The Gorge and Journey back to Hobart

In the morning I decided to go visit the gorge that people were speaking about. I did some small hikes along the pathways of the gorge, saw another wallaby!, and found the scenery ok. Definitely not the top of the list of memorable scenes from Tassie, but nonetheless, another nice area to do some hiking. I then went around town for a little more, and stopped for a great lunch at a cafe. Parking meters were so cheap! $.80 for 1 hour! That’s about 4x less than Sydney! I wanted to make sure that I got back to the airport down in Hobart in time for my flight at 7, so I headed out of Launceston at about 2pm. Along my journey down the Heritage Highway, I stopped in some areas such as Oatlands, just small colonial towns with some interesting houses. I then heard on the radio that the Australian icon, Steve Irwin had been killed :( As odd as it was, it seemed quite devastating. I guess being in Australia, and getting to know him as such an icon, I felt quite sad to hear the news. By the time I made it to the airport, I was 3 hours early, and hoping there was another flight I could take. However, to no avail. When I turned my car back into Avis, they told me that Steve’s wife was in Tasmania at the moment, driving an Avis car, and doing a hike on Cradle Mountain. I only hoped she wouldn’t hear the news on the radio. I then settled in and did some of my research for school while watching the MTV awards. The flight was delayed a little bit, but still made it home at 10pm. All in all, this adventure proved to be a very good time for reflection on my time in Australia in the South Pacific, and as the slogan says, I went and ‘Rejuvinated Myself’.

Bay of Fires

I awoke early in the morning to go to the Laudromat slash cafe for breakfast. Had a good breakfast and headed for the Bay of Fires to do another small walk along the beach. The big boulders here had red lichen on them that made them look like they were on fire. That coupled with beautiful blue green waters made for such a beautiful bay. After walking along the beach, I then headed towards Launceston, to spend my last night in Tasmania. Along the way I stopped for lunch in a tiny town called Derby that was made famous for derby racing in early years. After derby, drove through smaller towns until hitting Launceston. Launceston is the other major city in Tasmania, and by major, I mean, it has retail shops and street lights. I found my hostel, and walked around exploring the town. Since it was Sunday, most everything was closed.

That evening, I headed to Irish Murphey’s, a bar pub with apparently good food. I had a great grill mix full of chicken, steak, grilled vegetables, etc. After dinner I got a chocolate/coffee milkshake. I then went back to the hostel and watched TV with some other people. One was an american girl doing her masters in journalism down in Hobart, and the other was a guy from Melbourne who was moving to Tasmania.

Drive to Coles Bay

I woke up early in the morning and got a danish to then head out for my hike. I arrived at the National Park of Freycinet, and to my surprise, I was one of two cars in the parking lot. It was a beautiful sunny day, with hardly any clouds in the sky, and I was so surprised that more people weren’t here enjoying this park. I then started on my hike through Mt. Amos and found myself at the peak after about an hour. Looking out over into the distance and down towards Wineglass Bay, complete isolation and purity, the sun brightly shining over the bluest water and the whitest beach. It was breathtaking, and really, I was out of breath too from having hiked up the mountain. :)

I then started my descent where finally I ran into another group of people hiking. Passed them and then continued down to the beach. The water looked so great I just wanted to jump in, but it was icy cold. I sat on the beach and had an energy bar while taking in the magnificent views. I then started my hike around through the forest towards the Hazards, another beach on the western side of the peninsula. While walking through the forest, I heard a huge thump thump thump, and finally saw a wallaby cross my path! It was amazing how gracefully it jumped, so I tried to get closer. He kept a good eye on me, and still looked for food. However when I came too close, he hopped off through the branches and trees like some graceful machine. I then continued along and started hiking more uphill. After about the 3 hour mark, I was getting a little over the hike. Mainly because I had seen a sign, and it said 1/2 hour later, but apparently someone must have crossed out a 1 in front of that. Then I kept wondering had I missed a turn somewhere since I never saw another soul on the path. So I just enjoyed the scenery and hoped that I hadn’t made the turn for the 8 hour hike :)

After I completed the hike, I towelled off and headed for Bicheno, a little beach side town. After arriving I found a place for lunch, and had a great chicken wrap. It was so great–food has been excellent here! (Despite the fried bucket of fish). I then went to the blowhole and took some pictures there. After a little walk, I continued back to my car and headed for St. Helens where I was to spend the night. Driving has been great fun, mainly because I’ll see something interesting, pull over, and get to look more. Little churches, graveyards, random beat up bridges, etc. Things I did not stop for were all the road kill. I’ve never seen so many of our furry friends beat to a pulp on the side of the road :( The sad thing is it’s all the little wallabies and wombats, even some foxes.

Half way to St. Helens, I saw a turn off for the Elephant Pass. So I decided to follow that and see where it took me. I ended up at the top of this mountain, at the Elephant Pancake house. It was this really funny house in the middle of no where, that served great pancakes. As I had just eaten lunch, I opted not to pound in another pancake, but rather just take a peek inside into the offerings. It was so fragrant there with the smells of berries, daffodils, and fresh wood. After the descent from Elephant Pass, I arrived at St. Helens. I went into the tourist info place to check and see the backpackers, and he gave me the address. I went by but couldn’t find it. I kept driving around in circles trying to find it, and finally stopped at a hotel, and they told me it was just across the way. Finally I see this tiny house with an itty bitty sign for YHA in the window. There was another car in the driveway so I felt confident that they would be open. The sign said they’d arrive at 5:00.

Marika and her husband Nick own this hostel now, and they’re a young couple in their early 30’s I’d say. I had a great time chatting with her, and my other fellow hostellers, two 70+yo old women from Adelaide. I then headed out for a dinner, as there’s actually a theater in town! Had a pizza, and headed to the theater for a show. I was the only one in the audience of course. As lonely as it may seem, it’s actually quite nice. Especially in the hostels!

After the movie I headed back to the hostel and got to bed. The night got quite cold, and for some reason, I couldn’t get warm enough. I had a heater on, and kept stacking up blankets on top of me. I had a total of 4 and still seemed to not sleep due to coldness. Quite bizarre.

Drive to Port Arthur

This morning I got up really early to head out for my drive to Port Arthur. I wanted to look at the Cascade Brewery because I had seen pictures of the building’s facade and thought it looked really interesting. So I headed to a bakery near Raf’s house, and had a great danish. Rain started to sprinkle a little bit on my drive down, but cleared up as I entered the gardens. It was ok, not as impressive as I thought it would be, but good enough to make me glad I stopped there on my way out of town! The drive to Port Arthur was beautiful. The roads wind through pastures filled with sheep, so I often honked my horn to watch them all run away :)

Port Arthur was made really famous for the Tasmanian massacre that happened 10 years ago when a boy came to the park and opened fire in the cafe and grounds. Today it is still the biggest single manned massacre in history. He’s now in solitary confinement in Hobart. Once I arrived at Port Arthur, I headed for a boat tour that left to talk about the Convict settlement that used prison labor to build ships and such. Very interesting to hear about the stories. I then went to the cafe (yes, the same cafe of the shootings) to have lunch, and in walked 3 guys from the Cadbury Tour. Funny how tourist always follow the same trails! Anyhow, our tour guide was this crazy Kiwi with purple hair who told us the more stories about the convict labor in Port Arthur.

After the tour, I stayed around the grounds to do some photos of some of the amazing buildings that had been left behind. I then started my drive on up to Coles Bay, a 3-hour drive up the north coast of Tasmania. I wanted to make sure I arrived there so I could start my day hiking the next morning. Along the drive up the coast, I pulled over to see some of the little towns that speckle the country side. I really feel like I’m at the edge of the world down here. It seems like stepping back in time, how people own these little stores, and everyone in town knows everyone else. It’s quaint, but at the same time, confining.

Once I arrived at Coles Bay, I found my way to the YHA hostel and checked in. I was the only person at that time, so I put my stuff up and headed to walk around the ‘town’. I should add ship to that, because after one block, the township was done. I got dinner at the local fish shop, which seems daisy chained from two other shops next door. The bakery said closed, but see us next door, which the takeaway shop said closed, but see us next door, where you ended up at the grocer, who seems to own all 3 and opens them accordingly. So I ordered my fish basket, and had a greasy fried fresh fish dinner. After feeling like I myself was dripping, I wandered down to the beach to take a look at the bay. I was excited about my hike the next day.

That evening, I headed to the restaurant/bar to do some of my gasp! homework, and had a dessert. I sat back in the corner and was getting some good reading done when 3 20-somethings came in and sat down at the booth in front of me. When you’re in a foreign country, and you hear the word American, your ears perk up. And the girl who was talking kept saying American, so I kept looking up at her. As I eavesdropped in, it was a conversation about how terrible being around Americans was, and how stupid Americans are, and how ignorant Americans are. I had this weird bubbling feeling inside that was making me irritated and I kept looking at her thinking, do you not think that I could be American?? So I gathered my papers together, got up and looked at her as I walked by her table, and said, “You know, not all Americans are that bad”. I felt good that I said something, in as strong an american accent as I could do (since apparently it’s faded a tad). I then went back to the hostel and a Jewish family had checked in. Not only where they celebrating shabbas, but they had 3 kids that seemed to use 9 ft voices instead of the deemed 3 in. voices by primary school teachers. I watched TV for a bit and then planned out my hike for the next morning.

Off to Tasmania!

Today I got up early in the morning to head to the airport to start my trip to Tasmania. I have a 5 day trip planned mainly by driving around the island and staying towards the East. After boarding my flight, it wasn’t but after a short flight that we started descending into Hobart. I picked up my car, mainly by going to the rental car hallway and comparing prices. It was incredible that no one came close to Avis, and I had even booked with Hertz the week before to ensure I had a car, but they were over $100 more expensive. So when I said, they’re offering this, can you match it, and she said, oh no, we will not. And I was thinking, um ok, then I’m sorry, I won’t be continuing on with my reservation with Hertz. So I got in the car, put my cds in the tray ready for my first road trip completely alone. Keep in mind, it’s on the other side of the road here too!

So I drove into the city and had lunch at the Salamanca Markets area next to the fish port. I had a great sandwich and sat in a park enjoying the views of the architecture and marina. I had to watch my time, because my first tour was of the Cadbury Factory and I wanted to make sure that I didn’t miss it. So I carefully drove my way up north to the Cadbury Factory to join the tour. They had free samples, and I had to monitor myself to not take too much. I was too excited by all the chocolate aroma filling the room. The tour started, and Monique, our tour guide had quite a funny accent and explained how chocolate was made. Overall it was a pretty good tour, but as in any manufacturing environment, sanitation is important, and we weren’t able to see that much stuff. So my dreams of seeing huge cauldrons full of chocolate were shot out the window :(

After the tour, I went into the gift shop where they would bag up ‘defects’ and the phrase one man’s garbage is another man’s treasure rang so true. I picked up some different things and headed for the check out. I then rang my friend Rafael who works at Cadbury to come down and say hello. We then set up a time to meet at his place so we could go to dinner.

After Cadbury, I continued North to a little town called Pontville, which had some great little houses perched on the hillside. I continued along to Richmond by taking the TeaTree Road. In Richmond, I parked the car and walked all around the town finding some really great shots of a bridge that was constructed in the 1800’s.

I then decided to get a snack at the Maze Cafe and tried a Cornish Pastie. This is a roll looking thing filled with meat and vegetables. It was quite good. Then from the little house, an Amish looking man came out and sat down at the table with me starting a chat. He then took out a strip of paper and calligraphy pen and started to write my name in Old English characters.

After Richmond, I headed back down to Hobart and up to New Town where Rafael lives. He had 2 flatmates who were both nice. He then took me out to a great restaurant where I tasted the best veggie burger I have ever tasted in my life. I had risotto but ended up helping Raf finish the burger, and it was absolutely incredible. Pesto, hummous, lentil bean pattie. It was the best thing I’ve eaten since food in New Zealand!

After dinner and drinks at Kaos, we went home and tried to figure out the best route I should take through Tassie. Only time will tell what places I see! I’m quite excited for this adventure, and very glad that I have the freedom of going where I want, when I want, and with the means of a car. Why haven’t I rented cars for journeys before??