When my sister asked me where we should visit in Australia, my response was immediate – Tasmania! This was some time back, and I am glad we made the trip as the island turned out to be what I expected and more.
We were met at Launceston Airport by our guide from Walkers Coaches, who drove us to Bridestowe Lavender Estate in Nabowla. What better way to start our trip than being greeted by curving rows of graceful lavender in purple and lilac hues stretching as far as the eye can see. Wanting a closer look at the flowers, we went near the rows but kept an eye out for bees. The estate also boasts a souvenir shop which sells all things purple – from Bobbie the teddy bear to lavender ice cream!
We then proceeded to Chudleigh Melita Honey Farm which sells an assortment of honey, some of which I had never heard of, and other related products. After some free sampling, I ended up buying leatherwood honey. Since time was on our side, our guide took us wombat hunting in Ronny Creek. Imagine our delight at being able to see not only wombats, but also a wallaby and pademelon in the wild.
The next morning saw us heading for Cradle Mountain, with scenic views en route. We did the 6km Dove Lake Circuit hike despite the rainy weather. Although some stretches needed climbing, the gorgeous views along the route were well worth the effort.
Then it was onwards to Bicheno for the Penguin Tour. We were pleasantly surprised when our guide made an unscheduled stop at the Bicheno Blowhole on the way. In Bicheno we waited until nightfall for the coach to take us to the beach where the world’s smallest penguin, the Fairy Penguins, come ashore to get to their burrows farther inland. It was quite an experience having the cute creatures waddling past us mere inches away.
Our trip was made all the more enjoyable by our guide who caught on right away to where our interests lay. She went out of her way to take us to charming little towns like Ross – where we had delicious scallop pies, Oatlands – with a flour windmill and Lake Dulverton adjacent to it, and Richmond – with a bridge made of hand-chiselled stones overlooking the tranquil scenery below. Our much-anticipated visit to Sorell Fruit Farm came soon after and what we had all been looking forward to – cherry picking. We were free to pick the biggest cherries we could find, and needless to say, we filled our punnets to the brim. Besides cherries, we also picked loganberries, silvanberries, raspberries and strawberries. Nothing beats the sweet, juicy cherries, however. To cap a fruitful day, we were treated to an ice cream with the flavour of our choice. An experience I could finally tick off my bucket list.
Another memorable experience is the Bruny Island Cruise. “Cruise” is a misnomer, for it turned out to be a most exhilarating ride! No wonder we were given two ginger pellets in case of seasickness. The three-hour ride included stops at caves and nesting places of cormorants and fur seals. At a blowhole aptly named the Breathing Rock, I got a blast of seawater spray when the rock “exploded” as I was seated right in front. A huge white fur seal provided a hilarious moment when our cheeky captain honked it out of its slumber, causing it to raise its head to have a look at its disturbers before promptly falling back to snooze. It got pretty chilly when we entered the Southern Ocean and we had to don the head-to-ankle waterproof jacket. The cruise was well worth its AUD$195 (RM585) price tag.
Oh, and the muffins and pumpkin soup on Bruny Island were to die for, too.
On our last day, we went up Mt Wellington. The glorious weather and beautiful landscape made it great, and we had a clear view of Hobart below from an altitude of 1,271m. From there, a timely visit to Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary enabled us to join the guided tour where we got to meet an orphaned wombat and pat a koala. We were tickled pink when the baby kangaroos we were feeding held on to our hands. A trip to Tasmania would not be complete without seeing the Tasmanian Devils, and we got to see them in all their ferocity at feeding time.
Nothing would make me miss the Royal Botanical Gardens with its greenery and myriad of colourful blooms. There was not enough time to go around the whole 14ha gardens but we made it a point not to miss The Lily Pond. That done, it was time to make our way to Hobart Airport.The Land of the Devils definitely has what it takes to be a great holiday destination.The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own.
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