December 29, 2016
We are wrapping up our time in Tasmania.Tasmania is to Australia as Australia is to the rest of the developed world – a bit more laid back, a tad quirkier, wonderfully friendly and desperately remote. Even with the benefit of the Sydney Hobart race and Taste of Tasmania (their large food and wine festival), the island and its capital still seems uncrowded.
We have enjoyed the stark beauty of this place as well as the people.
Tildy, the owner of the Astor Hotel, is a classic bigger-than-life character who is more than willing to opine on any topic you could imagine – the use of the internet, travel, immigration, dating, music, etc. We know a LOT more about Tildy and her personal life than we really want to, but her zest for life and infectious excitement keep us regularly amused. She started to work at this hotel 16 years ago when she was in her last year of university, fell in love and eventually bought it. Once again, we were always at risk of learning details that we did not have ANY reason to know, but listening to her was like watching a train wreck in slow-motion – you cannot turn away though you wish that you could.
The people in shops and restaurants want to take the time to talk with you. It almost seems like the entire island is saying, “We know it is a LONG way here and we really appreciate the effort.”
The one thing that we were not prepared for was the fact that many people here take off 2-3 weeks around Christmas. You would not think this a big problem until you are driving a rental car with an empty gas tank. We found two different gas stations (we were on fumes) only to find that they were closed until January 5th. Happily, we made it to an open station before we ran out of gas, but I will never take a 24 hour gas station for granted again in my life.
Today, the kids spent time with two camp friends, Devin and Jasper who have been dating since the summer. Devin has been part of our camp family for over 10 years. Jasper joined us as a counselor just this summer and is a Tasmanian native.
Tomorrow, we fly to Melbourne for New Years Eve. The older kids will also meet up with some camp friends while Virginia, Susie and I will watch fireworks and go to bed the moment that we wish each other a Happy New Year.
I suspect I will share more thoughts on this odd place, but we want to enjoy our last night here before catching an early flight tomorrow.
I will leave you with some photos from our visit to Mount Wellington, the mountain that effectively guards Hobart from extreme weather.
Here are pictures we took while there.
The weather started beautiful, but it turned rapidly. Here is what it looked like as we left.