Australia: "Home" for the Holidays

Jan 1st, 2017, 12:34 PM
  #41  
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Bokhara2, you're most welcome. New Year's Eve at the Opera House is something we will remember for a long, long time. It was a most spectacular cap to our week in our favorite city. I miss Sydney already and cannot wait to visit again. I hear good things about Vivid Sydney, so perhaps in 2018.

A Leisurely Start in Tasmania

Early on New Year's Day we flew from Sydney to Hobart on Qantas. The flight was comfortable and we slept most of the way. Upon arrival we taxied to our hotel, Lenna of Hobart located in Battery Point. The hotel occupies a lovely historic building with a newer addition; our room for four is a decent size, the beds are comfortable, and the room comes with a view of the waterfront.

We began our time in Tasmania and in Hobart with a leisurely stroll through the center of town and its waterfront to get our bearings. From our hotel we ambled down to Salamanca Place, which we would save for tomorrow, and headed past the state Parliament building over to Davey and Macquarie Streets for a walk past several of the city's historic buildings. We visited the massive Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery and particularly enjoyed the historic exhibits and the one on Antarctica and the South Atlantic islands. I did not realize Hobart's connection to the historic Antarctic voyages. We spent about 2 hours here before heading to the waterfront for a delicious lunch of fish and chips at Mures. We spent the next couple of hours walking along the waterfront, passing the docks, visiting the wharves and browsing its shops, and viewing some of the yachts that are still in harbor from the Sydney to Hobart yacht race. We wanted to spend the evening at the Taste of Tasmania festival but the pouring rain in the late afternoon altered our plans. Given the weather we headed back to our hotel during the brief periods when the rain let up and enjoyed dinner at our hotel before going back to our room for an early rest. The additional hours of sleep were welcome as we practically went all night on New Year's Eve.

Today we will focus on Salamanca Place and MONA, with a possible trip up Mount Wellington if time and weather permits. Hope my report is enjoyable and / or useful to you.
tripplanner001 is offline  
Jan 1st, 2017, 01:22 PM
  #42  
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
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Happy new year - what a once in a life time experience.
MONA- my daughter went to a wedding there and loved it. Can't wait to see it and go back to Tasmania. My Dh and I have 10 convict ancestors who were in Tassie so it has a special bond for us .
northie is offline  
Jan 1st, 2017, 05:34 PM
  #43  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
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Another DCer signing on for your trip. Love all the detail since we'll be in Sydney and Tasmania in April. Sounds like a fantastic New Years Eve! We may do the bridge walk.... we're also planning a day trip to a Blue Mountains, so all your trail info was helpful.

Looking forward to more
glover is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2017, 02:16 AM
  #44  
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Bokhara2, thank you for the inspiring video. I did not get a chance to view it until now.

Northie, it was an experience I will always cherish. I very much enjoyed MONA too, as you will read in my report following. Cool that you can trace your ancestry back like that; it gives special meaning to a place.

Glover, glad my report is helpful. If you have questions, please do not hesitate to ask. The Bridge Climb was awesome, and I never tire going back to the Blue Mountains on each of my visits to the Sydney area.

A Day of Food, Art, and Shopping

We began our first morning in Hobart with a short walk to Jackson and McRoss for breakfast. We arrived around 9:00 AM and the place was already buzzing with people, mostly locals. The food, coffee, and juices were simply magnificent. The potato roesti with salmon, eggs, and avocado I ordered was divine - definitely the best breakfast I've had in Australia so far.

From Jackson and McRoss in Battery Point we worked our way down the Kelly Steps to Salamanca Place, where we did a good bit of browsing and shopping. We picked up a couple of nice items. It was good that we limited ourselves to more or less an hour of wandering or else we may be bringing home more than we did.

We also visited the Taste of Tasmania food festival taking place at and around Princes Wharf this week. Food establishments from all over Tasmania participate in this event and we had the pleasure of sampling a lot of local delicacies ranging from fresh fish, calamari, and oysters to lamb, local produce, and beer. I have visited other food festivals and this is definitely one of the better ones. The food was of genuine good quality, the layout of the stalls made it easy and comfortable to wander, and there was plenty of room to actually sit down and enjoy the food purchased.

From here it was a short wander to Brooke Street Pier where we boarded a ferry bound for the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) up the Derwent River. We relished the opportunity to go out on the water and see the city and its surrounding area from a different vantage point. The museum itself was a delight to wander. The building is very unusual in that it seemed to be hollowed out of stone and all the exhibits were located below ground level. I especially enjoyed the waterfall of words as well as the special exhibit challenging the laws of art called On the Origin of Art. The entire museum seems to defy what we would traditionally expect in an art museum. We would view a piece of contemporary art and next to it would be something from ancient Egypt. We would see an European landscape painting and then an Asian porcelain piece or a wood carving from the South Pacific. The juxtaposition of art across time periods, geography, and genres was in and of itself unique.

We spent about 4 hours in the museum and wandering the grounds before heading back to downtown Hobart by ferry. We decided against going up to Mount Wellington as low clouds obscured the summit and we assumed we would not be able to take in the views. Instead we headed back to Salamanca Place for a bit more wandering before settling down at Ball and Chain Grill for a good dinner to cap off our day.

Between the weather and the limited time we were unable to include Mount Wellington and the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens during our visit to Hobart at this time. While we have two more days in Hobart, we are already booked on day trips to Port Arthur tomorrow and Bruny Island the day after. Until next time...
tripplanner001 is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2017, 12:55 PM
  #45  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
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Where are you staying in Hobart? Any place you'd recommend. I'm working on more lodging reservations for our trip just now.....

Re Sydney bridge climb. We're reasonably fit 60/70 couple who do lots of walking. No height fears. Sounds like walking is easy, right? Just trying to decide if we'll think it worth the big bucks..... I do love views from high places...
glover is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2017, 01:46 PM
  #46  
 
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I think we need to organize a DC GTG.
We stayed in the Old Woolstore Apt Hotel in Hobart, appreciated having a little kitchenette and a washer dryer mid way thru our trip. I like being able to shop at local supermarkets (and wine shops too, great local wines) and cook "at home" for a change of pace (really just heat up preprepared but very yummy food).
FromDC is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2017, 01:56 PM
  #47  
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
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Funny so many of us are from D.C.
Glover-I've been wondering how your planning was coming along.
yestravel is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2017, 03:12 PM
  #48  
 
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Tripplanner

Great report! I'm so glad you enjoyed my city - and now the rest of the country.

And I do recommend Sydney in May for Vivid.
margo_oz is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2017, 03:48 PM
  #49  
 
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Another vote for Vivid Sydney.

https://www.facebook.com/vividsydney/

In 2017, it will be held 26th May - 17th June.

Let us know next time you're coming back to your "2nd home " & we'll arrange a GTG with some of the locals, if you'd like.
Bokhara2 is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2017, 05:25 PM
  #50  
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Glover, in Hobart we are staying at Lenna at Battery Point, which we love. The room is lovely and is a 2 minute walk to Salamanca Place and about 5-10 to the wharves. The BridgeClimb should be easy for you. It goes at a very slow pace and most areas are enclosed so you don't really see water below your feet. One among my group are in our early-60s and the other early-70s. Even if heights bother you there is only one section where you climb up and down layers. If you are looking for something more economical with equally good views try the Pilon Lookout or simply walk across the bridge; the Climb is more about the experience than the views as the ones from the lookout are similar.

FromDC, a GTG would be so much fun. I would be down for it.

Margo_Oz and Bokhara2, thanks for your feedback on Vivid. A GTG in Sydney would be awesome. By the way, may I say that I am slightly jealous (in a good way) that you live in the best city on earth?
tripplanner001 is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2017, 01:46 AM
  #51  
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A Day on the Tasman Peninsula

We leave Hobart today for a full day trip that will take us to the Tasman Peninsula by land and by sea. We used the services of Pennicott Wilderness Journeys for our trip. The passenger van that the company uses could fill about 35 passengers and the boat about 40-45.

We checked in at Pennicott's office on Franklin Wharf at 7:30 AM and were on the road by 7:45 AM. From Hobart we traveled south on the Tasman Peninsula towards Port Arthur Lavender Farm, where we would enjoy a complimentary breakfast of coffee, tea, and scones. It seems that the cruise of the Tasman Peninsula leaves from a couple of different points along the peninsula dependent on weather, which makes total sense. The only thing that didn't is why we would go all the way down to Port Arthur for breakfast only to backtrack up to Eaglehawk Neck, where our cruise would depart. Don't get me wrong - the scones were delightful and I really enjoyed seeing the lavender in bloom; I thought it would make much more sense to include it as a late afternoon stop on the return from Port Arthur.

Anyway we made it down to Port Arthur and back up to Eaglehawk Neck, from where we would depart for a 3-hour cruise off the east coast of the peninsula. We saw rock formation after rock formation along the coast, which we thoroughly enjoyed. Tasman Arch was a highlight as was the couple of solitary stone pillars we saw standing in the sea. The weather turned bad around Tasman Island with rain and heavy winds but Mother Nature can be unpredictable, especially in this part of the world; nothing can be done about it. I would highly recommend the trip if you have time.

Following our cruise we made it back to Port Arthur for our tour of the historic penal colony. We enjoyed a lunch of soup and sandwiches provided by our tour company before we visited the site. Given the large number of visitors the guided tours and the harbor cruise to the Isle of the Dead were both at capacity. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise as we would tour the extensive grounds ourselves. We had 2.5 hours to tour the place, which was barely enough to see all the highlights. I would have appreciated at least a couple of hours more time to wander the site and would recommend a full day if you have the time. We walked clockwise from the Penitentary to the Guard House and the Commander's residence to the hospital, cathedral, and homes of some of the site's key leaders and professionals. Several of the structures are still in good condition and a few have even been restored and furnished for our benefit. I would definitely visit the site again should my travels take me back here.

We left Port Arthur at 5:00 PM and arrived back in Hobart at 6:40 PM. Overall we were pleased with Pennicott and would use its services again. The staff was friendly, personable, took good care of us, and looked after our needs both individually and collectively. The only critique I would provide is that the operator would do well to be upfront that it does not reserve tickets for the guided walking tour and harbor cruise at the penal colony site in advance and both are subject to availability, which may help with advanced planning. In our case it worked out as we need much more time that what was allotted for the historic site anyway and may not have used our time the way we liked had we partaken the guided tour or the harbor cruise.

For dinner, we headed back to the Taste of Tasmania for another lovely meal.

Tomorrow we're off to Bruny Island. Thanks again for following along.
tripplanner001 is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2017, 05:06 AM
  #52  
 
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More questions -- how far in advance did ou book this tour? I wonder if its possible to do a day tour to Port Arthur and then the boat tour separately? I havent looked into tours yet as we just had to revise our days in Hobart to include Port Arthur.
yestravel is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2017, 12:22 PM
  #53  
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Yestravel, we booked about 6 weeks in advance but we also know we were here during peak-of-the-peak season. Yes you could book the two components separately; in fact doing so would give you the extra time at Port Arthur, which is worth it.
tripplanner001 is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2017, 02:52 PM
  #54  
 
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Thanks! I'll check out your operator. I'm hoping we can decide based on weather.
yestravel is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2017, 05:57 PM
  #55  
 
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Excuse me for jumping in...Yestravel, have you thought about hiring a car even just for a couple days and self touring ? Driving in Hobart and surrounds is very easy, Cars are cheap, it's a small city, with a population of about 200,000. Roads are wide and routes very well marked.
sartoric is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2017, 06:09 PM
  #56  
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
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Wehave a car for the day we leave Hobart, but maybe I could add a day or 2. Let me think about that.
yestravel is offline  
Jan 4th, 2017, 12:11 AM
  #57  
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A Day on Bruny Island

Another day, another excursion, another huge success!! We booked with a small Bruny Island-based tour operator, Bruny 4x4 Forest to Coast Adventures, and went out with owner and guide John.

Our day started with a pickup at our hotel by John at 8:00 AM. From there we headed to Kettering where we boarded our ferry for the crossing to Bruny Island. Our tour of the island began in the north, where we drove around Great Bay and Big Lagoon. We continued through the Neck to the southern half of Bruny Island. We wound our way through some dense forest where we admired some beautiful gum trees; the smell was fresh like nothing we've smelled before. The coastline we travelled along was similar to what we saw on the Tasman Peninsula yesterday although we appreciated seeing it by land. Lunch was served on beautiful Cloudy Bay beach and the food was as delicious as the views around us; we had the beach to ourselves. We also spent time around Adventure Bay, the lighthouse at Cape Bruny, the Neck, and some private lands.

John took very good care of us from beginning to end. We hit it off immediately and he was a joy to spend a day with. Also worth mentioning is Verne who works at the company's front office. She's a real gem and a blessing to work with; I first contacted her with our booking request a couple of months ago and since then we've becoming friends over email.

Today concluded our time in the Hobart area, where we could have easily spent 2-3 more days. However time is a luxury and with a limited supply of it, we're off in the morning to explore more of Tasmania. Next up: Strahan...
tripplanner001 is offline  
Jan 4th, 2017, 01:15 AM
  #58  
 
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I'm very interested in Bruny Island. Did you have enough time to think about whether a couple of days there might be interesting. I'm cringing as I write this, as that " is it worth it?" query drives me nuts!

I'm thinking of a couple of weeks wander around Tasmania, in September /October sampling the local produce & catching up with some friends. But mainly, just wandering fairly aimlessly around one of my favourite States as the whim strikes.

Do feel free to snort, " make up your own mind - how would we know what to recommend to a perfect stranger, about whom we know nothing?"
Bokhara2 is offline  
Jan 4th, 2017, 12:35 PM
  #59  
 
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Bokhara, We really loved Bruny Island. It was so easy to get around in our rental car (did a day trip on the ferry from Hobart) and I wish we had done an overnight but we didn't have time In retrospect I can think of a night or two we could have eliminated elsewhere.
FromDC is offline  
Jan 4th, 2017, 02:18 PM
  #60  
 
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Thanks from DC
Bokhara2 is offline  

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