We have arrived in Hobart, Tasmania!
By the time we boarded the flight, I started to finally see that nice Aussie spirit that I heard about coming thru.
Just like the temperatures falling, the people became cooler. The flight attendants, the rental car guy, our first waiter, vagabonds, everyone. They got time, they like to talk, they are living the dream.
A quick history. Tasmania was founded so that England and Ireland could send their convicts to the island to perform hard labor. Over 67,000 convicts were sent to the Tassie (Tasmania) in the mid 1800’s. In my previous life, I am convinced I was Irish, and a convict. So it makes sense that I am drawn to this place.
The convicts were put to work on building the town of Hobart for the whale fishing industry. (their oil was used for fuel) And if you didn’t shape up, the punishments were harsh. Lashings and torture. They called it “Devils Island.” (hence Tasmanian Devil) If a convict became a “bolter” and stole a boat or food, they were hanged in the public square and left for weeks to rot. This discouraged other rebellious behavior, but also frightened the hell out of new arrivals. So they stopped that practice. I say we bring it back tho!..and we hang and rot any future loser SEC teams. Go Bucks! (I was jumping around at the airport as I watched the bowl highlights)
This was our first time driving since arrival, and it is way different. Everything is opposite. The drivers steering wheel, all the controls, seatbelts, and of course… the traffic. Nikki was large and in charge behind the wheel. She called the front left quarter panel “her bloody blindspot.” And on the way to the hotel, I would scream “CURB!” “BRIDGE WALL!” “COP BODY WALKING IN OUR LANE!”…and because this opposite driving was so hard to get used to, she actually didn’t get mad. In the states, this type of shrieking for ones dear life would have been met with a slug to the shoulder, but being that her south paw is not her strongest, I was in luck. (remember opposite side everyone)
In the morning, Nikki got a cappuccino that was as thick as ketchup. We took a harbor boat tour up the river. ($60 per couple) Toured their former Jam Factory that had been remodeled into a very cool art district and Henry Jones Hotel. We took a walk thru the former fishermans cottages and now lavish neighborhood. The average sale was about $30k twenty years ago. The artists moved in, and now they sell for about $600k. Perfect little houses and Nikki took hundreds of pictures of their landscaping while I sat on curbs.
We went on a haunted ghost tour. I had to lie to Nikki to get her to attend because she said “I hate these damn things and I don’t want any Devil spooks following me home and crawling into bed with me.” I told her “too late.”
To get her to commit, I maliciously told her at the end of the ghost tour there was a Koala Bear. The tour began, it was some fine story telling. And Nikki was freaked out. She took this picture in a cave and did some fancy photoshop to it on site. The crowd gathered around the camera and literally believed a ghost had walked across Nikki’s path during the tour, and she had captured it on her camera. Little did they know, it was some women from Sydney trying to get out of Nikki’s way. (see the ghostly pic under the post called Pictures!)
At the end of the tour, Nikki demanded where her Koala was. I told her next stop, which did not go well, because the last stop was our hotel. Supposedly, hundreds of years ago, 2 young wives threw themselves out of the same window which was less than 50 feet from our room. To say the least,this was not any version of Koala lovin’ that Nikki was expecting. That nights hotel sleep did not go well. Mainly because she tossed and turned, and then would kick me and say “damn you and your ghost tour Geoff.”
The highlight of Hobart had to be our Mt. Wellington Bike Race Down. ($150 per couple) A small van picked us up in the morning at the harbor, and took us 1270 km to the peak. They had mountain bikes with special brakes on them. And we would need them. At 50 km per hour, we raced down the mountain road…only stopping to put our eyeballs back in. At the top, it was cold and windy, only rocks and bushes grew. We very quickly raced past oncoming cars and took hairpin turns. Nikki was the only female on this testosterone fueled train-wreck-waiting-to-happen. She got behind some doctor from Australia and passed him, she was going very, very fast. In a blur of black North Face, she was around the bend and past all of us “men.” At the first stop, she asked the tour guide to hold her North Face jacket, because with the wind resistance, it was “slowing her down.” All the men groaned and snorted for they had been beaten by Nitrous Nikki.
I knew Pete would be a good guy when we met him. We walked into his oil painting art shop, he was facing a painting he had just done in complete silence. He was either sleeping or thinking real hard. Behind Pete was a glass of white wine…it was not his first glass of the day by any means. He was eager to converse and here are some of his highlighted comments during my time with him.
“I can recommend a pub for you. A real pub. Not a American bar. This place will be filled with rightful women, like Nikki here, no cutthroats or prostitutes.”
“I am 73 years old, the alcohol keeps me young, more like pickled, but it is working for me and I don’t need any doctor to tell me otherwise”
“To get to the best pub in Hobart, you must walk thru this childrens playground, it is the same spot that they hanged convict men back in the days, but now it is a nice little park, Ironic isn’t it?”
“This pub is called Shippies, or Front Bar, no wait, is it called Shipyard?, no that is also wrong, something with a Ship and an Arm, I don’t know, just look for the Pub and tell them Pete sent you.”
Rolling Count of How Many Times Nikki Turned on the Windshield Wipers Full Speed (instead of the turn signal in our opposite rental car)-12
An Open Letter to Popeye
Dear Popeye of Popeye’s Fish and Chips,
Oh, how I miss you. I have left your island. And in my new spot, I was lonely. So, I strayed. I went to a local place, highly recommended, called Fish Frenzy. I knew this was wrong, and I hated myself for doing it. But, I couldn’t resist her frenzy temptations. The crackle of the fish on the oil. The smell of her sweet vinegar scents. I placed my order, my dear Popeye. And she looked good all wrapped up in her paper and sweet spots of grease. I thought for sure you would never find out or feel a jealous wrath. I did partake, I ate the forbidden fish. But, I am here to tell you. It was crap. Nothing like your succulent fish fried goodness. And her chips were pasty white and flabby. I beg your forgiveness, my sweet Popeye, there is no excuse other than…I got the fever, and you aren’t on this island.
Quotes from Hobart
Aussie Doctor on van ride up the mountain-“you guys are on your honeymoon, how awesome, congrats… did you here about that American couple on their honeymoon at the Great Barrier Reef and the husband drowned his new wife while they were scuba diving”…Nikki: “SAY WHAT!?” ME: “No, dude, I did not here that, must have been years ago, or some kind of story fable”…Doc: ”no mate, recently, tragic…just tragic, well, good luck on the bike race down…you two seem happy, so it should be allright”
Same Aussie Doctor on same van ride-“no, I didn’t like New York City, on my last night they conned me on the street and took $300 from my wallet.” Me: “oh yeah?, what was the con?” Doc: “they said they had a knife and give me all your money or I will stab you” Me: “that is not a con, that is called a mugging.” Doc: “call it what you will mate, but another American asks me for my wallet, I am gonna tell him, let me see the knife first”
Art shop owner in Hobart-“yes, I supported Metallica on three gigs in Australia”…Geoff “yeah, I love that band…I support them too” Owner: “back home in the states?…what instrument do you play?” Me: “none, what are you talking about?..I just like the band” Owner: “no worries mate, little language confusion here, when I say supported, I mean my band opened up for them in front of 70,000 fans in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth” (this conversation continued for some time, you can imagine). Nikki interjected “Geoff blew his eardrum out at a Metallica concert, so you could say I will be “supporting” his hearing for a long time.” Funny girl.
With the windows down, and the radio up. We head North in our rental car for a 3 hour road trip to our next adventure, Freycinet National Park. (pronounced: fray-sin-ae)
Stay tuned and thanks for reading!