I want to start this post off by congratulating two of our best friends, Monique and Alessandro, on their recent engagement!
Congrats to Jamster & Matt for conceiving baby Schweitz!
AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST
Congratulations to Hilary & Doug on the birth of their new baby girl!
As you can see Mike and I have missed quite a bit going on at home but we are very thankful to have advanced technology that allows us to video chat and stay in contact with our friends and family. CONGRATULATIONS Monique, Alessandro, Jamie, Matt, Hilary and Doug!
The past week has been a bit crazy. We arrived at our new work exchange home on February 21st and left on February 25th. A stay which was supposed to be for over a week was cut short. Why you may ask?
1. We had yet to see the western part of Tassie and we really wanted to do some more camping and exploring before our ferry back to the mainland (who knows when we’ll be back in this part of the world).
2. Our hosts expected full work days with only 1 or maybe 2 days off a week. Now don’t get me wrong we love to work hard but we also love to venture out and see new things. If we had stayed we wouldn’t have been able to do and see everything we wanted.
3. Our hosts had extremely poor internet… it was as if we had traveled back to the age of “dial up.” Since we camp a lot, when we stay with hosts we really need internet in order to keep in touch with family and friends, maintain this blog, post my daily photos on Facebook and update my photography website.
With that said it was just not a great fit, so we decided to leave early. Even though we only worked 2 full days for Frances and Chris, we did a lot of work; including picking tomatoes, digging up potatoes, chopping down cumbungi in a murky pond, herding cows and chopping wood. Mike was even given a mini lesson on how to drive a manual car.
*On a side note, I almost got run down by two of the cows while herding them (of course the ones with big horns)… it’s funny now because I am okay but I was actually scared for my life… screaming at the top of my lungs “HELP ME” with Frances screaming back “CLOSE THE GATE.” If you want to hear the detailed story just ask me!
Frances and Chris also had an awesome Collie named Shiva… she helped herd the cows and was also a great cuddler.
We also did take off one day (even though our hosts weren’t very keen on the idea) and we went to Salamanca Market in Hobart, a huge market with food, drinks, arts & crafts and entertainment.
We also walked around the city of Hobart a bit.
We left our hosts on 2/25 and headed towards Cockle Creek in southern Tasmania. On the way we stopped at the Cadbury Factory… ummm yes I was in heaven.
…and then we went to MONA (Museum of Old & New Art).
MONA is a fairly new museum, built about 2 years ago and a “must do” while in Australia. Mike wasn’t so keen on the idea of going to a museum but because he is a great husband he agreed to go. The museum was amazing… extremely modern and gorgeous (and since it’s privately owned it’s quite different from traditional museums). After paying our entrance fee we were handed an iPhone which was our personal guide throughout the museum. The iPhone provided both text and audio information about each exhibit. Below are some pics of the exhibits I found really interesting.
We both had a really good time. Some of the pieces of artwork may be debatable whether it is true art but that is what made this museum so fascinating (and in the words of Saved By The Bell’s Lisa Turtle: “What is art? Are we art? Is art art?”). I would tell you about all my favorite pieces but to be honest it may bore you a bit and would take way too long.
However, I can do you one better! If you are interested in seeing the exhibits and you can’t make it to Tasmania, then all you need is my email address! MONA allows you to log into their website and visit the exhibits that I personally visited as well as the exhibits that I missed. All you have to do is click here and use my email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) to be logged in. It is definitely worth your time, trust me!
After MONA we headed to our campsite right by Cockle Creek. We spent 2 nights at this site. When we got their Mike did some fishing and I enjoyed my book and a glass of wine.
On the second day we did a 4 hour return hike to South Cape Bay Cliffs (the southern coast of Tassie and one of the closest places in the world to Antarctica). The hike was pretty easy, more like a nature walk.
After seeing southern Tassie we headed to Strahan on the far west coast. Mike drove around 450 km (7-8 hours) in the on again/off again rain. We also had a bit of a scare when Thor started giving us issues driving on petrol and we were running very low on LPG (remember we have a dual-tank system). For some reason, Thor only wants to run on LPG even when the petrol tank is full. Fortunately, we were lucky and did make it to a town that had LPG but we will have to take the car to a mechanic to see what is going on.
When we arrived in Strahan we were pretty tired and hungry so we indulged in a cheese pizza. At only $10 for a medium size cheese pizza it was a steal (remember that this is a very expensive country)!
After the yummy treat we headed to our campsite. We were instructed in the visitors center that we could either take a rocky dirt road to the campsite or drive on the beach. Of course we opted for the latter. Unfortunately, driving on the beach was a little harder on Thor then when we stayed at Cloudy Bay Campsite on Bruny Island. The wind was blowing hard and Thor was swerving a bit… but we made it. Due to the bad weather we were having Mike and I decided it would be best to sleep in the car so we could avoid having the tent fill with water. Let me tell you… sleeping in the car for an extended period of time is NOT fun. At 4am Mike woke me up to tell me he set up our smaller (but waterproof) tent. Sleeping on the ground in a tiny tent felt like luxury compared to sleeping in the driver and passengers seat of the car (we couldn’t sleep in the back of the car because we have too much stuff)!
We spent the next day just relaxing at the campsite. We went for a nice run, hung out on the beach for a little (it was quite windy and a bit cold so we didn’t stay on the beach for long), played bananagrams, read, and I scrapbooked.
Yesterday, we got back in the car and headed back to Jean & Graham (our original amazing Tassie hosts). I made meatloaf dinner (seems to be my signature dish in Australia) and we watched rugby. Mike and I worked in the garden and I got to play with the dogs and brush them as part of my daily tasks… pretty amazing. I love Inge and Venus, they are amazing dogs!
Right now I am sitting in the computer room and inhaling the wonderful smells of Jean’s cooking. She is making Risotto with prawns and I am pretty much salivating… so exciting! Tomorrow is our last full day on Tassie and on Monday we head back to the mainland and will be staying right outside of Melbourne (I am actually posting this a few days later than expected and let me tell you the Risotto was bellissimo)! Thank you so much to Jean & Graham for hosting us again, we will miss you a lot!
What I have learned this past month is that traveling can definitely be a roller coaster ride but you should embrace the ups and downs and enjoy the ride!