Market Day

Saturday is Market Day, and Hobart does it better than most.

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Over 300 food, arts, crafts, clothing, and flower vendors line Salamanca Place down by the harbor.

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We browsed for a good long time; observed a bee hive behind glass following the activity of the queen bee; debated whether to buy a raffle ticket for a sleek wooden sailboat (and tried to imagine how we would get it back home); were tempted to buy yet another pair of merino-possum socks; drank ginger beer with a Tasmanian devil logo; and shared a salmon sausage on freshly baked focaccia bread.

As merchants started to pack up their wares, we climbed up Kelly’s Steps to walk a scenic route toward home.  We passed a shop, Caravan, and its sign called us in: “the things you find along the way.”  Beth loved the light-as-a-feather cardigans made in Nepal.

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We continued on through Battery Point, an historic section of town.

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In 1909, the famous screen actor, Errol Flynn, was born here.  The Errol Flynn Reserve, a small park on the water’s edge, was named for him.  We watched ducks and seagulls that reside on the green lawn leading down to the water before heading up the hill for home.

 

April 2014

 

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Will moving stories teach us lessons for the future?

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Truggernanna, a native from southern Van Dieman’s Land (later named Tasmania), was married to Woureddy.  Who was she?  We knew very little about the Aboringinal people so the exhibit, ningina tunapri (meaning ”to give knowledge and understanding”) in the Tasmania Museum & Art Gallery, was an informative glimpse.

The exhibit displayed the rich arts and crafts of a people badly mistreated by the newly arrived Europeans who settled on the island.  By the time the portrait of Truggernanna was painted, most of the island’s Aboringinal people had died.

Another display in the Museum featured old movie footage of the last thylacine, pacing around a small cage.

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Movie footage of the last thylacine

Thylacines lived in Tasmania but were seen as pests.  A bounty was paid for each animal, and in short order, they had been hunted to extinction.  The last thylacine (pictured in the video) died in 1936.

Rarely do we visit museum exhibits that leave an impact so heartfelt as the moving story of the Aboringinal people of Tasmania nor do we see an extinction story in film of a species, the thylacine, affecting us so immediately.

We had spent so much time on these exhibits that we had to return a second day to see the rest of the galleries.

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The dinosaur looked to be walking away from the café.

The most interesting exhibits in the Museum were little known to us – the Aboriginal people, thylacines, and Tasmania’s close connection to the Subantarctic islands and Antarctica.

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To our surprise, on a visit a few days later to the Royal Botanical Gardens, we discovered the Subantarctic Plant House.  We put on our jackets and went inside that frigid house to see the little display of plants that grow on Macquarie Island.

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The Macquarie Island cabbage grows thickly over the island.

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The theme of destruction and interference by Europeans continued in the Subantarctic displays.  Huge populations of marine animals and birds were killed on these islands resulting in extinction or near extinction of many species.

These were all sad stories, and we can only hope that the telling will be guiding lessons for future generations to make wiser choices.

 

April 2014

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We’re on an island

We grew up in the Midwest of the United States in an area where we rarely saw a large body of water.  Yet, when we looked over our itinerary for our round-the-world trip, we noted how many of our destinations are on or near the ocean.  No surprise!  With great delight we landed on one of those destinations, the island state of Tasmania, Australia.

To be in Hobart, Tasmania is to be near the sea.  The city is on the River Derwent that quickly flows to the Tasman Sea.  Boats line the shore and the harbor.

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We passed marine research stations and a ship that we guessed had just arrived back from colder climes, perhaps the Antarctic.  Seafood restaurants are too numerous to count and sit side-to-side on harbor streets.  Someone told us that Hobart has more boats per capita than anywhere else in Australia, and we believe it.

Orientation here is to the water, whether it is art or a calm aesthetic at a garden.

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“Gift From the Sea” by Keizo Ushio, Japan

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Royal Botanical Garden, Hobart

It was a good plan for us to spend time near the sea and, better yet, on an island.

 

April 2014

 

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A dash of paint

We walked down a street in North Hobart, deep in conversation, when something caught our attention. We stopped, turned around, and just stared at the brick walls.  Wow!  What a little paint can do!

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Our friend, Phil, pets the tromp l”oeil dog.

The door was painted to scale.

The door was painted to scale.

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This was the painting that fooled us. It looked just like the real thing.

Even the post office was daring and looked terrific under the bright blue sky.

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My favorite in Hobart: a painted wall and building to match behind.

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We find ourselves more enthused about a place that looks great and shows off a bit in a stylish, colorful way.  Hobart impressed us as a town not afraid to show its stuff.  That’s just the kind of place we like to visit.

 

April 2014

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Would you know an emu if you saw one?

We had no idea what an emu, a Tasmanian Devil, or a wombat looked like. Hey, we’re now in Australia for two-and-a-half months, and our time to learn these things had arrived.

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Emu

Sure, we could have looked at photos pulled up on our computers, but that isn’t as good as the real thing. Our friends, Gretchen and Phil, took us to get a good look at these critters at a favorite place of theirs, East Coast Natureworld, in Bicheno, Tasmania.

Joe petting a wombat

Joe petting a wombat

We had a ball viewing and photographing all the animals, birds, and snakes.

Forester kangaroo

Forester kangaroo

 

Tiger snake

Tiger snake

We even got to watch the Tasmanian Devils get their daily meal. The park interpreter called the Tassy Devils by name and rustled her plastic food container, a sound they recognize as their dinnertime call. Out popped “the boys” from their little den. She tossed wallaby meat into the enclosure, fur and bones included. All the while she informed us about the animals and their behavior.

Tasmanian Devil with wallaby meat

Tasmanian Devil with wallaby meat

The best feature at Natureworld was its aviary – with the most colorful birds we’ve seen.

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We plan to do some bushwalks while we’re in Australia. Thanks to our visit at Natureworld, we might actually recognize a native animal or snake now should we happen to meet. Not a bad idea!

 

April 2014

 

 

 

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Take in the view

Phil stood on the bench, stretched his long leg onto the iron fence and with the other leaped on to the huge boulder.  He sat down, enjoyed the view, and we snapped his photo.

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Phil – with Wineglass Bay in the background

Our friends, Gretchen and Phil, live in Tasmania, Australia, an island south of the mainland.  They picked us up in Hobart on a crisp Fall morning, and we drove to Freycinet National Park.  Our plan: hike the Wineglass Bay-Hazards Beach Circuit trail and camp that night at the beach in the Park.

When we arrived, wallabies were in the parking lot to greet us (with hopes we’d hand over some food, which we didn’t).

Trip with Gretchen and Phil Stone to Freycinet Nationa Park

The hike alternated between forest and beach, crossing an isthmus, then more forest and beach.

Trip with Gretchen and Phil Stone to Freycinet Nationa Park

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Hazards Beach

We had the beautiful beaches to ourselves, just no one else was there.  We had read that Wineglass Bay is rated one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.  It is. The weather was really too cool for a swim, and, as the hour was late, we continued on.

By the time we finished our hike and drove to the campground darkness had set in.  We put on headlamps and set up two tents on a sandy pad not far from the Bay.  After a tasty, warm dinner at the Lodge Café, we burrowed into our sleeping bags and were lulled to sleep by the waves breaking on the beach.

The next morning, we got our first daylight view of our campsite, surrounded by trees on the sides and facing the Bay.

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We walked on the beach to the Lodge for hot drinks on the deck to start the day. Then we walked back to our beach site, spread out mats, and enjoyed a picnic breakfast on the beach, with some Pacific gulls for company.  Friends and gulls looked out to sea and enjoyed the view.

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View from the Lodge

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April 2014

 

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Our pick for top place to go in Melbourne

As soon as we set the dates for our trip to Melbourne, Australia, we planned one special outing. We figured all other tourist destinations could be squeezed in if we had time, but our heart’s desire was to visit the Melbourne Water Western Treatment Plant. Yes, a sewage treatment facility. Why? That’s because it’s the place to see up to 275 resident bird species – over one-third of all the species in Australia.

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We contacted John and Allison through birdingpal.org. They generously offered to guide us and 2 other visitors from the US, Jeff and Barbara, for the day.   How many birds would we see? We suspect John strives for 100 different species, which seemed impossibly high based on our limited experience.

We gathered in a wooded area by the side of the road to the Water Treatment Plant. John got off to a very fast start. “Musk lorikeets,” he called out and binoculars went up. We hardly had a second to look before John called out, “White ibis in the field over there.” We swiveled and took a look and tried to record what we’d seen, but not fast enough as he called out, “Little raven.” And so it went. This was speed bird watching at its very best. We could barely keep up with John. We had never been in a place where so many different birds could be seen without moving a step.

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Welcome swallows

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Purple swamphens

We knew the Melbourne Water Western Treatment Plant is a premier birding site in Australia, but we had no idea why or what it would be like. The facility, covering 11,000 hectares (42 sq mi), is 35 km southwest of the city and has been operating for over 100 years. “All natural treatment of the waste water,” we were told. “No chemicals.” Trees lined the entry roads, but most of the areas we visited appeared to be ponds and wetlands bordering Port Philips Bay.

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We raced through the morning, and, by my count, tallied over 60 bird species seen by the time we collapsed on to benches in a bird blind to eat our packed lunches.

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We spent time in the afternoon looking at wading birds not easily seen. John set up the scope to aid viewing. We saw many uncommon birds. One was a female ruff, known as a reeve, a rarely seen migrant from northern Eurasia.

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The perfect environment for secretive crakes and rails

We birded all day long and only stopped as the sun dropped in the sky. An early evening tally revealed we had hit the mark: 101 species viewed! John and Allison were great guides and the Water Treatment Plant was the best place we went in our visit to Melbourne.

 

March 2014

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