Fiji - Tasmania - Australia - Hawaii
January 29 - April 2, 2008
Richard and Anita Dyck left Vernon with snow falling and -17 C [1.4 F] the morning of January 29 to meet Marjorie Buckham at the Kelowna International Airport. The three of us were traveling together on this extended vacation, Marjorie being a friend of the Dycks for some 28 years. Planning for this trip had been ongoing for a year with Marjorie and Richard working together, in consultation with Anita, to research and book quality and affordable experiences that would provide long-lasting memories for all of us.
Throughout this journal the metric system will be a constant to record temperature, distance and the like. For those not using our metric system, below is an abbreviated conversion table to the US system of measurement:
15 C = 59 F 100 km = 62.14 miles
20 C = 68 F
25 C = 77 F
30 C = 86 F
35 C = 95 F
40 C = 104 F
45 C = 113 F
The Web Sites I have provided are to enhance the attractions we enjoyed and provide more background for you … enjoy!
Our journey was not without incident, some serious others comical. Each will be described in the order of occurrence. Remember as you read, this could happen to each of you just as easily!
Tuesday, February 5
Our flight from Nadi > Sydney was routine. Was cloudy and 24 C upon arrival at Sydney airport. While boarding the commuter bus taking us to the Domestic Terminal, Marjorie lost her E-Ticket for our next flight. At check-in we found our flight delayed some 4 hours but it had become a direct flight to Hobart with no stop in Melbourne. Anita’s carry-on luggage was deemed too heavy by Virgin Blue Airlines resulting in her having to repack and send the rest with our checked luggage.
Upon arrival at the Hobart airport it was dark and a cool fine rain greeted us as we walked from the plane into the terminal. Engaged a taxi to take us the 20 km to our overnight accommodation, The St. Ives Motel. No desk clerk on duty – we spoke to someone over the intercom to arrange necessary entry. Had to negotiate a narrow stairway to access our room which we found to be old and somewhat dirty, not as portrayed by the photos displayed on their web site. We had sought this out on our own and made our own booking – how wrong we were!
Wednesday, February 6
Morning came very early as we needed breakfast before meeting our Tour Guide at 7:30 a.m. to begin our 6 Day Super Tasmanian Tour. A local cab driver was most helpful in taking us to a nearby restaurant where service was fast and friendly. Steve, our Tour Guide / Driver made us 3 Canadians his first pickup and when all done, our 21 passenger Toyota bus had fellow travelers from Columbia, Germany, Italy and Japan with the Japanese having the greatest number, all of which were students or recent grads. En route to the famous penal colony of Port Arthur, our first stop was Richmond. Here we walked on the oldest bridge in Australia, Richmond Bridge (1825) built by convicts from sandstone quarried at Butchers Hill. Next came the attractions of Tasman Arch and Devils Kitchen before arrival in Port Arthur, Australia’s premier convict site where we spent some 4 hours before our return to Hobart for the evening. We encountered numerous roadkill on the highway both ways to Port Arthur and return. At the prison site we visited the Info Centre, took a harbour cruise and viewed the remains of the prison all the while listening to stories of and about the convicts. We did some role playing to understand the hardships the convicts were subjected to. For Richard, he was a 13 year old boy from England, given a 7 year sentence for stealing 21 umbrellas! While serving his time at Port Arthur he trained to be a shoe repair man. Our weather today was somewhat warm, 20 C and overcast with numerous showers throughout the day.
Our accommodation in Hobart that evening, the Mid City Hotel was clean, comfortable and centrally located. We chose to cancel our reservation at The St. Ives Motel for our last night in Hobart, opting to “upgrade” to the Mid City Hotel instead.
Web Sites of Interest …
Richmond Bridge, Tasmania
Thursday, February 7
Sunshine and partly cloudy skies greeted us on this second day. It turned out that our Tour was not just a 6 Day encounter as overnight we lost some members and gained others from Denmark, the Czech Republic and Perth, Australia. More of this “hop off, hop on” would occur before our Tour concluded and we three Canadians learned we must scrutinize our options more closely for any future tours we might consider. We drove until noon passing through our first desert and sheep ranches before arriving at Freycinet National Park near Wineglass Bay.. Here we were scheduled to participate in 1 of 2 walks --- 4 hours in duration, involving some 659 + steps in one and steeper terrain on the second walk. Our Tour Director/Driver, Steve told Anita outright that she was not capable of doing either walk and arrangements had been made for her to spend the afternoon at the Lodge there while the others participated in the walks. Richard chose to remain with Anita at the Lodge as did Marjorie, who had been not well all day suffering from an upset stomach. Afterwards, back on board the bus, others who completed the walks described the hardships they endured to complete same. Our overnight stop was in Bicheno. Our accommodation here was one of the worst we experienced on our entire time away. At 9:45 p.m. we visited a Fairy Penguin Rookery. Fairy penguins are the smallest of their kind in the world.
Web Sites of Interest …
Freycinet National Park http://www.parks.tas.gov.au/natparks/freycinet/index.html
Friday, February 8
We had overcast skies with drizzle and rain off and on. Driving north east to Launceston, our scheduled overnight stop this Friday, we first stopped and walked along the sandy beach at Wind Song, near St. Helens, where the surf was quite large with the winds we encountered. Continuing on to St. Columbia Falls we left the coast traveling past numerous dairy cattle ranches and through the Blue Tier Rainforest. The trees and foliage in the rainforest were most scenic and very old. One easily sees the effect bush fires have had on the trees and undergrowth. We walked to the foot of the falls for pictures. Arrived in Launceston and were greeted with partly sunny skies.
Our group became smaller as we said farewell to some leaving us here. Steve, our Tour Director/Driver also left and was replaced with a relief driver until Tony was able to join up with us at Cradle Mountain.
Discussions onboard our bus revealed that we 3 Canadians were the oldest of all on this tour.
Web Sites of Interest …
St. Columbia Falls http://www.netasmania.com.au/online/db/20020115-1.html
Saturday, February 9
Beautiful sunshine all day! Our drive to Cradle Mountain was most spectacular passing through valley farms and amongst the trees in the forest. We passed through the city of Devonport, the Tasmanian port where the ferries from Melbourne and Sydney dock.and stopped at the small village of Sheffield, 32 km south of Devonport to admire the more than 30 murals painted on the exterior walls of local buildings.. Fodor’s Australia 2007 writes “Similar to murals found at Chemainus, British Columbia, they were painted in the late 1980s and depict industries (farming, cement manufacture) that had been carried out over the previous century but were then in decline.” Chemainus is on Vancouver Island in our home Province. Continuing on to Cradle Mountain on a narrow, winding highway that included some switchbacks we were greeted with brilliant sunshine and no fog. The majority of us had the impression that those who chose to live here loved a semi-isolated lifestyle. Richard and Anita both believed her sister, Rita and husband, Jack would be right at home in this environment! Cradle Mountain is the central feature of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park, part of Tasmania’s World Heritage Area. A 6 km walk around Dove Lake was up next. The online itinerary for this Tour says in part “Take a stroll around Dove Lake …”, we did so finding the first half much easier than the second. We followed the path clock-wise around the lake, under the shadow of Cradle Mountain, through the tranquil Ballroom Forest and back along the western shore of the lake. We marveled at the sight of stands of ancient pines mirrored in the still waters of the lake. The walk provided numerous photo opportunities and we met and conversed with fellow tourists, many from nearby as schools were closed for vacation. Most comments we’d heard about the mountain told us to expect cloud and mist during our visit; we were most fortunate to have only sunshine! Again, on completion, others offered opinions about the second half of this "easy" walk! Shortly after boarding the bus we had our first sighting of Aussie wildlife … wallabies eating grass outside a restaurant.
Web Sites of Interest …
Village of Sheffield http://tourtasmania.com/content.php?id=sheffield
Chemainus, BC – Wall Murals
Cradle Mountain http://www.walkabout.com.au/locations/TASCradleMountain.shtml
Dove Lake Walk
Sunday, February 10
Another day of sunny skies as we left the mountain bound for the west coast of Tasmania. We headed out of the mountains to Roseberry, predominately a base for nearby zinc mining operations, our first stop of the day. On to Montezuma Falls where the return walk to see the Falls turned out to be 10 km. Anita chose not to participate while Marjorie and Richard walked only one-third of the way in before turning back. We next visited Zeehan, rich in mining history, became our next stop. Onward towards the sea at Strahan we stopped to climb the Henty sand dunes on the edge of the west coast. By now our sunny skies had been replaced with clouds. Arriving in Strahan we were given a brief tour of the harbour then taken to see the ocean beach, deemed the longest stretch of ocean on the planet. Looking out towards the sea the next land to access would be Africa!
Web Sites of Interest …
Monday, February 11
Rainy skies greeted us as we departed Strahan on this, our final day of touring Tasmania. Leaving the west coast behind the sun appeared once more and remained with us for the rest of the day. Queenstown, a copper and gold mining town, was our first stop this morning. Queenstown is one of the wonders of the world and it deserves to be seen by everyone. The hills have been stripped of timber to fire the local copper smelts and permanently denuded by the noisome sulphurous fumes which belch from the smelters, Queenstown is a surreal nightmare. Its river is polluted. It has the appearance of a deserted moonscape. One has to question why people would live there and raise their families in surroundings subject to heavy acid rainfall. Continuing on to Nelson Falls we enjoyed a short enjoyable walk off the highway to photograph the Falls. We stopped briefly at the famous Franklin River and viewed bee hive farms nearby before coming to Lake St. Clair for a lunch break. We began to feel the suns warmth here, having left the coast with its fog and dampness. Still more waterfalls to enjoy as next we had a short stop to photograph stunning Russell Falls. Driving through the area we saw landscapes very similar to Kamloops and the North Okanagan back at home in BC. The final leg of our journey took us through the picturesque Derwent Valley before arriving back in Hobart where we said our final good byes to our fellow travelers.
We regret not having an time to explore and enjoy Hobart as our itinerary called for us to depart Tasmania early Tuesday morning.
Web Sites of Interest …
Franklin River http://www.parks.tas.gov.au/natparks/wild/frank.html
Lake St. Clair
Derwent Valley http://www.derwentvalley.com.au/
-- a visit to both coasts, east and west, is a must or one does not experience Tasmania to the fullest;
-- our Tour traveled secondary, not main highways, allowing us to see and enjoy more;
-- road signage is excellent … all creeks, rivers and the like are clearly labeled with the signs facing the oncoming traffic, not parallel to the highways; our Province and local governments can and should learn from the Australians;
-- Tassie road signs are unique …those giving distances list the first destination then bracketed underneath are names and distances to nearby places on the way;
-- numerous dead gumwood / eucalyptus trees adorn the many fields and forests, be it a result of either bush fires, man-made bush fires, or natural causes;
-- there is no “tipping” in Australia and also the price of goods for sale is as advertised as all taxes are included in the posted price – what you see is what you pay;
-- the music we listened to while driving was from the 1950s and 1960s, a pleasant change from what is offered back home;