I arrived in Tasmania 21st Feb 2016. I was volunteering for 2 x 10 and 1 x 7 days, therefore I mostly write summaries below.
Hobart – 21st Feb to 2nd March
My host Elisia and Tim as well as their son Tate picked me up at the airport and took my big backpack to their car, after they had welcomed me with a hug at the airport of Hobart. I felt very comfortable from the first moment. As warm as the welcoming was the weather – it feels still like summer here, around +23°C. On the way home they told me, that they never before have had Swedish helpers, but that two Swedish guys arrived the day before.
Well at home, I have been shown my room, which has a Queensize bed as well as the bathroom, the kitchen and the rest of the house. I was very surprised about their larder. I had never seen such a big assortment before in a private kitchen. Actually I cannot remember such an assortment at all. Afterwards we had a big barbecue and were sitting on the big balcony. I was not allowed to help with anything this first day. By the way we have had healthy and good meals all the days. We were allowed to take of the fridge what we wanted and had very good access to fruit and vegetables. One day we had Swedish “pytt i panna” (prepared of Joakim) and another day macaroni box (prepared of me). Mikael liked to cook rice porridge.
During the week I cleaned kitchen and bathroom, vacuum cleaned the carpets, wiped the dust and cleaned the big windows of the kitchen as well as some of the living room. Furthermore I helped with the dishes, watering the garden, the cooking and I also backed “Swedish buns” (kanelbullar) and chocolate cake in a pan with a chocolate icing and grated coconut as topping. In addition to that I sometimes made a washing or hanged the clothes respectively took the dry clothes in the house. By the way the Australians wash with warm water. – My host family liked my buns and my cake so much, that Elisia asked me to teach her, how to make it. The official working hours were 4 hours/day = 28 hours/week, but she told me, she even would accept 25 hours/week.
At the weekend, which already started Friday afternoon, we were for tea time in the Botanical Gardens. It felt a little more chilly this day, because the wind and some great clouds, but it still was around +21°C. Saturday was really nice and warm weather again – around +23°C. Elisia drove us to the Salamanca Market and picked us up at 1pm for continuing to the Zoo Doo. We were allowed to feed a lion, were going by car into the emu’s cage as well as the zebra’s and the camel’s. In addition to that, we were allowed to be very close to wallabies and kangaroos. I fed a kangaroo, which tried to take the mug out of my hands. It was amazing to experience that! On Sunday we took a bush walk. Unfortunately we started with a grey sky, but it did not last all the days and it was still warm enough to go without cardigan. We were going by car and ferry to Bruny Island. On our way to the start point for the bush walk, we climbed 176 stairs to a lookout, from where penguins can be seen in the evening as well as we stopped at a cheesemaker and a little later on a chocolate manufactory. The bushwalk was very easy in the beginning. We made a pause on the top of a stony mountain and started than on another route for our way back. Sometimes I did not feel well, because we were close a steep. One of the Swedish guys had the same problem as well. The way back was not so easy to use, but with the help of my friends, the trees and Elisia as well I made it.
We were also talking about snakes, spiders and more. Elisia explained, that the snakes, which may be in the bush, will run away of our steps and that it is very unusual someone dies of a snake bite. If someone is so unlucky to be bitten of a snake, one should lay done and wait to be found, because by moving the poison will be pumped up to the heart. She also told us, that there even are not a lot of dangerous spiders in the surroundings. Actually I have not seen a spider at all during my stay. Maybe there are places on the mainland they are a real problem.
The weather has not been very good all the time – even it did not become cold or even chilly, but because of rain the planned drive to the top of Mt. Wellington was not done. On the other hand side, drove us Elisia to town respectively to a shopping center outside Hobart. The sun hours often had been before noon. I also was offered to follow to the community swimming pool as well as the kayaking, which I did not. Furthermore I was impressed by the children Migali and Tate for their knowledge as well as they easily adapt to strangers and surprised about their praise, when they gave for something I had been working with. They sounded exactly like their parents. Wi-fi was provided, therefore I finally could update my blog about New Zealand. Meanwhile I could finish the text, I am still working on uploading all related photographs, even I added some during my stay here.
It was not very easy to say goodbye even I have been there for 10 days only. Even the last few hours Elisia was generous. She paid the bus tickets for me, after she had been driving further into town, but not to the city center, where she never found a parking space. We had talked about hitchhiking a couple of days before and she had told me, that it is possible to hitchhike even in Australia, though she paid for me the bus tickets to the city center and out to Bridgewater. We took farewell with hugs and I hope to meet her and her family again.
Hobart to Penguin 2nd March
The 2nd March was my travel day and another one with +23°C, feeling really hot. I was asked not to arrive before 5pm, because both parents are working full-time. Therefore I had lots of hours getting there, especially for leaving Hobart around 9am. It seemed on the map, that it should be possible to get a hitch from outside Bridgewater on the way to Brighton. Unfortunately it was an 110-speed-road and nowhere a really good place for a car to stop. Anyway a woman in her thirties or forties picked me up and brought me to a much better place – close to a petrol station in Bagdad. Yes, you read right. Bagdad is a name of a village or small town on the Tasmanian Island. You also can find Jericho and Interlaken not far away from there.
The petrol station was an excellent place, I have got a ride very quickly by a worker, who has been at work in Hobart and now was on his way home. He had to leave the hwy 1 around 50 km from Hobart and I had to try to come further by another car. By the way there were electricians setting up lights at that junction. One of them talked with me and was impressed of my way to travel. He wished me good luck for the hitches.
After I have been waiting for more than half an hour one of the electricians told me, that two cars stopped a little further, though I hurried to go there and asked them, if they will give me a ride further. One of them actually picked me up. He told me, that he had to fetch a car at a friend’s, though he would not go so far. Anyway I came with him to Campbell Town. He was driving quite slowly and when he talked to his friend he cared about, that I could not hear it. Actually I was somewhat wondering about his behaviour. He told me, he will pick me up again, if I’m still there, when he’ll come back from his friend. Anyway I could not miss that opportunity and stayed at the road even I would have liked to visit a café.
Another half an hour passed, when a woman in my age stopped and told me, that I could get a hitch with her, but she will first take a rest in a café. She also had a little dog in her car, therefore she parked in the shade, which was not easy to find this day. I have not experienced such a hot day in Hobart. She also walked the dog before we went to the café of her choice. It was one in the good old style, where you still order by the waitress coming to your table, even we had to pay at the cash, when we left. This woman told me, that it is not so safe as I thought in Tasmania. Some hitchhikers have been murdered and never be found (how does people know others have been murdered, when no body is found?), but one, who was found with a knife in his body. I already had read about these stories in the book i bought in Hobart and had to smile. Fortunately she concentrated on the traffic and could not see it. Furthermore she told me, that she has been in China and was back some days ago as well as her grandchildren live in Hobart, though she was going there quite often. She brought me to Perth, to the junction for the road to Devonport and Penguin. She had to go further to Launceston, where she lives. She wrote down her name and phone number, so I can get in touch with her, when I will come to the city. It was already around 3pm, when I have been left at this junction and I was worried about my medicine, which has to be cooled all the time – it should not become warmer than +8°C. I had bought a freeze pack and put that around as well as I had this in my isolating bag. Anyway I did not know if that would be enough in the heat.
Soon after she left me there, a young Japanese couple stopped and gave me a hitch. That was the best ride for the day! They told me first, they will drive to Devonport, but decided later to go all the way to Penguin, where they left me in the town center, because I asked for it. I had almost to buy some breakfast, because at my new place I only will be provided free accommodation. The working hours only will be 3 hours/day – 21 hours a week.
I was not really sure, if I had to go to the left at the next corner for coming to the South Road, where my host is living, though I asked a couple in walking shoes, if they know. They were locals and keen to show me. Therefore they took another way as planned and walked with me until I told them, I need a rest, because the road was steep and I had a lot to carry. Earlier the woman had told me, that her husband is a police officer, though I am in good hands. When I had paused for some minutes I continued up for the steep road, which became even steeper. There is a bus up to the house of my host, but I did neither find the bus stop nor was I really willing to pay for a bus ticket for two kilometers only. I made all the way by walking, but I was soaked with sweat when I finally arrived at my host’s.
Penguin – 2nd March until 11th March
When I arrived at my new host Natalie and her family I explained my late arrival – I actually had called at six, on arrival it was seven o’clock – the mother told me, she could have picked me up by car. I though, she could have offered that already, when I called and told her, that I am downtown and have been at the supermarket. This first impression did not change during my stay. On my free time I was not together with them either they offered me a cup of tea or to be upstairs, but they were just watching TV respectively the mother writing job applications, because her contract will run out soon. The good thing was, that they did not care, when I did the work they expected me to do. The important thing for them was, that the work was done, when they were back home in the evening. It did not happen often, that I have got a thank, but for the apple puree and never, if my work lived up to their expectations. They did not try to chat with me and especially the father did only say “hello” or “hi again”. Actually one morning he asked me “How are you doing?” It seemed like they were neither interested in Swedish culture nor my travels or anything else I could widen their horizon with. They did neither introduce me to their friends nor their barbecue. About the birthday of the eldest daughter I only got to know of her, when she showed me her birthday present. They have a book for helpx-helpers explaining the rules, e.g. that the helper is not allowed to be together with the children without almost one of the parents. Even I have got a little apple pie after all the work with the apple puree, they expected, that I ate it downstairs – which I did. They stated in their description on the helpx-website, that the helper will have an own apartment, but it is used as a storage as well.
I had to clean the dishes after their breakfast nearly every day, make the odd jobs like vacuum cleaning all the edges, dusting off other edges, hanging and taking down the washing, cleaning of balcony and terrace, the microwave and the fridge and to cook apple puree for three days. Surprisingly I had to do it of “Granny Smith”-apple, which were not ripe either, but it worked, even it was very sour. The puree I was allowed to make in the family kitchen, my host explained – if I ever had thought about something else!
Sunday, 6th of March I had a day off. I get to know it around 11am, because I always had to ask, what I have to do. Usually I asked the evening before and get it told of Natalie after she was thinking about, what should be done. Saturday afternoon and evening my host has had guests and, because I have not been invited, I did not disturb them either. Though I took a late breakfast on Sunday morning and asked them before they were off to church. Therefore I did not know about my luck earlier.
I already had been down town the days before and tried to find out, what to see in and around Penguin. Unfortunately I have to go to the neighbouring town of Burnie to see penguins. They are not longer coming to the beach of Penguin. Only the little blue – here also called fairy – penguin comes to the northwestern coast of Tasmania and you maybe remember, that this species only arrive at dark. I decided to see the Leven Canyon instead. I could only make it by hitchhiking. There is neither a bus passing through Penguin on Sundays nor a car rental company in this town. I still had a piece of clean cardboard and wrote down the name of my destination, packed my little backpack and went to a place not far from here, trying to hitchhike and it worked again, even it was a little difficult this day to enter and leave cars, because I had made a wrong move in the bathroom and my left back side was hurting all the time. I guess, it was the sciatic nerve, which gave me pain.
My first hitch this day I have got of an elderly Tasmanian couple on their way to Ulverston. That is the next town. Once arrived I took a look at the center, bought a kind of baguette with B.T.M. and cheese, as it was signed and means: Bacon, tomato, mustard and cheese. I already had water with me, though I could be without any café or restaurant for hours. Soon I found the road to the canyon and tried to come further. If I remember right, it took nearly an hour before a male driver in his 40s pulled over and told me, that he was driving in that direction, though I joined him. By the way I had forgotten to put in my hearing aid this day, though unfortunately our conversation became a little weird. I could not really understand the accent of the driver and answered like I thought, he did tell me. I became aware my stupid answers, when he slowed down to let me leave halfway to the canyon because he had to go onwards in another direction. I already had recognised, that only very few cars were using this road, though I started walking for the rest of the 19 km. Twice a car passed and I hold up my sign in time, but they did not stop. Another car stopped, but they were sorry, because they only would go 200 yards (around 180 meters) further. Though I walked on. It was a really warm day with a cloudless sky so far (around +23°C) and I was very thirsty as well as I was hungry. I looked for a comfortable place to sit down and to eat my baguette. I found it around 1 km later. I had done my first bite, when I saw a car in the distance. I was up on my feet quickly and exposed my sign, but the driver did not care. That happened one more time, but the third car – I had eaten around a third of my baguette, pulled over and stopped some meters in front of me. It was a young mother with a baby child, living on the way to the Canyon and even she should not go all the way to the canyon she drove me there! Actually she was born and raised in Ulverston and lives now on the farm of the parents of her husband. It showed me again, that the goodness of people does not belong to the citizenship of the individual, but the individual itself.
One can see the Leven Canyon from different places, from the Cruickshanks Lookout (walk with the same name), from the Edge Lookout (Fern Walk) and by the Canyon Floor Walk, but the last one is for experienced hikers. There is an opportunity to combine the first two walks by the Forest Stairs. This circuit takes less than an hour, but for me – taking photographs. Fortunately I started with the short walk to the upper lookout (the C.). By this I was afterwards walking down all the 697 stairs. Even it is said, that walking down is not healthy for the knees, I prefer it. I continued from the last step over a bridge for five minutes to the Edge Lookout and went than back by the Fern Walk which is steep up from here, but not at all as steep as the Forest stairs. I drunk all my water during this walk, but I was very lucky, when I was back to the car park. At the same time as me came a man and a woman from the upper walk. I asked for a ride, almost down the road and have got the answer, that it is ok, but they will make a stop at the Kaydale Lodge Gardens, which also was my wish. In the car was another woman waiting, the wife of the driver. The younger woman he was walking with, was his niece, living in the Netherlands. It seemed to be another of my lucky days and it really was. Even we just took tea time (I had a plain white coffee) with two traditional cookies, but wandered the garden only by looking in a book about the garden, this people continued to Penguin passing (and therefore stopping) in front of the door of my host. On our way, the driver showed new hosting areas and scenic views. I was already back again at 5pm, what I had not expected at all, when I was leaving for the day trip.
One thing I have to name here is my surprise, when I had to show my ID (passport), when I bought painkillers at a pharmacy, even it was the kind of, you can buy everywhere without prescription. Here in Australia I also had to show my ID at the post office by sending parcels. I had to sign on the parcels, that I do not send dangerous goods either. The parcels got a notice “Identity verified”, but of course also my tax declaration. In one of them I sent the book “The Long Hitch Home” from Jamie Maslin to my daughter. I had read the book and was not willing to carry it with me all the time because the weight. In the other parcel was a xylophone – a birthday present for my grandchild Leon.
The post office was in Burnie, where I was going to by bus on Tuesday after my volunteering hours. I took a sightseeing tour by my own in the town center, too and ate lunch as well. A café offered “Hot potatoes” with 4 different fillings after the customer’s own choice. It was for 10.50 AUD (1 AUD is for the moment 0.75 US $, 0.68 EUR or 6.30 SEK). Also here I could get water for free and had not to order another drink. I had not eaten “Hot potatoes” for years and was very happy about it. Unfortunately the last bus for the evenings was at 5:45 pm (the shops closed at 5:30pm, but the supermarket). I would have loved to see the penguins from the view-point outside Burnie, but I never have been hitchhiking in the dark and was not sure I could get a hitch back to Penguin, though I took the last bus home.
I also hoped I could make a bush walk on the hill nearby, but the one day I had to go to the town center and buy a little additional food – by the way a sunny afternoon with +27°C and people greeting me in a very nice way – and the other afternoon it was raining almost in the nearby bush. In addition to that I hoped I could visit the tiny museum at the old railway station, but it is only open once a week two hours in the morning, when I had to cook apple puree. I was wondering if it really was a good choice to volunteer.
Penguin to Launceston 11th March
Last time I have been in the town center of Penguin I asked for pieces of cardboard, which I finally found at the petrol station. The young cashier in the supermarket maybe never had seen hitchhikers or almost none with a sign, because she answered me, I should go to the information center, where they have a big billboard outside or I should go there next day during the opening hours. At the stationery they tried to sell me a paper ark, the boxes they would need by their own. Anyway I finally found what I was looking for even I could not take it out of the trailer from the petrol station (the boxes were impossible to reach without a ladder up to the opening of the trailer and down again inside, but there were containers close to the trailer and one of these contained boxes, where I could take off one side, which was good for three signs. I already prepared the signs the same evening – for Launceston, Devonport and Adelaide.
I did not have to do any volunteering this day and left my host around 10am after I had taken the linen of the bed and vacuum cleaned the rooms I used. I was going to the place where I want to hitchhike from. Nearby a car was coming and I automatically showed my sign and got my first ride. She had been on a farm for taking some work related samples of something and was on her way back to Ulverston, where she left me at the information center. There is also a bus stop. Just when I arrived a bus to Hobart via Launceston stopped there, because I was not entering, the bus driver came out and asked me if I will go with him, which I denied even he could see my sign. I entered the tourist information instead and asked, how I will come to the hwy 1 by walking.
It took not more than 15 minutes and I came to a place on a country road to the hwy 1, with a possibility for cars not only to pull over, but also to park for five minutes. Cars were passing by, none stopped. Minutes later an Australian guy came walking and told me, he has his car round the next corner and will soon come with it and take me to Devonport. He really did. During the hitch he told me, that he was born and always has lived in the area and tries to help hitchhikers. He brought me to the last exit for Devonport on hwy 1. It was a really bad place, what he did not realise. I thought, if a police car will come, the police will fine me. The police car came, but did not stop. After a short while a woman pulled over. I nearly did not believe it, but it was true and she drove me to the door of my next host! She was also Australian, living in Ulverston and on the way to the airport of Launceston, where she had to pick up her husband.
Launceston 11th to 18th March
When I arrived in Launceston at my host Ange’s home, I was a little early – exactly 15 min, because Ange had sent a message to me, that she will be at home almost at 1pm. I waited for 45 min, then I called her, asking what happened. She told me, that she had got another appointment, but would be at home in 15 min. – Later that day, she told me instead, that she had forgotten my arrival and would have gone to another place, too, if I had not called her. – She hugged me welcome and offered me a beer. She also told me, that she can drink a little too much and get depressed. She is a smoker, but fortunately she smokes only outside. After her cigarette she showed me around. I have got an own room with a Queensize bed again. It looked lovely – until I put my backpack under the bed and saw the dust and dog hair.
While on her terrace I was introduced for her two dogs: Hunter, a beagle, which is some years old and has good behaviours and Bosch, a hunterdog as well, but a mix, which has been rescued from his first owner. Bosch has a high from almost 1m and can put his legs on the stove without any problems. Hi is still a puppy (2 years old) and his behaviours have still to be trained. He also drooled, when he saw us eating. I did care about both dogs, but Ange did not understand it. She told me once, the dogs are her family. If I cannot accept the dogs, it would not work. This explanation was totally unnecessary. Anyway she told me, I should not accept, when Bosch is jumping or climbing on me and I also could spray water on him, if he would not follow my commands.
Ange told me, that she had taken couchsurfers before, but that it became to expensive to her. She prefer two people (friends or relatives) at the same time, though she do not need to show them around.
On my arrival day, she told me first, I should relax and settle down, but later that day I had to help her chopping vegetables – most of them for the following day. She also prepared a lamb slowcook, telling me, that she had got the meat of her mother, who do not like to eat lamb. I also made the dishes. By the way she did drink a six-pack beer this day and was to bed already around 7pm, surprising me by telling me, what to do the next morning. She did not say good night.
On Saturday morning I had breakfast in time and was ready to follow her to the farmers market. There she bought a few vegetables and seeds, continuing to the tourist information nearby. Meanwhile I was looking for a map and leaflets she was smoking. Furthermore she drove to a pet shop, bought a dog clothing for Bosch for the winter and a leash for him to use in the car. The dog food she told me, was to expensive for the moment. When paying, she also left a book of hers to an assistant. Next stop was a wool shop, where she bought some wool for a plaid, she makes in crochet. Before we left her home, she told me, she has to buy other things, too, but suddenly she changed her mind.
She drove back home, told me to vacuum clean the house, but her bedroom as well as to wipe the dust and took the dogs to exercise on a special area. When she came back I had nearly finished. She praised me for the work done. Her sister arrived, but did only stay for around 15 min. She told Ange to take me to the market in Evandale next day, because it would be much more interesting including antique furniture. Ange sent a meal from the freezer with her sister – for their mother, but it sounded by the sister, that it was for her instead. Furthermore was Ange asking her sister to drop me off at the Cataract Gorge Reserve, so I could enjoy that area, because the way there is steep.
Some minutes later, I started walking around in the reserve. I tried several tracks, but I was only wearing sandals, because it was +27°C and almost most of the time cloudless. Though I had to find an easy track, which I did. Even the track was very easy to walk it was so gorgeous!
Back in town, I came to an old quarry with a new suburb, but it was built like a vintage one. The ice cream shop did close down, when I arrived, what was good for my health and purse. I continued to the Royal Park and took a pause, enjoying the rosebeds. Close to the park is the Queen Victoria Art Gallery. Unfortunately it was already closed. I walked in the direction of the seafront and afterwards to the town center, taking some photographs. Around 6pm I started on the way back to Ange’s home. Well there, Ange told me, that she has a horrible headache and that I could cook couscous and take of the longcook from the day before. I also could make me a wrap instead. I was too tired to cook couscous, though I ate a banana and later a wrap. Before I fell asleep, I heard Ange throw up.
Next morning (Sunday), when I asked Ange how she is, she answered good, she only have had a little problem with her stomach, but it was all ok again. Furthermore she told me, that it would be to windy and she therefore will not drive to the market. She asked me to clean her microwave and the windows in the kitchen, my room and another room from the inside. I was ready to start with it, when she told me, that I could visit the museum and art gallery because the weather. In addition to that, she told me to check the opening hours. We agreed, that I first should go to the museum and art gallery and do the cleaning, when I am back. She even drove me to the museum, but I had not asked for it. She told me, that I should give her a call, though she will pick me up again. Around 3pm she sent me a sms, that I have to tell her during the following ten minutes, if she shall pick me up, because she had more to do. I did not see the message before an hour later, because I was neither allowed to take my little backpack into the museum nor the art gallery. I answered her sms as soon, that I have seen it and told her, that I will come home by my own. To walk around in museums and art galleries is very interesting, but makes my feet getting tired. I checked on the Internet if there might be is a bus, which goes quite close to the place Ange’s place, but the next one, which also was the last one for the day, was at 5:55pm. I found an open bakery and bought a “pizza bun” and juice. I also took time to make photographs of art deco buildings. I was in good time for the bus. It was still daylight, when I was back at Ange’s.
I asked her for a ladder or something like that, though I could clean the microwave, but she told me, that I could do that the following day, she will write a list, what I have to do and I could make it, whenever I want. Therefore I took a seat close to her. She asked me about the museum and the art gallery and we came at talk about the aboriginal people before she asked me, if I was hungry. She made me a couscous with vegetables and warmed of the longcook for me. I did take half of the warm longcook and some spoons of the couscous mix. Meanwhile I took the food, put Ange the rest i containers, put them in the freezer and told me, that it is good to have as lunchbox, when she will work again. Not much later that evening did she tell me, that the food was for her mother. – Fortunately she took the dogs out of the kitchen, though I could eat without Bosch drooling in front of me, because that was, what he was doing usually. It seemed he was waiting for to be allowed to eat my meals.
When I had eaten, I made the dishes for the day. Ange had cooked lasagna during the day. She told me, that a friend of her will come for dinner the following day. By the way was she asking me before, if I could make the apple pie and I told her, it would be a Swedish one. I had to explain for her and I told her the recipe for the Swedish “smulpaj”. Her reaction, I know that – we save it for the winter. I had just started with the dishes, when Bosch came into the kitchen and put his nose on the lasagna. I shouted at him “down” and also used the water spray. After a while he left the kitchen and I continued with the dishes. Suddenly Ange came in the kitchen and explained, that she feels uncomfortable with me, that we don’t have anything in common as well as she explained to me, that she doesn’t have a lot of money and he had hoped, that I would help her, what I wouldn’t do. She seemed to have forgotten all the times, when I opened the gate for her, leaving or coming by car, when I took the rubbish out and the dishes I have done as well as the vacuum cleaning and the dust I wiped. Furthermore did it seems, that she already had forgotten, that she had told me to wait with the cleaning of the microwave and the windows to the following day. I told her, that I could go to a backpackers and she thanked me for my understanding. I was allowed to stay the night and I finished the dishes. Anyway she put a lid on the lasagna and put it in the fridge. – Even this night she throw up. By the way, I never said anything about her drinking even she drank more than a six-pack every day.
I left Ange’s home the next morning before 9am without breakfast. I do not know if she recognised it, she did not say anything about it, but wished me good luck for my travels. The evening before she had explained, that she could drive me to the backpacker’s, but I had declined. I walked all the way, but stopped for breakfast at a “Subway”-restaurant. It was a public holiday called “Eight Hour Day” (Labour Day). Around 10am I arrived at the backpacker’s, called Arthouse. It is an old building, the bedrooms new equipped, but the kitchen really needs a refurbishment as well as the backpackers has to learn to keep it clean. I bought a travel mug and combined spoon/fork/knife (lightweights in plastic), because it was so dirty in the kitchen. It was my first backpacker’s in Australia. I have not seen such a dirty kitchen at the backpacker’s in New Zealand! However the guy in the reception was great, but not the other staff. I put my luggage at the Arthouse and walked to the town, visited and enjoyed the City Park, went back to the hostel and checked in as well as I then had a 15 minutes walk to a supermarket. The evening I spent at the hostel, listening to my music. I just needed some time by my own.
Sometimes I make really stupid things and I am lucky they ended well, so far. In the park a younger dark-skinned guy talked to me. I was aware of him just a couple of minutes before and surprised I thought, that I have not seen dark-skinned people before in Australia. He started to talk to me asking the usual questions I have been asked, when I hitchhike. When I tried to know something about him, he told me to guess. My answer was, that he might be an Aboriginal or from Africa. Now he told me, that he is Asian and took of his sunglasses. My new answer was, that he might come from India, because his eyes and he told me, I was right. He tried to invite me for a drink and asked me for my phone number, WHICH I GAVE TO HIM. He made a little more conversation, talking about, that I am adventurous and asking if I have a boy friend. First in that stage I told him, that the question was too private. He tried to know more about me, but gave up soon. Fortunately he did not call me and I did not use the link I soon afterwards received by sms.
I had a day of window seeing, with some small items bought before I during the evening meal got in touch with a guy from Switzerland. Actually it was a girl from New Zealand, who introduced me to him. She already had made me happy on my day of arrival, because I had asked for a lower bed, when I booked, but in backpacker’s they usually do not care about it, neither they did in this one. When I came into the room I was complaining about it and the kind New Zealand girl gave up her lower bed for me. Anyway this guy from Switzerland planned to go to the Cradle mountain the upcoming day. He had rent a car for a week and was looking for people, sharing the right. He already had two, one of them was another girl in my room and the other a friend of her. I was happy for the opportunity and signed in, because I already had thought about to visit the Cradle mountain, but had not found another way than hitchhiking. To rent a car for a day would have been for 80 AUD plus petrol. It is much cheaper/day to rent a car for a week! We started at 8am next morning. It took nearly three hours to go to the car park belonging to the Cradle Mountain – Lake St. Clair National Park and Wildlife Service. Fabian, the Swiss guy paid for the car, which included entrance fee and shuttle services for up to eight persons. Later on, when I asked him, how much we should pay for the ride, he told me, that he would be happy if we could share the cost of the petrol. By the way I gave him 10 AUD extra – as part of the entrance fee.
We started walking a track together. It was a moderate walk to the Dove Lake, the Lake Lilla, the Wombat Pool, Wombat Peak and the Crater Lake. Here I said so long to the others and walked on an easier track to Ronny Creek, one of the Shuttle stops. Unfortunately I did not see any wombat, but they usually are around Ronny Creek. The Swiss guy was all the way up to the Summit, but the two German girls to the next Lookout and took than another way back.
Back at the entrance area I was in the shop and also café. By the way, the assistant in the café first ignored me and when I asked her, if they still sell coffee, she was very unfriendly. The weather had changed a lot during the day – from fully cloudy to somewhat cloudy, even with sunshine to cloudy and windy. It was a little chilly to wait for the others when the shop and café closed 4:30pm. Fortunately the girls came with the key for the car around 5pm. The Swiss guy was back with the last but one shuttle nearly an hour later. He drove the whole way back to the backpacker’s without a rest and our group for the day was very happy about the trip. I hope I will meet them again someday somewhere. A big hug till every one of them!
The next morning I did another two “must see” visits, the first one was the Umbrella Shop. Unfortunately there were only around fifty of them, none was showed open, because the space. Even I was disappointed about it, I had a nice chat with one of the shop assistants. Afterwards I walked up the Windmill Hill, but I did not find any windmill. I also came cross the Aquatic Centre and learned, that the school system at this point seems to work like in Sweden. I spent some time in the city centre, enjoying the Kerry Group playing Irish tunes. They got a $-note of me with the best wishes for St. Patrick’s Day.
During the evening I tried to find a bed in Devonport, but without success. I listened to the music of my mp3 before falling asleep – most of the time alone in the dorm. It took until the late evening before the room got fully occupied again.
A big thanks I have to send to the guy in the reception of the Arthouse backpacker’s. In the kitchen is no freezer, though I could not freeze the freezer pack for the transport of my medicine. He took my freezer pack home and came back with it the following morning. He earned an extra star for the place!
Launceston to Devonport 18th March
It was raining during the whole day and the temperature was decreasing from +18°C in the morning to +12°C in the evening. I was confident, that it would be easy to get a hitch because the weather. I walked, around half an hour, to a place I thought is a good place, because it was no longer in the city center as well as there was a great possibility to stop with a car and I could hold my backpack dry for the overhanging roof. Unfortunately the file of the street was not to Devonport a shop owner soon told me and I should stand on the other side of the street, which was an “one-way-street”. I had to go a little further to find a place, where the cars could stop and there I had to stand in the rain as well as my backpack. It took a while before a driver in his fifties with a pick up pulled over and told me, he will take me out-of-town, because it will be better to get a hitch from there. He left me at the last exit to the north for Launceston. Where an exit is, there is also an entrance. Short behind this there was a bridge, where I could stand, protected from the rain. It seemed hopeless with the view cars entering the highway, but after a while a driver in his thirties, also in a pick up, pulled over and gave me the hitch I so well needed. He drove me all the way to the tourist information, even it was on the other side of the river Mersey, where he had to go. There is only one bridge over this river in Devonport. To cross the river from the city center to the berth for the ferry “Spirit of Tasmania” one has to use the small ferry “Spirit of Devonport”.
Even the first driver was nice and his little dog well-trained and very calm, the second driver was outstanding. Usually I introduce myself first, but he was quicker than me. He did not only ask me the usual questions, but told me also about himself and his kids. When he had given me my backpack at the end of the trip he was also shaking hand with me with the words “it was nice to meet you”. By the way, he told me, that he is working on the “Spirit of Tasmania” and was quite sure, he will be on board the ferry I will go with to Melbourne on the upcoming Monday.
Devonport / Latrobe 18th – 21st March
When I had asked at the tourist information for a bed for the three nights, they told me, that all was booked out, because the events during the weekend. Anyway they gave me a free map and told me to ask at the backpacker’s in the city center. I already have known, that the “Molly Malone” did not have any bed left because my earlier research, though I went to the “Alexander” (I had sent an email to them the day before and was still waiting for their answer), but they also were fully occupied. There were another hostel close to the “Alexander”, which is a part of the same chain – the Goodstone hotels. I had to try that one, called “Formby Hotel” and have got a room for three, but only for the first night. Unfortunately I took that room even they asked for my debit card details including the three numbers on the back. Afterwards I was reflecting and understanding, that I did a huge mistake. I still cannot explain by myself, why I did fill in the sheet of paper. I should just walked out again. I had to sign, that the hotel was allowed to take money from my account if I demolish the room or steel anything. The fact, that they express this thoughts against me (65 years of age and looking as innocent as I do) should have been reason enough to walk out again. I never before had been asked about these details! – The Formby hotel has no budget rooms, though I had to pay the proud amount of 99 AUD for the bed! Anyway the room has the bathroom en suite.
I tried one more time with the tourist information and finally they found a room for me in the neighbourhood – in the town Latrobe, which is 10 km from Devonport. The room is for 80 AUD/night with shared bathroom. There is a bus between both towns, but that one does not operate on Sundays.
When I had established me in my hotel room in Devonport, I was going to the city center for different reasons. I needed cash, I needed something to eat and I had to recharge my prepaid mobile phone account. I also was looking for a rain jacket, because my rain cape was wet both from out- and inside. In addition to that it was not comfortable enough, when I did not use it over my big backpack. My rain trousers and a rain jacket would be more suitable. By the way did the big backpack/trolley not stop for the rain. Fortunately most of my clothes were saved under my inflatable pillow, which I transported plain in its whole size. The city center of Devonport is tiny and I found very soon, what I was looking for, even to find a rain jacket took a little longer. When I was around for these errands it only drizzled, but when I was walking at the river side it was raining again and I was happy about my new rain jacket, because the water pearled off it.
The following morning I checked out some minutes before 10am. I did not have any hurry and I had fallen asleep late the night before, because the pub or restaurant downstairs with an open area right under mig room. Even I like to hear people laughing, but this was too much for a room for 99 AUD/night.
It was a lovely sunny day again with a temperature around +20°C. I took some pictures during my walk to the bus interchange. Latrobe is nearby Devonport, which means, it is hart to hitchhike between. The ticket for the bus was 4.50 AUD and gave me the opportunity to get to know the kindness of a guy, who entered the bus in front of me. He had already helped me in with my big backpack, because the driver did not lower the bus. I only had 50 $-notes, which the driver could not change. The next bus would have been more than two hours later, though I asked the three(!) passengers if one of them had change. The guy had and was happy to help, while I was happy for his help.
The thing with the buses is, one does not know at all, where one is or has to leave, when there are no signs in the bus, showing the names of the bus stop. This bus was one of them, though I tried to find out the locations by looking intensively out of the windows. Fortunately there were shops in Spreyton as well as in Latrobe, which had the city’s name included. In Latrobe I tried to see the Lucas Hotel, where I had booked a room for two nights. I had to communicate a lot with the driver and finally left att the right bus stop.
Entering the hotel I asked for leaving my luggage and coming back later for checking in. I was allowed to check in immediately, which I was lucky about. One of the people of the hotel dit carry my backpack upstairs and brought it to my room, meanwhile he explained where the bathroom is. He also showed me the fridge in the wardrobe. The room is really nice.
Soon I went outside to explore this little town. It did not take long time. I ate a pie in a café, but I have got and paid for a steak and mushroom pie, even I ordered a chicken, brie and mushroom pie all belonging to the noise level, which was worsened by the music in the speakers. I could have tried to tell, that I did not order that pie, but I already had explained once, that I could not understand her by the noise. Sometimes I get tired of explaining about my hearing problem.
Later on I walked to the visitor’s information and the Hall of Fame as well to the National Reserve nearby. Here was a recreation area (with barbecues as usual), where a family celebrated her little daughter’s birthday. On the way back I walked the Sheenan Track and read all the information about Australia’s role during several wars. The evening I spent in my room, updating my blog and listening to my music. I had to go downstairs, when coming back, because I had (for the staff well-known) problems with the lock and saw the people sitting at the bar stirring at me like they never before had seen a single woman. Though I decided not to enjoy their company.
The other day I decided to visit the “House of Anvers” – a chocolate factory. I started walking around and visiting the Sunday markets in the little town and continued soon to the chocolate factory, a couple of kilometers outside Latrope. Meanwhile I was hungry and I ordered Belgien waffles with chocolate. It was delicious, but I became more than full.
I continued some meters on the highway and tried to hitchhike again, because it was Sunday and no public buses available. A guy in his best age was coming from work and pulled over. Soon I was in Devonport again. I was visiting the Regional Art Gallery, which is really a tiny one. When I had seen all the art in the one room, I asked at the entrance, if there really is only that one room. So I got to know Gorgia, a woman in her late fifties. She recommended me a commercial art gallery and offered, to drive me there. I did not even ask for the ride! I walked around in the area until Gorgia closed the art gallery. The commercial one was on the other side of the river. Well there she told me, she can bring me back to after she has been at the supermarket, if I am waiting outside for her. This art gallery was also very tiny, though I soon was outside again and after a while Gorgia picked me up.
She drove me to the hwy 1 – to a good place for hitchhiking, because I had told her, that I finally would try to see the little blue (fairy) penguins. Gorgia was concerned about, how I could come back to Latrope from the Lookout for the penguins, because it will be dark then. She told me, she would bring me there (and drive me back if she would not have the dinner with friends that evening. She wrote down her phone number for me, promising I could call her, if I got stuck. I was very grateful about her. Feeling, that out there are people, who really care about strangers warmed my heart!
I was really lucky that evening. I have got a hitch to the Lookout quite fast by a couple in their fifties. A volunteer, helping visitors to see the penguins with the help of huge torches with red light, was already there and made even the waiting time interesting for us, who already had arrived. I did see penguins – a few on land in the moult and a few coming out of the sea. It was lovely to see them! In addition to this I also have seen three possums (the Australians like their possums) – two in a tree and one was running along the upper side of the wooden fence of the Lookout, passing my arm! Furthermore I have seen two Pademelons (wallabies) at the beach. It was great hours at this place! I also was lucky to get a hitch back directly to the hotel in Latrope. It was a late arrival at the Lookout, who finally gave me the hitch. I told them, I could walk from the highway, but they insisted to drive me all the way. By the way, if I did not have got that ride, I could have had a hitch with one of the volunteers to Devonport and tried to come further from there – in the worst case by a taxi.
I had to go to sleep as soon as I was back, because I had to awake early the upcoming day. I had already ordered a taxi for 7am, because the first bus to Devonport would be leaving at 7:30am and it was not going close to the ferry I had to catch the following morning. I would have to go by bus to the city center and then down to the river, trying to get a small ferry. I was not sure, that I could make it in time, therefore I decided to take a taxi.
From Tasmania to the Mainland 21st March
I left Tasmania from Devonport by ferry with the gorgeous name “Spirit of Tasmania” and actually the ferries had got the extended names “New Spirit of Tasmania” – there are almost two of them. The taxi arrived 6:55am and I was already outside the hotel since 6:45am. When I was leaving the hotel, a cleaner as well as the owner were already there and both were very friendly. The owner told me, that I could wait inside – it would be to cold outside, the taxi driver would blow the horn, when he arrives. Actually it was a little chilly, but not cold.
The taxi driver was an elder one with all the good behaviour I could expect in former times in Europe, that means that he was friendly as well as he cared about my luggage. – The fare was 23 AUD, for the bus and the little ferry together it would have been 9 AUD. I arrived in good time at the ferry terminal, which is called the “Spirit Terminal”. The check in was uncomplicated, but all passengers had to care about all their luggage until we were allowed to enter the ferry. On the way to the gangway we were asked if we would like to have our bigger suitcases and backpacks stored on the ferry, though we did not need to carry around with it all the day. Nobody regretted. On board I found a seat, which I used most of the day. Sometimes I went outside looking at the sea. One time the other “New Spirit of Tasmania” was to see, going in the opposite direction as we. Unfortunately I had no food with me and it was expensive as expected. I also run out of water. The little bottle I purchased was for 4 (four) AUD. By the way we left 40 minutes late in Devonport and we arrived 40 minutes late in Melbourne. The journey lasted for the usual 9 hours.
On board the ferry was a restaurant and a little shop, selling hot and cold drinks, pies as well as rolls and cakes/cookies, sandwiches, chips and sweets. There were two cinemas on board and a gambling room. If you wanted to see a movie, you had to purchase a ticket. By the way the sea was calm, though it was a pleasant journey. After hours on board I thought, I could have taken the night ferry. It would have saved time and would not have been more expensive than the night at the hotel.
When the ferry had landed in Melbourne, it took time before the gangway was secured – there was an escalator as well as it had been in Devonport. We also had to wait a while for our luggage. About my next steps and adventures you can start reading at “South Australia“.