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Down Under in Tasmania

>To get from my house to Tasmania you first need to get to the airport, so I needed a taxi. It wasn’t a difficult task, it was just a little funny. I called the taxi company nice and early to book one. Whoever the guy was who answered the phone, lets just call him Bob, didn’t seem too cheery. No g’day or hello. Bob just wanted “Name, address, phone number”. He gracefully completed his customer service spiel with “The next available taxi will be dispatched to you.

Before Bob could hang up, I blurted out as fast as I could, “Approximately how long till the taxi arrives”.

Now Bob wasn’t too happy about this and with disdain in his voice, he replied “The next available taxi will be dispatched to you.” And with that, he hung up.

Next time I will drive myself to the airport and leave my car in the long term car park!

Melbourne to Devonport is only a short flight (55 mins), but once I got there I quickly realised that a lack of preparation on my part for this trip could get me in trouble. My plan was to hire a car and take a couple of days to drive from Devonport to Hobart. What I found was that there was not a single hire car available at the airport! Note to self, next time organise self better, take ferry (10 hours) with own car on board. Never mind, I’ll take a bus into town. What, no bus either! Bugger … give me a taxi then! The taxi I jumped into was driven by a friendly guy named James. Being the good bloke he was, James called one car hire mob for me – no cars. He then drove me to two others (with the meter running of course), same story. I would’ve found it quite funny if the second place had a car for me. It was “Rent-A-Bug” and the old bugs are orange.

In the end, James took me to the bus station and then I was on my way to Hobart via Launceston. It was here that my need for food far outweighed my desire to see the sights. Now here’s my recommendation. If you’re in Launceston and you need a feed, head to Vegimania. It’s cheap and there was so much tofu on offer I couldn’t decide! Luckily Karen, the friendly waitress, helped me out and I was completely pleased with her choice. She returned shortly afterwards to chat about how I found the restaurant (Lonely Planet), how long I had been a vegetarian (about half my life), why I was vegetarian, and again how long had I been a vegetarian … um, same answer as before (was she trying to trick me?). I must have looked bored or lonely sitting there by myself as she returned again for another chat and before I left she introduced me to the chef, Meng (her brother-in-law) and her sister (sorry, I don’t know her name). It was very nice to meet them all. I complemented them on the food. When Karen queried why I hadn’t finished my food I immediately felt guilty like you do when you can’t finish the food someone lovingly prepares for you. They were all so sweet and gave me a stack of business cards to hand out to my friends (no-one I knew was going to Launceston) and they also gave me a Singapore travel bag (I had no idea what to do with this).

I still couldn’t leave the restaurant as I was stopped by some other diners. They seemed very friendly and sort of offered to drive me to my next stop, Cataract Gorge, but said their car was full. Plus they had a young child with them who probably would’ve smeared food or something all over me. I wasn’t really going to the gorge anyway. I only made this up to make it sound like I knew what I was doing. Basically I just chilled out at the bus station for a few hours before heading off to Hobart.

Several hours later I arrived in Hobart and yet again I was hungry. Of course there was a kitchen at the backpacker place, but I managed to find a nice Indian place not too far away and thought this a much better idea. The head waitress was in a foul mood and grumping to me about another waitress. I couldn’t really argue as I was hungry and needed to be nice to the people who were going to feed me but when she left and another waitress made faces at her I laughed. Trouble is I think I was sprung as she returned and must have surely seen my face. Oops.

After spending a pretty uneventful day in Hobart I jumped on a six day tour around Tassie. Our first stop was Mt. Field National Park. A nice short walk and all I could hear was the sound of birds singing, water rushing and trees swinging in the wind. Nice and peaceful. I saw quite a few pademelons in the park and I remember spending way too much time swapping to my zoom camera lens to take photos, only to walk on a little further and be just a metre away from another!

That first evening on tour we stayed at Tullah Chalet where the canoes and mountain bikes were free and we overlooked a beautiful lake. We all opted for the canoes although not all looked like they knew what they were doing. The amazing thing is, Bec and I knew what we were doing and we saw several platypuses … the first time I have ever seen them in the wild. After that there was time for a bit of karaoke. Apologies yet again to anyone who had to listen to me sing … this time it was “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor.

Day two and we briefly visited Strahan, most notable for it’s proximity to the Gordon River (which we didn’t see, or I don’t remember seeing). It was really quite unfortunate that we didn’t have more time there as it seemed like a gorgeous place. Shortly afterwards we headed to Henty Dunes where a few of our group went off on quad bikes and everyone else walked around the dunes. I walked up the closest dune, found some shade and sat down. Two hours later, everyone came back looking awfully hot and bothered! Next stop was Montezuma falls, the highest waterfall in Tasmania. They’re quite high (just under 100 metres), and although there wasn’t a lot of water cascading down they were still very nice. There was also an interesting suspension bridge, maximum weight, one person with backpack, and it swayed all over the place as you crossed!

Again that evening we went out trying to spot platypus but this time was not as successful. Instead I did some laundry and then talked Bec into doing a karaoke number with me. We dedicated “My Girl” to some new guests at the resort, many of whom left during our song. We tried several other songs but then all but three people left and they called last drinks at the bar so we thought it was best for us to stop.

The following day we headed off to Cradle Mountain! We didn’t actually get to see it as it was quite foggy/misty, but we did a gorgeous walk around Dove Lake which lies at the foot of it. It rained consistently for the two hours we walked around so by the end we were all quite wet but I still had a huge smile on my face as it truly was a beautiful place to be! This is definitely a place I want to come back to, and luckily it’s quite close to home.

That evening we spent New Years Eve at a pub in Devonport. The fireworks were cancelled and the band was average so it was lucky we had dag dancing to keep us entertained. I was teaching some of my basic moves to a few girls … Bec picked them up very quickly, Livia was much more difficult. The girl has way too much rhythm.

New Years day and we were all quite well. We drove from Devonport to Launceston and I finally got to visit Cataract Gorge which was better than the bus station on my previous visit but otherwise not really that interesting. We continued on for a hike up St Patrick’s Head. The walk was quite strenuous at times and also very steep but at the top we had a nice view of the east coast.

After this we stopped for one of the most touristy and most interesting things I had done in Tasmania … visited a wildlife centre. It was here that I was able to hold Billie the wombat and for the first time I held an echidna. Billie was more than happy to be cradled like a baby and I held her for a long while. Holding the echidna was quite different (less of a cuddle) but equally special. She was very young and the pads of her paws were so soft. We also fed kangaroos, patted a joey just out of its mother’s pouch, got my finger chomped by a cocky, chatted and patted a nicer cocky for a while, saw some snakes, owls, and plenty of water birds. It was all very nice and many of the animals come from rescues so it’s great to see them rehabilitated.

We stayed in Bicheno for the evening and went out to see the little penguins in their natural habitat as they return to their rookeries. I didn’t really end up seeing that much of the penguins as the crowd was too big and too pushy. In fact, much of the time I was staring at the stars as it was a beautiful clear night.

The next morning, our bus headed to Freycinet National Park where I hiked to see the beautiful Wineglass Bay from the top of Mt Amos (elevation 454m, actual distance hiked – 6 km … all uphill I’m sure!). It was graded as a strenuous walk and it definitely felt like it! It was actually a very enjoyable walk and the views from up there were well worth it. Along the way to the top we saw no-one, only lizards and one tiger snake! In the car park down below, a Bennetts wallaby came to say hello. It was so lovely. I slowly introduced myself and eventually got close enough to pat her and she licked my hand. Later on at lunch I met another wallaby and again slowly introduced myself. My hands outstretched, palms facing upwards to show that I meant no harm and that I had no food. This wallaby came forward, had a sniff, then took a bite of my finger. Once it realised I was not food I was released, no damage done.

To finish up quickly, the last day of the tour started in Port Arthur, moved on to Waterfall Bluff and then finished back in Hobart. Now I’m back at home, back at work and ready for another holiday. It wont be long and there are already plans in the making.

I think I either holiday too much or not enough, my neighbour of six years still calls me Sharon.

Take Care, live and enjoy every day!

Cheryl

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