Thursday morning we packed up the site, ate our already standardized brekky (Aussie for breakfast) of muesli and headed into town. We washed up at some public toilets and headed west towards Pyengana and the St. Columba falls. The falls were a mere droplet of what they had been at the turn of the 20th century, but it was still good to get out and walk around the forest.
View upstream of a creek that is fed by the falls, passing below a walkway right before the lookout platform.
The “magnificent” St. Columba Falls.
We also saw Ralph’s Falls (which we referred to as “the piss falls”, and not because of our disappointment with the result at the end of the hike, a thin stream of water falling down the clif wall) and a gorge from Norm’s Lookout.
Although Ralph’s Falls were unspectacular, I liked the thin, curvy stream by which it fell.
The gorge from Norm’s Lookout.
The gentleman at the visitor’s centre — as well as my Lonely Planet — had told us that there were three things we had to see in the area: the falls, the cheese factory that offered free tastings, and the pub in the paddock. The pub in the paddock had originally been the house of one of the areas oldest families which they later turned into a restaurant/pub. The draw is a hog named Priscilla who allegedly drinks beer, but of course, only beer bought at the pub.
After the walks, we headed for the cheese factory to see if we could get enough tastings to satisfy our appetites. The offering was meager, probably because the worker noticed that we were four young, unwashed guys driving around in a stationwagon containing all of our worldly goods, and we were probably not in the market for fine cheeses.
We made our way to the Pub in the Paddock to see if the restaurant fare would finish the job. The kitchen closed for lunch at 2:00 and we arrived at 2:15. No luck there. Priscilla looked like she was sleeping one off, so we didn’t buy her a drink either.
Priscilla’s paddock, with the boozer herself asleep inside.
Priscilla had a kid named something ridiculous like Baby P who also seemed to have a drinking problem. The owner said that Baby P might be in the mood for a beer, but definitely not momma. I think something in the stomach of a backpacker turns at the thought of wasting a perfectly good pub beer on a pig, so we just took some pictures of the sleeping pigs and vamoosed.
After stopping by the grocery store for lunch and to pick up dinner supplies, we made a quick stop at the local library so I could check the state of the auction.
Fifteen minutes on the internet cost me $1, but it was enough time to see the “You have been outbid” email from eBay and shoot off some quick replies to friends and family. My Tassie trip was safe, I was happy.
The A3 route took us south past the city of St. Marys as well as stretches of road called St. Marys Pass and Elephant Pass. Ben thought these would include an old convict-era bridge, but we later found out he was thinking of a small town called Ross (more on that later). The two Passes were nothing more than windy roads through the mountains of Douglas-Apsley National park. With a light fog in the area and the seemingly endless supply of rain, the forest and farmland vistas from the road were very scenic.
If anyone is considering taking a touring trip on a two-wheeler, be it a crotch rocket, cruiser or dirt bike, forget California, Colorado, Missouri and any other place you’ve heard about. Head straight for Tasmania, because you will find some of the most incredible riding roads I’ve ever seen. The scenery along the side of the road include dense green forests, tall and thick trees and charming little towns. The roads never stay straight for more than about 100 feet; they zig and zag both from side-to-side and up-and-down through the mountains. Just make sure you do your homework and avoid any bad weather.
We stopped in Bicheno (not sure how to pronounce it, but we’d been saying it like “Pacino”, but with a “B”) to pick up dinner supplies and some Carlton Colds. That night Steffen was going to treat us to a pasta concoction that involved saute-ing ham and onions, then dropping the cooked pasta into the pan and finishing everything off with a few eggs.
We spoke to a woman at the vistor’s centre and got an idea of good camping sites in the area. According to her, we needed to drive further south into Freycinet National Park and find Friendly Beach. It was a short drive and we found an empty campsite. The sites were off of a narrow dirt road, each one separated from the other by dense bushes, with the beach and ocean on the other side of the hall-of-campgrounds.
The meal that night was something Steffen eats alot of back in Germany, and was a welcomed distraction from pasta and tuna. First, you toss some diced cold-cut ham and onions in a pan, and saute them briefly until the onions are softened. Then you dump in the pasta, and after a short while stirring, you drop the eggs in and cook through.
After the pasta had boiled, I was given the responsibility of draining it. The pot was a cylinder about a foot tall and 6 inches in diameter, so pouring the water out consisted of exposing a gap between the lid and pot with one had (while also holding the wire handle that looped across the top) and holding the bottom of the very hot pot to tilt it forward and pour the water out through the gap. It was as difficult to do as it is to describe. I was almost done getting the water out, and for some reason a vision flashed through my mind about losing control of the lid and all the pasta tumbling out. And, almost on cue, the lid slipped and the pot fell out of my hands and onto the ground, dumping about 2/3 of the contents out. My stomach dropped. It’s not like there’s a Coles or Safeway just next door that’s open late. This is the east coast of Tasmania, everything shuts down by 6, and I just dumped our dinner onto the ground. Jake would later tell me that he saw it in slow motion, almost like we shared the same vision and he was watching me, waiting for it to happen. I closed my eyes and just repeated, no, I didn’t just do that.
Fortunately, Steffen had a spare package of spaghetti, so we wouldn’t go hungry that night. But it meant that we’d have to expend the rest of our water to cook the pasta. Steffen cooked the remaining 1/3 of the bow-tie and we split it as an appetizer. I apologized profusely to the guys, and they were pretty forgiving, knowing that it’s just one of those things that would’ve happened at some point anyway. In fact, a few minutes later Ben spilled the bowl of ham and onions inside the car, but that accident was much more recoverable.
Wallabies outnumbered humans on those campgrounds. These ones were rather fearless, coming as close as about 5 – 6 feet away. Within 5 minutes of the pasta disaster, a wallaby was munching on the bow-tie pasta mound.
Our wallaby friend enjoying an appertif of corn flakes which Steffen threw at him.
Later, his appetite only peaked by the cereal, he later returned for an entree of bow-tie pasta.
We watched a little show as several wallabies came and fought over the pasta. One of them was clearly an older dominant one and two other seemed like little tykes. By morning there was no evidence of my accident, and the little wankers had even torn apart our trashbags, maybe looking for tomato sauce or a little olive oil and parsley. They made such a row that Ben got up in the middle of the night to throw a few rocks at them.
Stay tuned for our first encounter with true Aussie rednecks, as what was supposed to be a quick stop in the midlands ended up as a several-hour adventure.