Touring Tasmania – Part One

Clocks had gone back two consecutive nights now, so in a round-about way we’ve had two consecutive sleep ins.  It doesn’t feel that way though.  Captain Batboy (our 3 ½ year old) wakes up full of vim and vigour at too early o’clock regardless of what the clocks say.  Meanwhile, Grumpy fancies himself quite the gambler and is out until two or three in the morning playing poker if the table is open.

So on the morning of New Years Eve 2013, we rolled out of bed and rushed to breakfast, as usual, just before it shut at 9:30.

The children were in a particularly talkative mood this morning, and solicited eye rolls, loud tongue clicks, and then a round of “Thank GOD they are leaving!” from a table of particularly prickly old battle axes that were perched next to us that morning.  Is it wrong that I find miserable people like this particularly amusing?  Hate it up ladies – these three noisemakers bring us laughter and joy till our sides hurt and our cheeks ache.  They have more Love, grace, generosity, and hope, in the tiniest corner of their Hobbit hearts than you appear have in all of your shriveled and twisted beings.  The life we lead and the adventures we go on together mean I have peace like a river in my soul as I go through life, and you’re just a shriveled up nasty old prune.  The vast majority of people have been absolutely amazing and friendly and complimentary of course, but you are always going to come into contact with jerks.  It is just a statistical inevitability.  As long as they exist, and so do you, chances are you’ll run into them at some point.

Where was I?

Oh yes.

Heading out exploring in Tasmania.

I had fully expected to be on my own traveling to the farthest Southern Tip of Tasmania this day.  Yet, my undeniable mini-me Stephanie-Jane insisted on spending the day with me, even though the chances were the boys were going to be having a much better time at a zoo or something.

So off we rushed to pack a bag and grab a credit card.  Steph “helped” me with my make-up as she always does by blowing away the extra sparkles from my eyelids and choosing the very brightest red lipstick I had “because it makes you look like my older sister or auntie or something mummy”.  And within 15 minutes we were headed down to the gangway to disembark on our day.

Here’s a quick series of pics from that day to illustrate my daughter’s cosmetics skills and our staggering similarities, for those of you not already familiar with one or both of these things:

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We wandered up to the taxi rank, populated by only two or three mid-size sedan taxis with blue writing.  I put on my biggest bright red smile and extended a hobbit hand for shaking to the grey haired bloke that made his way from the drivers seat to greet me as we walked up.

“How much to get to Port Arthur?”  I asked.

“Strewth.” Exclaimed the man.  I am not embellishing, they actually, fair dinkum say that here in OZ. “That’ll be a fair whack – like about $360.00 or so.”

“Okey Dokey.” I chirped.  “Jump in baby Jane.” And then I opened the door for my bubbly blonde clone and turned back to the cabbie. “You’ll have to bring me to an ATM if you’d prefer cash, as I don’t have any Ozzie dollars at the moment.”

“No worries Love, cash or card are just fine.”  Said the somewhat surprised but seemingly buoyed spirited fellow.

I was happy with the price, as it saved me the nightmare of being on a crowded bus tour.  With the two of us, it was also cheaper than taking the ship’s tour would have been.  Win-win.  I like it when that happens.

We made our way out of Hobart and Steph and I were our usual chatty selves, telling the man about who we are, our many travels, the baby in my tummy, her two brothers, her wonderful daddy and my wonderful husband and his amazing inventions that make our travel and adventures possible.  The man, who’s name was Viv, was far less chatty than us of course.  He had lived in Tasmania his whole life though, so was a font of knowledge and an amazing tour guide.

We found out fairly early on in the adventure that Viv had three grand-daughters and two more grandchildren on the way at the end of January.  We also found out that he had lost one of his three son’s to Cystic Fibrosis in 1994.  One of the brothers had never been to the grave-site and chose to remember his beloved younger sibling the way he was, while the other brother joined his mother and father in visiting the site at the crematorium every birthday and Christmas.  After 20 years he misses his son terribly, but feels blessed to have had 12 wonderful years with him when the doctors had told them when he was diagnosed at 6 months old that the prognosis was he’d be lucky to see his 6th birthday.

One of the strongest, coolest and kindest women I know is the president of the CF foundation in NZ and hearing this story reminding me of how very much I respect and admire her and her beautiful, tough, and consistently over-achieving eldest daughter who lives with CF.

Viv became a cab driver in his mid 60’s after leaving a long career as a fire door engineer.  He likes the hours, the flexibility, the freedom and the fact as soon as he turns the key and walks through his door, he has left his day behind and can focus completely on his life.

As we drove, he pointed out the vast charred areas that had been swallowed up by the infamous Tasmanian bushfires 11 months earlier.  Started by a smouldering stump a farmer lady had tried to burn out, which caught the wind and started one of the most destructive fires in Tasmania’s history.  This bushfire destroyed over 130 properties and claimed the life of one firefighter (who had a heart attack while fighting the blazes).

“I am not sure a person’s mind would ever recover from something like that… the poor woman.” I said to Viv.

“No, I don’t suppose it ever would.  Terrible really.” Agreed our gentle Tasmanian tour guide.

He asked if we liked berries – and my daughter’s eyes got as wide as saucers.  So Viv stopped at a local stall and bought us fresh raspberries and cherries that were consumed with great satisfaction.

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Our first stop was a lookout called Pirates Bay.

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We then wended our way down the hill and stopped to see the Bronze Dog.  There were angry dogs placed at regular intervals along the road to discourage convicts from escaping or something like that.  Didn’t seem like a very nice existence for a dog.  Nor a convict – but that part of the story comes later.

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I’ll leave it there for now as I am erring dangerously close to the 1200 word limit I have set myself to hopefully avoid boring my beloved readers to tears.

I’m nearly through editing the second installment as I publish this one, so I’d be honored if you’d tune back in soon.

Thank you again for sharing some snippets of our Hobbity lives, and I wish you well wherever you are and whatever you are doing.


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