Back on the ship in the Arctic, Sylvia and I (and her husband Roy) would spend many nights at the Polar Bar with the staff, one in particular being Scobie. We would make plans to visit each other, Scobie in Tasmania, Sylvia and Roy in Brisbane, and me in New York. We would even make plans to visit Guy in Seychelles and Garnet in the Philippines. But, these kinds of plans are usually things you make when you’re a few beers in and actually believe that you will all keep in touch. But, sober, I still wished it would happen and thought to myself that if I could change my flight back to NY for a minimal cost, then it would be meant to be. Well, it was.
Me: “So, I’m going to Tasmania to visit a friend.”
Friend: “Wait, are you going on a safari?”
Me: “I would…if I were going to Tanzania…”
I met up with Sylvia on a Melbourne layover before we both flew to Hobart to see Scobie. It had been about 3 months since we all last saw each other but, those 3 months felt like years and seeing them again was very heartfelt. Time sure is a funny thang.
Scobie then picked us up at the airport and we wondered what people thought about this older white man leaving with two younger Asian girls. And, then I wondered if we were the only ones being self-conscious about it. It’s quite possible.
When we arrived at his house, a giant Costco 24-pack of Guinness was waiting for me. Probably the best welcome package I’ve ever received. What would make it better? Well, I wouldn’t mind a million dollars just waiting in a leather briefcase for me. It doesn’t even have to be a leather briefcase. A duffel will do. Or plastic bags. Yea, I’ll accept that, too. Actually, I can just carry it in my arms. I’ll even take Canadian dollars. Thanks. I like to keep it low maintenance.
Scobie and Sylvia on the Tahune Airwalk, a swinging footbridge through a forest of some damn tall trees.
Very cool suspension bridge
We spent a good few minutes trying to get our respective currencies onto the top of this Wishing Tree. It’s definitely an excellent ploy to get competitive people to donate more money than they expect to, like one of those claw toy-grabbing machines…except for an actual good cause. I’d hate to be the guy hired to collect the change, particularly the ones that didn’t make it onto the tree.
Along this walk, we passed a “manfern,” described as:
“Dicksonia antarctica. This is one of a variety of tree ferns. They prefer to live by creeks and gullies and are common in wet forests.”
I imagine some bored botanist giggled to himself as he wrote this description, wondering if anyone would ever get the sexual innuendo. Well, Mr. Botanist. I sure did.
Many of these logs had large round fungi growing along its trunk and I was so tempted to go Bruce Lee on them all and kick them off, but Sylvia and Scobie did not seem amused by the idea. Yea, I should leave nature alone. But, it was like wanting to pick a scab off, you know?
Picton Forest landscape.
In the distance, underneath the mountain peaks, is where the Picton and Huon Rivers meet. Now that I’m typing this out, it sounds pretty romantic. Aw, nature.
This is…Port Huon. If I could write a more obvious statement, I actually would.
At night, the 3 of us fell into a routine of huddling by the furnace in Scobie’s house, drinking beer and talking about life. It was fun hearing about Scobie’s research days on Antarctica and also his love life back in the day. You see, on the ship, he was quite the lady magnet. One old lady (one of my 3 roommates) ended up ripping her waterproof pants which Scobie mended with a piece of duck tape. After that incident, I didn’t hear the end of it about how sweet of a man he is, and I definitely saw an extra spring in her step. She even gave him a bottle of wine as gratitude. For just duck taping her pants. Scobie’s still got it.
The Richmond Bridge is the oldest bridge in Australia. We also visited the nearby historic Richmond Gaol, which we normal people would spell as “jail.” And, after looking at and reading about the cells in which the prisoners were held and then finding out what they were convicted for, I felt really glad to be born in modern times. Then again, after watching Making a Murderer on Netflix, I’m scared to shits again.
We then stumbled into a liquor store that was having a whisky tasting and, I got to try the Tasmania-exclusive Sullivans Cove American Oak, Single Cask whisky. Delicious, and a nice remedy to being scared shitless.
Back to Hobart…
Waterworks Reserve – constructed in the 1860s, “the Waterworks reservoirs captured the flow of creeks and rivers rising on the higher slopes of Mt. Wellington. Flowing via a network of stone and timber troughs and channels, the gathered waters arrived at the Receiving House, where today it serves as an interpretation centre explaining the curious history of his important and historic site.”
I wonder what they mean by “curious history?” Did something weird happen here? Perhaps better not to know.
An old man came walking past at a hurried pace and all the birds by the water went cuckoo (PUN).
Old man: “It’s because I’m running late,” as he reached into his bag, grabbed handfuls of bread pieces and threw them onto the ground.
“I have to rush off to the wallaby now. He was expecting me 10 minutes ago.”
Can you spot the itty bitty little bird on the branch there? With a little red on its chest? After spending a few days with 2 bird experts, I found myself taking more and more shots of birds and just paying more attention to their existence in general. I guess after learning to ignore the everyday urban pigeon, I’ve forgotten to pay attention to birds in general.
In a nearby gift shop, Scobie picked out a book on birds from the shelf, found a particular page and showed us photos and/or excerpts that were sourced to him. So cool. He then told us a story (which I hope I’m remembering correctly) about a professor he had back in university, one of those extremely smart, but tough professors. You know, the assholey, scary ones who either really grind your gears and make you want to cry or, light the fire under your ass to really work hard and make you want to prove your worth? He had one of those who taunted him about writing his thesis. It turned out that Scobie had written his thesis on time and so well and surprised the guy that they maintained their mentor/mentee friendship long after school ended. Badassery right there.
Kingston Beach, whose shore was littered with sea kelp that had washed ashore. And, within these massive piles of sea kelp are these really cool air pocket pods which help keep the kelp close to the surface when in the water. If you step violently or jump up and down on these air pockets, you get the same glorious sensation as popping bubble wrap in massive quantities. For some reason, I’m the only one who seems to get excited about this.
When we first arrived to the top of Mt. Wellington, literally nothing was visible. The entire surrounding area was just covered in gray clouds so thick that the only indicator of being on top of the mountain was the high winds. Eventually though, that cloud layer lifted for a short while, and you could see the separation of the ground and sky. I froze my hands standing out there to take this photo.
The views from Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), a museum with both an eclectic and eccentric mix of artwork. It was definitely an interesting experience walking through the exhibits with Scobie given that some of them were just outright weird and let’s just say…too modern. Marina Abramović’s Private Archaeology was also quite strange. I just left the museum feeling strange. Period. To make matters weirder, two ducks went into a serious fighting match on the nearby lawn, just all up in each other’s business.
We ended with a stop at the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens before heading to the airport.