Way WAY Down Under

We were due to leave on Sunday. That Saturday, I got called into a shift during which I felt a tickle in my throat. By the time I got home, it was a full blown cold, so in the midst of packing for a week away, I whipped up a chicken soup.

Lots of garlic, fresh chicken broth from a whole bird. Surely my body will like this.

I was excited for Tasmania–somewhere I’d had on my list since we got here–but I was bummed. This timing of this cold was absolutely not great. I went to bed as early as possible, and slept semi upright, smothered in the potent camphor smells of tiger balm.

In truth, I hardly slept at all. I knew I was still going to get worse before I got better, but no matter what we had traveling to do.

In the morning my head was so stuffed I could hardly breathe. 

And I have to fly like this in just a few hours??? UGH.

With lozenges in one pocket and some strange cold-fighting drink packet stashed away, we masked up and powered through to the airport. There were such few travellers (and without TSA strip downs) that the process was more or less gentle and painless. Still, I was happy for the nap on the 2 hour flight into Launceston.

Finally! Back up in the clouds.

We disembarked directly onto the runway. Out in the air, we could get a quick taste of “Tassie”: a very unofficial-looking airport, a bite in the air that people on board were calling “bloody cold,” and the low misty mountains that surrounded us in the distance.

I hardly paid any mind to the mountains on first arrival. I was much too focused on getting through airport security, where prominent and pushy signs were posted everywhere:

if you have 

A SORE THROAT

A COUGH

FEEL SICK IT ALL

YOU MUST TELL US. 

ya know, things of that nature.

Tasmania has been pretty much COVID clear. After the little outbreak in Melbourne, they were keen to keep it that way.

Luckily, behind the mask they couldn’t see that red my nose was ravaged by sniffles. I quenched my coughs as we went through the immigration officer and we collected our bags, then our rental car, and were off on our journey.

Arriving in Launceston was….weird. It was strangely reminiscent of the mining towns I grew up in and around all the way back in Pennsylvania. Launceston was even interspersed with colonial villages, not unlike the way they are back in the Poconos. Our home for the night would be one of these villages called Evandale.

In this quaint town, I chose one of two air BnBs available which was available, and it was:

*drumroll please*

A 200 year old chapel.

The Wesleyan Chapel is one of the oldest AirBnB properties in Tasmania. Guests stay in the original Chapel built in 1836.

Surprisingly, they did a good job at not making it too (how should I say…) JESUSY. They had one Jesus painting before you entered the living area, and a tastefully cheeky Jesus nightlight giving a thumbs up.

Other decor included a French poster on how to ride a penny farthing–something kind of weird but what we would learn to be of great importance to Tasmania. 

We found it just cozy and quirky enough.

With a little rain in the air that night, we thought we’d look up somewhere local to eat. We took a walk around the neighborhood to see which of our options was open.

The answer…hardly any. 

This was Sunday in a “village” at the end of the Earth. If it wasn’t closed already it was damn near close.

5PM and shutting up shop.

At the very end of the street and around the corner, one pub was still open. We peered in to get a feel for the vibe and saw the bar completely lined with old bearded men. 

We tossed up whether or not it would be a good idea to join them. Ultimately we decided, let’s go home, have a short rest, and then go and embrace this town’s one watering hole. 

That was at 5pm. It was just about an hour and a half later that we got up, ready and eager to meet the true villagers of this little Tasmanian town. As we turned the corner to the bar we were hit with..

Uh oh..

“Are the lights off?” I asked. 

“Surely not…”

We looked inside this time to see the warm orange glow of the place had turned black. In place of cold beers on the bar were the skeletal shadows of overturned bar stools. It seems everyone had had their beer, had their chat, and got the hell outta there before 7pm. 

Our next best bet was a pub back in Launceston.

We arrived at “the Irish” to live local music and a fireplace. With a nasty cold still butting heads with my immune system, my brain thought a hot toddy would be an appropriate indulgence. 

This bar had all the right vibes…except the bartender.

The bartender, a boy who looked to have just turned 18 overnight, had no idea what a hot toddy was when I asked him.

“If you tell me what’s in it, I can make it.”

“Okay. Whiskey…” I started, before thinking to ask, “What are your local whiskeys?”

He replied: “I don’t think there are any,”

Strange, considering Rich and I had specifically read about the wonderful whiskey and wine culture in Tasmania, but it’s not so terrible to settle for Johnny. So I moved on to the next ingredient in a hot toddy:

“Hot water…” thinking, this should be easy enough.

“Only from the sink and, honestly, it’s not great,” he said. ohhhh for f….

I was 0-2 now, and not feeling confident, so I hit him with the change-up.

“Okay, can you make me a whiskey sour?”

“I don’t know how to make that either.”

STTTTTTTTTT-RIKE!

I was still feeling stick and stuffy, thought opting for whiskey to open my up. Instead I pointed to Rich and the beer he was holding and told the bartender: alright, just gimme one of those.”

After our one and only beer we thought it’d be a good choice to eat. With the dining room’s bartender I kept it simple.

Maker’s mark on the rocks, please.

She nailed it on the first try. 

By the time we got home, we were suitably tired. I don’t know if it was that we were staying in a holy place or that I had finally gotten my whiskey, but that night I slept like a baby. It was a good first day.

One comment

  1. Loved it,thank you. Did you finally get to eat something? I’m looking forward to the next bit.

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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