, many people will miss out on its beauty.

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We left New Norfolk (north of Hobart) and started to drive.  Our destination was Queenstown, an old copper mining town that was mentioned to us by some fellow travelers.

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Along the way, we are treated to various mountains, rivers, lakes and farmland.  The towns we find are small and friendly.

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We always try to schedule extra time into our drive to accommodate A) having children who need things and B) detours and scenic places to stop.  We found a lot of the latter today.

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Detour 1″  Scenic Bridge over The River Derwent

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Framed on either side by mirrored glass water, this was a view not to be missed.

Detour 2:  Tarraleha Power Station – A Hydroelectric Dam

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As we continued our voyage into the vast mountains of the west side we noticed some peculiar concrete trenches.  Shortly after we noticed these LARGE pipes.  Being the clueless people we were it took a little longer than it should have to put the two together.  Naturally, we decided to follow the pipes that were accompanied by a Scenic Lookout sign.

 

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Did you see the pipes running down the other side?

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Looking up from the bottom.

 

 

Detour 3: Lake Binny

Intrigued by a Hellocopter landing sign we decided to go for a drive down this road.

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It lead to this road-

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And this road leads to this lake, where we actually found a surprisingly large number of people were living.

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Detour 4: Monument to the Early Surveyors who explored and mapped Tasmania.  Interestingly located very close to the middle of the state.

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Detour 5:  Lake St. Clair National Park

I had seen signs and it was lunch time with 4 people who all wanted to stretch their legs.  We took the detour and headed for the lake.

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This is the deepens freshwater lake in Australia.  It goes down as far as 160m or 525 feet!

You could hear nothing but the birds – until the helicopter came.  We’re still not sure what it was carrying but it was picking up or dropping off VERY close by.  It actually made three trips while we were here.  It was mostly obscured by the trees but it had a very long line to carry whatever it was.

We made sure to stop in at the hotel and have some lunch and coffee before heading off.

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Scarlet is trying so hard to crawl.  She just needs to figure out the hands and she will be on her way!

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We take any opportunity to get her on the floor, even when it is the carpet of the restaurant.  She rolls and wiggles herself around quite a bit so we still need to keep a close eye on her.  We even managed to rig up a blockade for the bed in the motorhome so she can move around on that every day.

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There is, of course, an information center at the park.  Roland had a blast looking at all the creatures and running around while I chased after him, with Scarlet attached to me (not my favourite activity!)

Detour 6: Suprise Canyon

No, I’m not making up the name.  We saw the signs and made the stop.  This is what we saw…

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Even without the detours, we saw a lot of incredible things.

 

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Clearcutting

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Road Maintenance (In the Mountains 100 km form anywhere)

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Makes me feel like home

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Dead Forests covering several mountains

 

 

With all our detours the day was getting late and we still had a lot of ground to cover.

The moon was near full tonight and made for some AMAZING sights I will never forget.  Iphone and driving did not make for good pictures but this will suffice.

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That is the moon, not the sun.

 

 

Coming down a mountain into Queenstown it was already dark and was one heck of a hill!!!  Too dark for pictures.

I did snap one of this building.

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Some 244 km later we are checked in and eating odds and ends for supper.

Tomorrow we have a boat to catch and we must not be late.  I am hoping the view from the top of the mountain we just drove down will be as good as everyone tells me it is. It was one heck of a ride to get down.  Oh, and there is a guy here who rode his bike.  Yeah, his bicycle.  Human powered up and down these “hills”.  That is some dedication!!

 

 

 

Australia Day 36 – Up and Up we go

Tasmania, no doubt, inspires images of devils, platypus, and other odd creatures.  For many is also conjures images of rugged mountains.  Of this, they are in no short supply.

We woke in Hobart.  Having arrived at our campsite, yet again, in the dark, we had no concept of just where we were.

What a view! We had no idea.

While we were at the zoo in Sydney we casually chatted with a Dad in the platypus house.  He was from Tasmania and happened to work as a breakfast chef at a downtown hotel in Hobart.  Since we were in Hoart be headed to his hotel and ate.  Dan even dropped off a dime (thin only Canadian change we happen to have) as a way of saying “Hello from Canada”

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The boats downtown Hobart make me think of Toronto.

It was made clear (by Roland) that Roland needed some play time.  A quick search revealed a play place that looked like a TON OF FUN and Scarlet could even get a chance to goof around.

Yup, still serving coffee!

Dan had been doing some reading and suggested that head up Mt. Wellington.

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So up we went.

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And up.

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And up, into the clouds.

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You could barely distinguish the houses and you were driving right on the edge of a cliff.

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The clouds quickly clouded any chance of seeing Hobart.   There was also snow.

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There is a wonderful observatory to stand in.  It has some great information too.

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In case all this snow, clouds, wind records and shelter hasn’t convinced you of the crazy weather you should check out this video.  Oh and turn on the CC close caption, it’s funnier.

 

It didn’t take long for the clouds to clear once we started heading down.

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There are people who bike up here.  It’s 4,170 feet high.  yeah.  insane.  

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While we were at the top I spoke to a bus driver.  He drives a large coach bus up and down this mountain.  We weren’t even sure we should take “The Beast” our motorhome up until we saw that!  He told us that the mountain has actually been closed for the last few days due to wind and snow/ice.  It was even closed at 10 this morning.  We really lucked out with our timing on this one.

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Back down at ground level, things are much more flowery.

 

We found the obligatory fire hall (built in 1911 is actually pretty cool though)

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And spotted an Ambulance

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We even saw this guy on the way out of town (By the way, this is called a UTE and they are EVERYWHERE)

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We have driven to New Norfolk and done more grocery shopping and landed ourselves a little spot to camp for the night.

We drove 105 km today and tomorrow we will head for the west side of Tasmania where even more mountains will rise up on our path back to Devonport.

Australia Day 35 – Port Arthur to Hobart

As much as I say we visited Port Arthur – we mostly shuddered and huddled from the cold rain and gusting/roaring winds today.

We had a walking tour booked for 10:30 and had every intention of attending.

 

Thankfully I had done some walking around with Roland Yesterday and Dan had gone on the ghost tour last night.After the walk, we headed for the boat and were rescued by a wonderful cart with plastic shields.  She drove us both to the boat and back to the visitors center. I think Roland had had enough of the rain and cold.  We need more warm clothing!

After the walk, we headed for the boat and were rescued by a wonderful cart with plastic shields.  She drove us both to the boat and back to the visitors center. I think Roland had had enough of the rain and cold.  We need more warm clothing!

The harbor cruise took us past the Ile of the Dead and the Boys prison.  We couldn’t see much with the rain and the fogged up windows on the boat.  We did, however, get to sit somewhere warm and drink coffee!!!

So with all this rain and cold, we did not want to explore any further.  I know there is so much to see and do here but sometimes the weather rules when you have wee ones to worry about you make sure they come first.

The key thing to remember is that we are in the Southern Hemisphere and their winter is coming. We are at the southern most point of the southern part of Southern Tasmania which is south of Australia. Our north is to their south, cold!!!  The next piece of land to our south is Antartica, some 4500 km away. The winds that are blasting away at us and bringing rain have been on an absolute tear with nothing in their way for hundreds or even thousands of kilometers to bring us this soul robbing and bone chilling cold.

We took a tour around the Tasman Peninsula before heading off to Hobart.  Sadly we were not able to visit the Remarkable Cave either. The view is legendary but the weather would have ripped us to pieces, it’s so cold. It had been recommended to us by some fellow travelers.

 

So we headed off to Hobart to shop and see the town.

There is an incredible bridge that is stunning to see.

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We looked in a few outdoor clothing stores like MEC or Edi Bower.  A fleece jacket for Roland was $99 to $120.  A quick search showed a Target close by and off we went.

Do you remember Roland wrestling the crocodile?  Now he’s going for the Tasmanian Devil too!

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At target, we got 1 pair of jeans for Dan, 2 sweatpants. a sweater and 4 pairs of socks for Roland, 2 thick tights, and sweatpants for Scarlet and 3 pairs of socks for me, all for $100.

Now, I like to buy local and I like to buy good quality but I draw the line sometimes and I just need cheap.

We were treated to a fantastic view down one of the many hills.  The cloud formation when you are near mountains are always changing and always fascinating.

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We had a little trouble finding a place to stay tonight.  I finally found showgrounds that you can book online.  It had power and toilets.  We needed to do laundry but the machine took tokens that you could only get from the office and obviously it was closed.

Oh well,  Laundry can always wait one more day.

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We drove 145 km today and will be heading north again so we can catch the ferry back to the mainland.  We will be flying to New Zealand on May 14 so our time in Australia is almost done.

 

Australia Day 34 – The Unzoo

Today we woke up in Richmond, not having a clue about the town.  It was simply a place we chose on the map because there was a caravan park we thought we could stay at for the night.

As we drove into town for breakfast we quickly realized we stumbled on some fascinating history.

The town is home to beautiful buildings that date back to the 1820’s.

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This bridge was built in 1925 and is the oldest bridge still in use in Australia.  The bridge was built by hand by convicts.

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There are also a lot of grapes grown in the area.

Our primary destination.  The UNZOO – “Instead of exhibiting animals in traditional enclosures for the benefit of humans, an Unzoo invites us into natural habitats in which cages or barriers are removed or concealed and wild, as well as resident animals, are encouraged to interact with the environment.” ( tasmaniandevilunzoo.com.au)

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Do you know the Tasmanian Devil? Not the cartoon spinning, drooling and funny talking one but the real one.  The endangered one.

They are fascinating.  These little creatures got their devilish name from the explorers who could hear them every night, feeding, cracking bones and screaming over food.  The newly landed people had no clue what it was making the demonic noises in the deep dark forest.

If you haven’t heard one, go to youtube and look it up.  They are loud!

They also have the strongest bite relative to its body size, 400 PSI!

They are also endangered.  Not because of humans (surprising, I know)

They have experienced an extinction level event due to a genetic mutation that is causing a facial tumor and the cancer is being spread by their bite, something they do a whole lot of.   It first appeared about 20 years ago and has decimated the wild population.  The Tasman Peninsula is the only disease free zone in Tasmania.

Not all is lost though.  Through breeding programs and continued work on a hopeful vaccine, there is hope for the devilish little creatures.

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Make sure to visit all 4 devil enclosures and crawl through the tunnels.

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GET A PEEK INTO THEIR WORLD AT THEIR LEVEL

There is way more to this Unzoo than Tasmanian Devils.  Explore the trails, bird watch and look for the wildlife that calls this safe haven home.

There are a large number of resident kangaroos.  To be honest I’m not sure on their story but you only need show up to garners some friendly attention.  They LOVE to have their chest scratched.

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This larger male Kangaroo appears to have claimed Dan.  After getting some scratched and love from Dan, the kangaroo wouldn’t let any other near.  If they got too close he would grunt and even lunge.  Clearly, Dan was a favourite!

We kept a close eye on Roland.  These are WILD creatures and no matter how friendly they appear, you need to be aware that they are unpredictable.

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none the less, Roland had a blast and this picture looks like they are lining up for a race!!

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The Kangaroos were described by one person as a cross between a velociraptor and a deer.  Yeah.

There is a Birds of the Bush presentation where you can meet different birds who have been rescued by the Unzoo.  You can meet a galahs, eastern rosellas, corellas and a tawny frogmouth

There is, of course, always time for play.  Dan is trying to teach Roland the finer points of taking pictures.  Apparently, this is going well.  In the first 100, Dan’s head was missing…

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There will be enough videos like this to make a montage by the end of this trip…

Lunch was next on our agenda.  We love to ask locals where to eat and this time the Lavender Farm was recommended.  Set on the water the farm and it’s “House” is beautifully situated and serves food that is equally stunning to look at.

Our final goal was to make it to Port Arthur.

There is only one place to camp so that is where we went.  This was by far the earliest we have ever shown up to get a site.  It was about 2:00 so we took some time to clean up and, of course, play.

They have a track just for little children to run on.  Toddler approved and well done!  (yes, I know it is for bikes but it is just perfect for him to run on!)

We had enough time left in the day to head over to Port Arthur and start exploring a little bit.

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Dan got to go on a Ghost Tour tonight while I hung out with the kids (AKA Blogged while they slept)

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Drove a total of 85km (big day!)

Tomorrow we plan to explore Port Arthur some more