Sunday, 27 March 2016

Rob and Cait go Tassie Glamping March 2016

For over twenty five years the lovely Cait has been listening to me blab on about how wonderful Tasmania is. A Year 5 school trip and a trek along the Overland Track in High School left lasting impressions. However, when Cait suggested we actually go there, I was a bit surprised. So much so that she thought I never actually planned to return again and was a little miffed by my lack of enthusiasm. Sorry Babe. I was in shock.

I had also just changed jobs and was in a weird brain space. I had been facing redundancy for months, suddenly redeployed, and commencing a new job almost immediately which meant cancelling existing holiday plans, being thrown into whole new work environment and new work colleagues. A huge change in lifestyle. One of which was being able to choose when I take leave, and not having to base holidays around work commitments. I was still getting used to this strange new concept, but Cait had seen the possibilities and intended to push me off the ledge and into the abyss of this brave new world.

In part my reaction was also based on having spent years thinking that returning to Tassie would involve walking shoes, back packs, shuttle buses and budget accommodation. However, Cait was obviously planning to come along as well, so these things were probably not going to be much of an option. I suspected that she wanted to stay in nice places and eat nice food. This makes my tight arse clench to the point of sphincter cramp.

However, leave forms submitted and approved, Cait set to doing what she does best – organising our lives and melting our credit card. Which left me free to do what I do best – where are those maps ! I love to plan trips, and it helps me to ignore the smell of melting plastic.

The big day arrived. We waved good bye to our aged dog Evie (please don't die while we're gone) and our nervous trembling Staffie Buddha. She has learned the signs that means that her Mum is going away and it makes her crazy. They were in the trusty care of our hairy son who would no doubt over feed them and shower them with love, but for Staffies there is never enough food or love. Ever.

They say that over time, couples begin to resemble each other. Possibly this is true. What is true is that they begin to shape each other. The lovely Cait had booked a “park and fly”arrangement. We paid to park our car safely for a week, they shuttled us to the airport, then picked us up on return and drove us back to our car. I have been married long enough now to do the sums in my head, work out that it would have been cheaper to use public transport to get to the airport and back, but still thought Cait was pretty smart organising “park and fly”. It did save hours of time removed a mountain of stress out of our trip. Consider me shaped. Even though it cost more. Just saying.

Although so early in the trip, the lovely Cait began asking "will this be in the blog ?" Dear God. I have created a monster celebrity whore of a wife. Keep the paparazzi away from her.

Leading up to the trip, I sadly realized that despite flying many times, I actually had no idea about how the whole check in thing worked. I had always gawked about, then suddenly by magic I was on a plane. By magic, of course, I mean that I had always left it all to Caiti. This time around I determined to find out how it all worked. This meant that I asked the lovely Cait questions about every aspect of what we (she) was doing. She calmly ground her teeth as I asked the same questions over and over (restated in various ways to keep things both interesting and frustrating). There were signs up everywhere warning passengers not make inappropriate jokes about explosives. I am pretty sure that eventually Cait wanted to step away from me, point and and loudly shout “this man has a bomb in his pants” and have me hauled away for a painful strip search.

Plane engines roaring, we rose into the sky and off to Tasmania.

I love flying. The lovely Cait had booked me a window seat so I could watch the world pass by below. Uninterrupted views, interrupted only by the endless sound from the seat behind of one voice ear bashing her poor trapped friend and anyone else within hearing (the entire plane) for the entire flight.  

On arrival, we collected our trusty rattly wobbly steering little hire car, and set off to Hobart town. A slight delay as Cait got lost in the car park, driving right past the “EXIT” sign and boom gate and having a practice lap before we set out on the road.

We checked into our beautiful hotel, Hadley's Orient. As we arrived at the third floor, Cait giggled. The lift had announced our arrival on the third floor with a little voice saying “third”. She thought it sounded like “turd”. So immature. However, after several days, we both thought it said “turd” and sniggered every time we heard it. A small highlight of our trip. We also thought the sound of Hobart pedestrian crossings made the same noise as placing a hand under an arm pit and making a farty “pptt” sound. This also kept us endlessly amused. Sometimes being married to Cait is like being the naughty kids at preschool.

We arrived with time enough to wander the Salamanca Markets. From Sydney, where buskers are shot on sight by the fun police, it was great to hear so many talented (and not so talented) amateurs out and about. Lots of guitar bashing, smooth jazz, ripping flamenco, cats being strangled. One woman was simply standing with a song book, belting out “Jolene”, unaccompanied by any instrument or sense of melody. I loved it.

The markets were great. The sun was intense, but without the humidity we left behind in Sydney, it was heaven. Cait had a burrito from the Wallaby Burrito stall. Delicious. It took her a while, but after several restaurants advertising “Seared Wallaby Tenderloins” and the like, she eventually realized that she had eaten a real wallaby burrito. Not a highlight of the trip for Caiti (burrp).

We found a classic car display, and Caiti being Caiti soon had old blokes telling her all about their cars and their life stories. The cars were pretty damn sensational. As they explained about how much time and money they spent on their hobbies, I proposed swapping Caiti for 'rod. I could save both time and money. Cait looked horrified, old dude considered the offer. He declined. Guess I will have to keep Caiti.
Cait is pretty awesome, but how good would this beauty look in my drive way
We returned to our hotel, giggled at “turd”, then crashed for a while. I channel surfed the TV that was two rooms and about ten metres away. An interesting room arrangement. I stumbled across “A Walk in the Woods” based on the Bill Bryson book. This was an in house movie, repeated several times a day. I had missed it at the cinema, but over four days and in no particular order I managed to watch the whole thing.
so relaxing to sit in bed watching TV through binoculars
We wandered off to find dinner. We found “The Mill”, a tapas bar. As the girl explained “Patatas Bravas” basically meant “big potatoes” Cait's eyes took on a Homer Simpsonesque look. Can't not order “big potatoes” On holidays there are no calories.

Our eating over the next week was a mix of fine dining, fine wines, and cobbled together eats from Woolworths. We soon realised that our room had no crockery or cutlery, so we bought picnic cutlery and nice storage containers to use as bowls. My long term plan is to get the lovely Cait out camping, and one morning she cast me a suspicious look over her oats as she ate out of her stylish container. She informed me that she was well aware that I had her eating breakfast out of a plastic box, but that did not mean that she was camping anytime soon. I think she is on to me.

For our first full day we took a trip out to Bruny Island. A ferry trip is required, and Caiti was bouncing around like a big kid. The girl loves a ferry ride. As we drove onto the ferry, she gazed longingly at the cars on the top deck. Sadly, we had to settle for joining the lower classes on the bottom deck. Oh well, a girl can dream.

Upon disembarking, we drove around happily for a while with no particular plan. A sign announced Bruny Island oysters, but Cait felt it was too early in the day for oysters and we drove on. Another sign announcing Bruny Island cheese had her performing a “Fast and the Furious” driving move and skidding to a halt. Never too early for cheese it seems. When the woman behind the counter began describing how you place a prosciutto wrapped lump of cheese in the oven to cook the meat and melt the cheese, Cait began melting herself.
Cheese purchased, we continued cruising. We stopped at a penguin rookery. Lots of holes but not a penguin in sigh). We climbed up to Truganini's Lookout. Such a sad story in such a beautiful place. I became aware of her story at a very young age. Say what you like about Indigenous culture now, but it is deeply rooted in some very dark and deep events.

We found a lovely spot to picnic and eat our cheese purchase. After eating, we wandered the beach and played with starfish. Then we headed off to a pathetic berry farm (Cait's words not mine, but she is spot on) that had no berries to pick and else nothing of interest. Some tourists gave us directions to the elusive white wallaby that were as useless as the Berry Farm, and I got a tad cranky pants. If you are going to stick a picture of an albino marsupial in several brochures and promote it as an attraction, then how hard is it to give directions to find it.
South Bruny from Truganini's Lookout at "The Neck"

Truganini's Lookout with a tourist blocking the view
On the return trip, Cait's wildest dreams were realised as they lowered the ramp and we were signalled to drive up onto the top deck. I admit, it was pretty cool. Then it was off to Mt Wellington.

Very exciting, but hands on the wheel please.
On the way to Bruny, we had begun noticing the endless amount of road kill along the way. Every fifty metres we were greeted by a shapeless corpse. It was everywhere. We envisaged a truck driving along with blood spattered men flinging dead animals far and wide. Unsurprisingly the State Animal of Tasmania is the Tasmanian Devil. It could just as well be an unrecognizable bIoodied smudge of fur and entrails. As we drove to Mt Wellington, I began pointing a gun finger at each corpse we passed and making a farty traffic light “pptt” sound. Cait joined in by saying “turd”. This kept us giggling all the way to Mt Wellington, and through most of our stay. Although by the final day we had to give up as we just couldn't keep up with the carnage. Death does not take a holiday in Tassie.

Cait drove up Mt Wellington like a woman born to rally drive. The weather at the top was perfect. One minute sun and sweeping views, the next moment cold and engulfed in a cloud. Five seasons in one day. We wandered aimlessly and happily for a while like the happy tourists we were taking endless happy snaps, then headed back to our hotel to crash.

The next day was MONA – the Museum of Old and New Art. The ferry ride is a must. MONA is a must. An emotional, auditory, visual, intellectual experience. Lots of penis's. Enough said. We are still recovering from the sensory overload. To help recover we played silly buggers taking reflection photos in the mirrored entrance.

mirror madness

Tasmania is a little different to Sydney. Runners and cyclists are thin on the ground. Cait and I went for a run together on Tuesday morning and she got yelled at for running on the footpath. What tha !! By an old bloke who was two beers down by 9.30 and could do with a little run himself. Oh well. I dropped Cait at the hotel and kept on my sightseeing tour. I ran along the Hobart Rivulet Track to the Cascade Brewery. Got lost a few times, but made it home safe. That afternoon we drove up for a visit. We took the next right as sign posted and took a scenic drive along several one way streets. Then we took the second right and were there – except the signage led us on another merry chase all over.

Here I quote from their website

“The Cascade Bar and CafĂ© overlook our beautiful heritage Gardens. Here you can sit back and enjoy a selection of great Cascade beers by the glass or as a tasting paddle. And why not stay and pair your favorite brew with a tasty lunch from our chef’s extensive menu.

Load of codswallop

When we finally arrived at the Visitors Centre there was a confusing beer pulling competition and the bar was closed for a while. When this madness finished I ordered one beer but got another, while Cait perused the sad menu, eventually ordering (drumroll) THE DODGY ONIONS RINGS OF DEATH. I had a couple, whilst Cait ate way too many . These suckers just would not stay down. As we strolled the tiny little garden area that was filled with scrappy half dead plants, I enjoyed a lovely vurp (vomit burp). Later that afternoon found Caiti just rolling around groaning for hours back at the Hotel and moaning about feeling so sick.

The next day was the big one. We hit the road at 8.15 and began our trek to Cradle Mountain. We managed to buy petrol despite the best efforts of two crazy old ladies sitting on a chair and shouting instructions about using their crazy fuel pumps. “If you can't work it out, just drive down the road to the next station” - customer service Tassie style. Eventually we worked it out and drove on leaving Macbeth's witches cackling on their verandah. We had decided to head up the middle past the Great Lake. It would have been better if we weren't strapped into the trusty rental Nissan Micra, with its kind of vague steering and minimal suspension.  By the time we finished up 30km of unsealed road our bladders were all a tremble as we held on to our waters. Of course being a boy I had no worries about standing by the side of the road waving to passing cars as I admired the views of Quamby Bluff whilst I took care of business, but the lovely Cait has higher standards than me. By the time we reached Deloraine she was sweating as she drove. She kept yelling “is that a toilet ?” as we sighted any building with even a passing similarity to a facility. We sighted a public pool which had her screaming in anticipation, but it was closed (more screaming). We eventually sighted a caravan park with a sign indicating “public toilets”. Trembling with anticipation, Cait fanged a left into the entrance, and immediately got trapped by a car driving well under the 10km/h speed limit (I can not repeat what Cait said at this point). Eventually they stopped, then began an interminable 15 point reverse turn. Cait then screamed something and jumped from the car (with engine still running) and tore off into the distance, leaving me to find a parking space. After we regrouped, she was talking about a key. What key ?The public toilets were not locked but Cait in her desperation had tried to enter the caravan park toilets, and had been met with a locked door as she tried to enter the caravan park facilities. She had then been forced to beg for the key to heaven from a nearby caravaner (the unlocked door was just around the corner). Bladders emptied we enjoyed a snack and Cait made friends with a duck she named Gilbert who kept pecking my knee.
Of course I was melting down in my own way. I had waited thirty five years to get back to Tasmania and Cradle Mountain – and our drive seemed headed towards taking another thirty five years. The unsealed road by the Great Lake heading towards Deloraine really was a hassle, and then we had run into sheep. Not just a few sheep. Thousands of sheep. Being herded along the road. Completely surrounding our car and trotting along at a lovely sedate sleepy sheepy pace. It was a completely awesome experience and we both loved it, we felt privileged to see it, and we wouldn't change it for the world, but it was so.......slow.

Then we (actually just me) got confused in Deloraine. A few times I suggested Cait chuck a U-turn as I strongly suspected we were clearly not going the right way. This placed us in classic boy vs girl territory, and I was struggling not to crack the shits. When it came time for me to finally concede defeat and ask for directions at the Information Centre (which Cait had suggested a little earlier because she is a practical female and I an obstinate male), I swear she was giggling as she drove an extra 500 metres, waited for every possible vehicle within a 5km radius to go past before doing her U-turn, then drove the perfect distance from the Vistors Centre to park guaranteed to drive me crazy without necessarily causing permanent insanity. Of course the Visitors Centre was packed with people who had come to Tasmania for the sole purpose of delaying me.

Eventually we got sorted, and we got back on the road for the last stretch to Cradle Mountain. We drove through “The Town of Topiary” - cute and creepy all at the same time.

I should add that my original route, if followed, would have been even slower. Being muddled eventually saved time. We flew along after Deloraine. As I nervously looked at my watch and made time calculations.

We finally made it to Cradle Mountain about 2pm. I had optimistically predicted a 12.30 – 1.00pm arrival. Tell him he's dreaming. We arrived at our hotel and our room wasn't ready, but I didn't care. I WANNA SEE THE LAKE !! As Cait politely chatted to the helpful staff, a voice in my head was shouting “stop talking, where is Cradle Mountain, how do we get there, I wanna go NOW!”. The girl gave us some maps and pamphlets which told us nothing. Turning back time, she should have said “travel back to the Info Centre, purchase a day pass, and hop on the shuttle bus which will take you 8km down to Dove Lake”. But she didn't do that. Instead we wandered blindly about watching shuttle buses pass us by. Eventually we got worded up, drove back to the Info Centre, purchased our passes, and hopped on a shuttle bus. Finally, at 2.45pm, I stood on the shore of Dove Lake, 35 years after my last visit. All the stress and driving done, it was even more brilliant than I remembered.

Cait and I then had a soul restoring 8km walk around the lake. I dipped my bottle in and drank some pure mountain water much to the horror of the lovely Cait. Apparently if you pay $3 per litre for fresh mountain lake water it makes it better than drinking it for free. I also got some extra nice floaty bits to make it tastier. Nommy nommy yum yum. When we started out, all the mountains were obscured by cloud. As we progressed, the clouds moved away, turning on an afternoon sunlight show, before swirling back. We stopped and gawked together constantly as new vistas appeared out of the mist. At times Cait wandered ahead, leaving me to my thoughts (or maybe she just walked faster). We took endless photos.

Travelling all this way I was worried that Cait might go “it was alright I guess”, but she seemed just as overawed as I am by this place. However, when I said “now you know why I want to do the Overland Track again” she suggested that maybe she just meet me at the other end. Nature's amazing beauty only goes so far and is clearly trumped by a hot shower and sitting on a real toilet.

free water
didn't kill me

Eventually we finished our lap of the lake, and we shuttled back to our car. Then back to Pepper's to begin a night of luxury. I had always imagined that I would return under different circumstances – cabins, tents, sleeping bags. However we had a spa bath, fine wine, exceptional food and service, temperature control. I even managed to score a visit down to the wine cellar (that's what happens when you order the South Australian Barbera like a total wanker). Apparently this is an “iconic wilderness experience”. Dear Lord. I will admit to enjoying it immensely though. Even the moment where I trod in possum poo on our little verandah. I tread in it everywhere I go.  Travel interstate. Gotta tread in poo. Right up between the toes. That is iconic wilderness. We also had pademelons bouncing around our lodge and big brown wombats all about (that's the wilderness part) and saw the world's biggest fattest possum eating apples from tourists (not so iconic).

The next morning we ate an enormous breakfast, then sadly packed up and checked out. No sheep this time, and we travelled the highways at great speed. Cait had a moment when no matter how hard she tried, she was forced to run over a lump of animal matter. Already dead, it made a meaty thump nonetheless. Cait also tried an overtaking move past a big ute. As our tiny vehicle reached maximum revs, and oncoming traffic approached, I politely asked “are we going to make it?”. A polite “mmm, I hope so” was not overly reassuring. I clenched my sphincter and hoped for the best. With an hour to go, I took over driving duties, and soon we were in Hobart missing turn offs and getting lost in road works (a personal specialty of mine). A few loops of Bellerive and Lindisfarne later, we pulled into the car park. A young girl looked over our Nissan Micra sewing machine of a car for damage. Any damage was probably hidden by a shit load of dust, dirt, mud and dead animal matter. No damage detected, we went off to check in.

Our flight was announced, we boarded, and sadly flew home. Holiday ended – and even the meringue made it home safely.
The meringue ?
Oh wait. Did I forget to mention THE MERINGUE !
OMG - Best Mum Ever !
On our first afternoon in Tasmania, Cait had passed the Daci & Daci Bakery and seen a gigantic meringue which for some reason had the lovely Cait and World's Greatest Mum convinced that our young boy Tuck (only 23 years old, the little pet) would love. Everyone knows that meringues are easily the best kind of treat to cart all around the place, load on a plane, and take back home interstate. The lovely Cait and I work shopped the pros (few) and cons (let me count the ways) of buying said meringue and taking home. We carted that sucker the length and breadth of Tassie, held it like a new born babe on the plane, drove it home from the airport, and ceremonially presented it our son who was extremely thankful about his Mum's thoughtfulness, who then rated it as extremely average and after a few days it was binned uneaten. C'est la vie.

What the hell is this ? tastes really bland

Soon after, we headed up to the Blue Mountains for a night away. One night at a 5 star luxury hotel - and the lovely Cait wanted a blog post. Seriously ? I'm a Celebrity - get me out of here! She will need a publicity agent soon. I will spare you the details. We drove, we swam in a heated pool, we ate, we came home. No wait. Cait drove home. I walked 45km and slept in a tent. Not blog worthy.



  1. The thing to buy at Daci and Daci is their Chocolate cake. The one with different layers of chocolate mousse.

  2. we ate enough as it was. but next time