Monday, April 26, 2010

Tasmania and beyond!!

OK, I know, I have been slacking off a bit, but my internet has been acting up and I am actually updating this from school.
I will have to go back in the recesses of my mind a few weeks (hard to do at my age) to fill you in on everything I have been up to. We had our first school break here about 3 1/2 weeks ago and I took the opportunity to head off to Tasmania for most of the two weeks! What a wonderful reminds me alot of Canada actually. The holiday started Easter weekend so I flew out of Adelaide on the Friday and arrived in Hobart in the evening to be greeted by Bill and Adrienne and our campervan. I met Bill and Adrienne on my last visit over this way in New Zealand. They are avid outdoors people and were excited to do some hiking and exploring in Tassie. We spent the first 5 days travelling slowly from Hobart (the capital of Tassie) to Launceston. There are many historical places with great significance in Tasmania and to Australia as a whole. "Port Arthur" just south of Hobart was a large penal colony where the the majority of people were sent from England and other parts of the world for stealing such things as apples or loaves of bread to feed their families. Many or these people were given 7 yrs of hard labour for such theft....they were treated brutally and most had extra years added on for various hey, they settled Australia, and lightened the load on Britain when times were tight and there was a burgeoning population that was going hungry. A very brave and determined bunch of people they were. I read of one young girl of 13 who got 7 years for riding her neighbors horse without permission. The youngest convict was 8...incredible (he stole an apple!)
On we meandered to places such as "Wineglass Bay" where we went kayaking and hiking, sheep cheese making farms, wineries, more sightseeing etc. will have to follow as my internet is not up and running yet.
On the sixth day we started our hike from Cradle Mountain to lake St. Clair. We were with a group of 7 other hikers and two guides, and the hike covered 80 kms over 6 days. It was fantastic!!! This was the main reason for the trip to Tassie. The "Overland Track" as it is called is one of the iconic bushwalks in Australia. We hiked through rainforest, beside roaring waterfalls, over moor-like plateaus and through brush. I would highly recommend this hike to anyone - we went with a group called Cradle Mountain Huts, which made the trip thoroughly enjoyable. We were extremely spoiled on the trek, as we only had to carry our clothes from hut to hut and nothing else. This company provides you with heated huts (hot showers each day) and all the food you need. We enjoyed a variety of Tasmanian wines and cheeses with each meal, along with many other Tasmanian specialties (honey, bush tucker, lamb, etc). Our guides were superb and provided us with endless information about the area and why it was an important world heritage site. They also did all the cooking (amazing!!! fresh bread and scones every day!) and were very entertaining on top of it all.
The first day a "snake" (very poisonous supposedly) was seen at the side of the trail, though I didn't see it (thank goodness!). I did manage to see a few wallabies, little lizards, burroughing crayfish and a hairy nosed wombat! We spotted the wombat on the last day of the hike, just off the side of the trail. They have poor eyesight and are nocturnal, so not seen too much in the daytime, though their "cubed" (literally)poop was in evidence everywhere. Well, after everyone else had taken photos and moved on I waited silently and patiently on the side of the trail, and lo and behold, the wombat wobbled up to me about 15 minutes later and sniffed both of my boots and then wandered into the had something wrong with one of its back legs and didn't look too healthy, so not sure if it would have done that normally. My guide saw it and said he had never seen anything like it before. A week earlier it was in the news that a wombat had attacked a man for 20 minutes straight and wouldn't let go (they can get to be 60lbs) and they have sharp, beaver like teeth. I was lucky I guess!
We could not have asked for a better group of people to hike with. The age range was 27 - 70 with everything inbetween. Interesting, informative, friendly, loving, and fun are all adjectives that I would apply to this group! We had a blast together and we are all hoping to reunite at some point in the future, even if just with a few people at a time....I do plan on looking them up if I am in their areas (most from Sydney or Melbourne area).
At the end of the trip we were picked up in a van and headed back to the lodge where we began. Our guides, both with extremely good senses of humour, had us play a "people spotting" game on the way back, with certain points allotted for bikers, walkers, waver, and of course, the most going to "streakers". Well, would you believe it, just as we rounded one of the last bends, there were two streakers, one male and one female. They were non chalantly waving to us while standing on either side of the highway!!! The perfect ending to a perfect trip! Too many highlights to mention.
I have to run to one of my many, many staff meetings now, so off I go. I will update you on the rest of my adventures tomorrow!