The exam period has been flying by- finishing up at work, starting to plan my travels, and studying for my two exams. My time at the Herald has been great and I couldn’t have asked for a better environment to work in. I looked forward to going into work each day and thoroughly enjoyed my days getting to know the employees in the building. After eight weeks of getting comfortable and familiar with everyone, I really didn’t want to leave. However, having so many travel plans for the near future did make leaving a little bit easier. I finished up on Halloween, inviting November excitedly and impatiently.
After finishing work, I went back to Albury-Wodonga to see my home stay family. I ended up surprising my eleven year old friend for his birthday so that was great. I have never felt so welcomed by people I have known for so little time – I felt as if I was returning home to my Australian family. The weekend was great. We left Melbourne at the early hour of 5am when it was pouring rain, but upon our arrival the rain had stopped. I spent the day on the trampoline with the three kids I have grown so close to – as they begged me to stay in Australia. This was a reality check as I hadn’t exactly realized how close my departure from Melbourne was. After explaining to the children that I must return home to Canada, I think I convinced them to plan an upcoming family vacation to Canada!
Sunday was gorgeous so we planned a picnic along the Murray river. My three friends who stayed at their own home stay families’ met up with us as well. Myself, two Americans, and a German friend enjoyed our time outdoors with the kids. We played with the puppies and I finally got to learn the game of cricket.
Monday quickly approached, which meant I had to prepare for my goodbyes. Although I dreaded saying goodbye, it was only for a short time. The families are going to be travelling to the east coast in December so hopefully I will be able to meet with them again. This didn’t make saying goodbye any easier, as reality slapped me in the face: these upcoming weeks are going to bear a whole lot of goodbyes with my new friends. Some I may never get the opportunity to see again. But who knows, the world has some weird way of bringing people together when least expected. Also, now I have heaps of excuses to visit various locations such as Montreal, California, Chicago, Philadelphia, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, and perhaps return to Australia!
I returned to Melbourne to complete an exam and prepare for my travels to Tasmania. I planned this trip a few weeks ago but hadn’t really organized my schedule for the week (very unlike me). Thursday night I boarded the plane and landed in Hobart – the biggest city on the island of desolate Tasmania. Our five day stay in Tasmania was going to be spent hiking through the famous Freycinet national park and taking in the beautiful ocean views.
The city of Hobart reminded me of the East coast of Canada, more specifically Halifax, Nova Scotia. The marina and the small town feel of the city was very comforting, bringing back memories of visiting my family out East.
The mountain shadowing the city of Hobart is Mount Wellington. We went up to the top of Mount Wellington to get an even better view of Hobart and its surroundings. Unfortunately, had we been to Mt Wellington a day before, I would have got to see snow (like everyone at home has this past week!). But all in all, this was really cool – because it was a clear day we got an idea of where Bruny Island was (you can see it in the distance) and all the other islands surrounding Hobart.
On our second day in Hobart, we went to the famous Salamanca markets. This is a market that takes over a whole street with 300+ shops and venders, inviting thousands of locals and tourists. This was something to see, even after all the popular markets I have experienced here in Australia. The market offered more clothing and shopping than produce and food, which Is very different than the Queen Victoria market in Melbourne. We rented a car afterwards and set off for the famous Bruny Island.
Bruny Island is known for its wilderness and evidently its pristine beach views. I have never seen such blue water, other than on the Great Ocean Road. Because it was a relatively cloudy day, it is difficult to see the elevated land on the far island. Both islands are attached by the long neck, as seen in the first photo.We drove over the neck to the south island in hopes of seeing a white wallaby. Bruny Island offers the scarce white wallaby, which is not seen anywhere else in Australia. Coming to Australia I had expected to see kangaroos in people’s backyards, jumping across the road, and eating grass in the fields. However this has not been the case. Up until this weekend I had only seen three kangaroos, which was in the first week in Australia – in the wildlife sanctuary on campus. After driving down the coast with great views of the ocean, we decided to drive down a gravel road with fields on both sides. I saw wallabies in people’s yards! I tried to get close to take a good photo but he jumped across the road. Also, we did get to see a white wallaby. He was hidden behind some trees, lying down. Unfortunately by the time I got out of the car and walked towards him for a close up photo, he had hopped away.
After our visit to Bruny Island, we decided to head for Freycinet National Park. This is Tasmania’s pride and joy – attracting tourists from all over to hike the rewarding trails around Wineglass Bay. This was a few hours up the East coast of the island, so on our way we got to drive by heaps of open fields and wineries. A few hours later and we had made it!
The highlight of my trip is about to come: Upon arrival and parking the car, I was greeted by a wallaby on the path. Wallabies are a smaller version of a kangaroo – they have pouches and eat the same things that kangaroos do, they just don’t grow as tall, making them even cuter (roos can grow to be like 5 feet tall!). Not fearing the female and her baby (yes, in her pouch), I decided to take this long-awaited opportunity to share my bread with the mama. She liked it so much that she started to stand at my feet and beg for more. Out from the bushes came another mama and her baby, looking for bread too.
With this exciting and great start to the day, I didn’t want to leave them behind. But I headed for the mountains, with lots of extra peanut butter sandwiches just in case. A 30 minute hike up the mountain lead to this spectacular view of Wineglass Bay.
The hike down was brutally steep with heaps of steps – talk about a leg workout (that’s been months overdue!). We made it to the bottom and got to enjoy the white sand and the view from below as well. The water was super chilly (Tasmania is pretty chilly normally because it’s so far South).
Feeling adventurous, we went on another hike that was going to bring us to another beach instead of going back up those dreadful steps. The majority of photos from Freycinet National Park are of Wineglass Bay, so I had no idea what was on the other side of the forest.
Turns out there was another beautiful beach that was longer and with darker sand. The view from the beach was different as well, because we were far from the mountains. I liked this beach more – maybe because the sun had come out and made it even more pleasant? Or maybe because it was serene and empty – hardly anybody there, except a sailboat a bit offshore. Each side seems to mirror the other, but believe it or not – each photo is of a different side of the beach. The blue water and the blue sky could hardly be differentiated from one another – and the clouds add to the photo!
On our way out of Freycinet, we stopped at another attraction called Tourville. This was pretty cool, we had a different view of the mountains from afar even though we didn’t sight any whales (which is common between April – November!). The ocean from this photo below is called the Tasman Sea. If you were to sail directly East (in a horizontal line on the map), you would land at the South Island of New Zealand! Here’s a taste of the blue skies and crystal blue water.
On the way home back to Hobart, we made a pit stop in Bicheno – a small town that is along the East Coast. In Bicheno, the rocky coast has a popular blowhole. I’ve never seen a blowhole, so this was pretty cool to see even though the winds were crazy cold. Because of my lack of timing and persistent attention, I didn’t get any photos of the water spraying.
That concludes my trip to Tasmania, the petite island of Australia. Checking off another state of the country!
This week I write my final exam in Australia and then count down the hours until my brother arrives. I am so excited to be welcoming my baby brother to Australia and cannot wait to travel for five weeks before returning home for the cold weather. The weather here is warming up quickly so I am thinking of ya’ll back home as it continues to drop in degrees!