Nowhere in Dr. Leonard Bentch's CV does it mention his knack for writing, but his talents extend well beyond Internal Medicine. A retired physician, Dr. Bentch was sailing the Caribbean when he received a call that took him on a six-month locum adventure with his wife, Sue. He recently put his many remembrances to paper, and we're proud to present the last of the three-part series here (if you missed the first installments, read them here and there.)
New Zealand was definitely not all work. Day and weekend hikes in Cormandel were precursors for even more spectacular and rigorous multi-day experiences: Tongariro Crossing, Milford Track, the Siberia Experience, Franz Joseph (for glacier hiking), and more.
We flew to Sydney with a transfer to Hobart, arriving just in time to revel in the celebrations marking the completion of the Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race, which is probably the most vigorous and dangerous ocean race in the entire world. Hundreds of sailboats complete in a 680 nautical mile journey with colorful spinnakers prodding their hulls forward for just a few more miles to cross the finish line. The not so fortunate ones crept into
Constitution Harbor with busted masts, defrocked rigging, and tired crews. Celebration with beer by the barrel, fish and chips by the bushel, and hugs and kisses from anxious family and friends by the score spilled onto the venerable quays and marina of this picturesque and noble seaport.
Out from Hobart, the countryside reminded us of Texas: dry, relatively flat, small towns with limestone buildings built during the mid 19th century, friendly and tough people throughout. The restored convict prison at Port Arthur was an incredible site. The endless views along the South Pacific, the long stretches of barrier islands offering sanctuary to countless sea birds, and the knowledge of the magical legacy of Captain Cook inspires reflection of times long past. The Captain Cook museum, a small locally maintained facility, is well worth the stop.
We thoroughly enjoyed driving from Hobart to Launceston. The graceful river arch at Campbell Town and the restored windmill at Ross are particularly striking remembrances of beautifully simple classic architecture. In Launceston, we enjoyed a river boat cruise up into Tamar River Gorge. So enticing was this spectacular geography, that we returned for a day hike, ending with a luxurious swim in the huge public pool and adjacent Tamar River cascades. The swing bridge hovering hundreds of feet above the cascading river offered a fabulous walk and photo opportunity.
Launceston to Sydney is only 45 minutes by air, but nearly a world apart. Launceston is a quaint provincial town, while Sydney is one of the most cosmopolitan urban environments in the world. The famous Opera House and background bridge are icons for all and both lived up to their reputations. Travel within Sydney by foot, subway, or ferry is easy, fun and rewarding. The harbor scene is spectacular and a cruise is well worth the time. We enjoyed international food, regional Australian wines, and "hip" music.
Our six months Down Under seemed to fly by. Between work and travel, it felt like we were only in country for only a few weeks - though we made the most of our journey in the short time we had in New Zealand. To truly appreciate this area, aptly named the "Land of the Long White Cloud", you really have to experience it for yourself.