Monday, 25 April 2011

Our Awesome Trip to Tasmania!

This is the ship, The Spirit of Tasmania, that we took from Melbourne, Victoria, to Devonport, Tasmania. We sailed across the Bass Strait, which took about 9 hours. Luckily, there were things on board to keep the kids occupied- such as the world's BEST face painter. She painted a dolphin for Savannah and a cheek wound for Brandon, but her most amazing work was saved for Dylan. He asked her to paint a beard on his face, but instead of just a beard, she age-progressed him by about twenty years. If you want to see what Dylan will look like as a 35 year old man, just take a look below...

Over the course of the week, we drove in a roughly clockwise circle around the island. This is an example of the amazing countryside that we saw. It was so beautiful!

We camped in Freycinet National Park on the east coast. Our campsite was just off the beach. The scenery was breathtaking, despite the overcast skies.

We took a hike in the Park up to a scenic lookout overlooking the famous Wineglass Bay.

On the hike....

Some amazing rocks we passed on our hike.

This is Wineglass Bay.

Our family at the Wineglass Bay overlook.

After the hike we went to dinner at the Freycinet Lodge in the park. It was super fancy and we were totally under dressed, but it was our only option for dinner, since we hadn't brought food or cooking supplies. Here are Savannah and I warming up by the fire in the lodge.

Brandon ordered "slow-roasted, local rabbit" for dinner. Yum! It looked like a work of art.

Dylan enjoyed some rich chocolate cake after his steak.

Shane had a lamb delicacy.

The next morning the weather was better and the skies were blue. We hiked to another lookout spot. Shane and I both thought that it was some of the prettiest county we have ever seen. Take a look...

After we left Freycinet, we headed toward Hobart, the capital city of Tasmania. While we were driving along a winding road in the middle of nowhere, an echidna crossed the road right in front of our car! Shane had to stop the car the let him cross. We, of course, got out to take pictures of him. He was shy and tried to hide his face in some grass and debris on the side of the road. Echidnas are such funny looking animals! They are like little pin-cushioney rodents.

We next stopped at a Tasmanian Animal Conservation Center that is home to many Australian and Tasmanian animals. We were fascinated by the Tasmanian Devils! They are unbelievably cute, but boy, were they mean and nasty! They fought constantly with each other, biting and clawing at each other's faces. And when the food came- holy cow! I thought they were going to kill each other to get to it first. In fact, there were a pair of older devils whose faces were really disfigured and gross looking. Shane thought they had face cancer. But when we asked the guide about it he said that they look that way after a lifetime of fighting each other. I told my boys this could be a cautionary tale about the dangers of fighting too much, but I don't think they listened.

Seriously, I told the boys not to lean so far over the devils' enclosure! What were they thinking??

It was close to feeding time, and the little devils thought Brandon and Logan were offering them food.

When no food was coming, the devil got fired up! Check out his big mouth as he threatens the boys...

A really cool feature of this animal park was a mob of friendly kangaroos with whom we were able to socialize. We could walk among them and pet them. The kids even fed a few of them.

I was a little tentative at first, but their fur is soo soft! It was like velvet.

Dylan really wanted a picture of him taken with his arm around a kangaroo. He tried a million times before I was able to snap the picture before the kangaroo jumped away. I think the 'roos thought Dylan was a little too close for comfort, until he met this cuddly little fellow.

How cool is this?

We have two Tassie Devils of our own, it seems.

This animal below is a Pademelon (pronounced paddy-melon). I have never in my life heard of a Pademelon until this trip. It is a small marsupial, similar to a kangaroo, but smaller. It kind of looks like an overgrown, hopping mouse with a pouch.

We could have stayed all day with the kangaroos, but eventually we left their enclosure and saw another marsupial called a Quoll. See below.

The next day we drove to the west coast of Tassie to a little town called Strahan. It was sort of New England-ish with boats in the harbor and nineteenth-century looking storefronts along the street. We boarded a 60-foot sailboat named the Stormbreaker, for an overnight trip up the Gordon River into another National Park.

Brandon preparing to board the ship.

This is the room with the kids' berths. There were 8 bunk beds, and so our kids slept here with two other kids and two crew members. The cabin that Shane and I used is through the hatch visible in the picture below.

We stopped at a little island in the harbor called Sarah Island. Back in the early 1800's, it was the location of a penal colony. At that time, England was in the habit of banishing its criminals
to various colonies where the convicts would work off their sentences doing brutal physical labor. Much of Australia's early infrastructure like roads, bridges, etc., was built using convict labor. On Sarah Island today, some of the brick foundations of the buildings remain and visitors can catch a glimpse of what convict life was like. The convicts of Sarah Island were used to build ships using the strong, sturdy pine trees in the local area.

This is the foundation of a home from around 1825. This home belonged to a free settler, not a convict. It is hard to gauge the dimensions from this photo, but believe me, it is tiny! If the free settlers lived in such small, spare accomodations, imagine what the convicts had.

This is a picture of what remains of the jail. You can see on the sign below that jail is spelled "gaol."

What remains of a bake house.

Check out the rainbow over our boat as seen from Sarah Island.

This is the remains of the Penitentiary built on the island to house the convicts who misbehaved. The building was deliberately built on a cliff on the windward side of the island, and it was built without windowpanes in the tiny window-slits, so that the rain, wind, sleet, and even snow would blow in on to the convicts. It was a harsh life!

A last look at Sarah Island.

Savannah and I in the dining room on the boat. Even though we were sailing, we had morning and afternoon tea, in addition to our meals.

In the morning, Shane and the kids took turns kayaking off the back of the boat.

The skipper let the kids climb the mast. They had to strap into a harness first, and then they could climb as high as they dared. Savannah bravely gave it a try.

Then Brandon had a turn.

Then Logan.

Then Dylan.

Savannah took a turn skippering the boat.

Then she had her "king-of-the-world" moment on the bowsprit.

Dylan took the wheel for a few minutes.

Savannah with her luggage and her stuffed wombat as she disembarked the boat.

This is the town of Strahan.

We spent the next night at a lodge just outside of Cradle Mountain National Park. After dinner, the waitress took the fruit and veggie scraps out to the back patio to feed the animals. She sprinkled the scraps on the ground, and like magic, the little animals came creeping out of the bushes. About a dozen pademelons and one ring-tailed possum came to munch the scraps.

Two pademelons eating.

The ring-tailed possum enjoying his dinner.

The cabin that we stayed in at the cutely-named Lemonthyme Lodge just outside Cradle Mountain National Park.

We went into Cradle Mountain National Park the next day. Unfortunately, the weather had taken a turn for the worse and it became really cold and rainy. We took a short hike as a family, but then Savannah, Logan and I bailed out and went to the lodge for hot chocolate. Brandon, Shane and Dylan continued on for a longer hike around the lake, despite the fact that Brandon wasn't dressed for the weather in shorts and a sweatshirt. The three of them were frozen solid when they got back! We decided we will have to go back to Tasmania in order to see more of Cradle Mountain when the weather is better.

This shows Dylan and Bradon on top of the lookout point overlooking Dove Lake.

Despite the rain and fog, we got some beautiful scenery shots.....

Our last day we spent in Launceston, the second largest city in Tasmania. We stopped in at their lovely city park where they have beautifully manicured gardens and (inexplicably!) a Japanese monkey exhibit.

Then we went to see Cataract Gorge. There is a chairlift ride to take visitors to see the sights over the gorge.

Waiting to ride the chairlift.

They had to carve out the tops of the trees to accomodate the chairlift landing facility.

Downtown Launceston.

One of our last stops before reboarding the Spirit of Tasmania for our return trip was a raspberry farm where we ate fresh raspberry sorbet cones and chocolate covered fresh raspberries. So delicious!!

All in all, it was such a perfect trip. We loved Tasmania, and we want to visit again soon. Maybe when family and friends come to visit... Any takers??


Clark said...

I love seeing your adventures all over the world! Keep 'em coming. Your family looks great too!

Clark said...

Sorry, Jasmine. It's Kristen but I was signed in under Clark's email.

melFeldt photography said...

Morgan keeps bugging me that he wants to come visit. Wish we could. Looks like you all are having a great time there! We'll be in Utah soon if you are ever there for a visit stop by.

Emily said...

Another awesome adventure! You guys have really been able to see and experience so much of the world. Very cool! Hopefully we will be able to visit sometime!

G Johnson said...

I'll be a taker! SO amazing!! If only my kids weren't so small...

Holli said...

Uh, can you send a kangaroo APO? We'll pay cash! What a Party. We are going to be in Australia soon, are you guys till going to be there? -B