Our trip down the lower east coast of Tasmania was nice. The best cruising we’ve done in Australia so far. Georgia is nicely tucked in corner of Wineglass Bay with surprisingly blue waters and a long sandy beach. We are at about 42* south latitude, which means that the weather (and wind) changes continually, sometimes twice or more in a day. Keeps you on your toes. 42* degrees North puts you on the Oregon – California border, or on the other side of the world somewhere in North Korea, but without the insulating landmass of North America or Northern Europe/Asia. Like most places we’ve been on this trip the locals are quick to point out that the weather’s not normally like this.
Many of the bays in Tassie are home to the little blue Fairy Penguins. (picture for Wikipedia). Chris saw a few in the water.
We did see a number of dead Penguins along he tide line. The park ranger said they were the fledglings that leave the nest and just don’t make it on their own.
Some days have been really warm. The island was/is in a drought that has brought on massive fires this summer. Here’s a smog set from one of our stopping places, Maria Island looking west into the smoke.
Maria island is home to a lot of wombats. This one is resting in one of the old island prisoner’s quarters on the island.
Wombats don’t normally live in prison. even the juvenile delinquent ones. They make these burrows in he sandy soil.
I’d tell you all of the fascinating facts about the life and breeding of wombats if it wasn’t for the overwhelmingly most interesting fact. Wombats poop square!! Don’t ask me how they do this. I’ve laid awake at night trying to figure out how this could be possible.
The towers and broken off sections make for a impressive view, but not one you want to mess with in bad weather.
Once around the southeastern cape, we anchored in the very protected anchorage at Port Arthur. Port Arthur was primary entrance for prisoners transported from Britain to Tasmania, or Van Diemen’s Land as it was known then. The prison was begun in about 1830, with the main buildings completed in 1853-1855. It was a new design, shifting the punishment philosophy from physical to psychological. This meant lots of solitary confinement along with sections of the prison where prisoners (and guards) were not allowed to speak for years at a time. They only words they heard were the Sunday sermons. About 160,000 prisoners were transported to Port Arthur over its life.
An 1888 view of the prison grounds.
We started our tour of Port Arthur by getting a ticket on a guided golf cart. It was just Chris and I along with our friends Sherman and Judy, off Fair Winds. One nice thing about the tickets for Port Arthur is that they are good for two days, allowing us to do the guided tour one day and roam the next. The first place the guide took us was into the old café building. This is the site of the largest mass murder in Australia. On April 28, 1996 a gunman from the local community came into he café and slaughtered 35 tourists and workers. He was later captured and received 35 life sentences. The memorial is respectfully low key and impressive at he same time. The most remarkable result of this event is that Australia banned semi-automatic and automatic weapons and radically reduced the number of guns in it’s society. This was done with almost universal backing of the voters. Today Australia has about 1.04 gun deaths per 100,000 people, along with gun ownership of about 13.7 per 100 people. This in a country with a healthy macho wild, wild west culture. (Compared to the US, where the gun deaths per 100,000 sits at about 12 people, and gun ownership is about 120 per 100 people.)
The grounds are well taken care of with some restored and others just in a preservation mode.
The list of prison rules was long enough that it meant that pretty much everyone of them violated some term and was punished for it. Here I’m trying on the leg jewelry in advance of my next violation.
They have some big gum trees on the grounds. To us Norte Americanos these are eucalyptus trees. The main output of the early prison was lumber to feed the English need for ship building, both commercial and naval.
The dock inside Port Arthur is still lightly used by local fisherman. Here they are bringing large rock lobsters. They are caught using the circular cane traps you can see stacked above he guys heads in the upper picture.