I woke up the next day still not feeling 100%, but significantly more able to draw air through my nostrils. Luckily, today was going to be another day of relatively low activity. We were driving to Hobart.
The 2 hours of highway miles down the center of the country seemed a lot less appealing than a scenic route that snakes over and around Tasmanian mountains. So we opted for the latter.
On these travels we climbed great hills of this rugged landscape, witnessing plenty of the raw natural wonder.
Also, plenty of man-made things too.
At the tippy top, there was a dam said to power the entire city. Now I’ve been to the Panama Canal and I can say without hesitation I’ve never seen a dam like this.
That has something to do, in part with the fact that I could hardly see it. The wall was relatively unassuming, but the expanse of the water reached deep into the hazy mist. It seemed endless. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think we were looking out over the ocean.
On our way back on course, there was a slightly more lake-sized lake. Serenely floating in it was an impressive black swan. The bird nerd in me was floored by this. As I watched it I realized it was one of many, the others were huddled into another corner of the lake.
Maybe he just needed some space. This was the perfect place to get it.
At some points, all that was different than forestry were the ghost trees leaving cracked lines in the grey sky.
At one point we noticed a general store, and I couldn’t help but wonder:
Who goes there?
Who works there?
How do they afford to stay in business?
We continued on in this desolate track until we finally landed back on the highway. From there, it wasn’t far to Hobart.
Hobart is the biggest city–and the capital–of Tasmania. This was far more of a city than Launceston. You could feel the energy on the busy streets and see the expanse of the homes rippling over hills.
As we crossed the bridge over a lake that surrounds the city, I saw them again. The black swans, now in a city setting, were just as majestic as they were on the mountaintop.
In the distance was the main attraction: kunanyi, an aboriginal name for the mountain which colonists called “Mount Wellington.”
Somewhere near the base of that we’d find our home for the next few days. And near our home for the next few days was nothing but nature.
This would be just the right place to do some forest bathing and give my body exactly what it needed to recuperate.
That and a trip to a local and legendary whiskey distillery.
We spent some time tasting the whiskey wares at Lark before shivering our timbers over to the Drunken Admiral. When in Tasmania, you have to try the fish, and with over 1400 positive reviews on Google it seemed this restaurant was up to the task.
Densely decked out in pirate paraphernalia, the first thing Rich said when we walked through the door was: “Smells fishy in here.”
Later, we’d deduce that from now on, any restaurant that smells that fishy on arrival definitely is.
My dreams of enjoying fresh caught Tasmanian fish took shape as a strange lost-at-sea fever dream. In reading the menu, the siren call of the scallops gripped me, but also created some confusion. The exact same dish appeared on the regular menu as on the specials. I asked the waiter about the difference between these seemingly identical crumbed scallops.
“The special is fresh-caught Tasmanian scallops,” he told me with pride.
“And where’s the other one from?” I asked, perplexed.
“I think Peru.”
Yes, this place was fishy indeed. Still, I shushed away the temptation of the sizzling plate of salmon the woman behind me was enjoying and went for the fresh-caught crumbed Tasmanian scallops, while Rich got the salt and pepper squid.
When our orders hit the table, I was immediately struck with regret for not getting the salmon on the sizzling rock. My scallops were so unceremoniously deep fried and funnelled into a paper cone alongside some fries. Rich had some salad on his plate, at least, but from the looks of his portion size the chefs were in the back filleting giant squid.
By the time we reached the end of the meals, we were sick with regret. We left there with two very important lessons learned:
1) there is such a thing as too much squid, and
2) if it looks and smells like a tourist trap, it likely is one.
Coming home to the mountain nest was an absolute delight. We showered off the seamen stench and tucked in early. The next day would prove to be a big one.
some highlights from the nature walk earlier in the day.