We have spent the last 2 weeks in Australia - 2 days (+1) in Melbourne and 12 days in Tasmania.
We decided to spend a couple of days in Melbourne to break up the trip to Tassie - 8 hours plus 2 hours. We thought we would be able to put Sam to bed when we got there in the morning, and then check it out for a day and a half. We didn't get our hotel room until later in the afternoon, so we ended up checking out the market and basically walked all over town. We had great pizza and pasta and froze our asses off. The next day we went to the aquarium, which Sam and Matt LOVED (I thought it was great too, but they LOVED it!). We walked around more of the city and met our friend Maria for a tour to/of the Botanic gardens. Gorgeous.
The next day we arrived in the Hobart area of Tasmania. This island is absolutely unbelievable - the best food. Great wine. AMAZING nature and hiking. Our first four nights were in the country - 6 km from the small historic village of Richmond and about 15 minutes from Hobart. Our B&B (Cornwall Cottage - completely recommended!) has 3 horses, a whole load of sheep, about 6 hens, a rooster, endless amounts of raspberries and so many stairs for Sam to explore. She loved the animals, and she loved picking raspberries and putting them straight into my mouth, see photo (she would never try them, of course). Peta, the owner, made us three loaves of amazing bread (Sam DID eat that - she couldn't get enough) and we had her homemade jam, hen laid eggs and fresh tomatoes as well. We had two bedrooms and a living room, so we could put Sam to sleep and not have to read on the bathroom floor (as usually happens in hotels...). Our next place also had two bedrooms, and we realised this is key to a nice holiday when your child prefers long naps and going to sleep at 7pm!
While there, we spent a day hiking at Mt Field National Park, where we saw some of the most amazing waterfalls I have ever seen (see photo) along with gorgeous views of mountains, beautiful trees, and one live animal (sort of like a possum but not exactly). We also spent a day on the Tasman peninsula where we did a bunch of short hikes and drove around. One hike along the coastline was especially gorgeous - started on the beach and then went through the trees, following the water. The absolute low-light of this was on our walk back to the car, where Sam and I were running and singing along the beach, and I noticed that we were about four feet away from a HUGE DEAD SEAL on the beach. I SCREAMED and ran (with Sam in a framed pack on my back) for a long, long time. Grody. We also spent an afternoon in the historic village of Richmond, just up the street. It was built in the early 1800s, and somehow the buildings are all still around (including the creepy jail for convicts from Britain from 1825). Sam loved the ducks under the bridge at the river and the slide at the playground. Matt and I loved the architecture and the quiche. We also spent time in Hobart - first to tour all around the gorgeous town, and then to go to the market on Saturday. Lots of local foods and goods. We also saw a reserve for the local animals (see the photo of Sam hangin' with the 'roos).
We then drove up the east coast towards our next stop in Bicheno (Bicheno Ocean View Retreat - great view, lots of space, but not too much personality). While there we had FABULOUS Italian food from a place in town and great bread from the bakery. We hiked a day in Freycinet National Park - doing a walk up to an outlook of Wineglass Bay, and having a great picnic at Honeymoon Bay, which was a rocky beach, which Sam loved climbing (see photo), with gorgeous green, clear water. Okay, we were still freezing, but it looked beautiful. We had dinner at the Iron House Brewery, where we enjoyed nice beer and great burgers (Sam loved the fries). We also spent a day up on the east coast, exploring the Bay of Fires and St Helen. The Bay of Fires is basically AMAZINGLY beautiful beaches, with white sand, reddish rocks and gorgeously clear, blue water. We were still freezing, but seriously, it was gorgeous. The photo where we're all looking over our shoulders is at the Bay of Fires. The one of Sam and Matt at the sand dunes is also in that area, near St. Helens as is the one of the three of us on the red rocks.
We then drove to a dairy to get some yummy cheese (Sam loved the vanilla ice cream - she was literally pulling my arm with the spoon to her mouth) and saw the cows getting milked. Sam learned what a cow says. We then decided to make a quick trip to these two waterfalls that looked super close on the map. One was pretty close to the dairy - the tallest waterfall in Tasmania. Beautiful. The next one, again, looked really close on the map...but it was about 17 km on some crazy steep gravely road. I was not very happy. Matt was loving it. Sam was eating her feet. We reached the top where there had been lots of logging, and there were beautiful views of the mountains and pastures around us. FINALLY we got to the next waterfall (which wasn't that cool, but Matt claimed it was. I think it was only because he wanted to not regret the drive...) (see the photo at Norm's Lookout). The 17 km back to reality was on another crazy road...so what we thought would be a quick half hour turned into about three hours. But we made it. We pushed on, through Launceston, the big city in the north, and drove up the Tamar River Valley to our B&B (Conmel Cottage - TOTALLY recommended). This place had us in a detached cottage, looking out on the garden with everything you could ever imagine growing (and eating!). They also had hens and fruit trees and lots of area for Sam to run around in. She loved touching the apples on the apple trees and the peaches on the peach trees. They also stocked us with amazing breakfast supplies (including yummy homemade cookies! and I made bacon - assuming this non-kosher thing will be coming to an end...soon...I thought I should try once! I was a Jewish natural). The place was on a huge hill with an amazing view of the wide Tamar River. Wow. The only challenge was that the sleeping area was upstairs, and stairs with a one-year old are never ideal. Also, there was no door to close at night, so we had to save lots of dirty dishes and did a lot of reading and whispering. Kinda cramped our style, but we're over it.
While up north, we spent a day in Launceston, including a great hike in the gorge - right in the middle of town! - out to the old power station. We spent a day visiting a few wineries, right near our B&B, and one of the first pubs in Tasmania. We took an evening to push Sam to stay up late - and we went to this National Park on the north coast at dusk to see wildlife. And did we see wildlife. We saw loads of wallabies, at least five wombats (they're HUGE! See photo), tonnes of pademelons (like wallabies but smaller and rounder). We didn't see Tasmanian Devils here (we saw them in a reserve down south), because 75% of those in the wild have this certain kind of cancer that scientists around the world are working to cure. They're really endangered. As per my personality, I was not too excited about keeping Sam up an extra 1.5 hours...and driving out into nowhere in Tasmania...but it was way worth it. It was SUPER cool to see all these guys hopping around. Sam loved it. She was pointing to all of them - but her screaming on the path in the forest didn't help us with our nature spotting.
We then drove down the old road from Launceston to Hobart - passing through a bunch of historical villages. We had a great lunch in a fantastic bakery in Ross, where Sam ate half of my sandwich. She didn't eat a half of it, but she ate the piece of bread that was touching the cheese on both halves. There were great old buildings - I can't believe it is all still there. Kind of creepy, but really beautiful. Matt was a super-dad with an unfortunate poo incident, and we all survived.
We made our way back to our first B&B where we arrived in time to say goodnight to the chickens, the horses, eat more raspberries, eat some pizza and go to sleep. Our entire trip until this point was perfectly smooth.
Our flight at 8:30am from Hobart to Melbourne was delayed for five hours, as one of the guys in the drivers' seats was ill. I mean, I'm all for safety, and I don't want a guy to work if he's ill, but don't we have back-up plans or something like that? We made it back to Melbourne around 3:30...but our flight to Singapore had left 3.5 hours earlier. All in all, we traveled for nine hours (including getting to and from the airports) just to get to a hotel in Melbourne, right by the airport. Sam was a total disaster. We made it onto the same flight to Singapore, the next day. That was 12 hours of travelling today. Yeah - we survived, but that part wasn't too fun.
Forgetting about the last two days - this was the best trip of our lives. Our honeymoon in South Africa was a close second, and some of our trips out in SE Asia have been cool, but really, nothing as fantastic as these two weeks in Tassie. Definitely part of it was getting away from regular life in Singapore and spending such great time as a family (only...). But add the food, drinks and unbelievable natural beauty, and it just doesn't get better.
So, since that was the best, and it was pretty challenging to travel with a one year old - I think we're done. No more travelling for us.
Just kidding. Off to Bali on Friday!