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Colin and Sue’s Travel Diary

Monday, 19 Mar 2007

Location: Australia

MapWe spent our second week in Tassie on an organised trip with Conservation Volunteers Australia - a mixture of sightseeing, walks and some conservation activities. We had an excellent week with a good group of people. There were 7 of us plus our guide Brad who was all things to all people - guiding, cooking, organising and providing endless information on Tassie and all things natural. We stayed in rural cabins surrounded by wallabies and possums and saw our first wild wombats. We also saw an echidna (strange hedgehog-like marsupial).

We saw a lot of small towns in Tassie - lots of them have adopted a theme to attract visitors (Sheffield town of murals; Richmond - very historic with its ancient 19th century bridge and church etc). We also saw some great scenery especially at Cradle Mountain and Freycinet Bay where we had two really good long day walks. We were astonishingly lucky with the weather - we arrived at Cradle Mountain to cloud and couldn't actually see the mountain but after that we had blue skies and sunshine for all our walks and outdoor stuff.

The activities were good too - we spent an afternoon pulling up foxgloves - a "noxious weed" here in Tassie. Colin's sister on the other hand is currently trying to nurture foxgloves at a wildlife garden in Sydenham in south east London. One benefit of being in London would be the lack of leeches - we had to wear gaiters and long sleeved tops but despite this Colin got one on his wrist and one on his back although neither started sucking so they could be flicked off. Bernie in our group was less lucky and one attached itself to him, although he didn't realise until later - it took ages to stop bleeding. The Lonely Planet's helpful advice is that screaming wildly doesn't help - but it might have seemed like a good idea as Brad's advice was just let them finish sucking blood and then they will drop off. We were hoping for a more positive defence but fortunately for us it wasn't necessary and poor Bernie followed this advice unknowingly.

The other activity involved counting penguins - or would have done if we'd seen any! We split into 4 groups, one group to each penguin run, starting at 7.30pm and finishing at 10.30. We got the run by the footpath to the beach and ended up with about 20 people sitting behind us all and watching our red torch beam hoping for pengins to go through. We were very impressed by the other watchers - some had driven a long way but they all stayed in the same place being incredibly quiet and not using their torches. We began to think we were decoys to keep the public from scaring off the penguins which actually came in further up the beach but only 4 were seen in total and later on we saw 2 of those. The beach has a blow hole which was very active so possibly the sea was a bit rough and the penguins had decided to come in later.

The week finished with fish and chips on the harbourside back in Hobart and then back to the Courtyard for more live music. We spent our last morning shopping for new trousers for Colin - we haven't become such seasoned travellers that we can ignore (or patch) holes in the backside!