The Apple of My Isle!
The Apple of My Isle!
We went to Tassie recently to visit family, practice some photography and to check out Classic’s latest addition to the ‘managed resort’ family, Shearwater Country Club.
So who goes to Tassie in Winter, I hear you ask? Only crazies, right? WRONG! Winter is an absolutely perfect time to visit the Apple Isle:
For starters, the night sky is crisp and clear – perfect for night sky photography.
Then there’s ‘Dark Mofo’ – Hobart’s winter art festival.
And last but not least …. us ‘northerners’ get a chance to air out our (meagre) winter gear!
Who could ask for more?
Although Tassie was experiencing ‘August weather in June’ (according to the locals), I will admit that we had ideal weather while we were there, with only one day of rain – the rest glorious sunshine and often mild days! The nights were another story!! Be prepared for all weather conditions though.
We arrived in Hobart just as ‘Dark Mofo’ was kicking off. Conceived by the team at MONA (Museum of Old and New Art), the festival boasts an impressive line up of local and international artists and musicians. ‘A beguiling mixed-bag of music and art’, according to MONA.
Now in its third year, the festival, which gets locals out and about and brings tourists to town in the middle of Winter, coincides with the winter solstice and ‘celebrates both ancient and contemporary mythologies, through large-scale public art, food, film, music, theatre, light and noise’. I’m not sure I totally understand that, but the festival has become a tourism boon for Hobart.
This year’s show-stopper was the ‘Fire Organ’. This massive structure of old steel tubing drones and hums at low frequencies beneath harmonically tuned flame-throwers blasting fire and heat into the night sky, in other words a ‘fire-breathing, gas blasting musical instrument’ (Gregor Salmon, ABC News). It certainly got our attention – it sounded very much like what I imagine a 19th century battlefield did!
This was an interesting attraction. Hobart artist Jason James’ installation ‘Angry Electrons’ where 1000 light bulbs were set up and rigged with motion sensors to react to the movement of people within the long space. They generated a lot of heat, so this was probably a very popular attraction throughout the cold nights of the festival. I know we had fun with it!
Then there was Japanese artist Ryoji Ikeda’s Spectra light tower, which casts a 15 km-high beam of light into the sky. This light looked like it was flickering to music, but we were told it was to peoples’ heartbeats.
There were so many attractions, exhibitions and installations, it was impossible to see them all in the few short days we were there. I highly recommend a winter solstice break in Hobart. Keep an eye on MONA’s website for details http://www.mona.net.au/what’s-on/festivals.
Be prepared for some unusual, and sometimes confronting, sights! Certainly a few conversation starters here, but well worth the visit.
Sunrise, Mt Wellington
We headed up Mt Wellington in the pre-dawn dark not knowing if the weather and road conditions were going to co-operate and let us get to the top. But get to the top we did! It was a very cold, crisp, clear winter‘s morning. And what a view! It was a good opportunity for me to practice my ‘panorama’ skills. And look at that fog blanketing the Derwent River! Was a wonder to behold and I spent a lot of time just ‘looking’, enjoying and marvelling!
We even had a marsupial visitor (and yes, that white stuff is SNOW!).
One specially for the ladies – enjoy a traditional high tea at the beautifully restored Hadleys’s Orient Hotel. Located in the heart of the CBD, Hadley’s is within walking distance of Salamanca and the waterfront (where the boys can while away the time).
They offer a lovely selection of teas, freshly baked scones, finger sandwiches, pastries and indulgent sweets. It was absolutely beautiful, we loved it!
Add a glass of bubbles, and you have ….
What a wonderful way for you and your nearest and dearest to spend the afternoon in absolutely beautiful surrounds! I seriously can’t wait to get back there!
* Traditional High Tea is available at Hadley’s Orient Hotel Wednesday – Sunday, 2 – 5pm (except public holidays). Bookings essential. http://hadleyshotel.com.au/
Salamanca Market & The Waterfront
No trip to Hobart is complete without visiting the iconic Salamanca Market for a little ‘retail therapy’! One of the best known landmarks and top attractions in Tasmania, Salamanca Market is another good reason to put Hobart on your itinerary!
Every Saturday, approximately 300 stall holders sell fresh and gourmet produce, arts, crafts and handiwork from all over Tasmania, interstate and overseas, there are dozens of restaurants in the area, and make sure to visit the Tassal in Salamanca Square for a good dose of locally caught salmon at prices that will blow your mind!
MONA (Museum of Old and New Art)
Be prepared for an ‘experience’ when you visit MONA. I believe there are two mindsets: those who ‘get it’, and those who ‘don’t’! Whichever mindset you are, you’re certainly in for an interesting few hours! MONA is one of Hobart’s premier attractions.
This installation takes words from media sites on the internet and turns them into drops of falling water.
If you’ve been there, you’ll know what these are! If you haven’t, you’ll certainly find out! Enlightening …. and educational!
Although you can drive there, we highly recommend taking the MONA fast ferry. It was such a nice, relaxing way to get there. It leaves from Brooke St ferry terminal at the Hobart Waterfront and travels up the Derwent.
Allow some time while you’re at MONA to visit the wine bar and enjoy some lovely Moorilla wines and yummy food. It’s a great spot to look out over the vineyard, with indoor our outdoor seating options.
So …. enough culture, time for some fun.
We headed north through the ‘midlands’ on a cold, wet, windy day – the worst weather of our whole trip! We’re sure it would have been more memorable had the weather co-operated, but it was not to be. Don’t let that detract you from this journey – the midlands was amazing and we saw some beautiful places and views, the weather just wasn’t right for us to stop and enjoy. Be warned, there are some unsealed roads on this journey.
Shearwater Country Club
What an amazing surprise this resort was! It is situated at Port Sorell with easy access to Shearwater Beach.
I took this shot on my phone out of the window of the plane as we crossed the North Coast. Little did I realise then that I was actually getting Shearwater Resort from the air! It’s located near the bottom left corner.
The sunrises were absolutely beautiful … Mother Nature certainly put on a show for us, more than once!
The resort is ideally located for quite a number of day trips – south to Cradle Mountain or the midlands, west to Stanley and The Nut (or onto the west coast if you allow enough time), and east to Launceston, Tamar Valley and the east coast.
Our first day trip was to Cradle Mountain. We enjoyed this magnificent view of Mt Roland on the way.
Make sure you stop and take in the magnificent views whenever you can. One thing Tassie is not short of is ‘vistas’ – everywhere you look, it’s one beautiful view after another!
So we arrived at Cradle Mountain and it was somewhat blustery and cold. But that didn’t stop us venturing further afield.
There are a variety of walking/hiking tracks, everything from the easy 20 minute ‘Enchanted Walk’ right up to the world-famous ‘Overland Track’ – a 6 day walk through the heart of some of the finest mountain terrain.
We chose the Lake Lilla Walk. We only walked part of the way as we ‘d arrived later in the day, so were not prepared to go so far that we’d be walking in the dark (the sun sets earlier here due to the high peaks).
- there is a park entry fee
- be prepared – the weather and conditions can change very quickly
- be sure to check out the ‘Essential Bushwalking Guide’ if you intend camping overnight (go to the website below, from the Recreation tab select ‘Before you walk’)
For more information, visit www.parks.tas.gov.au.
So then our next foray was west to photograph the sunset over ‘The Nut’ at Stanley. We took in a few sights along the North coast.
Boat Harbour Beach
This is a great little seaside spot, nestled between rocky headlands, overlooking the white sands and sparkling waters of Bass Strait. And the weather was absolutely glorious that day.
We stopped at Harvest and Cater café at the Surf Club for lunch and it was absolutely beautiful.
You sit on colourful mismatched chairs at locally sourced and made Tassie Oak ‘share tables’, surrounded by an eclectic collection of bric-a-brac – it simply is a funky place! Highly recommend you stop there.
The Nut, Stanley
So now to the purpose for this day’s outing (aside from seeing more of this beautiful state!) – photographing the sunset over The Nut – the core of an extinct volcano plug standing at approx. 150m above Stanley.
You can walk up to the plateau (10-20 minutes, but be prepared, the path is steep) or take the chairlift (closed during colder months), and there’s a 1 hour circuit track around the Nut plateau if you’re so inclined. You will be rewarded for your effort with amazing views in every direction.
The perfect vantage point to photograph The Nut with the sun setting behind it was Rocky Cape NP. It never ceases to amaze me how long it takes for the sunset to come about, and then how quickly it happens!!
Bridestowe Lavender Estate
This is the worlds largest privately-owned lavender farm – 260 acres with the magnificent Mount Arthur providing a scenic backdrop. It is the only source of true Tasmanian lavender and it’s located in the heart of the Tamar Valley Wine Route, 45 minutes from Launceston.
Sadly, it wasn’t lavender season in June. We had a nice morning tea in the café though. Take some time to browse all the lavender products! The range is amazing. You can also explore the estate by taking a self-guided tour. Note that a seasonal gate charge applies.
Their Frequently Asked Questions handout answered questions I didn’t even know I had! For example, they don’t irrigate the lavender! They rely on the annual rainfall (approx. 900mm). Apparently the lavender has a very deep root system so is able to withstand prolonged dry spells. Amazing!
What a pleasant surprise Bicheno was! This lovely seaside town, the ‘jewel of the East Coast’ as they refer to it, is less than a 2 hour drive from either Launceston or Hobart and is famous for its mild climate.
We stopped for lunch at one of the café’s and had a lovely view of the coast, then went down to the waterfront for a while to stretch our legs and snap a few pics.
Tassie has no shortage of clear, dark skies (crucial for astrophotography)! Having said that, I absolutely froze standing out on the Golf Course at Shearwater getting some Milky Way shots. They aren’t all that good, but imagine if I knew what I was doing!
If you look at the image, you can see the ‘shadow’ image of an emu. The Aborigines used the stars as a calendar (eg time to move to a new place, when they’ll find a particular food supply).
Just North of Sydney, in the Ku-ring-gai NP, are extensive rock engravings of the Guringai people who used to live there, including representations of the creator-hero Daramulan and his emu-wife. On autumn evenings, the emu in the sky stands directly over her portrait, just when it’s time to gather emu eggs.
Conjunction Of The Moon, Venus & Jupiter
On the way back to Hobart for our last night, Venus and Jupiter aligned for an amazing conjunction with the Moon!
It was amazing to watch the conjunction in the following nights, boy did they move away from each other quickly!
In the words of Frank Herbert:
“There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.”
So until I visit Tasmania again (visiting all the places I didn’t get to) and restart the story, enjoy!