Day 1: Trip to Tasmania, Australia (18th April 2008)

It's 10.10am Melbourne time and here I am again hanging around at the airport having a flat white at one of the many Hudsons Coffee outlets. Have been in the airport since 8.30 this morning and have about another 3 hours to go before catching my connecting flight to Hobart at 1.45pm. Just spent an hour walking through the airport shops but that was about all my back could handle. Yep, I'm lugging my huge backpack with me because I can't check-in my bag yet (Jetstar has this weird policy that you can only check-in your bags 2 hours prior to departure time). I really admire those backpackers who could manage 30kg++ bags on them - how do they do that??! I would just topple, bag first to the ground if lucky! Hah! Photo of me at Melbourne domestic terminal:

The flight from Wellington to Melbourne was alright with the exception for the check-in part: me (and many other passengers) were stuck in a 2-hour queue and I was beginning to panic that I may jolly well miss my flight, even if I ran to my boarding gate. Thankfully the plane didn't take off without us! I still feel that Wellington airport should be open 24 hours - such would not have happened if they had their check-in counters available before 4am.

God, my head feels 'toing, toing' in pain - I'm having a real bad headache. Guess lack of sleep and water. Yawn...

Did a bit of shopping since I had time. Finally bought myself a cap (haha Helbert - now I've got an Aussie cap to show off too :P) and ended up chatting with the lovely lady behind the counter. When I told her I was from NZ, she said that I didn't have a strong Kiwi accent. True, though I don't think I have a strong Malaysian accent either - in NZ, the locals can clearly tell I'm not Kiwi-born but in Malaysia, some assumed I was foreigner too. I guess that is what happens when one lives in different countries for awhile. The accent becomes blended (Kiwisia?? Malaywi??)...hehe...I'm caught in between!

Somewhat deja vu for me being at airports again - reminds me of my months travelling last year. Wow, I've REALLY travelled a lot in the past year: Fiji, Perth, Singapore, Malaysia, Chicago, Washington DC, New York and now, Tasmania. Gosh! And I plan to continue my travels too. Had better do it while I'm able and fit. Probably be heading to Samoa in August for a week and depending on my financial status and leave availability at the end of the year, perhaps do more travels of NZ and Australia. I'm also likely to fly back to Malaysia middle of 2009 to attend one of my best mate, Cindy's wedding. It is a real pity that I couldn't be back for the 10th year highschool reunion this May (the girls will have to fill me in on all the gossip!).

At 3pm, I finally arrived in Hobart International Aiport. A small little airport and the passengers had to walk the tarmac into the terminal. The view from the flight was nice though NZ is still way greener (Hobart's greener than Melbourne). The weather was nice and sunny - I think it was about 19 degrees outside. No meals or entertainment provided on my flight with Jetstar - comes at extra cost. Doesn't bother me since it was only a 1-hour flight from Melbourne to Hobart. Hmm, I'm craving a good steak dinner tonight (it's Friday!)...Photos taken on board the plane from Melbourne to Hobart:

Cost me AUD22 return trip for the Airporter Shuttle Bus from the airport to Pickled Frog Backpackers where I would be staying for the night. I'm actually a day early for my 7-day tour around Tasmania as I was unable to get a flight in early tomorrow morning. No worries - gives me a bit more time to look around Hobart this afternoon.

You must wonder why I chose to visit Tasmania. Well, I had initially wanted to visit Tonga but the travel agent advised me against it, saying that it wasn't wise for me to travel there on my own (sheesh, at times, it frustrates me that being Asian, single AND female, the odds are against you). Anyway, I wanted to be able to see most of a place with a backpack tour in a week so Tasmania was my next best option. Sounds great to me - I've never been there!

Tasmania is an Australian island and state with Hobart as its state capital and largest city. Hobart is also one of Australia's oldest cities with a population of about a third of the population in Tasmania. The drive into Hobart central reminded me a lot of Dunedin - old English buildings, hilly and has views of the sea.

At 4.10pm, I was dropped off at Pickled Frog Backpackers on Liverpool Street. Checked-in to my dorm for 6 females (cost AUD24 a night) - hmm, not what I expected (thought it was a new facility but the place was somewhat old and dark). I had chosen this place because it was awarded the best hostel of the year but I have to say, I've stayed in better hostels. I wonder how it got awarded for being the best hostel in Tasmania...

Left my stuff in the dorm and around 4.30pm, I headed into town towards the harbour where most of the restaurants and pubs were (as informed by the guy behind the reception desk when I queried). It was a short 15-20 minutes walk to Salamanca Place and I stopped to take a few photos along the way. Did a bit of shopping and found out from the locals that the best steak place in town was Ball & Chain Grill - I'm going there! I'm so used to being at the BBQ on Fridays and I'm craving for a darn good steak :) The verdict? ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC! You have to have a meal here if you visit Hobart. My 180gm porterhouse steak was cooked on a real charcoal grill to perfection (medium rare just how I like it) and you could have as much food from the salad bar as you wish (a wide selection to choose from). Of course, I've to have my beers too so tried the locally brewed Cascade Premium Light - a low alcohol lager (2.7% alcohol) and best selling light beer in Australia. Hmm, nice though I didn't quite understand why it was served only in small glasses and not the standard glass size like ones in NZ...

More and more people started streaming into the restaurant (I was the first to walk in at 6pm). It had to be good, otherwise people won't be queuing for their dinner :) Lots of chattering and the whole placed liven up with diners. Sitting here watching the crowd, enjoying a good beer and meal was an absolute pleasure. I'm really enjoying the moment - my little pleasures in life :P

Oh my god - I ate TOO much! But it was SO good!! Total cost for my meal and 2 beers: AUD26 which was not too expensive and the service was great. Thumbs up from me!

Ball & Chain Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The night started to get dark and about 7pm , I began retracing my tracks back to the hostel. Need to sort out my stuff, shower and organise my taxi to North Hobart early tomorrow morning to the meeting point for the start of my tour. Photos taken this evening in Hobart:


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