Port Arthur: Ghostly and dreary

Port Arthur: Ghostly and dreary

Tasmania Roadtrip begins – After a few days in Hobart where we visited the local markets, strolled along the docks, and ate our share of fish ‘n ships, we were all set to start our adventure of driving around Tasmania island.  Renting a car was no problem, and on Sunday morning we loaded up our darling ocean green, 1950’s station wagon nicknamed Deedee for the remainder of the trip. We intended to sleep in the back of Deedee for the extent of our road trip. There were plenty of beachfront camp sites, we had sleeping bags, and had even borrowed a tiny camping stove from the reception at the Pickled Frog.

Tessellated Pavement

Tessellated Pavement

Ghostly Port Arthur –Our plan was to travel south to Port Arthur, up the east coast and across the top before making a circle back to Hobart.  On the way around the Tasman Peninsula, we pulled over to walk along the Tessellated Pavement – a rocky, ocean path that looked like, you got it – “pavement.”

Port Arthur was an interesting, historical little place. Since Tasmania is Australia’s only island and is isolated from just about everywhere else in the world, it was the ideal place to set up penal settlements. When it became a bustling penitentiary in 1830, tales of shark infested waters and patrolling guard dogs were created to deter a prisoner’s escape. Between 1830 and 1877, some 13,000 convicts served their sentences in Port Arthur, many for petty crimes such as thievery or ‘extreme drunkenness.’ It was an captivating site with many old, crumbling buildings overlooking the bay area. By the time we arrived, the last tour had already left for the day, but we were allowed to sneak through and snap a few pictures.

Tasmania Camping spot #1

Tasmania Camping spot #1

The camping begins – Freycinet National Park was the location for our first night camping. Details aside, I think Gwenda and I both slept a total of 45 minutes that night and climbed out with actual bruises on our hips and shoulders. The back of the station wagon wasn’t exactly the softest place to sleep. We did, however, have a beautiful sunrise over the beach which, combined with a cup of coffee, made everything much better. Our night of tossing and turning was soon forgotten and we were on the road again.

 

 

As Campers sometimes do – After a bit of discussion we decided to search for some sort of additional padding for our sleeping area – anything to cushion the various nuts and bolts in the backseat. We came upon a carpet shop where the owner was too happy to give us some foam underlay. I think he felt so sorry for us that he would have gladly taken us home to his wife and kids for the evening. Instead we trudged off with our underlay tucked under our arms and assured him that we would be just fine (little did we know the horrors to come)!!

I drove us north through Bicheno, a very odd little town often used by whalers and sealers during the thriving fishing times. Believing in the kindness of humanity, we asked a local hostel if we could wash our dishes and were surprised to be given a firm no. “Sorry girls, our insurance doesn’t cover dishwashing.” Uh-huh – that one went over my head. Instead we went to the bottle shop and picked up a 4 liter goon bag (backpacker lingo for really cheap wine). With Bicheno behind us, we headed for Coles Bay and Wineglass Bay.

Wineglass Bay, Tasmania

Wineglass Bay, Tasmania

Please come out sun! – Wineglass Bay is a well know Tasy icon is often captured on all of the postcards, books, and every travel brochure ever published. We had to climb a rocky little stairway to the lookout to get the proper viewing, as did about 100 other chattering tourists. Though the 2.5 hour hike was steep, the heart thumping walk ended in a gorgeous view- a sparkling little circular bay framed by a white sand beach. We waited our turn to snap some pictures and headed back to the car to find a spot along Cole’s Bay for the night.

Another restless night followed, going something like this…..grumble, sigh, groan…”are you awake”…..”yup, this really *@#*”…..grumble, groan…..turn the car on for a bit of heat….shiver, shiver……”*#@*%”……”@#*%@#” ……roll over….add another layer of clothing…and on and on. I wish we had a video camera to capture the true feeling of the night’s events. We could truly win some big money on America’s Funniest Home Video’s.  Oh what we backpackers put ourselves through!

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