Sunday, November 21, 2010


Bay of Fires

To celebrate the end of classes, six of us decided to travel to Australia’s only island state, Tasmania. We arrived in Hobart on a beautiful sunny day and proceeded to pick up our home for the next 5 days- a campervan. Traveling in our homes has seemed to be a trend for our trips in and around Australia. This van was slightly different than the van we drove in New Zealand. It was almost as big as a motor home and slept six people, a big difference from driving my little bug at home.

We headed off, slowly, into the city of Hobart. It was a very quaint city, no high rises or modern architecture. It was very reminiscent of a New England style town. We grabbed some lunch at a small café and sat down with our maps to plan our route. The manager of the café was even nice enough to tell us some of the must sees of Tasmania. Everyone in Australia is so helpful and friendly. After lunch we drove up to Mount Wellington, which had a beautiful view looking over the city of Hobart then came back to town to pick up a few things for our trip. As we made our way to the campsite, we looked up to the sky to find the most brilliant stars I have ever seen in my life. There were so many and so bright that there was no need for streetlights. We were able to pick out so many constellations, many of which I had never seen before, as well as seeing two shooting stars. As weird as it sounds, the air was so clean and so pure. It was so strange because I never noticed the air around me, but it was so clean and fresh that it made me notice. Great for the trip, but unfortunate for when I go back home.

The next day we got an early start and headed up along the coast to Cole’s Bay. The water was the bluest I had ever seen and as clear as glass. The rocks were a burnt orange color and when paired with the blue water made for an amazing view. We continued north to Wine Glass Bay. In the parking lot, we were greeted by a momma wallaby and her joey. It was so used to human interaction that it even let us pet its back. We then began the walk up to the Wine Glass Bay lookout. We had a spectacular view of the bay and the surrounding mountains. We then continued down to the bay. The sand was white and the water once again a beautiful blue. On the hike back up to the lookout, Samara and I started our list of 100 reasons we should not leave Australia!

The next day we continued north along the coast to the Bay of Fires. Getting here was somewhat misleading. We had been driving for quite a while, and ended up on a narrow dirt road. We thought for sure we were lost. Farmers on the side of the road were staring and you could tell they were chuckling at our huge van on the narrow road. We decided to continue and the road came to a dead end. We got out of the van to find one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen in my life. The sand was a pearl white and the water was a mix of turquoise and blues. There was no one else on the beach and it felt so strange to be completely alone in a setting that seemed to come from a picture book.

Our last full day in Tasmania was spent at Mt. Field National Park. We hiked a trail through a beautiful rainforest setting. It was so green and lush, unlike anything I have seen. There was even a massive waterfall that we hiked to the very top of along a trail. From there we drove down past Hobart to Hastings Caves. We took a guided tour through the massive underground caves filled with different rock formations, stalactites, and stalagmites. The guide even said that some people have had weddings in the part of the cave they called ‘the ballroom’. It was a fantastic trip and once again an unforgettable experience.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Melbourne Cup

Tuesday, November 2nd, is the day when all of Australia stops. Classes at uni are cancelled and businesses are closed. What is the special occasion? Melbourne Cup Day. This is the main race of the Melbourne Cup, which lasts almost the whole month of November. Various races within various states occur during the month. Not only was this my first time to a horse race, but it was also the 150th anniversary of the Melbourne Cup. It was definitely an experience to remember.
When we arrive to the venue the first thing I noticed was the fashions. Never before have I been to a place where large wide-brimmed hats or fascinators were considered the norm. It felt as though I had been transported through time back to the 20s or 30s. Some men and women looked so regal and sophisticated. Some of the women’s hats were absolutely gorgeous and seemed to resemble a piece of artwork rather than a headpiece. There was a fashion competition, Meyer Fashion on the Field, which showcased some of the best-dressed women attending the race.
Upon entering the stadium area, I realized why this is known as the day when all of Australia stops: It is because they are all at the race. The sheer number of people was overwhelming. We were in the general admission section, which meant pushing through crowds and crowds of people to find a place to stand where we could somewhat see the races. There were ten races that day total, the seventh one being the cup race. Each race was relatively short, so there was a lot of standing around in between races, but the people watching kept us occupied. At the fifth race I decided to place a bet in order to truly get the horse racing experience. We walked up the stairs to the betting area and entered what seemed to be another world. Boards were everywhere listing the names of the horses with different numbers on either side. People seemed to be speaking a different language as they handed over their money, hoping their horse would win. I get in line and listen to the pros as they place their bets. As I wait, the man in front of me put down $150 on one horse. I followed with a measly five dollars. Unfortunately my horse did not win, but it was all part of the experience.
The Cup race was probably the most exciting. It was the big race of the day, and a lot of people had money riding on it. The rain didn’t affect anyone’s enthusiasm. You could hear the pure power of the horses as they sprinted past. They are much faster than they appear on T.V. and extremely beautiful. The victor of the race was an underdog with ten to one odds. The horse, ironically, was named Americain.