Welcome to Tasmania

We arrive mid-morning at Hobart airport. A sniffer dog inspects baggage on the conveyor, searching for illegally imported apples (apple smuggling is a serious crime round these parts: it’s a bio-security thing).   He detects something suspicious in a large black suitcase and paws at it eagerly.  A cop takes the case away for further inspection.  Meanwhile the dog poses for a lady’s photo, nose pressed up against her camera lens.  He’s as cute as hell and knows it, accepting her tribute as his right.

We pick up our car and head towards the city. The first thing that strikes us about Tasmania is the colour: it’s green, so green we could be in the UK.  Dark clouds scurry over distant mountains, urged on by an insistent wind.  Tasmania lies in the Roaring Forties, and my god does the wind roar, like a tiger with terminal toothache.

Our first stop is the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens, which date back to the very early days of the colony in 1818. We are greeted by a friendly volunteer, who tells us what to look out for.  He asks where we are from and when we say Derbyshire he replies “Ah yes, Derbyshire, didn’t Elizabeth describe it as ‘God’s own county?’ ”  We look at him blankly for a second until it sinks in: we’re talking Elizabeth Bennett here, of Pride and Prejudice fame.  He looks pleased with himself: one-nil to the Aussies, I think.

The gardens are superb. We particularly like the lily pond:

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And the conservatory is also very attractive:

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We are surprised to see familiar British blackbirds all over the gardens, grubbing in the leaf litter for lunch or sitting in the trees belting out their melodious songs. OK, technically they’re illegal immigrants who don’t belong here, but it’s great to see them just the same.

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Masked Lapwings definitely do belong here. There are several pairs, some with chicks, wandering the gardens.  One time, while in pursuit of the perfect photo, we get too close to some chicks and an adult launches a furious assault, hurling abuse and flying at my head in a kamikaze dive only to pull out at the last second, bank sharply to the right and return for another attack.  We beat a hasty retreat and the perfect photograph remains untaken, but this one’s not at all bad in the circumstances.

We leave the gardens and drive on into central Hobart. Our accommodation is in the historic waterfront district, so parking space is at a premium.  The desk clerk explains that the hotel has Tasmania’s first car park stacking system.  I freak out for a while, life’s stressful enough without playing sardines with $20,000+ of car that I don’t own and have only been driving for about an hour.  I have to manoeuvre to find the exact spot from which I can safely reverse into a pod-like garage that is barely a car’s width.  Having exited the car and garage I push a button on the nearby control panel, a door slides silently closed and the pod, together with our car, is shunted off into the bowels of the building.  I wonder if we’ll ever see it again?

Author: Platypus Man

"Platypus" is a red herring: I'm English, although my blogging career began in my record of a 2016 road trip to Tasmania. Other blogs followed covering road trips in Newfoundland (2017), the Yellowstone area of the USA (2018) and New Zealand (2019). My current project is "Now I'm 64" , a weekly blog covering UK travel and wildlife, along with bits of history, social commentary and moans about the injustice of aging. I can guarantee a few laughs, and also the occasional rant. Some of it's even quite well written!

3 thoughts on “Welcome to Tasmania”

  1. The car stacking system at Salamanca Wharf Hotel is a highlight for lots of my car-techno-whizz-bang obsessed guests! I share your fear however…. hopefully more of the whizz and less of the bang. Good luck with the platypus spotting! Susie

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  2. Great photos, David, particularly on a day they are forecasting snow here.Have enjoyed all your posts so far. You have a very lyrical turn of phrase which appeals to my sense of humour. Keep at it! Trisha

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  3. Hello Platypus Pandemonium. We are so pleased that you enjoyed our Gardens… we have a passionate team (which extends beyond the birds!). Having lived in Derbyshire myself, I share your views on the similarities in colour, but our summer does last longer! We hope you welcome you back to Tasmanian soon.
    Kind regards
    Tory (Marketing Manager – Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens .. and friend of Susie!)

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