Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: Tasmanian Devils (2010)

All Aboard the Tassie Tigress!

Monday started a little like the preceding day, at least weather-wise - although not raining as hard, it was still fairly unpleasant looking. One marked difference in looking out of the window, however, was the sight of people walking about purposefully, in business attire. At least today, there was no temptation to venture out for something to eat; Bruce's SPG Platinum status ensured that we had access to the Executive Lounge. After breakfast, it was simply a matter of packing up and taking a taxi to the airport. As we emerged from the cross-city tunnel, it was encouraging to see the sky starting to clear a little.

We used machines to check in so that we could have some control over where we were sitting, then got rid of our bags at the appropriate counter. Security proved to be particularly civilised in comparison to the UK and USA and, despite the queue, we were soon airside. With no lounge to go to, we nevertheless decided that certain minimum standards applied to a pair of seasoned frequent flyers like ourselves and, as such, two glasses of sparkling wine were swiftly purchased in one of the concourse bars. Sipping the bubbly provided an opportunity to exchange some thoughts on the Australian experience so far. Thinking particularly - but not exclusively - of our dinner the previous evening, we agreed that Sydney had become much more Asian in character and that this seemed to be a positive development. On the other hand, the more established Anglo-Saxon population appeared to have become more chavvy. People with prominent tattoos and multiple body piercings were everywhere, while on TV, lurid trailers advertised reality shows exposing the outrageous behaviour of feral nine-year-olds. Ugh! The world (or at least a chunky part of the southern hemisphere) thus set to rights, we made our way to the departure gate and boarded our Boeing 737-700, appropriately named Tassie Tigress.  

(Link to flight log in side panel)

The arrival experience at Launceston's little airport could hardly have been easier and in remarkably little time, we were setting off in our rental car, a plain but functional Kia Cerato. Back in Sydney, I'd pointed out that, due to the presence of a certain plastic card in my wallet that carried ancillary insurance benefits, it would be a good deal cheaper if we took the car in my name alone. A swift deal was done: I'd do the driving and Bruce would do the cooking. Having previously experienced my friend's keenly honed culinary skills, I was happy that this was an excellent result! We drove the short distance to Launceston (which, unlike its English counterpart, likes to have all three of its syllables pronounced) and parked at a Cole's supermarket in order to stock up with supplies. We then set off for the little village of Branxholm and the first of our three self-catering cottages on the island.

The drive involved its fair share of twists and turns, but it was made much easier by very quiet roads. It didn't take long for a faintly unsettling recurring theme to establish itself - one that would remain with us throughout our time on the island. I'm talking about road-kill. That's right, dead animals liberally strewn about the highway, often pecked to pieces by birds and occasionally demanding avoiding measures from drivers. I remembered being told during my first visit to Australia that any journey after dark involved significant hazard from wildlife, but here on Tasmania the problem seemed to occur on a whole new level. As the light began to fade, I found myself nervously scanning the bushes at the side of the road.

Thankfully, we arrived at the Tin Dragon Trail cottages unscathed and before sunset, and quickly got settled into our base for the next two nights, Ah Moy cottage. Delighted by the first example of our somewhat unconventional accommodation choice, we were soon enjoying some of our local wine purchases while the cottage filled up with wonderful aromas as Bruce cooked our first Tasmanian dinner of lamb chops with roasted fennel and mashed potatoes.

On Day 11, it was good to have finally arrived at the trip's main objective. Our car's registration plate invited visitors to explore the island's possibilities and, as I contemplated the days ahead while drifting off to sleep, I felt confident that it was all going to be another memorable experience.