After our delicious Italian dinner with Sybil and Carol on Lygon Street in Melbourne, into our Uber we hopped, back to Tullamarine. We had read online that there were some decent benches to sleep on but that must have been outdated. We did find one single row of seats with no dividers but I finally have to admit it, I am too old for this. I can no longer sleep in a loud, bright and cold airport, on the most uncomfortable bench. It is with relief that we boarded the cramped Jetstar plane but since the flight was only 44min, we didn’t get much sleep there either. And then, we had to pick up our second rental car and drive through Tasmania, from Launceston down to Hobart! At least the landscape was worth it.
We arrived in Hobart late morning, made our way round the tricky one-way system, only to find out that the hostel we had booked in July had closed and gone, and been taken over. We walked in hopeful, assuming our booking had been transferred since we’d had no communication from either hostel or Hostelworld through whom we’d booked. But no! We were temporarily bedless for New Year’s in a city which books up months in advance due to its famous sailing race. Fortunately, staff at the new place managed to squeeze us into the last two beds for two nights (albeit in a 16- not 4-bed dorm) and their tiny staff room for New Year’s Eve. Not exactly what we’d expected or paid for but at least we had a roof over our heads.
Our first afternoon was spent trying to recover and having a wander round. The Taste of Tasmania, affectionately referred to as Taste, a reputed food festival that occurs every year, showcasing local produce. Hello! We then had dinner st fancy Frank’s, a Latin American/Australian fusion restaurant, which served delectable sharing plates – steak, ceviche, sweet potatoes, and beetroot and asparagus salad. Sounds pretty simple but trust me it tasted incredible.
The following morning, feeling somewhat refreshed, we decided not to drive all the way to Coles Bay, where we had originally planned to go. The combination of exhaustion and bad weather forecast meant we picked something more local, and much less frequented.
We set off early and headed up Mt Wellington, standing tall at 1,270m above sea level, right behind Hobart; luckily, making it before the crowds. Or perhaps the crowds were put off by the intensely thick fog we had to traverse, up hairpin bends, avoiding yet more potholes and roadkill. (And while we’re at it, we also had some fun with steep hill starts in our manual car with a shitty gearbox!). But then suddenly, out we came, and the views from the top were grandiose.
From here, we drove on to Mt Field National Park, where we enjoyed a lovely picnic and hiked to 3 different sets of waterfalls, through beautiful lush forest; we also took a guided tour through the tall eucalypts, the second highest trees in the world after California. There were times we were totally alone and we even spotted a baby wallaby! Or similar fluffy creature – it didn’t look quite as ratty as a wallaby.
Both of us were pretty knackered approaching the end of our 3-week/3.5-month adventure as well as the end of 2016, so we spent much of the afternoon chilling before meeting Tim, Sybil’s son, and his partner Carol for New Year’s Eve festivities. So kind of them to invite us over for drinks and food, and what a hoot to watch the Hobart fireworks from the boat Tim and his fellow sailors sailed down from Melbourne.
The first day of the year was a grey and rainy one for us, and it felt very strange indeed to be in the future, speaking to loved ones around lunchtime who were only just counting down to midnight. We made the most of Taste once again – and still we didn’t manage to try all the food and drink!
And so Arianna’s and my Australian adventure came to an end, with a terrifying flight in which we were struck by lightning during takeoff and a decadent night in a posh hotel at Sydney airport, awaiting our respective flights the following morning. I told you, I’m getting old.