Christmas Day started for me with a flight from Sydney to Launceston, Tasmania. The flight was with Qantas and no worries there. The airport in Launceston was a bit of a shock though, since the only plane there was the one I arrived with, and everyone had to walk into the terminal and get the luggage from the carts driven in. But this all turned out to go a lot faster than at the big international airports. Launceston itself was not that big either, with only one tourist attraction: the Cataract Gorge. So I hiked a few hours around that area during the afternoon. In the evening there was a (free!) Christmas BBQ at the hostel, which was a lot of fun. Afterwards we played some frisbee in the park. Something completely different than Christmas in Europe, but not bad, not bad at all.
On Boxing Day (that is what the 2nd Christmas Day is called here) I got a lift from a German couple to Coles Bay at Freycinet National Park (NP). The drive there was quite nice, through hilly terrain with some vineyards, and we stopped at St Columba waterfalls along the way. However, as soon as we left Launceston my mobile could not find a network anymore, and that has not changed since I got to Hobart. So it appears my mobile only works in the two major cities here, nice.
On 27 December I hitchhiked into the Freycinet NP and made a hike to Wineglass Beach and back along Hazards Beach. Wineglass Beach is really one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen, fine white sand in a bay with the shape of a (you guessed it) wineglass. On 28 December I made another hike in Freycinet NP, this time to the top of Mt Amos. Great views over the park and I got a cool photo with me on top and Wineglass Bay below. Once again I hitchhiked back to town and got on a bus to Triabunna. The bus shedules on this island are a bit frustrating, with about one bus a day at most, one of the reasons I am hitchhiking short rides into National Parks and trying to get lifts from other travellers for longer distances. I should really buy a car when I get back to the mainland, but my plan is to do that only when I get back from New Zealand, since leaving it somewhere for 6 weeks does not make much sense either. Not to mention the fact that I will depart from Sydney and arrive in Melbourne.
The hostel in Triabunna had a pretty good atmosphere and was run by a nice couple (although the guy was the raw small town type) that even remembered the names of all the guests. The second night the hostess had made cookies for everyone, really nice. On 29 December I made a daytrip to Maria Island (discovered by Abel Tasman and named after Maria van Diemen, just like he originally named Tasmania ‘Van Diemen’s Land’). The island is now a National Park without cars and offers some nice hiking opportunities. Once again I climbed a mountain (600 metres) called Bishop and Clerk. Before hiking up there I hiked along the fossil cliffs (not much to see there) and afterwards I hiked to the painted cliffs (pretty interestingly shaped and coloured cliffs). So after about 5 hours of continuous hiking I was pretty beat up on the ferry back to Triabunna.
Today I got a lift to Hobart from another traveller staying at the hostel in Triabunna. In the afternoon I went into the city, where there is lots to do. All of it combined is the Hobart Summer Festival. First of all, the Rolex Sydney Hobart sailing yacht race finished here the day before yesterday (and some smaller yachts still have to arrive), so there are lots of fast expensive yachts in the harbour. Then there is an international buskers (street artists) festival. But the main attraction is the food festival (called ‘The Taste’) with lots of local food to try out. For one, I could not resist the pancake with raspberries and ice-cream 😉