We spent around two hours inside Milford Sound while the captain rotated the ship slowly as if on a pin point before we cruised out of the entrance heading west across the Tasman Sea to Hobart, Tasmania. We had never crossed the Tasman by sea and it was a surprise to us that it was so calm for the 2 days and nights that the crossing took. Certainly, the weather was good, we had left the rain behind in NZ. We were lucky, no doubt, as the Tasman Sea is notorious for huge swells when the winds blow or during storms. It was Friday morning of our 11th day on board the Noordam when we woke in Constitution Dock, Hobart. This dock is famous as the finishing line of one of the world’s greatest ocean racing events, the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race (over 630 nautical miles which begins on Sydney Harbour on Boxing Day each year). Sue had worked in Hobart for a year before we married and with a brother and his family long term residents here, we had visited a few times. We played tourists on this day and did an excursion with a local operator who we chose on the dock. The benefit is that you are paying them directly, avoiding a higher fee to cover the ship’s commission. Our driver was excellent and drove us and a small group of ex-Olympian women from Canada around for 5 hours. We covered Sandy Bay and the University area; did sightseeing from the top of Mt. Wellington (always windy and cold) but where the view of the city and the Derwent River is spectacular (until the clouds roll in); Battery Point and its quaint 180 year old workers’ cottages in the inner city area; Bonorong Wildlife Park, a tourist mecca where you can hand feed even the large kangaroos and view close up Tassie Devils, Bettongs and Potteroos, Sugar Gliders and wombats, owls and possums and even an ugly and deadly tiger snake. We had lunch in lovely old Richmond with its stunning old convict era bridge and plaque dating to 1823, believed to be the oldest bridge in Australia.
Our driver dropped us into Salamanca Place to shop and await my brother who drove us to his family home for a superb dinner of Tassie salmon prepared by his own professional chef, his wife.
One of the beauties of cruising into Hobart is that the ships moor on the very edge of the city, providing almost immediate access to the shops and Salamanca Place where there are cafes and restaurants and retailers sell extraordinarily good products made locally. Amongst these are their wines, art and craft, furniture items and beautifully crafted wood products like jewellery boxes. The timbers grown in Tasmania are quite glorious, unlike any we have seen elsewhere in our extensive travelling; the golden Huon Pine, Black Heart Sassafras, Tasmanian Blackwood and Oak, Blue Gum and Myrtle.