A Travellerspoint blog

Cruising around Bruny Island, Tasmania

Getting up close and personal with a few thousand fur seals, Dolphins and albatross

sunny 28 °C

Before arriving in Tasmania we had already booked on a boat trip with Pennicott Wildreness Journeys Around Bruny Island. The tour group has won several awards for being sustainable and had amazing reviews and we can see why.
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The bus picked us up in Kettering, a short drive from Hobart and then this took us on the ferry across to Bruny and all the way to Adventure Bay. The views from the ferry and in the bus down the length of Bruny were stunning and our guide was full of information about the island and its produce.
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We even had time to stop off at a tiny Bruny Island chocolate and fudge shop for a bit of chocolate shopping and taste testing. The island is renowned for its produce, chocolate, whiskey and sustainable farming practices, as well as its salmon and seafood.
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Upon arrival in Adventure Bay we had morning tea and a blueberry muffin and was briefed by the team who all seemed happy and enthusiastic. Adventure Bay is a little slice of paradise. It has a pure white sandy beach and the sea was aqua blue and so clear and flat. It is only a tiny hamlet but it is the biggest settlement on the island. Only around 700 people live on the island in total.
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After our briefing we set off on one of the boats and were told anyone who wasn't good on boats should sit at the back so off to the back we went as we have both felt sea sick occasionally in the past. The boat was super speedy and people at the front had to wear a seat belt. We zoomed around the coast admiring the amazing views of the land, sea and cliffs.

Our guide explained some of the landscape and its importance to the original aboriginal people who used to live here.

Bruny has some of the highest sea cliffs in Australia and they have a distinct columned pattern. They are beautiful and awe inspiringly high and we stopped in places so we could get a closer look and stare vertically up at them up close.
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At one point on the rugged coastline the Rock has eroded and formed a huge pillar separated from the mainland jutting out of the ocean and the little boat sped through the gap.
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Our guide's were really interesting and informative and they explained the importance of the ecosystem in Bruny and the importance of the health of our oceans, which we loved. He showed us the vast sea kelp forests you could see beneath the surface of the ocean. The huge kelp plants are the giant trees of the ocean and determine how healthy it is.
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This type of kelp is endangered as it can only grown in clean waters which is why it is abundant on Bruny and around Tasmania, because the land and its seas are very unspoilt. Some of the land on Bruny is snowy white, totally scorched from a huge Forrest fire which carried itself over the sea from mainland Tasmania.

After admiring the landscape and ocean it was now time to watch in wonder at the wildlife. Bruny Island is inhabited by a huge group of male fur seals and as we sped around the coastline we spotted them lazing on the rocks.
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There was hundreds and hundreds of them, some sleeping grumpily, others trying to scratch there huge bodies with there small fins and lots of them were fighting amongst each other. They did not seem to even notice our presence and we were so close we could smell them.
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Lots of them were darting in the water around us and popping up to say hello.
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It was beautiful to see so many in the wild and a first for us. We absolutely loved every minute and the boat stayed so we could watch them for a while.
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After we had took at least a thousand photos each we then set off for another cruise around the coast and as the sea was so calm we got the rare treat of driving into a cave as well as being able to go right out to the Southern Ocean. Here there was nothing between us and Antarctica! We then headed back but instead of hugging to coast we went out to sea to spot more wildlife. It wasn't long before we saw a pair of albatross, another first for us and the boast followed them soaring through the air.

In the distance we could see that one of the other boats had stopped to look at something so we went over to investigate. It was a huge pod of dolphins that were having so much fun playing in and around our boat, diving through the waves and playing alongside the front and sides of the boat. It was gorgeous and a perfect end to the trip.
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Back on dry land we ate our packed lunch and had a little picnic on the beach and no one was around as everyone had opted for a cooked lunch at the tour shop. It was beautiful and peaceful and we had a paddle in the sea in the beautiful sunshine.
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After a drive to the ferry terminal and another short ferry ride across the mainland Tasmania it was late afternoon and we decided to finish the days sightseeing with a drive up Mount Wellington on the way back into the city.
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You can drive all the way to the top and it doesn't take very long. At the top there is a viewing deck and a boardwalk and the views of Hobart and the surrounding city are absolutely amazing! You can see for miles, it is totally stunning. It was a perfect way to end a beautiful day.

Posted by Chelsandliam 15:48 Archived in Australia Tagged australia hobart seals bruny_island mount_wellington Comments (0)

Exploring the Tasman Peninsular and Port Arthur, Tasmania

A short trip to Tasmania

sunny 27 °C

Arriving in Tasmania the climate is cooler and it is immediately smaller in scale on every level, shops, streets and highways are cute and quaint, on opposite scale to the scenery which is larger than life, huge mountains, rolling hills and rugged coast lines, the whitest of white sand and the bluest and cleanest water. It is said to have some of the cleanest air on the world.

We picked up our hire car and as we couldn't check in till late afternoon decided to explore straight away. Since we flew into Hobart we were not too far from the Tasman Peninsular so decided to start there. It is around an hours drive all the way to Port Arthur but had some stops in mind on the way. First up was Pirate Cove lookout and Eaglehawlk Neck.
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Every corner in this area reveals amazing views and the lookouts are beautiful, you could see down the coast, all the rough cliffs and jigsaw coast line.
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Eaglehawlk neck is a narrow passage of land that was used to keep convicts on the peninsular, using a line of aggressive dogs. Around here the rocks have eroded into a tessellated pattern that looks like natural flagstones and you can walk right down to the beach to investigate up close.
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Further down the south end is Port Arthur, a convict settlement, renowned for its oppressive treatment of prisoners. It has a really dark and disturbing past but strolling around in the beautiful sunshine it was very hard to imagine such a difficult life. The setting is just beautiful. It is a sheltered cove, dotted with islands and the sea is bright blue and flat.
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Behind are rolling green hills and trees. The entrance fee is expensive, $37 but included is a boat trip and a guided tour. The site is really big and it is in immaculate condition. Lots of the old buildings are intact and restored and it is really interesting to learn about Tasmania's dark history. Some parts are very somber, especially the separate prison and the cells and reading individual stories you realise how hard it was for convicts in colonial times. Some were given unbelievably harsh punishments for as little as stealing a loaf of bread.
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Included was a boat trip around the port. This was really good and we cruised around while the guide explained what all the islands were used for. Some housed different types of prisoners, another was a cemetery. The area is stunning, and the views back towards Port Arthur was beautiful.

We spent the rest of the afternoon looking around the site and would say it is definitely worth the entry fee. There is a lot to see and we think it important to learn the history of the area.

We didn't check into our apartment till late, and after getting ready went straight out for drinks and dinner. We walked down to Salamanca Square. This is an old section of the city with colonial buildings and has lots of places to eat and drink outside. We found a lovely little Tasmanian whiskey bar called Nant and enjoyed tasting the local fair, afterwards going for some late dinner.
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Hobart is very nice, it is accessible and small and very picturesque. It is set on the Derwent river surrounded by mountains and has a lot of colonial architecture, a port filled with yachts and is very proud of its local Tasmanian cuisine, especially the seafood. A lovely evening for our first night.

Posted by Chelsandliam 15:34 Archived in Australia Tagged australia tasmania port_arthur eaglehawk_neck tasman_peninsular Comments (0)

Byron Bay at Christmas

Holiday time!

all seasons in one day 30 °C

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We decided to spend our Christmas break camping down in Byron Bay.

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It's our favourite place in Australia so far and probably our last opportunity to go there. The central campsites were all full when we booked months ago so we decided to stay just outside town at Discovery Village Campground which is cheaper but a fair walk into town.

After pitching our tent we walked into town. It's a nice walk along the beach. The beach in Byron is stunning. It is a huge vast white curve of sand, backed by dunes and hills in the distance and the cape and the lighthouse on the other side. We went to the pub and had some drinks in the sunshine and went out for dinner.
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There is a very small Italian place called El Bucos which is our favourite. The pizzas and salads are amazing, and made to order in front of you. It didn't disappoint. We then called and got some beers ad had a sunset walk along the beach back to our tent.

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On our first full day we had booked to go sea kayaking but the weather was not suitable as it was too windy so it had been rearranged for another day. Instead we decided to have a walk around the Cape. The Cape of Byron is the most easterly point on mainland Australia and it is absolutely beautiful.

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There is a nice cafe at the start with a killer view to fuel up on breakfast before you set off. The walk is 3.7KM long along a path which hugs the coast and has spectacular views of the bay and out to sea.

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Along the way there are gorgeous surf beaches with pure white sand and crystal clear waters.

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There are big pods of dolphins that live in and around the bay and you can see them playing in the waves.

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The path leads up a steep climb to the lighthouse which you can go inside.

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There are beautiful views of the surrounding area and anyone going to Byron should defiantly make the effort to walk around the Cape.

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By the afternoon the weather was beautifully sunny so we spent the rest of the day on the beach, paddling in the cold sea and watching the surfers.

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There is a really nice bar and restaurant behind the beach called The Treehouse which is nice to relax off the beach in the shade if you get too hot.

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The weather over Christmas has been hit and miss so we have spent some time on the beach, having picnics and swimming and other days cafe hopping and looking around the shops. The cafes and restaurants in Byron are really nice and the shopping is good too.

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Our main activity however whilst in Byron was a sea kayaking tour we had already booked with Go Sea Kayak as a Christmas present from Chelsea;s parents. It had been rearranged due to bad weather but we finally got to go on our last day. The operator will pick you up from wherever you are staying and take you to their base, a little tent at the back of the beach past town.
They check you in and we covered ourselves in sunscreen and were ready. They were two person kayaks so me and Liam partnered up. We carried the heavy kayak down the beach to the sea shore and then had a safety briefing which I'm sure made everyone laugh and be nervous at the same time. Getting out there past the waves seemed the most challenging part and we went one and a time. The instructions were, keep straight and don't stop paddling! We made it and once past the break the sea was peaceful and calm. We would paddle around the Cape and take in the beautiful views and hopefully meet some Dolphins.

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It did not disappoint, the views were amazing, and as soon as we got out to the Cape we saw our first dolphin in the distance, playing in the surf. We were all very happy there were some Dolphins out there but it didn't prepare us for our encounter. The guides instructed us to wait and see if the Dolphins in the distance were curious. It turns out they definitely were. A huge pod of dolphins came right up to us to enquire.

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They were meters away popping up out of the water for a look in turn.

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It was beautiful, they stayed with us for a long time while we just sat on the water and they came right up to our kayaks, swimming underneath our small boats and all around us. There were even some calves, it was purely magical. Dolphins are some of the smartest creatures on the planet. They use more of there brain capacity than humans do and have complex emotions and social behaviors. We were so honoured that they had decided to come near to us.

After they had investigated us fully and swam away it was time to head back to shore. The wind was strong and the paddle back was a lot tougher than the ride out. We got a lot of waves and were soaked and tired when we reached shore, getting back on dry land was similar to getting out, the same instruction, stay straight and paddle was given only this time we were meant to catch a wave and surf in on it. It seemed straight forward but we veered a bit, rolled and Chelsea fell out, catching her shorts of the kayak and ripping them. It wasn't graceful but we had a laugh.

We were very lucky to see the Dolphins so close and were grateful and happy they let us. It was time to go home for a few relaxing days before back to work.
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Posted by Chelsandliam 00:54 Archived in Australia Tagged australia kayaking dolphins byron_bay Comments (0)

Snorkelling with humpback whales in Maloolaba

A magical encounter with gentle giants

In winter an amazing things happens along the East Coast of Australia, the humpback whales migrate north to calf in warmer waters. Hundreds of whales can be seen on a daily basis. We had seen these whales a few times whilst on the coast, off Stradbroke Island, and off the Gold Coast beaches but further up in the Sunshine Coast is a place to get closer. Sunreef dive centre is the only place in Australia which has a licence to take people out to snorkel in the water with these gentle giants. We decided we couldn't pass the opportunity to get up close with these huge creatures to booked on a tour on our days off work.

We only live a couple of hours south so packed up our tent and booked in at the beachfront campsite at Maloolaba. On the way we had a day at the beach on Bribie Island.

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This is an island on the way to the Sunshine Coast which is joined to the mainland by a bridge. It has a beautiful white sandy beach on one side and has Pummistone Passage on the mainland side of the island which is renown for its dugong spotting. This side of the island has calm crystal clear waters perfect for swimming.

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Further up the coast in Maloolaba is another beautiful beach with the campsite just behind it. It has a little town with lots of bars and restaurants to choose from and is a nice relaxing spot for a little break.

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Our whale watching expedition started early morning the next day. We arrived at SunReef bright and early and they fitted us up with a wet-suit, snorkel and fins and off we went on the boat. It was a small group of people with a very interesting guide who was very knowledgeable on the whales.

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First we would steer out to see is search of any whales, after we spotted one the boat slowed down to see if the whale is interested and curious. If the whale decides to swim off the boat will not follow it, we will just wait for another whale that is more curious. The experience is all down to the whales as Sunreef do not want to disrupt or intimidate them at all, just observe. The whale we saw was not afraid and was very curious, coming close to the boat so the boat speeds off and we all jump in the water, hoping that the whale will continue on its path and we will be able to see the whale in the water directly underneath us.

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It sounds easy right...... It is much harder to spot them in reality. It is natural to stick your head under and look straight ahead, it's hard to get used to looking down as you expect the whale to be coming at you horizontally but they are directly underneath as they swim very deep. It took a few attempts but we saw them and even more amazing was the breaching they did.

Whales often breach there entire bodies out of the water and splash the water with there huge fins. There was a group of them and they were taking it in turns to haul there giant bodies out of the water causing huge splashes. We sat on the back of the boat with our feet in the water watching them breach again and again.

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It was just fantastic, the most beautiful experience and we are so grateful and happy to be able too see such an amazing sight as a humpback whale in the wild who feels happy enough to swim and breach right next to you. Thank you again Australia, your wildlife never ceases to amaze us.

Posted by Chelsandliam 00:52 Archived in Australia Tagged snorkelling australia whales bribie whale_watching maloolaba humpback_whales bribie_island Comments (0)

A visit to Uluru

Camping in the desert!

sunny

As Liam's dad has been staying with us for a few weeks we all decided that he couldn't visit Australia without a trip to Uluru so we booked a few days off work for a small visit.

We were going in the middle of the Australian winter and as we are always on a budget decided to camp. We booked flights from Brisbane with luggage and managed to fit all our tent, sleeping bags and matts in our three bags as well as clothes and even a pillow each.

The places to stay at Uluru are limited. Everything is based in a small hamlet called Yulara, around Ayres Rock resort. Here you can stay in a hotel, a self catered apartment or can get a patch of dry grass for your tent, all budgets are catered for. We opted for the grass and took lots of layers for the cold desert nights.

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Our flight was via Sydney but it was spectacular. You fully grasp the vastness of Australia when you fly for hours over desert. As you get closer to the middle, the earth gets redder and just before you land you see the giant red rock, like a bump in the perfectly flat surroundings. It like landing on Mars.

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Once landed we picked up our hire car from the tiny airport and checked in, pitched up our tent and decided we shouldn't waste a minute of our short time here. We drove into the Uluru and Kata Tjuta National Park, paid our 3 day $25 pass on the gate and parked up at the sunset viewing point.

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Ayres Rock is totally mesmerising in real life. It is a vast rock jutting out of the flat earth. The landscape is bright red and the rock seems to change colour every minute with the different types of light. The landscape in full of dry gassy bushes and sparse trees that look like pipe cleaners. We enjoyed watching the sun come down and made our way back for a full day of exploring the next day.

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We decided we definitely wanted to walk around the rock so got up nice and early and set off. We looked around the cultural center on the way and learned about the aboriginal significance of the spot. Uluru is a sacred place to the native aboriginal people. All around the base of the rock are areas so sacred it asks you not to use photography so to climb it is quite disrespectful to the traditional people. We had decided straight away we would not be doing this.

The base walk around the rock is 10.6km long and takes about three and a half hours. It was the best part of our trip.

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To see the rock continuously for this amount of time was amazing, you could explore all its character, touch is rough surface and gaze at its awe from afar.

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You walk through the the rough desert and sparse trees, struggle with the flies and learn about the history and the environment.

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It was brilliant and we would definitely recommend it. Make sure you take sunscreen and plenty of water, even in winter it was very warm when the sun came out. It took us all morning to walk around the base and thankfully we took a packed lunch so we could go straight onto the afternoons activities without having to go back to the resort to refuel.

Next on the agenda was Kata Tjuta, meaning 'many heads'. 50km away is another rock like Uluru, it is a huge rock, more fragmented than Uluru but still as amazing and imposing.

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We stopped at the dune viewing platform which takes beautiful views of the rock and desert landscape and then drove on, up to the rock. Around this rock are several walks and places of interest. The valley of the winds is between two rocks, a windy passage and great viewpoint and only a short walk up, around 2km.

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Next was the Walpa Gorge, a walk between two huge rocks which is around 2.6km. We decided to do everything and by the end of the day we were absolutely exhausted but it was so worth it.

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We returned to our campground and enjoyed a nice cold beer in the pub before bed time.

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On our last day we decided to stay close to home and look around the resort. We had to check out and take our tent down by 10am so after breakfast we walked around the resort. In the middle of the resort is a sand dune area with a hill which we climbed.

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At the top are beautiful views of Uluru and the surrounding desert. Also in the resort is a museum and gallery of native wildlife and aboriginal art which is really interesting.

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Uluru feels like a unique place. You get a feeling whilst there that it is one of those special places on our earth, a feeling that it is spiritual and deeply rooted in history and nature. It is a magical place, covered in bright red dust which feels a million miles away from the rest of the world. We are very grateful we got to experience it was think it is a must see for anyone visiting Australia.

Posted by Chelsandliam 22:35 Archived in Australia Tagged uluru australia red_centre ayres_rock Comments (0)

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