G’Day from Down Under!
I am now in Launceston, Tasmania together with Cheesie, on the invitation of Tourism Australia. It’s only the second day that we’re here and already we’re having the time of our lives!
Our adventure started Tuesday into Melbourne. From KL to Melbourne is 8 hours. Both of us forgot to charge our laptops beforehand and we ended up with a boring long flight from KL where all I did was staring at the seat of the passenger in front.
It was Cheesie’s first time to Melbourne, so I took her over to the casino for some late night dinner.
Our taxi fare to-and-fro Crown Casino was AUD$90 (RM270). If I hadn’t won AUD$100 at the casino, I’d have shot myself in the butt.
The next morning, we took the local budget airline, Virgin Blue, out from mainland Australia into Launceston, a small city located on the northern end of the state of Tasmania.
Tasmania is the often forgotten state of Australia, located off the south western tip from the great big land of Australia. It’s a real pity not a lot of international tourists come here because it’s an absolutely gorgeous place with lots of greeneries, small historic towns and some of the freshest air I’ve ever inhaled.
And it’s only an hour flight away from Melbourne. From what I heard, the good news is that AirAsia is rumoured to fly here soon.
Thanks to me waking up late and missing breakfast, Cheesie and I were famished. Our first stop was the historic town of Evandale – a small place about 20 minutes away from Launceston Airport.
We stopped by a place called Ingleside Bakery. Here, we had our first taste of what Australian food portions are like.
That was enough to feed skinny Cheesie for a week.
Most people who visit Tasmania travel from the north to south in a rental car, visiting many small shops along the way.
We did the same thing, and our first stop was awesome-sauce.
It’s literally an awesome-sauce shop because the Tasmanian Gourmet Sauce Company make sauces and they are awesome.
It started off in a home kitchen of a cottage run by a husband-and-wife team. Here, they make various sauces, jams and chutneys using only fresh ingredients found in Tasmania.
They even grew some of fruits in their garden on site to make jam.
But this is only a very small company with a very small kitchen run by 4 cooks using normal kitchen utensils. Heck, their kitchen was smaller than mine. And I don’t cook.
Yet, their sauces are so popular that they export them to 5 and 6-star hotels all over Asia. That’s why, they are truly awesome-sauce.
We later drove another 20 minutes to the town of Perth (not the one I grew up in) and visited the Tasmanian Honey Company.
Again, this is another small company without any big factory machineries and bottling stations I imagined it to have. Yet, this small cottage business make such great quality products that they also export them all over the world.
Only in Tasmania can we find Leatherwood Honey – a honey so rare they had to camp overnight in the jungle just to harvest them.
Cheesie and I each got a bottle of honey, to give to our honeys.
By the time we reached Launceston city, the sun was already setting.
Being an island with lots of natural beauty, Tasmania fosters a burgeoning artist community. We find people here often incorporate very creative designs into everything that they build.
It could be something as simple as the painting behind me...
...which is not actually a painting, FOOLED YA!
It’s a window looking out to the city’s park.
At the Design Centre of Tasmania, this stylish wooden chair that costs AUD$400, an arm, a leg and your first-born child. As expensive as they are, it’s no doubt the design and quality of craftmanship is very high. It’s a worthwhile stop if you’re in Launceston.
We appreciate how design-conscious the locals are when we finally checked into our accommodation for the night – TWOFOURTWO, a serviced apartment created by a local Tasmanian designer Alan Livermore.
At AUD$300 a night, it’s got everything from a complete DVD library to bubble baths with Tasmanian peppermint scent. Cheesie and I each got our own apartment. We shamefully admit it was better than our own home.
We didn’t wanna leave.
Unless it’s dinner time lah.
At dinner, we realised the artistic spirit of local Tasmanians wasn’t just limited to rooms and furniture pieces. Our dinner didn’t even look like dinner. They looked more like little pieces of art.
This is I couldn’t bear to eat my dinner because it would be like eating The Monalisa.
Before our trip, Cheesie and I were asked what we’d like to do while we’re visiting Tasmania. Cheesie told them she wanna do all the girly stuff like spa and shopping.
I didn’t fancy shopping because I figured it can be done everywhere in the world. So I told them I’d like to try some adventurous stuff like bungee-jumping or bridge-climbing.
I didn’t expect Tourism Australia to accommodate our requests. But they did.
The next morning, they split us up. I was gonna to head into a forest and pretend to be a flying fox for THREE HOURS.
As for Cheesie? She got whisked off to do some shopping at Launceston. Then, a guide is gonna whisk her off for a one-hour all-expense-paid trip to a SPA!
Damn. Makes me wish I had chosen the spa option instead.
But I didn’t regret going to Hollybank Treetops Adventure.
Compared to the flying fox at KL Tower, the one at Hollybank is a lot higher and longer. There’s five section of cable – the longest one is almost half a kilometre from one tree to another.
Imagine being suspended 10 storeys high above the air, zipping through the forest canopy from tree to tree.
Flying fox is not as scary as bungee-jumping, but definitely an exhilarating sport to do, especially in Launceston where the scenery from the top of the tree is beautiful and the air is fresh.
The air makes you do funny things too.
From Launceston, we took a 90-minute drive up the windy road to Cradle Mountain.
Cradle Mountain is a world heritage site popular for the Australians to get away from the city for some R&R.
The scenery here is breathtakingly dramatic and beautiful, but it’s the many native Australian wildlife here living in their natural habitat that make up the main attraction.
Note: Cheesie is not an Australian wildlife.
But a wombat is.
We stayed overnight here on the mountain top at the Cradle Mountain Lodge.
At night there’s a there’s a spotlight tour where a guide would bring us into the bushes looking for nocturnal animals. Cheesie and I managed to spot two Tasmanian Devils in the dark, but we didn’t get a good shot of him.
All we got is a picture of a bored-looking wallaby going, “Whassup?”
Tomorrow, we’re gonna take a road trip down south, where we’ll eventually end up at the state capital of Hobart.
It was definitely a fun-filled two-day trip thus far. Tasmania is such a beautiful place. For such a small Australian state, there’s just so many things to do. The highlight of my trip was doing the flying fox at Launceston.
For Cheesie, perhaps it was the visit to the cheese factory that was her favourite.
I’m not that much of a cheese-lover, but I had to admit that the cheese made here is really good. I even bought some back for myself.
We met with the owner of the cheese factory. (Was surprised he wasn’t wearing a cheese hat and a cow suit or something.)
They had over 20 different varieties of cheese out on display, and all I gotta do is take a toothpick out for some free sampling.
I had parmesan cheese...
...some lavendar cheese...
...some Malaysian cheese.