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Sunday, 7 May 2017

Black Wattle Bay - Four Mile Beach (aka....trapped)

We arrived early evening to our final Tasmanian destination. A remote house about 27km south of St Helens on Tasmania’s eastern coast. The owners sent us a map that caused a small marital clash in its interpretation. Later, we were a little appeased after reading some of the comments left by other guests reviews and agree that a better hand drawn map would certainly be appreciated by future guests.

It was starting to get dark and we decided not to shop on the way up. The shops were closed in any case and what will become important later is that bottle shops were open. All agreed we would go shopping for supplies the following morning and combine it with some adventures. We arrived at the secluded house and the key was not in the specified electricity box. We looked everywhere but to no avail. We also had no phone/internet reception so could not call the owners. 

One the way up the hill we had passed one house on the unsealed road. As we passed on it on the way down (searching for a mobile connection) the owner was standing at his front door. We hesitated as there was also a dog viciously barking and a wrong turn had us discover a creepy house with rusted caravans, cars and junk in the yard. But I eventually demanded Ron to get out of the car and talk to him. I was driving and breaking on a steep unsealed road - well that’s my excuse for not getting out of the car. After a short chat, we determined that he is somewhat of a care-taker and had a code to release the key from a special lock.

Finally we got into the house and had a late and quick dinner of a boiled egg each thinking about the nice local foods and places we would go the following morning.

It rained heavily most of the night and was still raining heavily and blowing a gale the next morning. But we took it easy and cooked some pancakes using up the last of our supplies  - proud of resourcefulness!

Finally it seemed like the clouds were clearing
In the end we decided brave the weather and all got in the car with an extensive shopping list. Down the hill we went in low gear to negotiate the steep downhill curves of the slippery unsealed road - very unsealed and wet road. We arrived at the small river crossing and saw this…..

What happened to the road?
Needless to say we decided not to risk the crossing and being swept away. So we did our 18 point turn and headed back up the hill and stopped in a slightly flat section of road about 20m from the “care takers” house. We knocked and asked for any alternative routes. He told is that there was a fire track further up the road but he did say it was pretty rough. If fact he looked sceptical about the "Silver Surfer" (our trusty car) being able to make it. We decided to check it out but missed the track on our first drive by and then “borrowed” some fire wood from some other neighbours stack. 

The start and best part of the fire track
We did not take the alternate route as if the end of the road (before it met the main road) was rough then we had no chance as the beginning of the road was somewhat hard pressed to be called a road. Ron was shocked that it could even be called a road. So it was back to the house to develop some interpretations of porridge and rice to hold us out for the next 20 hours or so. And we had NO beer or wine…after passing only 20 bottle shops en-route the night before.

Once the rain cleared the orchestra started up
About an hour later as we got a fire started for atmosphere and drying some washing the care-taker drove up the path. In fact we heard and saw him coming from about 300m, that gives you a feeling about the remote nature of the place. He had made a rustic home made bread and brought some supplies as he felt bad about not warning us that the road could be blocked (happens a few times a year) after heavy rain. He is apparently in charge of making sure there is firewood, which there was none to be found. It is “summer” here in Tasmania he exclaimed!

The waters receded but not enough to cross

Our day included a game of scrabble, some home schooling and working on downloading photos from my android phone to Mac. Finally about 4.30pm it started to clear up and we could finally see the lovely view. There was even a rainbow. So we went for a walk to check out the creek crossing - much reduced but still moving rapidly. Too risky for the trusty “Silver Surfer” that we want to give back to my brother in law in one piece. But we were serenaded by cicadas and the forest smelt divine of eucalyptus. So although not the day we had planned it was a wonderful day and we have slightly smoky smelling clean washing to remind us over the next days of the day we were trapped at home by mother nature.

And when it was sunny it was beautiful

A room with a view

Sunday, 29 January 2017

MONA museum - Hobart Tasmania

During my Tasmania research, I heard about MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) in Hobart and started to wonder if it was OK to take the kids. There are mixed reviews on-line. It was established by a wealthy Tasmanian - who actually made his money through betting syndicates (he is apparently a slightly autistic person with an incredible ability with numbers and probability).

On the MONA Roma - the boat from central Hobart to the museum (cattle class - literally!)

But in the end felt that no trip to Hobart would be complete without this on our to do list. We bought tickets the day before (its high season) and the following day took the purpose built boat - the Mona Roma - over to the museum. You can also arrive by car but the boat is great fun. The kids rushed on board and joined cattle class sitting on some lovely sheep. There is a Posh Pit in the front the boat that we will take next time without the kids. Offering champagne and snacks in further oppulance. But there was great snacks and drinks available in cattle class! The seating is inventive and the level of detail is wonderful from the uniforms that the crew wear to deliberate graffiti.

Scooter Love for my Brother in Law - who runs the Scooter Den
Motoring exhibitions - a "fat" Porche with a real Vienna number plate

We arrived at the purpose built museum which has certainly put Hobart and Tasmania on the map. You accend 99 steps to the museum entrance (I just loved these quirky details). The staff at every point are extremely helpful, friendly and being proactive to make the whole experience a pleasure. Adults are allowed to pick up an ipod which has written and spoken descriptions of the art pieces. There are no descriptions or labels on anything. So with the “O” you click on it and it knows where you are in the museum and then you "touch" the piece or art on your "O" and can choose to read or listen to something about it or read/listen the to “art wank” which was mostly quirky, humerous or insightful. 

It feels predominately modern art but its certainly a mix. Egyptian, to Japanese, to mutli-media - its eclectic, strange but delighting. And where there is any adult or potentially disturbing content there are staff always direct the kids away or warn you.

It is not just the museum but its a whole concept. There are several eating establishments for all tastes. Focusing on the best of Tasmania's food and drinks. As it was Sunday, we were entertained with live music as we took a break on the grass lying on bean bags and enjoying lunch. 

Ron adds to part of the exhibition - now stored in a vault in MONA
Ron's rubbing on stones from the Hiroshima train station
A metal temple in the gardens

All in all MONA was a fabulous day and the weather gods were smiling, which is not always the case in Tassie.

Jumping for Joy at MONA

MONA - just do it!

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Bei Anne, Noah, Ian and Gemma und vielen Tieren

Anne ist eine Schulfreundin von Mama und ist mit ihrer Familie von Sydney nach Tasmanian umgezogen. Ihr Mann heisst Ian und die Kinder heissen Noah (9 Jahre alt) und Gemma (12 Jahre alt). 

Anne liebt Tiere und daher arbeitet Sie für eine Organisation, die Bären in China hilft. Anne hat aber auch eine eigene Farm bekommen. Auf dieser Farm leben die folgenden Tiere: 
Die Esel, Lilli, Dixie, Mathilda, Sascha, Sturmi, Mister Doni
Die Pferde Glennmista, Mr. Friendly und Sascha 
Die Schafe Weiss und Schwarz 
Die Hunde Puggie, Sebastian (Seb) und Gracey 
Die Katzen Peanut und Whitey und
Ein paar Hühner die keine Namen haben.

Neben den Haustieren gibt es noch einiges an wilde Tieren auf der Farm wie Possums, Tigerschlangen und Wallabies. 

Jeden Tag habe ich die Tiere gefüttert und zwar am Morgen, zu Mittag und am Abend. Noah ist zwar erst 9, er hat aber schon sein eigenes Motorrad mit dem er die ganze Zeit auf den Koppeln herumfährt. 

Die Farm liegt im Hume Valley, welches 30 Minuten südlich von Hobart liegt, und in welchem es sehr viele Äpfel, Kirschen und Weinberge gibt. Papa liebt den Apfelwein hier (Cider) der hier viel besser/ süßer schmeckt als in Frankfurt. 

lg Eure Amelie 

Friday, 27 January 2017

Cradle Mountain Wildlife

Written from Amelie's verbal description......

Hello Everybody,

We are now at Cradle Mountain in Tasmania. First when were walking and saw only wombat poo. No wombats! Then we had spaghetti for dinner. Then we went walking and mummy saw a wallaby in front of our house. I was so amazed I ran back inside and told Papa and Marlene. Papa and Marlene went quickly out with me and wanted to know where the wallaby was. Marlene and I walked up to the wallaby but the wallaby was too scared so we did not walk any closer.

Then when we wanted to look for more wallabies or wombats, we walked till we saw a jumping wallaby skipping across the path. Papa wanted to look where it was going. We went to the wombat sign and looked, then we walked to the road and mama said we will never see a wombat. 

Then we walked on a open area and Marlene saw a brown thing and a black thing. I thought it was a platypus. But then we went nearer and saw a baby wombat and a mummy wombat. I was so impressed. Then we went nearer. When we were very near we stopped as Mama said they could smell us. So Marlene and papa wanted to find some snakes. I followed them and asked what are you doing.


Thursday, 26 January 2017

Beechworth - and the country race day

For our trip from Canberra down to Melbourne we wanted to experience some of the real Australian countryside, but had no clear plan on where and how we are going to spent those two days. Cruising on the Hume Highway for quite some time can be quite challenging, as the countryside does not change a lot from this 

and this ….. 

So we left the highway and had a stop near the Murray River where we found 

real GOLD. 

Marlene was really lucky and found a nice bit of gold on a stone, what infected all of us with the rush for gold/ “Goldfieber”.

We therefore decided to rush up to Beechwood, famous for its golden history and once host of the largest lunatic asylum and prison for women in the whole state of Victoria State. 

Dude's Beer
The town really surprised us positively despite the disappointment of not finding any piece of gold, as it is charming, very well maintained and some beautiful shops and restaurants. Also found evidence of the strong and globally omnipresence of Austrian missionary activities in the field of beer brewing in this little town, where an Austrian lady is brewing some brilliant craft beer. Language of the folks there is a bit strange, as my order for a wheat beer e.g. received the following response 
“HEY DUDE! this is not drafted, DUDE! - so you better get some drafted ones, DUDE”. 
Marlene thought that this was hilarious, particularly as DUDE sayer/waiter tried to find us plus our pizzas on table 30, while the whole place had only 15 tables (“Hey DUDE, thought you are sitting on 30 not 13; got me all confused”) - “Big Lebowski läßt grüssen”.

A golden drop!

Highlight of our stay in Beechworth was the country horse race the other day close to Beechworth in a small village called Dederang. Had to get into my fanciest dresses with Jules, and somehow we fit the general set up perfectly. 

Women in super fancy dresses incl. some very strange hats (plus a glass of sparkly), while men dressed up quite casually and a bottle of beer in their hand (I like it!). 

There was even a stage....
Early in the day - setting up

Also got heavy into horse betting by trying out different strategies. 

Strategy 1 applied in the first race “Gather all the historical data including bookmaker ratings, analyse and then score”.
Problems started in the data gathering phase as struggled to get anything useful out of the information provided in the race book, which read like that:
Goolewang Star: failed las two but improved substantially in the third last race on muddy ground. Good track to catch up 1 to 14 by 56 and 72???????. 

Anyway, Goolewang Star got good bookmakers rating, so put my first two dollars on it- and ——————   Goolewang star came last. 

As Strategy 1 failed I did apply Strategy 2: “Follow the advice of a trusted expert in the family i.e. Marlene Hamedl/ horse whisperer” 

Before the second race I watched the presented horses together with Marlene and let her judge the physical attributes/ conditions of the horses. Judgement was easy - “Daddy, the horse with the longest legs is the fastest”. Sounded absolutely reasonable and it did not take too much time to spot the winning/ long legged champ. 
Unfortunately “grasshopper horsey” had a bad day and came in second last in the race. 

So went for Strategy No 3 by remembering, what my old Latin teacher told me many years ago - “NOMEN EST OMEN”. So bet my whole left fortune of AUD 2.0 on Thysons Tiger in race number 3 and see - Thysons Tiger came in 2nd place. Still no money won, but at least some prestige for my beaten up pride at the end.

Winner of the day was certainly Marlene with an unbelievable win of AUD 6,2 in the last race. I reckon she used a couple of more criteria in her own judgement and certainly more than she would have told me. 

Unfortunately we had to get on the road again at the end of the race around 4 pm and before the real fun started - THE BIG BOOZE in the nearby Pub! 

This apparently is the big thing and for many the real reason to join the racehorses - but do not worry people of Dederang - next time I will be there (w/o the kids!).

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Canberra - but wait there is more. Day 2 and 3 in review....

Dressing up at the old Parliament House

Energised by our lovely outdoor lunch at the National Library, we wandered over to the old Parliament House. It is a glorious old building and as we learned completely symmetrical. It has recently been restored and has most of the original features. Glorious custom made furniture (which apparently cost the complete original budget alone). The total building cost was 4 times the original estimate! I adored the art deco lamps and decorations which complemented the entire building. As we wandered around we cheekily joined in a tour and the guide was informative and entertaining. Which seems to be the case for all the guides we encountered. So recommend joining a tour for some more insights and planning more time there. There is a kids discovery section which is more for younger kids but ours both enjoyed it. The highlight for me was their “Punch and Judy" show with the wooden images on sticks of Julia Gillard and Tony Abbot! If only I had filmed that - we could be You Tube stars.

View back to the War Memorial
New Parliament House
New Parliament House

Further up the hill we visited the “new” Parliament House. After visiting both chambers we then rolled down the hill. Two long grass hills flank the building and at present it is still open to the public. But with increased terrorist threats, there are plans to block it off. So we might be one of the last hill rollers before the public is no longer allowed access.

It was them a bus home to avoid an uprising! We certainly reached any step targets that day.

Dinner was a picnic in the park next to the hotel - a perfect way to end the day. Ron joined us later after going for a run around the lake and encountering a kangaroo the same size as him. Apparently a “husch, husch” (the German equivilient of what I would term woossy shooing) was not comprehended. Eventually he manoeuvred his way past the beast and arrived sweaty and with a good bed time story. Unfortunately no photographic evidence.

The Rollers Hill - but not for long

Family Photo
The next morning we met my god-mother at a lake side park and saw a large mob of Kangaroos up close. Very exciting to view them in their natural habitat. Not to waste any time, it was off to competitive game of Put-Put golf. Which kept the spirits up after a day of museums. It was a lovely time and Sam joined us for a second round - as all were having so much fun. There were horrid lime milkshakes and ordinary coffee as well. But then we enjoyed a lovely late lunch at the local yacht club and had delicious fish and chips by the lake. I wore my first glass of white wine but was able to enjoy the second one.

We could not fit in anymore that day and relaxed in the hotel with some TV ready for an early start Friday to drive somewhere between Canberra and Melbourne.