DM's Hobart 2017 Diary

Day 4 - Royal Tasmanian Botanic Gardens

Monday 25 December, 2017

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We had a leisurely morning, eating cereal and then some of the fig and walnut bread toasted with the peanut butter from Salamanca Market. We had planned to walk up Mount Wellington today, which is a 3.5 hour walk uphill, followed by the return trip. But M. had pulled a muscle in her back either while reading last night or during the night, and didn't feel up to that much walking, so we changed our plans and instead decided to go to the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens. First we made peanut butter sandwiches to take with us for a quick lunch.

Domain House
Domain House, University of Tasmania

The Gardens were about a 45 minute walk away, down the steep hill towards the northern edge of the city and across to the river bank. Along the way we passed by the University of Tasmania and its rose garden. This was in full bloom and there were roses of all colours: deep red, scarlet, orange, peach, yellow, white. I stopped to try and get some photos of birds on the lawn next to the roses. Then we continued on walking to the Botanical Gardens. This was a bit further away than I had realised, and the day was warming up so it was a bit tiring.

Welcome swallow
Welcome swallow, University Rose Gardens

We passed the entrance gate to Government House, the residence of the Governor of Tasmania, which had some very nice looking gardens inside. Finally we arrived at the gate of the Botanical Gardens. Walking through the city, we had seen very few people, as presumably most people were at home with their families for Christmas Day. But at the Gardens there were several groups of people entering, with picnic gear, ready to have a Christmas lunch out in the open air. We walked in, and there was a map box but it was out of map leaflets, so I scanned a QR code on the map poster nearby and downloaded a PDF map which I used to navigate.

Japanese Garden, Hobart
Japanese garden, Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens

We wandered around a bit, passing through a small conservatorium building and past various trees and other plants, working our way towards the Japanese garden area. This was really nice, with lots of Japanese trees and detailed landscaping with a small waterfall running down to a series of ponds. We found a seat and rested for some time, taking it easy so as not to aggravate M.'s back. She read a book on her iPad while I walked around and tried to get more bird photos.

After a while it was approaching lunch time, and we got up to walk around a bit and see more of the gardens before stopping to eat in the English woodland garden area, which had oak, elm, beech, and other sorts of old world trees.This was a really nice shaded area with grass beneath; all it was missing was squirrels. We had our sandwiches, enjoying the surrounding greenery and sounds of birds, though they were very hard to spot.

New Holland honeyeater
New Holland honeyeater, Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens

After eating, we explored more of the gardens, going through the eucalyptus section, and a section of southern hemisphere plants from the Pacific, South African, and South American regions. We headed towards the subantarctic house, which is a moderate sized room with a double door airlock to prevent the outside air getting in. Inside it was very cold, probably close to freezing, and the room was filled with small plants, mosses, and grasses from Macquarie Island and other subantarctic islands. There was also a recorded noise of penguins and other sea birds, and the walls were painted with a mural of scenery to make it look like we were standing on the island in the Antarctic Ocean.

Succulents and Monkey
Succulent garden, Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens

Outside the subantarctic house was a garden of succulents, cacti, and other desert plants. This included some large barrel cacti, and high altitude cacti with hairy coats around their spines. From here we returned to the gardens restaurant (closed for Christmas Day) to use the toilets and fill up our water bottle before heading off for the walk back to our motel.

The walk took a while as we had tired feet by now and the day had warmed up, though thankfully there was some cloud cover preventing the sun from hitting us full on. Again, walking through the northern edge of Hobart's central area we saw hardly any people and the traffic on the roads was incredibly light. We reached our motel, exhausted after walking back up the steep hill. I left my jacket outside the room, hanging on the railing, to dry off the sweat.

Eastern rosella
Eastern rosella, Government House gardens

We rested in our room for the mid afternoon, until about 17:30 when we planned to leave to walk back down to Hobart for our Christmas dinner booking at the Hotel Grand Chancellor.


We're back from dinner at the Grand Chancellor. We walked down the hill into Hobart and along Constitution Dock to the hotel. The hotel restaurant was all set up with Christmas decorations, a decorated tree, and individual glittery decorations on each table. I hadn't really though about it, but it was nice to see it all done up. There was also a Christmas cracker each for us set on the table, as on all the other tables. Our table had a small wire frame Christmas tree which enclosed a set of gold and purple baubles.

Grand Chancellor Christmas table
Christmas dinner table at the Hotel Grand Chancellor

A waiter came by to offer us drinks and we started with glasses of sparkling wine. Then we explored the buffet. There were a half dozen different salads: a green salad, a pumpkin salad, a potato gnocchi salad, and some others. Oysters on the shell and large cooked prawns, with various sauces. Smoked and cured salmon, in four different types: classic smoked salmon slices, cubes of a cured salmon that was similar in texture to smoked salmon but much darker in colour, then two types that looked cooked, one in a sort of terrine, and the other as chunks of salmon fillet that seemed baked, but were a bit salty. There was also cold pickled fish pieces in what the sign said was a Malaysian style. Hot food included roasted vegetables, potato gratin, roast beef with a hot English mustard crust, crispy roast pork with baked apples, roast turkey with pistachio stuffing and cranberry sauce, and blue eyed trevalla cooked with mussels and tomatoes. Oh and there was bread in several varieties.

Seafood buffet
Seafood buffet at the Hotel Grand Chancellor

We started slowly, with me grabbing a piece of bread and an oyster and then some prawns. M. had the roast veges and a couple of the salads and also tried the pickled fish pieces. I pointed out that there was salmon, which she got later on, though I think it might have been a bit salty for her. I tried the roast pork, with wedges of the baked apples, and the turkey, and some of the trevalla. We also had some Sauvignon blanc wine to go with this middle part of the meal.

Finally it was on to dessert. There was too much selection to even consider trying it all. Every time a cake was close to being finished, the waiters brought out a whole new cake of a different sort. There was a lemon meringue pie when we began our dinner, but by the time we were up to dessert, it had gone and was replaced by a baked cheesecake. There was also a pecan pie, a strawberry non-baked cheesecake, chocolate mud cake, individual serve pavlovas topped with various fruits, tiramisu (which I grabbed a scoop of before realising what it was, so had to leave on a used plate without touching it), various custardy puddings, salted caramel cups, fruit mince tarts, rum balls, gingerbread angels, shortbread stacks with green icing that looked like Christmas trees, and individual sized fruit puddings with brandy cream in a pitcher. Oh, there was also fruit salad, and cheese and crackers, which is what M. had. I tried the cheesecake, a tiny sliver of mud cake, a pavlova, caramel cup, rum balls, and ended with one of the puddings and cream.

Dessert buffet
Dessert buffet at the Hotel Grand Chancellor

After all of this, we shared a pot of peppermint tea in an attempt to ease our digestion. Several people who had arrived to the dinner after us had already left, so we felt pretty good that we'd got our money's worth for the night. We left and caught a taxi back to our motel, unable to contemplate walking up the steep hill.

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