2011 February 17 – Day 43 – Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

It was an early morning as we had to be up at 6 am to get ready for a face-to-face passport check with Australian Immigration.  We had time for breakfast afterward before our 8:30 tour.

Hobart is the largest city on the island of Tasmania, and is Australia’s second oldest city (after Sydney).  Hobart was founded in 1804 as an isolated prison camp with 178 convicts and 25 officers.  The city sits at the mouth of the Derwent River and Hobart Harbour is one of the deepest natural harbours in the world.  Only 20,000 “Tassies” live in Hobart and the entire island’s population is about 515,000. We had a two hour bus ride through Hobart and inland to Mt. Field National Park where we hiked up to Russell Falls.  Much of Tasmania is protected by national parks and reserves.  Mt. Field was the first national park, designated in 1916. The island is very mountainous with thick forests and lush vegetation.

Russell Falls drops over three shelfs.  With all the plant growth and the rain it was hard to see it clearly. A further drive back toward Hobart on the other side of the Derwent river brought us to MeadowBank Winery for wine tasting and lunch.  Sadly the organization for the meal was somewhat lacking and the quantities didn’t even make it all around several of the tables.  Since it took so long to get our lunch it threw off the rest of the tour schedule so our guide had to call the ship and receive permission to return late.  The ship was in port until midnight so there was no worry about it sailing away but the shore excursions desk needs to know when people are due to be back on board. As usual with wineries the setting was lovely.

The nicest part of MeadowBank to me was the artistry on the floor in the upper level.  There were many stories and meanings pieced together in the wooden floor.  It would have taken a much longer than I had to check it all out. I thought it was beautiful art work.

We were next taken to the Georgian town of Richmond, home to Australia’s oldest jail and oldest bridge (it was built by convicts like many of the structures and buildings in Australia). From Richmond we went to Bonorong Wildlife Park to see Tasmanian Devils, wallabee’s, kangaroo’s and other critters. Th This is a baby wombat.  They are nocturnal so it just wanted to nap.                                      How is this for a bright blue tongue?

Tasmanian Devils are about the size of a large cat.  They are very fiesty and do not play well together.  They scrap a lot.  There is a type of cancer that is decimating the Devils in the wild.  It is a cancerous growth on their face and it is communicable, passing from one to another when they fight and bite at each other.  It is expected that all Devils in the wild will die from it so there are several places that are breeding Devils to build up a new population at the same time a lot of research is being done to find out more about the cancer.

. Koalas are adorable.  Not many places allow you to hold them yourself because they have very long, very strong claws and they will do some serious damage to you if they get annoyed or scared.  They only eat eucalyptus leaves, and rarely go out of the trees as they get enough water from the leaves.  They are extremely sleepy most of the time – resting in the trees up to 20 hours each day.  There is so little nutrition in the eucalyptus leaves that they have very low energy levels.                                These are Cape Barren Geese.

A large pen had quite a number of Grey Kangaroos.  You could puchase some food to give them which turned out to be Cheerio cereal, which they really liked. They have a very long toenail on the back feet.  Roos are skilled boxers and will also use their powerful back legs to kick predators or humans that make them feel threatened.  They can be very aggressive if provoked or angered.

 Then it was time to be driven back to Hobart and the ship.One of the options for dinner that night was an Australian BBQ on the pool deck.

The next day was our last port of call before Sydney and the beginning of our two-month tour of the eastern half of Australia.

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