Anne Marie's Australian Adventure

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Wombats and Possums and Tawny Frogmouths, OH! MY!

Posted by Anne Marie Serrano on April 13, 2009

On our last day at Wombat Bend, Ascha and I took a walk along the river that runs behind the billabong at the back of Bill and Sue’s property. Along the banks of the river (really just a creek now because of the drought) are the wombat burrows. It was mid-morning so I didn’t really expect to see a wombat so I was surprised when I saw a dark head and then quickly the big behind of a wombat scurrying back into the burrow. I stood watching for a long time but the wombat didn’t come back out. So Ascha and I continued on our walk.

After we got back to the house I got Fergus’ camera because his telephoto lens is much better than the one on my camera and decided to go back and sit outside the burrow and wait until it came back out again. Well when I got back the wombat was napping just at the opening of its burrow. I was so excited, I had seen my first wombat in the wild!!! I was so worried I wouldn’t see one outside of a zoo. I took several pictures and it never moved. It is rare to see them during the daytime. This one was as peaceful as could be without a care in the world.

My wombat asleep in the shade of her burrow.

My wombat asleep in the shade of her burrow.

Fergus and I went to the Healsville Sanctuary to see more animals since it wasn’t far from Dixons Creek. We saw many of the animals we have seen at the zoos and nature reserves but the raptor show was something new. They had several birds who had been rescued. These birds could fly away now that they have recovered from their injuries but they stay and perform some amazing tricks. The Wedge Tailed Eagle was especially interesting.

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A rock wallaby up close

A rock wallaby up close

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sanctuary has an animal hospital where you can watch them operating on animals. They had a kangaroo who was undergoing some procedure. He had an IV in his leg and there were several people discussing what they were going to do. In another theatre (that’s what they call operating rooms here – even for people) there was a very large snake (some kind of boa maybe).  His prognosis was not very good.  Sue and Bill found an injured wombat after the fires and brought it here for treatment. We weren’t able to see him but I think he is recovering. This was very interesting and educational and we spent more time there than we thought we would.

We tried to stop at several wineries on our way back to Sue and Bill’s but many of them were closed because of the fires and it was getting close to five o’clock so we only had time to stop at one. I forgot to take pictures but it was a beautiful setting. It was odd to see the vineyards against a backdrop of charred hills. We picked up some bottles for dinner and headed back to Wombat Bend.

After a wonderful dinner, a few glasses of wine and a lively discussion about the world, Fergus, Sue and I took a late night walk around the billabong. With flashlights in hand we explored the area. As we got close to the creek we heard splashing water and saw a wombat on the far side of the creek bed – a different wombat burrow from the one I was looking at that morning. The wombat was frozen by the lights of our torches (that’s what they call flashlights here). He just kept looking at us until we moved on.

As we were coming closer to the house we saw two possums in two different trees. These are ring tailed possums and they aren’t ugly like the possums in the states, these are rather cute like a cross between a cat and a large mouse. We didn’t bring our cameras with us so I did a google image of one so that you can see what they look like. It’s not a great picture but you get the idea.

Ring Tailed Possum

Ring Tailed Possum

As we got closer to the house I asked Sue if they ever see Tawny Frogmouths around there. These are owl-like birds that are so cute. We have seen them in nature reserve enclosures but never in the wild. She said they hadn’t seen any since the fires…then I looked up and on a branch just above our heads sat a curious Tawny Frogmouth!!! I was beside myself, an actural one in the wild. Well that made my day.  Again you’ll have to settle for a google image but I have witnesses to prove I actually saw one.

TOO CUTE!!!

TOO CUTE!!!

All of these animals are nocturnal so it is rare to see them during the day. It was a real treat to do a late night trek around the billabong at Wombat Bend. All-in-all I was able to tick off (that’s what they call checking off) nine more birds in my bird book – just from Sue and Bill’s place. Theonly animal I have yet to see is a wild echidna – I’ve seen a few dead along side of the road, and some at the zoos and reserves but not a live wild one. Our last night at  Wombat Bend and The Burrows B & B was magical thanks to Bill and Sue and their wonderful hospitality and friendship.

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Victoria Fires Update

Posted by Anne Marie Serrano on March 22, 2009

I finally talked to Sue last night. It was such a relief to hear her voice and find out how they are doing now. Rather than retelling her story I am going to have you link to a site that has pictures of their property before  and after the fires. If you keep reading you will finally get to Sue’s own words about what they went through and what they are doing now to help injured wild animals. It is an interesting story and the pictures are great. Click here to read about it.

We are going to Melbourne on Saturday and will spend two days with them and then a few days in the city. I hope to have the chance to help her feed the kangaroos. We also hear the Melbourne is a very exciting city. Stay tuned for the highlights of this upcoming trip.

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Tropical Queensland

Posted by Anne Marie Serrano on March 5, 2009

You really start to realize how big Australia is when you fly from one state to another. As I’ve mentioned before, Sydney is much like San Francisco in feel and climate. We flew to Townsville on Monday morning and even though it isn’t the northermost city in Queensland – it felt like we landed in Hawaii. It was warm and humid, there were palm trees and fanigipangi trees everywhere. And it was very green. They have been having extreme rain and flooding for weeks and we were concerned that this might not be a good time to visit but the only visable signs to us was extensive street erosion which they were working on repairing and areas of standing woater along sides of the roads.

Our first day in Townsvill we took the ferry over to Magnetic Island. There wasn’t much to do but hike the nature trails but once we got there it started raining. Fergus and I sat in a pub to weather the storm while Leslie and Manu attempted to brave the storm. They were soon back because they found out it took 1/2 hour to get to the trailhead from where we were and then the trail walk takes two hours. We had to catch the ferry back to Townsville  in less than an hour so they decided to postpone the hike.

Seeking shelter from the storm.

Seeking shelter from the storm.

Good thing they did because we decided to come back the next day and I’m glad we did. It turned out to be a beautiful clear day, not too hot and no rain. We had the best time. The nature walk on Magnetic Island goes up to the ruins of an old WWII ammunitions lookout. The trees were a combinations of tropical and eucalyptus trees. The best part was that we finally saw koalas in the wild for the first time. Now they don’t look much different but there is just something so great seeing them resting on a tree branch within arms reach. We saw many three or four just along the path. You have to keep you eye out for them because they don’t move much and their grey coloring really makes them blend into the tree trunks.

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It is a myth that koalas are drunk on eucalyptus leaves – the truth is that there are very little nutrients in the leaves of the eucalyptus and so the koalas have to sleep to reserve their energy. They are nocturnal so you rarely see them moving around during the day the best time to see them moving about is early morning or late evening. This little fellow moved his head a bit and his arms just a little the entire time we were watching him. He wasn’t frightened by our voices nor when we got close to take pictures.

The three bears

The three bears

The great koala scouts have another sighting.

The great koala scouts have another sighting.

It was a trulyexciting adventure being this close to these unusual animals. We didn’t see an wild kangaroos for Leslie even though the bus driver said there were plenty on the island. Well Leslie and Manu have three weeks to see one. Next stop The Great Barrier Reef – not many ‘roos there but lots of other amazing things to see and do once we get there.

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Yawn!

Posted by Anne Marie Serrano on January 28, 2009

I haven’t written for a while because this month has been very boring. We were going to go the Melbourne last week but we cancelled that trip for several reasons. The house in Kansas has been having some problems – backed-up sewer system and broken outside water pipe. So we’ve had some unexpected expenses. Fergus wanted to go to the Australian Open but the temperatures have been in the 100’s plus and he can’t tolerate the heat.

Leslie and Manu – our former exchange student and her partner, from Belgium are coming to visit in February so we are going to go up to the Great Barrier Reef with them. We are saving our pennies for that trip – speaking of pennies – they don’t have them here. They have 5, 10, 20, and 50 cent coins. They don’t have dollar bills either – they use $1 and $2 coins. We always empty are pockets of change and put it in a piggy bank. It’s easy to collect a bunch of “fun money” when it’s full of 1 & 2 dollar coins instead of copper pennies.

So have I been doing? During Christmas and New Year’s Eve I usually like to do a jigsaw puzzle. This is something I’ve done for years. I found this really fun puzzles and I’ve done three of them. It takes time but I do it when Fergus is on the computer or while watching TV. It’s been so hot outside that if I ride my bike I can only stand to be outside for a short ride. We have been going to the gym a bit more. And I have been cooking more dinners.

There is no school this month, the dog obedience classes aren’t going on, many people are on vacation, even Fergus’ barber has the entire month off. It’s kind of like France during August – the place is dead. So I have been very bored and lazy.I have been reading alot which is fun.

We went to Carole and Greg Polson’s for dinner a couple of weeks ago and that was fun and delicious. Carole has been busy with her new job at the British Consulate so we don’t have much time to visit each other. Book group met last week for a dinner meeting for our Holiday Party. At that meeting we talked about what books to read this coming year. If anyone has any suggestions I’d love to hear them. We will be reading “White Tiger” for February. I found an Australian online bookstore that can get US books at pretty good prices and without having to pay overseas postage.

Oh, I also watched the Obama Inauguralcelebrations. I watched the swearing in, the parade and all the balls. I watched all the news shows commentary about the celebrations. This is the first time I’ve done that since Kennedy was elected. Back then there wasn’t nearly as much on TV but of course back then there weren’t three hundred TV channels. I loved every minute of it – even the ten times Barak and Michelle dance to the same song. The only thing that bugged me was that she couldn’t dance in the dress without stepping on it.

Last Monday was Australia Day – kind of like our Fourth of July – except they still are a Commonwealth. It celebrates when the first fleet of convicts arrived in Sydney. There is a big controversy about this holiday because for the Aborigines this is not a happy event. I listened to a Australian history professor discuss this on the radio and he said until Australia becomes a republic they probably shouldn’t have this holiday but of course it would be hard to take away a holiday where everyone gets the day off.

We went to the movies – one of our favorite afternoon activities when it’s hot and Fergus has the day off. At night there were lots of fireworks again- not great for the kids. Next holiday I think we should drive out to the country where they can’t hear them.

We got the kids groomed. I have some pictures of them.

Cooper with his bark collar.

Cooper with his bark collar.

Cooper looks especially cute. We finally bought a citronella bark collar because Cooper would bark at anything and everything real or imagined every time he went outside. It really has made a differance in his behavior. He is still very protective of his property but every noise doesn’t make him bark.

Bean Sidhe - she's adorable.

Bean Sidhe - she's adorable.

So that’s been my January – pretty boring. Early on we asked “when do you stop being a tourist and become a resident” well I think this month I became a true resident, when staying home and doing the laundry and going  shopping  just for gorceries – has made me a resident. Don’t get me wrong I still love it here. Next month – more traveling to tell you about.

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Swimming with the Dolphins

Posted by Anne Marie Serrano on December 11, 2008

This had to be the highlight of our trip to New Zealand. After the Waitomo Caves I never thought I’d have to get into a wetsuit again. I did and this time I had to tread water – oh how I wished I had my inner tube. The dolphin swim boat launched from the pier at Akaroa about 90 minutes south of Christchurch. This quaint village was a French settlement prior to the English taking over New Zealand. It has a cute waterfront with small shops and cafes.

The day was a bit overcast so it made it all seem colder than it probably was. The wetsuits we used this time , however, were newer and a little more stylish, and not wet prior to us getting into them so the preparation wasn’t as shocking as it was for glowworm watching.

The group was smaller too. There were maybe eight of us on the boat plus the captain and a crew member. We sailed out towards the opening of the Akaroa Harbor and then waited to spot the dolphins. The dolphins in this harbor are Hector Dolphins and this is a good place to watch them because the harbor keeps them safe from sharks.

Two Hector Dolphins along side the boat.

Two Hector Dolphins along side the boat.

I was the first to spot them jumping and even though I couldn’t say “Thar she blow!” I did shout to the captain “I see them!” We headed the boat towards them, stopped and then slipped into the icy cold water one at a time so as to not scare them away. We weren’t out in the open sea but the rolling waves were still pretty big and which made  it was hard to see the dolphins while we were in the water. The captain and the crew guy would yell from the boat, “coming your way on the left” or ” two right behind you” so we could position ourselves to see them.

 

IT WAS AWESOME! We were all separated by several feet so that the dolphins would swin in between us. They came by in pairs or sets of three so if we missed one we usually could see the other. These dophins are little and have a black fin so they were fairly easy to spot but they were fast so if  we were turned in the wrong direction we’d miss them.

Dolphins with the group.

Dolphins with the group.

We were in the water for forty minutes but it seemed like five. The skipper said we’d be leaving soon so I got out first so I could take some pictures and video. As I was getting into the boat one of them jumped completely out of the water – behind my back- so I missed it. I guess all those ohhs and ahhs were not for me.

I got some shots of the dolphins near Fergus and some with the other people on the boat.

Fergus and Hector

                             Fergus and Hector

They come so close you can almost touch them but they warn you not to because their skin is so delicate that it can be injured easily. It really was a wonderful experience. As we were preparing to leave a dolphin watching boat came near us and the dolphins went crazy swimming along side of the ship. We could see them clearly then. I think the people on the boat, bundled up in their jackets, were envious that we were down there close and personal with the dolphins – a much better view.

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Whale Watching – actually watching for whales – Yawn.

Posted by Anne Marie Serrano on December 8, 2008

In Christchurch on the South Island, we spent a few days exploring the city (more on that in a later blog). After a few days of not driving we were ready to hit the rode for a day trip to Kaikoua. This coastal town is about 2 and 1/2 hours drive from Christchurch. It’s a harrowing last hour when you are low on gas. The mountain road doesn’t have many towns and NO GAS STATIONS so be sure to fill up before you leave Christchurch. We pulled into Kaikoua on fumes.

It was a cool and misty morning but it didn’t matter too much since we where riding on a boat that would be splashing water. Whale Watching Kaikoura is a well organized company. They even guarantee your money back if you don’t see any whales.

Whale Watch Center

Whale Watch Center

So you spend alot of time “watching for whales” not really watching them.whale31

Where are the whales??

Where are the whales??

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We finally found one whale who came to the surface for air and a bit of a rest. It swam around on the surface for just a few minutes and then was gone. It didn’t jump out of the water but just submerged with a flick of its tail. We saw one other whale who was asleep on the surface. Every once in a while water would spurt from it’s blowhole. We watched this whale for a long time and then with little effort it too disappeared below the sea.

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I must admit however it was a little boring. Its not like you see on TV because they looked like large grey logs floating on the water and when they swam away they just headed for the bottom. I got a video of them but you can’t see much. This trip was a must for us since New Zealand is famous for its whale watching. Sometimes it is just the luck of the draw if you see any whales at all.

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This was still a cool outing. I would recommend it. The drive back to Christchurch was much more relaxed. We didn’t save enough time to stop at some of the nice wineries along the way. That really should have been included in our plans since we find New Zealand wines to be very tasty.

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B and B’s in New Zealand

Posted by Anne Marie Serrano on December 2, 2008

Since it wasn’t peak season yet we took a chance and didn’t reserve any accommodations (except for in Wellington  for Fergus’ conference). We picked up the rental car as soon as we arrived that first day and headed north on the North Island. After driving for a couple of hours we stopped in this cute town called Martinborough in one of New Zealand’s many wine districts. Unfortunately they were having their big wine festival that weekend and all the accommodations had been booked up for months. So we drove to the nearest big city, Masterton. The hotel we stayed in was nice but nothing too fancy except they had a bathtub and since the house we are renting doesn’t have one, I ran down to the nearest shop and bought some bubble bath – ahhh what a joy. 

(Make sure you click on the pictures to make then larger and on the lightlighted words to link to the sites – there are some great pictures and lots of extra information.)

New Zealand landscape

New Zealand landscape

The big roads in New Zealand are mostly two lane highways (although in the big cities they are sometimes wider) with occasional passing lanes, so travel by car is slow (I should say slower because Fergus drove at maximum speed whenever possible). And the roads are often curvy because the country is hilly and at times mountainous. Our second day traveling was a long day on the road until be got to New Plymouth on the western coast. We got there in the afternoon and went to the local “I Site“. These are really wonderful information centers found in many of the tourist towns (which is all of NZ). Not only can you find brochures for all possible activities they can find you the right accommodation for you interests and location. (Be sure to get there before 5pm because they close early.)

Since New Plymouth is a beach town we said we wanted a B&B within walking distance to the beach. They found and booked us into “93 by the Sea” – a great choice. We spent the afternoon walking along the coastal walkway, enjoying the ocean view and the relaxing for the really first time. Pat, the owner was delightful and the gardens were beautiful. I meant to get a picture but when we left the next morning it was pouring rain.

The other B&B’s we stayed in were also very cute and we found them mostly through the “I Site” centers. In Waitomo where we saw the glowworms (a blog on that adventure to follow) we stayed at the Waitomo Caves Guest Lodge. I did get pictures of their gardens.

The B & B roses and dog.

The B & B roses and dog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Zealand is so much greener and rainier than Australia and since it is spring right now they have the most beautiful rose and rock gardens. It makes it seem so much like England only sunnier (at least in my recollections of England). They were pretty busy but we got a cute little two story cottage (we had the ground floor) with nice views of the countryside.

After all the driving we decided to drive back to Wellington and fly to Christchurch on the south island. This was a wise move because we never would have gotten as much in as we did. In Christchurch we stayed at another B&B right downtown. The Devon is this really cool old building and we stayed there for four days while we explored the surrounding areas. This is where we went whale watching, swimming with the dolphins and dinner in a grand old building which looks like a castle (these adventures to come in following blogs). Part of the reason I wasn’t able to write my blog as we went along was because I rarely go access to the computer – at least at home I can use it when Fergus is at work – the rest of the time…well see for yourself.

Is this considered an adrenalin sport?

Is this considered an adrenalin sport?

After a few days we flew back to Wellington and spent three days for Fergus’ conference. We stayed mostly at The Museum Hotel. This building has an interesting history. Check out the site to read and see how they moved the building across the street. After the conference we a had a few days left to see some more of the north island. We got as far as Taupo – a lake resort area in central North Island. We found another great B and B, Above the Lake. We didn’t going fishing but we did go jet boating, bungy jumping and experienced an authentic Maori hangi (feast). These adventures also to follow in upcoming blog entries.

Our final night in New Zealand was an ordinary airport hotel that was functional since we had an early morning flight back to Canberra the next morning. All in all it was the best vacation we’ve ever had. We spent our final evening meal discussing were we should go on our next trip. Of course we couldn’t agree – we might just have to come back to New Zealand – wouldn’t that be nice!!

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The Messenger

Posted by Anne Marie Serrano on November 11, 2008

The play I have been helping with will open in two weeks. We will be in New Zealand for opening weekend. When we get back we are going to a Gala Fundraising performance of the play. The author of the book, Markus Zusakwill be there. I will be very interested to find out what he thinks of the adaptation of his book and the staging of the play. It has been a wonderful experience to just be a small part of the production (as Assistant manager all I have really been doing is being on book and giving line correction notes, but I’ve been to most of the rehearsals and have seen the play come to life.

The ensemble from The Canberra Youth Theatre are 18 to 25 year oldswho have talent and passion for theatre and it really shows. Many of them are at University or doing a gap year. Most of the Universities don’t have a drama degree although they have drama departments. Some will be auditioning to go to NIDA Australia’s premier dramatic arts school. If you want ot studying acting, theatre arts or film you have to apply and often transfer (rarely does one get in straight out of high school).

The playscript, The Messenger, will be published and our cast and crew will have their names in it as the original production. That’s will be exciting to see my name in print along with the rest of them. I’ll let you know how it all turns out once we return from New Zealand.

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A Visit to the Anzac Memorial

Posted by Anne Marie Serrano on October 27, 2008

We finally visited the Australian War Memorial.  It is a memorial, military museum, and art gallery. It has sections dedicated to the different wars that the Australian Armed forces have been involved from Sudan and the Boar War thru to the current nonsense in Iraq. There were displays of airplanes, tanks and all sorts of weaponry, even the bridge of an old battleship. I enjoyed the exhibits of uniforms and nurses outfits and clothing of the different periods the best. There were plenty of sections honoring famous war heroes who I’m sure are as well known to the Australians as Washington, Patton and MacArthur are to Americans, but frankly unknown to me.

On the steps of the Anzac Memorial facing the Old and New Parliment buildings in the far background.

On the steps of the Anzac Memorial facing the Old and New Parliment buildings in the far background.

The memorial was visited by groups of school children. There assignment – which I overheard given by their teacher – was to pick from the Hall of Valour one person and get the information about them – name, where they served what they did to get the VC – Victorian Cross , the Australian equivalent of the US’s Congressional Medal of Honor. The Hall of Valour has on display the largest collection of these medals along with a history and picture or portrait of each of the recipients and their other medals – very impressive.

There was one display about prisoner of war camps in Germany during WWII. A soldier had taken a coin and chiseled out the center image and created a pin out of the center for his fiancee and a necklace for himself from the the coin’s outer circle. He told her that they should wear them until they are reunited after the war and the coin can be rejoined. He died in the prison camp. They had on display the necklace and the pin in the case. I guess by then I was so emotionally on edge seeing all the weapons and reading about all the lives lost in all the wars over the years that I just broke into tears. I was inconsolable for several minutes. Fergus just hugged me while I stood there crying surrounded by noisy school boys who just thought all this stuff about war and dying was somehow cool. I wanted to say, “This could be you. This could be your sweetheart – broken hearted and alone.”

I found out later that their two families did not know about the coin until the sweetheart died as an old lady and they found her pin. Her family knew she had lost a boyfriend in the war. It wasn’t until they heard about the necklace at the war memorial did they realize that her pin was the other half. Finally in death they were united – I know I’m a hopeless romantic but it makes me tear up just thinking about it.

The grounds of the Memorial are beautiful. Along the paths are plaques honoring different platoons and ships and air force crews. There are cannon barrels on display and along the road up to the building there are statues honoring each war. Trees and lawns cover the sloping landscape. It was a moving experience.

Giant trees on the grounds of the Memorial.

Giant trees on the grounds of the Memorial.

 For bother Danny I’ve included pictures of some of the airplanes displayed inside the Memorial.

 

 

 

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Tasmania Trip

Posted by Anne Marie Serrano on October 13, 2008

Panoramic view of Hobart from Mt. Wellington
                                                         Panoramic view of Hobart from Mt. Wellington

 

We spent six days in Tasmania at the beginning of October. It was beautiful. It was green and weather varied from sunny and clear to rainy and windy but it didn’t stop us from enjoying the sites. We stayed a a cute B&B on the other side of the Derwent River from Hobart city centre. The Orana House is a restored Victorian house with a fascinating history as a summer home for a wealthy Hobart family. Our room at the front of the house had a view of the lawn and gardens with the harbor and Mt. Wellington as a backdrop.
Me in the garden at Orana House B&B

Me in the garden at Orana House B&B

All the comforts of home at the B&B, a computer and a big HDTV.

All the comforts of home at the B&B, a computer and a big HDTV.

On the front lawn of the garden a Masked Lapwing was sitting on her eggs. I never saw her move the entire week except to watch me as I circled the path. I did see another Lapwing flying from tree to tree so I was hoping they were sharing the duties. 

The B&B was very comfortable and not very busy since it was the middle of the week. For more on the Orana House.

We spent the first day exploring Landisfarne and Hobart. We drove up to Mt. wellington since the locals were saying that there aren’t very many days when the sky is clear and the mountain isn’t covered in clouds. On this day it was very clear but up top it was very windy and cold. Fortunately we had our jackets in the car.

 

On a clear day atop Mt. Wellington.

On a clear day atop Mt. Wellington.

On our travels through the streets of Hobart we came upon the Green Monster – not to scary mostly just cute.
We took several day trips outside of Hobart. One day we went to the Cascade Brewery for a tour and a bit of sampling. They have some nice beers and brewed ciders that you can’t even get in Australia because they only make enough to supply Tasmania.
A replica of the extinct Tasmanian Tiger - on my left.

A replica of the extinct Tasmanian Tiger - on my left.

Another day we went to Port Arthur. This as the site of a convict colony. I read a great novel called The Potato Factory by the Australian author Bryce Courtenay which was about some people from England who were sent to Van Dieman’s Land (Tasmania’s original name) as convicts. I finished reading that just before our trip. The site of the prison still has some of the buildings or at least the shell of some since there was a lot of vandalism and fire destruction before they decided to make it a national historic site. We took a short tour where the guide told us the history and then we were free to wander the many buildings and the grounds. Unfortunately, it was a raining day so we didn’t get many pictures. For more click here Port Arthur.
The Guard Tower looks like an old castle.
The Guard Tower looks like an old castle.

On the way to Port Arthur we stopped at the Tasmanian Devil Park. It’s a park for rescued and rehabilitating injured animals, mostly kangaroos, birds and the Tasmanian Devils. The Tassie devil is almost extinct because of a horrible facial tumor disease which suffocates them as the tumor grows. You hardly ever see them in the wild because they are very small (a little bigger than a domestic cat), nocturnal (therefore get killed by cars at night) and very timid (unless you are food). They have poor eyesight but sharp teeth and powerful jaws. We got a picture of one asleep but the pictures of the awake ones were blurry because they never held still for very long. We were also able to see some birds that we may never have seen in the wild such as the Tawny Frogmouth – an owl-like bird. We hate to see animals in cages but in this case all these animals were there because of injuries and the park is doing some good. To learn more about the Tas Devil.

AAAHHHHH, so cute!!

AAAHHHHH, so cute!!You should see his teeth!

You should see his teeth!!!

You should see his teeth!!!

One of the wild birds we’ve really wanted to see are the Fairy Penguins. We read that on Bruny Island there is a natural rookery on the isthmus. To get to Bruny Island you have to drive south of Hobart and catch a ferry to the island. When we finally got to the isthmus the signs said that the penguins don’t come up to the shore until about sunset. It just so happens that that day was Daylight Saving Time change and the sun wasn’t going to start setting until about 8 pm – long after the last ferry back to the mainland. Oh well. So all we have are pictures of where the penguins were going to be.
 
On the island we almost passed the Bligh Museum which would have been a mistake since it was the most interesting thing we saw there. We also visited the commemorative post and plaque of where Captain James Cook landed.
A couple of other Hobart excursions during our final days were to the Salamanca Street Market  The market was big but we didn’t find anything that we absolutely needed to bring home with us. The wisteria along the park entrance was so pretty and smelled so good I had to have Fergus take a picture of me there. I wish you could smell the flowers.
It smells so good.

It smells so good.

We visited some local wineries, Richmond another historic town, had great fish dinners being as we were near the sea and saw some nice countrysides and the tour of the Royal Theatre – the oldest active performing arts theatre in all of Australia. And to be on the stage of this historical was awesome. The tour guide said that at one point they were going to tear the theatre down and the people we able to get Lawrence Olivier and Vivian Leigh come and do a benefit performance to raise money to save the theatre. Obviously that was years ago but to know he troded these very boards was inspiring. This may be my only artistic connection to “Larry” as he is know in the business. This theatre also has its ghost, my theatre friends.
All and all it was a good visit to Tasmania. We wished be had planned to spend a day or two farther north on the island but you never know by just reading the travel guides. When we got back to Canberra we picked up the “kids” from the kennel and to my delight the vines on our backyard fence were in bloom – wisteria!!
A welcome home!!

A welcome home!!

 

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