Country two on the backpack list: Australia. Yes, again. Fourteen months living in the joint and we barely cracked the surface! However, I reckon we saw a lot of variety this time around, even in our few short weeks. The trip seemed to naturally break into three main themes, which are as follows:
All I do is eat cheese and avoid road kill now
We flew from New Zealand into Hobart, Tasmania which was actually the worst (self-inflicted) flight layover experience. To save some cash we slept overnight on the cold, hard benches of the McDonalds in the Auckland International Airport. The experience wasn’t really sleeping; it was more pushing your face into stale hamburger smell while listening to constant announcements and loud (cranky) children at forever am. Bleariness made the five hour drive from Hobart to Launceston, our first stop in Tasmania, a bit dodgy but once we got there all was well.
Tasmania was connected to the rest of Australia via a land bridge until about 10 000 years ago when the rising sea levels separated the two land masses. Thus Tasmania feels Australian but is also quite unique. It’s given its name to the devil and the (now extinct) tiger; it’s been the destination of boat loads of prisoners; it’s only a six hour drive from one end to the other; and we thought it was beautiful. In certain places Tasmania is wet with ancient rainforest. In others it’s jagged with buttongrass-filled heathland and mountains. Either way, the landscapes are always wild….and full of wildlife.
Incidentally, most of the wildlife we saw was dead on the highway. Devils, wallabies, pademelons, wombats, kangaroos, and I’m not sure why! We did enjoy driving through the rural areas though, which most of Tas is. From Launceston we went to Cradle Mountain National Park, and after a night spent in a pub hotel, we arrived back in the capital city of Hobart. This is where the “eat all the cheese” began. Tasmania is known for its fantastic food and drink! Wine tasting, beer tasting, whisky tasting, cheese and spreads were all enjoyed as much as possible. Basically, that’s where all our time went in Hobart, with the exception of MONA, the Museum of Old and New Art. I’m not really sure how to describe our experience there. It is a weird and wonderful place. If you gave one thousand art monkeys one thoussand art supplies you might come close to the bizarreness. These art supplies would include computerized nozzles to make “rain paintings” of the daily news or perhaps test tubes and pumps to create a room-sized digestive system (that poops twice a day…yes, really). The themes are clearly sex and death but I will say; besides being shocking I did find the whole thing entertaining and educational.
To wrap up the cheese-specific food awesomeness we spent a few days in Melbourne on our way to Adelaide. It was really lovely to pass through one more time and say hello/goodbye to some great pals. This trip we didn’t even leave Brunswick Street as all the hipster smugness and hipster nonsense cafes and restos you could possibly need are there. Melbourne, you are tied for number one in my heart with Sydney.
All I do is drink water and sweat now (part 1)
From Melbourne we rented our last car for this trip, most likely, and drove the Great Ocean Road to Adelaide. I wouldn’t say it was “great” mind you, I would say it was “perfectly fine”. Most likely I would have enjoyed it more had it not been freezing cold and pissing rain. Alas. It was a nice drive though, and it was neat to see the gradual change of scenery from Victoria through to South Australia.
And then things got quite hot. We took the overnight Greyhound bus from Adelaide and arrived in a little town called Coober Pedy at 5am. At 5am it was 29 degrees Celsius. This is why 60% of the residents of Coober Pedy live underground with new homes being dug out all the time. Home owners hire opal miners to dig out their houses and besides the fact that they are underground, they are surprisingly normal minus the whole no windows thing. Our hostel was underground and I was so grateful for the reprieve from the heat…and the ten billion flies. Flies, heat, and warning signs for open abandoned opal mines aside, it was a neat little town. It was effectively only opal shops and churches, but close by you can see the world’s largest manmade structure: The Dingo Fence. It’s longer than even the Great Wall of China! Apparently it does keep the dingos away from farmland, but feral camels not so much. For more on camels in the desert, you should watch the movie Tracks. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-DiOyxCQQI
I plan on reading the book as well, as it’s based on a true story of a woman who is far more badarsed than I will ever be. Also she doesn’t seem to get dehydrated and icky as easily, which is a helpful trait in the desert. I’m such a feather weight.
I’m going to leave part 2 of the desert and my final theme for the next post as this is feeling long.
G’day for now!
Also, Curtis’ freckle “tan” is looking rather dapper. He never seems to get dehydrated. I think he’s a camel, but I’m too scared to ask.