Getting High Down Under

At OUR age, getting high usually means getting to the top of a mountain, using whatever means available to us. But admit it, the title got your attention.

And, to be honest, some of the scenery we encountered around Cradle Mountain reminded me a bit of a different kind of trip that I took in my youth. No passport required.

We were warned that Cradle Mountain temperatures could be in the 30’s (that’s F, not C) with the possibility of snow.

We were not misled!

A trip with so much variation in temperature demanded that we make hard packing choices. Do I bring my waterproof hiking boots or my Keen Sandals? I didn’t want to lug one while wearing the other. My decision? The snow and cold weather should only last a day or two, so I decided that my keens, fortified with two pairs of wool socks and hotel provided shower caps would do the trick, and they did!

I’m pleased to report that my feet remained warm and dry during all of our treks. I WAS going to bring my silk long underwear, but forgot it but two pairs of pants worked quite well. As Laura, our Patagonia guide, stated, “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing choices”.

We hiked to the top of that white rock in the distance, then down to the water’s edge. The views were spectacular!

We also earned bragging rights for “experiencing” one of the great walks on this planet: The Overland Trail. Well, at least we posed by the sign…

Our final Tasmanian destination was Launceston, where we visited The Platypus House, Seahorse World and Cataract Gorge.

The platypus were smaller than I expected and challenging to photograph, so I resorted to video. The echidna, however, were quite fearless and were content to waddle among us.

I had mistakenly thought that after visiting the wonderful Aquarium in Monterey, I wouldn’t be impressed with Seahorse world, but I was wrong. Seahorse World breeds and supplies these wonderful creatures to aquariums throughout the world.

But my favorite was this Sea Dragon.

We will be boarding our flight to Melbourne shortly, so I only have time to upload a shot or two of Cataract Gorge taken during our hike, before we say goodbye to beautiful Tasmania.

No time to proofread for typos!

Enroute to Cradle Mountain

Sometimes it’s both the destination AND the journey. This is one of those times.

Our drive to Cradle Mountain was punctuated by multiple stops, all of which were notable for reasons that were thoroughly explained by Mike, our tour guide.

Check out the windows on our chariot! Our bus would have been comfortable even if it had been filled to capacity. With only five of us on the tour however, it was quite luxurious. A bonus? Gordon, our driver (and bus owner) also provided commentary. Were we lucky or what?

Our first stop in Oatlands was really just a “comfort” stop, but I thought the windmill and espaliered apple trees were photo worthy.

Ross, our next stop, is famous for its main (only?) intersection. On its four corners are buildings representing Temptation (the hotel), Recreation (city hall), Damnation (the jail) and Salvation (the church). Am I the only one who thinks it’s pathetic that CITY HALL is the source of the town’s recreation?

Ross’ City Hall and our bus.

Ross is also the site of one of MANY bridges built by convict labor. The finished product was thought to be so beautiful that the grateful townspeople pardoned the stonemasons.

Our next stop, Campbell Town, memorialized the convicts’ infrastructure contributions via one of its many tree carvings. In between the convict and the soldier you’ll see a good replica of the bridge. I was quite impressed because in New Jersey, we just carve squirrels and other animals out of OUR dead trees.

Moving right along, to our lunch stop in Deloraine, our guide pointed out the numerous little sculptures sitting atop posts. I particularly liked this one, entitled “balance”. It made me think of yoga class.

We also visited Railton, Tasmania’s topiary “capital”, where the citizens have whimsical creatures in their front yards,

and Sheffield, where you can spend hours walking around, ogling the murals on the buildings. How cool is the one on this record shop? I suspect this is a self portrait of the shop’s owner.

Every year, Sheffield holds a mural contest, and the entries are hung in a little public park so that viewers can vote for their favorite.

Sadly, I didn’t pick the winner.

Here’s the accompanying description:

Pretty timely, wouldn’t you say? I chose it even before I noticed the artist is a woman from the good ol USA.

Here’s the winning mural:

Which one do YOU prefer?

As is frequently the case with my posts, my blogging is bumping into happy hour, so a description of Cradle Mountain will have to wait till tomorrow.

Two Days in Hobart, Tasmania

What a fantastic trip, and we’re only at the beginning! Our two days in the Hobart area have been action packed, with far too many wonderful experiences to recount in one post, so I’ll just focus on three highlights.

Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary

During our private tour of the sanctuary, we met a wombat,

gently touched a sleepy koala,

and fed kangaroos and wallabys.

Yes, that IS a “baby on board”!

We were warned to steer clear of Tasmanian devils. These little guys LOOK cute and lovable, but their jaws are powerful, and when irritated, can (and do) bite.

Most of the animals were rescued when they were injured or their mothers were killed. After they are healed, those that are able to survive in the wild are released.

MONA (Museum of Old and New Art)

I’ve been to a lot of museums all over the world, but nothing even comes close to THIS place!

Admit it, how many museums have YOU visited that have write ups like this?

Although it is possible to drive there, our experience began with a short ferry ride from Hobart’s waterfront. You enter the building on the top floor, a walk up that my fit bit told me was the equivalent of 6 flights of stairs. No wonder the place has a wine bar! You’ve earned a glass before you even get started.

I guess the best way to describe the art is that it was an immersive experience. It was sometimes hard to tell whether you were viewing artwork or another museum visitor. Take a look:

Did YOU figure out the boys in the first photo were art and the second was a visitor experiencing the art?

The entire building was a work of art. Tunnels led off into different directions,some leading into little side rooms.

I was sufficiently impressed with this one to include two photos of it.
The outdoor “art” was equally engaging.

That IS a trampoline and the young woman, although not a performance artist, DID perform a couple of back flips. Had I visited the wine bar before, I might have been tempted to give it a go.

Port Arthur

Although the prison complex was interesting, my favorite part of the trip was the stops along the way. Check out this gorgeous scenery.

We leave Hobart this morning for Cradle Mountain, where it is snowing!