Wineglass Bay overlook

Hobart harbor
Stephanie and I finally found the right nanny, and got away for an eight day trip alone to Tasmania. There was a four day Emergency Medicine conference in Hobart, the tidy capital; then a three night road trip up the east coast. It was our first trip away alone in 10 years! It was a wonderful break…

Mt. Wellington looms 4000 ft above the city

Salamanca Place, restored waterfront warehouses
Tasmania, though remote, has a long history by Australian standards. Hobart, the second oldest Aussie city, was founded in 1803 as the second colony. The initial settlement was only 262 people, 178 of whom were convicts. The colony grew rapidly, and became infamous for the most feared penal colonies in the British Empire between the 1820-1850’s
Central Harbor on the Derwent River

Tasmania is sort of considered the Vermont of Australia, which is sort of considered the Switzerland of the US, if you follow me…. It’s very bucolic and agricultural in the north and east, becoming wilder, more remore and mountainous in the west and south. It has a very developed, high quality artisinal food culture; famous for lamb, fruit, fine wines, cheeses and dairy and especially fresh seafood…Foodie heaven…It’s nickname is the “Apple Isle”…

Artisinal Bakery, Hobart


Tasmanian oysters, highly prized and delicious…

A heritage building, converted to a cafe, Hobart

Tasmania has one of the largest collections of stone heritage buildings in Australia, many convict designed and built

Hobart is a compact, walkable city of 150k with great architectural diversity. It’s on the southern coast, an area so far south that to me it feels like the far north; temperate, with cold winter winds blowing in from Antarctica instead of the Arctic. The place has a remote, sub-polar vibe; much like towns I’ve known in Alaska, or perhaps Scandinavia…tho I’ve never been…We were there in late November, late spring, so the evening light was long and lusterous; and flowers were at peak of bloom.

Royal Botanic Gardens

Strange birds in exotic trees
Hobart has one of the oldest Botanic Gardens in Australia, like Sydney, it started as the colony’s farm and is said to have the largest specimen collection of conifers in the southern hemisphere..

One day, it was off for a ride to the top of Mt.Wellington for panoramic views of the southern coast. But first, a quick stop at the Cascade Brewery, Australias’s oldest…

A Thylacine model at Cascade

Another Tassie oddity is the Thylacine, a now-extinct (?) striped,wild dog that, bizarrely, is also a marsupial; carrying it’s live young in a pouch. Called a Tasman Tiger, the last known one died in a Tassie zoo in 1937; but there are regular unconfirmed sightings in the wild, mountainous wilderness of SW Tasmania…Could they still be out there lurking….??

Hobart and the Derwent River from Mt Wellington summit

Summit Barrens


At the MONA

The local Australian EM Chapter put on an awesome social program that blended Art and Science; including a private party with open bar for 500 at the Museum of Old and New or MONA. This is a private museum and winery built by a local internet billionaire. It revolves around his conception that all great art is created out of the fear of death or the desire for sex…I thought it was a complete freak show, but a half dozen or so cocktails got me through the thing….

The Crypt, main room carved three stories down through limestone…
Almost there….

Some cool Micronesian prints…

Try navigating this stairway after a couple,,,

I’m not really getting the library of blank books…

The building is REALLY stunning….the contents…hmmm?
Water drops fall; creating ephemeral, random words…

Next night was a five course degustation meal with matching wines at the old Hobart Town Hall…Very swish affair , all highlighting the best of Tassie produce ,wines and live music…..These guys party like rock stars down here..Sublime, but we gotta get out of town and preseve my liver…!

Getting a bit hazy about now…
So, conference survived, we hit the road up the east coast. We avoided the western mountains because Tassie friends in Brisbane warned us that the weather could be really touch and go up there at this time of year. It was windy and freezing up on Mt. Wellington., so we opted for the mellow route, travelling through a bucolic landscape that reminded one of the English countryside to the village of Ross, site of the famous stone convict-built bridge. It’s the oldest stone bridge in Australia, c 1823, overlooked by the oldest Catholic church, c 1836..

 As we headed east and north, the land flattened out and became sheep covered..In the distance rose the curious granite Hazards of the Freycinet Peninsula, our destination for a few days of hiking
Maria Island, a wilderness park offshore

The Hazards over Moulting Lagoon


The Hazards at Coles Bay, Freycinet Peninsula

An Echidna, an egg laying mammal…the only other being the Platypus..

The world famous sweep of Wineglass Bay, an Australian icon

A dried Gannet with a curious Donald Trump style toupe….too weird….!

We hiked over the pass and for 12 km along a remote headland..The bay waters were crystal clear and colored like the Carribean

A Bennett’s Wallaby, only waist-high

World’s best local scallops ? Served roe on , with butter

Impending bliss

 After our exertions it was time for some cool local Reisling and fresh Freycinet scallops…I am a happy man at this moment…In fact, I think I feel a little budda sitting over my right shoulder….

Sad to have to leave Coles Bay on the Freycinet, an uncommonly beautiful blend of agrarian Ireland and granite encrusted Acadia N.P. in coastal Maine..Not stupendous or grand, but something even more intriguing; pastoral, intimate, harmonious, with glorious food and sunshine beside the ever restless ocean…A very remarkable place on the planet….

Sheep grazing by the sea
St. Mary’s fishing boats

Catch of the day

Orange lichen at the tide line

Bay of Fires N.P.

Turning inland , we went west from the coast, arriving late into Launceston; at pop.75 K the second largest city in Tassie..The fertile valleys interspaced with surprisingly steep and windy, rain-forested  mountain roads, we got into town 2 hours late, changed clothes in the car and had the best meal yet in Australia at Stillwater, a localvore temple set in a converted flour mill…A fitting finale to an amazing trip…

Actually, these were the best scallops ever…the appetizer…
Scallops in still life; they were that good…..with lemon foam, whipped potatoes and proscuitto

Impending bliss….

Late in the meal, I’m feeling it…the enveloping endorphin buzz, or perhaps the second Pinot?…complete with dissolving waiters and everthang……..

The River House B&B

Vineyards above the Tamar River, a major vinicultural region
Tamar River from the River House
Launceston Gorge

We flew back to Brisbane out of the tiny Launceston airport, somewhat fully recharged and ready to re-take on the challenge of raising our wonderful, rapidly growing and very energetic five kids..We hope you enjoyed the journey to a little known place on the planet as much as we did…After 10 years of daily parenting, our only question on arriving home was, ” When can we get away again next…and to where…?!” I have a few ideas and hope you will follow along..A tantalizing few hints:  It contains rare birdlife, the world’s southernmost coral lagoon, and is even more remote than Tasmania…Any ideas?? ..Here’s to sharing the next adventure with you too….Safe travels Doc (and Mrs) Down Under….
Future Aussie Surf Lifesavers

We wanted the kids to join an Aussie activity that would give them a deeper appreciation of Aussie culture, but didn’t want to spend weekends sitting on bleachers watching amateur cricket or rugby in the hot sun. So they agreed to Surf Lifesaving. It’s an Aussie institution, run by volunteers and donations. It’s also a widespread social organization, that takes even very young kids, beginning at age five, aka “Green Caps” and works them up through the ranks as “Nippers” ages 6-14 ,until they attain eventual status as Surf Lifesavers in their mid-late teens. It’s also a very fun, active (and tiring) day at the beach…

On the ferry over to Stradboke Island with the Healy girls

Beach Buddies…


Beach exercises…

Getting in shape, on land…

…and at sea

Board work too…
Georgia in SPF…in colors.. Who Knew…??
Blue Bottle Jellyfish attack….I survived, it did hurt…but no tears…Harden up Dr. Nolan!!

A nice family activity, with the Healy’s


Relay races

and Tug of War…Pull Cate…!

Luke has been working hard all year to advance to Surf Rescue Certification..As this was the last meeting of the year he and some others tested out to get the SRC certification. There was a nice ceremony with gifts… He can now roster on for patrol as a Junior member..A very proud moment for us all!

A young up and comer…


It seems a long time ago that we first arrived and were marveling at the courage of the nippers.. I even blogged about them. Now the Nolan kids are getting right in there too..Fully accepted into their ranks…

View from the club deck looking south down Main Beach, Stradbroke Island…unbelievable..!
As an older legacy organization, many of the SLSC’s are sited on amazing real estate, overlooking vast stretches of beach and river estuaries etc…. Members can take advantage of club restaurants and facilities for weddings and parties….

Looking east from the deck…

Some deep club history, going back to 1947

With Christmas coming on, there was a rumour going around of a special guest arriving during lunch..The kids were fired up….Look, a Surf Rescue helicopter….!

What an entrance…He said it was too hot for the Reindeer to fly…

A popular fellow, worldwide…

Never too old to believe…
A tricky Landing Zone…

A nice accomplishment ..

Luke’s SRC Uniform

Back at Raby Bay with “The Minnow”

Merry Christmas from Down Under!!


We were recently at a water park White Water World…the kids were in their glory. So here are a few shots of, well… kids being kids…Merry Christmas to all family, friends and strangers; near and far. Please know that you are missed and close to our hearts at the close of a very eventful 2012, and looking forward to many new adventures in 2013.. With much love, DDU and the Nolan gang… 


…and after all that activity…we are bushed…and it’s time for bed…sweet dreams…ddu