Published: January 20th 2011January 17th 2011
Central Plateau - strange and weird! (New Norfolk to Devonport)
Another early rising and a delicious cup of tea, then out into the town to seek breakfast. Choices seem to be Banjos (a bit underwhelmed by our Banjos breakfast yesterday) and a cutesy little cafe called "The Cake Lady". Lotsa yummy looking homemade cakes but also toasties, rolls, pies...proprietor was extremely chatty and in no hurry to take our order. Eventually she drew a breath and I interjected "we would like to order a bacon and egg roll"! I had a perfect chicken cheese and tomato toasty. Eric had a bacon, egg and cheese roll, found the bacon a little too crispy but otherwise good. Tea was splendid also. I take back all the disparaging things I have previously said about English breakfast tea, as I have now had several good examples of it in Tasmania.
Gathered a few provisions from the local supermarket and headed back to the pub to pack up. I headed down to the "sittin' room" as it was described to us and set about heating up the soup in the microwave to fill our thermos for lunch. Before I spotted the microwave yesterday, my
intention had been to pop the soup tin onto one of the public barbies in the park adjacent to the pub but the microwave option seemed easier. Microwave was firstly situated on top of the fridge, above eye level for me so I pulled up a chair to make the boiling soup proceedings a little safer. Next hurdle was the fact that the microwave whirred contentedly for around four seconds, then switched off and all the numbers flashed zeros.....?? Turned it back on and it did the same. Repeated this process a dozen or so times, each time hopping off the chair and standing way back in case it should decide to explode into a radioactive fireball...then I tried the approach of pushing all the presets, in case one of them would work for longer...eventually found one that stayed on and just whirred around. After five minutes or so the soup was boiling merrily and I turned it off, grateful to have finished the process unscathed.
Tumbled all our possessions back into the car. (We have : two reasonably large suitcases, a big stripey bag full of pillows (one pillow each and my "bed buddy" pillow), our laptop bag,
cooler bag, guitar and ukulele boxes and a couple of handbag/manbags - I have laid the back seat of the Rio down and there is plenty of room to slot it all in neatly.) Yesterday from our room window Eric pointed out a wild apricot tree on the slope below the pub and I have vowed to forge a way to it and have a closer look (yes, I have never seen apricots on the tree before) so we strike out up a steep slope through the longish grass and manage to get proximate to it. None of the fruit is ripe but it is still exciting!
In the car and stopped back into town to have a look at a few of the many junk/antique shops that New Norfolk is known for. A lady in the first one tells me that there are 17 of them in town and we need to look through them all. We look at 2 and they are very interesting, but seem quite expensive compared to the ones dotted all over the Barossa Valley, another mecca of second hand shops. We didn't buy anything and headed off the find a lookout I have read
about - Pulpit Rock Lookout. It is easy to find and the view is indeed spectacular.
Our work in New Norfolk is done. We hook up with the road that will take us through the central Plateau, and by the Great Lake where we plan to have a picnic lunch. We are soon driving between immense fields of swaying white flowers and we are discussing what they might be, when we come across a sign saying "Warning - inappropriate use of the crop can cause death"- opium poppies. I read recently that Tasmania now supplies 3/4 of the world's opiates, and it is a thriving industry in a state which is struggling financially.
Beyond here lies one of the strangest landscapes I have ever seen. From the quite gentle scenery around New Norfolk, the landscape becomes increasingly stark, with unfamiliar, hardy, low lying vegetation dotted about. In some places there are large hills of strange geological shapes and structures. It is grey and bleak and windy, and utterly strange. It gave me a sense of "badlands". When we catch sight of the lake, it is immense, a cold pale blue colour and the surface is ruffled and disturbed
by the wind. We pull into a long lakeside strip of shacks and houses, with a narrow gravel road winding through it and find a place we suspect may be someone's driveway, and set about our picnic. The lake stretches away out of sight in every direction, and the shores are bare and gravelly, and the surface is slightly blurred in the distance by windswept spray. To me it does not look the slightest bit appealing as a place to go boating/ fishing, but I know lots of people disagree.
The wind is howling and there is an occasional spray of rain so we decide a car picnic is the order of today. First course - thermos pea and ham soup. Inexplicably not hot (something VERY weird about that microwave) but still delicious. Then a little collection of the food treasures we have been hoarding the past few days : pork rilletes, polish sausage, vine leaf wrapped Bruny Island cheese, some salad leaves, some fresh bread rolls from the bakery in New Norfolk.*happy does not describe it*
Then more driving through an ever-stranger landscape. I have just simply never seen anything like it, wild and unsettling and I
could not take my eyes off it. We finally started to descend and popped out into the immensely civilised, gentle, soothing and reassuring town of Deloraine. The last time we were in Tassie we stopped in Deloraine to buy some beers from the pub and we were amused to find a large, high-spirited bogan gathering outside and distracted by amusement at bogans, I did not notice how very beautiful Deloraine is. We stopped to admire a gorgeous old church and its little tumbledown graveyard, but then were driven back into the car by an icy wind.
Destination for today : Devonport. We have not been before and I have read many comments along the lines of "Catch or disembark from the Spirit of Tasmania in Devonport, but do not linger before/after". First impressions are positive - a busy, hearty working port, with all the not-too-elegant infrastructure that that entails, but the waterway has been scenically landscaped, with green parks on either bank, and there is a pretty little lighthouse jutting out into the channel. Signs warn of possible large wash from boats entering, and one sign forbids you to go further when a boat is entering or departing. The
town itself is a perfectly presentable residential town - shops, services, schools, houses in the suburbs (well maintained house and suburbs, in fact);however it is true that there is little to interest or satisfy the standard tourist. We are not that kind of tourist and we like Devonport.
We have an onsite van booked at the Abel Tasman Caravan Park, which is in a nice position on the mouth of the river. The lady in the office said to me "I did tell you the vans are old, didn't I? It's just that we have a lot of trouble with people...it's mostly the husbands you know". I relay this to Eric and spend the rest of the evening saying "Now stay calm, husband" and he periodically threatens to go down to the office and give them a lot of trouble. There are a few things that we could have given them a little trouble about. Our TV didn't work, and we had planned to watch a little of the first night of the Australian Open....but we probably could have gone back to the office to report this fault and ask for an exchange TV, and we were too lazy
to do so, so we must not have wanted to watch it that badly...when Eric starting prepping dinner, we uncovered the cutting board in the bottom of a cupboard, covered in a half-centimetre thick layer of congealed grease.
I took it to the camp kitchen to scrub it, reasoning that there was hot water over there that would greatly aid the task. Even with hot water it took repeated application of water and much scrubbing and rinsing and rescrubbing before I felt happy to have my meal prepared on it. There was a guy preparing his dinner in the camp kitchen and I am sure he must have wondered how/why a person could wash a single cutting board for fifteen minutes. I had the chance to observe that this (handsome *completely irrelevant but true detail*) young fellow was making toast. I saw him spread marmalade on his two slices on toast, then lay them out on a plate and sit down and eat them with a knife and fork....I wondered if this was all the dinner he had, and eating them with knife and fork made them seem more like a meal? He then returned to his tiny, one-body shaped
tent beside our van, applied some chapstick to his lips (I was pleased for him that even if he only had toast and jam for dinner, at least he still had some chapstick! And I saw he had a jar of vegemite too. All was not lost!!) read his book for a few minutes, then zipped himself into the coccoon and was not seen again for the night (only 8pm and still bright daylight - I imagined him hurrying off to bed and off to sleep to reduce the amount of time spent grieving for his empoverished existence, and to ensure he was asleep before hunger returned. None of this was probably true, but it is a game we both like to play with people we see round).
Spent my first solid hour getting acquainted with our new baby Tanglewood (ukulele, for those who have just joined us, and welcome!) while Eric prepped a spectacular meal (ahh cooking, how much we have missed you!) I had printed some chord charts and a few simple beginning pieces to work on while we were here. I had a run through all of them : "I'll Follow the Sun", "Beyond the Sea",
"Margaritaville" and a version of "A Voice in the Wilderness" that I had the guitar chords for. Ukulele chords are so easy!! After struggling with the intricacies of guitar chords for a decade, made more of a struggle by having reasonable small hands, I rejoice in ukulele chords. Take any chord - yep, can do. Summary - the uke and I had a lovely time. I am sure we will have many happy hours together.
We agreed that it seems ridiculous to cook and eat dinner in the bright afternoon sun and that we would wait until a more civilised, darker environment came along. I have come to the conclusion that I do not enjoy daylight saving. I do not much like daylight, and there is already more than enough of the stuff without saving more of it up for the end of the day. Let's have it in the morning, when I am still sleeping! Anyway, eventually it got dark and we feasted on Rare Foods pork and fennel sausages we bought at Salamanca Markets - delicious. The pork was tender and tasty, there was a satisfying amount of fennel flavour (I love fennel and usually wish there
was more) but we both found them surprisingly salty. We had boiled teeny tiny pink eye potatoes (about the size of marbles) dressed with garlic butter, steamed silverbeet with onion, butter and a tiny bit of yoghurt, steamed sugar snap peas and crisp, fresh baby carrots that we bought with waving fronds still attached. Fabulous meal, the first opportunity we have had to revel in the spanking fresh local produce lying about all over this foodie paradise!
Tucked ourself into our caravan cave and slept peacefully, despite the fact there was a disturbing amount of adult running footsteps pounding around outside and one large bang and something hit the van. We have stayed in a few unsettled caravan parks before. Once, in a desolation row van park in Taree, I heard running footsteps and then a conversation right outside our wall - "Quick -let's hide it under here!" then a few more strange sounds and more running away. Soon afterwards I heard banging on various doors across the park - police search perhaps? I stayed inside, and went to sleep, and that is all. And that was all this night as well.
There are more photos below