Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Hijacked In Hobart, Tasmania

Map picture

It has taken me an entire day to calm down enough about our day in Hobart that I'm able to calmly write about our experience. Before baring my soul, let me digress for a moment and discuss where in the world exactly is Hobart, Tasmania.

I have been throwing around names such as Queensland, New South Wales, and now Tasmania, as if you should have instant recognition. In point of fact however before I traveled to Australia, I really had no idea what these words referred to. Australia, like the United States, is a Republic that is formed by the merger of its member States. We, of course, are all familiar with the names of our States, but less knowledgeable about the names of the States in Australia. They have only seven: Western Australia, Northern Territory, South Australia, Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania. Tasmania is unique in that it is an island State, in the same sense that Hawaii is an island State of the United States.

The island of Tasmania lies south of the Australian mainland, and can easily be reached by car ferry in only a few hours travel. Most ferries depart passengers on the northern part of the island, and from there one can drive to the major city, Hobart on the southeast corner of the island, in only three hours.

And so it was that our ship docked in the capital city of Tasmania, Hobart. Lisa and I had visited Hobart once before, and we had very strong memories of two attractions on the island. The first was Bonorong Park, and the other was the historic little town of Richmond. In fact, we have been talking about visiting Bonorong during our entire cruise, because we had such a wonderful experience when there before. In this relatively small Park, they have a large population of kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, and other animals which are indigenous to Tasmania. All of the animals have been acclimated to the presence of people, so that you can easily walk right up to an animal and give them a pet.

For our visit to this port we had arranged a private car, and I had specifically written down on a sheet of paper these two destinations so that there would be no misunderstanding with the driver about where it is we wanted to visit. After entering the car I explained the situation and showed the driver the names of the places we wanted to see; he immediately dismissed them as not being worthy of a visit to Hobart. His comment was, “if you've already seen them, then why would you want to see them again?" And so I pushed back again, and again, and he continued to dismiss the suggestions by saying that the significant parts of Hobart are in the southern part of the coast, and not North towards the little town of Richmond. I guess I'm just too nice a guy, and as my friend suggested, they probably should paste my picture on the men's room wall throughout Australia. Rather than argue with a man anymore, I finally gave in and said “fine if you believe there's more to see in the South then we are at your disposal for the day.” What a mistake! We had been effectively hijacked and in return we spent four hours driving around the southern coastline, admittedly seeing some pretty scenery, but not seeing anything that I considered memorable or noteworthy.

Hobart, Australia I did manage to get a picture of the State Capital building, and along the highway we came to an old shot tower which did make a pretty picture. He was surprised that I even knew what a "shot tower" was. I was raised in Baltimore Maryland, and there we have an original "shot tower" from the Civil War. Hobart, AustraliaThis was a tall chimney-like structure from which molten lead would be dropped over the side. During the fall the lead would form into a ball and then land in a pond of cold water where it would harden into a piece of "shot" for the old muskets. In any event, when we finally got back to the ship, both Lisa and I were really disappointed at our adventure that day. Here we had talked our entire trip about going to see the animals at the park, and I outright let this man walk over me and instead we saw things that were really not that interesting to us at all. As Lisa said, "how many times do you think we’ll ever return to Hobart to visit the park again?" And so, I spent the last two days beating up on myself for not having been stronger, but I guess sometimes you just have to admit that we are all human and make mistakes: and that was certainly a big one on my part.

I have posted some very pretty pictures to our second album, and I encourage you to take a look at them. We spent yesterday, and again today traveling east from Australia towards the coastline of New Zealand. Tomorrow we will spend the day cruising Milford and Dusky sound, which promises to be very picturesque. This time of the year the crossing is normally quite rough. To the surprise of everyone on the ship, however our crossing has been relatively calm as has our entire cruise.

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Christmas.


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