I know I say this after every one but the peeps at Hobart & Beyond and Discover Tasmania have outdone themselves yet again with another amazing Instameet. They just keep getting better and better with even more things to see and photograph, even more new people to meet and hang out with and even more delicious food and drink to enjoy. Sunday’s Instameet was absolutely crammed to the rafters with a full day of exploration of the Tasman Peninsula.
I’ve only ever turned left on a boat coming out of Hobart, so it was very exciting when our Navigators catamaran veered right into the beginning of Storm Bay for our journey down to the Tasman Peninsula. It was great to see the Aurora Australis back in her home port after undergoing repairs to some damage sustained on her last trip to Antarctica. From the comfort of Hobart’s shores the bay doesn’t look that vast, however our vessel and indeed the much larger Aurora Australis looked like mere dinghies when properly out on the estuary. We passed by the Iron Pot lighthouse while the glow of the already risen sun hung in the air, providing some golden light on an otherwise cloudy morning.
It wasn’t long before the undulating hills and gently sloping coastline around Hobart and the South Arm Peninsula gave way to the more exposed and dramatic shores beyond. As the swells began to develop, people began to venture up on deck to take a closer look. Others remained in the comfort of the cabin where hot drinks and sandwiches had been provided. Soon enough the famous Shipstern Bluff came into view, a renowned big wave surfing spot that looked absolutely terrifying despite the waves being “small”. You would definitely need to have your wits about you getting into/onto the water around these parts.
From there the rocks grew ever higher and fractured, the Jurassic Dolerite columns of Cape Raoul being the centrepiece of this geologically fascinating area. On the other side of the main wall of rock at Cape Raoul we were able to take a closer look at the seal colony there, clinging to the rocks and looking remarkably comfortable in the process.
From Cape Roaul, it was a short journey to our first port of call, the penitentiary at Port Arthur. I recognised the scenery as we entered the port leading to Carnarvon Bay and the site of the historic penal colony. We cruised by the Isle of the Dead, where many of the site’s officers and their families were laid to rest. Our long distance cruise had gone a little over schedule so we had to depart quickly to allow the Port Arthur visitors onboard to enjoy their cruise around the bay. We only had an hour at Port Arthur to get photos so I don’t have too many this time around, however you can read my previous post on our first trip to the site here.
It was barely lunchtime and we had already had an amazing day. They could have packed us all on a bus back to Hobart right then and it still would been fantastic. But we weren’t done yet, still lots more to see! Our next port of call after the Port Arthur Historic Site was to be Port Arthur Lavender where we were scheduled to have lunch. And boy what a lunch it was! The word feast is bandied about a lot but the spread that was laid out for us was just that. A delicious assortment of seafood, salad and of course lavender based treats, all washed down with a lovely glass of Tasmanian wine…..or two 🙂 There was roughly a minute for the food photographers to get their shots of the buffet before we were unleashed upon it.
The rain managed to hold off the entire day so were able to enjoy our food outside, looking out over Port Arthur. The lavender growing on the site wasn’t quite in full bloom but still made for a pretty picture and it was really cool to see the staff from the main restaurant coming out to the herb garden to gather fresh supplies for use inside.
Ok so surely now we were done for the day. Nope, still plenty to see! Onwards to the Tasmanian Devil Unzoo! What’s an unzoo you might ask? Well it’s essentially a zoo without a boundary fence, a place where the public learns about plants and animals through interaction and an immersive experience within a natural habitat. Of course there are a few enclosed areas containing animals that can’t be returned to the wild so you’re always guaranteed to see something during your visit.
There are of course Tasmanian Devils which are just so cute close up and certainly not deserving of their name. There’s the happy place where you can feed kangaroos and wallabies and give them a little snuggle too. The absolute highlight though, which I think many of our Instameet group would agree with was Fran, the Tawny Frogmouth. She was brought out to us on a little log and was the gentlest of creatures, chirping away when petted and happily coming along with us on her log as we wandered around the site.
At the end of our tour, we were treated to a fascinating talk by John Hamilton, the director of the unzoo and a passionate animal protector. He told us about the site’s importance in protecting the Tasmanian Devils from the facial tumour that has caused devastation to the population throughout Tasmania. There is another threat facing the devils however……us…..and more specifically our cars. There were heartbreaking stories earlier this year whereby devils had been killed on the roads mere days after being released into the wild. John and his team are pioneering the “Night Owl”, a small electronic device which emits a noise when car headlights approach, scaring away any wildlife from the roadside.
Walking around the unzoo and listening to John, you really get an appreciation for the sensitivity of this ecosystem. The animals and plants rely on each other for survival and if one suffers, they all suffer.
Alright now James, that’s enough, surely they couldn’t squeeze anything else into an Instameet? Right?…….right? Well……we did have one more place to visit, the Tessellated Pavement. It’s a fascinating geological feature near Eaglehawk Neck that is THE go-to place when the Aurora Australis (The astronomical feature, not the aforementioned research vessel) is out and about. We enjoyed a nice stroll amongst the rocks, with some opting for long exposures of the whole scene while others focussed on the details. The rain that had been threatening all day, finally began to drop a little as we made our way to our final destination for the day, the Lufra Hotel. They had laid on yet another feast for us with delicous cakes, pastries and biscuits as well as a nice hot cup of tea or coffee.
After we had our fill, it was time to get back on board our bus and return to Hobart. Big thanks once again to Jared and Liza for putting together such a fun filled, action packed day. I’ve been able to see so much of Tasmania through these Instameets and I hope I’ve been able to give you the readers some sense of appreciation for this wonderful island as a result. Already itching for the next one!!