Oh Tasmania…. how I love thee…
The past week and a half has been absolutely amazing. I really had no idea what to expect from Tasmania… some people Mike and I spoke to said it was “Ehh okay” others said it was a “Must Do while in Australia,” well I have to agree with the latter of the two. So far Tassie has blown me away, the island is beautiful, quiet, serene and welcoming.
Tasmania is pretty far from the main land of Australia… you can either take an hour flight or a 9 hour ferry ride. Since Mike and I wanted to have Thor (our car) while in Tasmania we chose the ferry ride. The ride actually went fairly quickly.
While on the ferry I worked on the illustrations for Mike’s new book 100 Tips You Need To Know For Backpacking In Australia and Mike worked on his book (and was even able to watch the Superbowl).
Once we got off the ferry we drove to Lower Barrington (about a 20 minute ride from the port) where our first Tasmanian work exchange hosts lived. We pulled into the driveway of a quaint home and were greeted by Jean, Graham, Inge and Venus. Jean and Graham are a lovely couple who moved to Tasmania 2 years ago and Inge and Venus are their awesome German Shepards. We’ve had an absolutely amazing time over the past 10 days. We made an arrangement with Jean and Graham that we would work full days and then have every other day off… it worked out very well.
Since Mike and I had a lot of free time we were able to explore quite a bit. We hiked Cradle Mountain National Park twice, the first time we did a leisurely 3 hour hike to Marion’s Lookout, which offered us some amazing views of Cradle Mountain’s summit.
The second visit to the National Park we did an 8 hour hike up and down the summit of Cradle Mountain. Over the past several months I have developed a small fear of heights so climbing to the summit was a challenge for me. I kept looking down and picturing myself falling to my death. It was a huge accomplishment to scramble over gigantic boulders and make it to the top! During the hike there was a mom and daughter that were scrambling close behind us. At times I would get stuck on which way to climb and they were super supportive and nice. As Mike and I descended from the summit Mike kept saying “That girl looked so familiar,” and then he had an epiphany… they were Steve Irwin’s daughter and wife, Bindi and Terri… aka “The Crocodile Hunter’s Family.” Hahah so crazy! If he only realized earlier we could have definitely gotten a picture, oh well at least we have memories!
Mike and I also spent a day doing small excursions, we went to the doctors office (not fun, but I had a chest infection and needed medicine), then we went to House of Anvers (a Belgian chocolate factory), Reliquaire (an antique shop that sold pretty much anything you can think of including really creepy dolls; check out their photo gallery) and Spreyton (we sampled several different Ciders). The free chocolate tasting was my favorite part of that day.
I must say I hate being sick but Jean and Graham were so kind and nice. They refused to let me work while sick, they just wanted me to get better. Fortunately, going to the doctor and getting antibiotics helped me get better fast.
Mike and I learned quite a bit while staying with our Tassie hosts. Jean and Graham have a wonderful veggie and fruit farm; they grow butter beans, green beans, lettuce, carrots, raspberries, strawberries and more.
Mike learned to use a few more tools including a hand-pushed tiller, a post-digger, a wood-splitting axe (called a “blockbuster”), and a small chain saw. He helped to “till up the land” (like Kenny Chesney says), build a fence, plant veggies, chop down a tree and chop up wood. I did several different tasks including planting veggies, picking beans, washing and brushing the dogs and help with food shopping.
Inge and Venus are such amazing dogs and we loved hanging out with them… they really made us miss Rocky. They are so friendly, cuddly and beautiful!
Speaking about food… both Jean and Graham are amazing cooks and fed us extremely well! Every dinner we had was so delicious! Also, Graham brews his own beer and what a treat that was, I think I can say on behalf of Mike that he was in heaven.
We went on a couple excursions with Jean & Graham. On Sunday we all went to Festivale in Launceston, which was a wine, beer and food festival. The day was filled with lots of really nice music, delicious drinks and great company.
On Wednesday night another helper arrived, his name is Jason and he is from Perth. He quit his corporate job to start traveling. It is so nice meeting fellow travelers and sharing stories!
On Valentine’s Day we all went for a picnic at the Tasmanian Arboretum and we even got to see a Platypus! The photograph I shot of the platypus will appear as one of my Daily Photos.
It’s been an absolute great week and we will miss Jean, Graham, Venus & Inge. Thank you all for everything! Luckily they have offered for us to come stay with them the night before we leave Tasmania because they are located close to the ferry port, so it is not “goodbye” but “see you soon.”