Intro: Off Peak To Australia On A Sweet Spot USAir Award
Part 1: Getting To Sydney The Long Way
Part 2: Stunning Sydney And A Climb To The Top Of The Harbour Bridge
Part 3: Exploring The Outback
Part 4: Cairns And A Trip Up The Coast To Port Douglas
Part 5: Beautiful Tasmania
Part 6: Melbourne And The Ride Home On United Global First
My Virgin Australia flight was booked using Elevate points left over from an earlier credit card sign up. I had to call in the reservation, as there was no way to book it online using points. The flight was two segments, connecting through Melbourne, ending at the HOB airport. We boarded and were on our way to Hobart, where we would pick up a rental car for the drive into town.
With no hotel chains to speak of, we opted for a paid stay at The Fountainside hotel due to its central location and excellent reviews. Even though the hotel itself was a little tired looking, the room (more like an apartment, with kitchen) had been recently renovated and was spacious and clean. It was centrally located, a five or so minute walk to downtown and shopping, and ten minutes to the wharf and lots of great sea food restaurants.
On the agenda for our first day was a drive up the scenic north coast on a narrow two lane highway. The scenery was breathtaking and we encountered lots of beautiful countryside and coastline. Thankfully it was off season, so we didn’t encounter much traffic.
We ultimately ended up in Freycinet National Park and did a hike up to view Wine Glass Bay lookout.
We were greeted at the trail head by furry friends.
The hike was beautiful, with great views, unique rock formations, and the payoff:
The trail options in the park were extensive, and I wished we had time for a few more hikes. There’s lots of wildlife everywhere, so we wanted to get on the road early enough to be back to Hobart by dark to avoid encountering animals crossing the road at night which can be dangerous.
We spent the next day in town at the open air Salamanca Market, which is only open on Saturdays. There were lots of local foods and crafts and we picked up some locally made souvenirs and delicious snacks.
We spent the rest of the day exploring the city and ended the day with a delicious fish dinner at a local restaurant at the wharf.
We still hadn’t seen a Tasmanian Devil, so our final day decided to hop in the car and head the opposite direction, to former convict settlement and UNESCO World Heritage Site, Port Arthur. We’d also stop at the Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park, which was on the way.
The park is on the same road that goes to Port Arthur, and if you time it just right, you can see and even participate in the animal feedings. We made it in time to see the first and second feedings of the Tassies which look more like a cross between a miniature brown bear and a large rat! Still very cute!
We were also able to pet and feed a big stable of Kangaroos, which were really tame and friendly.
A bit farther down the coast is Port Arthur. Admission is around $30 and comes with a boat ride and guided tour. It was cold out, and a lot of the historical and cultural significance was lost on us as Americans. But Port Arthur is the birthplace of the modern penal system as it exists today, even in the US, so still rather interesting from a historical perspective.
We made our way back up the coast, stopping along the way to enjoy the beautiful scenery. Our flight to Melbourne, our final stop on this trip. was early the next morning.