Saturday, December 06, 2003

I got up quite late this morning and wasn’t really with anything until midday. There weren’t many people about the hostel, but I meandered, drank tea and the like (I had a Cherry Ripe for breakfast, Australia's most popular chocolate bar). Rachel invited me round to their house tonight for a quiet one in, which I accepted.

I was getting bored so I wandered out and about for a bit in the sunshine and then went down to St Kilda, it was lovely but a bit too busy for my liking. So I dipped into an Internet café to write some more of my journal for most of the afternoon.

Later that evening I went up to Rachel and Mel's, they were just getting ready and bitching about their housemate, Ian. So then all 3 of us ambled up to their local, the Comfortable Chair, a regular band were playing that the girls knew, we had a few bottles of wine between us but we didn't really get drunk; oddly enough I saw Annie (mad Kiwi) and Andy (Annie's new b/f, in my dorm), they were in the Comfy Chair to watch another band that Annie knows thet members of. They are a weird couple because Andy is shorter than Annie and Annie isn't all that tall to start with, he is nick named "the midget".

When I got back to the hostel I didn’t stay up but decided to go to bed. Just as I was getting comfy a new girl that I had never seen before wandered out of the bathroom, she had a cute arse and she was sleeping in the bed directly opposite mine. Arse aside, she was 21 years old and a very pleasant girl, we chatted for about half an hour; I told her that I was planning to visit the Great Ocean Road very shortly, she expressed an interest in joining me but could I wait until Thursday (she was going to the Robbie Williams concert at the Telstra Dome on Wednesday night), so I agreed.

Friday, December 05, 2003

Needless to say I got (another) horrific nights sleep, which resulted in me getting up ridiculously early, so I had breakfast and coffee. The one benefit of being up so early was that I saw the sun rise above the ocean, cool! Eventually we were off-loaded again and I was feeling tired again!

I drove the short distance into Melbourne town and back to the Nunnery, I had to hang around for about an hour or so for people to check out but I managed to get a bed in my old room (3) again.

It was very strange being back, mostly because I had been a regular when I left and I pretty much knew everyone. In the space of 2 weeks though, almost everybody had changed, barring the staff and a handful of regulars; so it was back to square one again! Rowan was still there, she was courteous, but not exactly ultra-friendly toward me, oh well!

In view of the fact that I had decided I was going to drive down the Great Ocean Road pretty soon and also my staying in the van experiences from Tasmania, I decided it was time I got some camping equipment. I wandered into town, met up with Rachel and Mel, who were both OK, they invited me out to a bar called the Hi-Fi Bar on Swanston Street; I then went on to buy a tent and a few other camping bits, like a stove.

Tonight was Friday night and what is Friday? Nibbles and wine night!

The wine is always crap, but I was drinking it anyway and getting into the spirit of things when my evening got even better; I bumped into Lou and Nadine, who had just returned from their last day of work and were drinking cheap champagne. None of Lou’s enthusiasm for me had been lost in my absence and we both agreed to go out to a live music venue somewhere (Rach and Mel had been mentally blown out by now), Nadine was going to bed.

We wandered down Brunswick Street and opted for a bar called the Evelyn, which always plays live music. We ordered a bottle of wine and had a really fun evening, the band was reggae, but they were really good; UB40 sounding kind of music, I even bought their CD!

The night was getting on, so we decided to leave. Rather than going straight to the hostel, we decided instead to have a lay down in the park... and my van.

Needless to say, we both had a smashing evening and I didn’t get too drunk.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

This morning I had a text message on my mobile phone from yesterday (I got no signal in Port Arthur) from Launceston Toyota saying that my van was ready yesterday and it was going to cost $900. As I had missed my sailing, I called Spirit of Tasmania to re-arrange, I had the choice of sailing tonight in cruise seats or sailing on Sunday with a dorm bed; I opted to sail tonight as I had nothing more to stay for really.

So I bid farewell to Faye and others and drove back to Launceston. I dropped the hire car off in town and took a cab to the Toyota dealer (quite cheap), I paid my $900, picked the van up and proceeded to drive to Devonport where my ferry was leaving from.

I arrived in Devonport far too early, I didn’t need to be there until 7:30pm at the earliest. So I decided to have a drive around the area and see what kind of houses there are in Devonport, I saw some mangy houses, some really posh houses and I accidentally drove onto some private land and got asked to leave, lastly I found a lovely little spot by a lake and sat and enjoyed the view for a while.

By the time 6pm came around I decided I was getting bored and drove down to the ferry. There was a small queue but nothing too bad. I noticed a motorcycle and trailer behind me with an older couple on so I got out and went to talk to them, they recognised me from Wynyard Caravan Park; I vaguely recall, but I don’t think I would have recognised them first! Before I knew it a bunch of Harleys had also turned up, it was a group of pilots from the mainland who were on a short ride-out in Tasmania; one of them was a pilot for Virgin Blue (Aussie budget carrier), another piloted small, private jets and I’m not sure what the last guy did. Oddly enough they didn’t talk about bikes much, not even the older couple (who were on a Divvy 900)… weird!

Eventually we got loaded on, first things first, I got myself some food and a window seat so that I could eat and watch the ferry pull away at the same time. Once the ferry had set off I found a comfy seat and sat down to read and listen to my music.

By the time I had finished my book I decided to call it a night, I discovered that a Cruise Seat is in fact an aeroplane seat… transplanted onto a boat.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

This morning I felt groggy, which was hardly surprising. I had also decided to hire a cheap car and drive to Port Arthur and back, it wouldn’t cost that much, it would be less hassle than a bus and I could continue to stay in Hobart.

I pumped into Faye at breakfast, Faye expressed an interest in going to Port Arthur too; so we agreed that I would hire a car, we would go 50/50 on the cost and drive to Port Arthur today!

The drive was fairly uneventful, but Faye was unexpectedly good company. When we arrived we had a bite to eat, I was desperate for food as a result of the previous evening. Then we bought our tickets (including the Ghost Tour, again, for me anyway) and ventured in; we had a 30 minute tour of the site first, which was quite good before being let loose on our own. We looked round the entire site, we did the boat trip and had a really good day; the only problem was that we finished at about 4:30pm and the Ghost Tour wasn’t until 9:15pm!

Since transport wasn’t a problem we looked at the map and decided to explore the local area and drove in a semi-random direction. Our first encounter were some old coal mines, or to be precise the convict coal mines that were associated with Port Arthur, which prisoners were sometimes locked up in! There really wasn’t a lot to look at apart from some old buildings and a filled in shaft, but it was a pleasant wander anyway.

When then drove on some more, through a small town called Nubeena and along the coastal road, after a few twists and turns and some guesswork we ended up at a place called Lime Bay. There was a camp site at the end and a beach, so we pulled the car up and went for a paddle in the sea for a while and had some fun before heading back (we saw wallabies hopping around the roadside!).

By the time we got back to Port Arthur it was about 30 minutes before our tour, so we ate some more and mosied before it started. The tour was the same at the last one I did, except for the fact that the tour guide wasn’t as good, he seemed as though he may have been fairly new to the job.

We drove back in the dark and got to bed late.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

I got up at a sensible time and packed my ruck sack, boy oh boy it was heavy! It felt like I was on military manoeuvres when I had to walk for about 20 minutes to the bus station!

I had a coffee and bite to eat at the bus terminal before boarding. The coach could hold over 50 people and there were 4 of us on it, at the behest of the driver we all sat at the front so that we could chat and he could point things out to us.

We drove down Highway 1, which is the main motorway in Tasmania; as promised the driver did indeed point things out to us and related information about the areas we were passing though to us. Of noteworthy mention was some roadside topiary, mostly indigenous animals and some old metal silhouettes that had been erected roadside, years and years ago and depicted typical colonial scenes.

When we got to Hobart I decided to wander down to Salamanca and use the Internet a bit, I had to wait 3 1/2 hours for my next coach so I had to kill time somehow. Whilst down there I bumped into Faye, Faye is a lovely Irish girl, bit of a space cadet, but lovely all the same; Christian and I met her at the YHA in Launceston at the beginning of our trip. She told me that she was staying in a hostel called the Pickled Frog and that it was a really cool place to stay in Hobart; I told her that I was staying at Port Arthur.

Or at least I thought I was; upon calling every possible establishment of accommodation in Port Arthur (of which there aren’t many), I discovered that the cheapest thing I could find was a B&B at $80 a night! I thought it prudent at that point to forego my coach trip ($16) and stay in Hobart until tomorrow.

So, I walked (military style again) up to the Pickled Frog and checked in. I took a 4 bed dorm, which seemed to be completely empty, bar myself; they also assigned bed numbers as opposed to room numbers, I thought this was a bit weird!

The hostel had a bar, so once I dumped my stuff I had a couple of beers and bumped into some young lad at the bar whose name I don’t recall. He had recently arrived in Australia, was trying to find work in Hobart and was planning to stay in Hobart for “as long as possible”; I couldn’t quite fathom his angle, but each to their own. Since we were both hungry we headed down to the local pub and had steak meals (best food I had had in ages!) and a couple of cocktails, for the hell of it!

To whit, we returned to the hostel and got drunk. I met a nice young lady who, of all places, was from Wagga Wagga, but was looking to settle in Tasmania. When I got to bed I discovered that two other guys had checked into my room, so I hadn’t achieved that hostel utopia of a dorm room to myself yet!

Monday, December 01, 2003

Christian was flying back to Melbourne today and booked the shuttle bus to the airport. In the mean time I decided it might be an opportune day or two for me to revisit Port Arthur, so I booked Tassielink (Tas coach service) to Port Arthur via Hobart for the next day.

Mid afternoon, Christian left, I decided that I needed a personal source of music, so I wandered out and bought myself an iPod (portable MP3 player type thing) and had a quiet one in.

Sunday, November 30, 2003

Today was a Sunday, very little was open.

One of the hostel staff told us that there was a market on at the other side of the bridge, “you can’t miss it”, so we wandered down to the other side of the bridge and there was sod all there!

We wandered instead to a newsagents and bought a paper each, then moved onto the City Park and sat down for a read. The unique thing about the park is that it has a large monkey enclosure, the monkeys in question are Japanese and were donated to the city of Launceston by the Japanese people at some point in the past (why, I don’t know). Apparently the park used to host an entire zoo, even so it is still a strange sight today.

Back to the hostel, I had gut ache; maybe it was Christians cooking!

I chatted to some English girl who was in Australia with her boyfriend, who was in Sydney; but she was having a break in Tas. Nice enough girl, she spent the rest of day at Cataract Gorge.

I got a call from the Toyota dealer, he said that the cylinder head casket had blown, it needed replacing and he would also have to send the head off for an inspection in case the heat had cracked it at all. This, he said, may take until the end of the week; this now threw my ferry sailing into contention as I was due to sail on Wednesday evening, I would deal with that as and when it arose.

We wandered around the shopping mall for a bit, before going on the Internet some more then headed off to bed.