The week before Christmas, my boss phoned me and told me that I was now required to take 3 days of my precious annual leave between Christmas and New Year. Having previously been ‘relaxed’ on the issue, the company would, after all, be doing a Christmas shut down.
Warning: extended rant alert.
Now, my vacation days are a very precious resource to me. I may only be in this country for another 10ish months (#visastruggles) and I want to see as much of it as I can. I get 20 vacation days per year here in Australia, and even though that’s a whole 5 fewer than I had in the UK, trust me I know how lucky I am to have those 20. However, I had planned to make each and every one of those days work for me, so to lose three felt like a big deal.
Apparently, this whole Christmas shut down thing is quite normal in Australia and frequently lasts for two weeks – the first week in January is often taken as well. Personally I don’t like to take any vacation days at Christmas if I can possibly avoid it because, as I say, I like to use those to go away and Christmas is an expensive time of year to travel. I’m not bound by school holidays so will always opt to travel in the off-season where I can.
So upon learning I was to have a surprise vacation thrust upon me, I decided there was nothing for it. I wasn’t just going to sit back and let a vacation happen to me. I was going to plan the heck out of this thing.
TL;DR:So I booked a trip to Tasmania less than a week out, and didn't tell my husband. Click To Tweet
Ok, so he found out on Christmas Day when I told him that we were leaving for his favourite place on earth in two days – I’m pleased to say he was very happy about this and didn’t freak out at all, which I was slightly worried about.
And that’s how we ended up on a truffle farm in Tasmania.
Here’s what we did with our time.
Patted wombats and a Tasmanian devil
Our visit to Trowunna Wildlife Park was the highlight for me.
Post coming soon!
Visited a salmon and ginseng farm
We got to feed some monster fish, try all kinds of salmony delicacies, and go for a peaceful walk around a lake. Oh and meet their gorgeously placid dog, George.
The walk was perfectly fun (although the maze and boardwalk element were closed, to our disappointment) but I would go for the free tastings and leave with as much of their delicious salmon as you can carry.
Had a taste of farm life
As we were staying on a farm, we had the opportunity to join the wonderful owner Jennifer for a tour of the place. This included giving the sheep (Willy, Wally and Dolly) a good back scratching, trying not to get our fingers nibbled by the cheeky ponies with awesome hairdos (Harry and Larry),
feeding the chickens and holding a newly hatched chick.
Basically it was cuteness overload and I loved every second.
Hunted for truffles
As an addendum to farm life, we toured the truffle orchard with Jennifer’s two truffle hunting dogs, Chicken and Toby (in training). We learned lots of things about truffle hunting and even got to have a practice truffle hunt with Chicken and Toby. Apparently I have a good voice for commanding dogs (grew up with a dog) whereas poor S does not (grew up with a cat). Hey ho.
Spotted some fairy penguin chicks
This not-so-hidden gem is courtesy of a newly rebuilt penguin viewing platform on Lillico Beach conservation area. It’s a pretty sophisticated place, all staffed by volunteers and funded by donations which enables visitors to see adult fairy penguins emerge from the waves to feed their waiting chicks.
The first penguins emerged about 20 minutes before sunset, to give you an idea of the best time to go. We saw some absolutely adorable chicks pottering about and practicing flapping their tiny wings. It’s not the best photo but the only lights allowed were red lights to avoid disturbing the penguins. Hopefully the cuteness still comes across.
Ate delicious food
Alright, full disclosure, for #budgetaryreasons we mostly self catered this trip. However, we did have a delicious meal out at the Drift Cafe in Devonport. We enjoyed views out over the Bass Strait, watched the Spirit of Tasmania embark for Melbourne, and quite frankly stuffed our faces.
I had a gluten free burger that was decent, a potato gratin that was excellent,
and a trio of chocolate mousses that was absolutely divine. See, gluten free puddings don’t have to be just fruit.
Didn’t get bitten by a venomous snake
We were warned that we might encounter snakes on our walk around the Narawntapu National Park but we figured that was just the rangers being over cautious. There are only three snake species in Tasmania! Sure, they are all venomous but what are the chances?!?
It was a stressful situation for all concerned but we are all still alive to tell the tale and let’s move swiftly on.
Saw wild kangaroos
Our walk ended on a much more happy note when we got to see various mobs of kangaroos all hanging out on an area of open grassland. Some had joeys, some were bouncing around looking purposeful, some were lazing around in the long grass.
It was the perfect stereotypical Australian end to the walk.
Do you like animal type holidays? Foodie ones? Tell me everything!