There is a Quantas airplane waiting to return us to the Australia’s mainland today. Spending the first week of 2024 in Tasmania was perfect because it was a week full of firsts for us. This week was the first time we heard that the island was originally called Van Dieman’s Land. That was before Abel Tasman showed up in the 1640s. I am quite sure we have never seen wallaby on a restaurant menu. We tasted (and purchased) vodka and gin made from sheep whey. That was a first. (Hartshorn Distillery actually won the World’s Best Vodka Award!) Never have we seen a seaplane taxi by our hotel window. Another first – tasting boysenberries – my new favorite berry. First time for doing a hard cider tasting. Hard cider is big here and I predict it won’t be long before apple-growing areas of the US will crank up the hard cider business. Another first: we found Pinot Noirs that we actually liked at Mewstone Winery. Our beloved Cabernet is so yesterday here. They are actually pulling up those vines and planting Pinot because the Tassies are so in love with Pinot Noir. You will not find Tasmanian wine in your local “bottle shop,” as the wine and liquors stores are called here. Tassie wine production can only make enough for the Tassie population, which by the way, is about 500,000. Tassies have funny ways of saying things, too, and we heard and saw lots of “firsts” for us. Examples: instead of merging in traffic, you are instructed by the sign to “form 1 lane,” and winery tasting rooms are called “cellar doors.” So, instead of saying that we visited two or three tasting rooms yesterday, here we would say that we visited two or three cellar doors. Weird, but these are the nicest people on the planet, so who are we to make fun of them for visiting doors? Here are some of my favorite pictures from the week.