The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.~Marcel Proust
Australia stretches the imagination. It’s the sixth largest country in the world and the largest island.
But, despite its size, it ranks very low in population density. Among all the countries in the world, Australia comes in at 225th (out of 229) for population density. On average, this translates to 1 person per square mile (3.1 people per square kilometer). The reason is its geography. Its population of 24.6 million people lives, for the most part, in a 100-mile band along the perimeter of this continent. The rest of the country is primarily desert.
Last week, we left the city and traveled south to Tasmania, an island at the southern tip of the continent, famous for its national parks and wild beauty. We were not disappointed by the incredible vistas and landscape. Conveniently, Amy’s theme #31 for this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge is “Landscapes.” Thanks, Amy!
We set up a base in Hobart, the largest city in Tasmania with 200,000 people. Given that the total population in Tasmania is 500,000, this city is home to for a significant proportion of the population.
Even though it is a small city, it has cosmopolitan influences like espresso bars, sushi restaurants, and an outdoor shopping mall with high-end merchandise. They also have spectacular botanical gardens, which rivaled the ones we saw in larger urban areas.
Australia is just so full of surprises. ~Bill Bryson
The Royal Tasmanian Botanic Gardens were within walking distance of our rental. To give you a sense of scale, look at the 2 small figures in the middle of this first shot. That will give you an idea of just how high these trees are. We also saw the eucalyptus regnans (also called the mountain ash or swamp gum) which is one of the tallest trees in the world, second only to the Giant Sequoia in California.
The garden paths took surprising twists and turns through different environments—like a fern gully and a lotus pond. Here, you can see Rich amidst a riot of flowers.
Leaving our base in Hobart, we went on a small group tour of Bruny Island, a tiny land mass off the coast of Tasmania, and Port Arthur, a famous landing site of the convict deportation ships from England.
Australia is about as far away as you can get. I like that.~Andre Benjamin
Our small group crossed over to Bruny Island via ferry and then continued our travels. We stopped here at Bruny Island Neck, a narrow isthmus connecting the north and south sections of the island. The haze in the distance is smoke from the wildfires that have been burning for weeks.
Being lost in Australia gives you a lovely sense of security.– Bruce Chatwin, The Songlines
On another day, a guide drove us to Port Arthur, famous for its penal colony for convicts who were deported from England. Despite, its oppressive history, Port Arthur is stunningly beautiful. Its craggy coastline is continuously battered and eroded by the Pacific Ocean.
Not all those who wander are lost. – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of The Rings
In this last shot, you can get a sense of the immensity of these giant dolerite cliffs by looking at the two people wandering along the shore line.
As of January 30th, over 2.5 percent of Tasmania has been burnt or is burning according to The Wilderness Society in Tasmania. As the amount of rainfall decreases in that part of the world, the risk of fire has dramatically increased. Tasmania is now calling on international relief workers to help fight the fires.
I sincerely hope that the wildfires are extinguished by rain and/or human intervention so that nature can begin to repair the damage to this breathtaking part of the world.
We’re heading off to another remote spot. Here’s hoping the wi-fi works!
In closing, I hope you all stop by Amy‘s site to see her inspiring landscapes for this week’s Lens Artists Photo Challenge #31.