|Subject: Supercalafragilisticexpialidotious in Tassie|
Now I know why Mary Poppins had to make up her own word. There just aren’t enough superlatives at my disposal in the English language to describe Tasmania. As I didn’t think to pack a Thesaurus, I apologize in advance if everything is amazing, awe inspiring, beautiful, fabulous, fantastic, glorious, gorgeous, marvelous, magnificent, spectacular, stunning or if completely at a loss for words, WOW!
We arrived aboard the Spirit Of Tasmania along with the Queens Baton, on its last hurrah before the opening of the Commonwealth Games by the sulphur crested monarch as the wonderfully irreverent Aussie press dubbed her due to her white hat trimmed with bright yellow band. Also aboard were hundreds of the 4000 members of the 45+ Ulysses Motorcycle Club, who were touring Tassie along with us. Sporting their club motto Grow Old Disgracefully on every visible bit of clothing and equipment. We saw them all over the island happily living up to it.
>From the ferry we headed north and west to our first campsite in Stanley at the foot of the Nut, which we climbed that afternoon, our biker friends took the chairlift, up and down. We drove for most of the next two days. We had planned to stop in Strahan, the only town on the west of the island. It’s a nice enough place but far to busy for our liking, it was the Labour Day holiday weekend and after a quick look around we headed off for a campsite east of Queenstown. Driving was no hardship as the landscapes were spectacular and ever changing, from majestic mountains to sweeping savannah, beautiful lakes and winding rivers. Even the mining scarred mountains around Queenstown looked magical in the late afternoon light.
After three nights we realized we had a couple of problems. Firstly we had grossly underestimated the time we would want to spend here and secondly we couldn’t even begin to capture with a still camera the wonderful vistas all around us, even if we could have found somewhere safe to stop on the narrow winding roads. Just to be there in the midst of the panorama was awe inspiring and we would have to be content with capturing little glimpses of it and cherish the memories.
We had several destinations in mind but eventually made for Bruny Island and a phone booth to call the ferry office to see if we could extend our trip. Our only options were 2 days or 2 weeks more, unfortunately we had to decide on only another 2 days. We very much enjoyed Bruny Island. A well organized private campsite with congenial company, challenging walks with yet more amazing views from the steepest cliffs we have ever climbed and a chance to sit in the gloaming on the edge of a field and watch white roos, graze.
Fortunately we arrived in Hobart in mid morning, somewhat surprised to find that we were not the only ones enchanted by Tassie. There was scarcely a room to be had. We stayed in an overpriced motel at a great location, Battery Point. Just a short walk down to the harbour and a much longer crawl back after dinner and a couple of glasses of wine. We walked a lot, took a harbour cruise, mooched around the city and amused ourselves by speculating about spending six months here one Canadian winter soon. It was love at first sight.
The highlight of our Tassie experience for me occurred here. We took a strolling theatre tour called Louisa’s Walk. A couple of actors, Judith playing Louisa and Chris the menfolk in her life took us on a ‘walk’ from Luisa’s arrest for stealing a loaf of bread in the slums of London through transportation to the penal colony of Van Diemen's Land, her life in the so called ‘Female Factory’ and what eventually became of her. It was all too easy to become engaged by the performers and walk the walk with them, shedding a few tears along the way. This is a new tour, only been operating a few months and I highly recommend it.
Time to leave Hobart and another discussion as to where to go. Sydney Ziner Paul told me you can’t waste a day in Tassie, it’s all good, we would have loved to see it all but had to choose. We turned the car towards Freycinet Peninsula, but just had time on the way for a quick visit to the former penal settlement of Port Arthur. The site was more extensive than we had expected and for our entry fee we had a guided tour, a short harbour cruise and time to explore on our own. It is a very interesting place to visit but I didn’t find myself connecting with the lives of the prisoners, soldiers and civilians of the settlement as I had with the women of the Remale Factory.
A different kind of campsite awaited us at Freycinet, we had phoned ahead for an assigned spot amongst the dunes. With bush either side and our very own short flight of steps over the dunes to the beach it was very private. Arriving late we sat on our steps at the edge of the beach the Hazzards towering above us to the left and watched the sun go down. Cooked a late supper and sat on our ‘platform’ with a glass of wine as the moon rose, it doesn’t get much better. From the corner of my eye I spied a couple of raccoon sized shapes boldly marching towards our camp kitchen. When I turned to face them the light from my headlamp picked out 4 red eyes and 4 red ears. Tassie Devils!!! No, just bushy tailed possums but they gave me a turn for a moment. I made sure the tent was very securely fastened that night and the following morning found lovely sandy footprints all over the stovetop but they had lean pickings as all food and garbage was safely stowed in the car.
Only one day and two nights here, so we did the very steep walk to wineglass lookout and then continued past the aboriginal oyster shell middens across to Hazzards beach where despite the warnings, many people were hand feeding a small wallaby. It must have seemed like a great idea to him. Go for a stroll on the beach in the sunshine, everybody delighted to see him, beg for food, he especially liked apples and back home by dusk. Much better than venturing out in the dark for a bit of vegetation and the possibility of ending up as road kill.
Another climb up from the beach through the bush and around the headland. My calves had almost given up complaining. It was on this leg of the walk we saw a line of people ahead all staring at the undergrowth beside the path. We tacked on to the end and I asked what they were looking at. Well we didn’t want to miss anything that interesting did we? Or maybe we did. It turned out to be a tiger snake taking a little rest. Eventually everyone nervously edged around it and it was our turn. After giving Tony instructions not to antagonize it but to make sure he got a good photo, I crossed my fingers and passed. I must admit to being a bit disappointed, it was smallish and black with no pretty Tiger markings, I would have dismissed it as very boring but for the fact it is one of the deadliest snakes in the world.
We woke up to our last day in Tassie, time to head for the ferry via Launceston. Tasmania’s second city was a delightful surprise, we knew nothing about it and hadn’t even looked it up in the guidebook. With time on our hands before the ferry it looked like the best bet for wasting some time. How wrong can one be? Australia’s third oldest city is full of lovely old buildings but as usual we were drawn to the harbour. From there we spied the dual bridges over the river and discovered the start of the Cataract Gorge walk. We took the main path to the upper reaches of the tidal river, Quickly it petered out to a rocky stream but a local told us that given a few inches of rain it turned into a raging torrent. Beyond the rocks was a lovely serene pool of a river in which people were swimming and in the background, a low level bridge leading to a park and swimming pool and beyond that a cast iron suspension footbridge. It was charming. Full of local families spending a happy Sunday in the gorge. There was another chair lift but of course my calves were not interested and we walked down the main walk across the higher suspension bridge and took the upper zigzag route back. What an amenity and right in the middle of the town.
Arriving in Devonport at 5.00pm, we were a little nonplussed to find that the dock was bare. Not to worry, perhaps there was a day sailing on Sundays and it would be in soon. We drove out to somewhere with a view of the open water and still no signs. It is hard to miss the S.O.T. it is quite large. Eventually Tony, sure he must have made a mistake. phoned the office. I was already planning to treat him to a night at Cradle Mountain Lodge if there were no ferry. But alas, he was assured it would appear over the horizon at any minute and would dock by 7.00pm. Sure enough it did and within two hours they had offloaded a full compliment of passengers and vehicles and re-loaded. We left the dock exactly on time at 9.00pm. A very impressive turnaround.
Morning found us docking in Melbourne. We drove over the Western Bridge with the city on our right appropriately bathed in the pale gold light of dawn.
So this is coming to you from da da Castlemaine. We were passing by on our way to Mildura then Broken Hill so took the opportunity to stay over and have the car serviced and a few niggling little things taken care of before the outback.
So ten days and 2000km later, seeing it written down doesn’t seem like much, but we enjoyed every minute of it.
Regards until next time, Sue Wright (Currently on the road in Australia.) Waterloo ON