There was good and bad in the fact that we had to pack up and leave St Helen’s on Boxing Day. The traditional day of lounging on the sofa watching cricket and eating left overs was sorely missed. However we were heading to the Hobart area for a few days, coinciding with arrival of the Sydney to Hobart yachts, and hoped to soak up some of the seafaring vibe.
Our journey to our campsite at New Norfolk, just out of Hobart, was down through the midlands via the “Historic Highway” owing to the fact it was the least windy road we could find. Twisting narrow roads have become the norm in Tasmania with the glory days of the Stuart Highway and WA highways long gone. There is a string of little historic villages from convict times that we were able to check out along our route.
Our foray into Hobart Town was planned to coincide with the line honours winner of the Sydney to Hobart. We began with a stroll around Battery Point. There was a lot happening around the waterfront with the Taste of Tasmania festival at Salamanca Place and Constitution Dock buzzing in anticipation of the winner’s arrival. As we checked out the displays and the official trophies in the Race Tent, we watched the estimated time of the winners arrival slowly get later and later as the two boats were becalmed off Tasman Island.
By lunchtime, the winner’s forecast arrival time had blown out to 9pm, so we decided to tackle Mt Wellington. By car, not foot. The Mt Wellington summit is only a 25min drive literally from the centre of Hobart. Towering over the city with a summit of 1250m above sea level, there is a spectacular vista for miles around, when its not covered in cloud of course. Just two weeks ago it was covered in snow.
Luckily for us we had a clear bright day and with vain hopes of watching some yachts from afar come up Storm Bay and into the Derwent we checked out the views, climbed over rocks and marvelled at how far we could see. No boats though.
It was back to New Norfolk for the night, vowing to return the next day to see a few of the leading boats come in. Our little campsite was a cracking spot up in the hills with a timber cottage for a camp kitchen, great gardens, only two ensuite sites and two cabins. Perfect for the 10 strong Team Tasmania party.
We built fires, enjoyed their warmth, played around the property, fed the goats and played with the resident dog.
We awoke to the news that the line honours winner, Loyal, was subject to a protest for an alleged breach of the “outside assistance” rule. Luckily for us the hearing was scheduled to be heard that morning as we headed back down to the docks to see some boats come in.
So with the result still up for grabs and only a few of the big name front runners finished, we wandered around Constitution Dock and got up close and personal with the pure racing machines Loyal, Wild Oats XI, Lahana, Ichi Ban and others. Fortunately we saw three boats cross the line in quick succession around midday including Ragamuffin. Cheers went up and we all celebrated as the word came through to the crew still onboard Loyal, that the protest was dismissed and they were declared the winners. So, in the end, we were there when the race was won!
The highlight was being able to board Lahana, the 3rd boat over the line. The crew were decidedly happy and merry having come in at 1am, and had not yet finished unloading the boat. We all climbed aboard and chatted with the crew, discussed the race, checked out below the decks and found out all about these super maxis.
So with our Sydney to Hobart completed, the long way round, it was time to move onto Port Arthur and commence the Hobart to Sydney return journey by a much shorter route.