Friday, 6 July 2007

Tassie part 2

Okay, I did promise everyone to finish this Tassie bit properly... Never again will I do a “part 1”, especially while traveling. I haven’t had a chance to write a blog in weeks. Mainly because of scarcity of internet access. So, tassie, where was I again? Finished at Cape Hauy didn’t I? We left there and got back to Hobart for the night. Gotta love low season as we were able to walk into the hostel at 8pm and request a bed, no booking ahead. We made cream of broccoli soup (a staple, as it’s so easy to make at a hostel etc and is rather inexpensive), talked with an English couple who gave us tips for the north end of Australia. And then we settled into... WARM beds. ahhhh. (the closet was FULL Of dunas ...duvets....i think i had 4 on my bed...i wanted to make sure i STAYED warm!)
The next morning, after a leisurely breakfast, we drove the 5 hours to Strahan. (Side note, this was on John’s birthday and Erin’s birthday. Happy birthday to our little siblings!) Now, I didn’t mention this earlier, but when we went to pick up the car, one of our questions was about the tires... what kind of tires does the car have? We received so many warnings about cold and snow in Tassie, plus reports of snowfall in the areas we would have to drive through, we thought that even if they didn’t put winter tires on the car, at the very least we’d get all-season tires. At the question of what kind of tires we got a blank/confused look, followed by a hesitant “um... standard? cheap from china?” Uh huh. So as Laurie put it: Bald smooth summer tires. Driving through the rolling hills and eventually steeper mountains (yes i was surprised) of Tasmania, lusciously smothered in vegetation, we found snow. So we slowed down to a crawl. There were so many curves on those roads... my driving foot got quite the workout switching constantly from gas to break and back. Only slid once, and that was easily corrected, lucky there wasn’t much oncoming traffic, and we slid towards the hill, not the dropoff. It’s interesting because the speed limits are posted as 100 or 80km/hr, and then 20 meters later you see a sign warning of sharp curves and to slow down. Basically, the speed is left to your discretion. You rarely go above 40km/hr. More humorous was the fact that you’d go around 3 or four hair-raisingly sharp corners that are unmarked, only to see a sign warning of a sharp curve that you should slow down to 25km/hr for, and then it’s no tighter a corner than the last 4.
Driving aside... Strahan was amazing. The Cozy Cabins we stayed at gave us each our own room with a double bed for the price of the dorm rooms. We decided to go on the cruise/tour the next morning to see a glimpse of the harbour, rainforest and another penal colony. They stopped and docked at a boardwalk that takes you on a short walk through the rainforest. Wow.

Here we were told that Tasmania has some of the cleanest air in the world. You can smell it. It’s so fresh and clean. The stop at Sarah Island gave us another glimpse into the checkered past of prison camps in Australia.

This one pre-dated Port Arthur, and ended up as a ship building area. The end of the tour of Sarah Island leaves you hanging about how the last 10 prisoners managed to escape with the last ship that was built. That’s their promo for a play called “The Ship That Never Was”. At a cheap 10 dollars, we figured we may as well get tickets for the play. We show up to find out that there are only two actors, and the audience is heavily relied upon to round out the show. One by one, we all were given roles, and Laurie and I became on-stage, gun-toting escaped prisoners. You’ve seen the pictures. It was fun, if embarrassing. Near the end of the play, there was a “storm”, so everyone got spray bottles of water and were told to spray and stamp their feet on cue.
After all the excitement, we had to find more... So we went to visit a friend of Wendy’s, our nurse manager. Another nurse, Mark lives in Strahan as the only nurse manning the local clinic. There’s not even a local doctor in the town for a majority of the month. We dropped into Mark’s place for supper of locally caught fish among other scrumptious foods.
The next morning we were off for another drive (after sleeping in to the indecent hour of 10am), this time up to Cradle Mountain National park. We went for a walk around Dove lake...

then we went to a privately owned Tasmanian Devil sanctuary, where we got to pet a tassie devil and watch them being fed etc. Turns out there’s a cancer that’s ravaging the population of these animals all across the island, and they’ve lost 50% of the population in 10 years since they first noticed it starting to spread. It’s passed from one animal to the next and causes horrible facial tumors that make them starve to death. So they’re trying to save some from any contact with the wild population, including the ones we saw at the “Devils @ Cradle” sanctuary we visited.

The next morning, we took a few short walks in the area. Unfortunately, Laurie was feeling a little under the weather, so we kept it brief and decided to head to Devonport earlier in the day than we might otherwise have. It also meant I got to drive the whole way there. hehehe. We really didn’t see much of Devonport. Lacking a proper map of the area, we followed some signs to downtown, parked the car and found a place that sold home-made chicken noodle soup. Laurie was really craving the chicken soup, nothing else would do. Soup ingested, and lacking ideas on what to do, we wandered a bit, decided it was a good afternoon to watch Shrek 3, and had a very lazy afternoon.
That evening, we caught the ferry out of Devonport and said goodbye to Tasmania.

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