“There's a race of men that don't fit in, A race that can't sit still; So they break the hearts of kith and kin, And they roam the world at will. They range the field and rove the flood, And they climb the mountain's crest; Their's is the curse of the gypsy blood, And they don't know how to rest.”
- Robert Service

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Climb Ev'ry Mountain!

I originally wrote this post almost 2 months ago.

Oh, Tasmanina. You, of cool waters and pointed mountains and sandy beaches and silly looking creatures, I embrace you fully!

I spent a week driving from Hobart (in the south) to Devonport (in the north) and back again with Michael, but we really did need more time. We stayed a couple of nights with a lovely couple that you could say we’re loosely related to…by marriage. (Michael’s uncle’s wife’s brother [Glen] and his wife[Wendy]) They were incredibly gracious not just to let us stay with them, but they took us sailing on their yacht. Their yacht. And on the evening we met them as we’re chatting over drinks, Glen asks “So, how do I know you again?” Tasmanians are obviously extremely welcoming, friendly people.
While in Hobart, we visited an art museum/winery/distillery called MONA (Museum of Old and New Art), which we learnt was built by a wealthy gambler who had lots of art and decided to showcase it to the public, for free. (Unless you’re a foreign tourist like us) Mostly, it was filled with modern art pieces. The piece that –erm – evoked the greatest response out of me was this:

This is a mechanical digestion machine. It’s called Cloaca. The artist adds “food,” and it follows the line through each chamber to break down until it…well, until it turns to shit. “How is this art?” you say? Well, here’s the artists description:

“Cloaca makes the ultimate criticism of modern art – that most of it is crap…that the art world has finally disappeared up its own backside…When I was going to art school, all my family said I was wasting my time, and now I have made a work of art about waste.”

For the record, that piece smelled horrendous. Like, warm curdled milk and vomit. I couldn’t stay to look at it very long.

After that cultural adventure, we drove south to Port Arthur and the penal colony. We missed the daytime tours, so we opted to take a ghost tour after dark. We were able to do a quick walkabout before sunset and gained some insight into the conditions of the colony and some of the more intense areas of lockup (if a prisoner was especially bad), we were primed and ready for ghost stories. The tour was interesting/spooky enough (including  the guide coaching a little old lady – a self proclaimed skeptic – into a cottage from a distance, and then slamming the door on her in the dark to see if she’s spook. The little old lady just muttered “what a crusty old toad” when the guide had her back turned), after we’d already been given our “certificates of bravery,” we had to return to our motel room alone. Normally, this wouldn’t be an issue. In this instance, though, we’d chosen a motel that had a little gate access to the historic site from the back side. This meant that once the tour dispersed from the interpretive centre at the front, Michael and I were forced to cross the colony campus alone, in the dark and without a flashlight.

We may have sung silly songs out loud to keep from getting spooked by shadows…

We spent a week driving from the south to the north of Tasmania, and took on a few wonderful hikes, including Wineglass Bay...
Lookout to Wineglass Bay.
 ...and Cradle Mountain.
Top of the rock! You can actually hike to that sharp, peaky ridge, too
 We made sure to stop to see the wildllife along the way. There were several very domicile wombats grazing along the Cradle Mountain track.
come here, widdle wombat. Me cuddle you!
 And we decided to visit the Trowunna Wildlife Park. Unlike in the mainland where we were able to see plenty of local fauna in the wild, several of Tasmania's best known animals are quite difficult to find.
Michael getting up close to a 'Roo at the petting-zoo portion of the park.

While here, we most notably visited with some Tasmanian Devils. Devils have been blighted with a very unusual form of facial cancer - a tumor that can be transmitted from one to another through physical contact. And Devils spend a great deal of time defending their territory by biting each others' faces. So several parks have sprouted up to segregate the healthy Devils from those who might be infected, in hopes that once the infected ones have all died off, the island can be repopulated with the remaining healthy ones.

But I think Michael most liked getting to cuddle a baby wombat!
Sort of like a large guinea pig, except with a bony plate at its bum that is incredibly strong, and can be used to kill predators by smashing their skulls up against the walls of its burrow.

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