Well I am glad that you've enjoyed the first installment of my Antipodean trip, and as always thank you for your lovely comments I'm glad that the photos particularly have brought back some happy memories of your own holidays half way around the world.
As promised, I thought we'd venture off to Tasmania this week – roughly an hour and a half's flight from Sydney, and not in New Zealand, as I'm ashamed to say I first thought!
I had also imagined our mode of transport to be a little bi plane with propellors, window boxes and an outside toilet, but no, it was all mod cons, and Colin and I slept most of the way, having been up at the crack of dawn to get to the airport!
We flew into Launceston, which is to the north of the island, and as the plane banked around and the clouds parted, we saw the most beautiful countryside with wide open plains and mountains in the background. It was a balmy 25 degrees as we stepped off the plane – far warmer than Sydney – and we were met the other side of the barrier by Colin's brother Phil.
Phil's lived in Tasmania for well over 20 years – he and his wife visited for a holiday and never came home! He is a fascinating man who has travelled to many countries, but is a mine of information about Tasmania and the people who live there.
Rather than heading home – which is in a little village called Kimberley – Phil drove us to the Woolmers Estate which is a beautiful stately home owned by the Archer Family. Their outstanding work with the Australian Convict system has made this beautiful building and its grounds a World Heritage Site. The sun beat down as we were transported back in time inside the cool exterior of a house that has been home to six generations.
It was fascinating and the rose garden, Wool Shed, Coach House, garage (with some of the original cars still in it!), Blacksmith's shed and many other outbuildings, were testatment to a family who wanted very much to keep their home within their family. All the sons were called Thomas, and it was only because the last born Thomas never married or had children that the house has been opened to the public.
From there we drove for several hours through the most amazing countryside. Very similar to the Lake District I felt, although the trees were pretty exotic but so many familiar place names! Exeter, Beaconsfield, Bangor and Bridgenorth were just a few that we came across, and we visited Sheffield – the town of Murals – where just over 1,000 people live, and farm cattle, sheep and emus!!!
Most walls of the buildings in the main street are covered in fabulous paintings, each illustrating the history of the area itself. We also chanced upon Paradise and Nowhere Else – both real places en route Then we stopped in Devonport, which was beautiful – right by the sea with a large river running through it. In fact here's a question for you: "What's the connection between the photo of the river and Gerry Marsden?"… I'll look forward to your answers
We got to Phil's around 6pm and were met there by his lovely wife Robyn, who works as a nurse in Hobart and had just got home. Their daughter Carly and her boyfriend Daniel also spent the evening with us and after a delicious meal of barbequed chicken and wine from Phil's vineyard, we were more than ready for bed!
Phil works for Barrington's vineyard – their grapes make award-winning champagne! – but he also has his own vineyard 'White Rock', and the grapes from there make the most delicious Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc. He'd very kindly free'd himself up to take us around Tasmania and the next few days were packed with adventures.
We had a wonderful day at Cradle Mountain – a dramatic backdrop to the beautiful Lake St Clair that has a 6km walk around it. Luckily I had several layers on, because the weather was constantly changing from cold to warm to hot to wet and then windy! I hadn't bothered with my wig that day, which was lucky as I'm pretty sure I'd have lost it the number of times I was pulling clothes on and off over my head!
Phil had packed us a lovely lunch and we sat and watched the still, deep black water whilst munching on huge ham and cheese rolls! We had dinner that evening in a lovely little place called Deloraine and after eating my entire body weight in tuna, we headed home for another good night's sleep.
Most days were sunny and warm and it made all the difference when we arrived at Mole Creek's Tasmanian Devil Sanctuary to see the animals. I held a giant wombat, petted several kangaroos, and watched a collection of Tasmanian Devils devour a dead wallaby..! I know, but they have to eat… :/
We crammed in a visit to a honey farm where there must have been no less than 100 different flavours of honey! You were able to taste them too, and having tried Stringy Bark, Leatherwood, Teatree and Gum Honey, I had to walk away from the Scratchy Box option!! I don't think my fillings would have coped with more sugar
To round off the visit, Phil had offered to drive us to Hobart which is the opposite end of the island and a good three hour drive. That day the weather was grotty and by the time we got to the hotel we could barely see Constitution Dock or the Jam Factory which houses some fabulous restaurants.
We had supper that night with Phil's other daughter Emma who is at University there, and having eaten goat fillet (I thought it was lamb!) washed down with a bottle of Moo Brew (local beer), the floor was cleared for the strangest musical entertainment I have ever heard… one man in the middle of a floor with a synthesiser that seemed jammed on the one note… the only variance was in the volume, which had people rushing out of the pub clutching their ears! Seriously! It was horrendous, and so we called it a night.
Salamanca Market beckoned the next morning and was fabulous. What seems to be almost half a mile of incredible stalls crammed full of jewellery, art, pottery, wooden crafts and food – it reminded me a little of the market in Barcelona. The rain eased off a tad and after a lovely lunch, Phil drove us to the Museum of Old and New Art, which is built into and under the rock on the coast.
Four floors of some of the most extraordinary things I have ever seen, or would indeed call art..! From carved car tyres to a wooden cement mixer and even a room that showed you the workings of our digestive system, complete with the natural outcome… the smell was appalling!
So it was with open windows that we headed to the airport and rather sadly said goodbye to Phil who had been such an incredible host and guide over the five days. Hopefully he'll be coming to England with Robyn in the next few years and then we can look after them! Our plane landed in Sydney where Peter and Sarah were there to meet us, and we headed home for our final day together…
I think I'll leave it there until next week or you'll get eye strain from reading all this! I promise I'll let you know about our two days in Dubai and the return home, oh and of course post up a few more photos.
Looking forward to your answers to my question about Gerry Marsden and keep your eyes peeled for Jason Donovan – I'm talking to him about his brand new Big Band Album, and he'll be singing at least two songs from it for us! Keeping it Australian see?!!
Have a great week,
Love Ali xxx