I’m a Tasmaniac

Sheep graze near the ocean in Tasmania.  You can see the mountains in the distance.

Sheep graze near the ocean in northcentral Tasmania. You can see one of Tasmania’s many mountain ranges in the distance.

I’m envious.  Janelle of “What Makes Me Laugh” won a trip to Australia for herself and her husband by writing an essay about Jurlique products, based in Adelaide.   Her niece told her: Get your butt to Australia before my college year abroad ends (or something like that…)  So with only a few months to spare, Janelle figured out a free way to get to Australia by the deadline.

St. Columba Falls tumbles 295 feet into a dense rainforest of tree ferns, myrtle and sassafras, not far from apple orchards and meadows where dairy cattle graze.

St. Columba Falls tumbles 295 feet into a dense rainforest of tree ferns, myrtle and sassafras, not far from apple orchards and meadows where dairy cattle graze.

I’ve wanted to go to Australia for thirty years, but I just made my first trip there in January — and it wasn’t free.  I tried the contest method  (the 25th caller will win a chance to be in the drawing), but can you believe it, no one drew my name!  Janelle really did it the smart way, literally. (The link to how she did it is at the bottom.)

One week of her trip will be spent driving around Tasmania, which is one of Australia’s states.  I’m avidly reading her posts as she travels.  I’ve become a Tasmaniac.  I never even thought to go there until my friend Anita suggested we include Tasmania on our itinerary.  Now I’m enthralled with this island at the bottom of mainland Australia. (Tasmania is an archipelago of one main island the size of West Virginia and almost 300 much smaller ones.) The following is going to sound like an advertisement for Tasmania, and I’m not even getting paid.  What kind of fool am I!

Lavender fields.

Lavender fields.

Tasmania is a wild and beautiful place, a combination of pastoral scenes and unspoiled wilderness. It boasts four mild seasons, 1,000 mountain peaks and about the cleanest air in the world.  There are wild rivers and a wide range of forests from pine to eucalyptus to tree ferns and myrtle.  It has 2,000 species of native Australian plants, 200 of which are found only in Tasmania.  Forty percent of Tasmania is a park or nature reserve, but Tasmania is also a top world producer of lavender oil and medicinal opium poppies.  Vineyards and wineries thrive there.  Sheep and cattle graze in picturesque meadows.

The British established Port Arthur as a penal colony in.  Beaue of its remote location on a penisula on Tasmania, it was thought that prisoners wouldn't be able to escape.  A few succeeded, but didn't last long in the bush.

The British established Port Arthur as a penal colony in the mid-1800s. Because of its remote location on a penisula on Tasmania, it was thought that prisoners wouldn’t be able to escape. A few succeeded, but didn’t last long in the bush.

There are scores of fascinating animals, such as Tasmanian Devils, poisonous tiger snakes, duckbill platypus and fairy penguins. You can see many of these animals in nature parks.  You might find a wallaby lounging in a rutabaga (or swede) field.  Tasmania’s unique plants included some of the world’s oldest and tallest trees.  Flowers flourish in the mild climate.

Thousands of boats are anchored along its rugged, gorgeous coastline.   Australia’s oldest bridge still in use is in Richmond, Tasmania.   In one northeastern area, you can tour a Chinese tin mining museum, buy locally made cheese made from the cattle pasturing in a nearby field and visit the 295-foot-tall St. Columba Falls, which tumbles into a dense rain forest of tree ferns, myrtle, blackwood and sassafras.   Charles Darwin noted many interesting plants and animals when he visited Tasmania in 1836 while on his voyage on the Beagle  — nothing like he’d seen anywhere else.

The swashbuckling actor Errol Flynn was born in Hobart, Tasmania, the charming capital city situated on a beautiful harbor.    A modern Tasmanian is Mary, Crown Princess of Denmark.

Beautiful, lush parks like this one in Hobart are common in Tasmania.

Beautiful, lush parks like this one in Hobart are common in Tasmania.

One of Australia’s the first penal colonies was established at Port Arthur in Tasmania.  It’s now one of Tasmania’s top tourist destinations.   It’s a park-like area now, with tours, gardens, restored buildings, a museum with cafe (of course!) and a cruise on the harbor, where we saw a fur seal fanning its flippers.  I could go on and on (as I usually do….) but I’ll spare you…..this time.  You can check out the links and watch this space for more Taz Mania, including our encounter with the highly venomous tiger snake while on a bushwalk.  Crikey!

Discover Tasmania.

More about Tasmania.

Here’s a plug for my two posts on Tasmanian Devils.  I’m a Friend of the Tasmanian Devil and More Deviltry.   I’m re-reading a book I first read twenty years ago called, “The Fatal Shore, The epic of Australia’s founding” by Robert Hughes.  It includes a lot of history about Tasmania, including a tale of some convicts who escaped from the prison at Port Arthur and their grisly end.

You can get a great view of Hobart from the top of Mt. Wellington, but it's cold and windy even inthe middle of summer. Fortunately, there's a visitor's center.  Hobart was just a small town when Charles Darwin climbed to this site in 1836.

The view of Hobart is great from the top of Mt. Wellington, but it’s cold and windy even in the middle of summer. Fortunately, there’s a visitor’s center. Hobart was just a small town when Charles Darwin climbed to this site in 1836. These days, you can drive to the top.

Lavender Field.

This is one of the fields of Lavender House farm near Rowella, Tasmania. Lavender House grows 70 types of lavenders in a rural setting surrounded by vineyards.

Tasmania produces about 40 percent of the world's medicinal opium poppies, under strict regulation.

Tasmania produces about 40 percent of the world’s medicinal opium poppies, under strict regulation. This is a field of poppy pods nearly ready for harvest.

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7 Comments

Filed under Australia, Bird-watching, Conservation, Environment, Humor, Life, Natural History, Nature, Personal, Travel

7 responses to “I’m a Tasmaniac

  1. I am going to avoid the obvious convict references (vis New Zealand) and just say go Taz!
    My 10c is Tasmania is named after Abel Tasman, the Dutch explorer to first european map Tasmania.

    The original name was Anthoonij van Diemenslandt, then renamed Van Diemen’s Land, I suspect a anglicized version of the Dutch name.

    He also named New Zealand after the Dutch province Zeeland.
    Cheers

    Hey, Thanks for barracking for your neighbor Down Under.

    Abel was the original Tasmaniac, renaming places after himself and his favorite spots back home. Abel better watch out, because now Stephen Colbert is trying to Colbertize the world. It won’t be long and Tasmania will be called Colbertia. Colbert’s latest conquest was getting a room addition named after himself on the International Space Station. Cathy

  2. Do you think you might immigrate ala David Copperfield characters?

    I have the feeling that DownUnderers have the same little love hate that we in the US share with our Brother and Sister Canada and Mexico. But we do still love them, we just want them to stay out of our rooms. Right?

    Your comment about the sibling rivalry is so funny. They do seem to talk about it that way.

    I don’t seem to be able to leave Kansas permanently, but I do love to fantacize about living in other places. Both Tasmania and the South Island of New Zealand seem like great places to live. (Unfortunately, I never got to NZ’s North Island.) People in both places did point out that the next land mass to the south was Antarctica…. For some reason I feel so comfortable being surrounded by so much land here in Kansas. Cathy

  3. Thanks for the great shout-out! From one Tasmaniac to another, this was a really fun blog post. I didn’t visit Port Arthur while I was there, and I chose Bill Bryson’s “In a Sunburned Country” about Australia over “The Fatal Shore” but maybe I’ll have to pick it up and read it too. I’m fantasizing about moving to Tasmania too, but I don’t think my cats would be very happy with the trip and quarantine so I’ll likely stay put in Montana. 🙂

  4. Pingback: What Makes Me Laugh · A few good blogs

  5. Thanks for your contribution to my Armchair Revisits. This is a wonderful post. Some of your photos look like Provence, France… esp. the lavender fields, and even the penal colony. Some time in the future, we blogger friends should get together and come out of the virtual world and do a group tour… as you’ve suggested. 😉

  6. Reblogged this on Catherine Sherman and commented:

    In honor of Australia Day, I’m reposting this post about my trip to Tasmania in 2009.

  7. Brought back some wonderful memories, Catherine.
    I’ve visited Tassy a number of times; it’s a short plane trip from Sydney. Your thoughts are ‘spot on’. It’s a layback wander down times past (for the most part). Hobart reminds me of England, in places. Driving around the island can be done in a day or two; however, to really see and love the experience takes as long as you are able (the longer the better).

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