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Thieves and Dangerous Water

January 8, 2011

We are in Freycinet! This is a mountain island off the Eastern coast of Tasmania. The internet is slow, so it may be awhile for the pictures in the last two entries to load. But the writing, I hope, keeps you captured.

Get in my Belly

You gotta eat for energies. (calories) And who really doesn’t love food? So to start off, here is my chowdown update for those of you who enjoy consumption, of all sorts.

Meat Pies

Are you kidding me? Finally found them. Banjoes is the Aussie version of Panera Café. They sell meat pies. Which totally took me back to being a kid again. You remember those 20 cent Swanson frozen pot pies? Well, Aussie meat pies are the fresh version of these. Never frozen. Always coming out of a deli case. The pastry wraps all around, and is super flakey buttery yum-ness. The meat in the middle is all one kind, grounded fine and probably had 10 bags of onions melted to make the broth. Almost too greasy, but at the same time, not enough. Lovin’ the meat pies for snacking, road tripping and just plain stuff your face’ing.

Also, to be noted their famous Spring Scallop Pies. With curry and vegetables. A totally different pie, but never the less, as tasty.

Salmon

Hobart is the town. Tassal is the store name. I always say “do one thing and do it well.” This place has it covered. They only do salmon. Nothing else. Just salmon. Fresh smoked, cold or hot, fillets or puree, sushi grade or frozen takeaway. Just salmon. Caught daily. One of my favs is cold smoked salmon. You know the kind you get prepackaged in C-bus? Usually oily. Often coloring added. Thin and solid with no true smoke flavoring.

As a joke, I went on a question binge with the friendly fish monger. “you got any cod?” “no mate, only salmon” “how about blue eye?” “no mate, only salmon” “how about over there in that cooler, is that…” “salmon mate, all of it”. “I just don’t know what I am in the mood for, you got any meat pies?” “salmon, mate.”

This cold smoked salmon was thick and flaky. The smoke taste was perfect. There was no oil to the touch or any oil taste. I bought too much and had it in a container with ice in my pocket. Nikki eventually said “you stink like a drunken fisherman, it’s either me or the salmon.” I weighed my options, decided on my wife and in a last ditch effort, offered everyone on the bike tour a piece of salmon from my ice filled pocket. They all politely declined, before I was forced to throw the final morsels away. Salmon shame.

Aqua

The water in Tasmania is by far the finest I have drank. You know in C-bus when you pull tap water. It bubbles and then you sneak a smell. Chemicals. Chlorine, etc. Tap water in Tassie has been superb. So, clear, not a scant of chemicals to be found. The taste, nothing. So nice to have H2o just quench your thirst. They are proud of their water here. They sell it in official Tassie ice form, rainwater form, spring water form. All brilliantly and simply tasteless.

The Definition of a Shack House

Driving to Freycinet, we stopped off at a winery. The wine was just OK. Other Tasmania wine has been splendid.

Holm Oak, 2008/09, Cabernet Merlot is Nikki’s new favorite wine of all time. (beats Sketchbook and Curious Beagle-her exact words). The wine has some deep oak flavors and a peppery finish. I like it because it makes my stories interesting to Nikki at dinner. We both win.

I had read in the Lonely Planet (re: Travel Bible) that there was a fresh seafood shack about 30 km outside the Freycinet National Park. After the winery tour, I took the wheel for the first time and my sniffer was on point for the seafood shack. Once we smelled the ocean air, I was really focused on finding the shack and Nikki was snoozing opposite shotgun.

Looking for this shack, I almost missed our turn, and proceeded to cut off a family of five in a station wagon and careened on the inside of their vehicle. The mother had an astounded look on her face and I am pretty sure her jaw hit the floor. This Yankee had resorted to his old driving ways and cut across all kinds of traffic and broke numerous laws. After the dust settled, (literally) Nikki scream scolded…”LEFT SIDE, Damnit…left side, I was totally napping and we talked about you driving on only the left side.” My claw like grip on the steering wheel and thousand yard stare hinted to the fact that I was still in shock, but Nikki noticed the oncoming traffic in our lane as we sat in a dusty freeze. Nikki said “put the gas pedal down and get the hell out of the right lane.” I thought for a brief second about asking the mother of five if she knew where the seafood shack was, but I could tell from her icy stare, that would be an unwise conversation. I did accelerate out of the wrong lane, and not even 30 yards up on the right side was the shack. Good thing I made that turn.

See picture in next post. You know the seafood is fresh when your only menu is a chalk board that changes daily. No name on this shack. We ordered a dozen oysters and some garlic buttered sea scallops. There were no restrooms. Cash only. Their only seating was on a deck with some picnic tables. They had only one beverage, a local Tassie beer called Hazards Ale. That was a mouth watering break in the road trip and we will stop again on our way out. Nikki will of course, be driving.

Take the Hill, Dude!

(my apologies for quoting The Big Lebowski in this honeymoon blog, but some spots on a male leopard you just cannot change)

After a late breakfast. (sleeping in) We decided to head up to Wineglass Bay Lookout and then down to Wineglass Bay Beach. This has been ranked one of the worlds top beaches, by people that rank beaches. 216 km up and then back down, it would take about an afternoon. What we saw, was so worth the trek. See for yourself in the next post. I hope you enjoy the views.

Dark Water

Upon arrival to Wineglass Bay, we strolled to the waters edge. The enclave was amazing. See picture in next post, the beach with the curve is where we were headed.

In the water already were two young French and German backpackers we had met on the trail down. They were out far, about 150 yards. I went into the water at about waist high. It was cold and clear. I was taking photos with Nikki’s camera of the beach and water, when I noticed something frightening behind the girls. A dark shadow was approaching them. In New Smyrna, I had seen similar beasts below the surface and my heart raced. Then a black fin pierced the surface. The fin was heading directly at the girls.

Dolphins! (had you going there didn’t I!?) There was a school of them, and they swam amongst the girls for about 30 minutes. They would swim and play, then when the waves crashed, turn towards sea and turn back for more frolic. I thought for sure the girls knew of this phenomena and had been regulars at the beach. But, after this magnificent moment ended and they returned to the sand, we found out it was completely a stroke of luck. Nikki and I showed them the pictures of the dolphins swimming with them and their delighted faces. In broken English, we got their email and “the facebook” account info and promised to send them the picture proof of their dolphin encounter. Turns out the French woman was studying dolphins at University, and this was truly an amazing moment in her life.

Furry Thief

After talking with the girl backpackers and sharing the digital pictures, we were returning to our own backpacks. There in the shade of the trees was a Wallabies digging in my shoes and backpack. He was after my stash of hidden fruit! He had already nibbled thru the backpack mesh and got a hold of an apple. He was tame and wanted no trouble. Probably happy and fat from the banana he had eaten while we took dolphin photos. I had to get my bag however, and he was not having it. Picture in the next post.

Wedding Crasher

Back at our jungle lodge overlooking a remote beach…I was hot and sweaty, and broke. Our lodge safe was jacked up and wouldn’t open. Without Aussie coin, I had no funds for water, food, or more importantly beer after our long hike. So, I went to my main man Bruce at the counter. He had given us a free bottle of Tassie Bubbly when he heard we were honeymooning, and this in turn made him my main man. While waiting for maintenance, covered in sweat and sand, a beautiful bride, group of girls and father hurried past me. There was a wedding at our lodge! I rushed to Nikki, and covered in day long hike stench, we stood off the deck while the ceremony proceeded. It is amazing after being newly married ourselves, how moving a strangers wedding can be. What was so surreal was the wedding party itself. The same size as ours. A similar laid back style. Very becoming. Nikki and I spent the reception pointing out who could be like our friends and family at our New Smyrna Beach ceremony.

The Travelers Bible

If you have kept up to date on my blah (blog). You will remember early in the logs that there is a travelers bible called Lonely Planet. After leaving Tassal (only salmon, mate) I was asking Nikki, “wouldn’t it be great if they had a book on how Lonely Planet got founded?” Two store fronts away was a book store, we stopped in, they had the official Lonely Planet Story book. I bought it. I am 4 chapters deep, and if you like hippies that become successful business people and the incredible stories behind the travelers bible, then you should pick it up. (The Lonely Planet Story)

Quotes

I thought I was a man. Sweat drenched thru my shirt. I had a backpack on, and boots, for devils sake. Then I saw the couple ahead of us on the Wineglass path. This man had a much larger backpack. That is fine, I often say… it is not the size of a man’s axe, but how you chop the wood that counts.

What brought me down to dirt level, was what he had perfectly nestled in that backpack. A baby. This dude had just hiked up and down Wineglass Bay with a baby on his back. And they were ahead of us, making distance.

I noticed how the baby has a pacifier and seems to be bobbing up and down. When I approached this stud, I said, “does your baby sleep the whole hike?” “yeah mate, crazy isn’t it?” “does your baby get heavy” “oh yeah mate, it’s like having a koala on your back” (at which point Nikki squealed, not at the cute human baby on the man’s back, but at the fact that someone had mentioned the word “koala”) I cut Nikki’s squelches off and said, “that is awesome, so awesome, you and the baby are such troopers…” unfortunately at this moment, the baby awakened, spit out her pacifier and screamed bloody murder at the site of my sweaty, sandy bearded face staring at her slumber. Many miles later, I still heard the baby crying in the car park area. I had ruined that families hike for sure.

Fun With Numbers

Number of times I told Nikki that she was too close driving on the left side of the road berm-0 (in over 3 hours of driving)

Number of times Nikki told me I was too close to the berm-5 (in less than 35 minutes of driving)

Number of hours of television we have watched since arrival-less than 15 minutes (Aussie Rules Football match per a local recommendation)

Actual Count of Official Park Rangers who have told Nikki “your sandals are not enclosed, you should consider enclosed hiking shoes on this track”-3

Number of km’s that Nikki has walked in before mentioned sandals with not one complaint-7,000+

Next adventure Cradle Mountain!

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