Saturday, May 30, 2009

Tasmania and a Friendly Face

Covering April 12th to 23rd

Before I went to bed sunday, I checked my ticket to find out what time I needed to be at the airport monday. My blood froze. The ticket was for saturday the 11th, not monday the thirteenth. I hadn't looked at it for three months, but remembered having planned to be in New Zealand for three months exactly. Turns out I'd calculated three months from the date of departure from Denmark, Not the arrival in NZ!
All I could do was buy a new ticket for monday. The cheapest one available was 400$, bitter money, but it could be worse. I was unsure whether my visa had run out, which scared the shit out of me. What would the consequences be? The airport staff didn't mention it, so I assume it hadn't expired.

Arriving in Melbourne I checked in to what turned out to be an expensive and crowded hostel. In New Zealand I'd been spoiled for choice of awesome, cheap, homely hostels and I'd expected the same from Australia. Unfortunately, this doesn't seem to be the case. Not in the cities anyway.

The next day I woke up to find that a solid fever had taken up residence in my body. It'd probably been stowing away there since the airplane the day before. I was already in a rotten mood because of the hostel and leaving beautiful NZ, but as I went to the library to blog I called up Renée from Tasmania. Turns out she had a few weeks off work, and I booked a plane ticket for tasmania leaving that same afternoon. It's funny how, with some people, it feels like you've known them forever the first time you meet. That's what it felt like with Renée. After my introduction in Dunedin some three months prior, Renée forever referred to me as Socks. I countered by naming her Thunder. I would tell you why, but she'd kill me with that big machete of hers.

You call that a knife?

I spent around 10 days in Tasmania, laughing all the way. Renée showed me Devonport, the Cradle Mountain, and Triwunna Wildlife park where we fed kangaroos.

I'm gonna try and jam my thumb into its butthole, that should really piss him off!

Returning to Launceston (where Renée lives) the fever was clearing. I felt drugged and infinitely happy about the state of things. The road home was beautiful, but I took no pictures as Kings of Leon were on the stereo and I couldn't stop air-drumming.

Saturday, after a little walk around Launceston, we started out on a two day roadtrip. First stop was Hobart where we got uncharmingly drunk and slept in the car.

Renée was driving, so I never really bothered getting out of bed.

Renée's endless fascination with seaweed
I never figured out what this was. I think it was alive. That sounds like a job for, dundunDUNNN. Biophysics!

The next day we went to Port Arthur.

Port arthur is a sobering experience. It's the restorated ruins of an old prison, way out on a peninsula. There's heaps of stories about how bad prison life was, but the worst was about two young boys in the boy's prison. Both aged 12, they were best of friends. One day, when out chopping wood, only one came back. He wouldn't tell where the other had gone. Three days later, a guard found the boy leaning against a tree. His head had been bashed in with a rock, and in his neck was a knife, four inches deep. Now, the blade of said knife was only three inches long, but it had been thrust with such force that one inch of handle had embedded itself too. His mouth was full of maggots, but the worst part is that he was still alive. He was taken back to the infirmary where he only had strength to name his killer before he died. His friend was tried as an adult (as was british custom at the time) and hung by the neck until death.

More than a thousand people, most of them prisoners, were buried on this tiny island.
I don't believe in ghosts so I took this picture in mock terror. Funny thing is, I have no idea what that white smear in the corner is...

That evening we parked the car in a graveyard and slept. It was a bit cold, but otherwise surprisingly comfortable to sleep in the car.
Since the Port Arthur ticket was valid for two days, we went back the next morning to see some of the things we'd missed. As if the whole having-been-a-horrible-prison thing wasn't enough, the old cafeteria had been hit by a killing spree just a decade back, with dousins of people shot dead. My lonely planet book adviced us not to ask the staff about the incident.

Around midday, we arrived at the Freycinet peninsula where we took a swim. The water must have been less than ten degrees, but it was the closest thing to a bath we'd had for days. We took a look at the Grampians, but didn't feel like hiking so we drove back to Launceston.

milliseconds later, this kid was soaked. Nyah nyah nyah hahah!
Armand, the only dog I've ever loved. Looks possessed doesn't he? Well, that's what you get for naming your dog after a vampire!

The next evening Renée had some friends over, which resulted in heavy drinking and sleeping most of the next day away.

Thursday I was bound for Melbourne. Before I left though, we took a walk up the Gorge in Launceston. What a quaint old place that was! It felt a century removed and even in the bleak weather it was very beautiful.
What do you say at goodbyes? I guess Armand got it right. There's nothing to do but stare into the water and maybe chase some geese.

Renée drove me to the airport, and well back in Melbourne I hooked up with some couchsurfers I'd made an appointment with. I'd decided to buy another motorbike, but that's a different story and will have to wait until next time.

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