Hobart, September 2017

The place in Australia that I wanted to visit most was Tasmania because it was an island state and seemed more rugged and wild. Plus, people rarely went there while visiting Australia, and I wanted to be one of the few. I was staying in Hobart, the capital of Tasmania, which allowed me access to all the natural excursions I wanted to see around the island. After my amazing adventure on Australia’s mainland, it was an easy plane ride to Hobart from Melbourne. True to my friend’s word, Melbourne’s favorite donut shop was Krispy Kreme. I saw a huge line at the airport’s Krispy Kreme and there was a woman on my flight bringing back a box full to her family in Tasmania.

Even though I already had an Australian tattoo, Tasmania was the only Australian state I heard about as a child and always thought of it as its own country, so I wanted one from there as well. The obvious image connected to Tasmania was a devil, although I did not want the actual Tasmanian devil as my Hobart tattoo, nor did I want Taz from Looney Tunes. Instead, I wanted a cute, mischievous-looking devil. I was late to my tattoo appointment, but I let the artist know in advance about my estimated arrival time. I was thankful that I did so because she later complained about all the lateness and no shows that she had to deal with.

I arrived at Tassie Ink, and met the shop’s only artist, Candice Cordwell. I found a rough sketch of a little Kewpie doll style devil on Pinterest, as well as a tattoo in a similar style, and had sent them to her as references for what I wanted. She brought over the exact Pinterest image and showed it to me as my tattoo design. I was disappointed that she had not drawn up an original design and I wanted to say something about it, but I hesitated and she kept moving forward with the setup and the stencil and everything else, and I just stood there silently. Although I did not talk to her about the tattoo itself, we had a nice conversation throughout the piece. We talked about adopting our dogs and wondered at how people could ever give up their pets in the first place. She would soon be leaving the tattoo profession because she was having a child, which she never thought she would have, but life is surprising. She said that she would eventually go back to tattooing because she loved it so much.

On the way to the tattoo shop, I had passed an Irish pub touting itself to be the best little pub in town with a sign that said “← nice drinks ↑ dunno… maybe bears wouldn’t risk it.” After checking into my hotel, which was also a Japanese restaurant, I headed to that pub for my post-tattoo pint and looked into options of what to do around Hobart. My friend Emma had suggested that I go to MONA, the Museum of Old and New Art, and as much as I am not a museum person, the ferry ride there looked fun and the place seemed weird enough that I thought it might be worthwhile. I finished my pint and walked over to the harbor to obtain my ferry ride and museum ticket and bought a haloumi sandwich to eat while I waited. The catamaran taking customers to the museum was painted in camouflage on the outside and had graffiti and art all over its walls on the inside. I had a beer on the ferry and took photos of sheep seats and the paintings on the boat.

The museum itself was full of odd pieces and questionable art installations like the vagina walls and the poop machine. My favorite pieces were the word waterfall and the fat car. As I wandered around, I saw a door and line outside of it and although I did not know what I was waiting for, I stood in line with everyone else. Some people in front of me went in and hurriedly left and others looked nervous before and after entering. It was my turn to go in and I was shown a map of the inside and warned not to fall into the water. Still not knowing what to expect, I opened the extremely heavy door and walked in. Inside, I found a dark, quiet room with an almost video game aspect to it. I fully expected a boss to jump out of the water and looked around for a weapon to fight it. I had to cross several floating blocks to get to the center, which housed a couple of tombs. It was the death chamber and I was glad to have come across it. The ferry ride back was cold and rainy, but still enjoyable. As I had an early morning excursion the next day and I was feeling a bit sick, I went back to my hotel, turned up the heat, and had a good night’s sleep.

I went to the meeting point for the excursion, which was a cruise around the Tasman Peninsula. We first stopped for tea and a muffin, and then met up with the rest of the people joining us for the boat ride. I was expecting a quiet, relaxing, nature cruise around the coastline, but saw the speedboat and became a little nervous. It was small, with low sides, and I cannot swim and am afraid of the water. But, as with anything else, I braced myself and went along with it. We were told that it could get super rocky in the front of the boat, but would not be as bad in the back of the boat. Everyone else filled up the back, so I ended up sitting in front of them, which was fortunately still toward the middle of the boat.  We were offered ginger pills to prevent motion sickness and I readily took them. I was grateful for them later as it was quite choppy and I knew I would have been ill without them. It was also quite cold and would be wet on the water, so they provided us with these enormous overcoats which impressively stopped the wind and kept us cozy.

As the boat started across the water, I held on as best as I could, but soon wanted to stand up and move around as I saw the incredible scenery around me. The rocky coastline was spectacular and the boat sped in and around caves and eroded rock formations standing majestically out of the water. One of the areas was a combination of the Cliffs of Moher and Giant’s Causeway, with the hexagonal basalt columns rising up high out of the water. We also saw a couple of whales and one of them even breached. I only captured the very end of the splash on camera, but the glorious sight of that giant body leaping out of the water will be forever etched in my memory. We also saw seals basking in the sun and they watched us as much as we watched them, coming into the water and swimming around us. By the middle of the trip, I was sitting up in the second row of the boat, with a young girl who sat by herself right up in front. As we went deeper into the water and away from the coastline, the waves were quite high, and it was a scary, but exhilarating roller coaster ride back to the dock.

The tour allowed for the option of seeing Port Arthur and I considered doing it, but then changed my mind and stayed on the basic tour. I was glad of my decision, because the girl from the front of the boat, Amy, did the same, and we had a hot lunch provided. We were then taken to see Remarkable Cave, named so because of the opening’s resemblance to the outline of Tasmania. We also toured a lavender farm and tried some lavender ice cream, and tried some chocolate at the Federation Chocolate Factory. After picking up the rest of the group at Port Arthur, which looked uninteresting from afar, we traveled back to Hobart. On the way back, we saw an echidna crossing the road, which had the cutest waddle ever. Amy and I then met up at the Irish pub where we incredibly saw three other pink-haired ladies that night. We also ended up meeting a guy who used to work there who kindly bought us pints and told us more about the pub and living in Hobart. It was too expensive to eat in the pub and we could not find a late night food spot as everything in Hobart closed early, so we tipsily parted ways as we were both headed to different parts of the world the next day. Amy was from England, but living in the Netherlands, and I hope to see her in Amsterdam sometime soon.

I had booked an all day excursion to Mt. Wellington, Tahune Airwalk and Hastings Caves, but my flight to Melbourne was moved up by three hours and I had to cancel it. I tried to find a shorter, half-day excursion, but unfortunately they were all canceled due to lack of interest. I was very disappointed because I love caves and especially wanted to do the airwalk, which was an elevated path through the forest. I had to make the most of the last day, however, and so I ended up booking a bus to the top of Mt. Wellington and back. I had hoped to hike up to the peak or even walk there and back, but was nervous about missing my flight. I thought I would at least walk back down, but after finding out how cold it was at the top, where it was snowing, and finding no visible trail leading down, I hopped back on the bus and went to the airport to fly back to Melbourne.

That night would be my last in Australia and I really wanted to try kangaroo meat, so I found a bar with kangaroo kabobs on their menu and called to make sure they were still serving food. I only had an hour to get there, so I quickly freshened up, grabbed an Über, and went. I arrived to a nearly empty bar and was told they had already stopped serving food. It was a holiday that day and they had stopped serving an hour earlier than usual, which the girl who answered the phone had apparently forgotten about. I missed out on dinner and wasted money on car rides and went back to my hotel hungry and upset. The next day, on my way to New Zealand, I found some kangaroo jerky in the airport and tried it and did not like it at all. I also tried emu and crocodile jerky and was only able to finish the crocodile, which tasted like chicken.

Although I did not get to see much in Tasmania thanks to the cancelled excursions, I still enjoyed my visit and made a new friend out of it. My Hobart tattoo was not exactly what I wanted and I hated myself for not saying anything about the design and ending up with a Pinterest tattoo. But I appeased myself in that it was an image that I had chosen because I liked it initially, and the artist rendered it well. I might add a tail to make it look more like a devil rather than a dark angel. For some reason, the image I sent her did not have a tail, although the original image that I found did. Regardless, I like its off-center placement on my arm and how dark it healed.

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