A British friend of mine is coming to Melbourne, Australia, soon, for a conference, and she asked me for suggestions for things that she should see and do while she is here. I put this list of things together for her, plus some general advice on getting around – it’s not definitive, or even the most popular recommendations for Melbourne, but they’re my personal favourites.
Sydney is surrounded, even enclosed, by a vast area of mountainous wilderness. This wilderness is divided into several national parks, the best known of which is the Blue Mountains.
I've flown over the Blue Mountains many times, usually coming in to or leaving from Sydney. I've always been impressed with this expanse of rugged mountains, bush, steep cliffs, and deep canyons, that’s so close to a big city, and I’ve always harboured the idea of visiting and bushwalking in some of this amazing environment.
We are currently travelling from Hobart to a house sit that starts in Canberra.
Whenever you fly out of Tasmania to go to Canberra you’re almost always going to fly to either Melbourne or Sydney on the way, so, as we had a few days spare, we decided to stop over in Sydney. I haven't been to Sydney for a few years so it's a nice opportunity to have a look around again; plus, we're coming here later in the year for another house sit, so we'll meet the house owners while we're here.
Kunanyi/Mt Wellington is a big part of the soul of Hobart – It’s 1270 metres high, and only eight kilometres from the centre of the city, so it looms over the city, and is visible from just about any part of it.
Our house-sit in Lenah Valley is right under the mountain, so we came up with the idea of travelling to the top (there’s a road right up to the pinnacle) and walking back down through the bush to our house-sit.
Last week school students all over the world went on strike to protest the lack of action on climate change. The world's young people are facing life on an Earth that previous generations have severely degraded; the problem is well understood and the effects are so easily observed, there's no excuse for inaction.
While the protest was run by the students, adults were welcome to come along as “supporting adults”, so we went to the protest that was held here in Hobart, Tasmania.
After being away for about six months I am back in Hobart, Tasmania, again for another house-sit, this time in Lenah Valley, in Hobart’s northern suburbs.
We’ve spent our first night in a B and B in Hobart city while waiting for our house-sit to start, so I've had a chance to have a good walk around some of my favourite places in Hobart (I have a lot of favourite places in Hobart): Sullivan’s Cove, Salamanca Place, and Battery Point.
One of the great things about housesitting is that you are in an area so long enough to cross paths with some locally held events. Recently we cross paths with the National Penny-Farthing Championships, which are held in Evandale, Tasmania, not far from our current house-sit.
There are penny farthing races held throughout the day – these bikes are crazy things to watch racing!
Local markets are one of our favourite ways of interacting with local people as we travel around house-sitting. Yesterday we visited the Liffey Valley Markets in northern Tasmania. To complement our trip to the markets, we had a look to see what else was in the area, and we found that there are some bushland reserves that looked worth a visit.
It turned out to be a great day with lovely experiences and beautiful Tasmanian rural and bush scenery.
Bridestowe Lavender Estate in the north of Tasmania is one of Tasmania's most popular tourist attractions, attracting visitors from all over Australia and the world. It’s especially popular with Chinese visitors, since visits to the farm by a famous Chinese model and the Chinese president.
We visited recently and thoroughly enjoyed wandering through the rows of lavender!
2019 is here! And I'm looking forward to another year with travelling and house-sitting.
I've spent a major part of 2018 travelling and house-sitting around Australia and New Zealand, and house-sitting really means pet sitting, so I’ve looked after many different animals during the year. This picture shows most of those pets (there's a few more odd ones such as some extra chickens and the occasional fish that I haven't added).
As with most travel destinations, visitors to Tasmania, especially those who are on a tight time budget, head for the well-known attractions such as Cradle Mountain, Freycinet National Park (including Wine Glass Bay), and Maria Island. These are top places on the typical traveller’s ‘must do’ list for good reasons – they are all beautiful places that you actually should see.
Of course, Tasmania has many more beautiful places on offer that are also very much worth visiting – one of my favourites of these is Rocky Cape National Park.
A large part of central northern Tasmania has rich, red, volcanic soil. Much of this beautiful soil is farmland that produces a range of agricultural products including various crops and dairying.
One of the crops commonly grown here is flowers, especially tulips in the spring. Now, in the middle of summer, the flowers that are here are poppies, grown for their opiates.
If you have ever done a Walking tour of Melbourne you would probably have visited Hosier Lane to see the street art – graffiti-style murals on the buildings of this little back street.
After walking around Hobart many times over the last couple of years I thought I knew it pretty well, but today I was surprised by a pocket of great street art!
Much of the Western half of the north coast of Tasmania has deep red volcanic soil. As you pass through the area you see bright green paddocks with sheep and dairy cattle that are making the best of that soil, and ploughed paddocks that reveal the chocolatey red colour of the soil. This marvellous soil in Tasmania’s temperate climate is perfect for growing flowers.
I've been flying back and forth between Launceston and South East Queensland again, and, as before, what I see out of the window as I fly over Australia reveals humanity's vast effect on the landscape.
This flight takes me across an immense fertile plain in the middle of New South Wales and Victoria. Most of this 1500 kilometres of landscape is co-opted to serve humanity – it’s just one big machine for feeding and clothing humans.
Mount Barrow is one of three large mountains east of Launceston, which can be seen from all over the city. (The others are Mount Arthur and Ben Lomond.)
Mount Barrow is an alpine plateau about 4 kilometres long, with two main summits: Mount Barrow itself, and South Barrow.
I’ve recently climbed Mount Barrow, and explored its alpine plateau.
Mount Arthur is one of several high mountains near Launceston, in northern Tasmania, which I've mentioned in a previous post. I've been thinking about climbing Mount Arthur for a long time, since my house-sit here two years ago; and this time I've got around to doing it.
You can see Mt Arthur from all around Launceston, so I knew from regular observation that it commonly has its head in the clouds.
I've bushwalked on the Trevallyn Nature Recreation Area, near the Launceston CBD, many times while house-sitting here.
I thought that I’d pretty much covered all of it; however, I've realised recently that there is one bit of track there I may have never walked on. That track is the South Esk track, which runs along Cataract Gorge, above the South Esk River.
18th-century Britain’s answer to America’s slave trade was convict transportation, and Tasmania has a substantial convict history – convict labour built much of the early infrastructure here.
During Australia's convict period the colonial governments allocated convicts as free labour to landholders, allowing them to develop their estates to become substantial and impressive.
In my previous post, I introduced some of Launceston’s historic buildings, including a few of its commercial historic buildings.
Launceston also has a large selection of another sort of historic commercial building: churches. So much human skill, design, effort, and community wealth went into old churches that they are nearly always beautiful complex, and highly decorated buildings.
I am back in Launceston, Tasmania, again for another house-sit, a long one this time – about two-and-a-half months.
Launceston is the ‘capital’ of northern of Tasmania. It's a medium-size town with a long European history, set in a beautiful rural and natural setting. Launceston has most of the facilities of a city, plus the countryside and natural world within walking distance of the CBD.
We’ve just visited Injidup Natural Spa, which is a naturally occurring spa pool of foaming and bubbling water set in a chasm in a rocky headland, in south-west Western Australia. As Indian Ocean waves pour water into the pool it foams and bubbles, creating a spa effect.
It’s winter now, so there was no one in the spa pool, but I can imagine how inviting this bubbling pool would be on a hot summer’s day!
Our house sit is near the southern end of the Cape to Cape Track, a well know walking path which runs for 135 kilometres between the lighthouse on Cape Naturaliste and the lighthouse on Cape Leeuwin, in south-west Western Australia. Many people walk this track, usually over about seven days. We aren’t planning on doing this, but there is access all along the track, and we have sampled it at many places along its length while we’ve been staying here.
I went for a swim at Augusta’s most popular swimming beach this afternoon, at Davies Road in Flinders Bay.
Like all the coastline around here in the south-west of Western Australia, it’s a very beautiful spot. The weather here seems to be endlessly perfect, too, with mostly warm windless days and clear blue skies while we’ve been here, as it was today – perfect for swimming and admiring the scenery!
South-west Western Australia has a long association with the timber industry. Before the European invasion this corner of Australia was covered in a huge ancient forest of Karri, Marri, and Jarrah trees. Timber was being cut here 130 years ago and exported all over the world. As is usual with the timber industry, the cutting was rapacious and pretty much all of it was cut down.
We’ve done a walk through Boranup Karri Forest near here, but it’s only re-growth forest (although, at 130 years old, the trees have made it to a good size); so we decided to head out to find some real old-growth forest.
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