After picking up my little pink gerbil cage of a car, I decided to take a quick (albeit frightening) pass through the town of Launceston. It was actually a really good way to get the feel of driving on the “wrong” side. My technique was to simply follow the other cars and hope I never had to do anything solo. I found the corner where I was supposed to pick-up Thene later in the day and made a hasty retreat to the country.
The main “highway” was a two-lane serpentine ribbon along the western edge of the Tamar River valley. The Tamar really isn’t a river, in the traditional sense; it’s actually a salt water inlet from the Bass Strait, the strip of water that separates Tasmania from the Australian mainland. With a string of mountains to the west, the area is a replica for what I imagine the Rhine Valley looks like. No doubt these conditions are exactly why there are so many vineyards around.
The Batman Bridge, named for one of the co-founders of Melbourne, is located at the midpoint along the Tamar. It’s a really cool looking cable suspension bridge with a single offset tower and radiating cables, but given that it’s the only bridge along the entire 30 mile stretch of the Tamar it must be a source of great frustration to the Tassies, even if it does offer a great view of the river valley. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batman_Bridge
We’d heard that some of the pubs in town offered lodging, and the idea of a pub stay sounded like something worth writing about. Unfortunately I’m not much of a horror writer. Ok, that’s a bit harsh. But I did visit several of them, and if we were about 25 years younger and a lot more financially restricted, we may have conceded to stay. But if I’d brought my wife back to one of these places today, let’s just say, she would not have been happy. They had a Motel 5 ¾ feel (not quite up to the standards of a Motel 6), and though I didn’t see any, I was fairly certain there were plenty of creepy crawlies lingering in the shadows waiting for the sun to set. I’d seen enough winery related alternatives during my drive, so I took off for our rendezvous point, certain we’d find a place to land.
It’s easy enough to get turned around in a strange town, now throw in the whole left-side driving thing and a bunch of one way streets and it’s like driving with blinders on; you seem to only see what’s in front of you. Incredibly, just as I rounded the bend to where I was supposed to meet Thene, I happened to look up, and there she was (everybody say “Aw”). I did a quick drive-by snatch that would have made Jason Bourne proud and we were off to the vineyards.
Having done this stretch earlier, it was much easier to get out of town this time and I think I succeeded in impressing my lovely bride. Our first stop was a winery called Velo, just off the main road. I figured we’d have a glass or two of wine, but I had no idea of the real treasure that awaited me (us). A dog! Having been apart from our puppy (ok, she’s 4 years old, but she still our puppy) for over a month, I’ve been having bouts of dog withdrawal, so when I saw this black lab (who reminded me a lot of the dog I had when Thene and I first met), I was overjoyed. Wine? Who cares about wine? There’s a dog here (Laugh if you want, but a friend of ours is the same way with babies. Yuck!). Anyway, we learned from the owner that the dog was named Bo (ala Bo Derik). Apparently the owner of both winery and dog was equally glad to have a playmate for Bo, if only to wear her out. So after some good doggie play time, Bo laid down and we had our tasting. The wine was fine, but the dog time was better.
So what do bridges named after super heroes, dogs named after hot, 1980’s actresses and Switzerland all have in common? Well, they’re all in Tasmania, sort of. There’s a resort called the Aspect Tamar Village modeled after a Swiss village. Not that they get any snow here in Tassie, but that’s beside the point. Actually, the only thing that looked “Swiss” was the shopping village but overall, it was a really nice place, consisting (mostly) of private cabins around a small lake (pond). But the real high light was the lookout. A gazebo situated high on a hill, well away from what little light came from the village. It was the best part of the day (well, after the dog part). We watched the sun set and later gazed at the Milky Way. By far the best star gazing I’d done since I was at sea in the Navy.
So, one day down, two left to go in Tassie. Here’s a riddle for you. What do dead trees have to do with resurrecting dead soldiers? Check back later to find out!