|Date:||Thu, 27 Feb 2003 19:34:56 -0600|
|Greetings to all my friends and family from the Australian state of
Tasmania. The Australians call it “Tassie”. It is a small island state
south of the actual mainland of Australia. From Melbourne to Hobart
(Tassie’s capitol) is about a 50 minute flight. The island is rich in
National Heritages and has lots of wonderful outdoor activities, like
mountain climbing, bushwalks, watersports, etc. The weather can be pretty
rough, even in summer. The higher elevations could have snow tomorrow! But
the day I arrived it was 32 degrees Celsius (in the mid-80’s for those of
you not who don’t do the conversions). This harsh weather was perfect for
the original jails (they spell is “gaol” here) that were set up for the
Today is a rainy and cool day. Actually it is only the third day of rain I
have seen since since leaving the US last fall. And the first day that I am
out in the rain. I had to dig around in the gigantic suitcase to find my
I am staying at a cool little efficiency apartment near the waterfront. The
population in Hobart is about 200,000, so everything is in walking distance.
The population of the entire state is only a bit over 400,000. The people
remind me a bit of Texans. Really proud of their unique state…and out in
the country a bit “back woods”!
I took a river cruise to the Moorilla boutique winery right on the shores of
the Derwent River. Great Tassie wines. They even brought out area cheeses
and grapes to have with the different samples.
Then we were picked up by minivans to take us to the Cadbury’s chocolate
factory. It was built here back in the 1800’s because, at the time, Hobart
had the deepest docks for shipping. We had a full tour (donning lovely hair
nets and ear protection) and got lots of samples along the way. I kept
waiting to see Willy Wonka or an Oompa Loompa slither out of a big vat of
bubbling chocolate. Cadbury’s has something like 60 factories around the
world. This one exports only 10% of its chocolate to other countries. The
rest of the 90% stays here in Australia.
chocolate. And the interesting thing is that each factory’s formula is a
bit different to appeal to that particular country’s tastes.
I did a 20 kilometer bike tour descent down Wellington Mountain (adjacent to
the city) yesterday. The views from up there are amazing. Steve & I did
one of those descent tours in Maui a couple of years ago. Cold, but really
a piece of cake. This one was a bit more challenging. For several
kilometers, we were off road. Our tour guide was a 20 something cycling
maniac. He had us down some moderate and advanced rocky, gravel deep
descent paths. I only wiped out once! I was putting on the brakes too hard
to avoid the guy in front of me and I went right over the handlebars! Tore
up my leg and ankles a bit and messed up my shoulder…I think. Yep, that’s
what adventure touring is all about!
This weekend I leave on an adventure tour to the west and northwest of the
Island encompassing Cradle Mountain and Mt. Field National Heritages with
(obviously) lots of mountains and lakes. Horseback riding, cycling and
canoeing….I hope I can keep up with the 20-something backpackers with me!
Other notes I haven’t mentioned much about…..
Water conservation is big here. All of the toilets have two flush buttons.
One is a half moon for liquids and one is a full moon for solids. Why don’t
we have that in the States? You know if you have one of those new fangled
“low flush” toilets you have to flush two or three times to get the big job
down. So why not just have two options? Ask your plumber!
Petrol (or gasoline) is at an all time high in decades. They have inched
over A$1.00 for a liter and expect it to go above $1.25 this winter as the
war seems eminent. A liter is approximately a quarter of a gallon. $5.00 a
gallon? Quit whining about US prices and quit buying gas guzzling vehicles.
I actually have a TV in my apartment right now, so I have been overdosing on
CNN and any local news perspectives. Most of the CNN here comes out of Hong
Kong and London, so I feel I am getting both perspectives..not just the
pro-war, pro-Bush Admin. American news. War seems inevitable, regardless of
allies. It has been interesting hearing the perspectives of all of you. Of
those who have replied to any of my political commentary, it seems that you
are equally split on the war issue. Although most if you feel a bit
confused on conflicting messages from the media and the US government.
I caught a special here in Australia about the “Stolen Generation” of
Aborigines. As most of you know, Australia has a history similar to many
countries that were “dicovered” by the old world or taken over. The British
conquered the land here and drove the natives off it. There was also a time
recently (1960’s, early 70’s) when the government took away Aborigine babies
from their parents and put them in orphanages. The reasons cited were for
abuse and neglect, mostly. These children are now adults and are extremely
angry about the system, the loss of their normal lives and the loss of their
land. They are extremely angry and are turning to the teachings of Islam
for solace. It could be a problem in Australia’s future. Kind of
Okay, enough rambling. Love to all. Still looking for a Tasmanian Devil!