Tas Mania 1
Day 1. 15th October 2018.
I love the anticipation that comes with a holiday. The mind's eye view before the event making brush strokes of what might or might not happen, but always with the tint of happiness. It always seems we leave Adelaide to be ravaged by a storm when we embark on a new adventure. This time was no different as we read reports during transit of power lines down, residents across the city left in darkness, traders having to discard stock, but we're already miles away from all of that, hoping our house (and fence!) are still in one piece when we return.
The ascent wasn't as bumpy as I expected, piercing through gusts that were pummeling parts of our home. I amused myself from the middle seat on this leg with an episode of Downton Abbey I'd downloaded onto my Netflix app. Landing in Melbourne was a little bit like being tossed about in the clothes dryer (note: I haven't actually done this) as the plane bounced onto the runway, like a pebble being skimmed across a flat lake surface. A couple of hours. Food. Another plane with a middle seat, three quarters of the next episode and we're in Hobart!
You know that feeling when you're walking around somewhere completely new and you haven't got any landmarks to let you know which direction you're headed? The makers of Google maps need to think about this when they're writing directions like "head north along [completely foreign street name with no signage]". I actually think I was driving south by the time I worked out it was after midday, so the sun was placed slightly to the west. None of Google's street names seemed to match the sign at first, but I took comfort in the landmarks it was describing: roundabouts with the right number of exits.
Hobart is easy to drive around. The peak hour conditions didn't offer any traffic jams, and there were no roadworks to contend with. It seems like an eternity since Adelaide hasn't had major roadworks in play, reducing already congested roads to 25km/h during peak times just for some extra fun. We checked into our room at the Motel. Our Tetris skills came to the fore as we figured out how to co-exist with our luggage in the small space. And when I say small, I've been in more spacious toilet cubicles. It left us wondering if we should have had a confined spaces ticket to use it. That aside, it provided a place to rest our head for the night. We made a quick exit to have a wander around Constitution Dock at sunset and grab a bite.
The the thing that struck me first was how clear the water is at the docks; the patterns in the sky perfectly mirrored below. The buildings in this precinct are a mixture of well preserved colonial architecture with some modern or modernised buildings that house gustatory adventures for all budgets. We chose a local favourite: Fish Frenzy over towards the eastern side. There was a tall ship moored out front and a sign imploring visitors "dona feeda da boids". I had the signature dish, named after the restaurant (Fish Frenzy, in case you missed it) which consisted of two crumbed fillets, several crumbed Tasmanian scallops and several calamari rings with chips. Capped off with a lemon lime and bitters from Cascade brewery, my first meal in Van Diemen's Land seemed a fitting welcome.
As night set in, stars filling the sky and lights changing the reflective water's palette, we wandered back towards the car. There was plenty to admire and photograph before returning to Tiny Town.
Day 2. 16th October 2018.
Waking from our compressed state in the Shoe Box Deluxe, we quickly prepared ourselves for the day and scooted. The first point of order was to pick up some essentials (aka things we forgot to pack) before heading north by north-west.
Hobart's streets are a criss-cross of one-way delights, which means one inadvertently sees more of the city than planned, which is fine - we're on holidays! You'll be happy to know that Target is the same, as is Camera House and Chemist Warehouse. The mall was quiet, which was a blessing, not having to dodge too many shoppers during our hunt for a pair of sunglasses (which we ended up finding at a servo in Bagdad as we drove north).
Driving Tasmania's highways is pretty easy. You can drive for miles without seeing another vehicle, but what you do see is the magnificence of this island state's ever changing terrain. Winding through the lake areas, we could have just as easily been in Alaska (not climate-wise, thank you!) with a string of encampments dotted along the lake's shoreline, each little camp with its own cluster of holiday huts.
We stopped at several points for photos. Chris hung out of the car by one leg, clicking away, at others. The diversity of scenery is stunning. Ascending a rocky mountain face at one point, then winding through rain forest with banks of tree ferns (Man Ferns!) either side of us. The fields and marshes present their own sublime array of colour: earthy hues of yellow, green, brown and purple. Driving alongside sheer cliff faces that extended upwards to the clouds made us appreciate how small we really are against Nature's landscape.
Our pit stop at Deloraine brought a welcomed opportunity to stretch our legs and have a snack. The town has a great artsy vibe with some fantastic old architecture. There are plenty of rusty roofs on those classic buildings, so if you're thinking about starting a roofing business...
At the end of the day's drive, we're in Waratah. There's a pub, a cafe and a roadhouse. There is also a waterfall, smack bang in the middle of town. Road signs indicate platypus cross the roads at night, but we were back in the warmth of our holiday let by then, well fed by the pub's curried sausages.