Category Archives: Tasmania

Animal Attraction to Travel

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.

Do you know who MONA is?

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.

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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.

DSC_0393Walter from the outside

DSC_0376Living 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!

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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.

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DSC_0392Yes, 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!

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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.

DSC_0382Bedroom #1 in Walter

DSC_0435Bedroom #2 in Walter

DSC_0422One 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.

DSC_0379Kitchen

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.

DSC_0396 Main building

DSC_0447The restaurant

DSC_0448The 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.

DSC_0451Of course we tasted…and purchased!

DSC_0475The 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.

DSC_0478Believe 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.

DSC_0483Museum entry

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.

DSC_0493Plaster molds of a woman’s privates

DSC_0494The white room

DSC_0497The woodpecker (sorry just trying to give you a feel for the museum)

DSC_0517The 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!!

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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.

La Isla Bonita (The Beautiful Island)

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.

Can you guess where?

Wineglass to Wine Glass

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

Our trek begins

The trekkers are ready!  Including our “celebrity” pal (no longer) bachelor Jason Mesnick

Tasman foliage

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Wineglass Bay

Here is a view of Wineglass bay from the lookout

The gang at Wineglass bay Bird 07-Wineglass to wine glass tour 11-2-2011 6-40-43 PM 08-Wineglass to wine glass tour 11-2-2011 6-46-41 PM 09-Wineglass to wine glass tour 11-2-2011 7-27-39 PM

Beautiful view from the beach at Wineglass bay

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Artistic sand shot!

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After we leave the bay to cross the isthmus, we meet a Jill Wallaby with a Joey in the pouch – awesome!

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We’ve been spotted!

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Hazard beach now in sight on the other side of the isthmus.

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Now leaving Hazards Beach and heading towards our feast.

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“the facilities”

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Our personal chef hard at work, also a nice selection of local beer to help us recover from the walk.

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Our dining room!

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What more appropriate start than a bottle of Hazards Ale from Wineglass Bay Brewing!

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Fresh seafood starter

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Working on the Tasmanian beef

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Yum

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View from our dining room

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Cheeses to finish with

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Go find the boat to go home.

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Just a bit rough so we need to use the dinghy

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Feathered friends bidding us adieu.

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We made it – Freycinet Lodge back in sight.

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