Through the Eyes of an Educator: Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

by Stacey Ebert / Mar 07, 2016 /
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“I haven’t been everywhere…but it’s on my list” (Susan Sontag). As a traveler, in some way shape or form, this thought may have popped into your brain – it’s certainly bounced around in mine. As a former social studies teacher, a conversation based around where I (and my students) have been and want to go in the world could arise at any time. Studying Ancient China, they may ask if I’ve stood on the Great Wall. When researching monotheistic religions, they may ask if I’ve seen Jerusalem’s sacred sites. And when going over the basics of cultural diffusion and one country’s interdependence upon another, they might ask ‘where’s the best chocolate I’ve tasted’ or share their own ancestral roots and experiences. 

The desires to share, explore, discover and develop, as a global citizen is what I always wished for my students. Today, when consulting with former students about to embark on their university or post-graduation experiences, this is what we discuss. Conversations arise over where they might want to visit, what part of the world they might head towards to volunteer and what travel spots have been the most rewarding or surprising in my own experience. Most of the time, Australia is on my list, but not necessarily in the way in which they expect.

Through the Eyes of an Educator: Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

On one interesting visit we headed south, to Tasmania. Part of the joy of the expedition was that I had little idea of what to expect. This, too, is a gift for students. Do some research, know your limits and leave a bit to chance. With only a few days to explore a small part of this southern Australian state, we needed to make the most of our time. Spending much of the journey in and around the capital city of Hobart, I found a land that looked as if it was untouched by human hands and provided some of the clearest, purest air I’ve ever breathed. This asthmatic didn’t know that type of air existed for my little lungs.

Through the Eyes of an Educator: Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Tasmania was different than the other parts of Australia I had before seen. People were as kind and pleasant, but the landscape showcased a different part of nature. Again, as is with all travel – learning was everywhere you looked and it was easily embraced. Salamanca market was a people-watcher’s paradise. Not only was it filled with colourful tents as far as the eye could see, artisans selling their wares and food carts filled with aromas of delicious treats, but there was more. Practicing maths, witnessing kindness, channeling patience, awing while artists create, and drooling at culinary masterpieces are only a small slice of what happens at the market. We chatted with a carpenter who described the Tasmanian trees that became the cutting boards he sold. He explained the age of the trees, where they were planted, many of the benefits of their bark and timber and how, if we took good care of the cheese board we would purchase – that it would be a lifetime gift. It’s one of the few times I’ve picked something up on my travels admiring the history behind the product and meeting the artisan first hand. 

Through the Eyes of an Educator: Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Nature plays a supreme focus in Tasmania. Due to its geographic location, the current that blows north from Antarctica brings cold air regularly. Winters are quite brisk while most of the rest of the year can be a bit more temperate. The pure air does wonders for the soul and the immune system. Although we had only a short visit, we took in as much of the surrounding area of Hobart as possible. A ride and photo stops along Hobart’s 7 mile beach is a beautiful one. Check out the ocean’s temperature, feel the sand beneath your toes, comb for beach glass or search for shells – whatever you choose – the views are spectacular and the experience one to write home about. Budding marine biologists will enjoy their journeys here, and find their footing in many places around the city.

Between high tide, low tide, plate tectonics, and earth’s own erosion – geologists, oceanographers, and burgeoning scientists find their ‘Zen’ at Tessellated Pavement. Seemingly placed by the hands of artists, these rock formations showcase the power of Mother Nature. These fissures, caused by earth’s shifts, look as if they were designed by an architect and handcrafted by a mason. Whether you check out the crashing waves, explore the magical power of the blowholes, take in the view, play geologist in training, or stand on the edge and photograph – it’s a visit long remembered.

Tasmania's Tessellated pavement - from Through the Eyes of an Educator: Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Spending more time outside, breathing that pure Tasmanian air, and communing with nature’s gifts is all part of a visit to Australia’s southernmost state. Between the sparkling hues of Freycinet National Park’s Wineglass Bay and the rushing waters and colourful rainbows of Russell Falls, naturalists are in their heyday here. Hiking while learning, observing your surroundings, exploring land and forest brings learning first hand forcing conversation, increasing investigation and encouraging curiosity. Senses heighten while water dances, sunlight sparkles through the trees and even a cloudy day seems emblazoned with potential. Visitors breathe deeply here.

Russell Falls. From Through the Eyes of an Educator: Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Through the Eyes of an Educator: Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

A visit to the east side of Tasmania is not complete without a stop at the historic site of Port Arthur. Port Arthur began as a penal colony. After the War of Independence saw the UK stop sending prisoners to America, some of the most hardened convicts were shipped to the Australian colonies. Set in Tasmania, this industrial prison was active for well over two decades. When the settlement closed as a prison, it almost immediately opened as a tourist destination, later becoming a historic site. Stand amidst the infrastructure, wander through the original architecture, and marvel at the stories of life amongst the chaos. Unfortunately or otherwise, the history of Port Arthur now contains a devastating 1996 massacre. If you’re up for a historical and sociological debate of political issues, delve further into the consequences of the events as seen from the eyes of the Australian government and its people. Ending in some of the world’s most stringent gun ownership laws, a national debate ensued along with a countrywide gun buyback program. The lessons from Port Arthur are still discussed in around the world today.

Through the Eyes of an Educator: Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Tasmania is a special part of Australia. Whether you cruise on the Spirit of Tasmania or get there by plane, it’s a veritable haven of natural wonders, delicious treats, interesting people and life’s exuberance all around. My first fish and chip experience was on the water in Hobart’s harbour and I’ve yet to experience one better. The cheese board we purchased at the Salamanca Market has helped me happily entertain on two continents. Whether your party includes a budding historian, a blossoming climber, a strong environmentalist, scientist, visionary, farmer, artist or an undecided learner – Tasmania will stir your spirit and enliven your soul. The air is clear, the people are genuine, and the land is the teacher to us all.

Through the Eyes of an Educator: Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

 

 

Stacey Ebert, our Educational Travels Editor, is a traveler at heart who met her Australian-born husband while on a trip in New Zealand. Stacey was an extracurricular advisor and taught history in a Long Island public high school for over fifteen years, enjoying both the formal and informal educational practices. After a one year 'round the world honeymoon, travel and its many gifts changed her perspective. She has since left the educational world to focus on writing and travel. She is energetic and enthusiastic about long term travel, finding what makes you happy and making the leap. In her spare time she is an event planner, yogi, dark chocolate lover, and spends as much time as possible with her toes in the sand. Check out her website at thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com for more of her travel musings.
 
All photos courtesy and copyright Stacey Ebert