Hobart is the capital and most populated city of the Australian island state of Tasmania. Tasmania got it’s name from the Dutch explorer Abel Janszoon Tasman who sighted the island on November 24th 1642. Originally founded as a penal colony in 1803, it is Australia’s second oldest capital city after Sydney. At first the city was an isolated prison camp. A permanent detachment of 25 officers guarded the original 178 convicts. Many of the military men had brought their wives and there were also a few children. The city, initially known as Hobart Town or Hobarton, was named after Lord Hobart, the Colonial Secretary. A series of violent encounters with Europeans coupled with the effects of the diseases brought by the settlers forced away the largely nomadic aboriginal population. This was quickly taken over by free
settlers and the convict population. Hobart Town became a city in 1842 and was renamed Hobart in 1875. Hobart as it turns out is one of the worlds deepest natural harbours. It’s a very busy seaport and serves as the home port for the Antarctic activities of Australia and France, loading in excess of 2,000 tons of Antarctic cargo a year for the Australian research vessel “Aurora Australis”. Other industries include a hi-speed catamaran factory and a zinc smelter. There’s also a Cadbury chocolate factory but I’m not going to go there . The Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens, is the second oldest botanic gardens in Australia. Mount Wellington, the dominant feature of Hobart’s skyline is 1271 metres high, has its own ecosystems and is so rich in biodiversity that it plays a large part in determining the local weather. Hobart has a thriving cultural scene and is home to some amazing musicians include the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, the Australian International Symphony Orchestra Institute, as well as jazz, folk, punk, hip-hop, electro, metal and rock music scenes.
The town is just lovely and today many of the 1830’s era Sandstone warehouses line Salamanca Place piers. Gerrit and I have a tour planned this morning but this afternoon we’re doing our own thing. I’m going shopping with Pat Rushford our on-board creative writing instructor. Pat and I have become friendly and we’re both on the look out for “Wool”. We’ve been given the address of 2 awesome wool stores by the immigration officers on board the ship this morning. (I got chatting to one gal who was a wealth of information). Enough to say now in writing this that I hit “pay dirt or the mother load”.
But first let me write about the tour “Huon Valley and Tahune Forest Air Walk”. It’s a wonderful walk in the treetop canopy deep in the heart of the Tahune Forest reserve and it’s just a magical experience. At one point we’re walking 180 feet about the forest floor. The Tahune forest reserve is 90 minute drive south from port and the Forest air walk is a further 30 minutes into the reserve. It is just amazing as we walk to the air walk – trees grown like giants all around us. The wet moisture in the air creature moss that clings to the limbs and gracefully embraces each tree.
There has been 2 very bad bush fires that almost wiped out the reserve but thankfully didn’t. The wet nature of the forest means that major wildfire usually only occurs once in 100 years, the last major fire occurred in 1934. One of the species of trees “Swamp Gums” is fire sensitive. Moderate to hot fires will kill them, causing seed capsules in the higher branches to open up, depositing seeds on the ash bed below. Seeds from the fire killed trees will grow up with plenty of space and light in the burnt clearings. Without disturbance such as a major fire, swamp gums will not regenerate and over hundreds of years will die without regenerating.
We’re introduced to many wonderful species Dogwood, Leatherwood, Myrtle, Celery Top Pine and many others. The greenery just envelopes you there’s just so much of it. It can be very easy to get turned around in here and we’re advised NOT to go off the path way. Apparently a German tourist recently wandered away and he has not yet been found!. The height of the trees is quite staggering – and we’re looking forward to the air walk to see the heads. The walk way is an amazing feat of engineering. It’s a steel structure that extends almost 600 metres through the forest. The Air walk is elevated 25 metres above the ground, giving us a birds eye view of the eucalypts, celery top pine, King Bill pine, blackwood, sassafras, Myrtle, Leatherwood and the majestic Huon pines. The walk culminates with a stunning cantilever suspended 50 metres above the ground providing breathtaking views of the Picton and Huon rivers and surrounding forest. The views are just mind blowing – it was hard to concentrate one just one thing when the natural beauty of the forest is everywhere. If anyone reading this plans to travel to Hobart, then this is a “must see” tour. Just amazing scenery and beauty.
Later in the afternoon as I alluded to earlier Gerrit and Pat are doing their own thing. Pat goes to Salamanca and into town and purchases some amazing Kid Mohair and Marino wool along with some acrylic that is just too lovely not to buy. I see fibre here I have not seen in Toronto. I also find out that our dear friends Wally and Jean has purchased some fibre for me and will bring it with them to Toronto in May. I’ll have lots of spinning to do this year. Again, thanks so much Wally and Jean, you really are like another set of parents for Gerrit and me.
Gerrit spent the afternoon walking around the harbour area and Salamanca Place. While there I saw some stairs going up with a sign to Battery Point and off I went. Lovely old houses, very well maintained with lots of flowers and shrubs in the front yards. The area is very hilly but the walk is worth it. In one park I spot a memorial to Canadian 92 political prisoners sent to Van Diemen Land/Tasmania in 1840.
Earlier in the post you can see some photos of downtown Hobart, very busy with pedestrians. We always like to eat local food when we can so after asking for great seafood spots we end up at Fish Frenzy on nearby Elizabeth St. Pier. Needless to say it was packed with locals, the food very fresh and very filling.
As we walk back to the ship we spend a bit of time enjoying a wonderful set of sculptures on the harbour front.