The Wild Princess of the South

084 The Wild Princess of the SouthTassie is the twin sister of Australia. It is thought to have been part of the mainland of Australia by its first discoverers. When Abel Tasman found the new land he called it Van Diemen’s Land. At first sight he thought it was a continuation of the mainland and he presented it on the maps unclearly. Captain James Cook anchored there later, in 1777, and also he missed to notice the tiny Bass Strait separating Tasmania from Australia. No matter they are separated or not from one another, both islands are like twins – green, steep, humid, cold and densely populated. But, there is no doubt that the Apple Isle, as it is often nicknamed, is wilder than its sister. This observation belongs to Charles Darwin who sailed up in the Beagle in Hobart Town on February 05, 1836. Stepping on the island the naturalist got impressed by its wild and beautiful nature (even though a bit disappointed with the society there).  That’s why Tasmania acquired its other nickname “The Wild Princess of the South” and its capital is the “Sparkling Pearl in Her Crown”.

The Tasmanian capital is the second oldest city in Australia after Sydney. It was founded in the 15th century and was first named Hobarton after Lord Hobart who was the Colonia Secretary. It was officially declared a town and renamed to Hobart at end of the 19th century. Nowadays the city is famous for being one of the world’s capitals of culinary delight and especially of seafood (Tasmanian salmon is renowned all over the world). Salamanca Place is a very popular place known for its rows of sandstone warehouses and stores along the sea. On the other hand, Salamanca Market gathers thousands of tourists and locals alike on Saturdays when everyone can find everything from handmade gifts to food, fruit and vegetables. Hobart town is also the main point of Antarctic expeditions. All this makes the capital so photogenic and a main view and element of every postcard from Tasmania.

Just as a note here. Aside from the capital city the Australian island state has two other cities that are worth visiting – the second largest town Launceston and the fishing capital St. Helens.

Speaking about even the most beautiful towns in Tasmania is boring at a time, in my opinion. That’s why we’d better see the Wild Princess’s beauty from another angle, i.e. its awe-inspiring bays and beaches and diverse flora and fauna.

The Bay of Fires is one the most photogenic beaches in the world that amazes with its fine sugar-white sand and silky aquamarine-azure waves. It’s surrounded by bizarre almost orange rocks, dark green nearby low forests and blinding sun that gives the feeling of long lazy summer days and easiness, enormous happiness and vacation mood.  And why has it been called the Bay of Fires? The name was given by Captain James Cook’s navigator Tobias Furneaux in 1773 who was the first to see lots of aboriginal fires burning on the shore they were approaching.

The Wineglass Bay is the other Tasmania’s famous bay. It’s been named like this for two reasons. Its shape resembles a wine glass. On the other hand, this is the place where whalers store the whales caught and where they separate the marine mammals. The whole bay is filled up with whale blood that is as red as wine. Or in other words, if the bay is looked at from above it’s like a glass of wine.

The Macquarie Bay and Sarah Island are a real paradise – romantic and beautiful, but unfortunately, their fame is very tragic. It was a jail colony where hardcore criminals were imprisoned. But the conditions in the prison itself plus the atmospheric conditions and wild nature influenced badly on both prisoners and personnel. That lead to the closing down of that prison. That’s the reason why it’s been known as the Hell’s Gates ever since.

Apart from these wild bays the Princess is home to a great number of animals and trees that couldn’t be found anywhere else but here. Well, being part of Australia, the southern island has a diversity of jaws and pouches as well. Wombats and kangaroos, strange birds live freely everywhere on the island. There’s a small population of Little Blue Penguins on the Australian mainland and New Zealand as well but they are spread out mainly in Tasmania. Bule penguins are the smallest in the world. They are night creatures and light irritates them and sometimes it even causes their death.

There exist some typically Tasmanian animals like the striped Tasmania wolf (or known as the Tasmanian tiger) and the Tasmanian devil. The Tasmanian tiger is a wolf with a striped back that is to be found only on the island and that is why it was called this way (i.e. Tasmanian) by the first settlers here.  It’s an extinct species unlike the Tasmania devil.

Yes, Taz… 😀 It’s that Taz we know from the Warner Bros. cartoons. It’s that impatient, furious and irrational character that moves like a tornado, speaks inarticulately and makes attempts to gnaw and eat up the whole world. Real Tasmanian devils really eat everything and are like “natural vacuum cleaners”. Mamma Taz takes care of its Taz babies entirely while grown up Taz teenagers at the age of 18 months cluster in small groups and eat as fast and noisily as in the cartoon.

And finally, an endemic flora species is Huon pine (or Macquarie pine) that grows slowly, in the course of thousands of years but it’s a long-lived tree. Wood is golden yellow in colour and it possesses natural oils that resist rotting. And the other one is King’s Lomatia (Lomatia tasmanica). It’s the oldest living organism and plant on the planet. It doesn’t blossom and it clones itself for 43 600 years (and even possibly up to 135 000 years).


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