We arrive in Hobart on the last day of the year 2015 – December 31st. Our accommodations for the next two nights are at “19 Blue” in Kingston, just outside of Hobart. We find our pleasant accommodation and settle in before heading into Hobart for our special New Year’s Eve celebrations.
Taste of Tasmania
We are attending “Taste of Tasmania” which is taking place on the Hobart harbor, the center of town. Although otherwise free, “Taste of Tasmania” is only open to ticket holders on New Year’s Eve. We had purchased our seats online when they were first made available in November. By December, I am pretty sure that they were all sold out. It turned out to be a pleasant evening, weather-wise, and we are looking forward to sampling much of the delicious food and drink that Tasmania is known for.
Oysters are the number one most popular item at this time of year in Tasmania, as they are exceptional – very creamy in texture. The mussel pate’ was unusual but delicious. We ate every last bit of it.
We take in the early fireworks at 9:30 and decide to call it a night. We are such old fogeys!
Exploring the Hobart Harbour and CBD
The next day the weather turns rainy and we use it as an excuse to veg out in the morning. I do a little laundry. After the weather clears a little, we head back into Hobart to meander the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens and explore the harbor and city.
Sydney Hobart Yacht Race
We are also in Hobart at the same time that the final sailboats/yachts are arriving at the finish of the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. Australians love their sports and sporting events and this exciting yacht race rivals the Melbourne Cups (horse race) and the Australian Open (tennis) in interest. The 628 nautical mile course of the Yacht Race is often described as the most grueling long ocean race in the world, and the weather this year provided some drama. There were 108 boats entered, with 28 from international countries, including the first ever Chinese yachts.
Clipper Round the World
At this same time, there is also another sailing race happening. January 1st – We see the sailboats circling in the harbour, waiting for the signal to leave. They are sailing northward, against prevailing winds, to the Airlie Beach, Queensland. After that they head up into Asian waters, before sailing to the States, through Panama, and then home to London, England, where they began.
“This is one of the biggest challenges of the natural world and an endurance test like no other. With no previous sailing experience necessary, it’s a record breaking 40,000 nautical mile race around the world on a 70-foot ocean racing yacht…Normally the domain of seasoned pros, this supreme challenge is taken on by ordinary, everyday people.”
I take a look at these boats where participants will live for 11 months in close quarters (without showering) and over rough seas, and I can’t conceive of doing such a thing. But I love the spirit of adventure.
It is late in the afternoon on New Year’s Day so the streets are empty. But when we return tomorrow for one of the most famous markets in Australia, Salamanca area will be packed out with people trying to navigate among over 300 stalls of quality food and artisan items.
We didn’t go to the services here, but we had to applaud the imagination of the team that came up with this advertisement.
Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens
One thing that I like here, in Australia, are the beautiful botanical gardens. In Tasmania, because of the cooler climate, they are able to grow some of the plants that we might find in warmer regions of Canada, such as roses, lilies, daisies, petunias…
The greenhouse holds some unusual plants and orchids.
This park is so lush and green and the trees grow to a tremendous height. Occasionally one gets a view of the harbour and then a peak at the mountains.
Banksia is a common plant/flower found throughout Australia. There are so many varieties of color and they can be found on a tree or a low lying bush. Nonetheless, they are very recognizable due to their unusual shape. They also leave an interesting pod, which crafters turn into Christmas ornaments and other things. (Sort of like what we do to pine cones.)
There was so much to see here at the gardens, including a Sub Antarctic Plant House, and also this beautiful Japanese Garden.
A Japanese garden is an expression of Shinto worship of nature. Stone signify security, permanence, and age. Evergreen trees highlight constancy and deciduous trees highlight changing seasons. The cycles of nature are demonstrated by the waterwheel and waterfalls represent freedom and movement, ponds mean tranquility.
Water Lily Garden
The highlight was the beautiful Monet-like water lily pond with different colors of water lilies, and surrounded by beautiful pastel flowers. Stunning!
I wished we could have stayed longer. We never got a chance to take any walks along the coast here. Sandy Beach, which lies between our Kingston suburb and Hobart beaches, restaurants, and lots of walks. We stopped at an interesting gun tower, but never did climb to the top. The entry fee was expensive and we were short on time. Still, it was a little reminder that not too long ago, this was a place of guns, fortresses, jails, and convicts.
I thought that the information given on the sign is interesting enough to give you an excerpt.
“Spotted handfish only live in the sheltered bays of the lower Derwent. These remarkable fish get about by walking along the sandy sea-bed on their fins. Spotted handfish are an endangered species – their limited habitat is threatened by the introduced Northern Pacific sea star and by coastal development, which increases silt run-off.”
The next few days will be spent exploring the region south of Hobart, including the Huon Valley and Bruny Island. See you there!