Birthday adventures in Hobart – Days 139-146

Children chasing each other on secluded beach

At Cradle Mountain, the weather cleared the morning of our departure! Paigey and I wanted to return and hike the trails we avoided because of the rain. Isabella and Julie begged to go see some more wombats. Katie just wanted to take more blurry pictures. Instead, we opted to start early on our long drive to the Tasmanian capital. Hobart would be our home base for the next 8 days, allowing us: to get schooling back on track, do some laundry and bake a dinosaur cake! The adults were ecstatic at having an actual HOUSE for a week while the kids were thrilled with their own room. The house also had a mammoth BBQ and a full kitchen which was needed for baking.

Unfortunately, Katie was only with us for one day in Hobart as she was due to fly back home to Canada. You guessed it, it rained on us that one day. Instead of a whirlwind day of site-seeing, she got to experience a more typical day in our travel lives. Laundry, a morning coffee, a free museum, grocery shopping, schoolwork and a delicious dinner. Our lives aren’t that bad. We drove her to the airport and bid farewell with the kids trying to out-hug the other. Waving goodbye, we crossed the parking lot to pick up our new vehicle, an enormous Toyota land cruiser. Why is the cheapest rental always a monster-sized car? I really do miss my tiny Chevy Bolt from home. I hadn’t planned on another rental vehicle (they are expensive) but Paigey’s birthday was coming up and I had schemed an outing that required one.

Paigey’s birthday was celebrated with three gifts. First, the girls and I covertly baked Paigey a dinosaur cake. For context, we have a tradition where we bake each other dinosaur cakes for our birthdays. And we’ve even managed to keep it going on this trip with Paigey pulling it off back in Banff (at a campsite, no less). In Hobart, Isabella and I iced a Duncan Hines cake and put a dinosaur toy on top. I’ve travelled with this toy hidden in my pack for the last month and a half! And how many people travel worldwide and stop to buy a four-pack of food colouring? But we pulled it off!

The second gift was dinner at a nice restaurant in town. The kids had picked the restaurant after virtually researching with Katie. We passed by the place on our first day and the girls distracted Paige so I could run across the street and make a reservation. The funniest part was Paige suggested we should go out for dinner at that restaurant that night. The kids were apoplectic that their surprise was ruined. With an obvious wink, I told their mom that I didn’t think that restaurant would be any good. The disaster was averted and we had a great meal at Mures a few days later.

The final gift was easily the most ridiculous. I had purchased tickets for a boat tour of Bruny Island (a jet boat to what I think was the most southern part of Australia). I was hoping we would see seals since we did not see any on the west coast of Canada. Fortunately here, we saw a multitude of seals up close and the tour cracked our top 5 experiences of the trip. The guides were super friendly to the children who giggled and screamed with delight the second the boat took off and crested the waves. The guides told us it was one of the calmest days they had had out on the water which bode well for us as the swells were still significant. The boat was freezing though with the wind and spray and we were the only ones not to don the rain overcoats (we are still Canadian). On the way back (it was a 3 hour+ boat trip), Paigey spotted dolphins off the starboard bow (I learned some boat lingo) and the captain veered off to give us a closer look. My wife loves spotting wildlife, especially the marine variety. While most boat guests relaxed and enjoyed the journey, she was scanning the ocean looking for fins, bird activity and anything that might be a dolphin or whale. For the next 15 minutes, the pod of dolphins chased the boat at incredible speed as we crisscrossed amongst them. Sometimes they got so close we could almost touch them. The kids didn’t complain that we woke them up to see them (somehow they fell asleep on the return journey even with the boat racing and bouncing across the waves).

With the rental car booked for a couple days, we could visit the UNESCO site of Port Arthur. It was expensive but the educational experience was worth it. The kids got to learn about convict history and see some well-preserved historical sites. Upon entering Port Arthur, each guest receives a playing card that provides a snapshot of a person’s history at the site. With cards in hand, we raced around the site trying to find placards of our characters. It was such a clever idea and I can’t believe it hasn’t been copied at more historic sites worldwide. Unfortunately, we didn’t remember that Port Arthur also was a site of a mass shooting in 1996, so we also visited the memorial for those victims. Overall, the kids have remembered more about Port Arthur’s history than any other historical sites we went to (outside of Fort Langley where they lived in a fort).

Child at Hobart Christmas Parade

Another magical part of Hobart was the Santa Claus parade, a cross between a Christmas celebration and a multi-cultural appreciation parade. They advertised 40 floats but float might not have the right word to describe the many decorated flatbed trucks and wagons. The girls liked the kids skipping and old firetrucks. It was fun to go to a parade after so many years of COVID cancellations. Julie does not remember the Santa Claus parade in Toronto so she will have an odd impression of Christmas parades now. But we had lots of fun.

So we loved Hobart as it reminded us of the east coast of Canada. Every day we would visit the harbour and often ate at the restaurants on the wharf. There was plenty of great seafood from Gummy shark to fresh local scallops (we would find scallop shells on most beaches) but we forgot about the oysters. Regardless, after a week in Hobart, I gained 5 pounds and obliterated the food budget.

Up next, we go back on the road up the east coast of Tasmania.

Where we stayed:

Airbnb: Big, Heated Beds, Cafe nearby

By the numbers:

  • Jump rope teams at the Santa Claus Pageant: 3
  • Fish and Chips consumed: probably 15 servings
  • Price of 4 tiny animal figures Julie got at the market: $4 AUD – that girl negotiates
  • How long it took Mike to break one of those animal figurines: 40 minutes – the platypus no longer has any feet
  • Prison Sentence for Thomas Schuh: 10 years for forging or altering a bill of exchange

Ciao for Now

Mike

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