Tuesday, April 10, 2007

On the way to Tasmania

5th April 2007:

Its the Easter Weekend down under, as I'm sure it is all over the world(!), so its a handy time to take off on my next trip.

I had looked into going to a variety of locations for this weekend including the Whitsundays, Vanuatu, Fiji and Cairns but I'm slowly learning that the airline industry in Oz is not like Europe: you can't just book flights a couple of weeks in advance of leaving and hope to get a good deal. All flights were upto five or six times more expensive than normal with the only good deals being for the Pacific Island of Samoa which was cheap because of civil unrest/rioting and... Hobart, Tasmania. Hobart does not have the excuse of rioting so I'm not sure why it was comparatively cheap but regardless: Hobart it is!

I knew NOTHING about Tasmania before booking the flights. Its a big island south of Australia and I just presumed that it was its own country with its own government, similar to New Zealand. My geography, it turns out, sucks!

Tasmania is another part of Australia. Apparently it was the last stop for the original explorers (Amundsen and the rest of the team) who traveled to the South Pole and the main comments most of the locals have about it, after "why bother?!", was "nice scenery" followed swiftly by "dress warmly".

My main source of information was the official tourism website, DiscoverTasmania.com and there seems to be quite a few different activities to do: it comes across as being similar to New Zealand, but less developed.

The flight down from Sydney takes about an hour and a half and cost nearly $500 return (Ryanair: please come to Oz! I miss the 1 cent flights!). It was business as usual at the security center in the Airport as I was "randomly" selected for additional chemical/explosives testing. Ironically, the only flight in my world travels where I have not been selected for the explosives testing was in the Middle East in Bahrain airport where I stopped off on the way back from Europe over Christmas. Still, getting selected for the additional tests did give me a chance to get the security guard's opinion about Hobart, although his responses of "it never even occurred to me to travel down there" and "is there anything to do there at all?" sounded somewhat similar to the other opinions :)

I'll only be in Tasmania for 4 nights so I'll try pack as many activities in a possible. Lets just hope the local's are mistaken and there are actually activities to do!