Peaceful Place by Running Water

Hobart is the state capital of Tasmania and was founded in 1804 as a penal colony. Convicts formed the basis of the early settlement and constructed most of the 19th century sandstone buildings in the area. Many examples of Georgian architecture can still be seen and are being preserved. The penal colony was abolished in 1853.

Hobart is the second city settled in Australia and now serves as the homeport for both the French and the Australian Antarctica operations.

Most of the chocolate manufactured and sold by Cadbury Chocolates in the Southern Hemisphere is made about 30 miles outside of Hobart so we did not have time to make that trip before we sailed at 4 p.m.

Mary Jane chose the Huon Valley and Tahune Forest Air Walk for her shore excursion. “Tahune” is aboriginal and means “peaceful place by running water.” During the drive they enjoyed seeing the scenic countryside farms of the Huon River Valley that are bordered by hills and mountains.

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Although the area around Hobart is very arid, the Huron Valley is a rain forest with deep soils and high rainfall. This area is home to the tallest flowering plant in the world: the “Eucalyptus Regnans” or swamp gum tree and is born and destroyed by fire, like the legendary phoenix. It is hard to take pictures of this forest because the trees are so tall. In the picture below, look in the bottom left hand corner to see our group in relationship with the trees that surrounded us.

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The Huon Valley residents wanted to create a tourist attraction in the area that would slow the unemployment and show tourists what a beautiful area it is. The Air Walk was constructed at a cost of $1.3 million and took about two and a half years to complete. It was estimated that 50,000 visitors would visit the first year (2001) and were pleased when 153,000 people had crossed the structure that year. It is made of steel and was built to withstand winds of 180 miles per hour.

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The Air Walk put us about 147 feet above the ground for our treetop canopy walk. We felt very safe even though the bridge does swing back and forth now and then.

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The highest point on this scenic walk jutted out over the confluence of the Huon and Picton Rivers. The scenery from this vantage point was spectacular.

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Many trees in the forest are Stringy-Bark eucalyptus trees that are aptly named once you see the bark.

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The trees in the forest are massive, as you can see in the picture below, the trunk of one that has fallen. It is very hard to hug a tree when you are at the base of one of these trees.

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The walk back to the visitors’ station was beautiful but humbling, being so tiny amongst these giants of nature.

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Barbara on the other hand chose to see some of the Hobart sites and visit a botanical garden. First she went to Battery Point, which is Hobart’s oldest district with Georgian residences. They passed the Anglesea Barracks and the historic Cascade Brewery on their way to see panoramic views of the city from summit of Mt. Wellington. The mountain, with its 4,000-foot height, makes a lovely backdrop for the city. On a clear day it is possible to see almost 60 miles from the windy top that was above the tree line and almost bare of vegetation.

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The bus continued to the Royal Botanic Gardens that overlook the Derwent River. The gardens first opened in 1818 and have an extensive collection of native and exotic flora.

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She only an hour there and could have spent the better part of a day but was able to see the conservatory, round house, fuchsia house, Japanese Garden, rose arbor, Friend’s cottage, and new display of firewood sculptures.

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After crossing the Tasman Bridge to Rosny Point Lookout we enjoyed views across the harbor to the city and its suburbs. On our way back to the port we drove past Hobart’s most historic buildings including the Theatre Royal, the oldest theatre in Australia, and the Penitentiary Chapel.

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