Balls and chains, squalls and rain

Trip Start Oct 29, 2003
Trip End Ongoing

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Friday, January 19, 2007

As Norris the Nova was fairly spacious Rob and I thought we'd try and reduce our costs (from 10 quid a day each) by offering a lift to fellow travellers looking to see Tassie on the cheap. As luck would have it I spied a note on the hostel's noticeboard and after a brief interview with Eva and Sophie from Italy surprisingly they said ja (surprising not because they didn't seem to be scared of my singing whilst driving but because they were from northern Italy and in fact spoke German).
The day after The Victory (did I mention England won a game of cricket?) we squeezed the Italian backpacks into the boot and set of for our first destination. Unfortunately it was a bit overcast as we headed up Mount Wellington above Hobart so it wasn't a great view. After a quick wander and a few photos of misty vistas it was time to hit the Convict Trail out of town.
Beyond Eaglehawk Neck, on the way out to the coastal sights of Tasman's Arch, the Blowhole and the Devil's Kitchen is the village of Doo Town where the residents have tried to be witty with the naming of their homes. Amongst others there is a Doo Come In, Doodle Doo, Love Me Doo, Xana Doo and Doo Little. Talk about Doo Me Heddin. Although I didn't see them I'm sure there must have been one named Doo Drugs and - this being Tasmania - Doo Yer Cousin.
Time to be a bit serious and learn a little bit of history - which you kind of have to if you're down these parts. The following excerpt is from Robert Hughes' seminal work on Australia's colonial history, The Fatal Shore:
"The English invasion of Van Diemen's Land [as Tasmania was then called] was a muddled and squalid affair. It produced no set piece battles, no benevolent occupation, no heroes,
profits or cultural loot. It merely opened another pit within the antipodean darkness, a small hole in the world about the size of Ireland, which would in due time swallow more than 65,000 men and women convicts - four out of every ten people transported to Australia. How many Tasmanian Aborigines died while the invading whites invaded this cavity is not known because no one knew how many there were to begin with. But die they did - shot like kangaroos and poisoned like dogs, ravaged by European diseases and addictions, hunted by laymen and pestered by missionaries, 'brought in' from their ancestral territories to languish in camps. It took less than seventy-five years of white settlement to wipe out most of the people who had occupied Tasmania for some thirty thousand years; it was the only true genocide in English colonial history."

Crikey. Not one of our proudest moments. Obviously Tasmania wasn't a very pleasant place once whitey discovered it and the penitentiary at Port Arthur soon obtained a reputation for being 'convict hell' due to the brutal conditions and vicious cruelty of the soldiers sent out as guards. Now it has become one of Tassie's major tourist attractions but I didn't feel the need to spend $25 to take a tour and learn just how cruel we had been (and the Italians were just concerned where they were going to cook their pasta that night). Fortunately we found a campsite with bunkhouse and kitchen facilities where they made dinner whilst I played cricket with a couple of local families and Rob got stuck in to a Stanley goonbag.
Next on the tour de Tas was Freycinet National Park featuring the famous Wineglass Bay so we loaded up Norris again and headed north. The good thing was we still had radio reception and I kept the troops entertained by singing along to the greatest hits of the 80s, 90s and today as we made our way through the showers.
Wineglass Bay has one of the most beautiful beaches in the world but unfortunately the mist rolled in as we packed the sarnies and water in the daypacks and set off for the six hour roundtrip hike via Hazards Beach. The clouds briefly parted as I made it to the viewing platform giving a glimpse of the beach below but despite the weather it was a good walk - and the Italians didn't even complain too much.
That night we found a fantastic place to rest our weary legs in the hills of St Mary's. Seaview Farm is a few miles up an unmade road which Norris took in his stride. Not only did the farm provide a cheap bunkhouse in an old cottage with great views but they also sold marinated wallaby steaks and fresh salad from the garden. No pasta tonight!
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