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28 November 2011

Come to Tasmania!

While my parents were in town, we took a five day trip to Tasmania!

Never in my life did I ever think that I would get the chance to visit this place - it has such an exotic ring in my head.

Day #1: Hobart

We flew in to Hobart and spent one night there. It is a really cute little town.


We arrived on a Saturday in time for the famous Salamanca Market. We sampled some really great food from the stalls.


Introducing my new pet Tasmanian Devil (who also happens to be a pot holder), Fluffy! In this pic, Fluffy is feasting on a bottle of yummy Cascade Ginger beer (real ginger gives it quite a kick)


This is the view from Battery Point. We took a bus tour to learn about Hobart and its origins as a penile colony.


After our short stay in Hobart, we were back on the road. Our final destination was Freycinet National Park...but first we took a short detour to an animal sanctuary to visit some animal friends.

Eastern Quoll

Tasmanian Devils!!


We stayed and watched the Tasmanian Devils have their afternoon feed. They eat carrion (dead animals) and they eat EVERYTHING (fur, hair, teeth, bones). They are natures garbage disposals! It was sad hearing that their numbers have dropped dramatically due to a contagious face cancer that is spreading through the population. I hope that efforts to save them can prove to be effective.

After our time at the sanctuary, we had a four hour drive up the east coast to the Freycinet Bay Lodge.



Matt and I climbed/hiked up Mt. Amos while we were there. Stunning views from the top:


Please pardon the hat hair!


The water on the left side of the isthmus there is called Wine Glass Bay.


Here's Matt on the beach at Wine Glass Bay. The water is so clear and blue.

Since we had to hike about an hour to get to this spot, we decided to take out some food for a snack. And when we did, look who became our new best friend!


Wallaby
 
People must feed these guys because this one was quite aggressive in his begging behavior! Don't worry, I didn't give him any "people" food.

We stayed two nights at Freycinet Bay. After that, it was another four hour drive west to Cradle Mountain National Park.

Apparently, it rains 7 out of 10 days at Cradle Mountain. On the day we arrived, the rain and the mist cleared in the evening time. We made sure to get a few shots of the mountain lest it be obscured by clouds the next day.


Such a stunning view! My mom, me, and Matt in front of Cradle Mountain.
  
Another highlight: we saw HEAPS of wombats! They are so cool! This one was feeding near our cabin at the lodge we stayed at.
  

We hiked and saw a beautiful waterfall:


The next day, it was cloudy! (who'd of thunk it?!?) We did some hiking around the base of Cradle Mountain to a lookout. Unfortunately, there was nothing to look out to except more clouds:
 
Matt doing his famous "Explorer" pose in the mist


The haze was eerie yet beautiful.
After Cradle Mountain, we drove about two hours to get to Launceston so we could catch our flight home.

Tasmania was totally worth it! There are only about 500,000 people in the whole state (which is roughly the size of New Jersey) so there was plenty of space for lush forests and fields full of grazing sheep. Matt and I hope to make it back someday to do more hiking, especially on the Overland Trail.

Tasmania is a land of natural, untouched beauty and is a must-see for nature lovers visiting Australia.

Thanksgiving in Oz

Thanksgiving was last Thursday for us Americans. For our fellow Melbournians, it was just 24th November, the day before 25th November.

Matt and I had a small dinner together with a turkey leg roast, some green beans, potatoes, and dinner rolls and some apple pie for dessert. It was just a faint echo of a real Thanksgiving in The States.

There are a number of reasons why Thanksgiving does not have much of an impact here. First and foremost: it is damn near summer here! The sun does not go down until almost 9pm and all the trees are lush and verdant, not brown, orange, and red.

No American football plays on the TV while an entire turkey simmers in the oven; the roar of the crowd and the referee whistles providing the soundtrack for the day.

It was a little sad for me: Thanksgiving is one of my favorites. It is like Christmas but unencumbered with the gift giving nonsense that creates more pressure, stress, and debt than joy.

We just have to make the best of this time. We have a fun trip planned next week...I will share those pics with when we return!

-Laurie

15 November 2011

Melbourne Racing Carnival: Crown Oaks Day

November 3rd was the Crown Oaks Day of the Melbourne Racing Carnival. For more information on it visit http://www.melbournecup.com/.


It takes place every November at the Flemington Race Course which is south of the Melbourne downtown area. There are four days of racing at this thing and it is a VERY big deal here in Victoria. Heck, it's even a public holiday! (November 1st = Melbourne Cup Day).

Melbourne Cup is especially important for ladies as they put on their best spring frocks and don either a crazy big hat or a "fascinator" (head band with flowers and/or feathers attached) in the British tradition.

My parents arrived in Melbourne the day before Crown Oaks Day so I ponied up the cash for some decent seats at the race course, purchased some head gear for my mom and myself, and we were off!

My mom and dad on the train to Flemington. It was completely chockers!
As you can see from the photo above, the dress code is "smart" (women wear their best dress and the gentlemen typically wear a suit and tie and look all dapper and such).





My first betting stub and a glass of bubbly. I netted $55 at the end of the day - not too shabby!

A pic from the millinery competition.

And they're off!



Check out that crowd on the lawn!

The Fam at the Races

We don't exactly look Aussie but we sure did have a good time! Maybe next year I will be a little bit braver and get a bigger, loud hat!

Until next time,
Laurie