Goin' Down, Under travel blog

Gary, Barb, and friends (including a kangaroo)

Feeding and petting the kangaroos

Definitely not feeding a Tasmanian Devil

Emu, up close and personal

Barb, tentatively petting a koala

Koala holding on to keeper for dear life?

The pub in Richmond. Note beer here is "for your health"

Oldest Catholic Church in Australia

And the oldest bridge in Australia

Hobart from Sapphire Princess

Today we docked at Hobart, at the southern end of the Island/State of Tasmania. A bit of a dreary day, but given our plans for sightseeing, we're just happy it's not raining. But it is threatening.

We boarded our tour bus shortly after docking and getting clearance from the harbour officials and began a quick trip from Hobart to Bonorang Wildlife Park. The Park is both zoo and sanctuary to a number of animals that are unique to Australia, with some animals (like wombats) brought here as orphans and raised till they're old enough to be released back into the wild. Or in the case of two Wedge Tail eagles, injured by hunters so that they can no longer fly, will be cared for for the balance of their days. A highlight of the park for visitors is the fact that kangaroos and wallabies roam the park freely. We are encouraged to pet and feed them from buckets of feed located at strategic areas around the park. We were also allowed to pet koalas and wombats being held by their keepers. The Tasmanian devils were interesting. They're not very good hunters, so generally scavenge to forests for anything that other animals have already taken down. They didn't spin around like the famous Bugs Bunny cartoon character, but you can see why this behavior would have been highlighted by the character's creator. The females are in an almost endless state of frenetic activity, running an endless circle around the large pens, stopping only long enough to turn around and go the other way. The males, in the meantime, are quite content with napping and sunning. All they needed was a remote control and a big bucket of beer and the image would have been perfect!

After several hours at Bonorang, we boarded the bus for a quick trip to the small town of Richmond. Richmond is a popular tourist attraction because of the number of buildings that have been preserved from their original construction in the early- to mid-1800s. Among to of its claims: the oldest Roman Catholic Church in Australia, and the oldest bridge in Australia, built entirely by convict labour.

After a leisurely walk-around the town's centre, we headed to a local pub for a light lunch, and then I headed out to do some more picture-taking.

We were back on board ship by mid-afternoon, and set sail as scheduled at 6:00 p.m.

This was our last stop in Australia. What a wonderful time we had.

There's something of a joke among Australian's that England cleaned up its society by sending the convicts and rejects to Australia, and the convicts got their revenge because the British had to keep England!

Having been here for the last couple of weeks I can certainly understand why Australians are so bullish about their home country. I'm fortunate in that I'll be back in Australia at the end of September and will get another opportunity to take in more of the country, this time focused on the Brisbane area. I'm already looking forward to it.

For the next few days we'll be at sea. Our next view of land will be Millford Sound in New Zealand's Fiordland National Park (the westernmost side of the South Island). If the weather holds out we're expecting some fantastic photo opportunities.

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