Onto the 24th country of our trip!! Can you believe it!?
We split up Australia into two parts: Sydney and Tasmania. Like many of the places on this trip, we recognized early on in our planning that it simply wouldn’t be possible to explore all (or even most) of Australia in one fell swoop on this trip. So we decided to pick and choose! And boy were we happy with our choices.
A mix of big city and quiet nature, this was our best combo in a while.
We also lucked out in a MAJOR way with two of our good friends planning their own separate trips to visit while we were here!!! We met Stef in Sydney for a few days and then met Onyeka in the airport to head to Tasmania together as a foursome…here’s what our adventures looked like!!
We just HAD to do the quintessential Sydney experiences…so that included 1) a harbor cruise, 2) a tour of the opera house and 3) climbing the Sydney Harbor Bridge. We had perfect weather for the harbor cruise and spent a leisurely two hours just watching the city and its almost golden beaches pass us by. The bridge and the opera house were even more beautiful from the water!
One of our very favorite parts of Sydney was the opera house tour itself. The iconic building in Sydney, known worldwide, Nick and I realized we didn’t actually know that much about the building itself or its history. We were WOWED. Some fun facts for everybody back home!
-Though planning started in 1957, it was not opened til 1973 – opened by Queen Elizabeth II
-Every single detail inside each of the halls is intentional – designed to be the ultimate performance space down to the very woods chosen, shape of the interior, etc. It is intricately designed, built and maintained.
-Originally scheduled to cost $7 million, it ended up over $100 million
-Named a UNESCO site in 2008, it is one of only 2 sites in the world who received that recognition while their designer was still alive!
Though we had lovely weather in Sydney (about 80 degrees, max, each day), the moment we landed in Hobart, Tasmania, Nick quite literally breathed a sigh of “ahhhhh” relief at the weather. It was cold, y’all. COLD. Maybe upper 40s and an ever-so-light rain. Cold. But finally, Nick was happy with the weather! And it really never got above 65 degrees or so. Nick is FINALLY happy with the weather!! It only took, what… 4 or 5 months for Nick to be comfortable again?
So, Tasmania!! What is there to do besides see tasmanian devils!? Why on earth did we choose this seemingly random spot!? We knew we really wanted to go to Australia but struggled for a while with which parts of Australia to visit. Then I came across this article…
Who wouldn’t want to visit Tasmania after this stellar review?? We were actually really sad to leave when we went…but we packed in the activities!! We only got to do 7 of the suggested ones from this list and we were still pooped by the end of our 6 days!!
As soon as we touched down in Hobart and picked up our rental car, we knew we were in for a treat here. It’s just the perfect combination of beautiful and quaint, intensely local but brimming with activity. Our first night in town, we stumbled into a jazz bar/restaurant that was visited by almost exclusively locals and had one of our best meals of the country with magically cooked lamb shoulder and perfectly roasted vegetables. A yummy “welcome to Tasmania.”
Waking up bright and early Saturday morning, we knew we had to make our way down to the locals Saturday market – the Salamanca Market. We had read that this is *the* place to be on Saturdays but we didn’t expect much more than a few stalls, some produce and maybe a food stand or two.
Boy were we pleasantly surprised by what we found.
This market is HUGE. One of the biggest Saturday markets I’d ever been to and quite frankly, one of the best. Back home, many Saturday markets have vendors selling kitchy things nobody really wants or vendors that are selling basically the same thing at every other stall. Not this market. Every stall had a uniquely local product they were selling, almost none of which felt cheap or kitchy or like “junk.” We spent HOURS here. Ate warm homemade bagels, fresh made paella, etc. We tasted local Tasmanian gins. We bought beautifully made wool gloves and gifts for people back home. We kept daydreaming that we had a market like this back home…
For those of you that know either of us, we are NOT into modern art. No offense to anyone that is excited by it but it has just never been our thing. Our friend Stefanie had researched Tasmania before joining us and kept seeing the MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) as a “must do.” We were less than excited about it but saw that you can take a beautifully ferry ride to get there and back and that there are lots of wineries and restaurants attached to or directly next to the museum so we figured that if we hated it, we would find other ways to entertain ourselves.
This was hands down one of the best museums we have ever been to. If you are ever going to Tasmania, this actually IS a must do. Just trust us. Even if you hate modern art like we do. Everything about the museum is beautifully designed and the artwork is different than most modern art museums around the world. It’s interactive, thought-provoking and beautiful. Yes, there are still some “weird” pieces that you’ll likely skip past but as a group, we enjoyed this museum so much that we almost missed the last ferry back to Hobart.
Tasman Peninsula – Tasman Arch, Lavender Farms, Remarkable Caves
From Hobart, our jumping off point, there are just SO many things to see and do. One day, we tried to cram in a LOT of them. So we drove to the Tasman Peninsula to see what we could see! We started with the Tasman Arch and then Nick and I decided to adventure a little on our own when we saw a sign pointing the other way on the road towards the “remarkable caves.” What on earth was that? Yes, just as remarkable as we’d hoped, surprisingly!
Seeing a lavender farm on our way home, of course we had to stop, smell the lavender, take some photos and eat some lavender flavored goodies. Nick had a lavender milkshake and some lavender shortbread! Quite tasty!
Mt. Wellington For Sunset
One of the quintessential experiences in Hobart is to drive to the top of Mt. Wellington (20 minutes outside the city) and hope to catch a beautiful sunset. If nothing else, you get spectacular views of the city below and the beautiful waterways and islands surrounding the area. So up we went!
As soon as the car crested the top of the hill, we knew we were in for it.
It was WINDY. Not just a little windy. Blow your car around windy.
We could barely get out of the car, the wind tried to keep our doors closed!! We laughed our butts off, bundled up and ran over to the sheltered observation area to see what we could see. You could hear the wind practically roaring outside! Nick of course took this as an opportunity to adventure around and, per usual, captured some beautiful scenery while trying to hide himself behind rocks!
Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens
One of the free things to do in Tasmania, we almost added this on as a casual bonus stop – and we spent almost 3 hours here enjoying! A quick drive just outside the city, you can wander for hours looking at everything from native Australian and Tasmanian plants and flowers to beautifully curated vegetable gardens, Japanese gardens and others. The gardens start at the top of a hill and slope downwards towards the water, giving you the best view of the city and all its surrounding glory.
This was a “must do” on our list. I mean look at the pictures – who wouldn’t want to see this view? An almost 3 hour drive away from Hobart, we took our time getting there and stopped into cute, small towns to pick up food and coffees. To see this breathtaking view, we had to do a bit of a climb – nothing crazy by any stretch but certainly will get ya winded. But as soon as you crest that last part of the steps upward, it’s nearly impossible not to be awestruck by the beauty in all directions. This was what Tasmania was all about. Whether it was at Wineglass Bay or just simply looking out the window during the drives, Tasmania is just beautiful. Worthy of a stop in anyone’s itinerary – something for everyone to do and to truly enjoy!
THE FOOD in Australia
Look, we are not foodies. Far from it. But we appreciate good food, if you haven’t noticed from this blog and our IG account. We didn’t really know what to expect from Australia – lots of vegemite?
Though there are tons of varied options everywhere you look, Australia felt very authentically meat and potatoes. But GOOD meat and potatoes. We kept commenting that we did not eat one bad meal while in Australia. Legitimately true – not one bad meal, breakfast, lunch or dinner.
For the winos out there like me, you’ll appreciate hearing how prevalent GOOD wines are. And that they cost $5-$7 a glass and can be found even at the sketchiest of dive bars. Australia is good wine. I got very spoiled for 10 days having it so accessible.
We ended our time in Tasmania with truly the most spectacular rainbow we had ever seen – it almost doesn’t look real in pictures but even the pictures can’t capture how brilliant it was. Every single color of the rainbow was visible – and bright! – and it felt like the rainbow ended just outside our window!!
Sad Sidenote: On our flight back to Sydney from Tasmania, we were so sad to see the current wildfires in New South Wales 🙁 It didn’t look real – almost like a plateau that just happened to be the smoke from the fires – and was devastating to see, particularity in its closeness to Sydney.
HERE COMES OUR LAST COUNTRY, PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!