Tuesday 19th November
We decided it was just as easy to try the little café attached to our hotel for our breakfast today. The only thing of remark was that god made our coffee for us. Well, you’d have sworn that was the case because the coffee machine was practically up another floor! This was my idea of a discrete photo of the coffee maker ROFL
And the reason he was up there was because he served takeaway drinks from a little window that was just the right height for pedestrians – and the large number of speeding push-bikes out there – to buy from. Fascinating! For our meal, I had a fried egg on Turkish bread with some mushrooms and David had poached eggs, bacon and avocado on Turkish – yum yum!
We then got our walking gear and checked with reception that there would be no tricks to avoid in walking to the Tasman Bridge. We wanted to go over it, check out those blasted traffic lights, and see the views from the very top of the bridge. We felt quite excited about it! Mr Reception told us to head up Davey Street – see, I told you that leads to everywhere – and keep going in a straight line and we couldn’t go wrong.
We headed off, in a straight line, and soon the footpath ran out, leaving us choices of walking along a very narrow edge next to the busy highway, or turning down hill over some grass towards the river – we decided on that and found a cycle path, which explained where all the speeding cyclists were coming from to cross the front of our hotel and/or stop for coffee from the high server in ‘our’ café.
It was quite a long trek along here but we broke it up with taking photos of flowers, the river, and a surprise train that came along between us and the water and delighted David. It was a goods train. To the best of my knowledge there are no passenger trains at all in Tasmania.
As I was taking a photo of this dandelion (and hoverfly) a man came along and said “Do you know what you’re looking at?” and I said “Not really” – because that’s the best way to get more information. He told me this was a West Australian dandelion, to which I replied, as politely as I could “Is it? I’ve never seen one like this!” But he assured me that the deserts are laden with them and he saw millions of them as he drove around Oz with his wife. He was very friendly but we were actually starting to wonder if we’d have to edge away when he waved us a cheery farewell and was on his way.
Then I saw some poppies – oh heaven, oh rapture!
Eventually David dragged me onwards and even more eventually the bridge came into sight. It was still quite a walk and we had no choice but to walk under it, at which point there was a bit of a tunnel/doorway which I felt would be the way to the path across the right-hand side of the bridge. David did not. So I was a good wife and meekly followed up a steep path, and then we had to cross a road. I was appeased by laughing at, and being a bit afraid of, a sign, and then by seeing a mass of pink climbing geranium flowers cascading so beautifully down the steep embankment between a higher road and the one we were on.
We followed the path over the road and soon ended up on the left-hand side of the bridge. Not the side we wanted, but it would do.
The bridge held many surprises, most of them things I’m going to moan about, so consider yourself warned 😀 The most obvious problem, which took a whole split millionth of a second to suss out, was that the footpath/cycleway was so incredibly narrow that 2 pedestrians would be hard pushed to pass one another, let alone a pedestrian and a bike or, worse, 2 cyclists!!! We were absolutely ‘gob smacked’ (as the British would say). How can anyone with half a brain – I’m sorry, but that’s the truth! – design a bridge with such ridiculously narrow footpaths, never mind to expect cyclists to use it as well.
The second problem was almost as glaringly obvious and that was the thick railings and the huge, solid metal railings that completely obliterated the view for anyone less than about 6’ 6” tall to see over them. Such a huge shame when this bridge could have had the most amazing views of the suburbs, mountains, river and city! So here’s what we did see…
A few glimpses in the narrow gap between the top 2 railings; if we ducked down a little. Thanks Mr Bridge-Designer – nice work! Not a single thought given to anyone good enough not to use the Earth’s resources to get around.
We had a pedestrian overtake us at one point and we backed tightly against the railings to allow her to pass. Then a bicycle rider approached. We flattened ourselves more and he shocked us by actually managing to cycle past without dismounting, or crashing. The railing between the footpath and the vehicles was actually the perfect height for an accidentally-unseated cyclist to go tumbling head first in front of the very next truck! Yup. One architect with the brains of a rocking horse!
The bridge was more than a kilometre long and surprisingly, we weren’t really aware of climbing to the top – not as regards it being a steep climb anyway. The walk really was spoiled by the lack of view and the incredibly narrow pathway though. And when we reached the far end there was no apparent way to cross to the other side for the return journey. There was a steep road on our left leading down to the river so we took that for the sake of something to do. There were a few more pretty flowers and David went to the end of the road to take some photos of the bridge itself.
We thought that this road may have led to the original bridge, which was knocked down by a ship back in 1975. 5th January – the day after David and I were married – no wonder I don’t remember hearing about it on the news! But searching the web just now, I see that the bridge is still what, and where it was – it was repaired after the disaster. They also added a ‘peak period lane’ for vehicles when they repaired the bridge, which is probably where the footpaths went! The Wikipedia articles about the Tasman Bridge disaster and the Bailey bridge put in place for the 2 years that the repairs took are really interesting. (But not interesting enough for you to abandon my story 🙂 )
Here were some wild flowers that I’d seen all over the place but for once I was close enough to be able to photograph them.
We soon got bored and walked under the bridge, past a school and then up an incredibly steep hill. It was only 100 metres in length but we were both puffing by the time we got to the top. Fortunately, David had been correct in his guess that this would lead us to the side of the bridge we wanted to be able to see Hobart as we crossed. If it wasn’t for the stupid railings!
Here’s how narrow the footpaths are. Both sides of the bridge were the same. I’d even go so far as to say that a single, wider footpath would have been a better decision than these 2 pathetic specimens.
The view of Hobart city would probably have been quite nice if we could have seen it well. I do harp on!!! 😉
So we returned to the original side of the bridge and found ourselves next to a fence and there were some oak trees (more raptures from me) and some cows, which had the same effect – I love cows! We wanted to go to the Botanical Gardens while we were in this neck of the woods and, surely, they were the other side of this fence. But there was no gate. I consulted Ms America, who told us that we had to walk to the left by about 750 metres, turn a sharp right and then come back on ourselves by 600 metres – not what I wanted to hear, I’d been fancying a view of a toilet sign since we got to the far side of the bridge!
But we got there and found the entrance to the Gardens. It turned out that the cows and the oak trees belonged to Government House, which looked a lot like a castle, and you can just make it out between the bridge pylons in the photo above the pink flowers. Cows, oaks and castle turrets are not what you expect to see just outside an Australian city.
The very kind lady at the Botanical Gardens gate directed us to the café and the ‘facilities’ so we both made ourselves comfortable before creaking our tired legs into a bent position into 2 chairs beside a table on the café verandah overlooking the gardens. Definitely a wonderful place to be and a wonderful view! And what are holidays for except to do things you wouldn’t do at home? For lunch, I ordered a carrot cake and David ordered a lemon brulee, which came in a glass like a trifle. We also had a coffee each. That carrot cake was the most amazing I have had, ever!!! So incredibly moist and with a surprising variety of fruits, such as dried apricots, it was beautiful. And very filling!
The bright, sunny day became humid and the sky began to darken and David managed to move me from this peaceful, relaxed and happy place by saying that if the rain arrived we wouldn’t be able to look around the gardens eeeeeekkkk!!!
We very quickly found ourselves standing next to a beautiful pink rhododendron bush. All rhododendrons are beautiful – they have long been my favourite flower, and the last time I saw one in real life was 42 years ago. I had seen some as we were driving around the previous day. Well, I’d seen a lot actually, but this was my first time of being close enough to touch, squeeeeeeeeeee!!!
I didn’t mention, but when we were on the top of Mt Wellington I had heard a very loud buzzing and then seen a very large, round, fat bee. Well here, the rhododendron flowers had quite a few of them and I was able to share the sight with David. These were ‘English bees’ – the little fluff ball ones, not the skinny things we have in Perth. I suppose, like everything else in Nature in Perth, the smaller the surface area, the less heat it attracts, which is a good thing in our summers. We both really enjoyed watching these bees and David tortured himself for ages trying to get a sharp photo of one. But it was not to bee – oh ha ha, I crack me up! Not really, but I couldn’t resist saying it. I didn’t do any better than David and this was my best shot of those gorgeous plump bees.
There was the most stunning lily pond just a few steps away with flag irises and a variety of other appealing flora, and then we wandered around the gardens a little, with one eye on the sky. There were little sprinkles of rain from time to time and we were very aware that we still had to walk back to the hotel yet. But I will be quiet for a while – can you believe it??? – and just show you some of the shots I got in the garden. The flowers were so very beautiful. And yes, I *will* be making a page for David to showcase some of his photos later. I’m so very, very proud of how his photography has improved and I do want to share! But I’ll keep mostly mine with the story, as usual.
And feel free to mentally insert several dozen more photos 😀
But truly, the weather was looking more and more threatening and even though it broke my heart to tear myself away from this beautiful garden without seeing more of it, I did not dare stay out and risk getting the cameras drowned. All I had was one large plastic shopping bag that both would have fitted in – but I don’t like living that riskily. Apparently this is Australia’s smallest official Botanical Garden, so I tried to be happy that I had seen most of it – maybe.
The journey back to our room went smoothly enough and we welcomed a nice cuppa and hot showers when we got there. We had walked 9.7 kms, so not a bad effort.
Drizzle had set in, and cold too, but we certainly didn’t want to be confined to our room so we ventured out to go and look at St David’s Cathedral. We could hardly miss David’s church could we? So we set off along Davey Street (just for a change ha ha!) and headed south. We found a water-fountain but it wasn’t as exciting as I’d hoped and we continued on.
As we passed the tourist information building we thought we’d better go in, not least to buy a National Parks pass. These are compulsory for all people or vehicles entering Tasmanian National Parks and are issued by surname and car registration number so we couldn’t even leave the remainder of its use for someone! It was $60 for a vehicle pass and entitled us to enter any and all of the parks for 3(?) months. We were there for 10 days!
We also decided to ask a few questions while we were there. The guy on the info counter gained our admiration for remaining calm when there was a big queue for him but, by the time we’d had to queue for him twice, and he’d been telling us information that we didn’t need, or ask for, we realised that it wasn’t ‘remaining calm’ it was, rather, an enjoyment at letting people wait for him. A big difference, and not worthy of admiration that’s for sure! We eventually managed to escape!
Once we found the cathedral… Well, it was one big fat disappointment. It looked derelict, with weeds growing on the steps and in the small garden and of course the doors were locked. It saddens me so much that churches have to lock their doors, but this didn’t look to be just shut up for the day. And it had started to rain a bit harder too.
We were rather purposeless really and wandered across the road to St David’s Park where I held my umbrella over my head by gripping the handle between my neck/chin/shoulder and defiantly took photos of more rhododendrons, so that was a happy task anyway. Do I or don’t I inflict some of those on you? Ha ha!
There were a few shrines to past church dignitaries in the garden, but we explored down some pretty stone steps at the back and found some interesting walls. It appears that they had rescued all of the headstones from a graveyard, we know not where, and turned them into ‘memorabilia artwork’. I have mixed feelings about this, and wonder what they did with the graves and remains, but that’s a topic outside the parameters of this story so I’ll move on.
The wind was cold enough for me to zip up my jacket and the rain was increasing again so we put our heads down under our umbrellas and tried to explore the city itself a bit. It was perhaps 4:30 by now and the paths had a comfortable number of people on them – busy enough, but not pushing and shoving.
Eventually we came upon a coffee place and decided that this would be a very good idea indeed. David had his signature long black and I had a hot chocolate – both were very nice and it filled in a bit of time because we didn’t have any other plans.
We walked through a shopping arcade and, as we looked at all the shop names, it was exactly the same as anywhere else in Australia, including home. David looked at the shop brands and said “Got it, got it, got it… too fat!” Meaning that the clothing shop in question was for people of size 8 and that I was not suited. Something tells me that my way with words is a little more polite than his! But I had to laugh.
Almost back at the hotel we decided that we would buy dinner from one of three fish and chip places. Now these are going to need description, *and* I’ll have to get a photo from David’s camera because mine was tucked away out of the rain by then.
In the harbour, meaning floating on the water itself, were 3 ‘shops’ that looked rather like caravans. I think the third one had seating, though most (if not all) of it was outside. We decided ‘what the heck’ and that we’d buy fish and chips from the closest one and take them back to our room.
The serving hatch was level with the floor for us and involved having to step onto a metal gangplank that looked a bit slippery in the rain. If we had slipped left or right we’d have ended up in the water between the harbour wall and the ‘boat shop thing’. If we’d slipped forwards we’d have shot, feet first into the serving hatch itself! You could remain on dry land to deal with the assistant if you knelt down on the wet harbour floor. Not a very appealing prospect.
We chose what we wanted and David placed the order. Almost needless to say, we were the only customers between all 3 vans. The guy was cheery and cheeky and I asked him which of the 3 was best – expecting a cheeky answer, but he shocked me and said ‘Mures’ and told me that they have won several awards. This was none of the 3 floating shops though, it was a 2-storey building just over the way.
So David and I stood there under our umbrellas, getting rained on and waiting for our meal when… “NUMBER SIXTEEN!!!!!!!!!!” My goodness we both jumped out of our skin! We were not 3 feet away from the guy, yet he’d chosen to use a loudspeaker to bellow at us. There weren’t even any other people there, as I’ve already said. A quietly spoken ‘excuse me’ would have done just as efficient a job. We’d have heard him, trust me!
We collected our white paper wrapped packages and hot-footed it back to our room before they got cold. Unfortunately there wasn’t much salt on the food and the shaker in our room had about 3 grains in it. You try sharing 3 grains of salt between 2 salt addicts!!!
After dinner David began to eye up the bottles of wine in the mini-bar but I owned up that I’d seen a bottle shop just up the road a little so he set off to go and buy himself something and was back in no time having bought me a little bottle of Baileys Irish Cream as well.
We took our time going through all of our photos to date while we enjoyed a drink and another hot cuppa and then called it a day.
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