Saturday, December 6, 2008

Under Down Under Tour Day 1 (26th Nov).

After my non sleeping night in Hobart I was glad to be out of the backpackers and onto my tour around the East coast of the island.

The mini bus pulled up and a middle aged aussi jumped out and introduced himself as Ian. Already in the bus were 3 girls from California. Shayna, April and Noreen. At the same stop was Ben an English guy from Sussex. On we went around Hobart picking up the rest of the passengers. Annemiek from Holland, Anthony from Canada and Kari from Perth Australia. BTW Anthony did have the obligatory maple leaf on his backpack to tell the world that he is NOT American - although he did say it was actually his friend backpack.

Off we went to our first stop Port Arthur down the east tip of the island. On the way there Ian told us a bit about the trip and places. We also did photo stops at various places along the way:

Richmond Bridge - very old - for oz that is.

Tasman's Arch - not to be confused with the singer Tasmin Archer!

Port Arthur was a big penal colony for offenders who were too bad for even mainland Australia - a sort of Alcatraz. A lot of the place still stood and once we arrived we went on a guided tour. I use the word guided tentatively because it really consisted of a rotund woman pointing to various buildings from a grassy lawn and explaining quite fast what each of them were and what used to go on there. We did move at one point about 100 yards further on but I think this more due to trees obscuring buildings rather than any sort of touring. She then explained what the hidden buildings were before saying thank you and goodbye.

Main Penal Building - looking a bit rundown

After that we went back to the main visitor centre to look at some interesting stuff about the history of the place. As part of your entrance fee each person was given a playing card which corresponded to a convict on the island. Mine was the 7 hearts which corresponded to this:

I would get the lunatic!

We then had a cruise round the bay while getting more info from a speaker system on the boat.

For those who had paid extra there was the opportunity to be go ashore on Isle of the dead (i think that's the name) which is were they buried all the convicts who did not survive. The ones that got put off had to wait until the next cruise came around in about 1/2 hour. To be honest you could walk the island in 5 mins so I was glad I did not go.

Isle of the dead

After the cruise we still had nearly 2 hours to walk around by ourselves.

Unfortunately (or probably fortunately for you) after the boat cruise my camera batteries decided to give up the ghost and my spare batteries were back in the bus so I am going to rely on the others to send me some good photos.

After Port Arthur Ian made one more stop to the remarkable cave. It was so remarkable that it was closed and we couldn't get down to it!
There were some nice views though and while we were having tea and timtams Ian and Annemiek decided to climb down a pretty steep track to the shoreline. I decided that my tea would get cold and my timtam would melt. (I was chicken in other words)

Go down there - yeah right!

We headed back to Hobart. Kari was only with us for the day excursion so we said our goodbyes to her before heading to our YHA hostel. As Ian lives in Hobart he also said goodbye to us and would see us the next morning after he picked up another passenger.

After we settled in we all went for a walk into town for some food and ended up in an Indian restaurant having their Banquet menu. Its the sort of meal where you take servings from various unknown dishes and try to work out what it is that is burning the top of your gob off.

Once the meal was finished the girls headed back to the hostel and myself, Anthony and Ben went across the road to watch a band that seemed to be from prehistoric times.

Play those bongos granda!

No matter how much of a hurry you are in it pays to read what it says on food packaging:

Read the package carefully - Ah well they were like mini cadbury buttons.

There are no Koalas on Tasmania (too cold) but apparently the mainland population is rife with Chlamydia - the dirty beasts! I just wonder how they got infected in the first place?

Timtams: Chocolate biscuits - basically Penguins biscuits from back home.

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