Devils and Delights: A Tasmanian Adventure

After a stopover in Melbourne for one night we headed for the Southern most state of Australia, Tasmania, flying into the capital Hobart. We were here for six days to explore a little of what Tasmania has to offer. The accommodation we decided to use was mostly AirBnb and boy was that a great decision. The first two nights we spent at Paul’s in Hobart, his place is literally a few minutes walk from Elizabeth Street and its many restaurants. A bit of a theme was that we seemed stay at people’s places who had dogs which was fun. Hobart was a great city and we mostly just walked around and visited the two highest points to enjoy the views. Luckily, the days we were there the weather was kind. I also visited the Cascade brewery and did a tasting.

The next day we visited the Tahune Air walk. We did the walk and enjoyed the views from the air walk. The loop track over the swing bridges was also fun. The times given to walk the tracks are generous. It cost A$54 entry for the two of us. The cafe was excellent and not to expensive. There is a film about the history of logging Huon Pine and why it is one of the most valuable and desirable woods in the world. It would have been nice to see a film on the reason, making and future of the air walk. Perhaps in the future this will be developed. The road to the air walk is 26 km from Geeveston and at the beginning there were a few potholes. However, 6km in it is a lot better and sealed all the way.

Bruny Island

We also visited Bruny Island. The return ferry was A$35. We visited Adventurea Bay where Tasman and Cook both visited. There is a lovely two hour walk we did that took us out to the point and up to the top of the Cape with great views. On the way back we visited a whisky tasting place near the ferry and also tasted half a dozen Bruny oysters.

A vist to the Tasman Peninsula

We drove down to visit Port Arthur, the Unzoo and explore the area. One of our stops was the Unzoo which was previously called the Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park. The Unzoo is one of the few places where you can see Tasmanian Devils feeding. Situated on the Port Arthur highway and not far from Port Arthur is the Unzoo. We visited Unzoo for three hours in the morning and really enjoyed it. Sarah the guide was excellent, bubbly, articulate and knowledgeable about the Tasmanian devils. We saw two feedings and if was great to see. The Unzoo is also educational in that I never knew the devils live only six years and the Tasman peninsula is only one of two places in Tasmanian the face cancer which decimated the wild population killing up to 90% has not reached. It was also fun to feed the forest kangaroo and wallabies. Bird show was entertaining. Not to crowded. On cost we used a 25% discount voucher for second adult and it cost us A$58, money well spent as some goes back to the conservation of the Tasmanian Devils. Ticket also valid for two days.

Our visit to Port Arthur was relatively short as we had limited time and arrived around 4pm. We were able to buy half price tickets which allows access till 7.30pm. Instead of paying A$36 our tickets were half price. You do not get the cruise with this ticket and unlike the full price ticket is not valid for two days. We were lucky to catch one of the last guiding tours where the guide was excellent giving the history of the site and people who were sentenced to the prison. Afterwards we explored the buildings and exhibition to find out about the convicts and their life in this remote part of the world. You can do the main site in 3 hours but will need longer for the cruise and if you want a visit to the Isle of the Dead where the dead convicts are buried. The memorial to the 35 people slaughtered by a madman in 1996 was also tastefully done.

Our last day was Launceston where we did a walk at the Cataract Gorge.

What it cost?

Tasmania is not cheap but for our five nights we paid A$500. Rental car with petrol for 900kms was for five days A$240. Food, drinks and visiting attractions was A$1100. In total A$1840. I am sure the trip could have been cheaper but we decided to splurge and had some lovely meals.


Day 3 Sydney: A trip to Manly Beach and what it cost

A trip to Manly Beach

We awoke to another glorious sunny day in Sydney. I have the proof with some sunburn. We purchased a daily metro pass for A$24 each and that includes ferry rides. Our first stop was Circular Quay after leaving Bardwell Park at 9am. We were lucky to catch the 9.30am Manly ferry. The ferry ride gives you the opportunity to see Sydney from the sea with views of the bridge, Sydney Opera house and coastline. The ferry also bizarrely goes backwards for 30 minutes all the way to Manly. It is a short walk from the ferry terminal to Manly beach where we had brunch at The Pantry.

Manly Scenic Walkway

We decided to do a shortened version of the Manly Scenic Walkway. We walked to Shelly Beach and then up a hill towards North Head. Because we were meeting someone in Sydney later that day we could not walk up to North Head and instead cut back to Little Manly Beach and the ferry terminal. North Head looked like it had some lovely tracks and I only wished we had more time to do the track. The track we took up from Shelley beach eventually becomes unpaved and there were a few puddles along the way. There also were some occasional nice views back towards Manly beach. If we did the walk again it would be with a bathing suit. There were several sandy beaches along the way that looked very inviting. We arrived at Manly at 10am and got a ferry back to Sydney around 2pm.

Food Glorious Food

On arrival at Manly we visited Tourist Information near the ferry terminal building. They recommended the Pantry which is one of the few restaurants on the beach. It is a bit pricey, however, the views along the beach are brilliant and the breakfast was delicious. I also had the best flat white coffee since our arrival in Australia.

Later in the day after a strenuous time shoe shopping for Debbie we decided to go to a food court for dinner just off Pitt Street. I had steamed dumplings and she had a chicken salad. The shoes she bought are called Fit Flops and are hard to find. She was a very happy bunny when she found the exact pair she wanted for the grand sum of A$120. I have excluded this from our daily cost in Sydney as they are a one-off.

Useful tips

An all day metro card includes all ferry rides. If you are staying longer than a day there are other options. I tried a new ginger beer today called Cascade and it was delicious. If you go to Manly beach take a bathing suit if the weather is hot. Although Manly is a surfing beach there are other beaches along the coast that are ideal for swimming.

Tomorrow is our last day in Sydney and we hope to do a walk in the Botanical Gardens.

What did the day cost?

Metro tickets A$ 48.00
Accommodation Airbnb A$ 75.00
Brunch A$ 58.00
Dinner A$ 29.10
Drinks during the day A$ 16.00
Razors A$9.95
Total: A$ 236.05 = US$ 184.00

Day 2 Sydney: Coastal walk from Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach and back

We awoke to a cloudy but fine day in Sydney. Yesterday, we decided to go to Sydney’s iconic Bondi Beach. It is a famous surf beach and the start of arguably Sydney’s best coastal walk along cliff tops. Our first challenge was to find the railway bus to take us to the nearest working train station. The train station five minutes from us was closed due to weekend maintenance. In the end it was no great drama and we got a replacement bus to Sydenham and train to Bondi Junction and connecting bus to Bondi Beach. By 9.50 am we were on the coastal walk to Coogee beach via Bronte Beach.

The Coastal Walk

The Bondi to Coogee coastal walk is around six kilometres along cliff tops overlooking the sea and several beaches. We did not walk quickly and stopped many times for photos and brunch at Bronte Beach. There are some stunning views and the path is paved all the way. There are several staircases and steep parts along the track but nothing to difficult. To give you an idea of the time it took us, we left at 9.50am and were back at Bondi Beach at 14.50 or five hours later. This included a leisurely brunch at Bronte Beach and later a nice Japanese dinner at Bondi Beach.

Our meals

We had brunch at a lovely cafe called Bronte Bello a Brazilian restaurant. Instead of Brazilian fare we had corn fritters with bacon and avocado as well as acai berry cereal and a couple of beverages. It was a busy cafe on a lovely Sunday morning. Service was good and our meal came to A$ 41.00. On our return to Bondi Beach we decided to have an early dinner at a Japanese restaurant called Soy. I had sushi and sashimi, Debbie had a vegetarian roll. Both meals were delicious. We opted for soft drinks and our total bill was A$ 40.00.

My dinner

My dinner

If you ever visit Sydney I would highly recommend you take the time to walk from Bondi Beach to either Bronte Beach or Coogee Beach. The views are truly wonderful.

What did the day cost?

Metro tickets $A 28.80
Accommodation Airbnb $A 75.00
Brunch $A 41.00
Dinner $A 40.00
Bundaberg Ginger beer $A2.00
Total: $A 186.80 = US$ 145.00

Arrival and costs for Day One in Sydney, Australia

Australia bound

After saying goodbye to Debbie’s parents at LA airport we checked in and managed to get into the Qantas business lounge. My Emirates gold card allowed us access to the lounge. Debbie enjoyed a glass of champagne. We also hit the economy jackpot on the plane. I had pre booked aisle seats across from each other and although told the flight was full, two people did not make it. Amazingly, it was the two seats beside us that were empty. We were able to enjoy no elbow shoving and stretch out a little for our 14 hour flight to Sydney. The flight went quickly and we caught up on some now not so new movies. I watched Fury, St Vincent with Bill Murray by far the best movie, The Equalizer, what was Denzel Washington thinking and an Adam Sandler movie called Blended which I regret selecting. The meals also on the plane were for a change tasty.

On arrival in Sydney we collected our luggage and breezed through customs. A $25 taxi ride and we were at our AirBNB accommodation for the next three days at Bardwell Park. It is a lovely house and we are a five-minute walk to the metro and a short 20 minute ride to central Sydney. We went for a short walk to the town and had coffee. We then had meal at the local Returned and Services League of Australia (RSL) for the grand total of $35 which included a roast and an 11 inch pizza, plus a very drinkable bottle of red wine.

The rest of the day we spent relaxing and organising our trip into Sydney tomorrow.

Useful tips of the day

Our host explained that if we had taken the train to the station near here we would have paid $14 each in tax on top of the train fare. If you ever come to Sydney check out the taxi cost to Sydney before going on the train, the taxi could be cheaper than the train depending on where you are staying. A taxi from the airport to central Sydney should cost $A 50. Another useful tip is eating at RSL clubs. An RSL club is normally for returned or veteran soldiers. However, guests and visitors can use them and have inexpensive meals. You need to register at the reception of each club and wear tidy clothes. There are RSL clubs all over Sydney and Australia.

Daily travel costs

Airbnd $75
Taxi from airport $25
Coffee and tea at cafe $8
Lunch at RSL $35
Chinese dinner $26.30
Total: $A 169.30 =US$ 132.00