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TasmaniaAn interesting country. An island, crenulated with waterways and potmarked with lakes. It has mountains higher than any on the mainland of Australia and lots of them. Lots of farms. On our ride in from the airport we visited their oldest Georgian town in Australia. Built, like much of Australia, by convicts (a convict could be convicted of a pretty insignificant crime and still be sentenced to exile in Australia - where England sent its prisoners after America refused to accept any more). It is fairly well preserved and makes it living on tourists. The prisoners that were sent here were often the Irish and so much of the Land is Catholic (the church is the oldest church in Tasmania - Catholic).
Our hotel is in Hobart. Hobart is a seaport and has features of many seaport towns around the world. Right outside our window is an active fishing port. They fish for all sorts of fish, prawns (their term for shrimp), and shellfish of all sorts. In addition to fishing, the areas is largely agricultural with sheep growing, all sorts of crops, and of course, wine. Hobart is one of the earliest cities and possesses an old section with houses for the seamen and their families. They are, like the houses in Georgetown and Alexandria, tiny. However, even these tiny houses are in great demand. In fact, everywhere we have gone in Australia, there is discussion of the land boom that is in progress. You would think that a country as sparsely settled as Australia is, with almost all of its settlement along thousands of mils of seashore and maybe as much river frontage would have land for the taking. But, everywhere, even in the far North, land with a water view is as expensive as it is in America.
I was thinking at breakfast that one of the hardest things to get in Australia is a cup of coffee that isn't an expresso in disguise. No matter how much you dilute it, it is strong. Again, the Internet connection is by phone so I am not able to hook up my notebook. This hotel ahs no business office so if you want to access the net you have to go to the gift shop and pay the owner to use his computer (behind the counter)! Even better, the symphony hall for Tasmania is in a wing of the hotel.
We trip started with a visit to the Saturday market. We were looking for some things to bring back to the states as gifts but he quality of the merchandise was much too rustic although the atmosphere was very festive. We then proceeded to a tour of the surrounding countryside and the coast on our way to the island's hard-core penal colony. The scenery was phenomenal. It looked like our western coast decades ago.
We went from ultimately to a penal colony that was where the really incorrigible prisoners were sent. Remember, that the continent was settled primarily because of the use of convict labor. The place was so incredibly beautiful that one might be tempted to commit a crime to be sent there. The pictures are of a church that the convicts built, without plans and clearly without architectural guidance but even today, after fire and the wear of age, it is still appealing.
The tour ended with a trip back to the hotel at sunset.
In the evening, we went to a really funky and good restaurant. We took several pictures in the restaurant and several more of the harbor at night. However, I discovered the camera would act as if it had film in it even if the memory card was absent. Result - no pictures. I am in trouble. Good night.
Blue MountainsThe Blue Mountains are a resort area an hour and a half from Sydney. The get their name from the oil of the eucalyptus tree that produces a blue haze over the area. The hotel we are staying in is a remnant of the bygone days in America when people escaped the cities for hotels and spas in the mountains. Quaint, elegant but also a family place. The view from the window is of a canyon, reminiscent of the Grand Canyon, except that it has greenery on its canyon wall. Really spectacular. However, the Canyon is all there is to see within a reasonable distance from the hotel so the pace is slow. A break from the last few weeks. The place reminds me of Niagara Falls, another spectacular sight, but with limited things to do.
The next day we were picked up by a guide who took us to a number of sights that overlooked other similar canyons. Again breathtaking but after a while repetitive. The difference was that the sighs around the hotel were more touristy in the sense that they were more protected. The sights we saw today were also touristy but not so protected.
The rest of the day was looking at other canyons, waterfalls, etc., pretty and unusual, made even more so by the fat that we were an hour or so away from Australia's second largest city.
Being tourists, we were brought to another example of the rain forest and Australia's mammals and birds. If we hadn't just traveled up North to the wider rain forest, it might have been more exciting. However the 'roos were friendly and didn't mind company.
Back in SydneyImpressive, the doorman greeted us by name. The harbor is as interesting and active as I remembered it a month ago. We witnessed a fireworks show as we were walking to supper. Still don't know what it was celebrating.
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