Sunday, February 10, 2013


Hobart is the capital of Tasmania. The whole island, one of the six states in federal Australia, is twice the size of the Netherlands and has half a million inhabitants, 200.000 of which live in this city. It is an early Australian settlement and has many 'historic' places. The city sits on the estuary of the Derwent river and the harbour has always been of great importance. Now there are nice marinas and many cruiseships call on the port. We live here in the house of Dennis and Jenny, with whom we also stayed for two nights in their 'shack' in Spring Beach. We reached Hobart by bus. We didn't feel like riding back for two days against the wind, through blackened Dunalley over the undulating road. It undoubtedly has to do with the psychological aspect of the idea that we're at the end of our Australian tour. There was a feeling of mental and fysical fatigue. So we were very early to leave the Port Arthur caravan park. We got up at 05.30, broke up in the dark with some wallabies around us and at 06.00 we boarded the bus at the general store a few kms from the park. It was the only bus that day. We reached Bellerive, the quarter of Hobart where the house is, at 08.00 and we were in the house at 09.00. A whole day of comfort followed, everything at hand, no wind or rain to hide for and that for the rest of our stay. Such luxury.
No better way to end our expedition down under.
When I'm writing this we have already been here for almost a week. I got some cardboard bike-boxes from the guys at the local bike shop. Such nice people. The bikes have already been boxed. We have been to the city a couple of times. It's a good 6 k from the house and the first time we rode on our bikes. Very hilly terrain to the big Tasman bridge. This huge bridge has only very narrow bike/foorpaths on the sides. It's very windy up there and riding is not easy. For Eveline it was impossible, she walked. The other times we went by bus, a lot easier and more comfortable. We made a historic walk, that did not impress us so much, though the texts in the brochures do. We have visited MONA, the museum of old and new art. Very remarkable venue. It is a privately owned museum with a striking modern architecture on and in a steep high bank of the river. The owner is someone who, as a briljant statistician and mathematician, was very succesful in gambling and won millions. He now employs hundreds to keep on doing this. With his gains he built and runs this remarkable museum. The art that is presented to the public is mostly contemporary and many people are shocked by some of the works. But they are proud that Tasmania has an interesting and controversial attraction as this.
We had a bbq with our current and a former Warmshowers host in their little boat house on the river Derwent, a happy family-like event.
Every Saturday there is a market at Salamanca square. This is a small historic area on the waterfront, that is now full of restaurants, bars and arts- and gift shops. The market is very busy, lots of street musicians are playing, games for children, food of all continents, lots of fun. We were so lucky to be here in the weekend of the 20th wooden boat festival. There were a couple of hundreds of them and one of the bigger ships came all the way from Russia. The city was crowded, at least for Australian standards, and the buses were free for three consecutive days. They certainly know how to make an event into a nice event.
Already for some 4 or five days there is a big bush fire going on not far from the city. It is out of control and the roads in whole region are closed. People have been evacuated. Since the area is not very populated is appears not to be as catastrophic as the one some weeks ago in Dunalley, some 50 k to the east from here. This one is so close though, that the cloud of smoke is hanging over the city and that Mount Wellington, the city's own 1270 meter high mountain, is sometimes invisible and closed. Depending on the wind we smell it. But life goes on here, not a problem.
Tomorrow we will be off on an excursion to Bruny island, where we will be cruising in a special expedition vessel along the rugged coast and see a colony of fur seals, dolphins and other wildlife. Most likely this will bring us to the most southerly point on earth we will ever be.

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