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From Auckland to Sydney Part IV: Hobart Tasmaina

Beautiful Hobart Tasmania

DAY 13- Hobart, Tasmania (1/14/05)

The Sapphire Princess arrived in Hobart, Tasmania on a bright sunny morning. Hobart is the capital of Tasmania, and the second oldest city in Australia. A lovely little city of about 129,000 people, Hobart is known for its hospitable air and colorful cityscape. The view from our balcony looked like a picture postcard with deep blue water, red and coral colored rooftops and the majestic Mt. Wellington in the background.

Before we could leave the ship, we had to be checked by Australian Customs in the Princess Theater. After presenting our passports to the officials, we walked down the gangway out in to the warm sunshine to board our tour bus for the “Richmond Wine and Wildlife” tour. The itinerary would take us to a wildlife park, the historic village of Richmond and a winery for wine tasting and lunch.

The first thing I noticed about Hobart was how pretty the city was up close. As we rode through the streets of downtown, it was evident that the citizens and local government worked hard to keep the environs clean, neat and well landscaped. The streets and buildings were well maintained as were the homes that dotted the waterfront and hillsides.

After passing through downtown, we headed out into the suburbs and surrounding countryside. Here I felt like we were headed into the wine regions of northern California as there were rows and rows of grape vines covering the landscape. Our first stop was Bonorong Wildlife Park, a sanctuary for injured wild animals that are cared for and then returned to the wild. We saw wombats (so ugly there’ cute) wallabies (small kangaroo) fierce Tasmanian devils and the adorable koalas (not bears, they are marsupials). It was great to get up close and personal with such unusual animals.

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The next stop was the village of Richmond, where we stopped to visit the historic Richmond Gaol (pronounced “jail”) and got a history lesson on the treatment of prisoners in the early 1800’s. Upon leaving the gaol, we had time to walk the village streets to shop for souvenirs at the quaint shops and store fronts. At lunchtime we returned to the tour bus for the short ride to the Meadowbank Winery where we enjoyed wine and a meal.

Meadowbank was as beautiful as the wineries I’d seen in Napa Valley, California. The tasting room and dining room had hardwood floors, high ceilings and a wall of windows that overlooked the vineyard for what seemed like miles. The employees greeted us with a glass of their latest Chardonnay to sample. Oh my, was it good! Two other wines were offered as we seated ourselves at large round tables in front of the windows.

Our food, served family-style, consisted of authentic Tasmanian fare of beef with chutney, roast chicken with green salad, an array of delicious cheeses and fruit, fresh homemade bread and small sweets made with chocolate and berries. It was a delicious meal in a delightful setting. I could have stayed there the rest of the day.

The tour bus returned us to the dock around 3:00pm. Our tour guide, a wonderful retired banker, had done everything in her power to show us the delights of her hometown. Mom and I felt that she had succeeded in that effort. Hobart is now one of our favorite places on the planet and we definitely let her know it.

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We watched SAILAWAY through the windows of the Horizon Court restaurant over dinner on deck 14. The scenery lasted for quite awhile before finally fading from view. Our first “taste” of Australia definitely left us wanting more, so we looked forward to seeing our next port of call, Melbourne, Australia.

DAY 14- Day at Sea (1/15/05)

When I opened the curtains to our balcony on this next to last sea day I was pleasantly surprised to be greeted by warm sunshine. The cruise was slowly coming to an end and it was nice to be able to spend sometime outside without having to wear a sweater or a jacket. It was finally beginning to feel like summer in this part of the world.

We passed the day organizing our clothes and souvenirs, doing laundry, and preparing for the 2nd and last Formal Night of the cruise. I bought outrageously expensive pictures from the Princess Photo gallery and spent time out on the balcony soaking up the “rays”. We had dinner (lobster, yum) in the Sterling Restaurant and enjoyed the show “Ports of Call” in the Princess Theater.

After dropping some (more) money in the Grand Casino, I went to bed. Mom, who wasn’t’ at all sleepy, stayed up long enough to see the Champagne Waterfall in the Atrium. She told me later that everyone was dancing and drinking and having a grand old time. I hated to miss it but I wanted to be up bright and early when we docked in Melbourne the next day.

Posted by Gerriv 09:12

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