Southern lights, killer kangaroos and shark meat: how I lived in Tasmania for three months
Victoria Zubareva, CSSSR Recruiting Manager, talks about the delights of working remotely at the world’s end, where 10 GB of internet access is stretched out for a month.
Usually, remote workers prefer to go to warm countries, combining tourism with work on the beach. I, on the other hand, move from place to place depending on my husband’s itinerary – he is involved in university projects around the world. This time he had an opportunity to combine scientific work with a trip to Australia, to be more precise, to Tasmania, an island separated from the mainland by a strait.
What do you know about Tasmania at all, except that it is the home of the Tasmanian devil and it is very far away? Meanwhile, there is the aurora borealis, snowy mountains, people walk barefoot to the supermarket, and rented apartments come with a car. Interested? Let’s elaborate.
We settled in Tasmania’s capital, Hobart. It’s a small town with cozy one-story houses in the style of provincial North America. The Aurora Australis icebreaker is moored on the waterfront in the heart of the city, and the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Research has a modern building on the shore.
The atmosphere in the city is peaceful, and those who want a quiet life come here from all over the continent. The residents seem to do nothing but chill: water the apple trees in their orchard, sit in cafes, hike and go to farm shows, and just walk around.
There’s no club life in Hobart, but there is a large contemporary art center, the Museum of Old and New Art, or MONA. With the largest private collection in the entire Southern Hemisphere. But of course the beauty of Tasmania isn’t in the capital, it’s outside the capital.
Our house was in the city, but it was actually in the woods, on a hill. You could go out for a walk and meet kangaroos, wombats, possums, and other unfamiliar animals. Some came very close and were not afraid of us – here man and wildlife coexist in harmony. Wallabies (small kangaroos) were always hanging out in our yard. By the way, we never met any Tasmanian devils.
But there’s a sad story: because there are so many animals in Australia, they often get hit by motorists. The first thing you see when you get on the highway is not the nature behind the window, but the run over animals on the side of the road. In the north of the mainland, you can find kangaroos about three meters tall jumping right under your wheels.
Unlike mainland Australia, Tasmania is quite cold. Even in summer the temperature does not rise above 25 degrees, and in winter it always drops to zero. So there are almost no snakes and spiders, which tourists are afraid of, but there are small snowy mountains and unreal beautiful beaches. Another cool thing – the aurora borealis. It illuminates Tasmania from the South Pole. But I never got to see it. I hope to see it next time.
Australians are very simple and friendly. They don’t worry about anything: they dress as they please, they behave naturally. No one judges anyone, in three months I have not once encountered domestic rudeness. Children and adults like to walk barefoot (everywhere!), in the supermarket you can meet people in their home clothes. If you happen to talk to an Aussie in a cafe, in an hour you will part friends who know everything about each other.
Strange fact: They dress like they don’t feel the cold in their lower body. I kept seeing people in flip-flops, shorts, and down jackets. I have never been able to solve this mystery.
As for the Australian English, it takes a while to get used to it. They use a lot of slang and often abbreviate words. It feels like they’re just too lazy to pronounce them in full. For example, some, “McDonald’s” in Australian will sound like “Makos”.
I did not consider the option of taking three months off, so on weekdays we adjusted to my work schedule.
The time difference between Hobart and Moscow is seven hours. I would start working in the afternoon at 3 pm (it was 8 am in Moscow) and finish at midnight or 1 am (it was 5-6 pm in Moscow). I agreed beforehand with my colleagues that we would solve all urgent questions before I went to bed, but sometimes I had to answer the phone even in the middle of the night.
Adapting was easy. It was winter in Australia, so it got dark early, and such a schedule allowed me to spend practically the whole daylight hours on myself, walks and small trips.
The only downside was no Friday night hangouts. But it was more than compensated by the free Monday morning: it turned out that we had 2.5 days off, and we had time to go somewhere. And then back to work, for which I need stable internet. And this is a problem in Australia – it is not unlimited.
The mobile operator Telstra gave me 1 GB a month for $10. Home didn’t help either: we had 10 GB a month, and as soon as we used it up, the internet became unbearably slow. I couldn’t find any co-working spaces with free Wi-Fi in Hobart, which has only 200,000 inhabitants, so I had to make do with what they gave me. But that’s very strange: on the whole, technology is okay here. You can buy a coffee in a van in the middle of nowhere and pay with your Visa card.
Rent. Through Airbnb you can find a room for 500-700 Australian dollars a week, a night will cost 70-100 dollars. Through the agency to look for something more difficult: they do not sign a contract with those who rent less than six months. We were lucky: after two months of searching we rented a room in a huge house with two more neighbors for only $350 a week.
Utilities and internet were included, and downtown Hobart was within walking distance. The room came with a grill, its own bathroom, and – suddenly! – a Subaru. You can’t survive in Australia without a car.
Lifehack for those who come for a long time: usually housing in Australia is rented without furniture, but it can often be picked up on the street. Those who no longer need the old furniture, simply put it on their lawn. In expensive areas even something designer can be “thrown away” that way.
Transportation. The public transport is very poor and uncomfortable, so everyone, even the tourists, travel by car. Very well developed rent a camper – houses on wheels (costs about 30 dollars a day), steadily works Uber.
Food. A standard lunch a la “Fish & Chips” costs $12-15. By the way, you can try shark (which tastes like something between fish and squid), pizza with emu ostrich meat, or even wallaby burritos. Red meat is expensive – from $20 a kilo. Fish costs $10 to $30. I recommend traditional pies with goulash, which Australians are very proud of – they are designed for one serving and cost 4-8 dollars a piece. Good wine costs 5-10 dollars, beer or cider in a bar – from 8 dollars.
In Australia there are several types of visas: visitor, work, business, transit, fiancee visa, student and tourist. I got the last one. They are issued for 3, 6 or 12 months, and the immediate period of stay depends on the decision of the consulate.
- Visa Fee: 140 Australian dollars (1 Australian dollar is approximately 48 rubles or 72 U.S. cents).
- Lead time: from 4 weeks to infinity.
- Documents: many and different, depending on the purpose of travel.
The Australian Department of Immigration does not advise to buy tickets to the country in advance – the visa issuance period can be very delayed. The only advantage is that the application and all documents are submitted online. This visa in the end does not even put in your passport: just checking at the border with the internal database.
My application took 50 days to process. Calls to the call center did not help. Only after I complained to the Australian Foreign Office (also online, by the way), the case moved from the dead point. Turns out the consulate had doubts about whether I could combine travel and remote work. I say hello to him, and I can responsibly say: Yes, I did it.
Tasmania – travel reviews
Tasmania reviews based on personal experience. Which cities in Tasmania are worth visiting and why, general pros and cons. What to pay attention to those who are going to visit Tasmania for the first time. Which cities should be chosen for a family holiday and which for a youth holiday and why? What is of most interest to tourists, recommendations from the experience of your trip.
– Oh, are you flying to Australia? My friend recently returned from there, said that the most vivid impressions are from the island of Tasmania. The nature there is so unreal: you have dinner in a restaurant and there are kangaroos and wombats wandering right between the tables!
Because of this random review, I had to change my entire Australian trip plan, reduce the number of days to the big cities, but capture Tasmania. No, well, how can you miss kangaroos roaming around a restaurant!
Tasmania is an island in the ocean, disconnected from the main part of Australia. It’s where the Indian Ocean meets the Pacific Ocean. You can get there by plane or ferry from Melbourne, but the flight is by night, the tickets with a bed are very expensive, and besides, 10 hours of jolting in the ocean is no fun. It makes sense if you’re going for a long time, with your car and a lot of things, then you can take a ferry with it. But we decided to rent a car already on the island, flying from Sydney, and after Tasmania to fly to Melbourne. We took off at 7 a.m. and didn’t even have time to sleep before we saw the island below. There are three airports on the island, you can choose the one closest to your hotel.
We fly up to the island All covered with greenery, absolutely all … This is about the island of Tasmania. First impressions – how bright everything is! The sky is so blue it dazzles the eyes! And what delicious air! It turns out that it is considered the cleanest on the planet. During the day it is not so strong, but in the morning and evening I want to breathe twice as much. You have to walk from the plane to the airport building
Launceston airport is small and cozy, in 10 minutes we took the car and went to the hotel. We usually rent apartments or cottages, it makes you feel like a real person, not a tourist. But in Tasmania, we were afraid to do so: the island is populated by a variety of crawling and running animals, not all of them are safe. Hotels have special wooden decking, on which it is safer to walk, there are warning signs in places where venomous snakes congregate. We chose comfort and safety and decided to stay in a hotel this time.
Cradle Mountain Hotel
There are many national parks on the island, we chose a hotel near one of them and we were right. The name of the hotel and the park is Cradle Mountain. We were amazed at the combination of comfort and nature. The hotel is practically in the park, we felt like we were visiting Tasmanian nature: right from your balcony, you can view and photograph kangaroos and wombats, enjoy the views of the forest and the absolute silence. And sit in the chairs sipping coffee or wine.
Hotel terrace overlooking the park
The only thing that strained us – my husband and I were three or four times younger than all the other tourists. It seemed that to look at the nature come mostly seniors. We aroused everyone’s interest, even the kangaroos, who were constantly running up to our balcony, probably to look at the strange young couple, overloaded with cameras!
The kangaroos under the neighboring balcony.
We devoted an entire day to walking through the national park. When you buy a ticket, you get a map with different trails, thoughtfully designed for every level of stamina, weather, time of year, age, and time allowance. The easiest trail was equipped even for people with disabilities, I immediately imagined how I could walk here with my daughter in a stroller.
Signposts with information about how long the walk will take Wooden decking in the park
The easy trails have planking almost everywhere, so you don’t need special shoes, just regular sneakers. I was surprised that the decks are not just wooden, and also covered with fine wire – in case of rain, so that the shoes do not slip. Special clothes are also not necessary if you do not conquer the difficult routes, which take several days. But you should bring a sweatshirt and wear something light with long sleeves. The sun on Tasmania is scalding hot and the air is refreshingly cool. It’s only 7 degrees in the morning. But not the cold, but the freshness of the early morning, the greenery, the dew. It was 25 in the afternoon. But not heat, but bright sunshine, coupled with a nice breeze. I put on sunscreen, but still got sunburned while walking in a T-shirt, and I did not notice how. It was not hot, very comfortable.
My husband wrapped a sweatshirt around my neck so I wouldn’t get burned.
The park left a very bright impression with a variety of nature: vast meadows change with wild forests, as if from the “Lord of the Rings”, and then with waterfalls, lakes and mountains. In just two hours you can see enough beauty to last you half a lifetime!
In the morning you can hardly see the animals, but all the decks are strewn with the traces of their nocturnal walks. There are special evening tours in the park, which I think is very cool if you want to admire not the views, but the animals. We were so exhausted by the evening, we barely made it to our room, thanks to the fact that the animals lived very close to us and we were able to experience their lives right from our room.
After the park, we went to the nature reserve, where the Tasmanian devils live. Generally, 70% of the animals that live in Australia live only here, you won’t see them anywhere else in the world. And the Tasmanian devils are just one of them. Now they are dying out from some strange kind of cancer, so the Australians take great care of them. All the zoos in Australia have these strange little devil cubs, but in Tasmania you can see them at arm’s length, in their usual habitat. They are quite cute to look at, but when they start fighting with each other and squealing loudly, you immediately understand why they are called devils.
It should be noted that, unlike on the Australian mainland, food in Tasmania is more expensive. Restaurants are scarce, all tables are booked, the prices are one and a half to two times higher than similar institutions somewhere in Sydney. You can save money eating in a snackbar in the park, or in a cafe at a cheaper hotel nearby.
After sunset we were in for a surprise – a starry sky. I gasped when I looked up and saw it for the first time. The Milky Way is so bright that it’s impossible to ignore it, you can’t even look at it. It feels like you’re in outer space. I would fly to Tasmania a thousand more times just for that sky.
On the way to the airport in the early morning, I noticed how many downed animals were on the road, literally every 10 kilometers. This is very sad, so be vigilant if you fly in our tracks, the stories about kangaroos jumping out onto the road are true.