Monthly Archives December 2014

FAST FACTS: AUSTRALIA

AREA CODES Each state has a different area code: 02 for New South Wales and the ACT; 07 for Queensland; 03 for Vic­toria and Tasmania; and 08 for South Australia, the Northern Territory, and Western Australia. You must dial the appropriate code if calling outside the state you are in; however, you also need to use the code if you are calling outside the city you are in. For example if you are in Sydney, where the code is 02 and you want to call another New South Wales town, you still dial 02 before the number. See “Staying Connected,” p. 71.

BUSINESS HOURS Banks are open Monday through Thursday from 9:30am to 4pm, Friday 9:30am to 5 pm. General business hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 5:30pm...

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THE WEST COAST

296km (184 miles) NW of Hobart; 245 km (152 miles) SW of Devonport

Tasmania’s west coast is wild and mountainous, with a scattering of mining and logging towns and plenty of wilderness. The pristine Franklin and Gordon rivers tumble through World Heritage areas once contested by loggers, politicians, and environmentalists, whereas the bare, poisoned hills that make up the eerily beautiful “moonscape” of Queen­stown show the results of mining and industrial activity. Strahan ★ (pronounced

Strawn), the only town of any size in the area, is the starting point for cruises up the

Gordon River and into the rainforest.

ESSENTIALS

GETTING THERE Tassielink (& 1300/300 520 in Australia, or 03/6230 8900; www. W9U tigerline. com...

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Inds Hiking the Overland Track

The best-known hiking trail in Australia is the Overland Track ★★, a 65km (40-mile) route between Cradle Mountain and Lake St. Clair. The trek takes 6 to 10 days and can be tough going in some parts. The trek gives you a good look at the beauty of Tasmania’s pristine wilderness, passing through high alpine plateaus, button grass plains, heathland, and rainforests, studded with glacial lakes, ice-carved crags, and waterfalls. There are many rewarding side trips, including the 1-day ascent of Mount Ossa (1,617m/5,304 ft.), Tasmania’s high­est peak.

During the peak (summer) season (Nov 1-Apr 30), you must pay a National Parks fee of A$150 adults or A$120 children 5 to 17, as well as the normal park entry fee...

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CRADLE MOUNTAIN & LAKE ST. CLAIR ★&#9733

85km (53 miles) S of Devonport; 175km (109 miles) NW of Hobart

The national park and World Heritage area that encompasses both Cradle Mountain and Lake St. Clair is one of the most spectacular regions in Australia and, after Hobart and Port Arthur, the most visited place in Tasmania. The 1,545m (5,068-ft.) mountain dominates

the north part of the island, and the long, deep lake is to its south. Between them lie steep 723 slopes, button grass plains, majestic alpine forests, dozens of lakes filled with trout, and several rivers. Mount Ossa, in the center of the park, is Tasmania’s highest point at 1,617m (5,304 ft.). The Overland Track (see “Hiking the Overland Track,” below), links Cradle Mountain with Lake St. Clair and is the best known of Australia’s walking trails...

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WHERE TO DINE

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Fee & Me Restaurant ★★ MODERN AUSTRALIAN Perhaps the best restaurant in Launceston, Fee & Me is in a grand old mansion. The menu is structured so that din­ers choose a selection from five categories, each one moving from light to rich. An extensive wine list complements selections for each course...

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LAUNCESTON &#9733

198km (123 miles) N of Hobart

Tasmania’s second-largest city is Australia’s third oldest, after Sydney and Hobart. Situ­ated at the head of the Tamar River, 50km (31 miles) inland from the state’s north coast, and surrounded by delightful undulating farmland, Launceston is a pleasant city crammed with elegant Victorian and Georgian architecture and plenty of remnants of convict days. Launceston (pop. 104,000) is one of Australia’s most beautiful cities and has delightful parks and churches. It’s also the gateway to the wineries of the Tamar Val­ley, the highlands and alpine lakes of the north, and the stunning beaches to the east.

ESSENTIALS

GETTING THERE Qantas (& 13 13 13 in Australia; www. qantas. com) and discount carrier Tiger Airways (& 03/9335 3033; www. tigerairways...

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The Heritage Highway

By the 1820s, several garrison towns had been built between Launceston and Hobart, and by the middle of the 19th century, convict labor had produced what was considered to be the finest highway of its time in Australia. Today, many of the towns along the Heritage Highway harbor magnificent examples of Geor­gian and Victorian architecture. It takes about 2 hours to drive between Launces­ton and Hobart on this route (also known as the A1, or the Midland Hwy.), but you could easily spend a couple of days exploring. Picturesque Ross (121km/75 miles north of Hobart or 78km/48 miles south of Launceston) is one ofTasmania’s best-preserved historic villages. Ross was established as a garrison town in 1812 on a strategically important crossing point on the Macquarie River...

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FREYCINET NATIONAL PARK ★&#9733

206km (128 miles) NE of Hobart; 214km (133 miles) SW of Launceston

If you only have time to visit one place in Tasmania, make sure it’s Freycinet National Park. The Freycinet Peninsula hangs down off the eastern coast of Tasmania. It’s a place

Tasmanian Devil Disaster

Made famous as the angry, spinning creature in the Warner Bros. cartoons, the Tassie devil is in real trouble. Back in 1996, mysterious red, fleshy lumps appeared on the faces of the animals in northern Tasmania. This cancer, possibly caused by a virus, makes it hard for them to eat and can even suffocate them as it spreads to the throat. Most quickly weaken and die within a few weeks. In some areas, the population of adult devils has been reduced by 90%, and the disease is spreading rapidly...

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PORT ARTHUR &#9733

102km (63 miles) SE of Hobart

Port Arthur, on the Tasman Peninsula, is one of Australia’s prettiest harbors. It houses the remains of Tasmania’s largest penal colony—essentially Australia’s version of Devil’s Island. It’s the state’s number-one tourist destination, and you really should plan to spend at least a day in this incredibly picturesque, yet haunting, place.

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From 1830 to 1877, Port Arthur was one of the harshest institutions of its type any­where in the world. It was built to house the settlement’s most notorious prisoners, many of whom had escaped into the bush from lesser institutions. Nearly 13,000 convicts found their way here, and nearly 2,000 died while incarcerated. A strip of land called Eaglehawk Neck connects Port Arthur to the rest of Tasmania...

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Fjnds Walking Maria Island ★&#9733

Within minutes of arriving on Maria Island, you’ll be charmed by the local wild­life. Wombats, to be precise. When they waddle into view, you’ll let out a chorus of wows—a word that you will surely overwork if you choose to visit this lovely spot. Maria Island is about 50 minutes by ferry across Mercury Passage from Triabunna on Tasmania’s east coast, north of Hobart. You can take a day trip to Darlington, the island’s only settlement, or stay overnight in bunkhouse accommodations in former penitentiary cells. I recommend you take the time to do a 4-day guided Maria Island Walk, which takes you beyond Darlington, to discover the true beauty of this place.

Once home to the Tyreddeme Aboriginal people of the Oyster Bay area, Maria Island was also a penal settlement for up to 150 convicts ...

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