One inescapable fact is Sydney is an ocean front city. The Harbour is everywhere with 4 of the 5 central districts on the water. The Greater Sydney area has many pristine miles of coast line. Did you know there are well over 100 beaches in Sydney? Sydney also enjoys over 300 sunny days each year. Sydney has it all – beach lifestyle, culture, food and wine, and history.
Speaking of history – Indigenous Australians have inhabited the area for over 30,000 years and thousands of engravings remain throughout this region, making it one of the richest for aboriginal archaeological sites in Australia.
In 1770, James Cook and his crew became the first Europeans to visit the area. It didn’t take long for more people to arrive when in 1788 the First Fleet arrived to found a penal colony here. British convicts were originally transported to the 13 colonies in North America, but after the American War of Independence ended in 1783, the newly formed United States refused to accept further convicts. Between 1788 and 1868, roughly 162,000 convicts were transported from Britain and Ireland to various penal colonies in Australia. Most were transported for petty crimes with sentences ranging from 7 years to life. If well behaved, freedom was granted at the end of your sentence however very few had the means to return to Britain and therefore became settlers.
Enough of the history lesson though – let’s get back to modern Sydney. It’s easy to get around with 5 fantastic neighborhoods in the Central district
It’s been a difficult time for everyone, trapped at home, concerned and unable to escape. A few of my Travel Adviser mates are hosting a virtual Australia information day and we’d love you to join us. You will escape your current confinement on a fabulous pictorial journey to the land Down Under.
On Thursday, April 23 we have lined up expat-Aussie, Jeff Adam to guide us through the best of Australia. There are 4 sessions as follows:
Jeff’s got a bit of a funny accent so all attendees will get a “How to Speak Aussie” dictionary, along with an Australia Map and Travel Planner. It will be balance of great information and good Aussie humor.
Tasmania has perfect climate for growing grapes and making wines with mild summers and long autumn days. Tasmania features elegant cool climate wines including pinot noir, riesling, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, cabernet sauvignon, pinot gris, gewurztraminer and sparkling wines in both the Northern and Southern growing regions.
There are 3 main clusters of vineyards in the Southern growing region which encompasses the Hobart area:
The Freycinet Peninsula northeast of Hobart
Around Hobart including the Coal Valley and Derwent River
South of Hobart around the Huon Valley and the d’Entrecasteaux Channel
Exhibit at MONA
We visited Freycinet Peninsula previously, so for this trip we focused on Coal Valley and Derwent River. Basically no matter which direction you drive from Hobart (as long as you don’t drive into the ocean) you will quickly reach a vineyard. We were hosting a cruise group on the Celebrity Solstice which sailed originally from Auckland, New Zealand and we only had a 1 day stop in Hobart. We’d been on the ship for about 1 week at this point, so did double duty on the day – taste wines and get some laundry done. So off the ship we went, grabbed an Uber to the car rental, dropped off some laundry, made a very quick trip to MONA ( see our previous blogs on MONA here and here ) and then off to taste some excellent Tasmanian wines.
First stop was Derwent Estates Wines, located right along the River Derwent which is seen in the background of the tasting room below and which we’re sure you’ll agree is fantastically charming. Several of these wines made it home to the states with us – where we recently opened the Calcaire Pinot Noir which is particularly stunning and by itself makes the entire trip to Hobart well worth it!
There are a few things in life that I know to be true. One, I love to travel and two, I love animals. Almost any destination and certainly almost ever animal (okay spiders and snakes are creepy but I mean like animals not reptiles or insects). But I digress….
Koala, Churchill Island, Australia
Living in north central Wisconsin we have the usual set of animals (think farm, normal pets and wildlife) but when we travel we are opened to a whole new world of living creatures. Take for example a trip to Australia. Here you have an opportunity to get up close and personal with Kangaroo, Wallaby, Wombat and Tasmanian Devil. How cool is that! Some of these animals you’ll be lucky enough to see in the wild but not the Tasmanian Devi. The Devil is an endangered species due to a cancerous facial tumor that has affected 30- 50% of the wild population. But have no fear, nearby Hobart is the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary. Visiting this sanctuary will allow you hands on contact with several native Australian animals. You can feed kangaroos, pet wombats and koala and observe the cute little Tasmanian Devil. Our visit to the sanctuary was a highlight for this traveling animal lover.
I know what you are thinking, well sure there are cool animals in Australia but that is a long trip and I can’t go that far. Have no fear, cool animals are everywhere you just have to look. Let’s take the good old USA for example. A trip to Alaska in the summer will provide you with an opportunity to see humpback whales feeding in the kelp rich waters. And yes, a humpback whale is a mammal so thus does not fall in the creepy category 😊 Now the very best way to see whales (all types in AK) is a small craft tour (boats that hold 18 – 36 people max). When choosing your tour company also be sure the boats are safe for those magnificent creatures you have come to see (no dangerous propellers).
Faerie Penguins, Churchill Island, Australia
What about the Polar bear, I mean the kind that live outside the zoo? Wouldn’t it be cool to see them fishing for salmon out of a river? A trip to Alaska, Canada, Norway, Russia or Greenland will provide you with the opportunity to see these at animals in the wild. Of course, you aren’t just going to happen upon them, you’ll need a guided expedition or tour to give you the best chance of watching them in their natural habitat. From Fairbanks you can take a tour mid Aug – late Step (side note, due to global warming it is expected that the polar bear could become extinct in the years to come). This one is still on my bucket list!
Bear at Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau Alaska
Still too exotic you say. Well as I said earlier, I love animal, pretty much any. In particular though I happen to covet my Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, Fergus. And yes, I look for his kin just about everywhere I go. I’ve seen them in France, Holland and Ireland, just to mention a few. And each time I come upon one I smile and feel love.
Fergus – Our Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
So, pick your favorite animals and travel! You’ll be surprised to see so many along the way.
This BLOG post originally appeared 11/12/11 on our old site with the title “what the heck is MONA”. MONA is still a great place to visit so we thought we would re-post. Hopefully we will get to Tasmania again some day soon!
Just a short flight from Melbourne takes you to the island of Tasmania known for the Tasmanian Devil and convicts.
On our first night in the Australian state of Tasmania we stayed at the lovely, modern and somewhat funky Mona Pavillion. Here there are 8 stand alone villa units with either one or two bedrooms as well as a presidential suite facing the River Derwent. From the outside they look somewhat like a space ship.
From the inside they are right out of a James Bond movie. Each unit is named after Australian artists or architects. We stayed in Walter.
Walter from the outside
Living space in Walter
Each villa faces the harbor providing wonderful views throughout the day. And how could you not have a wonderful view, 3 of the walls are windows. Now i’m not saying they have windows….i’m saying they ARE windows. Full windows with shades that are operated by remote controls on the walls. How cool is that!
These modernly appointed villas have everything your heart desires including a stocked wine bar, chilling each bottle to its exact prefect drinking temperature! The fridge is stocked with local beers, juices, soft drinks and milk.
Yes, we had to pull them out to take a photo!
Our unit was a two bedroom, each with it’s own bathroom. And speaking of bathroom! Yeah this is my kind of set up! Oversized Jacuzzi tub with TV on the wall and a remote that if dropped into the water neither electrocutes you and still works!
The beds, extremely comfortable….you’ll just have to take my word on that and in the morning wake to the wonderful sounds of nature chirping outside. Our bedrooms were tastefully decorated, some had a bit more of the shock factor going on.
Bedroom #1 in Walter
Bedroom #2 in Walter
One of the bedroom’s in the Roy (the largest pavilion)
Each unit is priced differently based upon it’s size but run between $390 – $990 per night based upon 2-4 guests. Plus tax of course. There are full cooking and laundry facilities in each unit.
These pavilions have everything a traveler could want. As a matter of fact on a placard in the villas it says “we can arrange almost anything legal, just ask”. I’d call that customer service!
So what the heck is MONA?
Well it stands for Museum of Old and New Art. Mona is located just a short 10 minutes outside Hobart, Tasmania and is home to a somewhat shocking if not weird museum, a vineyard, cellar door and wine bar, a brewery, a restaurant, the Pavilion’s and of course a shop.
The cellar door
At the cellar door you get a 1 hr. tasting and the admission fee is refunded if you purchase. Wine tours are available for $15.
Of course we tasted…and purchased!
The wine bar and brewery
On Friday and Saturday evenings you can get a 1 hr. beer tour and tasting for $15. They make 4 types of beer and all have no preservatives and are not pasteurized. You got to love the catchy “Moo Beer” name! Wine and beer master classes can be arranged upon request.
Believe it or not, we did not try them all!
As for the museum, lets just say it might not be for everyone as many exhibits are downright shocking and for some would be repulsive.
As the statement goes, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” this pretty much sums the gallery up. The owner, David Walsh aka Glenn Walsh. Tourists not from Tasmania pay $20 for admission, those under 18 are free. Some of the exhibits are sexually explicit, others personally confronting thus the gallery may not be for children.
Plaster molds of a woman’s privates
The white room
The woodpecker (sorry just trying to give you a feel for the museum)
The human digestive system recreated, this woman is actually feeding the machine lunch at 1130am (sandwich, salad, fruit and a drink). At 200pm it has a bowel movement! We did not hang around for that!!
Coolest thing in the museum, mummy on the left, xray tomography of it on the right!
So, that is MONA. Who wants to go? It really is quite a cool place, definitely 2 or 3 nights are needed.
We bet you never heard this version of Madonna’s La Isla Bonita. There is only one place that we know of where you can go see and hear Madonna’s entire greatest hits album “The Immaculate Collection”, performed by a bunch of people singing Karaoke in their individual sound booths.
When we were last in Tasmania we had the wonderful opportunity to take a Wineglass to Wine glass trek.
From the Freycinet Lodge we walk up the Hazard Mountains to the Wineglass bay lookout. Here we took in spectacular views of the Freycinet Peninsula and the Tasman Sea. Then we descended down into the bay, tracked across the isthmus to Hazards Beach and then partook in a rather sumptuous meal of local cheeses, fresh seafood , Tasmanian beef and quail, and just a few glasses of Tasmanian wine and beer.
Our trek begins
The trekkers are ready! Including our “celebrity” pal (no longer) bachelor Jason Mesnick
Here is a view of Wineglass bay from the lookout
Beautiful view from the beach at Wineglass bay
Artistic sand shot!
After we leave the bay to cross the isthmus, we meet a Jill Wallaby with a Joey in the pouch – awesome!
We’ve been spotted!
Hazard beach now in sight on the other side of the isthmus.
Now leaving Hazards Beach and heading towards our feast.
Our personal chef hard at work, also a nice selection of local beer to help us recover from the walk.
Our dining room!
What more appropriate start than a bottle of Hazards Ale from Wineglass Bay Brewing!
At the travel agency we receive lots of brochures from suppliers. Many times I’ll open a packet, store the brochures and toss everything else including the packing material into recycling. Sometimes I’ll even put the brochures right into recycling bin if it is from a supplier that we don’t really feels works best for our customers. Oftentimes the brochures include some sort of cover letter which is usually related to telling us what we should know about any new products the supplier has or what highlights we should read in the brochures. Recently one cover letter caught my attention and I thought I would share.
Kirk Demeter is the president of Down Under Answers (DUA). As you’d expect with the name Down Under Answers, they specialize in Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific destinations. Kirk wrote what I feel is an inspiring cover letter to include with their 2013-2014 travel planners.
” As I cast about for positive resolutions for 2013, a bumper sticker came to mind – ‘Life is uncertain; eat dessert first’. I decided to amend that to – Life is uncertain; take the trip first.
In our business we hear constantly from customers how their trip was ‘life enhancing’, how it fulfilled a long-held dream, how it was so much more than expected. That it led to new friends, fueled their desire to travel even more and inspired others to travel.
There are always several items on our wish lists, and we all love new toys, but a trip is something that never loses its novelty, no matter how many times we look at the photos, or turn to each other and say ‘remember the day we…’. Trips don’t sit in the garage or attic gathering dust; they live within us, making us feel good each time we think back.”
Trips certainly do live within us. Our travel experiences help shape our thoughts, desires and values. Sometimes on trips we learn grace, sometimes we learn humility, sometimes we even learn that we eat too many desserts when we are not at home!
Which would you remember more fondly 10 years from now, your new 60″ super duper plasma monster TV, or diving off the deck of your over-water bungalow in Fiji? The TV probably won’t even last 10 years, but the memories of the island will stay with you forever. I agree – Life is uncertain; take the trip first.
Despite the stuffy head and congestion (yep, that time of year), we’ve spent a little bit of time this weekend freshening up the website. It may only be the cold medication talking but we do think we’ve come up with some interesting stuff.
One of the most fascinating wineries we’ve seen anywhere in the world is actually a museum. If you enjoy world-class museums and world-class wine, then MONA needs to be on your list of places to go. Located in Tasmania, MONA is a worthwhile destination even if you have to spend all day/night on a coach fare plane seat to get there. Bring us back a bottle of any of the Moorilla series if you do go. Oh and don’t forget the Moo Brew.
Well as long as you’ve made the trip to Tasmania, why not treat yourself to a stay at the Saffire Freycinet Resort overlooking pristine Coles Bay. It’s a long journey and you deserve just a bit of pampering. With architecture that fully connects the resort to its surroundings and so much to see, do and experience you may never want to leave.
Of course no trip to Tasmania would be complete without seeing some devils. Endangered in the wild, one of the best places to see them is at the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary. It is not a zoo, but a rehabilitation center for wild animals.