While my parents were in town visiting we decided to show them our favorite place in Australia - Tasmania.  We flew down to Hobart early Saturday morning, and Phil immediately set out on a long bike ride up Mt. Wellington.  My parents and I took the scenic route, stopping in historic Richmond to see the oldest bridge in Australia and to visit one of my mom's painting friends.  By the time we eventually made it to the top of Mt. Wellington it was snowing and the famous view of Hobart looked a lot like mashed potatoes.

The view of Hobart from Mt Wellington

The next day we again left Phil to fend for himself on the bike and we drove out to Port Arthur, the historical site where Great Britain originally dumped its outcast prisoners.  We enjoyed the pleasant Tassie weather (meaning chilly but not raining) and strolled around the original prison buildings.  Once Phil caught up to us, exhausted because the "flat ride" turned out to be quite hilly, we explored the beautiful coastline surrounding Port Arthur.  Our favorite little beach there is called Tesselated Pavement because the rocks have erroded in such a way that there appear to be pavers set out on the beach.  It is a stunning view.

The old church at Port Arthur

Tesselated Pavement
On Monday we drove to Freycinet National Park to take in the stunning views there.  One of our favorite views here is Honeymoon Beach.  The pink sand and turquoise water are such a beautiful combination.  That afternoon Phil, my dad, and myself did the three hour hike down to Wineglass Bay.  I had wanted to do this hike last time we were here but they had the path closed for construction at the time.  Fortunately this time it was open and we enjoyed the challenging hike to the quiet beach.  It was definitely worth the effort.
View of Wineglass Bay
 The next day we headed North to Launceston and had a nice leisurely drive through the quiet countryside.  Then Wednesday morning we headed to Ben Lommon National Park, my parents and I in the car and Phil once again on the bike.  The car got there first to discover that it was snowing and the road to the top of the mountain was closed.  We decided that Phil's bike was no match for the dirt roads covered in snow, picked him up, and headed to the wineries for a consolation prize.  Tasmanian wine is soooo good, and the Aussie government subsidizes its shipment back to the mainland so we took the opportunity to stock up.  We had a peaceful lunch enjoying a good drop and a gorgeous cheese platter.  Then it was time for strange animal tours numbers 1 and 2.

Strange animals tour number 1 - the platypus.  These critters are very difficult to spot in the wild so this was actually the first time I've since them in Oz.  They had four animals they are trying to breed - apparently it is very difficult breeding them in captivity.  Their close relative, the echida, was also part of the tour, and much to Phil's excitement one crawled right over his foot!  Strange animal tour two was the seahorse house - I loved how tiny the seahorse babies were!  Then it was time to bid Phil farewell as he set of back to reality on the Spirit of Tasmania.

The tour wasn't over for the rest of us though.  The following morning we drove to Cradle Mountain and did a 6.8k hike around Dove Lake.  It was an enjoyable hike, but especially remarkable because my mom completed this hike without incident but then broke her arm in a parking lot.  That evening we went to the Tasmanian Devil conservation center and got to watch them being fed.  These creatures are really unusual and it was fun watching them snack on a wallaby leg.

Dove Lake with Cradle Mountain in the background
The next day was our last in Tassie and we took another leisurely drive around the countryside.  Then it was time to fly back to Melbourne and to the drama that awaited us that weekend.  (See 'Getting Plastered' post)


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