Day 71, it was 4am and we were walking the streets of Melbourne in darkness with our backpacks. It was quite surreal as the city was so quiet, and we were the only people on the streets apart from the odd drunk. We reached the bus station and got on the shuttle bus at 430am and reached the airport by 5. Our flight was at 7am so we had 2 hours to kill. We checked in really quickly and headed for our gate. As we were the only ones there, Helen, Luke and Laura all started sleeping as we had none a few hours previously. Helen and Coops used the chairs as beds, whereas Luke just slept on the floor. We boarded the plane and had an hour flight ahead of us. We all slept the instant the plane took off and only woke as we landed on the runway in Hobart. Our plan for Taz was to drive around the island in 4-5 days, so we booked a 4x4 car in advance. We picked up our Mitsubishi Outlander, 30 mins late as the staff member was useless. He then told us it was an automatic when we asked for a manual. We packed up all the bags and Luke got used to driving an automatic 4x4. It was weird as he kept trying to use the brake as a clutch, but he soon go used to it. We drove to Hobart and had some food, I had an awesome Steak Sandwich for breakfast. When we got back to the car we realised Lukes day bag was missing... 20 mins and one fast car ride later we were back at the car rental place and found the bag behind the counter. Apparently it had been left on the pavement by the car when we drove away. Luke blamed Coops as she was packing the bags, Coops blamed Luke. Quite funny once we found the bag though. After this fiasco we headed south to Eaglehawk neck viewpoint over Pirate Bay, and then onto the Tessellated Pavement, an archway in a cliff and a gorge called the Devils Kitchen. We then drove through a little village called Doo Town where every house had a Doo in its name such as 'Love Me Doo' or 'Sheil-Doo'. We took multiple photos for our own amusement. At this point in the day I started feeling tired and dozed and dont know what we did for the next hour or so. I woke up and found Burns asleep in the car with me and the Girls and Luke knowhere to be seen. We were parked outside what looked like a public toilet, but in fact was some accomodation. I went to look inside and was amazed to find the nicest cabin I could imagine. It looked like a fancy Ski Lodge, the sort of thing your parents would rent out for 2 weeks on holiday not something backpackers on a budget would go for. The price of the cabin was cheaper than normal because we pretended there were only 4 of us. After putting all our bags in we headed out and bought dinner which was to be cottage pie. Once back we had some tea and made the most of our 5 star accomodation by listening to music, drinking tea, and then watching some Thin Blue Line on the TV. Burns and Luke did a beer run as Coops started dinner. After some excellent cottage pie and some tasty beers (Boags, Tasmania's finest) we played Australian Monopoly. It got quite competitive and in the end Coops won. After that we watched Iron man, but before it was over Helen went to bed, Coops and Luke fell asleep on the sofa and Burns slept with his beer in his hand and spilt it over the douvet and Coops leg. We headed to bed all pretty tired after our lack of sleep in the past 36 hours.
Day 72 and I was first up as I was on the sofa, and the cabin was freezing! After waking the others we all got showered and had breakfast before leaving the cabin by 1030. We all agreed that this was probably the best accommodation we'd stay in all 8 months. We headed north towards Orford, I got the directions a tad wrong and took us the scenic route. It was good though as we saw some awesome countryside and lots of empty roads, we all shared the driving, even Coops had a few minutes behind the wheel. We saw several Porcupines at the side of the road but when we tried to stop to have a look, they ran a mile. We stopped in Orford for some lunch (pastie) and the girls got more cake. After this we headed towards Wineglass bay where we were hoping to see the National Park. Only when we got there did we realise it cost a fair bit and was far to much for us to
see in the time we had. We then looked to book a Penguin tour for that night in Bicheno. While asking for directions to the booking office, Coops who had gone into the shop, came out and got into the wrong car. This made us all laugh and made her rather embarressed when she found the right one. We arrived in Bicheno and checked into a Backpackers Hostel. Our usual routine kicked in with a trip to the supermarket where we bought dinner, Bangers and Mash (or as Laura calls is, 'Banners and Mash - She cant pronouce her G's). She made up for her poor speaking with some excellent dinner. At 9pm we headed to the
local Penguin tour which took us to some private land by the coast where we saw loads and loads of little penguins. The bus nearly ran one over as we pulled in. It was really weird seeing penguins waddling around on mud and grass and it wasn't even cold. We were not allowed to use the flash on the cameras so couldn't really get any decent photos. They were really loud but were calm enough to walk around us and through peoples legs. After the tour we went back to the room about 11pm and hit the hay as we were getting up at 6am for our long trip to Cradle Mountain on the other side of Tasmania.
Day 73 will now be known as Disaster Saturday. After getting up at 545am and everyone a bit grumpy due to tiredness we hit the road and headed west. As we got to the car though, we realised someone (drunks probably) had but mud, gravel and stones over all the car windscreens and put the wipers up. At about 8am we stopped for petrol just outside Launceston. As me and Burns were paying a guy tapped us on the shoulder and pointed at our rear right tyre... It was flat as a pancake. Must have got the puncture in the petrol station as we would have noticed it when driving. This caused us to empty the car completely and Luke proceded to change the tyre in the rain and cold. We weren't having the best of mornings. We decided to drive to the airport as thats where we would drop the car off on Monday. We phoned the car company and after a very unhelpful conversation they told us to drive to Launceston to repair the flat. We drove there, found a tyre centre who removed the nail from our tyre and reinflated it. While this was going on our moods were lifted slightly as we had an interesting debate about how to say 'Almonds' (is it Ar-munds or All-munds?). After 20 minutes we were back on the road and stopped at a Coles Supermarket to buy some lunch. We got Ham, Bread, Lettuce, Crisps and Doughnuts. Luke bought a huge dairy milk and a snickers. We were worried the chocolate craze might be returning. After a short drive we stopped in a small town called Railton and had lunch. To our horror though, the Ham was no where to be seen. We searched high and low and literally emptied the car to find it as we couldn't work out how we had lost it between the checkout and the car. Tensions were running high, so we resorted to buying another pack of elusive ham. We then had ham sarnies in a muted silence. Once we had
finished we drove for 2 hours to Cradle Mountain. Our plan to arrive by 10am was a bit out as we got there about 3pm. We saw some Wallabies and Porcupines as we entered the park. After paying our fee, we rented a cabin which we got cheap as the woman only thought 4 of us would be using it. A walk followed as we explored the park and headed for wombat pool. The path was muddy and the weather cold and wet. On the way back we saw a massive wombat scratching his back on the wooden path, which led to us quoting Peter Griffin, 'Back-Scracther!'. Back in the cabin Coops set about making Spag Bol while we dried our clothes. After dinner I felt tired so had a nap while the others went out in the dark to try and see some wildlife. They apparently saw a Taz Devil but it ran away up a tree. The end of Disaster Saturday was made worse as the rooms were freezing, literally, and the matres was awful and my back felt like it was about to break.
Day 74 and I was once again first up with hellish back ache. To make things worse, it was freezing and the toilet was a 20 yard dash from our cabin. I had to brave it. We all had crumpets for breakfast, and whilst eating saw a Wallaby outside the window with a baby. We all took some photos as it came really close and didn't seem scared at all. After breakfast we drove to Dove Lake and did the walk around it which is a popular tourist route. It said it would take 2 hours, and we took this as a challenge. The walk was good as was the scenery, though it could easily be passed off as Scotland if someone showed me a picture. Cradle Mountain itself was pretty impressive though. After the lake we drove to a Tasmanian Devil centre where we sat down and watched a documentary about the animals. It felt like being back at uni in a boring lecture. Eventually we went into the park and saw some devils which were much larger than I imagined. After a while looking round we drove to Devonport on the North coast. After finding a supermarket, and making some sarnies for lunch, we found a park and parked up. Me Burns and Luke played some 'Fuudy' (Footy) as the aussies call it and also some frisbee in blustery conditions. The girls were boring and read their books in the car. Needing to find accommodation we checked into Devonport Backpackers and then agreed that us lads were to cook dinner. Our choice was a little optimistic, A Masaman Curry. We had them lots in Thailand and Malaysia and they were always superb. $20 dollars worth of ingredients later we were on the way back to the hostel when we decided to find some beer, and the best thing ever happened. We found a Beer Drive-Thru. It was a warehouse by the side of the road, you drove into either the 'Browse' or 'Express' lanes and bought your beer, and you were off. Brilliant! Not wanting to cook just then as we weren't hungry we drove to the beach and found a nice spot for yet more frisbee. The girls saw signs for a christmas carol sing along and decided to stay. Us lads, not wanting to be 'sad' headed back and prepared the Masaman. It was very important as the girls cooking had been so good we needed to step up. 2 Hours and several nervoues moments later we had cooked a massive dish of Beef, Peppers, Mushrooms, Potatos and dished this up with some not so good rice. After 5 years of cooking rice we still can't get it right! We had the beers, 2 Sols and 2 Changs and headed to bed.
Day 75 and it was our final day in Taz and we would be flying back to Melbourne at 8pm in the evening. Helen was developing a cold and wouldn't stop blowing her nose and sneezing. We finished off some left over Tea, Rice Crispies, and bread for breakfast. Luke had Bread dipped in Milk which was a new one to all of us, but we are used to his crazy ideas about food. His family have some amazing food and washing up rituals at home such as rolling dice to decide which of the 4 children washes up. On our way out of Devonport we stopped at a Chocolate factory, It was amazing. We went into the shop and saw the free samples and took full advantage. After getting full on chocolate we drove to LaTrobe, a suburb of Devonport as there is a Shop called Reliquaire. It was a crazy antiques and gift shop which sold everything you could imagine and was set in a old victorian style building. All the staff were dressed as pixies and fairy's and had maps cause the shop was so big and maze like. After the crazy shop we stopped at a Cheese factory, where yet again there were free samples which Luke and Burns devoured. There were also some crazy looking cows with artwork on and a bench designed for kids which we all tried to sit at but ended up hurting our legs. We found a Raspberry factory further down the road but alas, there were no free samples so we promptly left. Once we reached Launceston we parked up at the gorge where there was a Stairlift across the water, a grassy area and a public swimming pool. We paid for a return across the stairlift but soon regreted it as it was slow and boring. In the end we walked back across. The weather was good so we got the frisbee out, yet again, and chilled out for a few hours. At about 5 we headed for the airport where we needed to drop the car off and check in. We were the only people in the terminal at one point, though it was a very small airport. After eating some pre made sarnies we played about on the laptop and looked at photos before getting on the plane. The flight was so short it seemed weird. After 20 minutes of flying at high altitude, we started the decent. During the flight Luke annoyed the lady next to him so much by playing with verlcrow on his seat, she got up and moved somewhere else. We collected our bags and got in a taxi to Melbourne City Centre. The taxi fare was going up 10 cent every second which waqs alarming but in the end the taxi was only a few quid each! We checked into the hostel on Spencer Street, and managed to wangle a 6 bed dorm when we had booked into a 12 bed. We bought some food from the 7-Eleven, messed about on the internet and then headed to bed. The trip to Taz was awesome and well worth the trip, and the car hire was a definate bonus point. The plan was to spend the next 2 days in Melbourne before heading to Sydney on the 18th.