Tasmania from its best - PART 1/3

It’s now Monday, the 7th of September 15 at around 8pm. I’m laying in my bed in the YHA hostel in Hobart and have no Wi-Fi. So, I have nothing better to do than to prewrite a new blog post so that I can upload it tomorrow! It’s been now two days here in Tasmania. Our tour-group (consisting of 12 people + one guide, Rob) is been traipsing round the east coast.. I am simply fascinated by this island!

On Sunday at 7am, I got picked up by Steve, a very kind driver. We also picked up Mona from Germany. She’s been to Australia for two and a half months now and works as an au pair in Melbourne. I was lucky to meet her because she’s such lovely girl! During those two days we had a lot of fun! Anyway, from Hobart, we headed northwards to meet the rest of our group (they’ve already been doing a tour along the west coast for three days).

During our two hours drive, Steve explained us a lot about Tasmania. I try to resume some of it for you: As I already mentioned in my last blog post, Tasmania is a small island (bigger than Switzerland) with just a few citizens. The Australian mainland is mostly very flat but Tasmania has more than 110 mountains over 1000 metres! So, there are many hills and valleys very close together.

Hobart is actually Australia’s second oldest city after Sydney (colonised in 1803 by Great Britain). In Hobart lives almost the half of the citizens! In Launceston lives the other half (not exactly... but you won’t find many people around those two “cities”. I mean, on our drives we met a car every 10 minutes or so. That’s incredible. Instead of people, you find many animals! Most of them are black (for whatever reason). As we crossed a bridge we saw black swans which are now in their breeding time. I’ve never seen black swans before! Furthermore, there are almost only black cows, black pigs, Tasmanian devils (which are black as well), etc. There are many sheep and horses too (but not black).

We drove through Ross. It’s an unchanged little city and looks like hundreds of years ago. There are still old telephone cabins and one old post office. We stopped at the Ross Village Bakery. It was lovely there. They've been baking their bread every day by themselves for many generations. The funny fact is, that this bakery is very famous in Japan! There is a Japanese anime movie “Kiki’s Delivery Service” (1989) with Tasmania as the scene. There is a little witch Kiki (if I understood correctly) and once, she’s in that bakery in this movie. The owner of the bakery said that there are about 50 Japanese every day visiting this place. Sometimes, girls even dress up like Kiki the witch (with a red hairband or so). Steve told us that on the tours, he also had taken some Japanese girls to this bakery and these girls where almost hyperventilating because they were so excited! Another good thing about this bakery is, that they make the world’s best vanilla slices. YES. This. Is. True. (I’m still bursting in thousands of pieces thinking about that giant delicious vanilla slice I ate there.)

We continued our drive and stopped in Campbell Town. Steve showed us another very interesting thing. You have to know that two hundred years ago, Great Britain owned whole Australia, Tasmania included. But what should they do with an island on the other side of the earth ball? Yes, they sent their convicts there. For more than half a mile through whole Campbell Town are tiles with convict names strung together on the street. This is a thing that gets very close to one. There was, for example (see in the photo box down below) a boy called Robert Hunt. He was 15 years old and came 1820 with the fleet “Guildford” to Tasmania. What had he done for being punished? He had stolen some teaspoons! Unbelievable! He had to be in Tasmania for 7 years (..but probably didn’t go back to England because the price for a ticket was too expensive. These people were not meant to come back to England anyway! About 95% stayed the rest of their lives in Tasmania. The British government actually killed two birds with one stone. They brought all their "bad people" to the other side of the world and through that, they were able to colonise it at the same time! Clever government…). On the tile is also written that he married Eliza Beams. There are hundreds of convict-tiles. When I read for what they got punished and how old they were sometimes, I got so astonished. There were cases like: stealing bacon, stealing sheep or as already said stealing teaspoons. Convicts were sometimes children! Kids of 14 years or younger!... Steve explained us, it must have been a deterrence of the British government to “educate” people. It wasn’t just men that were exported to Tasmania. Women were brought there as well. They had to work hard in women factories. Most of the time, their children came with them and had to work too. To resume, Tasmania was an island of poor people and criminals two hundred years ago. Nobody else wanted to live there, as it was an expensive half-year sail to get under down under.

Enough history for the moment. We drove further up to somewhere between Launceston and Campbell Town where we met our group. Now we had Rob as our guide (funny man!). From there we drove a couple of hours towards the east coast and stopped at Scamander Bay. It was so cold because there was a freezing wind too. Everybody got a hot (very hot) coffee or hot chocolate there and we drove further northwards to St Helens. It is a little village of fishermen. There were just two super markets, one filling and one bakery. No people, no nothing.

At around midday, we arrived at today's main attraction: The Bay of Fires Conservation Area. It’s called Bay of Fires for two reasons: First, the rocks are fire red coloured. This is because of a fungus and algae working together. The fungus is on the top and the algae gives the nutrients. Second, in 1773 Frenchmen were here in Tasmania. Captain Tobias Furneaux noticed many fires around this coast (made by aboriginal people he thought). We all were stunned by this landscape. The trees were juicy green, the sand was white like flour, the ocean was turquoise and the stones were red (perfect colour contrasts!). Mona and I climbed on almost every rock to get many different views of this special place. It was so fun!

After the Bay of Fires, we drove down up to a lookout (so pictures in the upper photo box) and then down again until we reached the small town (again small.. only some hundred citizens) Bicheno where we had our accommodation. We stayed at a backpackers hostel. It was really beautiful! Better than I expected! Luckily, Mona and I shared a room! We quickly ate something for dinner and then we went on a penguin tour! In Bicheno, penguins are very common but they appear just in the night. We had a one hour tour through a park where we saw about thirty penguins. Now it’s breeding time which was funny because we always heard them making funny noises. When everybody stood still, the penguins waddled between our feet. One penguin couple bumped into somebody while making love haha… Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take photos during the tour. But maybe I get some photos of the tour from this company. I’ll let you know.

At 8pm we arrived again at the hostel and tried to warm ourselves up (because here in Tassie it’s under 10°C!). We were very satisfied of this adventurous day. So, we had a good sleep (even if our neighbour was snoring like a rhino)… The next two days of the tour will follow soon!! :) Carpe diem, carpe vitam, carpe every second! (So literally!)