Thursday, June 28, 2012

Hobart: Day 2

Our hotel room was nothing fancy. Pretty stan dard and cheap. But we weren't really in Hobart for a grand get-away. Just the visa medical and some tourism. We stayed at Motel 429. The staff was wonderful. We even got a call before we reached the hotel to see what time we would be there so that they could be sure there would be someone to greet us and give us our keys (I'm assuming that this is because it was a Sunday and most things, if open Sunday, close early). The room was small and, I later noticed, had the exact same brownish-red laminate that our kitchen has. It also had the same shower door we have. This isn't really astounding, honestly, except it helped assure me that my dating of things in the house was fairly accurate. The was nice, warm, clean, homey, and comfortable.

And, it was stocked with your basic Australian necessities, like Nescafe instant coffee in travel pouches. This seems to be the coffee of choice in most homes we go to. People here like it, I think it tastes terrible. I mean just terrible. I avoid drinking it when we visit anyone for a hot drink if I can, unless I am in desperate need of a caffeine pick-me-up. Thankfully, we had some instant coffee of our own, all the way from the U.S., thanks to a wonderful friend back home. While I may not like Starbucks, their Coffee Via is wonderful. Especially for instant. So Phillip and I were able to enjoy some delicious sugary caramel coffees (a real treat, for sure), rather than endure Nescafe, or have to pay for coffee. Because we're just a coffee family and it's more than just a caffeine boost in the mornings.

The mini fridge also came well stocked with Tasmanian's own Boags Draught (visit the site, it's fun). But,. neither of us wanted to pay $5 for a beer, or are particularly fond of Boags anyway. But hey, it's Australian, and Tasmanian! So of COURSE the hotel needed to stock it.

Monday was our sight-seeing day. Unfortunately, the big attraction, Port Arthur, was closed that day, so we trekked 20 minutes out of Hobart to Richmond, instead, to visit another convict gaol (which is apparently how ye olde England spelled "jail" back then). Also, ALL of Port Arthur is gated off, and you pay a lot to get in (though I guess not a lot based on the amount you get to see), and can't see any of it without paying. So no self-guided tours. Someday, though, we hope to make it there.

The Richmond Gaol, built in 1825
But Richmond was just as old, if not as historic and famous. But it was interesting and fun and a beautiful little town. The gaol was fascinating. You pay $7 per person to walk through it, and they have very well placed signs that you actually WANT to read because there's JUST enough information on them to make them interesting, but not enough to make you want to stop reading (or I'm just a nerd and I'm really enjoying learning about the history of this island). Then there are interesting tapes playing in the background. Either bits from trials or the mumblings of angry prisoners. The Richmond Gaol is also pretty run-down and used looking, but in a nice way. It's kept up, but hasn't been restored. So you get that real old and historic sense from it.

Click to enlarge, but man did England come up with
harsh sentences for things like, stealing bread
Really the gaol was probably the highlight of the trip (well, that and eating at Muers and celebrating with my husband). It was just interesting. Reading bits about some of the prisoners who were more notable, the treatment (or mistreatment) of men and women in the gaol, how most of the people RUNNING the gaol were actually former convicts themselves and were sometimes still just as corrupt as the prisoners themselves (though, does that ever really change throughout history?). Also, you could shut yourself in the solitary confinement cells. They were TINY. And DARK. And the day we were there, COLD. It was icy that day. And heat or cold, all the prisoners got was a wool blanket, their woolen garments, and maybe some sort of pillow-thing. Of course, when Phillip went into the solitary cell, he ca+me out of the darkness talking about how you would still be able to do body weight training in there. There was also a man-trap. Imagine a bear or rabbit trap. You know, the kind from cartoons with teeth and a spring. Now imagine one large enough to trap a man's leg. And probably totally destroy it. And big enough you can't drag it off into the bush while it's attached to your leg.

Phillip playing prisoner
Down the hall to be clapped in irons

Richmond Bridge, on the "Convict Trail"

We toured around Richmond a bit more, and, pretty as the town was, there wasn't much more to see, except more old buildings, and it really was just cold. So around 2PM we ended up driving back to Hobart, but not without a stop at Wicked Cheese for a free cheese tasting. It was GOOD. Good enough that, on our budget (though mostly because I convinced Phillip to splurge for his birthday because he loves cheese) that we bought some whiskey cheddar.

Walking around Hobart more, we ended up in a free museum, the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) with some surprisingly good exhibits for, well, a free museum. They featured some Tasmanian art work, old and new, and then we wandered into their Arctic exhibit celebrating... something. The first Australian expedition or science or something. I was mostly taken with all the equipment, stories from scientists, and the display of taxidermy baby Emperor Penguins. They even had a case that opened and you could touch two specimens. Kind of gross, maybe, but still, cool. The museum was just really neat, and again, being the nerd/geek that I am, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. we overheard a little girl (3 or 4) ask her dad where the dinosaurs were and an attendant telling her dad that they were in storage at the moment, because the museum was undergoing some construction and expansion. So as impressed as I was at the little they had, this place sounds like it might be much more interesting.
Disturbing? Maybe a little. Interesting, educational, and fascinating?

Also, we treated ourselves to coffee. Really good coffee. 

We ended our cold day out of walking scarfing down massive burgers at a place called The Hogs Breath, because it was a good mix of lots of food for not a lot of money, and after walking all day eating only fruit, nuts, and some cheese samples, really hit the spot.We spent the rest of the night watching Olympic Highlights and Bear Grylls, wondering how in the world that man manages to drink and eat the things he does.

No comments:

Post a Comment