We contacted the lovely family we met on our final Overland night in the Narcissus Hut who had given us their number and offered to host us on their 8 acre block outside of Hobart (we meet some of the nicest and most generous people when we’re on the road). From Strahan, via Derwent Bridge where we checked out the amazing hand sculpted Huon Pine works at ‘The Wall’ and enjoyed a yummy lunch, we arrive just outside of Hobart in the late afternoon to set up on our new found friends farm and enjoy a yummy dinner with them. We happily based ourselves here for a few days to explore Hobart and surrounds with the added bonus of some lovely company each evening.
Our first day, Miss 9 was more interested in playing with the two daughters (she’d not seen other kids for the first two weeks of our trip as she was the only child doing the Overland and was craving some ‘play’ time) so she hung around with our hosts on the farm with the animals for the morning while Master 17 and I thought we’d check out MONA.
MONA – well we went there and can tick that off the list but just like the former hit from the not-be-be-named-actor and Check 1,2 – I didn’t think it was worth the fuss. Certainly, the architecture of the building being built underground in an old sandstone mines with the walls were carved into this was a visual delight. While there were a few highlights for us including the largest Sidney Nolan piece, the opening waterfall of words (taken from what’s trending on the internet and symbolic of the rate at which information comes at us online – and again how quickly they pass), and a handful of other pieces, most of the works weren’t my cup of tea. I was intrigued by the room full of sump oil with space for one person at a time to go in and view from a small area (there was a 25 minute queue to go in but we didn’t bother) – it took me back to my childhood (and my dad’s shed) and the days of dad driving the truck and the smells of sump oil – perhaps my dad was ahead of his time and an artistic genius undiscovered! The vineyard driving into the venue is lovely, as is the view from the cafe and outdoor areas. The poo machine was interesting, even if just for the giggle factor (we’d missed ‘feeding time’ and ‘pooing time’ and had no interest in waiting around hours for the next instalment). The giant framed solid blue piece of work laying on the ground was an example of a work that I just wasn’t feeling pretentious or high enough to appreciate.
The irony of an interactive psychotherapy piece looking at the benefits of the real sounds of nature, surrounded by plants and dirt to make it feel authentic when just one floor above the ground you could immerse yourself in some of the freshest air and beautiful natural environments bewildered Master 17 and I.
From MONA we headed to Salamanca. Salamanca was a lovely little town – while we missed the market – we were still able to appreciate the old architecture and thickly constructed brick walls while enjoying a delicious seafood salad and cold drink for lunch.
Off to Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary to meet up with Miss 9 and the girls where Miss 9 I’m sure was hoping to adopt some of the many kangaroos there! A great tour of the animals saw us up close with a baby wombat and koala for pats and photos. With around 100 kangaroos there to feed and scratch under the chin, I was hard pressed getting the girls to leave at closing time!
Day 2: BRUNY Island
5.30am start to get the kids off by 6.20am and onto the ferry to Bruny Island by 7am. When we arrived I soon realised that despite a permanent population on the island and the promotion of it as a ‘pretty big island’ there was only one petrol station on the island and I had arrived with only a quarter of a tank of fuel and not much of an idea of how much driving around we would do for the day. With that in mind, we decided our first stop was Adventure Bay where the petrol station was.
On the way, we stopped at the Truganini memorial at ‘the Neck’ lookout where Miss 9 and I walked to the top to check out the view while master 17 recovered from the early start by dozing in the car. Next stop was Adventure Bay and after filling up we made our way to the Fluted Cape Walk for a 6km hike with the promise of spectacular views. It took a bit of bribing (and a few fibs) to get Miss 9 interested in another hike so soon after finishing the Overland but she managed to walk all the way to Grass Point where the rubble and remains of Thomas’ dwelling where he would sit and watch the whaling that thrived in the 1800’s here. We tried our best to find the allusive white wallaby but no luck (nor did we see any Southern Right Whales though they have returned to the bay since being hunted nearly to extinction).
We gave Master 17 the backpack and headed back to the beach and car to wait for him to finish the full hike. It was when we returned we realised the car keys, water and sunscreen were all in the backpack! We spent a bit of time traipsing along the beach Miss 9 getting her feet wet and patting passing dogs before heading to the shade and car to wait for Master 17 (who happened to turn up at the same time).
Then it was south towards the Bruny Island lighthouse with a stop-off at Cloudy Bay to drive along the beach (and I had secret hopes of finding somewhere to buy the famous Cloudy Bay oysters – the ‘Get Shucked’ business on the way onto the island was closed at our 7.30am arrival). We made it to the beach and drive along for a bit before pulling over and stopping for a swim. We pretty much had the entire beach to ourselves on a glorious sunny and warm summers day. If this were Melbourne we’d be scrambling for a space on the sand! Soon after a family with 3 young boys drove past from the opposite direction and I flagged them down to see what was at the other end of the beach – turns out it was a lovely bush camp that would’ve been nice to stay at. They pulled up and hopped out of their car along with 4 boogie boards and a surfboard that they happily shared with Miss 9 and Master 17. After burying the 3 young boys in the sand (with their permission), we left them to the beach and headed to the lighthouse for a 3.45pm guided tour (you can only get up the lighthouse via a tour).
The lighthouse is the longest running in Australia (the oldest is in Vauclause in Sydney and the oldest still standing is in Hobart). It was built by 12 convicts in just 18 months (their sentence being highly questionable given they were all skilled labourers who were coincidentally freed as soon as the lighthouse build was complete…).
Back home toward the ferry and again the Oyster business was closed on the way out so I missed out on my highly anticipated feast of fresh seafood. Made it back to base camp by 8pm after a long day and realised that I’d miscalculated our days and we should be packing up tomorrow and heading to Port Arthur instead of staying another night! To appease the girls, we didn’t leave the farm until the afternoon the following day after a morning drive up to Mt Wellington and then a swim at seven mile beach where the water was so warm even I swam! Miss 9 was looking increasingly confident in the water on her borrowed boogie board – I might have to take the kids to the beach more often!