Almanac Travel: Three Tassie Experiences

 

Bike

At 4,170 feet above Hobart there’s an apparent temperature of two degrees. I’m an incurable under-dresser so am in shorts. It’s crisp. It’s Saturday.

We’re on Pinnacle Road which has (predictably) taken us to the top of Mount Wellington. The city is below the cloudy curtain. Claire and I have come up in a bus.

As is widely known, as soon as a bus driver has a functioning microphone and fondness for narrative, they become a coach captain (not always but often). This occurs.

 

 

Our hire e-bikes are onboard too. We are riding down the mountain.

Stepping out in the gusty cold being blown off the mountain seems most probable. Forever lost in a Tasmanian gully. Later discovered like an antipodean version of the Tolland Man. I later learn that winds have been clocked up here at 200 kilometres per hour.

On the way up we passed the Fern Tree Tavern which describes itself as ‘your loungeroom on the mountain’. This seems a long time ago. We could be in there now with something warm and affirming while we laugh about the mad types in the deathly outdoors.

 

 

Halfway down we pause at the Lost Freight Café. It is a shipping container. On chairs in the welcome sun Claire and I have lunch and then coffee and cake. A cluster of cyclists goes by.

Neither of us pedal. Our fingers and wrists throb as the brakes are squeezed continuously as a life-support strategy. It’s not cycling but loosely controlled falling. Last June we braved the Riesling Trail, and it was shared and peaceful and leisurely. This is a private hell of cold, roadkill and metaphysical fear. Our descent is indecent. Our trip is twenty-six kilometres.

Like much in life such as exercise, work, and parenting this is only appreciated in retrospect, when the sense of achievement emerges, bruised, from the difficulty of the undertaking. I’m glad we did it.

Down on the flat we whizz about the CBD and out to Sandy Bay and then chain up our bikes outside the Hope and Anchor only to lean on the door and learn that the pub is shut for Easter.

 

 

Returning our wheels, we debrief in The Whaler on Salamanca Place. It’s snug inside and a golden light bathes us and the ancient, maritime bar.

Fire

From our wooden deck on Police Point we look east. I see a bumpy lawn, a rivulet, a tide endlessly drifting in and out. In the distance is Kangaroo Bay.

Between grass and sand is a fireplace. It is all rickety concrete bricks and rusty iron.

Nightly we feed it pine logs and these are swiftly devoured. These are not like the red gum and mallee roots we burn at home. We gaze out over the dusky sea and enjoy the quiet.

 

 

Our conversation mingles with water, sand, sky, fire. We look at the twinkling sweep of the Milky Way and speak of the print on our wall back home which features the entire poem, ‘Suburban Lovers’ by Bruce Dawe. It opens with one of my favourite lines, ‘stars now have flown up out of the east’.

Kayak

Claire is keen to use the kayak. Because of the strong wind a lunchtime attempt is abandoned. The canoe stays on the grassy bank.

On Saturday we saunter about Geeveston and make an unsuccessful quest to spot a platypus. We have a drink outside at the café called The Bear Went Over The Mountain before returning, for the final time, to our seaside abode.

There’s a quick frenzy of activity as I build the fire and sort a few things for our barbeque. I wonder where Claire is and call out. Her phone remains on the lounge.

I am lugging pine logs and then dispersing firelighters when shadowy movement on the still bay catches my eye.

A kayak swims into shot. It’s Claire.

The snaking kayak pushes into the rivulet by our fireplace. It’s a lovely and charming moment. She stays in the canoe. The fire crackles and smoke phantoms about me. I stand on the bank. We chat.

Claire eases away into the glassy, darkening beyond.

 

 

All images courtesy of Micky Randall.

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About Mickey Randall

Favourite film: The Shawshank Redemption Favourite song: Khe Sahn Favourite holiday destination: Gold Coast Favourite food: steak Favourite beer: VB Best player seen: Dogga Worst player seen: Frogga Last score on beep test: 3.14159 Favourite minor character in Joyce’s Ulysses: Punch Costello

Comments

  1. Roger Lowrey says

    Very envious Mickey even though the yarn would have been more meritorious if the cycling and bus legs were reversed.

    Looking forward to our COVID deferred trip there in early July. A risky mid winter time to go you may think however Mrs RDL is keen to visit her old teaching colleague and family who lived next door and moved over there at the start of the year.

    RDL

  2. Thanks RDL. My previous trip to Tassie was in July and the weather was great, if crisp. I’m informed that Hobart is the second driest Australian city, behind Adelaide so you could be lucky! You might encounter snow on Mount Wellington. Shamefully, I’m ignorant regarding the state of Apple Isle rail, but you could sneak in a quick side trip! Failing this there’s always the races or the Shipwrights Arms.

  3. An enjoyable read, Mickey.
    Sounds like you both had a blast!?
    I am hoping to get to a North Melbourne game in Hobart later in the season.
    I adore Tasmania. It has a very different feel to anywhere else in Australia.

  4. Thanks Smokie. Tassie reminds me of New Zealand and parts of England like the Cotswolds and the Lake District. I reckon they do a pub as well as any state. I’m very keen to return.

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