Thursday, October 09, 2014


Our flight from Melbourne to Hobart was just over an hour. The pilot announced that the ground temperature in Hobart was 4 deg C. But when we got out of the airport, it did not feel so cold. We picked up our Toyota Estima from Avis. It was still early morning and we had a full day ahead of us.

Our first stop was Port Arthur. This small town is located in the south tip of the Tasman peninsula about 90 km from Hobart. Port Arthur is famed as a former convict settlement.

In the 18th and 19th century, penal laws in Britain was very strict and harsh. People were punished and jailed for the most minor of offences. Boys as young as nine years were thrown into jails. As the result, the prisons in Britain were severely over-crowded. The authorities decided to send these convicts out of the country. Newly discovered Australia was selected and the first convicts arrived in the new land in 1787. Over the years, nearly 200,000 prisoners were brought here and they were the foundation of the British colonisation of Australia.

Port Arthur was one of many prison settlements in early Australia. It was the destination of the most hard core of the prisoners. Conditions were harsh and the inmates were treated severely.

Moving around the old buildings, we could only imagine how conditions were like in those days.

We stood in the rain in awe as our guide told us the story of this terrible prison settlement.

But the place was not all grim and gloom. There was a pretty sight. These were homes of the commandant and officials of the settlement. They even had a small church. They lived normal family lives alongside the inmates whose lives were not as as normal and definitely with no families.

This imposing building is now a small museum. Inside, we had a glimpse of how the people were like in those days.

This quotation from the Governor General of Tasmania, Sir George Arthur, of whom the prison settlement was named after, reflected the attitude of the authorities on the prisoners.

Our visit to Port Arthur included a boat ride around Carnarvon Bay.

This was the Isle of the Dead. Here prisoners and officials from Port Arthur were buried. Even in death they were discriminated. Officials were accorded tombstones. Prisoners were buried incognito.

After Port Arthur, we headed back to Hobart. En route, we stopped at a supermarket for provisions. Then we went looking for our apartment that Alan had booked. We spent 2 nights in the Woolmers Hotel Apartments.

The apartments were rather old and small. But they were comfortable enough and came with full facilities.

That night at my request, Chef Alan did his magic again and whipped out his delicious steaks. This time, it was sirloin served with a cream pepper sauce and plenty of vegetables.

Eaten with some nice potato salad that my wife made.

Supplemented by some juicy grilled chicken thighs.

Home cooked away from home. We couldn't ask for more.

Next morning, we drove up Mount Wellington. Rising to a height of 1,721 meters, this imposing peak overlooked the city of Hobart.

It was an easy drive up. The scene on the way up was fabulous.

On top, conditions were freezing cold. Outside temperature was recorded at 2 deg C. The wind was so strongly it almost lifted me off my feet. There was a lot of snow on the ground.

I struggled to walk against the gale. I had never felt so cold in my life.

We sought refuge in the observation building. The sight from the top was breathtaking.

From Mt. Wellington we drove some 40 km south, to a small town named Kettering. There, we boarded a ferry that took us (car included) to Bruny Island.

Bruny is a sizeable island over 360 sq km. with a population of only 600 people. There are 2 land masses connected by a narrow isthmus, which is also a road, known as The Neck.

The island was almost totally deserted when we drove around. Apparently they have a lot of visitors. But this was not the season. As we drove south, we came across an oyster shop. We immediately stopped to buy a couple of dozens.

We then drove around looking for a picnic spot for lunch. There wasn't any. We were getting hungry. Soon after we passed The Neck, we stopped our car by the road, and proceeded with lunch on sandwiches and hot coffee that we had brought along. It was here that we had our first taste of Tasmanian oysters.

The island was serene and beautiful. Most of the houses were in the south. It took us nearly 2 hours to cover most of the south island. Except for a few passing cars and those in the oyster and cheese shops, we did not see anybody else at all. We wonder what the people in the island do for a life.

Before we left the island, we stopped at the local cheese factory/shop. I felt they were over-priced. Still we bought some.

That evening, we went around looking for the famed Tasmanian seafood. We were attracted to the brightest light at the Hobart harbour. But I am not sure if we came to the best place for seafood.

The place we came to was Mures. It seemed like a very popular place. It was packed. We wandered around for awhile before we could get a suitable table.

The array of seafood on display at the counter was impressive indeed. But the prices were inhibitive.

We made our selection from a menu at the counter. The guy gave us a pager. It would buzz when our food was ready.

Our seafood orders were all deep fried with fries. The menu did not offer any other type of cooking. It would be nice to have some steamed fish or some blanched prawns. They did offer fresh oysters but they were too expensive. We settle for some scallops and fries...

Calamari (squids) and fries...

And a seafood platter. In the platter were fish, prawn, calamari and scallops. They were all very fresh. But it was a glut of deep fried and far too much french fries.

We also ordered a couple of seafood pizzas. The pizza were fabulous.

They were all helped down by some fresh salads.

And slaws.

We had a good meal. But I wasn't too sure if Hobart had only these to offer in terms of seafood. I was pretty certain there were other places that offer more than fried and fries. Well, we would have to look elsewhere in Tasmania.

Next morning, we packed our things and checked out of our apartments. There was still one more place we wanted to visit before we leave Hobart.

Salamanca Market is a popular open market located in Salamanca Place. It is opened only on Saturday mornings and we were lucky our short 3 days stay in Hobart coincided with one.

Salamanca was a short drive from our apartment. As soon as we parked our car, our stomachs told us our first priority was breakfast. Alan and Joyce had been to a nice cafe there. But they couldn't find it. So we settled down to this alternative.

We each had simple breakfasts. I had this toast and jam. The toast was superb. The bread was aromatic with assortment of nuts.

Banana bread with honey.

Poached eggs on toast.

Bacon and egg on toast.

And of course coffee.

The breakfast was expensive. I asked for 2 poached eggs. Just eggs, nothing else. It costed us 10 aussie bucks - 30 ringgit for 2 eggs. Most expensive I ever had.

The total bill for our simple breakfasts was close to 80 aussie bucks. Oouch.

After breakfast, we walked around Salamanca market. It was an interesting place. People sold all types of things - food, clothing, artefacts,

We also walked the nearby Hobart water front.

We saw this familiar looking red ship - the Aurora Australis. I am not to totally sure. Was this the same ship we saw on television that they used to search for MH370 in the Indian Ocean?

Just before noon, we settled ourselves comfortably in our car and drove out of Hobart to explore the rest of Tasmania.

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