We stayed near the airport the night before as we were up at 4.30am for our flight to Hobart. We were flying with Jetstar - worse than Ryanair as only 7kg of luggage (for 2 weeks)! Arrived on time though and picked up our hire car and off we went for our 16-day tour circuiting Tasmania.
Bit of history - Tasmania was originally called Van Diemen's Land. First European to land there was the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman in 1642 and he named it after the Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies. It was changed to Tasmania in 1856 and was the primary penal colony in Australia.
The temperature change was noticeable at only 13 degrees, coming from 30+ in Queensland. We settled in to our accommodation (Montacute Bunkhouse) for 3 nights and went off exploring. Hobart has a lovely harbour area where we had fish and chip lunch from a local take-a-way on the water and sat looking at the boats surrounded by seagulls waiting for scraps, of which there were of course none. We then spent a couple of hours in the free Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery which houses some interesting exhibition including the journey of Tasmanian Aboriginal people, its flora and fauna and a very interesting gallery telling the story of the Tasmanian Tiger and how it became extinct.
Hobart is the capital of Tasmania and has as its backdrop the 1,270 metre-high Mount Wellington. As it looked clear at the top, we took the opportunity of driving up - very windy (which we later found out described a lot of Tasmania) and Heather hates heights, sheer drops and narrow roads at the best of times - so an interesting journey. It was worth it though as the views from the top were stunning, despite the drop in temperature and the blowing gale.
Next day up early and got the first boat out to the Museum of Old and New, MONA art gallery. It was a lovely sunny day and a beautiful trip along the Derwent River estuary. The gallery was built by an Australian professional gambler called David Walsh and showcases his vast private collection of Art. Lonely Planet named it the best modern art gallery in the world and certainly has its shock value and does court a lot of controversy, it has been described as a "subversive adult Disneyland". The building itself is mostly underground and quite amazing in itself.
A few of the most memorable (for the right reasons?) exhibits included a really smelly artwork called Cloaca which is a defecation machine and is fed at 11.00am and 4.00pm and poos at 2.00pm - basically and s***-making production line. A wall lined with 70+ soap carved vulvae, which are also for sale in the museum shop. We did wonder if these would make nice gifts for family and friends when we go home.
It also has its own vineyard and after 3 hours of viewing the exhibitions, we sampled a glass of wine and a cheese board in the sunshine and contemplating what we had just witnessed - is it or isn't it art. In the words of Plato "beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder". We got the MONA Catamaran back to Hobart along with its on-board cow and sheep seating, and enjoyed a further glass of wine admiring the views along the way.
Another clear day on the mountain so armed with picnic bits we weaved our way back to the top of Mount Wellington to watch the sunset.
Next day we took a day trip out of Hobart to the Tahune Airwalk, a 1.5 hour drive through the Huon Valley and along the Huan River. Every turn was a postcard view and Heather wanted to stop everywhere. Parts of the river was like looking in to a mirror and gave amazing reflections of the surrounding countryside and the boats on the water. We passed many orchards, vineyards, great scenery and a final 20km drive through rainforest until we reached the Tahune Forest and its walkway. This was a steel canopy 50 metres above the river and the bringing us eyelevel with some of the trees. The walk also included two rope swing bridges over the Picton river. A great day out with 30 degrees sunny weather (a bit of a change from the 13 degrees a few days prior).
That evening we were invited to Kevin's landlord for dinner - Mal and Mieke. They had a beautiful house overlooking the Derwent River where we were welcomed by 3 dolphins swimming past. Great hosts and came away with some good tips of what to see on our trip around the Island.