Saturday, 1 March 2014

The Expensive State

It's been a while since we came back from our criss cross across Tasmania holiday, but it looks like it will take a while longer before I finish off processing all the photos and videos we brought back from our trip. We did get more than 1500 of those, after all. Still, that does not mean I cannot say a few things about Tasmania already.
The most obvious thing, at least to my eyes, was its price. As in, Tasmania proved to be an expensive state. It is obvious in most things, such as fuel at the gas station costing more than at Melbourne or food at the supermarket being dearer than we're used to. Most of all, though, it showed in the great sums we had to depart with upon booking accommodation for our stay.
It was rather scary. We were planning along the lines of staying at cheap motels for the like of $100 a night; what we did not count on was those hotels, as well as most other accommodations, converging into an almost fully booked state more than two months ahead of the school holidays. It was literally taking place before our very eyes: we were trying to book a place to stay at the centre of Hobart; while we were looking around those places ran out of capacity; we moved over to look at a suburban motel; that got fully booked over the next two days. Which left us with two options: either book outside of Hobart altogether (and still open the wallet wide), or open the wallet incredibly wide for a place at Hobart itself. We ended up doing a bit of both.
You may argue that we were witnessing market economy at work. As in, demand went up, supply was restricted, hence prices went up. I get that, but there is a limit as to how much I am willing to get that; when we end up paying $200 a night for a shit motel room, I get annoyed.
The bottom line is that our Tasmanian holiday was severely hampered by this phenomenon across two fronts. First, the cost of our holiday almost doubled expectations. Second, we found ourselves moving from one accommodation to another almost on a daily basis, which is rather tiring: think of all the packing up we had to do, and think of our child being rather annoyed and driven extra tired. No wonder he describes our Tasmanian holiday as "the worst holiday ever". We disagree, but regardless - it would take a while longer before we will be heading back to Tasmania.

Tasmanian accommodations are not all bad, though. One thing we could not avoid noting is almost every place we stayed at offered free wifi, and most of those offerings proved quite useable.
International readers may be dumbfounded at why I am fussing over wifi access, but the reality is that by Australian standards such gifts are very rare. It is not the standard for Australian accommodations to offer wifi access, at least not without totally unreasonable fees.
From our point of view, we found our wifi hotspot rather bored during our Tasmanian adventures. Which was good.

My last specific Tasmanian note concerns beaches. My brother told me many years ago that in his opinion, some of Australia's best beaches happen to take place in Tasmania. That's not the most common sense of observations, given that Tasmania is the southern most part of Australia and thus the coldest; but I have to agree with my brother on this one, even while qualifying myself to note we were privileged to visit Tasmania at peak summer.
There are several reasons for this unexpected Tasmanian advantage. There aren't that many people around to ruin the beaches, for a start: it is amazing how few people populate the most spectacular of Tasmanian beaches, but it is not that amazing once you realise how relatively few people populate Tasmania as a whole. Then there is the fact many of those beaches face the north, giving them maximum sun exposure. Sure, the water is colder than cool, even at peak summer, but my new wetsuit (from Aldi!) proved an effective wonder of technology.

How would I sum Tasmania up? Given that we did run around most of the accessible parts of the island, I consider myself qualified to venture an opinion. We could not shake the feeling we were visiting England: between the naming of places, the styling, the greenery and the irrational affection to the old and the traditional at the price of basic functionality it is safe to say Tasmania should have been called Old England (as opposed to New England).
Yey my opinion of the state is overly positive: Tasmania is quite a spectacular place to visit. Sure, the coffee isn't half as good as Melbourne's and everything's expensive, but the ratio of spectacularness to populatedness is in the New Zealand scale.

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