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Trip Report Six Weeks Down Under

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We live in DC and each winter escape the cold and often brutal winters. Last Spring I was able to get 2 business class tickets using our FF miles from IAD to Australia so that made for an easy decision of where to go for the winter of 2017.. We added a 5 night stopover in Hong Kong.

The weather in Australia determined where we went and the order to a certain degree. We start in Tasmania, fly to Melbourne for a week, then drive the Great Ocean Road. From there we will fly from Melbourne to the Gold Coast for a house exchange. After a week we have some unplanned time and then end in Sydney for a week in mid March.

My thanks to all the people who helped with the planning and wrote TRs that we are using as we planned and as we travel. We want to keep this short highlighting our time, but feel free to ask any questions.

And so it begins...
We spent 4 delightful nights at the Grand Vue Private Hotel in Battery Park in Hobart. Our top floor room had a huge bay window that looked out onto Sullivan's Cove. I could sit and watch the boats and the ever changing clouds forever. The scenic Battery Park neighbor is convenient, architecturally interesting and had numerous restaurants and cafes.

High points of our time in Hobart included exploring Battery Park, including Arthur's circus, wandering down to the stores and restaurants at Salamanca Place, visiting Franklin Wharf and taking the ferry to MONA.

MONA is not to be missed. We read the founder felt guilty about all his gambling winnings and invested in a museum. It's a pleasant ~30 minute ferry ride and then a climb of 99 steps to the building. We are museum aficionados so have visited many museums all over the world. MONA is the most unique museum we have ever visited. There is no particular emphasis on any style or era. The art ranges from ancient Egyptian to contemporary. It is displayed thematically making for some unusual juxtapositions (e.g., Native American Puebla pottery displayed next to Islamic calligraphy, displayed next to Keith Haring). Nor is the art labeled. You can either download their app or use the electronic device they provide. The space itself was immense, confusing and underlit although it was interesting. There seems to be a strong emphasis on sensationalism. Ferry cost $20 and entrance fee was $25.

Originally we planned to go with a tour to the Tasman peninsula and Port Arthur. Instead we decided to pick up a rental car a day early and drive ourselves. We thought this saved considerable money and a good way to visit the sites. Although we didn't do a boat trip so viewed everything from the land. We left Hobart car rental a little after 10 am and exited the highway at Eaglehawk Neck to view the magnificent Tasman arch. Signs direct you to the various sites and it is easy to check them out. From there we went to the Port Arthur historic site. Having just read "The Fatal Shore" by Robert Hughes we felt they played down the brutality of the forced transportation to Tasmania of Britain's petty criminals and Irish Rebels. We bought the basic tour and if you want you can buy adds ons for the cemetery and other sites.

Restaurants- we had 2 very good lunches at Fish Frenzy on Franklin Wharf. We also enjoyed dinners at Maldini in Salamanca and Blue Eye Seafood on Castray Esplanade near Salamanca.

We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Hobart and could easily have stayed another day to explore the area.

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