On the first day of 2012, we caught the shuttle from the Falls Fest back to the Hobart Airport in the morning. We had a rental car booked for the day (not cheap!), and our flight back to Melbourne wasn't until 9pm, so we had a full day to explore Tasmania. I knew we wouldn't have time to make it over to Cradle Mountain (where most tourists go), but I wanted to see something Tasmania was known for. So after a huge buffet breakfast at a casino in the town of Hobart (to wait out the rain), we headed out to Freycinet National Park. The first thing I noticed was that Tasmania only has a few main highways that run through the country, and the roads are extremely windy with very narrow lanes. It made for kind of scary driving, but the land was pretty. There were lots of sheep in green pastures and beautiful, remote beaches.
On the way, we pulled off the road to stop at a little winery. It happened to be Freycinet Vineyard, and they've won some pretty major awards for their wine. We enjoyed a tasting; their 2010 Pinot Noir was especially good.
After about two and a half hours, we finally made it to Cole's Bay at Freycinet National Park. Our mission was to walk to Wineglass Bay, and that's what we did. This bay is considered one of the top ten beaches in the world. It's supposedly shaped like a wine glass, though I don't really see it. I think it's a gem because it's so remote; you can't drive to it. This picture is from one of the lookout points.
We walked down to the beach to get a closer look. The orange on the rocks reminded me a lot of Squeaky Beach at Wilson's Promontory. The water was a beautiful shade of blue, but when I saw hundreds of little blue bottle jellyfish (and some big clear ones) washed up on shore, I had no desire to swim at this beach!
Originally we thought we'd have to make another trip back to Tasmania sometime to really see the state and get the Tasmanian experience, but we both felt satisfied with our short trip. Yes, it would have been cool to visit Cradle Mountain or tour the Cadbury Chocolate Factory (they weren't open on New Year's Day), but there are so many other places we'd like to see in Australia and beyond, so I think we've crossed Tasmania off our list.
Everyone wants to know if we saw a Tasmanian devil. The short answer is no. The long answer is that they are extremely rare to see in the wild because a facial tumor disease that has been spreading and decreasing their population. You can go to wildlife centers and such and see them there, but we'd already seen them at the zoo and Maru Animal Park with my family, so we didn't take the time to see them in Tassie. So yeah, that was our day in Tasmania and our start to 2012!