We left the barmy heat in Melbourne to fly into Hobart in Tasmania, just a short flight south arriving into a grey and cold city!
But this first impression soon left us as the weather brightened and we started to uncover the many wonders this Island contains.
Tasmania is about half the size of England with a population of under 600,000. It’s the smallest and most southern state of Australia. There are also around 1,000 smaller islands in the area.
We visited the local museums to understand more about this interesting Australian state.
We learnt that the island had been part of the Australian mainland until around 12,000 years ago when rising sea levels created the Bass Straits.
Tasmania was inhabited by indigenous people as far back as 40,000 years ago! However, within about 30 years after the British colonists arrived in 1803, the indigenous people had been mostly decimated by war and disease, they were eventually expelled to Flinders island. It’s not the first time that our nation’s colonial past has haunted us on our travels, probably not the last time either…
We spent a few days here before driving north to a small town called Grindelwald. As we left we visited the awesome Museum of Old And New Art (MONA).
MONA is a privately owned contemporary art gallery just a few miles outside of Hobart, reachable by car or via their funky boats docked in the harbour.
The scale and ambition of the gallery is truly awesome, making for a truly immersive experience. The gallery itself is underground and you start your journey by descending many levels and you slowly make your way back up to ground level.
The art work on show is engaging, challenging and perhaps even obscure at times but it’s a real delight to enter this creative and sensory world. You are encouraged to download their App to your phone, it senses your position in the gallery and provides information on the art pieces nearby, as there are no signs or labels provided.
There are traditional canvas pieces but also many large installations by both well known and less well known artists.
You can easily spend a day here, once out of the cavernous gallery there is lots to see in the grounds too, which are set alongside a vineyard.
So if in Tasmania, you MUST see this wonderful place!
We then drove north for a few hours to Grindelwald, a small town just north of Launceston, Tasmania’s second biggest city. The landscape is beautiful with small countryside towns to visit along the drive as well as lakes, rivers and the sight of mountains in the distance.
Our accommodation in Grindelwald was set in a vineyard with stunning views of the lakes in the Tamar valley.
From our base in the north we visited a Lavender farm, providing stunning views, with the sounds of bees buzzing in the background.
We had limited time and had to choose between visiting Cradle Mountain or the Bay of Fires, the latter won out as we weren’t sure about the cloud cover in the mountains.
The rocks in this region have a layer of stunning orange lichen growth, a mixture of fungus and algae, making for a unique look. The area is known for its translucent seas and fine bright white sand benches.
Most of these beautiful beaches are pretty empty and there are so many to visit in this area.
Our next stop was Swansea on the Mid East coast of Tasmania, set on yet another beautiful beach with lots and lots of vineyards in the area.
We took a boat trip out from Cole’s Bay to see Wineglass Bay and hopefully some sealife.
The boat captain had a report of sealife out in the fairly rough Tasman sea, soon we were both delighted and amazed to find ourselves amongst a pod of 20-30 Orcas, a very rare sighting we were told.
The excitement on the boat, both crew and tourists, was electric, a very special moment for all of us, as we watched these wonderful creatures in the sea whilst clinging on to whatever we could in the strong swell!
We drove further down the east coast heading south towards Port Arthur for our final stop at Tasmania’s UnZoo, an open animal sanctuary. Passing further spectacular views we finally arrived at our destination.
After a cold start Tasmania warmed up and it’s been a fabulous week with wonderful scenery, exceptional experiences and fantastic food, such a calm and beautiful place.
Next we fly back to Melbourne to start a 5 day drive north up the coast to Sydney.