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Friday, 03 July 2009

A Whirlwind Tour of Tasmania: Australia’s Green State with a Dark Past - Page 3

Written by Kristen Hamill
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“Ok, wait… Why are we going to Tasmania?”

Our flight from Adelaide to Hobart had barely levelled at cruising altitude when I turned to Taylor with the question.  He looked across the aisle at Kate and Jonny, who were already slumped over their tray tables, sleeping off the night before.

He laughed, “I have no idea.”

We may not have been sure why we’d decided on Tasmania, but after six months of studying abroad down under, we started running out of places to explore.

 

For completing the tour, Professor Snape presented us each with a certificate of bravery. We didn’t see any ghosts, although we had a bit of a shock when a man, separated from his own tour group, came running through the dark towards us without warning.  But what made the tour especially chilling, besides the stories and the village’s eerie vibes, were Port Arthur’s more recent tragic events.  In 1996, a local man went on a shooting rampage that killed 35 people and injured 21, most of them at the historic site’s café, gift shop and parking lot. Needless to say, walking back to our car at midnight was slightly unnerving as we considered all the horrible things that had happened in one small town.

A Whirlwind Tour of Tasmania: Australia’s Green State with a Dark Past, travel Hobart, travel Tasmania, Mt. Wellington, Hobart, Salamanca Place, Hastings Caves, Tasman National Park, Port Arthur, Kristen HamillIn the morning we began a coastline trip back to Hobart through the Tasman National Park, stopping at the Wildlife Sanctuary to check out Tasmania’s notorious state critter, the Tasmanian Devil.  Not far down the road we found an echidna, which is similar to a North American porcupine, waddling his way through the grass.  When we got out to take a closer look, he didn’t run away; we assumed that due to his ability to turn into a ball of spikes he didn’t need the extra high gear most small animals have.

Our coastal trek through the park took us by a number of amazing natural rock formations.  Some of which, like the Devil’s Kitchen, the Blowhole, and the Tasman Arch, were similar to the famous formations of Australia’s Great Ocean Road; others were far rarer, like the Tessellated Pavement, a flat sheet of rock on the shoreline that is broken into rectangular blocks resembling tiles.

A Whirlwind Tour of Tasmania: Australia’s Green State with a Dark Past, travel Hobart, travel Tasmania, Mt. Wellington, Hobart, Salamanca Place, Hastings Caves, Tasman National Park, Port Arthur, Kristen Hamill

We stopped in Doo Town for a walk on the beach and a few cartons of honey milk (a great Aussie drink that’s sweet enough to give you cavities on contact), and then again after being waved down by a six foot tall robot outside a local museum and shop that boasted a newly opened “Convict Robot Exhibition”.  Taylor and Jonny bought faux Tasmanian passports that listed a number of “rules” a carrier must obey, including “The area of land to the north of Tasmania must at all times be referred to as the North Island.  Anyone calling it the Mainland can expect a long term in the Port Arthur Penitentiary,” “Rain will be called Liquid Sunshine; cold weather, Refreshing,” and “Tasmanians are very proud of their heritage. Most of their forebears were chosen by England’s best Judges. Once we had our fill of robots and Tasmanian knickknacks, we hit the road back to Hobart to check into a hostel and head out for a final night on the town.

A Whirlwind Tour of Tasmania: Australia’s Green State with a Dark Past, travel Hobart, travel Tasmania, Mt. Wellington, Hobart, Salamanca Place, Hastings Caves, Tasman National Park, Port Arthur, Kristen HamillAlthough we’d boarded the plane in Adelaide not knowing why we were going to Tasmania, we returned very pleased with our decision to go.  When one looks at vacationing in Australia, it’s usually for the surfing and beaches, the Great Barrier Reef or the Outback.  Tasmania stands apart as a very unique destination, one that travelers looking for authentic experiences shouldn’t overlook.

©Kristen Hamill

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Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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