South Australia 2015 – Tasman Peninsula and Hobart

The last part of my trip is dedicated to Tasmania, the separate island in the South of Australia. I flew in early in the morning to Hobart airport, where I got a rental car and immediately drove to Port Arthur, almost the end of the so-called Tasman peninsula, a landstrip in the Southeast part of the island. There I visited the impressive historic site of the former prison(s) located in the area, which included a short boat cruise. Also on the peninsula, I went to the Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park (or “Unzoo” as it is now called) to see some of the clumsy aggressive beasts in real life, and drove along the coastal attractions like Remarkable Cave, Tasman Blowhole or Tesselated Pavement and several lookouts.
In the afternoon, I drove to Hobart, the state capital of Tasmania, and did a short sightseeing walking tour around the main spots of interest, enjoying local seafood for dinner.

South Australia 2015 – Flinders Ranges

From Barossa Valley I drove towards Flinders Ranges, an overrall about 1000km wide area of mountains Northwest of Adelaide. On my way there, I drove along the first mountains of the Ranges to Quorn, a historic railway town with a couple of impressive historic buildings to be viewed on a short walking tour. Driving further towards north, the area becomes even less populated. During the drive to my stay at Rawnsley Park near the Flinder Ranges National Park, I stopped at the ruins of Kanayaka Homestead with the “Death Rock” waterhole, Jarvis Hill Lookout at Hawker, and several other lookouts.
I then spent one full day in the Flinders Ranges National Park, starting with the walk to Wangarra Lookout over Wilpena Pound, the most famous landscape of the National Park. The rest of the day was mostly dedicated to driving and stopping at various lookouts or other points of interest, getting up north to Blinman where I did a tour of the historic copper mine. In the evening, I did another walk to Arkaroo Rock with Aboriginee rock paintings.
The third and last day, I did an early morning walk near my stay to the top of Rawnsley Bluff, one of the higher mountains in the area that provides impressive views. This was the replacement for a scenic flight that I originally wanted to do during my stay at the National Park, but which didn’t work out schedule-wise. On the 4 hour drive back to Adelaide, I stopped at Alligator Gorge near Wilmington, which is part of the Mount Remarkable National Park and forms a deep and narrow gorge with rich wildlife.

South Australia 2015 – Barossa Valley

Staying overnight at a Melbourne airport hotel, I took an early flight to Adelaide. From there I drove directly to Lyndoch, the Southwest End of Barossa Valley, the most famous wine region in Australia. I mainly just did a scenic drive through the valley, with short stops at the Yaldara Estate winery in Lyndoch, Jacob’s Creek Visitor Centre in Rowland Flat, and Mengler’s Hill Lookout in Bethany. Unfortunately, due to the ongoing harvesting season, there was no suitable winery tour and in the morning I was not in the mood for a wine┬átasting, so I kept my visit to this nice valley rather short and moved on to my second target from Adelaide, Flinders Ranges, thereby crossing a second Australian wine region, Clare Valley.

 

South Australia 2015 – Great Ocean Road

Staying overnight in a nice motel in Grampians National Park, I made my way back to Melbourne along the coast, following the most interesting Part of the Great Ocean Road from Warrnambol to Torquay.
The scenic driving experience was complemented by a lot of stops at lookouts and walks along the way, the most exciting in the Port Campbell National Park with the “shipwreck coast” and Twelve Apostles.

South Australia 2015 – Ballarat and Grampians

From Melbourne, I took a rental car and made my way towards West. I spent the morning in Ballarat, a former gold mining city, with the main attraction Sovereign Hill, a reconstructed Victorian gold mining town. There is even an original gold mine left that I visited joining a guided tour, but the overall experience resembled more like a theme park with not too much authenticity. I also stopped by the city centre of Ballarat that still has a couple of impressive historic buildings.

After noon, I drove further West to the Grampians National Park, a mountainous area with a lot of hiking opportunities in beautiful landscape, lookouts and waterfalls. Fortunately the expected thunderstorm did hold off and I managed to see the most important spots and do one longer hike in the afternoon. The possibilities in the park are currently limited though, since parts are still closed due to a large bushfire in January 2014.

South Australia 2015 – Melbourne and Phillip Island

Inspired by a good flight offering, I decided to do a rather short 11-day trip to Australia, focussing on the most important parts in Southern Australia that I haven’t yet seen.
First destination and stop was Melbourne, the capital of Victoria known for sports and cultural events. Although the overall metropolian area of Melbourne is huge with several million residents, the city centre is only about a square mile and can be explored by foot in one day, especially since trams and a couple of museums in the inner city are free. I did that the first full day being in Australia, still catching up a bit with the 10-hour jetlag, covering the basic city centre and nearby areas like East Melbourne with the Botanic Gardens and various sports facilities.
Since a thunderstorm in the evening and early morning prevented further sightseeing, I continued in the morning of the next day with the Docklands, Victoria Harbor, and Victoria Market. In the afternoon, I joined an organized tour to Phillip Island, an island linked by a bridge about 100km Southeast of Melbourne famous for the little penguins. The tour included stops at a wildlife park with Koalas and lots of Kangaroos, as well as several spots on Phillip Island like Pyramid Rock or the Nobbies. It culminated in the evening event to watch the little penguins colony return from sea at sunset (together with a few hundred other visitors, no photography allowed).

 

 

US East Coast 2014 – Washington D.C.

The last three days of my trip were dedicated to the highlight at the end, Washington D.C. The first day, I took the MARC train from Baltimore-Washington International airport, which takes about half an hour to get to union station in Washington D.C. After dropping the luggage in the hotel, I did an exploration tour starting at the White House and “The Mall” including Washington Monument (where I got a ticket to go to the top, but visits were suspended due to heavy rain), the National Museum of American History, the National Gallery of Art, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Galllery.
The second day, I started at the Library of Congress, continueing with visits to the National Air and Space Museum, a guided tour of the United States Capitol, a successful second attempt to the top of Washington Monument, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Hirshhorn Museum, and the National Museum of the American Indian. I finished the day with a walking tour through Penn Quarter with a couple of interesting buildings such as the FBI building or Ford’s Theatre, where Abraham Lincoln was shot.

The third and last day was the only sunny day of my stay and I had spared the longer walks for good weather. I started in the morning with a walk from my travel guide book through Georgetown, a more historic and quiet quarter in the Western part of the city. From there I continued the toor directly to the part of the mall with all the memorials, starting with Lincoln memorial, Vietnam War memorial, World War II memorial, and Korean War memorial. From this area, I crossed the Potomac river on Arlington Memorial Bridge to Arlington national cemetery. There I went to the tomb of the unknown soldier and John F. Kennedy’s graveyard. While walking around the huge area, I witnessed several ceremonies. Before taking back the metro to the centre, I walked to the nearby US marines memorial, also known as Iwo Jima or “Flags of our fathers”. In the afternoon before my return flight, I completed the visit with short stops at the National Museum of Natural History, the Jefferson memorial, the Roosevelt memorial, and the Kennedy centre of performing arts.