*** Guest post from Quills n’ Ink ***
Hobart really does have it all. The world’s cleanest air, quirky museums, bustling markets, picturesque villages, delectable cuisines, pristine beaches, and history. Our weeklong trip to Hobart was a whirlwind of fun and everything else this place has to offer. Even though we were there in the middle of a Total Fire Ban week, we were able to do everything on our list (and a couple more).
We reached Hobart on the evening of 24 January. Much of our first evening was spent navigating the roads of Hobart to get to our Airbnb home. A couple of wrong turns, steep inclines, extremely helpful out-of-town strangers and a startled Kangaroo later, we pulled up in front of the house, looking forward to a fun-filled week.
The occasional visitor we had in Hobart
Our original plan on day 1 was to either drive to Port Arthur, or Freycinet National Park, however, the possibility of bushfires prevented us from venturing anywhere out of the city. We ended up ticking off the top item on my list, MONA (Museum of Old and New Art). If you are into art, a day in this museum is NOT enough.
This might be an exaggeration, but as I remember MONA and go through the photos and videos, I’m in a bit of an existential crisis. I am a complete newbie to art, but there’s something so humbling, so enchanting and absorbing about the world of art, that one can’t help feeling a little overwhelmed. A sensory overload, if you will. These works of art imbibe different types of medium. They play with light, the absence of light, material, colour, sound, and so very often, the spectator becomes a part of the artwork. These works have potential to boggle the mind, maybe in a confrontational manner. Nevertheless, I loved MONA so much, I decided to write a whole other post about it (to be shared soon).
Most of this day went as planned. Our first stop was Salamanca Market, located at Salamanca place, next to the Hobart waterfront. The market is held only on Saturdays, from 8:30 am to 3 pm. The street was filled with stalls and tourists, selling everything from clothes and books to locally produced Lavender soaps, cherries, fruits, and vegetables. There were stalls of handcrafted cheese, hand-worked glass, Tasmanian timber, leather goods and so much more. I decided to beat the heat with a little chocolate-y indulgence while Mayank gulped down deliciously refreshing orange juice.
A stall selling woodwork
An antique sewing machine
A collection of Russian Dolls
We then wandered around the waterfront for a while, and looked around Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. The Museum has numerous displays of countless different species, a miniature Antarctica, recreation of Aboriginal settlements, vintage furniture and much, much, more.
A broken statue of the Indian deity Ganapati seen in the Museum
After lunch, we decided to head to a little town called Richmond, about 30 minutes’ drive from Hobart. Famous for the first stone span bridge of Australia, the oldest Roman Catholic Church of Australia and historic Richmond Gaol, this little town has a total population of 1,464, as per 2016 census. The drive from Hobart was beautiful, and Richmond itself is terrific.
On an impulse, we stopped at the charming Richmond Bakery for a croissant and hot chocolate. Our next stop, the oldest stone span bridge in Australia. The construction of the bridge started in 1823, and it was completed using convict labour in 1825. We walked across the bridge to the grassy slopes next to it. Taking off my shoes, I walked around the grass barefoot; nothing short of heavenly! I even decided to embrace craziness and went rolling down the grass slope (the things you do when you aren’t worried of judging eyes!).
The grass slopes down to a small river the bridge is built across, and it is a great place to watch ducks swimming ashore, cleaning themselves with their beaks. We were lucky enough to spot a black swan and a white swan!
Our next stop was the oldest Roman Catholic Church in Australia, St John’s Catholic Church. The construction started in 1835, and the church opened for worship in 1837. After lighting a candle in the Cathedral, we took a walk through the cemetery behind it, and I can’t think of a more beautiful final resting place.
If I have to pick one word to describe Richmond, it would be ‘Quaint’, and it was with gratefulness tinged with a little sadness that we bade Richmond goodbye.
Day 3: Bruny Island
Bruny Island is located about 83 kilometres to the southeast of Hobart. Bruny Island Ferry runs ferries between Kettering, Hobart and Bruny island everyday. We drove to Kettering early in the morning and hopped on the Ferry.
The ferry took about 20 minutes, and once there, we set off to Adventure Bay for a 3-hour cruise. We made a pit stop at The Neck for a great view and some photos and a few minutes at the beach, and then drove to adventure bay.
From Adventure Bay, Bruny Island Cruises runs 3-hour cruises at regular intervals. After a short safety briefing, we were shown into the cruise. Once everyone was given ginger tablets as a precaution for possible seasickness, the cruise took off.
Being out on a cruise in the ocean, looking at the expanse of the South Pacific was, for me, a kind of deeply spiritual and humbling experience. The wind whipped around as I took in the sights, the sound of the waves crashing against the front of the boat, occasionally sending a spray across my face, the gigantic weathered rocks, and, stretching endlessly ahead, the vast, mysterious, uncaring sea, and my own inconsequence. It’s during these moments of raw feeling that you fall in love with Creation, feel at one with the universe. You feel your importance and unimportance at the same time. You appreciate the transient nature of your own existence.
The rocks in the ocean form a number of caves, and curious shapes. The place is also known to be home to seals and a colony of Albatross.
This curious rock formation is said to look like a King on a Llama in front of a Prima Donna
An opening in the rocks that forms an uncanny resemblance to the iconic Australian bird, Cockatoo.
The breathing rock
Seals on a rock
After the cruise, we spent most of the afternoon exploring beaches in Bruny island (after I had spent half an hour untangling my hair). We took the ferry back to Kettering just after 6.
Day 4: Port Arthur
Many say Port Arthur gives them the creeps, and I agree. Apart from the fact that the place is haunted with convict history, Port Arthur was the site of a brutal massacre that occurred on 28 April 1996. Because of the whole troubled past of the place, I decided to write another page in dedication to Port Arthur.
Day 5: Freycinet National Park
We had to postpone our visit to Freycinet National Park towards the end of our trip, as we visited in the middle of a total fire ban week. It was the hottest day yet. We decided to do the easiest track, and chose the 40-minute return route to Wineglass Bay Lookout, because most of the walks were to be closed off to avoid bushfires.
Even though the walk was short, and we were slathered with sunscreen, it was scorching hot. The track was almost all uphill, with a great view of The Hazards (gigantic mountains, that look pink due to the presence of granite). We had to make a couple of stops along the way, and keep ourselves hydrated with plenty of water, because sunstrokes are common in such weather. Once we reached the lookout though, it was completely worth the climb.
Freycinet National Park is huge, however, by the time we returned from Wineglass Bay Lookout, some of the parts were closed. However, we still got to see the beautiful Honeymoon Beach, and took a walk around Cape Tourville Lighthouse, and got some magnificent views of the ocean.
Day 6: Mount Wellington, and goodbye!
On our last day in Hobart, we took a final trip to the top of Mount Wellington. We set off early in the morning, and drove 30 minutes to the top. It was extremely windy, and there was a lot of cloud cover when we arrived, but the clouds cleared a little later to give us a gorgeous view of the city. A perfect way to say goodbye to the beautiful city.
On my next visit to Hobart, whenever it happens, I plan to spend 3 days at MONA museum, shop till I drop at Salamanca market, do a ghost tour of Port Arthur, and fall in love with Richmond again.