be sure to rollover ‘notes’ to see photo captions!

We ported in Hobart, Tasmania and enjoyed a room service breakfast. The particular brand of Australian yogurt the ship stocked was the best yogurt I’ve ever tasted.

We took a bus tour from Hobart out to the countryside, where we saw acres and acres of hops fields. Tasmania is the largest hop-growing area in the Southern hemisphere! We saw gorgeous sweeping plains and rolling hills – beautiful even though the state was in the grip of a serious drought.

We visited Mt. Field National Park, the smallest national park in Tasmania, and home to Russell Falls. We walked through the forest, under giant tree ferns and over creeks. We saw cute little rufus wallabies everywhere! Russell Falls was secluded and magical-feeling, even though the drought left it at a mere trickle. I hiked a side path to Horseshoe Falls (I think), and heard white cockatoos in the trees.

We went on to Meadowbank, where we were treated to a private tour of the sheep farm and winery – something they only do for Princess Cruises. The owner, Gerald Ellis, demonstrated a sheep muster with his dogs, old Cooter and young, eager Ruby. He directed them, all the way up in the hills, using only whistles!

After the muster, Andrew demonstrated shearing a Merino sheep. Our model was a sheep they call a ‘criminal’ – a Merino that managed to avoid the yearly shear and now carried far too much wool.

We were served a homemade BBQ dinner outdoors, by Gerald and his family and staff. We were able to taste and purchase their delicious wines. The cruise videographer sat at our table and we got to hear a lot of anecdotes about life aboard ship, and the cruise industry in general.

On to Bonorong Wildlife Park, and if we were worried we wouldn’t get to see a kangaroo…there were kangaroos everywhere! Not the giant red kangaroos, but smaller (still imposing) kangaroos, which hopped about freely in a giant enclosure. There was feed, and they eagerly ate from our hands! We could rub their necks (a place that’s hard for them to get to) and feel their soft, coarse fur and sharp-clawed, clever hands. We saw emus too, and Tasmanian devils, running around in circles and growling!

At the end, we got to see the main attraction – the koalas! The keeper brought out Banjo – a 30-35 lb. koala who was about 17 years old (koalas usually only live to 12!). He was sleepy and patient, and calmly clung to his branch while we all clambered to get our photos taken and pet his soft little back.

We were running really short of time, but on our way out I was able to pet a wombat! Wombats are my favorite – cute little faces, look like squares from above, and fur that feels sort of like a kangaroo (coarse like a little brush!).

Back on the ship we went to Aunt Linnea’s for snacks, then had dinner at Santa Fe. Afterwards, we caught the stage show ‘Do You Wanna Dance?’