Friday, July 22, 2016

Tasmania Part 7: Our Last Day in Tassie

I tried to capture another photo of the beautiful full moon last night from our apartment....

We were very fortunate to have selected yesterday for our flight to the Southwest National Park.  Today's weather was rainy, windy, and generally unsuitable for most outdoor activities, especially flying in a small aircraft!
The girls and I opted to drive up to Mt. Field National Park.  Our pilot told us it was a beautiful area, and recommended the hike to Russell Falls.
The drive up was absolutely beautiful.  I wondered to myself if this must be what Ireland looks like.  High rolling hills, vineyards and other fruit orchards scattered over the hillsides.  For much of the drive we paralleled the Gordon River.

This is a wide, fast-moving river.  

Because of the rain we opted to drive up the sketchy gravel road to see what we could see.  We came very close to the top of the mountain when I decided that I was getting REALLY uncomfortable with the road conditions, which were (unbelievably) getting steadily worse.  I was driving on gravel-studded mud on a road that was essentially 1.5 car-widths.  I did meet a car a few times and it was hair-raising.  I'm not a chicken driver, but this pushed my limits.  When the rain started to get harder I decided I had gone far enough.  Also:  there was a sign at the bottom of the road that said it was unadvisable to be up on the mountain after 3 pm.  It was after 2.  Enough is enough.
Here was our "road".

A view from an opening in the foliage.  The road went up through huge trees.
I was very sorry the weather was as such that we didn't really want to hike because I think the
area has some very tall trees and interesting falls.  

Since I was the driver I was unable to take many photos.  

We returned to Hobart and dropped my youngest daughter off at MONA.  My other daughter wanted to go into town and pick up a few items to bring back to the States, so I took her.  We returned to the apartment and I began packing my clothes and doing a bit of laundry.  Since Tim is staying on for at least another week I can't really clean everything up.  

Our departure time in the morning is horribly early:  we need to leave the apartment at 4:30 as we have a 6:20 flight.  The three of us are on the same flight into Sydney, and then my youngest daughter is on a different flight from us remaining two.  She goes to Dallas and we go through Los Angeles.  The two of us part ways in LA:  she to Austin and I will fly on to San Antonio.  Tomorrow is "groundhog day" for us because we repeat Saturday twice.  I leave at 6:30 am and arrive into San Antonio at 2:30 pm the same day.  It is very confusing!  We get that departure day back on this leg of the trip!

Thanks for coming along with me on this amazing experience. I do hope I have the opportunity to return later this year.  There is a good chance it could happen since Tim's exhibition will be up for a number of months.  It would be very interesting to return during  a different season.  Being here, seeing so much art and jaw-dropping natural beauty has given me a great deal to think about.  Stay tuned for how that might influence my work!  xo L

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Tasmania Part 6: A Day Trip To Southwest National Park

We were excited that Tim could join us today and take a trip to the southwestern part of the island.
Southwest National Park is part of the Tasmanian World Heritage Site.   It is perhaps one of the largest untouched areas in the world.  Created as a biosphere in 1977, it is generally remained untouched.

The tiny locality of Melaleuca in the extreme south-west provides an airstrip and some very basic facilities, mainly to service the National Park Service.

That is where we landed today to take the water portion of our adventure.

The red dotted line shows the flight path we took today, landing in the southwest corner.

The water is very  concentrated with tannins from the local trees which gives it the rusty color.

Our pilot told us that the water is very rusty (and freshwater) on top, then saltwater layered below.
This lures sea life that would generally be found only in much deeper water.

A view of our sand/gravel landing strip.  This is composed of the calcium-laden rock seen in the mountains.

Our boat.

We had a Jenison skipper for a small part of our trip while the pilot did something up front.

Our pilot discusses the area we are touring

On top of a high hill during our hike.

Same hill.

This is a black swan beginning its water takeoff

Black swan, becoming airborne.

Reindeer moss. My daughter tells me it is very slow-growing and this is probably quite old.

The raised walkway along the shoreline.

More moss.  I thought it made these trees look like they are wearing leg-warmers.

Standing on the raised walkway over the shoreline.

We had another wallaby encounter!

We stopped at a strange little spot near the airstrip, complete with boat house and cabin.

Note the rusty water...

During the flight back to Hobart....

There were many glacier-created lakes.

The causeway over Derwent River in Hobart.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Tasmania Part 5: A Day at the Royal Botanical Center and Back to MONA

Today was the most perfect day we could have asked for, and certainly the best we have experienced with the weather.  A bright sunny day with light wind, temps in the 60's.  A perfect day to wander the Botanical Garden.
I have just begun reading about the history of the garden.  Officially founded in 1818, the garden was actually started by an ex-convict who was granted some land to develop.  It sort of sounds like it was taken away from his family when the garden started looking nice.  I need to keep reading, I guess.

The garden seems quite large,(14 Hectares, if that means anything to you) larger in area than the San Antonio Botanical Garden (which is my point of reference).  We really enjoyed our time in it.  There was a beautiful Food garden, an orchid house, and even a sub-Antarctica garden display.  The Japanese Tea garden was beautiful even in mid-winter.  One can only imagine what it must be like in the fall when all the trees are in color.
Impressive entry gate to the garden.

This is a giant rhubarb plant.  It was an alien-looking thing, for sure.

A pink magnolia.

Part of the Japanese garden.

The tiniest of pine-cones.

The beautifully maintained food garden.

Here is a pano of the food garden.

And a wonderful cactus display.

I swear this is a cactus. See above.

This is an Empress Tree.  Here are images of such a tree in bloom.

Eventually, we drove back out to MONA and decided to have lunch outside one of the restaurants.  We enjoyed a delicious lunch and accompanied it with a glass of the Morilla sparkling wine.  The Morilla vineyard is on the property of the MONA museum.  Their pinot noir grapes are grown on property.  The other grapes are grown elsewhere on the island.  The pinot is quite good.

And because we could, we stayed and watched the James Turrell installation, "Amarna", 
through its sunset illumination.  Sigh.

Here are the (curly) heads of my daughters as they attempt to figure out which planet
we are seeing through the opening of the installation.  (Jupiter)

We were further rewarded with the most stunning moonrise over the water.
It was HUGE and bright yellow-orange.  Just a spectacular evening.

Tomorrow I made reservations for the family to fly over to the southwestern part of Tasmania.  There is a World Heritage site over there and I am psyched to spend time in it.  Stay tuned!  xo L

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Tasmania Part 4: A drive to the South

The girls were keen to drive to Hastings Cave and Hot Springs for a thermal bath.  I was looking forward to the drive as much as anything:  a chance to see more of the area.  We packed a picnic lunch, our bathing suits and towels, and off we went.
The drive was full of s-curves and switchbacks over and down mountains.  It was clear that the storm had gone through the area as we saw many downed trees and debris along the roadside.
There were many times I was reminded of a train ride through the Swiss Alps a couple years ago.  We drove along the river's edge and we were level with the water.  I could see why there were numerous signs warning of the possibility of water over the road.

We were disappointed to learn that the springs were closed due to flooding.  We opted to stay and do the cave tour, which was pretty amazing!

Driving next to the Huon River

Down a muddy road toward the Springs and Cavern

Inside the Cavern

The drive back to Hobart.

Hobart in the distance.