Monday, August 6, 2007

Australia: Tasmania: 2-4 August, 2007 (Written 5 August 2007)

On Thhursday, after a yummy breakfast of poached eggs and stewed tomato, all 3 of us jumped in the car. Chris had a physio appointment in St. Mary's so while she was there, Jeff and I went into town to a coffee shop/art gallery/cafe. There were some beautiful photos of Tasmania on display.

It was starting to rain, and gradually getting heavier. From the physio, we went on an unsealed road towards Upper Scamander - much of this area had been burned by the bushfires last summer and the damage was depressingly obvious. As we went further, we emerged onto rolling green grazing land. The luminous green, even in the rain, reminded me a lot of Scotland. There were cows and sheep in the paddocks, and mountains in the distance. Originally, we had planned to go to The Blue Tiers, but at the info centre in town we were advised not to because of the road and track conditions. We decided that we could still probably go see St. Columba Falls. Seeing as how it was raining heavily, we opted to have a bite to eat and then head towards the waterfall. We went to Holy Cow!, an outlet of Pyngana Cheeses, where they make a variety of cheddar cheeses, and have a great little restaurant. In fact, most of the flavored cheeses, like the sun-dried tomato, pickled onion, and chilli, didn't taste much like they had anything in them. Certainly not King Island of Margaret River cheese. However, the beef and beer pie and the tasting plate was yummy and filling.

By this time, when we thought it couldn't get any wetter, it was actually pouring down even more. We decided that we might as well go to St. Columba falls since we'd come all this way, and so onwards we went. We reached the Falls area, which turned into lush green forest, with huge tree ferns, and moss covered trees in a steep valley. We could see some of St. Columba Falls from the car, and due to the rain, we decided that was as close as we would go that day. Beautiful spot, though, and I'd like to go back someday.

We basically went straight home after that, making a short pit stop at the Seafood center in St. Helens, where we had seen plenty of boats at the jetty that had come in recently. We got some scallops and home we went. Funny enough, it wasn't really raining at the house, although the rain meter showed 7.5mm. I was exhausted and went straight for my nap.

Dinner that night was a potato bake, delicious Asian-inspired cabbage salad, and the scallops cooked in butter, mirin, and soy sauce. Yum.

Friday morning we got off to a good start since there was lots to see. We went Southwards, passing through the Chain of Lagoons and numerous beaches, to arrive in Freycinet National Park. One of the most popular destinations in Tasmania is Wineglass Bay, a perfectly shaped bay with white sand and crystal clear water. We marched through the pink granite mountains to get to the lookout for Wineglass Bay. It was a beautiful walk, through the pink mountains that seemed to change color everytime the light changed at all.

We then spent a couple of hours going around to different beaches and bays in the area, photographing. The contrast between scenery was astounding. Whereas Wineglass Bay is powder-soft white sand, other parts of the coastline are a rugged red sandy cliff, whilst others are small black boulders, and still others are brown rock formations jutting out into the sea, We had a picnic lunch at Honeymoon Bay and walked around Cape Tourville, where views were really spectacular, layers of cliffs melting into the sea, with the azure waters continuing until they became one with the sky. On the way back to the main road from Cape Tourville, we stopped in Sleepy Bay, where the color of the water was phenomenal. Clear white spray, light green, turquoise, aquamarine, and everything in between melded together as the waves came crashing in.

We then headed northwards towards home, and stopped at the Friendly Beaches. Here, we saw heaps of wallabies, including one that came right up to us, no fear of humans. They seemed less elegant than kangaroos, but oh-so-cute. The beach here was spectacular. The sand was so white - I think Tasmania and Fraser Island have the softest, whitest sant I've ever seen - and the clear sunny sky meant the water had that serene, perfect color palette. There were different rocks here, that looked as though they had for some reason been kept a lighter color - muted light greys. Also, rocks covered in deep green moss littered the sand. The bright green grass and bush growing on the sand just near the water's edge provided a beautiful contrast between the blinding white and the blues of the sea.

After this, we really did go home, and enjoyed a nice sunset - not quite as nice as the day I arrived, but nonetheless the colors of the clouds above were awe-inspiring. Dinner was a fajitas-type thing, with my guacamole, and afterwards Chris and I fiddled around on the computer, me attempting to teach a bit about the flickr site and other things, even though I don't really know anything about technology. Oh well, seemed to work out ok. Chris and I stayed up late that night, talking first about my apprehension about viisting the States, and how leaving Japan was, and by the end of it, we had switched over to literature and movies. It was great hearing about her experiences in Margaret River and Tasmania, both places in which she and Jeff have experienced a community tragedy. The reactions and outlook in these events are some of the more important things for me to consider, I imagine.

Saturday morning came and I really didn't want to go. We made a Mexican breakfast because I wanted them to try it, and afterwards lounged about the house getting ready. When I said bye to the dogs and Jeff, it was a strange feeling, not really of going away, but a see-you-later - cliche, I know, but it's true. The drive to Launceston was beautiful, and as Chris had told me the day I arrived, every time you go through the valley it's different, depending on the season, the clouds, the sky. Chris had a podiatrist appointment so I went up to Cataract Gorge, which is really just outside the city but feels miles away. There is a steep proper hiking track called the Zig-Zag Track which I went up, crossed the suspension bridge, and went back the ing them. other way on a tarmac road. The gorge has huge cliffs of grey stone with light green and white lichens and mosses covering them. Due to the recent heavy rainfall, the water was gushing down, with sprays of white going everywhere. What a great walking spot so close to a city.

I still had some time before Chris would arrive so I went for a stroll around the river, and crossed paths with many walkers and cyclists. It was really nice. I then met Chris and we went downtown to get lunch at a bakery, then off to the airport. Launceston airport is really small, so I think I kind of didn't get the sense that I was leaving. As I said by to Chris, I really didn't want to go, I was tempted to just go back with her. Such is life, though, and I really really hope that I can come back while they are still living in Tasmania, and spend a month or so during the summer to go on extended walks around the island. Their hospitality and everything about their lifestyle is great - producing the bulk of your own food, taking the time everyday to enjoy your surroundings - all things I hope I can do one day.

So off I flew to Sydney, and slept the whole way on the plane.

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