Wednesday, June 20 (Part Trois)

After leaving Port Arthur, we travelled only 10 minutes up the road to the Tasmanian Devil Sanctuary for the last part of the day.  YouDee travelled with us on our expeditions today, but he was too scared to go into the prison, so he stayed on the bus.  But once he got to the Sanctuary and found out that some of his bird relatives were here, he convinced Abby to take him along with her. He felt very safe riding on Abby’s big camera!


The Tassie Sanctuary is a very special place where they take in orphaned or injured animals and care for them or try to rehabilitate them.  Tasmania is the only place in the world where the Devils are found, and unfortunately over 1/3 of the island’s population has been wiped out from an idiopathic, fatal facial tumor that is spread by biting from Devil to Devil. Once bitten by an infected Devil, the victim usually dies within 5 months. The disease has no known cure, and the only management plan is to try to isolate a population of healthy Devils and allow them to keep breeding. Like kangaroos and platypusses and wallabies, Devils are marsupials and we learned today that although up to 24-40 embryos can be produced per breeding cycle, the mother Devil only allows 4 imps (that’s what a baby Devil is called – honest!) to live in her pouch. BUT, she’s a great mom to those four and raises them for up to 10 months when they can go out on their own.

Our guide for the day was the head keeper, Dr. Mark Howard, who is incredibly knowledgeable and was very generous with his time with us. The first little guy that Mark introduced us to was a little orphan wallaby. His mom had been killed on the road, and a lady found him and brought him to the sanctuary.  He seemed to love Mark and came right over when Mark called him:


Shelby tried to convince me to let her take him home in a doggy airline crate on the plane since he’s an orphan, but somehow I don’t think the Aussie officials or the American TSA guys would think much of this idea.  Not to mention Shelby’s mom and dad.  Her brother, on the other hand, would probably love it.

Next we went with Mark to feed the kangaroos and wallabies.  There must have been 20 roos in the enclosure and they all definitely knew what Mark had in the buckets. Kangaroos were jumping everywhere and it was lots of fun for everyone except Alexis, our city girl.  She did NOT look happy, but she stuck it out like the good trooper she is.  Lots O’ Roos…




Next, we saw lots of Devils including a set of three brothers (one of which looked like he got the raw end of sibling rivalry), a husband and wife, several young sisters and another sibling group. All of the Devils at the Sanctuary are cancer free and thus, not contagious. The Brothers Grim…..


One of the shy little girls:


Next, Mark directed a Free Flight bird show in which most of the birds were either injured or orphaned before being trained to participate in the show.

I think Kelsey was most happy to see the birds and she volunteered for everything.  Here she is, holding a Frog Mouth Owl who was hit by a car and has a damaged wing and is unable to fly. 


A peregrin falcon who flew into an electric wire and lost a wing.  He was still pretty scary, even with only one wing. He was sitting on Mark’s leather gloved hand, and I used my long 300 mm lens to get this shot. I was not getting any closer!  Mark told us that Peregrins fly so fast, they only eat other birds that they snatch out of the air.  They’re too fast to catch mice or rodents on the ground, because if they miss the mouse, they’re flying so fast that they would crash into the ground.   Abby reports that YouDee asked her to put him inside her backpack during this part of the bird show.


And, one more falcon who had two wings and was flying all over the place.  Alexis and Jeff wanted to join YouDee in Abby’s backpack now as this guy was swooping right over their heads! 


We had a terrific day, and I’ll close with one more adorable little Tasmanian Devil picture!


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Wednesday, June 20 (Part Deux)

Part of our visit to Port Arthur involved a boat ride past the Isle of the Dead – a very small island where over 1,100 people who had died at Port Arthur were buried. Only the few officers who are buried there have gravestones, and they are buried in the highest part of the little island.  The convicts were buried in unmarked graves.

Isle of the Dead:


Our next stop was the Point Puer Boys Prison, which was also located on an island slightly offshore from the main colony. Here, boys as young as 9 years old could be housed for the duration of their prison sentence for crimes such as stealing and burglary.  Most were taught a trade, and some went on to be very successful and gainfully employed adults because of the skills they learned at Port Arthur. Most of the boy (and general convicts for that matter) couldn’t swim and the commandant deliberately spread the word that the waters were shark infested, so the boys were not anxious to try to escape the island by sea.

After a lunch break, we rejoined Rachel Chesmer, where she showed us some of the activities that she has designed as interactive learning opportunities for the many school groups who come to tour Port Arthur. Here she is in the education center explaining some of the activities to our students:


Alexis and Kate making “wallpaper” from a pattern found in the Commandant’s House.  Alexis “gifted” me with this beautiful piece.  I love it, Alexis, but sorry, no extra credit for it.  🙂 Nice try, though!


Besides making wallpaper and bricks, one of the other projects was to make “peg dolls” as the children of the soldiers and commandants might have done in the mid 1800’s.  Here are Alyssa, Rachel, Lissy and Marissa with the peg dolls they made and Lauren looking on:


By the time we left Port Arthur, we were very tired and cold but ready for our next adventure.

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Wednesday, June 20

Today was a very long and tiring but interesting and fun day.  We had two excellent excursions planned back to back that allowed us to imagine that we were primary teachers taking a bus load of children on two very different field trips.

We began our day at Port Arthur, after a 90 minute bus ride from Hobart.  Port Arthur was one of the largest penal colonies in Australia from 1830 – 1877 and there was a whole community built around the penitentiary. Most of the convicts sentenced to Port Arthur were from England or Ireland, with a few local repeat offenders also coming there to do time.  Today, it is a major tourist attraction but with a wonderful Education Officer, Rachel Chesmer, who set up our whole visit for us. The site today contains over 30 buildings including the penitentiary itself, the Commandant’s house, the hospital, the church, the guards/soldiers quarters, the insane asylum, the maximum security prison which was known as the “Separate Prison”, the dockyards, etc.  Offshore, there are two small islands that were also part of the settlement – the Isle of the Dead, where over 1,100 people were buried (including soldiers and prisoners alike) and the Point Puer Boys Prison.  This was the very first juvenile prison in the British Empire at the time to house only children (all boys). Here are some shots of the penitentiary and surroundings and then one inside the remains of the prison:



Here is a group shot outside the walls of the hospital


And a close up of all the smiling faces:


All of the cells in the Separate Prison held convicts who were sentenced to solitary confinement, the worst of the punishments. Here’s Nicole and Alyssa standing by the fire that was burning warmly on our cold day:


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Tuesday, June 19

Today we flew to Tasmania, the southernmost and smallest of the Australian States.  There are about 500,000 people in Tasmania and about 200,000 of them live in Hobart, the capitol.  We were picked up at the airport in a huge 36-passenger bus, so this was the first time that our driver didn’t get a hernia from stuffing our 21 HUGE suitcases into a much-too-small space. We arrived at the hotel, got settled, did some exploring in town, and then had class beginning at 5 pm.

Hobart is a port city with a lively seafront consisting of both commercial fishing boats as well as pleasure yachts.  In Australia’s summer, we’ve been told that the harbor is jam packed with cruise ships as Tasmania has quite a lively tourism industry. But today, the most interesting boat in the harbor was the Aurora Australia, a research vessel that regularly explores the Antarctic.


Salamanca Place is the market area immediately adjacent to the harbor and it is filled with all sorts of little artist shops, cafes, upscale shopping and generally interesting places. On Saturdays, they have a huge open air market all year round that is part farmers market and part artists market.  Unfortunately, by Saturday we’ll be in Sydney. Here are some of the pictures the Salamanca area:


A view of the harbor from the street with Mt. Wellington in the background.  Hobart is very hilly.


In the market area, there are sidewalk tables everywhere, and a street size chess board in the middle of the square.  No one was playing while we were there, but I bet you have to wait in line to play in the summer.


Another picture of the Salamanca Place town square area


After class, we roamed the streets for a while looking for a restaurant in the CBD to get a bite to eat.  Sorry, no luck, and by 8:15 all the restaurants were closed.  So, we ducked into an little Irish pub just across the street and got some fish and chips and called it a night.  Tomorrow is a big day!

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Monday, June 18

Today was our last day in Melbourne, and I have to admit that I saw a lot of sad faces among our students (and faculty) today.  Melbourne has been our home during the last 2 1/2 weeks and we have grown to love this city. It is a very liveable city with a cafe on every corner and so many fun and quirky things to do. We’ve gotten very comfortable navigating the public transportation system – the 1, 8, 55, and 112 trams are our best friends now, and we know that we need to make a reservation if we’re traveling on the V-Line.  Life is good.

We had class this morning, and the Barrier Reef folks were delayed coming home from Cairns so they didn’t get in until about 1:15 am.  BUT, all students were on time for 9 am class this morning (we’re so proud of you), which was our last class in the Ross House community center.  Students were troopers, but fading a bit by noon, so we ended class a bit early so that they could go back to the hotel and pack.  Kathy and I sent all our heavy books and teaching materials that we no longer needed back home by slow boat, and we saw a number of our students at the post office as well sending home heavy items and gifts.

We had a wonderful Farewell Dinner to Melbourne tonight at a quaint little Italian restaurant in the Carlton area of Melbourne.  The owner of the restaurant personally cooked our dinner of Penne Alfredo, Lasagne, Chicken Schnitzel (big in Melbourne), salad, bruchetta, and gelatto.  Lovely!  We tried to get Kate to lead us in song, but she refused, so we had to settle for a group picture of all of us at the restaurant.

Farewell dinner in Melbourne

Our bus picks us up at 6:45 am tomorrow and we are off to Tasmania!

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Saturday and Sunday, June 16 and 17

Lots of exploring Melbourne this weekend….nothing spectacular, but a lot of small successes.  Saturday was spent shopping.  We went to a vintage clothing warehouse sale and to the Rose Street Market, both in the artsy area of Fitzroy again.  Here are two more street murals that we saw:




The street art and unbelievable graffiti is everywhere in Melbourne and it is celebrated as an art form.  I’m not sure I’ve ever been to a city anywhere in the world where there are so many street murals.

Our day on Saturday ended with a lovely dinner at one of the nicest Chinese restaurants we’ve been to.  It was dark and it didn’t seem quite right to take pictures at the restaurant, but here is the entrance to the extensive Chinatown section of Melbourne. It goes for blocks!


Sunday was a relaxing day but with many early victories.  I have been totally frustrated with posting to the blog for the last week.  The text would load just fine, but the pictures took forever to load and sometimes they would throw me off the site altogether.  Then, quite by accident this morning, we found a different Windows software program (Live Writer) that allows me to write the blog there and it will resize the pictures and correctly format everything and then post it to the blog.  Amazing!  I was able to post a week’s worth of entries in one day.  I’m SO happy!

And, while I was doing that and Stephanie was looking for her NBA game on the TV, we stumbled across the Saturday night Orioles game (we’re 14 hours ahead of the East Coast here).  So, Kathy was ‘happy today’ to watch her Orioles win on a 1-hitter!  After all that excitement, we decided to go down to St. Kilda’s beach where they have an artists’ market and where Kathy and I went two weeks ago.  But, by the time we got there, it was rainy and cold, so we shopped a little, had a late lunch and came home.  Still a very nice weekend, though, and we’ll look forward to hearing about the student’s’ weekend tomorrow morning.

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Friday, June 15

Today was the start of the “Free Weekend” for everyone on our study abroad trip.  Nine of the students went up to the Great Barrier Reef and nine of the students stayed in Melbourne to do some further exploring.  Kathy, Stephanie and I stayed in Melbourne as well since we still had lots of things we wanted to do.

We were pretty excited to book a combined tour of a very famous animal sanctuary which is located right in the middle of one of Australia’s famous wine growing areas – the Yarra Valley.  This is where Eltham College is – our second school visit.

So, we began our day at the Chandon Vineyard – famous for sparkling wines and one of four vineyards in the world owned as a joint venture between Louis Vuitton and Hennessey. The other vineyards are in Napa Valley, CA, South Africa, and France. The vineyard is beautiful and Kathy took this stunning artsy picture. Good job, Kathy. This may be my new wallpaper for my PC when I get home.


These are the actual vineyards and surrounding hills at Chandon. It was stunning!


After Chandon, our driver dropped us off at the Healesville Animal Sanctuary and the other three people on the tour went on to the next winery. The Sanctuary is more like an open range place than a zoo, but we were still able to see many of our favorite Aussie natives. This was a huge Eastern Grey Kangaroo who kept his eye on us, and at one point went over to a smaller kangaroo and started bellowing at him.  The smaller kangaroo promptly got up and moved from his comfy spot and relinquished it to The King:


Besides the last wine photo, this has to be my favorite photo of the trip so far.  Kathy caught this guy just hanging out, waiting for the weekend.  Kathy and I have worked hard to make sure this trip is a success for the students, and some nights in our apartment, we look just like this! Exhausted!


One of the Healesville signs that we thought was appropriate:


Besides kangas, we got our best views of some of Australia’s unusual birds here. Laura G. and Jackie K. – these are for you!




There was a set of twin platypusses born at Healesville last year.  Although spelled wrong, I wonder if our President knows he has a platypus named after him?


And, we saw little fat wombly wombats:


But by far the favorite part of our visit to Healesville was the opportunity  to have a “magical moment” with the dingos!  Kathy and I were both on board for this in a big way, and we got to actually interact upclose with two 2-year old dingos.  We were on Cloud Nine.


This was one of the older dogs who kept his eye on us the whole time!  Don’t mess with him, especially if you’re a bay-bay!


These were the youngsters – aren’t they striking?  AND, we both got Dingo Kisses!!!


You’ll notice that we both have our hands either in our pockets or on our laps as we were instructed to do.  I guess the ranger didn’t care if we lost part of our face, as long as we didn’t lose our hands!

After the Animal Sanctuary, our driver picked us up and we visited two additional vineyards.  Here’s a picture of the vineyards at the Fergusson Vineyard where we had lunch.


And, the unusual chandelier at the Fergusson Cellar Door Restaurant, where we had lunch.


Finally, at our last vineyard, the Cellar Door was in a building that was set into the hill, so that the actual cellar was below ground.  The building looked like an American ski chalet with a second story balcony overlooking the vineyard.  Up on the hills, within eyesight of the building, we saw more wild kangaroos to end a wonderful day.


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