Tuesday, April 24, 2007


So, I was planning on writing an extended entry covering everything we've done since we left Hobart... but apparently life had other plans for me. Earlier this week, when I was unpacking in Hobart, I noticed that the head of my shaving razor was missing. Well, today I found it when I plunged my hand into my bag and proceeded to shred the end of my right middle finger on it. So, since I now effectively have a club of bandage for a finger, I think that I will give you an abreviated version of what we did from Hobart to Port Arthur. And, for the record, I'm blaming all my future typos on my injured finger... even after it heals.

So, after visiting the street market in Hobart, we headed over to Thrifty to pick up our rental car. And, let me tell you something, its really, really cute. We don't have any pictures of it, but this is what it looks like. And, since its a manual, Sarah is unable to drive it... so it's mine! All mine! Bwahahahaha! Actually, I've never driven a car this small before (much less a manual on the left side of the road), but its a lot of fun, especially on Tasmania's windy roads which give New Zealand a run for their money.

Anyhow, we imediately headed north from Hobort to make our way to the Tasman Pennisula, at the end of which lies the old penal colony of Port Arthur. On the way, we stopped to see a blowhole... which of couse wasn't blowing. Plus some other impressive rock formations along the coastline.

But, before reaching Port Arthur, we had one more importnat stop the Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park. There, we were able to feed kangeroos, see wallabys, check out some kookaburras, along with other woldlife native to Tasmania.

First off, when people think of Tasmania Devils, they think of fierce creatures or the Warner Brother's character. But, in reality, they are really, really cute. Here's what we saw...

Not so fierce.

Oh, and look, here we are feeding kangeroos! There's nothing like having a kangeroo eat out of your hands. Well, until they grab your hands with their clawed paws!

And, this bird was a real show-stealer for us. It's called a Frogmouth. They look like Owls, but aren't. And, as you might guess, they defend themselves by pretending they are branches.

After exploring the park, and taking in their birdshow, we where back on the road to Port Arthur. One of the things we've quickly learned about Tasmania, is that its a lot smaller than New Zealand. Generally, driving from point A to point B on New Zealand took 3 to 4 hours. In Tasmania, the trips are generally 1 or 2. So, it wasn't long until we were in Port Arthur.

Unfortunately, the only place we could afford was a bunkhouse in the Pprt Arthur campgrounds. And, since we don't have sleeping bag, that would later prove to be a very cold experience. But, there was no time to worry about that, because we had a Ghost Tour to catch!

As you probably all know, Australia started out as England's penal colony. Well, during that time, Port Arthur was Australia's penal colony. So, to end up there, you had to mess up bad enough to get shipped to Australia... then mess up again to get shipped to Port Arthur. As you can imagine, Port Arthur has a long and sordid history. Which, in turn, means it has a ghost tour.

Suitably, it was downpouring for the entire duration of the tour.

Now, we didn't have any major ghost sightings, but the tour was still a creepy introduction to the grounds of Port Arthur. The guide took us through the old church, into the parsonage, into the basement of the doctors house and other similar creepy locations while telling us stories about murders that took place on the prison grounds, and popular ghost legends surrounding the prison. Oh, and I volunteered to hold the lantern at the tail end of the tour group... Boo!

See any ghosts?

I still think I heard singing while we were in the basement of the prison doctor, too.

The next morning, after spending the night curled together for heat on a single bunk with only our sleep sheets to keep us warm, we awoke under menacing grey skies. Luckily, the skies were suitable for exploring the grounds of Port Arthur in daylight. We took a daytime tour to familarize ourselves with the ground (in daylight), then a boat tour to see the port itself and the imfamous Isle of the Dead (where the prison graveyard was).

Port Arthur in the day light.

Possibly the most fascinating part of Port Arthur was the Model Prison, so named because it was modeled after a prison in England that supposedly had developed a way to reform even the worst criminals. It was also called the Silent Prison because prisoners (and even guards) weren't allowed to talk. In fact, guards even went so far as to cover the ground with turf and wear silk slippers over their boots so that not even their footsteps made a sound. The prisoners spent 23 hours a day in solitary confinement, and when they were allowed out to excerise for one hour, they had to wear hoods so that none of them would recognize each other. The only time they could speak was when the sang hymns in church three times a week and even that wasn't a pleasant experience, as Sarah will now demonstrate by standing in the cubicles that they would have to remain in for the duration of the service...

After spending the first half of the day exploring the grounds of Port Arthur, we hopped back in our car and headed north for more cheerful experiences.


Betsy Wasser said...

I shredded my thumb in the exact same way just a few weeks ago!

ambika said...

Those kangaroo paws look fierce! I had no idea! We keep meaning to go to Point Defiance or Woodland Park and now I'm really excited to make it happen. Though I know we *probably* won't see frogmouth birds.

The General said...

Betsy, hurts doesn't it? At least the bandage allows me to flip people off with more authority... if the need should arise.

Ambika, animals are awesome! That is all.