Wandering Hobart Streets

When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.

Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

Once upon a time, just before COVID got the world on its knees, a trip to Tasmania was planned and successfully executed!
I wasn’t sure if I would get to complete my trip. But March 2020 got me a 5 day trip to Hobart, Tasmania.

A small island state of Australia, Tasmania is known for its natural beauty, fresh air and picturesque places.
Although I did list down places and tours to do, I stuck to Hobart as a safety precaution (Covid scare had just begun)

Tasmania can be reached by air and sea from mainland Australia. Sailing was a mode I was yet to experiment; therefore, a ticket for the Spirit of Tasmania was booked. The ship docks at Melbourne and Devonport. Hobart is a 3 hour drive from Devonport passing through vast grasslands, water bodies and forests.
Hobart – the capital city of Tasmania. A metropolitan city, having warm and cozy cafes and beautiful vintage styled streets. Hobart is also the central point in southern Tasmania and on the outskirts you will find breweries, vineyards, natural reserves, beaches and mountains.


The Pickled Frog is a haven for backpackers. The hostel is situated in the midst of Hobart town and is easily accessible.  You cannot miss this hostel given its bright green froggy colour. Not only that, the artwork is the cutest I have seen with frog statues and drawings all over the place. It is well spaced with common areas, has an amazing bar and fireplace at the reception and music being played throughout the day. Pickled Frog also has the best deals for beer and cider. Another USP of Pickled Frog is their day tours on their very own mini bus. I missed this because the bus had been in for repairs and wasn’t back until my trip 😦

While at the hostel, I was introduced to Jin who took day tour trips on weekends and holidays. The day after I reached Hobart, I did the Bruny Island tour. And woah! It was a beautiful rugged landscape straight from the movies and Pinterest wallpapers . Long winding roads, beautiful mountain views, the sea and the rains.
Yes, it rained and so it was a cold and chilly week in Hobart.

To reach Bruny island, we took the ferry from Kettering which is a 20-30 min ride. Bruny Island is one of Tasmania’s most beautiful natural environment with plush wildlife and stunning mountain top views . Bruny Island has 2 islands – north and south and is joined by the Isthmus and this stretch is called – The Neck. The Isthmus is an important habitat for native wildlife. If you are lucky, you may get a chance to see fairy penguins. After climbing the timber boardwalk to the Truganini Lookout, I was treated to a spectacular panoramic view of the North & South Bruny Island. The view from the lookout was breathtakingly beautiful. A layer of mist and fog and the waves crashing. The sun and clouds playing seek.
The next stop was the Bruny Island Cheese and Beer Co. for breakfast. After a tummylicious breakfast, we head to Cape Bruny Lighthouse situated at the southern tip of the island. An iconic attraction, first lit in 1838, today it is Australia’s second oldest and longest continually staffed lighthouse. Cape Bruny Lighthouse was commissioned due to shipwrecks around the southern Tasman Coasline. Standing on the cliff, gives a scenic view of the violent coastline that wrecked ships centuries ago.
As the weather starts getting gusty, we head over to the Bruny Island Providore and the Bruny Island Honey by the end of which we are super hungry and can hear Oysters being shucked. So off we go to ‘Get Shucked’ and enjoy some food. Get Shucked is highly recommended for the quality and pricing of oysters.

This was my only day tour in Hobart. After this all I did was walk around Hobart through it’s beautiful by lanes soaking in its heritage beauty.

Note: If you do have a longer holiday, stay in Bruny Island for atleast 2 days to take the time and enjoy famous local produce – like oysters, cheese, beer, whiskey and chocolate.

Touring Hobart

MONA – this is a modern art museum, located along River Derwent and cannot be described. It needs to be experienced. There are multiple views on this – modern, weird, provocative. Call it what you want to but it is a must visit.
The best way to reach MONA is by ferry, which departs from Brooke Street Pier and takes 30 min to reach. Passing through the industries on one side and mountains on the other; if you are lucky, you might meet a few dolphins too! The ferry has seats in the shape of sheep & tigers. There are regular ones as well, alongwith a VIP lounge area incase you prefer a pampering ride. You will easily spend 2-3 hours inside MONA, so plan your day accordingly.
The best of seafood is available in Tasmania and in Hobart, the Constitution Dock is known for it’s Fish & Chips. There are floating kitchens on small motor boats that sell amazing seafood and from these, Flippers is recommended. They are very reasonably priced for the quantity served.

Battery Point – Battery Point is named after the battery of guns which were established on the point in 1818 as part of the Hobart coastal defenses (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battery_Point,_Tasmania). Battery Point is adjoined to the waterfront of Salamanca Place.There is a whole list of cafes and restaurants one can go to while walking around.
I tried out Jackman & McRoss – the local bakery at Kelly Town. They are well known for freshly baked bread, pastries and pies

Kelly steps & Town and the Salamanca Market – Named after James Kelly, who circumnavigated the island in 1816. The steps were constructed from sandstone to create a shortcut between colonies in Battery Point (Kelly Street, Aurthur circus) and Salamanca Place. Kelly street is a small suburb with Gregorian & Victorian styled houses; Arthur circus is a ring of old cottages (inhabited by the then officers of the garrison in the 1840s) in the heart of Battery Point.

Hobart has a beautiful and serene waterfront with yachts and boats. A stroll along the docks will take you to Salamanca Markets which used to be a sandstone warehouse circa 1830s. Today, it has a variety of stores inside the building ranging from art and books to stones and ornaments and much more. The main attraction is the outdoor market held every Saturday. A huge number of stalls selling fresh produce, art & craft, homeware products, meals, etc.
While at the waterfront, another café I fell in love with was Dacci & Dacci. Although the location gives it an expensive look, this café fits into a backpacker pocket and they have a lovely variety of toasties, pies, sausage rolls and pastries.

Hastings Cave – Australia’s largest dolomite tourist cave, it is spacious, and well maintained with staircases around. Given its low temperatures (almost 9 degree Celsius all year round), you will not find a dank smell or bats. The caves are over 40 million years old but were discovered by timber workers circa 1917. Hastings Cave is a magical world of fascinating stalactites, stalagmites, columns and some beautiful labyrinths.
In the same vicinity, there is a thermal spring (with an all year round temperature of 28 degrees Celsius) and it is surrounded by a quiet & beautiful forest and barbeque stations. A short walk around the forest will get you to witness the merging of hot and cold water streams. Don’t believe me? You can dip your hand in the water to experience this!

Richmond Town – A vibrant town with sandstone structures, Richmond was a route between Hobart & Port Arthur in the early 1820s. The most famous landmark is the Richmond Bridge built in 1823 by convicts. It is the oldest bridge in Australia. A stroll through the town gives an insight into Australian colonial heritage. The Richmond Gaol is the oldest gaol in Australia, built in 1825, has still been preserved.

Some more food places that are definitely worth trying out: 

Waffle On café – Hanging Garden – Best known for it’s sweet & savory waffles. Since I have never tried savory waffles and was super hungry, went for the Brisket Reuben with waffle fries on the side.  I should have trusted the chef that Brisket Reuben might be enough for me. But the greedy foodie paid no heed.

Danphe Nepalese and Indian food – a small little restaurant on a busy Collins street. Craving for some Nepalese or Indian food, then this is the best place to calm those hunger cravings. On a cold chilly night, the Jhol Momo hit the right taste buds.

Pigeon Hole café –  They use the fresh produce grown at their very own Weston Farm. Though they have a simple menu, trying out their daily specials is recommended.

Love for Cider

Never have I enjoyed Cider as much as I did with Pagan Cider. Prepared using only fresh fruits that are grown in the Huon valley and no sugar or cordials. Like literally! Pear cider has been my favorite and the next time I visit Tasmania again, visiting Pagan Cider’s cellar is on my list!

Although I did not visit all the places I wanted to, I fell in love with Hobart. And if this was magical enough, I can imagine what it must feel like to visit the other places in Tasmania which has in abundance – mountains, national parks, seas and oceans. Hobart was my perfect getaway for a quick holiday.


Explore Sri Lanka’s Southern Province (Part 1 – Stay & Tour)

Sri Lanka, a tear shaped island country in South Asia is located in the Indian Ocean. With its coast lined with palm trees, this country is one of the ideal destinations for beach bums across the globe.

And so, after a lot of arguments, Sri Lanka (originally Ceylon) was the chosen destination for a short vacation. And since the time we set our foot on this island country, it was nothing but a box of pleasant surprises.

Read on to know the places we visited and the gourmet options on our road trip to Unawatuna, Sri Lanka:

Sri Lanka’s only International airport is in Negombo. A 2-hour drive from the airport takes us to the country’s capital city – Colombo. You have the option of hiring a cab, Govt run AC buses or the local tuk-tuk to reach Colombo. The tuk-tuk costs around Rupees 500 – 1000 (heavy bargaining skills required here). Hence, I recommend taking the AC bus service which costs around Rupees 150 per person.

Our plan was to stay at Unawatuna which is a part of Galle district. Galle is the main hub for travelling to most the cities in the southern part of Sri Lanka . Unawatuna was chosen as it has a beautiful shoreline and is trending as an upcoming destination; Which meant a less crowded town!

We reach Colombo bus stand and meet my local friend- Dan. (Well, didn’t I tell you I am fortunate enough to have friends not only in India but across the international waters too). Since we were super hungry, we asked Dan to take us for a traditional Sinhalese lunch. And the best part of having a local friend – not only are the best places recommended, but we also get to hear lots of interesting stories about the place, people, food and culture.

We head to Sri Lanka Hut for the traditional Sinhalese buffet lunch. Depending on Vegetarian or Non-vegetarian food choice, you must choose the dishes you want.
Eg: for a vegetarian – choose 4-5 dishes among the spread plus the choice of rice i.e. steamed, lemon or red rice. Dal and salad are common.
Same goes for the non-vegetarian and fish eaters. Oh, did I tell you? The staple diet of Sri Lankans is Rice and dal which they have for all 3 meals. There is a variation in dal for each of the meal, though.

We were put up at:

La Veranda Di Serena was our home for the next 5 days. To reach there, we could either take a cab, bus or a train. Since we had read a lot about the train ride along the coastal route and having Dan vouch for the same, we did not have to think twice.
The journey was just as we had read about – trees, sandy shores and blue waters! And since it had rained, the weather had cooled down a bit. This gave us a chance to enjoy the scenic view the ride offered.

The stay was by the Unawatuna shore. The host, Mr. Chandana and his family were very hospitable. Not only were they available for touristy guidance, but we got to hear of the bye gone era, the war and how the Tsunami in 2004 changed the way the world looked at Sri Lanka. Having a sea facing room, breakfast on the sandy beach, a serene walk by the shore, our stay was just beginning to get exciting!

Plastic Free July – My Learnings

On the sustainability front, the trending hashtags in the month of July was #PlasticFreeJuly.

Plastic Free July is an initiative of an Australian community of environment and sustainability enthusiasts; Started in 2011, it is now a global awareness programme on single use plastic pollution.

My very own road to sustainability started about 3 years back. To begin with, I thought ‘plastic bags’ were the only area of concern. Slowly, I learnt about the impact of regular household items such as the toothbrush, tongue cleaner, disposable containers and cutlery, tea bags, ‘recyclable’ plastic, ‘woven plastic’ bags , ‘organic’ sanitary pads, on our environment.

Organic and recyclable packaging are loose terms now. I learnt that just because this term is mentioned on a packaging, it need not be that way. The most basic way of knowing, is by touch and look. If the packaging has a glossy / laminated feel, fewer the chances of recycling are.

But this article is not to explain about #PlasticFreeJuly. I would instead like to share the changes I was able to transition into and my failures on going Plastic Free in July 2020.

  • Sanitary Pads
    After almost 20 years of using disposable sanitary pads, I have finally started using reusable cloth pads.  I had been struggling with this decision for the last 2 years. After a lot of research and discussion with friends and various forums, I finally made the switch to welcome Aunty Flo.
    Yes, the decision was not easy. In my teenage days, I would explain to my mom and aunts about how they should use the leak proof and modern sanitary pads, only to realise that it is not only bad for the environment but harmful to me too. Oh and the so called organic, plant based sanitary pads – they are a farce. They cannot be easily decomposed and not many households would prefer a used sanitary pad in their compost (https://www.greenthered.in/single-post/2019/08/17/Biodegradable-Sanitary-Pads—Testing-the-tall-claims)

    The part I liked about the reusable cloth pads – I seriously did not feel like I was wearing one!
  • Tea Bags
    Now this is one change I made about 3 months ago. It was easy when I was unemployed and indoors. But, when I resumed work, I had a few tough initial days because, only tea bags are stored in the office pantry. This made me buy a tea infuser and keep a container of loose tea leaves for my evening chai. It surely adds on to the efforts, but I held onto the sustainable change I had made.
  • Packet of Chips
    This is one article I failed to give up on. My favorite packet of chips at discounted prices was irresistible. Taking up the Plastic Free July challenge, made my psychological being crave for this junk food. The only consolation I could give myself was not buying the chips and crackers that came in a cardboard box. This is because within the cardboard box was plastic packaging and the cardboard box itself was a glossy printed one. I managed to reduce buying the packet of chips from every weekend to just twice that month.
  • Processed Food / Ready to eat Meals
    I will be honest; I do have days when I do not feel like cooking and just want my meal to be ready when I get back from work. I do not have a habit of consuming frozen / processed meals but they are a backup. And then there goes the plastic wrap and Styrofoam containers in the waste bin.

While berating myself for not being able to make these small changes in my life, I also realized that I was at least conscious of my actions. I am not perfect but at least I know where I am lacking and am still trying to make that change.

During this month, I also made an effort to find out eateries and cafes that allow you to BYO (Bring Your Own) containers for take away food and coffee. Even during the pandemic, YES! I am sharing the names of some of these places in Canberra. However, please note – remove the lid before you give the staff your container. Also, please give a clean container.  Along with being sustainable, we need to maintain our level of hygiene for ourselves and for the safety of those around us.

1) Sushi Fresh
2) Zaab Station
3) The Food Coop Shop
4) Jina’s Cafe

Most places in Canberra are now allowing our own ‘KeepCups’ or reusable cups. However, I highly recommend having the ‘Green Caffeen’ app. It allows you to find out eco-focused cafes that stock the Green Caffeen café cups. This is free for cafes as well as coffee drinkers. You can swap, drink and return the reusable Green Caffeen café cups at the designated cafes across the city.

Moving to Canberra also helped me improve my sustainable habits. The waste management practices here are amazing and though the government plays a role, the community is equally conscious. Having said that, I believe it is not fair to rely on external waste management practices and assume that workers are hired to do your waste management. Each and every one of us needs to be consciously aware of the sustainable and pollution cycle and its impact on the environment.  One city or country may do a good job with its waste management practices but the same does not apply globally. When we visit other places, we should try and reduce our carbon footprint in that place too.

My sustainability inspirations:

To the Moon and back

P.C. Siva

Full she is today
Perfect in her own way
Behold her beauty spots
A lil here and a lil there
High up above, she shines so bright
Love at every sight

Whole day I wonder where she’ll be
At night I simply stare and see
Even when she’s doing the disappearing act
Every bit of beauty she’ll be
And the night she chooses to hide herself
Oh! How I miss her wholeheartedly.

Photo Credits: Siva

Gratitude in the times of Corona

Social distancing and isolation are the trending words
Being confined indoors is the new routine
The new normal now seems disturbing
But this is what everyone wanted, before Corona broke loose.

Work from home; Family time; Work life balance, were the requests
Now that everyone has it, it is beginning to suffocate
Parents dealing with home-schooling, now being thankful for Teachers
Children who yearned for parents attention, now adjusting to generation gap
Governments trying to help their people, whereas all we do is blame
Party lovers and Shopaholics now seeing, life can go on without the bling and glitter
Everyone realizing, they can live with the minimum resources.

True! Corona is scary and we fear to lose our loved ones
We now use technology to have meals together
Those hugs and smiles are being missed so much
Even a nod from a stranger, brings out a warm smile, full of gratitude
We see the world differently in these hard times
More than anything, it has taught us to value and be thankful for our present.

Corona – An unusual hero

A humble virus from some cramped up lane
Now feared by the whole world
Everyone hates Corona
And it does not know why
Cursed and looked down upon, the places of worship too have disowned it
As it moves across the world, looking for a place to call it’s own
Humans have caged themselves indoors, while animals roam fearless facing no threat
And as someone quoted – The Earth is healing now. Corona was the vaccine for the virus called ‘Humans’.
Corona now feels it is a superhero. The Earth smiles upon it, while it continues to find a home.

First World problem – Toilet paper crisis

In the midst of a pandemic, the news keeps flashing everywhere and I chuckle.

Being an Indian, we have been taught to use water to wash our bums. You ask me why not paper? Well, how does a piece of paper even clean you? The dried and smelly behinds, left behind after a wipe.

Potty training always meant squatting down. Once you finish your business, wash and come up clean. And a lot of emphasis on washing those hands, super clean.

Urban areas developed and we moved from an Indian WC to an European / English WC; buckets and mugs of water replaced by jet sprays. Most of Asia and Middle East is equipped this way. And I imagined the whole world would too!

But to my dismay (although I had some inkling about this), when I moved to Australia, I realized that not a single house is equipped with a jet spray. I haven’t been interested in finding out why. Not to prove what is right or wrong, but research shows that using water is hygienic than paper. Although now-a-days we have recycled and organic toilet paper, but hey, they still have to go through a process using energy and water albeit lesser than the first hand ones.

Though I have made peace with the toilet paper (Read: No option), I hate using it during the critical 5 days of the month.

So, while everyone has been panicking and rushing in a frenzy, I smile. Because my bestie gifted me a bathing mug. It did seem peculiar and we laughed about it. However, while many were fighting over a bag of rolls, I knew I needn’t worry if I run out of stock!

A beautiful trek in the Devbhoomi: Chandrashila- Deoriatal Trek

Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are snow.

Well, I made up that up post the trek to Chandrashila. The trek was planned with Uttarakhand Tourism Company, in December 2018.

There will be hardly anyone who would not be fascinated by the mighty Himalayas. This time though, the idea was to do a trek in peak winters just for feels – well at least for someone who is from Bombay, it’s peak winters even at -3 degrees Celsius.

However, instead of doing the trek with the usual route i.e. Sari – Deoriatal-Chopta-Tungnath-Chandrashila and back, a quicker one called for experimenting – Chopta to Chandrashila and back & Sari to Deoriatal and back.

The drive from Dehradun to Chopta was a long one, mainly because of the road work being undertaken there (as of Dec 2018). As expected in the mountainous region, the drive was through hairpin bends with an amazing view of the valleys filled with pine, oak & fir trees. The route was via Rishikesh where one can witness the birth of Ganga at Devprayag – the Sangam of Alaknanda & Bhagirathi Rivers. The meeting of the 2 rivers is evident through the diverse colours of each river. Upon reaching Chopta, the snowfall of the previous week was still apparent. As night falls, so does the temperature. Our campsite was in a forest, blanketed under a canopy of oak trees overlooking the starry night.

Devprayag – The birth of River Ganga

Summiting Chandrashila Peak

Waking up to a view of alpenglow over the snow-capped mountains always feels like my novels coming alive! Watching this view and sipping hot chai was sheer bliss. And then some stories over steaming hot parathas by our trek leader and kitchen staff. The best part about visiting a place and speaking to locals – so many beautiful stories and experiences!

Age is not a number, just another level

The trek route was through the Tungnath Temple – the highest Shiva temple, part of the PanchKedar temples, in the world. It is situated at an altitude of 3,680 meters (12,073 feet). The temple is closed during winters as the deities are taken to Mukhmat temple and then reopened in summers where the deities are then brought up again for worship. The trail from Chopta to Tungnath is a well-defined cemented / stony path, covered with ice from the previous snowfall. The climb was a complete ascent. The only colours that were visible on this trail were blue, white and grey (excluding the people of course). And as is always on any trek, there was a mountain dog for company.

The last few meters before the temple were slippery with ice all over. Reaching the temple gives one a panoramic view of the mountain range in that area. And needless to say, it was beautiful!

Unfortunately, visitors have been very careless to litter around the temple. The whole excitement of climbing to the highest Shiva Temple just dropped straight down. Not only is it a place of worship, but the fact that people do not consider the dangers posed to the environment, was saddening.

We then head towards Chandrashila peak which is another 1 kms steep climb, a path where I nearly gave up especially after almost slipping down at the edge of the trail. In approximately an hour, we make it to the breathtaking view of the summit. And needless to say, it was amazingly beautiful! And though this may sound cliché, I stood there, frozen in awe of the spectacular view all around me. The 360-degree view of the Garhwal and Kumaon ranges which includes the Mountains – Nandadevi, Chaukhumba, Trishul, Bandarpoonch, Bhagirathi and more; were just so beautiful!

After spending about 45 minutes at the summit, comes the hardest part of the descent. Snow has increased as temperature drops and besides, we were also late. Not to mention, the fresh ice that has formed on the cemented trail. As the sun goes down the horizon, the sky becomes a canvas painting of pink, yellow and orange hues. And before we know it, the scene turns pitch dark, thus making it difficult to track our way back. There was only 1 solution – slide through the snow. And with all the sliding and gliding, we manage to reach the base. Only to be hungrily devouring on hot tea and Maggi – all our bruises forgotten!

Hiking at Deoriatal

The next day, we drive to Sari and then begin our hike to Deoriatal. The route to the lake has rocky but well-defined steps for almost 3 kms. En route, we met a few Garhwalis and got to hear some lovely stories along with a cup of chai. Deoriatal or Devariyatal – dev (God) Tal (Lake) – was was considered as the bathing spot for the Gods.

As per the Hindu mythology, it is said that it was Yaksha (spirit of nature) that had a Q&A game played with the Pandavas at this lake.

Well, I can’t remember the story as the view was only getting better and increasing my excitement.

As we reached the open forest, we were treated to a grand view of Deoriatal, with Mt. Chaukhambha looming in the background. Mirror reflection of the peaks can be seen very clearly in the lake. The frost on the grass made crispy sounds as we walk around. Watching the moving clouds and the mountains and the peaceful surroundings made it difficult to continue ahead.  No camping is allowed near the lake, anymore.

We tread further to Rohini Bugyal. Bugyal means meadow. Walking through the forests with roots of trees acting as steps in most places, we pass through a different sight – autumn foliage. The temperature drops when the clouds hide the sun. Upon reaching the meadow, we notice a small village. However, the place was empty due to the cold and snowy weather. The water stream was freezing. But had the most pure, crystal clear water. My lungs, heart, soul – everything leaped for joy at this. Though the place was isolated, it was peaceful. Birds chirping, the sun shining, laying on the grass and another hot cup of tea. We did not realize the time and as we were supposed to leave before it got dark, we almost raced our way back. As we reached Deoriatal, it turned pitch dark, cold and misty. Tired and hungry we reach the small stall for steaming hot tea, Maggie & omelette.

The Chandrashila – Deoriatal trek was unlike any of the treks done earlier. Although the season of snowfall had begun only but a week prior to travel, it was still a first time. After completing a summer & winter trek, I knew I had to do a snowy trek. Well, this was not to the extent of Sar Paas or the Chadar trek, nevertheless, it was a memorable one!

Picture Credits: Amit Bendkule