A sunny morning for me in Launceston having finished the seven day tour of Tasmania.
I could come back here. I’ve walked through stunning scenery, met some lovely people – Tasmanians are a friendly bunch – and satisfied the inner History Geek.
The food has been great though last night’s curry, for my last night with the tour, was questionable. It took an hour for the dishes to start being brought out and then it arrived in the order of which the orders had been taken… following down one side of the table and up the other side.
I was Number 22.
Number 1 was sitting opposite me across the long table and he had finished his meal and ordered more naan before mine had even arrived
I’ve seen some interesting ways of catering for large groups but this was a new one for me.
It’s still been over a week since I had a good curry.
This morning I headed off in search of breakfast, feeling hopeful that the food would arrive before I had to catch the bus to the Spirit of Tasmania Terminal.
One excellent vegetarian breakfast later – poached eggs, avocado and spinach on sourdough accompanied with a whole grilled tomato, halved, grilled, lightly peppered and mushrooms sauteed in butter – I headed for a wander around the town.
As I may have mentioned, it is a lovely place though… like almost everywhere else in Tasmania, including Hobart, everything seems to close unspeakably early – you want a coffee after 3pm? Good luck with that.
I found a Farmers Market where all manner of fresh produce and locally made gins chilli sauces, honey and cheese were on sale.
There was also some dancing taking place though the small girl who dashed across the photograph didn’t seem impressed by it.
The volunteer working at the entrance told me that this wasn’t monthly nevermind weekly event and had been put on to coincide with another event taking place – one that she couldn’t tell me the name of, what it was or why it was happening.
I walked away mystified and headed for the City Park.
Opened in the 1820s by the Horticultural Society then gifted to the Council in the 1850s, probably for them to take on the cost of upkeep and management, the Park still has traces of the horticultural heritage with the Conservatory in the grounds.
The John Hart Conservatory is apparently notable for the orchids grown there though I couldn’t see any.
Rather like the alleged platypus in Strahan.
The macaque enclosure was doing a busy trade in visitors as children excitedly watched the apparently worst players of hide and seek in the history of the world
…and a grooming experience that required two macaques rather than one to resolve the apparent flea problem.
The festival feel of the Farmers Market continued with a singing performance at the Bandstand while a, possibly Tasmanian equivalent, troop of Morris Dancers paraded the park making animal calls.
I had no idea what was going on.
I also had to catch my bus to the Spirit of Tasmania ferry terminal, though I’d arrived far earlier than I needed to for my crossing.
At the time of booking the ticket, I had decided to be cautious and not take a risk in catching the last bus for the ferry… even if it was scheduled to four hours before sailing.
The journey again took me through the rolling, harvest-time farmland scenery of Western Tasmania. In the distance I could see some of the mountains that we had visited on previous days.
The bus stopped at more towns than it had on the journey from Devonport over a week earlier: Deloraine the Gateway to the Western Tiers where several hikers and walkers left the bus and Sassafrass, which appeared to be no more than a bus stop next to a petrol station on the highway.
Maybe the action was in East Sassafrass?
It did leave me wondering if travel by public transport could have been more possible than I had thought, but I have no regrets about booking a tour – some of the places we went to were not on bus routes and those that were had one bus per day, often without a return.
The bus dropped me off at the terminal and, having dropped off my rucksack – you’ve no idea how much I appreciate left luggage facilities, I headed into East Devonport.
I hadn’t expected to find anything open but, a rather nice restaurant Fifteen Tables was and after two coffees with a slice of cheesecake (17AUD), I headed along the coastal walk to Pardoe Beach before returning.
Fifteen Tables is literally just across the Devonport Terminal carpark and my top tip would be to arrive for boarding early and eat there rather than onboard the ship.
The cakes and meals are baked and prepared in house from locally sourced ingredients – the quality is excellent, the taste is great and the prices are surprisingly reasonable for a restaurant that could have a captive market of travellers seeking somewhere to eat.
My evening meal was seared scallops on a pea and mascarpone risotto with fresh peashoots and crumbled walnuts (29AUD).
I’d worked up an appetite for the meal (though not another dessert) by walking along the beach, where I’d watched galahs shouting their territory rights from the electricity wires and scrabbling for bugs along the shore.
The brightly coloured birds are so different to generally (other than the green parakeets that live in the local park) those I’d see in the UK.
I did wonder whether the residents of the street had problems with them splattering their cars. They might be prettier but I bet they’re still a problem for cars parked beneath their roosts.
And after a leisurely day, it was time to board the Spirit of Tasmania.
Catch up on the crossing tomorrow.