There’s really only one way to describe Tasmania: fantastic. Simply fantastic. It doesn’t even need an exclamation mark. A period (full stop) will suffice.
Or, for added emphasis, maybe fan-fucking-tastic.
As I mentioned in my last post, Tasmania has been the butt of every joke mainland Aussies have made for decades. Taswegian – a name for a Tasmanian that I thought only my friend Ross used as a joke, but later found in a travel guide to be a real running gag that actually stems from something historical way back in the day – is defined in UrbanDictioanry.com as “A local from Tasmania. Six fingers, two heads, etc.” Somewhere in the last decade or two, Tasmania changed. Or, more likely, everybody else just noticed that the little island state just south of Australia actually is a gem and that all the stereotypes weren’t really credible. While jokes about the small gene pool and all Tasmanians having two heads persist (even the locals there still joke about the scars on their necks from the removal of their other appendage), there really isn’t anything anybody can say that would be remotely negative about Tasmania. Seriously. It’s fantastic. Why is it so fan-fucking-tastic, you ask?
Everybody is friendly. EVERYBODY. I can’t think of one Tasmanian that we encountered that wasn’t the model of politeness. Everywhere we went, people seemed genuinely curious out where we were from and where we were going in Tasmania. They threw out helpful hints of places to eat and things to see. A few of them were a bit kooky, and maybe a few were a bit off, but they were so just so nice that we could hardly notice. And all the while they smiled. They smiled big. Doesn’t that start to hurt after a while?
Not only are they friendly, but they are gay friendly. The whole island it seemed. When I booked our first accommodation in Hobart, all they had left were rooms with two single beds. When Tildy, the lady who ran the Astor Hotel where we stayed, found out that two of my mates were a couple, she was so apologetic about not having a room with a double bed for them when we booked. Nothing changed after that. Nobody who we met in our accommodations or hiking or wherever else seemed to think twice at the thought of two dudes – not even the older people. Gay and lesbian travel websites list pretty much every hotel, B&B, attraction, and whatever else in Tasmania as gay friendly. We stopped at a little café in the tiny little town of Rosebery, and the two men behind the counter were a bit small-town-redneck looking… until we realized that they were just a really butch couple. In retrospect, the fact that it was a café AND gallery should’ve given that away immediately. There was marriage equality legislation on the desks of the members of the House of Assembly when we took our tour of Tasmania’s Parliament, and we even saw a rainbow on day 2. How gay friendly is that?!?
Aside from being friendly and gay friendly, everything is fucking adorable in Tasmania. Now, I add the “f” wording for emphasis because plain old adorable doesn’t really cover it. Every café we went to was cuter than the next. And even the ones in the city felt like they were in a quaint little town. And the ones in tiny little podunk towns were actually really nice and served proper food. We stayed at some ridiculously cute cottages in the middle of nowhere which were just so surprisingly nice and homey, and the native species are endearing as anything. (If you don’t think that wombats are just the cutest then you have some serious issues.) How is everything so cute here???
Everything is old in Tasmania. Well, old for Australia at least. Hobart is the second oldest city in Australia. And, being settled years or decades before Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, or Western Australia, most of Australia’s earliest European settlements were in Tasmania. Unlike Sydney, which has grown up into a real proper city with big glass and concrete skyscrapers, Hobart hasn’t. Nowhere in Tasmania has, so Hobart and everywhere else around the island retain an old European charm. Here you’ll find Australia’s oldest pub:
Australia’s oldest brewery:
Australia’s oldest bridge:
And a bunch more of “Australia’s oldest” things. It’s an Australian history nerd’s playground. Also, the people are really old in Tasmania. I’m not sure why, but everywhere we went there were just heaps of old people. It felt like childhood in Florida all over again.
So what else? Well, there is just so much to see. With tons of history and tons of magnificent natural features, you need a month to just drive around and see all that is on your list. It became very apparent very early in the trip that we just weren’t going to get to see everything we wanted to. And then, just when we thought we had a good idea of what we were missing, some other random super-friendly Tasmanian would ask us if we were going to see such and such a place and that it is a must-see and we couldn’t possibly miss it. And all we could say was “next trip.” Because there will have to be another trip. Another two trips probably.
On top of there being so much to see, Michael put it best when he said on a nearly daily basis that “Everything has been a highlight so far!” True. Nearly everything in Tasmania exceeded expectations. Whatever Tassie has in quantity is also has in quality. Where are these Tasmanians hiding all their bad shit? Nothing disappointed at all, except for my lack of mobile phone service throughout most of the state, but that’s not Tasmania’s fault. It’s my fault. I’m with Vodafone.
So, I headed out with Michael, Cade, and Vince:
… In a very strange rental Toyota Rukus. Has anyone ever seen or heard of one of these before??? I lovingly named her Roxy because she was so boxy…
We reached the southernmost point that any of us had ever been to before in Geeveston, Tasmania, covered over 1,776 kilometers in the car, and took nearly 2,500 photos and videos collectively (in all fairness to the other boys, nearly 1,400 of those were mine… oops…) And everything – everything – was just super fantastic.
More photos, details, and commentary to follow about every fantastic thing that we saw.