Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Land of the Tasmanian Devil

This past week I made a small trip to Tasmania to see my friend Ella. After only getting 2 hours sleep I boarded a plane, which seemed like ages ago since I was last on one, and flew to Hobart. Ella hired a car and picked me up at the airport. We went to Salamanca Square and had lunch at a launderette turned café. The square was very cute and had a few art galleries and restaurants. After stuffing my face we made our way to Ella’s hometown in Burnie. You hear tons of things about Tassie, jokingly of course, how its full of bogans and incest and some wonder why you would want to go. I found Tassie to be absolutely beautiful and a breath of fresh air. It’s not very populated and really spread out with tons of farms, small towns and vineyards. I asked Ella if it’s very common to have a farm and she said it was. Her parents have a farm, her uncle has a farm and a couple of aunts have a farm and most of her friends have a farm. Its crazy really but makes Tassie a really green and beautiful place.

The next day we went to her grandparents’ house for some lunch. They were some of the sweetest people I’ve met and so welcoming. Then we were off to see one of her family’s horse race, which was an entirely new experience for me. It was really exciting and it was everything that I’ve heard about the races, well except no big hats for the women. After the races, we went to their farm where they keep most of their horses. We went into some of the paddocks and I met some of their horses, such as Super, Jimmy Becket, Kade One Nut and many others. I believe it was Super who started eating Ella’s jacket and actually ripping the fir off the hood. She told me that one time a horse actually unzipped her jacket completely, so this must be a common theme. After the farm we went back to her house and her mom made a delicious fish dinner for us. Her dad brought up a couple bottles of very nice wine from his cellar, which was very very tasty. After cleaning up, Ella and I rugged up and went wallaby hunting in her backyard. It was so cool seeing these animals that look like kangaroos hopping around, you could even hear them hopping with a big thud every time they landed on the ground. I got so excited I actually started hopping with them. Yes, I’m a dork.

After a good nights sleep, Ella and I headed off for a small road trip to her uncles farm in Smithton. On our way we stopped along a beautiful beach called Boats Harbor and then drove to Stanley. In Stanley they have this mountain, which I guess is technically a volcano, that they call The Nut. We hiked to the top and walked around for a bit trying to stand up right in the strong winds. Since this was right on the coast, we had a perfect view of the endless ocean on one side and miles of greenery and farms on the other. What a beautiful contrast. We headed back down to the main strip and had a wonderful lunch in small café before making our way to Smithton. Before we arrived to her uncles, I decided to get a haircut. Because of the strong winds from The Nut, my hair was extremely tangly and the lady got so bluntly frustrated with my hair and after drowning it in conditioner and trying her luck with a comb, Ella ran to the car to get my brush so I could brush it out for her, which only took a minute for me to do. We arrived at her uncle’s farm, where they farm wagyu cattle, a delicacy in Japan, and had some wagyu steak for dinner. It was very tender and full of flavor. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to venture out to his island (he actually owns two islands) so we went to the local basketball game instead before heading off for bed.

The next day Ella and I made her Uncle blueberry pancakes and set off to Sisters Beach where we had lunch with her Aunt, a woman with a lot of personality and bling bling. She was so nice and so much fun to talk to. Everyone in her family has been so welcoming to me and one day I hope I can return the favor to Ella. After saying our goodbyes, we went to Anvers Chocolate Factory and had free tasting of delicious truffles and fudges. Then we went to Ghost Rock Vineyard where we tasted some wine before sitting down on the outside patio enjoying a glass of pinot noir and an antipasto platter. The weather was beautiful this day and the sun was shining without a cloud in the sky. It was a perfect ending to a nice visit with Ella in Tasmania. She dropped me off at the airport in Launceston where I caught my flight home back to Melbourne.

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