Dec 1982/Jan 1983
We left Alice Springs at 12:15 p.m. on December 27th and flew to Adelaide where we stopped for 30 minutes. A friend of Dorothy’s from the newspaper (?) met us at the airport to say Hi. We flew on to Melbourne where we stopped for an hour and a half before flying on to Hobart. The good thing about going to Hobart is that it’s located at the southern edge of Tasmania so you get a good view of the whole island as the plane descends into Hobart. Enroute we had two snacks and a complete meal. The South Australian Rifle Team was on the plane to Hobart. At the airport we picked up a brand new bright yellow Holden Camira (Australian built/GM product). It was cool but pleasant as we drove the 20 km into Hobart. The road to town goes over the high arched Tasman bridge and just on the other side of the bridge is a fairly high hill in the Botanic Gardens. Driving toward the bridge, that hill and Hobart in the background present quite a view. That night we stayed in a hotel which had been booked by the airline and it was very expensive.
The next day we found another motel, stopped at the Tourist Bureau, and left for Port Arthur. The trip took a couple of hours (on a two lane road) and much of the countryside was pastoral. We stopped at a place called Eaglehawk Neck, on the coast. The erosion patterns of the rocks were very interesting and a tunnel through one rock to the other side produced what is called a blowhole, in which the water from the sea comes rushing through the tunnel to spray against the rocks on the other side of the hill.
We drove on to the Tasmanian Devil’s Park. It is privately owned and the setting is very rustic but nice. It was here we saw the first signs of the island-wide drought. The trout stream through the park was completely dried up. We saw Tasmanian Devils, wombats, wallabies, birds, etc. There was one small wombat in a cage out in front of the place and one kid picked it up (apparently it is OK to do so) and then handed him to Dwight. Dwight said that he wiggled. We moved on to Port Arthur and tried to find something to eat, which presented a constant problem throughout Tasmania (and New Zealand) due to the lack of American type fast food places and my family’s problem of finding things they like. We finally found some hamburgers and took them to Port Arthur and ate them at a picnic table (it was windy and very cool). Port Arthur was a penitentiary for criminals too tough for the penal colony at Sydney in the early days of Australia. It was quite a sizable place with a number of the buildings, or parts of buildings (the dormitory, hospital, church) still standing; however most of them are in very sorry shape. They are trying to restore them, but it looks like a large-scale project is needed. We returned to Hobart and that night saw E.T. (for $19.50).
December 29th we drove to Launceston, about 2 and 1/2 hours and approximately 90 km. Most of the area we saw was hilly (some flat plains) not heavily forested. We arrived at Launceston, got a motel and drove out to the Tasmanian Wildlife Park This is also a private park. Many of the animals roam free and we were able to feed kangaroos and wombats by hand and Dwight and Dorothy were able to hold a wombat. A girl from the park fed Tasmanian Devils by hand and then brought one out so everyone, could pet it. Devils are thought to be vicious, but these have been raised in such a manner that they can be handled. Later she showed the wombat that Dwight and Dorothy had held. Toby tried to hold it but it was too big and Toby was too unsteady with him. The girl also brought out a koala to be petted. She was very good talking about the animals and had a good sense of humor. We returned to town, spent about an hour trying to find a place to eat and ended up eating in the room.
Breakfast presented special problems. Most motels we’ve used in Australia and New Zealand only serve breakfast by room service and it’s not cheap, so we look for alternatives. In those motels which have kitchens, we make ourselves something to eat. The other problem is that people in Australia and New Zealand eat things like steak and eggs for breakfast, and have never heard of anyone eating sweets for breakfast. So it’s almost impossible to find doughnuts. Anyway, on December 30th in Launceston we had 3 lamingtons (sponge cakes) and two eclairs for breakfast. We then drove out to the Waverly Woolen Mill. A cute female guide showed us through the various buildings, some of which are original, dating back to the mid 1800’s. In one shed different types of sheep and a type of goat which provides the raw material to the mill were displayed. From there we were shown the scrubbers which washes the wool before it’s processed. From there the wool is dried and stored until needed. It is taken from storage, combed, then turned into thread. We saw the looms where it is turned into material and then ended up at the shop where they sell some of their goods. One item which I thought was a neat idea was a blanket for picnics, etc. which had a rubber backing. We bought one, and a woolen tie.
From there we drove out to the lavender farm that Dorothy wanted to see. We finally got there after driving 50 km through mountains and back a dirt road. It is the biggest lavender farm in the southern hemisphere and is only open Christmas to January 23rd. The lavender fields were quite extensive and the lavender was either in full bloom or close. The cutting hadn’t started yet. The part of the plant beneath the bloom, not the bloom itself, produces the oil. There were thirteen different colors, including white. We drove back to Launceston, (tried a short cut and ended up on a dirt road which eventually disappeared), stopped at Kentucky Fried Chicken for lunch and headed toward Hobart. We stopped at a town called Ross, and saw an old bridge built by convicts in 1834. We saw some more old buildings and another old bridge in Richmond before reaching Hobart. We ate supper in the Godfather Pizza Restaurant where they show videos (slang for video tape recorded movies) and Dorothy finally got to see at least part of the “Muppet Movie,” which has a Studebaker in it.
December 31st we spent the day shopping – stamp stores, book stores, etc. We walked down to the harbor to see all of the sailboats which had taken part in the Sydney-Hobart and Melboume-Hobart races. Looking for one book store we ended up on a hill (or mountain) in the outskirts of Hobart from which you could see the entire harbor area, Tasman Bridge and suburbs and it was quite a beautiful sight. That evening we just stayed in the motel. At midnight we were awoken by people celebrating New Year’s so we got up and looked down toward the harbor and saw fireworks being put off over the harbor. I guess we should have kept the kids up and joined the mob scene at the harbor to see the fireworks.