Leaving glorious New Zealand (45 days of awesome) would have been brutal if we didn’t have so much more to look forward to on our five-month (12 home exchange) adventure, including Tasmania! – Devils, wallabies, eye-popping art, islands off islands, coastline beauty and a wonderful home exchange.
Our Tasmanian home was a lovely, comfortable (100+ years old Federation style, beautifully remodeled & decorated), and our hosts Ingrid and Michael were funny, warm and welcoming, and full of advice about Tasmania. We felt like they really went above and beyond. We highly recommend them.
Hobart is the largest city in Tasmania, but still not too big (they don’t even have jetways at the airport). It reminds us of a miniature San Francisco with hills, charm, art, great dining, very individual style and a bustling waterfront. And it’s centrally located for day trips to many scenic and interesting places. In addition to history and architecture, Hobart is famous for its Salamanca Market – held every Saturday with hundreds of vendors and full of fun sights, sounds, smells, and heaps of truly local products (unlike some other markets we’ve visited around the world). The nearby town of Richmond is set in a beautiful wine region with more than 40 Georgian buildings, plus Australia’s oldest bridge and oldest Catholic church.
Tom here – I’m not a neanderthal. Art good! But when I travel, art museums are not usually at the top of my list (to Sheila’s chagrin). The Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in Hobart, Tasmania is a different animal though. It is irreverent, quirky, and often shocking. They clearly have a sense of humor. Don’t go if you’re squeamish or prudish. For example, one floor features a 100 yard long hallway adorned with 73 plaster impressions of lady parts most often seen by a GYN doc. Some art is interactive, some light-hearted, some intensely emotional. You won’t leave without something stirring your thoughts.
Towering above Hobart is Mount Wellington with its rocks and pinnacles. You can drive to the top for fantastic views of southern Tasmania and the many islands and peninsulas. We also had our first Wallaby sighting here – we’ve seen dozens since, including some near misses with the car.
The Tasman Peninsula is a nature filled day trip from Hobart – wildlife, cliffy coastline, beaches, blowholes, and plenty of open space. We were intrigued by the Tessellated Pavement – a shoreline where the rocks and terracing looks man-made but it’s not, plus the crevices are loaded with shells, seaweed, and tidepool critters. There’s also fascinating history here at Port Arthur.
One of the great aspects of being a home exchange member is making new friends even when an exchange match isn’t there. Susan and Ted on the north coast don’t have Colorado plans, but generously offered us a couple nights hospitality. So we enjoyed a road trip from Hobart – with wonderful conversation and new experiences the result. We otherwise wouldn’t have known of cute towns like Beechford, Bridport, Georgetown, or Low Head.
The Bay of Fires (NE Tasmania) is famous for its beautiful, empty beaches with very white sand, clear waters, and photogenic bright orange rocks (caused by lichen). You would think the name is for obvious reasons – but we found out it was actually named by sea explorers because of the Aboriginal fires that lined the bay. We seriously couldn’t believe how often we had pristine beaches entirely to ourselves.
Our day at Freycinet National Park on the east coast of Tasmania included an outstanding cruise with great scenery and sightings of dolphins, seals, and albatrosses (or is it albatri?) and a good lunch including local oysters. We highly recommend Wineglass Bay Cruises for their hospitality and informative commentary. Later, a hike to the viewpoint of famous Wineglass Bay and some twilight time at the beach.
Our day on Bruny Island featured an early morning car ferry, lighthouse, colorful starfish (with 8 legs!), seabirds, our first Australian snake sighting (a bit too close, now that we know what it was!), and the usual gorgeous coastal cliff scenery. You could easily spend days here with all the scenic tracks (hikes) available.
We saw more wildlife in Tasmania than anywhere else in our Australia journey. Driving at dusk or at night, you must be vigilant and truly expect to see living hazards around every turn (unfortunately, there is a lot of roadkill). Try to drive in the daytime if possible.
Tasmania has so much more to see, and we would love to return and experience more. We simply ran out of time for the road to Queenstown, Mount Fields National Park, Cradle Mountain, and Maria Island. And there are vast wilderness areas with the opportunity to go hiking for days if you like. Anyone touring Australia should be sure to include Tasmania or you won’t have a “complete” experience. Bonus: We found Tasmanian wines to be consistently delicious!
We’ll be back! There are home exchangers throughout the island so you can explore Hobart and beyond.
Read more posts about Tom and Sheila’s Down Under Odyssey!
Tom & Sheila are Romancing the Globe! Their adventures began when they met on Christmas Eve of 2007, fell crazy in love, and discovered their mutual travel addiction! They’re empty nesters and enjoy home exchanges to interesting corners of the globe (21 so far). Whether it’s weeks abroad or a weekend road trip in the Colorado mountains, they can create a romantic adventure just about anywhere! Preferred activities include water, nature, wildlife, bare boat sailing, relaxing at a beach, snorkeling, scuba diving, hiking, golf, outdoor concerts, exploring local culture and festivals, volunteering for nonprofits and finding at least one Christmas ornament for their travel tree. See their stories at www.RomancingTheGlobeTravelBlog.com and share yours!