Friday, September 01, 2006

1 - September 2006

After another great buffet breakfast at Freycinet Lodge, we hit the road toward our next destination: Cradle Mountain. We opted for the longer, more scenic route up the coast, and Mike perfected his other-side-of-the-road driving skills. Everyone drives quite fast here (typical highway speeds are 100 km/hr, and the fastest posted limit we've seen is 110, which converts to 68+ miles/hr; but people drive that and faster on even the narrowest, windiest roads), and I guess it's catchy--Mike's even passing slower drivers up now with ease!

The views from the car were gorgeous. We wound our way through many lazy coastal towns (some reminded us of Pacifica, CA) and mining and logging towns, and we passed countless fields of sheep as far as the eye could see (we'd like to know the sheep-to-people ratio in Tassie), just about as many cows, and quite a few miniature horses. 'Tis the season for babies, too: we spotted many adorable lambs and calves.

We drove through some whipping wind storms, and the whitecaps and mist along the bright blue South Pacific couldn't have been prettier (especially from the warmth of the car). Everything became much more green and lush as we headed north, too. The trees got taller and fuller and more varied, and there were giant ferns and mounds of bright yellow, ruffled daffodils.

They don't exploit the natural beauty here on Tasmania (license plates, or "registers," read, "Tasmania--your natural state"). You don't find giant hotels at every spectacular view (it wouldn't be possible--the views are spectacular everywhere you look!), and the homes are extremely modest and plain. Even the cars are purely practical. We haven't seen a big or fancy home or expensive car since Hobart.

We've also noted that there seems to be virtually no law enforcement presence here--while we've seen a police station or two on the island, we haven't run into a single policeman, patrol car, or security officer yet!

As we headed inland, we hit the Pyengana Cheese factory for a cheddar tasting (yum!) and picked up some goodies for the road. Then we lucked into stopping on the side of the road for a brief walk called the Weldborough Pass Rainforest Walk--what a treat to meander through those ancient myrtles and massive ferns!

After that, we proved our intense dedication to you, dear blog readers. It had been several days since you'd heard from us (thanks to poor and/or nonexistent Internet connections), and we hated for you to worry. So when we spotted the Online Access Centre at the Scottsdale library (with all of about 5 racks of books--we're talking a tiny place!), we just had to pop in with our trusty iPod (onto which we'd uploaded our blog entries and photos in advance--are we good or what?!). We sat there for 2-1/2 hours of uploading for you, folks (man, are photos slow)! They charged us all of $6, and we finished just in time for the place to turn into after-school entertainment for the local boys who obviously come daily to play a networked, first-person shooter game.

Our resting spot for the night was a remote and super-cool wildlife retreat called Lemonthyme Lodge in Moina, just outside Cradle Mountain. To get there, you head down an 8-km gravel road that seems to go on forever, especially in the dark when the animals are most active. Our tree-top cabin has a cozy fireplace and even warmers under the tiles in the bathroom.

During dinner at the lodge, they brought in a Rufus wallaby (aka Tasmanian pademelon) named Oscar, who they'd rescued two months ago when his mom was killed by a car. They initially bottle-fed him and will soon release him back safely into the wild. But we suspect he'll always have an affinity for the humans at Lemonthyme, as do the other local wallabies who get fed there each night (there must have been a dozen tonight).

There was also a very curious and cute brush-tail possum on the porch railing at the feeding. Mike was so taken by him that he couldn't help but reach out and pet him. He was amazed by how soft the little guy was, and he urged me to pet him, too. I didn't want to--I felt that because he was a wild animal, it wouldn't be respectful. But Mike kept pushing, so I finally went for it. And he bit me! That'll teach me to trust Mike....

More on how to speak Australian:
--"ATM" = "handy bank"
--"how are you?" or "how's it going?" = "how're ya going?"
--"toothbrush" = "toothbrush" (okay, okay)
--"throwaway airline footies" = "socket" (aHA!)
--"Burger King" = "Hungry Jacks"

Today's signs of the day:

(Look how mighty those 'roos are--they can lift cars!)


Sonya said...

So you've discovered McD is a little different, and that Burger King is Hungary Jacks....make sure you check out KFC to. They sell chips (fries) that come with a tasty seasoning. Everyone goes to KFC for their chicken burgers and chips.

8:29 PM  

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