Welcome to the final part of our Australian adventure. On Boxing Day, we left Hobart and drove to Port Arthur, where we saw the historical site and learned about Australia’s convict past. It was really interesting, and I found myself reflecting on how the (sometimes revolutionary) methods of the 1800s have lived on in our current penal system.
At some point in its history, Port Arthur started using solitude instead of beatings, hoping that prisoners would reflect on the error of their ways and turn their lives around. Of course, we still have solitary confinement today, even though isolation has horrible effects on the human psyche. Port Arthur also sought to reform the men by educating them, which may have been a nice thought, but difficult to accomplish when they are also forced to work long days of hard labor.
The hard labor that the men did was also meant to help them learn a trade that would be useful if/when they were eventually released. One of those trades was boat/ship building. Now, you may think, “isn’t teaching convicts how to build transportation going to give them a way to escape?” A worthwhile question, the answer to which is yes. It was certainly attempted. I can’t remember if anyone was successful in their attempt.
After Port Arthur, we drove up the eastern coast of Tasmania, and it was absolutely beautiful. No pictures, because we were trying to get where we were going, but just imagine a vast ocean, rolling hills, hundreds of sheep grazing, etc. After about 4 hours of driving (with little radio and almost no cell service) we made it to our destination, where we checked in and got dinner.
The next morning, we drove out to see the Bay of Fires conservation area. The granite on this coastline is a vibrant orange color due to lichen. We spent the day lazing on the beach for a while before we called it quits and prepared for our departure.
On our last day in Tasmania, we drove back to Hobart and went to MONA (Museum of Old and New Art). I think we’d both agree that it was mostly modern art, and that while we were definitely glad we went, it was hard to explain. The art had no informational plaques nearby, so you had to use your little device and headphones to learn about the art that was nearby. That part was pretty cool, because it knew where you were in the room, and you could refresh and read/listen at your leisure. At the same time, I’m a person who hates listening to information, so my headphones went largely unused. We didn’t really take pictures because a) I don’t love taking pictures of art, b) the art was pretty weird, and c) the lighting was so dim that no pictures would turn out anyway.
After that, we just flew back to Melbourne, then flew back to China! Our travel was much more pleasant on the way back, because we got a direct flight!
Next month, we’re headed to Cambodia and Laos. I’ll try to post updates in a timelier fashion, not wait 3 weeks like I did with these.