Summer holiday Downunder : part 1

I always find it a challenge to motivate myself to write a few words of reflection whilst on holiday. Given I spend so much of my time penning words (or should that be typing) getting the thoughts from my mind to the page can be a challenge; even more so for an introvert.

Now that that is out of the way I am happy to report that Michael and I are relaxing in the west coast Tasmanian village of Strahan. We are well into week two of our holiday Downunder which will culminate with my sister’s wedding on 22 Feb in Sydney. Our escapade began with a stop over in Hong Kong to break the flight from Amsterdam to Sydney. In the space of 24-hours Michael and I managed to pack in a visit to Victoria Peak, Kowloon, a double decker tram ride and negotiate the hustle that is The Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China Hong Kong.

As many of you know a side benefit of having a KLM employee as a husband is the ability to fly standby for cheap fares. The downside of this is that you are never guaranteed a seat until the flight closes. Our plan was to fly from HK to Sydney after a two night stop over. More the fools us for not taking into account Chinese New Year. After a few hours anxiously waiting we secured the last two seats on Qantas to Sydney, a day earlier than planned. This was a bonus for my parents as we had an unplanned night up in the Blue Mountains. There is something therapeutic about clean mountain air, or maybe it is mums cooking….or both.

From Sydney we made our way to Launceston and the start of exploring that little island south of the big island which is sometimes dropped off or forgotten about. We began with Festivale, one of the Island’s premier food festivals. From there it was a short drive down to Hobart. Our 1st stop in the capital was MONA (museum of old and new art). This $15million private gallery is simply amazing. The owner, David Walsh amassed his wealth through gambling and along the way has built up an eclectic collection of modern works (Damien Hurst), Australian classics (Nolan) and a few antiquities (who do you know who owns 3 Egyptian sarcophagi?). All are presented in a highly engaging manner which I found put me in a place of being a voyeur rather than visitor. Walsh describes the museum as a “subversive adult Disneyland”. Below are a few pictures and I encourage you all to visit the web site (, better still the gallery if you are in Hobart.


After a taste of culture we decided to try some thrill and a mountain bike descent down Mt Wellington (1270m). The views from the top were spectacular but not as enjoyable as hurtling down a mountain at over 60km/h. The strangest sensation was having to wear a helmet. My Dutch friends will understand the unusual experience of this. From Hobart it was off to Port Arthur and a bit of convict exploration including a ghost tour. Unfortunately we didn’t find any ghosts, or they find us.


Before leaving for Tasmania we watched from a far as the Tasman peninsular was enveloped by bush fires. Amazingly no lives were lost however more than 20,000 hectares of land burnt and countless houses lost. It was sobering to drive through the peninsular and see the charred remains of house after house and then one that escaped the flames.


And then we were in Strahan. I’ll save the two days activities for the next instalment of Mark and Michael’s Aussie adventure.

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2 Responses to Summer holiday Downunder : part 1

  1. Ian Carlsson says:

    Hello Mark and Michael
    Glad to hear you had fun in Tassie….I was there many years ago with the RANR Band but can’t remember much about the trip as all we did was drink and play our instruments …but it was fun.
    Although I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma on 26/1/13 and will have five more sessions of chemotherapy (have already endured one session), I am well and feel fine and doing everything I normally do including spending time with my new Singaporean friend…lol. Hey, Mark, I have had my head shaved so I hope the loss of all my hair from everywhere won’t be too traumatic.
    Thanks again for the update.
    Ian xox

  2. We were in Hobart years ago. We missed the museum!!

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