Thursday, 22 January 2015

Lucky lunch, Seasick journey, Dramatic cliffs and Convict history

Enjoying a traditional Devonshire Tea on the veranda of the Visiting Magistrates House in Port Arthur. 
The wild westerly weather of last week finally loosened its grip on Sunday across south-eastern Tasmania.  The forecast for diminishing wind strength and a welcome return to sunshine came - finally - after pretty much 5 days in a row of stormy conditions.  We decided to take the car back to our home marina in Hobart from our handy Port Huon base and after discussions with Bruce, plus an hour or so on the computer, we knew how and where to catch buses to get back to the boat.  There would be much walking between buses but we planned our times well so there shouldn't be any rushing around.

We arrived at the marina with a few minutes to spare which gave us about 15 minutes to say hello to two of the RPAYC club boats that had arrived over the past couple of days.  As usual it was a genuine delight to catch up with boating friends and listen to their stories of crossing Bass Strait.  It's these shared experiences that act like glue gradually binding long lasting friendships.  Plus it's good to laugh about the challenges of sailing - we've all been through shit times, and magic times, at one point or another!  

It turns out the 'Mixed Nuts' crew were planning a drive down to Huonville that morning anyway so they offered to give us a lift.  Then when the 'My Way 2' crew joined morning tea we decided to make the trip together and catch lunch on the way.  Lunch ended up at the Kermandie Pub next to our little Port Huon Marina.  Afterwards the people at the Pub gave us all a tour of their B & B facilities - which were terrific and perfect for visiting family members - and then everyone came down to check out the marina.  Turns out they all liked the area so much we just may try to work out a group rendezvous there while we're all in Tassie.

The Kermandie Pub lunch crew.  That's the little Port Huon marina behind everyone.
Monday morning 'Southern Belle' departed the marina on the high tide.  Our first destination would be the facilities at Kettering to get some fuel - our first fill up since we departed Pittwater (that seems so long ago right now).  At Kettering, while waiting for the bowser, I met Eva one of the wonderful women in the facebook group 'Women Who Sail Australia'!  As we motored slowly up and down the channel we waved and called out to each other.  I wish we could have spent more time there and met each other face to face.  The WWSA group are such a friendly, knowledgeable and supporting collection of women from all over Australia and other countries who are out sailing around now or have sailing in their blood.  I'm hoping to catch up with Eva and some of the others in the group while we're down here.

From Kettering we planned to travel the 35 or so nautical miles to Port Arthur at the bottom of the Tasman Peninsular meaning we had to cross Storm Bay - another infamous body of water down here.  The Bay was pretty calm but, due to the preceding days of strong westerlies, there was a fair amount of rolling wave action .. which I wasn't prepared for!  Living on the boat while down the D'Entrecasteaux Channel, in Port Cygnet and Port Huon - with no waves at all - had not prepared me for the movement of the ocean again.  I became nauseous pretty quickly which increased to that horrible feeling of impending violent "pukesville" and stayed at that extreme level for the whole of the crossing.  I. HATE. THAT. FEELING.  If I had thought about it I could have started some medication the previous evening but I didn't consider needing it.  So I endured the sickness all the way around the cliffs of Cape Raoul which I had wanted to see so badly.  I did manage to sit up long enough to take some OK photos of the dramatic cliffs.

The dolomite cliffs as you approach Cape Raoul.

The "organ pipe" pillars of the Cape.  You can see the size of the rolling waves as we approached.  Pukesville!

Rounding the Cape ... what a sight!

And here we are in the beautiful and solitary Port Arthur .. as I write this we've been here 4 days.  The next day after our Storm Bay crossing I was really knocked out.  After being that seasick I think it takes a day for the body to get over it.  George and I just stayed on the boat reading, doing chores and napping.  Then yesterday and today we spent walking over the penal site of Port Arthur.  As we learned ...

"The Port Arthur penal station was established in 1830 as a timber-getting camp, using convict labour to produce sawn logs for government projects.  From 1833 Port Arthur was used as a punishment station for repeat offenders from all the Australian colonies."

While beautiful and quiet today, this place was one of punishment and cruelty for so many men.  Many of those sent here were barely teenagers originally convicted of something as minor as stealing a hanky.  Then transported to Australia where they re-offended in some way thus ending up in Port Arthur.  In contrast to the virtual slave labour and mistreatment of the convicts, the overseers and military hierarchy enjoy a normal - even great for some - life on this site.   As George and I sailed past the cliffs of Cape Raoul and into Port Arthur we reflected on how those convicted men would have thought they were entering Hell itself .. many never to return.

The familiar view of the penitentiary building ruin from the water.
We were anchored just around the corner from this view. 

The view from the hospital ruins on the hill of the main area.

Tomorrow we head back north a bit to the town of Nubeena.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

A busy week at Port Huon

The small and very sheltered marina at Port Huon as seen from the Kermandie Pub up on the hill.
It is hard to make out 'Southern Belle' in the photo .. she's on the left just opposite the incoming channel. 
It's Saturday afternoon here in the little marina at Port Huon, George is fast asleep enjoying his afternoon nap and I'm trying to blog while listening to the most recent wave of howling wind and driving rain outside the boat.  

The weather has been like this since yesterday afternoon.  You can see each wave coming.  First - for about 10-12 minutes - there's sun .. bright shining sun in a flawless blue sky with white fluffy clouds.  Then, coming in from the west, the grey starts to build along with the wind and soon it consumes everything in its path and we're hit with 30+ knots of wind and driving rain.  We get slapped with 10-12 minutes of that and then it's gone again. 

Last night it felt so good for the boat to be tied securely here in our little berth, to be warm and snuggle up together in our cabin safe from the wind and rain.  But as the night progressed and we were woken several times by gusts pushing 'Southern Belle' up hard against the side of the berth and even tipping us over a bit .. I admit I wished for it to end.  It hasn't.  The wild westerlies have continued all day today and the forecast isn't for any change until tomorrow afternoon at the earliest.  Our friends on 'Bogart' are out in this at anchor and they've been on our minds all night & today.  We've been in touch and they're fine .. I'd like it a lot if they were here with us right now.

In spite of the last 24 hours of changeable weather, this past week in Port Huon has been choc full of friendship, events and adventures.  In fact we've been so busy I haven't had time to blog or do much in the way of catching up.  There have been so many highlights  and we've enjoyed every minute being based down on the river.  I want to show you as much as possible so I'll do it in pictures .....

Monday we joined our good friends Bruce and Thelma - the couple sitting opposite me in this photo - for the weekly dinner at the Wooden Boat Shed/Living Boat Trust in the little town of Franklin.   Earlier that day Bruce drove us in to Hobart to pick up our car for the week.  The weather wasn't looking the best for sailing so we decided to base ourselves here to see more of the area.   

The dinner is held by the members of the trust and it gives an open welcome to visitors.  The beauty of the event is everyone pitches in to get the dinner on the table - visitors and members alike.  Everyone shares in the chores from erecting the tent, to finding (their shed is more a workshop than a clubhouse) and setting up the tables and chairs to helping in the kitchen ...everything done by whoever volunteers. 
George and I had a good time.  The food was good, the people were a great mixture of cruisers, wooden boat enthusiasts and characters. The atmosphere was excellent.  Many thanks to Bruce and Thelma for taking us!! 
These are some of the beautiful hand made rowing boats - with a long history in this area - they lovingly construct in their workshop.  The dinner that evening had to wait until they could get a coat of varnish on one which will be a feature of the Wooden Boat Show coming up this February in Hobart.

On Tuesday we drove to Hastings Cave - about 50 or so kilometres from Port Huon.  This is the parking lot where you join up with a forest path leading to the cave entrance.  The trees were HUGE!

You can see how big some of them were - mind you not that many were this big
because the area had been logged quite a bit.  It was cold ... and we were warned that inside the cave the temp was 9C or lower so I've got about 3 layers of clothes on!

A shot of the roof of one of the chambers in the cave.  Unfortunately my camera and flash is too pokey to show how spectacular the different caverns actually were. 

On Thursday we boarded the ferry for the half hour ride over to Bruny Island with a lot of other holiday makers. 

We didn't really give ourselves enough time to see Bruny ... we thought since we had done some of it on the boat that would be enough but, like so much of Tasmania, there is so much more to experience.  This photo was taken at the top of the lookout at the Bruny Island "Neck" .. which is the narrow spit of land between N & S Bruny.  The lookout is pretty amazing.  You climb nearly 300 steps to the top and look out over the ocean and The Channel.  The wind was blowing hard up there!  I didn't have my hair up for this photo .. the wind was whipping it up that way!!  That night we drove back to the marina and had dinner with Bruce and Thelma on their boat .. A good day and night. 

And yesterday we drove into the town of Geeveston to try the famous little Sushi restaurant there that  Bruce and Thelma told us about.  The chef is very popular and is asked to prepare sushi for visiting dignitaries in Canberra at times.  He's only open for lunch on Friday and Saturday.  We arrived just after noon and he was just about sold out .. closed before 1.  When we got there the line was out the door waiting for his sushi.  And I have to say it was the best I've ever had .. and George, who usually won't eat sushi even liked it.  Supposedly, we heard from a person in line, the BBC are even preparing to do a documentary on him! 

That's our week.  Tomorrow we're going to take the car back to the Hobart marina, ride the bus back down here and hopefully go sailing on Monday when the weather breaks.  I'm ready to get moving again but certainly don't want to move out of here until the westerlies settle down.  We've heard that a few more of the RPAYC boats have arrived so it will be good to catch up with them somewhere.

And on a final note .. the rainbow over the river yesterday at the end of one of the rain waves.  Beautiful.

Monday, 12 January 2015

I Love a Festival!!!

Street performers in Cygnet ... rousing drums and great dancers.  Everyone driven to move with the beat!!

All the sounds, scenes and atmosphere at the Cygnet Folk Festival meant I had one big smile on my face for the whole day we were in town.  All the ticketed performances were sold out way before we were even aware the Festival existed, but that didn't matter ... the performers on the street more than made up for anything in the halls we may have missed!

'Southern Belle' made the trip around to the Port of Cygnet with ease.  George and I just pointed her in the right direction, turned on the autopilot and motor sailed for the couple of hours needed to move from our overnight mooring in Great Bay.  The day was another exceptional one - Tasmania in all its natural splendour again - with light winds and plenty of sun.   As we travelled across another large expanse of perfect water and beautiful scenery George and I commented on the absolute lack of other people or boats .. as far as the eye could see there were only 2 other boats.  If this was Pittwater (our home port) on a Friday in early January there would be power boats, sail boats, ski boats, jetskis and all other manner of marine craft.  But here ... nothing.  Just wide open spaces.  Another reason to love, love, love Tasmania!

We arrived at the Port in the early afternoon and motored around the already moored/anchored boats to find a space to drop our anchor.  The "Port" of Cygnet was, at one time, a major shipping bay for the produce of this area.  Today it is just the end of the bay ... a place to drop anchor or pick up a mooring and then go ashore at the little Port Cygnet Sailing Club, leave the dingy and make the 2km walk into town. 

As we were lining ourselves up to anchor we drove around the back of a lovely yacht sporting an American flag ... we wondered who they were and if they had sailed it all the way here from the USA.   It wasn't long until we met them.  While doing the odds and ends required to straighten up from our day's leisurely cruise I heard a shout and a dingy approaching.  It was the couple off the American boat coming to invite us for "Sundowner Drinks" at 5!!! 

I've said it before, this is the part I like about cruising the most!  Meeting new and interesting people.  It turned out they were on the lookout for us .. Peter & Sue on Celay had met and socialised with them in Eden while waiting to cross Bass Strait and they are also well known to our good friends Bruce and Thelma!!  This cruising world is a very small and connected.  That night we joined them on their boat along with another cruising couple we had met in Airlie Beach in 2013 ... another night of laughs, stories and good times.   Everyone was here for the Folk Festival.

Early the next morning we got ourselves together, climbed into the dingy and made our way to the Sailing Club for the walk into town.  The day was great .. and the big event for the afternoon would be back at the Sailing Club for 2 hours of singing and a sing-a-long of Sea Shanty songs.  Here's some photos of the day .....

Main street of Cygnet for the Festival.

Free music in the park with a different performer every 30 minutes.  The best thing about sitting in the park - other than the music - was people watching!  There were all kinds of people from everywhere - young, old, bikers, hipsters, hippies - complete entertainment.

One of the street bands .. these guys were great!

We just happened to be walking past the town hall where we could hear fantastic drumming going on inside .. then, all of a sudden, the performers burst through the doors banging away with their whole audience streaming out behind .. all dancing!!!  You just had to follow them on to the main street!  They had everyone dancing.

Just some of the performers leading the crowd at the Sailing Club in the sing-a-long of Sea Shanties.
 Perfect end to a perfect day.
After saying goodbye to the people we had met the previous night and during the day we made it back to the boat and pretty much collapsed.  It was a big enjoyable day at the Cygnet Folk Festival .. just one more thing that should be everyone's itinerary when visiting down here!!

The next morning we pulled up the anchor and moved further up the Huon River.  We had a great sail for the 3 or so hours it took to get to the last anchorage available to our boat.  The rest of the river, while still wide, can be shallow so we'll stop here.  Our friends from Lake Macquarie - Bruce and Thelma - live in the little Port Huon Marina on their boat.  We anchored off last night due to the tide and George went to get them in the dingy for drinks and dinner aboard Southern Belle.  Tonight we're joining them for a dinner at the Wooden Boat Shed up the road in Franklin. 

More tomorrow!

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Foodie Heaven .. and we've just started!

Me and the Captain enjoying our lunch at 'Get Shucked'!

Our night spent in the little 'Duckpond' bay ... one of the many bays up and down the D'Entrecasteaux Channel ... was calm, peaceful and a great first night back on the boat after our car adventures.

Yesterday we moved to Missionary Bay which is an easy sail around Kinghorne Point on North Bruny Island.  We planned to find the oyster farm 'Get Shucked' for afternoon snacks but arrived too late.

As we sailed down the Channel the wind was rising to its forecasted high of 20 knots.  We only had the headsail out which was pushing us along at a great speed of 6.5 knots with gusts blowing up to 25 and then 26 knots.  My favourite way to sail!  Just the headsail up with the wind blowing hard enough at just the right angle to move us along at a good pace - without the boat heeling too far over.  I've said it time and time again .. I'm not much of a sailor.  I prefer the boat upright.  The Captain, on the other hand, would love to have every piece of sail flying winched in tight with the gunnels in the water!   Keeping us both happy - and the boat moving - is our constant balancing act. 

When we rounded the corner and started our move into the 'Great Bay' we came upon the largest salmon fish farm we've seen so far.  In fact it was in the process of being moved across the bay.

Floating fish farm with the towing and pushing boats working.
As we sailed past George thought he saw a number of divers working along the perimeter but on closer inspection we realized we were seeing seals!  They were circling the nets like wild lions in Africa .. on the lookout for tasty escapees to snap up if any made a break for freedom!

By the time we moved into our place in Missionary Bay it was too late to try and find 'Get Shucked'  so we had a late lunch followed by George's considerably long nap and some heavenly quiet reading time for me. 

George, the "chef", making a night time treat of banana + blueberry muffins.  They were the best he's done yet!!
This morning we woke to a drizzly day and, at one point, a very loud thunderstorm overhead.  But the intrepid sailors .. and oyster hunters .. were not to be deterred!  With the rain pouring sometimes and at other times just drizzling enough to get your head wet .. we started out across the 'Great Bay' to find 'Get Shucked' and the "Bruny Island Cheese Factory".  We managed to find the other side of the bay through the white mist as well as a public mooring we didn't know existed and once safely moored we jumped in the dingy ... with all the wet weather gear we had!  

Since we've owned "Southern Belle" with her hard dodger we haven't had any reason to wear much wet weather gear.  A jacket is only needed when going forward and even then it's pretty much just George that does that .. but today, to stay reasonably dry, I put it all on and needed every bit.  I was quite a sight walking into the lunch deck of the oyster farm draped in my dripping wet outer gear .. but no one seem to notice. 

If you're coming down to Tasmania you MUST give "Get Shucked" a try!!  I don't really like oysters much .. George loves them.  But I had the BEST oysters I've ever eaten.  George had a dozen naked oysters with a glass of Tasmanian Chardonnay and I tried the Asian panko crumbed with rice noodle salad.  Fantastic!!  We went back for seconds as well .. they really are good.

Panko crumbed oysters .. a must try!  I had a dozen!!

We followed that with another dingy ride in the rain to the Bruny Cheese Factory .. good place and great cheese, from what we could see.  Unfortunately there were a lot more people there and it was hard to get to the counter to order or try.

Right now we're back on the boat with the expected SE change blowing outside and a new round of rain tapping on the deck.  Perfect for another great night's sleep.   Tomorrow we plan to sail around to the little town of Cygnet where there is a well known folk festival on this weekend.  We've heard most of the tickets are already sold for the scheduled performances but there should be a lot of street activity and buskers to enjoy.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Picture this!! ... A photo update

The rugged bush of northern Tasmania .. at a lookout above the Tamar River.
Blogging is a hard thing to keep up with, especially when everyday is full of interesting and new experiences.  Since my last blog we've been to Launceston to visit with friends who were very generous with their time to show us around the area.  Then we've travelled back down to Hobart, provisioned the boat and made a break for the cruising grounds of the D'Entrecasteaux Channel.  I've got so much to talk about and so many photos to share and so little time ... which means I'll cheat a bit and do a photo narrative instead.  Here goes ....

We left Hobart on Friday and followed Di and John to their home in Launceston in our car ... The next day they drove us to see the wide expanse of the Tamar river all the way up to their yacht club - Tamar Yacht Club - and towards Bass Strait.  The river is wide and can be navigated down to Launceston .. although it gets shallow and pretty much ends there.

On the way we went through the mining town of Beaconsfield - where two miners were trapped underground for two weeks.  The mine collapse and rescue were covered worldwide by the media.  Today the mine is closed and a museum covering the area and its mining history is open.  We didn't go in but John said the museum is very interesting and worth a visit if we had more time while we're here in Tassie. 

Upon our return to Launceston we were invited to the home of another couple we met in the Louisiades Rally - Rodney and Christine - for a BBQ.  They live in a lovely home built in the 1800's sitting on a commanding position high on a hill looking down on the beautiful little city and the beginning of Launceston's Cataract Gorge.  They also have a pool!  The weather in Tasmania is well known to be - or at least I expected it to be - quite a bit cooler than the mainland of Australia.  To be honest I expected it to be cold - and for much of the time we've been here it has been quite cool.  But this day was hot - up to the low 30's - and perfect for a champagne + pool dip!  I must admit I NEVER thought I'd be in a swimming pool in Launceston ... a great time was had by all!

The view of the Cataract Gorge from the house.  We were told there a some good walks through the gorge and also the Basin Chairlift believed to be the longest single chairlift span in the world.  We didn't have the time to explore the gorge but, again, its something we'd like to go back and do another time.

The next day Di and John drove us up to the coastal town of Bridport.  On the way we stopped at the Bridestowe Lavender Estate.  What a place!!  There are miles of lavender fields as far as the eye can see.  They've certainly cornered the tourist market with tours and a shop that unapologetically promotes the Estate and its products - and it's very expensive.  They created a purple teddy bear filled with heat beads and aromatic lavender which they market as 'Bobby Bear'.  The Bear has become so popular that visitors are limited to one only per person!!  They are a destination shop for visiting Chinese people who LOVE the bears.  They can even buy - as their single one - a bear dressed in a Chinese coat - for $10 more!  I thought the place was amazing, the Lavender ice cream delicious, but the prices very over-inflated.  We didn't buy our allotted bear.        Later we had lunch at the Barnbougle Golf Club and I hate that I didn't take a photo while we were there.  The view and the greens are right next to Bass Strait but protected from the wind and waves by reclaimed high sand dunes.  It was a spectacular place. 

These two little west highland terriers are Di and John's best mates!  Mac and Tilly.  It was so good to be around dogs for a weekend since missing our Molly.  Great dogs .. love them.

While we were there the miniature horse boarding on the property gave birth .. we got to see a 2 hour old fold.  So cute and so agile even when only hours old! Special!

We said a huge THANK YOU to our hosts in Launceston and left for Hobart on Monday morning.  On the way we stopped at the historic town of Ross.  There they have two major sites from the cruel transportation days of early Tasmania.  The first is the Female Factory where women, most in their twenties, were kept to work in a form of slave labour to pay for their crimes.  There isn't much left of the site but they've created an area that informs while taking the visitor back to the hardships and harshness of the times.

The historic sandstone bridge over the Macquarie river in Ross.  It was completed in 1836 by convict labour in chain gang conditions.  There are beautiful and intricate carvings on both sides of the bridge on the arches.

While in Launceston John took George to his favourite chandlery so George could stock up on all the things he needed for fishing and catching Tassie rock lobsters.  As we travelled down the channel he caught a small barracuda which he'll use as bait for crays.  Unfortunately we can't put the cray trap down in the channel and the winds are a bit too wild to go on the outside of Bruny Island - where we can trap crays - right now.  George is waiting for the day when he can catch one!!!  He will be VERY disappointed if he doesn't catch anything. 

That's it ... a lot to catch up on and a great weekend!  Last night we spent the night in the "Duckpond" bay in the north of Bruny Island.  This is cruising.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Trees then Taste of Tassie ... Ending 2014 with a BANG

Midnight fireworks in Hobart! 
The pace of life we've adopted while here in Hobart hasn't slowed over the past week.  We've caught up with friends from Lake Macquarie, rekindled friendships with people we met in the Louisiades Rally in 2013, and enjoyed celebrating the turn of another year with our Hobart cruise buddies from 'Celay' and 'Bogart'. 

All this and we haven't even been back out on the water in 'Southern Belle'!   Mind you the wind has been blowing and blowing and blowing - hard - so I haven't missed being out on the boat at all.   When Di and John - friends from the Louisiades rally - came aboard they told us an interesting thing about the wind down here.  They said the wind tends to come in with the "Big End" first!  In other words, instead of building up to it's maximum strength for the day it starts out at the max and then works itself down.   I think we've seen that a good bit even here in the marina as we clocked over 36 knots blowing right here in the pen!  The good news - and we're hearing this from everyone - is the wind calms down considerably starting in mid-January and things get better and better for cruising as we move into February and March.  I'm certainly looking forward to that!!

We're lucky with the weather ... we have all the time in the world to enjoy Tasmania because we don't have to get back to Sydney any time soon.  Stephanie is taking good care of Molly and the house and we don't have work commitments so we can take our time and enjoy everything this amazing place has to offer.  And that's just what we've been doing .....

On Monday of this week we drove down south of Hobart to take in some of what is called the 'Huon Trail'.  The website describes it like this ... "a world of extensive and serene waterways, wild coastlines, quiet farmlands, boutique vineyards, and rugged but accessible World Heritage wilderness".   And it certainly lives up to the description.  The drive is lovely with vistas that change as you climb and descend each mountain and cross the Huon River valley. 

Monday we headed for the Tahune Airwalk.  This is presented in the tourist brochures as a walk among giants ... a walk at the very top of the forest canopy.  After seeing the huge trees at the base of Mt Wellington I wanted to see what it looked like towards the top of these beautiful and ancient trees.

To enter the Airwalk you cross a bridge over the mighty Huon River and start the climb up through the forest floor.

Once inside the forest area there are huge trees (as seen in the background here) - apparently left from past forestry cuttings - mingled in with new growth and massive fern trees.  As we drove through on the way to the Airwalk site there were signs along the road dating the regrowth from the early 1960s through to the late '70s.  Makes you wonder what this wild part of Tasmania would have looked like today if the original huge trees had been left to live their life unchanged. 

The airwalk at the top of the forest.  The walk is only as wide as one or two people and it is quite high up in the tree tops. It swings and moves with the wind and the weight of people walking on it.  The view was breathtaking and, in some parts, the "swing" of the walkway was disconcerting.  I loved it.

Then, as you descend back down and cross the forest floor, there are many areas to enjoy the peace, tranquillity and sheer majesty of the area.  Well worth the visit!
On Tuesday we woke to a drizzly morning with a windy day forecast.  Di and John delivered a boat around to our marina and came aboard for morning tea and invited us to their home in Launceston for the weekend.  I took advantage of the breaking sunshine and wind to get some laundry done.  This is the first marina we've been in that provides a clothesline next to the laundry so we don't have to run our clothes through a hot dryer.  So good and so Tassie!  This seems very much an environmentally "green" state.  In the afternoon we escaped the wind by going to a movie .. we saw "The Water Diviner" and liked the film a lot.  See it if you get a chance.  I was so glad to see the cinema almost full for the film ... usually Australian audiences don't support Australian films like they should.

Wednesday was New Year's Eve.  The 6 of us - me & George + Ian & Sharon from 'Bogart' + Peter & Sue from 'Celay' - had purchased reserved seats for the "Taste of Tassie" NYE celebrations months ago.  After attending the first day of the "Taste", where the crowds were pretty thick, I wondered if we would enjoy the night or if it would be a huge crush of people all vying for the vendors inside.  But it turned out the party was just for ticket holders and the crowd was large but manageable which meant it was easy to sample all the wines on offer as well as try a lot of the food.  The theme for the night was Pirate and a lot of people dressed up.  We didn't ... with the exception of Sharon who donned a frightful black beard as well as an eye patch.  Great fun!

George and Sharon in the pirate guise!

Our table with the young couple that had reserved the last two seats on the end.  They were such nice people visiting from Arnamland in the Northern Territory where he teaches. 

One of the sample cheese boxes from a vendor.  The sample plates, boxes and dishes were delish!

A group selfie during the 9:30 fireworks!
The scene behind us - with the Sydney to Hobart yachts at the main wharf in the distance - as everyone settled back in to drinking and eating and waiting for the midnight fireworks.

We had a great night!  If you ever get a chance to come down to Hobart don't miss the "Taste of Tassie" event.  It is done so well.  The people running the stalls are so friendly plus the food and wine are excellent.

Yesterday 'Bogart' and 'Celay' left the marina to cruise around for awhile.  We're going up to Launceston to visit with Di and John for the weekend so we said goodbye in the morning.  I wanted to spend a lazy day reading but George wanted to take a drive down another section of the Huon trail road so off we went down the other side of the channel.

More spectacular scenery with lots to do and see along the way. 

Apologies for the length of this post ... there is so much to show and tell.  More later from Launceston.  We're still loving it down here!