When I booked my trip to Hobart in Tasmania, I expected to visit a quiet fishing town surrounded by ocean, wildlife and nature. What I didn’t expect were the astronomical hotel prices, which had more than quadrupled due to a festival taking place during my travel dates. In pursuit of more affordable accommodation I considered Airbnb, but was hesitant about the safety of staying in a stranger’s house. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, I was even more hesitant to spend $1,000 AUS on a hotel room, and suddenly Airbnb seemed worth the risk.
When I arrived in Hobart a few things surprised me. First, I was surprised that Hobart wasn’t exactly the quiet fishing town I had imagined, with an impressive downtown core, for a city with just over 200,000 people. I realized that my naive daydreams of seeing wild kangaroos all over Hobart were ridiculous and that this trip would likely be very different than I had imagined.
My next surprise came when the cab pulled up to the Airbnb, an unimpressive rundown house in the mountains surrounded by bush. As I entered the house and met my host, I was worried that I had made a huge mistake. Although the room was as it appeared in the pictures, the images left out how out of date the house and the room were. The host seemed nice, but went to his closed off section of the house without really showing me around or making any conversation at all. I was expecting Airbnb to be more of a social experience and was feeling uncomfortable being in a stranger’s home.
That night I noticed a strange shadow lurking outside by the door. I turned on my flashlight and saw that it was a wallabie; a positive omen that everything was going to be ok! From there things turned around. Over the next few days I explored the small city of Hobart, which quickly became one of my favourite Australian cities. However, what ended up making my trip incredible was the location of the Airbnb in Mt. Nelson.
The little Airbnb, high up in the mountain, gave me the outdoor experience I had originally been hoping for. I explored hiking trails and walked up to Signal Point, the highest point on Mt. Nelson, overlooking Hobart. On one of my hikes I found a herd of 15 wild wallabies and kangaroos. I could tell that they were frightened of me, probably not used to receiving any human attention. Determined to get close to them, I slowly side-stepped my way over, pretending not to notice them, until eventually they accepted me into their herd and even came closer to check me out. The locals watching thought I was nuts.
My quick and harsh judgement of Airbnb ended up being unfair, as the room was clean and cozy and my hosts were friendly and respectful. I was grateful to have had the opportunity to stay in Mt.Nelson, a place that I would have never discovered had I been staying in a hotel. On my last night I visited the top of Mt. Nelson one final time, when one of the kangaroos from my new herd hopped right over to me, looked me in the eyes and started making some funny little sounds. I think she was trying to say,”Thanks for visiting Tasmania!”