Vagabonding – Hobart

Week 6 – Hobart

This week was a quiet week for Jenni and I as there was a lot of work to catch up on after our break at the Panama Festival. But before we left the Panama Festival I must mention the ants in Tasmania as they come in all sizes from tiny normal sized to super, huge, gigantic, scary sized. The idea for the film Them! must have been inspired by the ants in this part of the world. This fella was probably thinking, “15 kg? I could lift that! No problem.”

This giant ant helped us take down our tent

We had deliberately booked a place with peace and quiet we could work in for the week in Hobart. This also enabled us to catch up and spend some time with Jenni’s daughter Maddy who has moved there. We booked an Airbnb hosted by Jane and Cole in Dynnyrne, Hobart we thought was perfectly laid out, quiet, and also interesting, as it had been featured in the Australian version of Grand Designs. You can see a synopsis here. Cole and his son built the house by hand themselves.

This bespoke, self build, property was perched high on the side of a hill in a valley with grand views of Mount Wellington. Jane and Cole we’re very friendly and we’d have loved to have spent more time with them but both they and ourselves were busy all week. They left us a DVD of the Grand Designs episode which we watched twice. Was special to see them construct the very place we were staying in by hand.

As mentioned the house was on the side of a river valley overlooking the forest. Although not far out of Hobart we were surrounded by wildlife which made the stay much more interesting. Chatterings of wild cockatoos flew up and down the valley, their white shapes shining against the deep, green backdrop of the forest canopy and the screeching sounds they make reminded me of the many jungle wildlife films I used to watch on TV when I was young. I somehow never managed to catch a picture of them while in the house but we did see a them fly overhead when we were out for a walk around the forest trail near the house.

A Chattering of Cockatoos flying overhead

The trail took us around some man made reservoirs and was short but took us past the the main cockatoo party spot.

Cockatoos just chillin’

Most of them just sat in the trees, screeching and chatting to each other. This young fella obviously had too much Tasmania Beetle Nuts or something as was performing tricks I last saw my daughter Becky do on the Asymmetric Bars when she did gymnastics.

Gymnastic Cockatoo

There’s always one poseur though.

If I sit here long enough he’ll take a picture of me

He sat long enough and I took a picture.

Cockatoos admiring the view of the mountain

There was also a Wallaby that visited us regularly.

The Walligan’s Wallaby

It just stood outside the front door and ate the grass looking at us through the window. I think it was concerned we were going to come out and eat some of it’s grass. Jenni tried to communicate with it and assure it we wouldn’t do that. He just looked confused.

Attempting Wallaby communication

Must have been a very stupid wallaby as Jenni’s Wallaby language skills were exemplary as you can see.

Agrarian Kitchen

Agrarian Kitchen

Maddy and Jenni are fantastic cooks. Maddy often researches interesting restaurants to take us to and picked the Agrarian Kitchen in New Norfolk outside Hobart which has rave reviews and fabulous food. At the end of a long hectic week we planned to start late on Friday and spend the afternoon with Maddy having a slow lunch there.

At the Agrarian Kitchen

We had octopus skewers and sourdough potato cakes for starters

Octopus skewers and sourdough potato cakes entrees

Steamed Mussels and risotto rice for main and apple pie and cheesecake for dessert.

Mussels and risotto rice

The Agrarian Kitchen is in Willow Court which is part of New Norfolk’s old Mental Asylum. It was built as a military hospital in 1830-31 and named after a willow tree planted in the courtyard. It is part of the former Royal Derwent Hospital and is the oldest mental hospital in Australia.


New Norfolk’s Willow Court – the town’s old mental asylum
Jenni reading Willow Court tourist sign


Steve, Maddy’s partner, Jenni and I went for a drive out to the Tasman Peninsula on Saturday while Maddy was working. We stopped in Dunalley, a small fishing village of 300 people, as it has allegedly the “Best Fish and Chips in Tasmania”. It was really good fish and chips as they didn’t just include fish but other fresh seafood as well. It was crisp and tasty and for $17 we had enough to feed 3 of us. We sat and ate it watching the seabirds dive and catch small fish in the canal. It was quite a serene and picturesque place.

Dunalley Fish Market

It’s a small village and has such character with interesting buildings. It sits on the narrow isthmus which separates the Forestier and Tasman Peninsulas from rest of Tasmania.

The Denison canal, with a swing bridge for road traffic, has been cut between Dunalley Bay and Blackman Bay to allow boats easy access between the two bays.

Steve looking cool
The small museum


On Saturday we left Hobart and overnighted in Ross, a small historical village on the road halfway between Hobart and Launceston. We got there quite late and I’d planned to explore the village of Ross in the morning and take some pictures of the historic sites for this blog but unfortunately the weather turned foul. A storm roared in overnight and the winds and rain in the morning prohibited any exploration and picture taking so we left immediately in the morning for our next stop, Scamander on the north east coast. Scamander, as you will know if you are a Harry Potter fan was named after Newton Scamander the famed Magizoologist and author of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them who’s mother had a hippogiff breeding farm in the area.

That is, of course, incorrect however it is a more interesting origin story that the correct one which is that is was named after the Scamander River upon the mouth of which it sits. In the past, bridge builders in Scamander had a fun time trying to build a bridge that stayed standing for more than a few years. The first bridge was constructed of timber in 1865, but it later collapsed when a large herd of cattle was driven across it. A second and third bridge were successively washed away in floods in 1889 and 1911. Further bridges succumbed to flood and shipworms, the last timber bridge collapsing in 1929. There is a bridge over the Scamander river now built of concrete and steel and it looks like it may be ok for a while.

There is one interesting fact about Scamander though, on January 30th in 2009 the town recorded Tasmania’s highest ever temperature of 42.2 °C.

We had booked an Airbnb to work out of for a couple of days, it’s was a great place overlooking the sea, a beautiful well presented place I’ll blog more about next week. The drive from Ross was through the mountains near St. Patrick’s Head in Fingal Valley and would have been very beautiful if it wasn’t for the storm which prevented us from seeing too much. The storm did have one benefit though.

We checked into the Airbnb late afternoon carrying our bags in in between showers. The storm was rolling overhead in waves with periods of heavy rain followed by blue skies and sunshine. After a heavy rain storm and during a sunny period I looked out to sea from the living room of the cottage and saw a phenomenon I’d not witnessed before. It was like the entire horizon was rainbow colours, like the Aurora Borealis but multi coloured and during the day. On reflection, it’s probably more like the special effects of the shimmer in the film Annihilation. It was quite magical and only lasted a few minutes. I managed to catch a picture before it disappeared and as usual the reality was much more impressive than I have the talent to record on a camera but hopefully you get the idea.

The shimmer

Tasmania never ceases to amaze, even the rain storms leave a beautiful present when they depart.

On Tuesday we go to our friends farm for a week and a bit. Stay tuned for lots of pics of chickens, sheep, dogs and cows in next weeks blog.




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