4 - East coast of Tasmania
March 24, 2003
Quiet departure in the morning to get to the airport, flight on Boeing 717 or 727, we see forest fires in the gum trees. Our nice seat neighbour is a Tasmanian jazz musician.
We take a shuttle from the very small Launceston airport to the hotel. Then we check our bearings in the city, we look for and find a photo shop to burn CDs of the photos I’ve taken since the start of the trip, a library to send mails. We take a cappuccino in a small coffee shop, and go back for a laundrette moment at the hotel. A friendly granddad chitchats with us, slightly hysterical old ladies have left a paper tissue in one of the machines during washing, we gather the numerous remaining bits.
We leave again to get to the Hallam’s waterfront restaurant, along the Tamar river close to Cataract Gorge. The fish (flathead and trevalla) and the seafood are excellent, the wines too, and the desserts are up to the rest. Very good restaurant! The waiter quickly discovers we are French, he speaks French as he’s studied cuisine in France.
We walk back along the river.
March, 27 2003
After a slightly restless night (the bed is so soft it feels like a trampoline when you just move slightly), we wait for the bus supposed to take us on a tour of Tasmania along with a small group of people. The bus arrives, driven by a young and extremely energetic woman guide. Hem.
We hit the road, eat on the Friendly Beaches beach, and drive again into Freycinet peninsula. We walk briskly up Mount Amos, up a pass and we choose to go down on the beach. We get there, swim, I see a few fish: a flat one on the bottom, a very thin and long one with vibrating pectoral fins (pipefish?), a “normal” one. The blue water is transparent, with a few meters of visibility, the sand is all white. Of course, we and a Japanese girl are the only ones swimming, the others think we are slightly crazy (it’s autumn after all and the water is about 18°C).
We pack up very quickly and walk back in a hurry (tight schedule), our thigh muscles send warnings…
Afterwards we hit the road again, back up north, we arrive in Bicheno and settle in the motel, then we eat and once the night sets in, we go to see the fairy penguins coming back for their nests.
We get lots of information about these little guys and girls from a guide who seems to know a great deal about them (he speaks penguin fluently and can tell us if a male or a female is “talking” or singing, who are we to check theses facts), it’s very interesting.
The small penguins can dive 60 m deep, they stay 45 seconds underwater without any difficulty, can swim at 10 km/h, with 20 km/h maximum speed. They sleep and raise their young on the beaches.
The sky is very clear and the stars bright, we can see Orion and the Southern Cross.