Hobart – day 330

Deciding to avoid the squeeze in the kitchen for the final time, we opted to grab all our cereal, milk, foldable bowls and our sporks to eat breakfast al fresco at the summit of Mount Wellington. The drive through the streets towards the 1270m high mountain was pretty straight forward although, with no petrol stations en route refreshing our memories, we had got half way up to the summit when the petrol gauge light came one… Driving straight past one of the view points on our way up, the glimpsing view was spectacular and made us even more excited about the view from the top! However, after about 5 more minutes of winding up the road through thick temperate forest, we clearly started going through the cloud line… The lunar rockscapes were surrounded in mist and we couldn’t see more than 10 metres in front of us. Deciding that there was no way that the cloud was going to magically disappear by the time we reached the summit, we decided to cut our loses and head back to the view point we had driven past to park up for breakfast. Would have worked out quite well too had the fog not descended at the same speed as us and we got about 2 minutes of view before we ate our breakfast looking at a stone wall and some fog!Undeterred by the start of our morning, we headed back down the mountain, stopping at the closest petrol station we could find, happy to pay the extra cost for petrol in exchange for not breaking down in the middle of nowhere on the day we were due to fly back to Melbourne. Managed to weave our way through the back streets to the Cascades Female Factory, another UNESCO site but part of the 11 convict sites in Australia so we can’t count it. The Cascades Female Factory is Australia’s most significant historic site associated with female convicts and certainly one of the more interesting convict sites we have visited, despite not having much left. The original yard was built as a gin distillery but the other four yards were purpose built, creating a self-contained institution intended to reform female convicts who had been transported from England under the pretence of being criminals but basically being sent to reproduce with the male convicts to populate the British colony. 

Thousands of women and children were imprisoned here, and many never left, due to high rates of illness and infant mortality. ​​​​Using our YHA membership cards again, we got a concession rate on entry and a guided introduction to the site and its stories. During the guided tour of the site, the guide gave us insights into the regimented system of punishment and reform that operated within these walls. Made us question whether these women were more sinned against than sinning?​ The only building still standing is the Matrons house that was, until recently, still occupied by a local family before being resold to the historical society (I guess it must have been frustrating having tourists pressed up against your lounge window every day). We finished our visit to the site by looking at the book of names for children who had died at the site… The list went on and on – very sad, especially when the cause of death for most of them was due to poor sanitation and drinking dirty water. Getting back in the car, we headed out of town and, with a few hours to kill, headed to Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary. The Sanctuary houses wombats, koalas, birds, quolls and many amazing natives including the Tasmanian devils. They also have over 80 free-roaming kangaroos which we got to hand-feed with complimentary kangaroo food. They were so much bigger than the kangaroos we fed on Kangaroo Island – it was slightly intimidating. We managed to squeeze in the 2pm guided tour where we got to hear some little-known facts about the wildlife (such as a wombat can outrun Usain Bolt) and stories of orphaned animals in care at the sanctuary. The tour included seeing the devils devour a snack (it looked like the carcass of a hedgehog) and pats and take close-up photos of the wombat and koalas – it was surprisingly good for a small place. 

Back at Hobart airport, we returned the car (having clocked up over 900km in four days) and waited for our plane back to Melbourne. A quick flight, an easy transfer on the SkyBus to the city centre and we were checked in at the YHA. Decided to treat ourselves to ‘dinner’ out, we went to the kebab shop we had spotted all those weeks ago when we had come to Melbourne for the weekend. Ordered a ‘snack-pack’ that was so enormous, we had to share it! Watched a little bit of TV in the television room before heading up to bed. Thursday 1st September 2016

Travelling – day 326

Happy 4 year wedding anniversary to us!!! Can’t quite believe it’s already been 4 years but wow – what a four years it’s been! We have been fortunate enough to travel to the far flung corners of the world together and still save enough money to take a career break from work and follow our dreams. It’s been tough and it’s been stressful, but the smiles and laughter have more than made up for the tears and arguments. Right, enough with the soppy stuff, and on with our day… Which, unfortunately, was pretty non descriptive. Had to get up reasonably early to catch our shuttle bus transfer to Adelaide airport. As we sat in the YHA dining area, all of us nursing a coffee to wake us up, we clearly looked like a group of people who wanted to be left alone in peace and quiet. Clearly not portraying this emotion well enough, the very enthusiastic elderly lady who plonked herself down next to us started talking animatedly about all the places we should see in Australia. Don’t think we even managed to get a word in to tell her that we only had a week left in Australia and that Tracey was actually an Australian! Standing outside on the street, we waved the little old lady onto her tour bus for the day as we clamoured onto our shuttle bus. We were supposed to be the last pick up but another customer hadn’t been ready so he did a quick detour on the way to the airport. Turns out they still weren’t ready when we arrived but just as we were pulling out of the parking area they came dashing out. The driver called out the window that he’d turn around before doing a massive loop through the one way streets back to the hotel only to find out the women had decided to get a taxi instead… FFS. Everyone was slightly annoyed at how inconsiderate they had been, especially the driver as he ranted for the rest of the drive about all of us in the bus being on time at our pick up locations and needing to get us to the airport. Fortunately, we got to the airport in plenty of time and flew through checkin with the quickest typist ever on the desk. Jayne disappeared after security with the pretence of going to the toilet. In reality, she was buying me a trashy magazine and writing a (post)card for our wedding anniversary.  

A quick hour and a bit flight to Melbourne and we were saying goodbye to Tracey. Felt really strange waving her off on the SkyBus back to the train station as we rechecked in our bag and got our boarding passes for Tasmania later on that day. A rather uneventful day sat in the departures lounge in Melbourne domestic terminal, alternating between organising photos and trying to upload blogs. Deciding that the wifi wasn’t strong enough to cope with uploading photos, we got ourselves some burritos for lunch and settled down to watch ‘Lilo and Stitch’ on the netbook. Slightly stressful moment when boarding our flight when TigerAir did the RyanAir trick of weighing everyone’s hand luggage. We quickly ducked out of the queue and put the heavier things from Jaynes bag into mine and kept our fingers crossed that our bag weights would be okay. Mine was fine and just as Jayne was about to weigh hers, the woman behind us in the queue started talking to the stewardess which allowed us to sneak on to the plane with 7.8kg in the allowed 7kg hand luggage. Clearly, we weren’t the only ones as people started stripping off several layers of clothing as they boarded the plane with one group of women looking like they’d filled their hand luggage with Krispy Kreme donuts. 

A few episodes of ‘Friends’ and watching a stunning sunset from the window of the plane later and we had arrived in Hobart. Picked up our rental car from Thrifty and, as we were checking it over, two foreign gentlemen came over to ask what we were doing. When we told them we were checking for any damage so we didn’t get charged when we returned the car. Clearly novice car hirers, they said they didn’t knew they should do that and started to do the same – our good deed for the day!

With Jayne navigating, we quickly found our way to the hostel, parked the car outside and checked in. Slightly painful carrying all our stuff up three flights of stairs after being so tried from our day of doing nothing! The dorm room was like a sauna when we got in from the Dutch girl who was, evidently, trying to kill her cold with heat. The room, unfortunately, also had the same odour as our Kangaroo Island room of sweaty bodies. We headed over to Woolies and grabbed some food supplies before Jayne made dinner in the smallest kitchen we’ve ever had to use in a YHA. Slightly frustrating as you really can’t have more than two or three people in it at a time. After dinner, we went back to our room where the Dutch girl had turned off the heating (thank goodness) and cleaned up. Jayne opened her anniversary card from me and we both got into our separate beds to fall fast asleep. 

Sunday 28th August 2016