Had a slow breakfast, trying to find a suitable C route to get to the Pancakes place. The only downer was that the pancakes place was not on the map, which was alarming. It’s Elephant something, and it wasn’t there. After breakfast, I checked out and went shopping for some new CD’s as the ones I had been played to death. The chick in the music store was a bit weirded out by my choice of The Messiah, Mozart’s Requiem (a snap at $10), a 3 CD hard core techno collection, and a Paul Oakenfold CD (which was on special). I’m not terribly sure it was probably the best mix, but their classical music selection was pathetic, and I really didn’t want some Shostakovich as I’m not particularly familiar with his music. When you play the Requiem, the hairs on the back of your neck stand to attention. Amazing piece of music. Either that or I’m playing it too loud.
I needed real coffee, and badly. I wanted (and ordered) a long black, but the dude serving the coffee decided I needed a double espresso instead. My body really appreciated it. Wired me up for the drive.
I took the A3 out of town and crossed my fingers I’d find the brown tourist sign for the Pancake place along the way. If you’re thinking I talk too much about food, you’re right. My normal method of navigation in foreign parts involves McDonalds, but Tasmania is sadly lacking them. Plus when I’m here, I like C roads. So I’m always on the look out for the most interesting place to have a good meal, maybe take a photo or two, and not get gastro.
The A3 is an excellent driver’s road! It’s also a very scary road for mortal drivers. Unlike most main roads between towns, this one twists, bends, goes up mountain goat tracks, and down dale. It has 100 km/h speed signs right in front of 25 km/h 270 degree bends, sort of a road engineer’s joke to weed out stupid people. It’s like a 161 km advanced driver’s test. I loved it. I took some photos at various look outs, which will be posted here when I get off my big fat behind.
Unfortunately, Tasmania is being raped by the wood industry more than ever. They are merciless. They’ve taken to putting up signs about when the land was pillaged, and when it will be harvested again. They have no shame ‘ more than once I came around a corner to a lunar landscape of utter ruination (sort of similar to the famous photo of Tanguska where a meteor wiped out an entire forest, but this was worse as the low life humans don’t clean up properly), go around another corner and there’s beautiful lush rainforest of world class beauty. What’s even more offensive is they’re planting non-native fast growing uni-species pine where normally there’d be rainforest, ferns and ancient trees, plants and shrubs of zillions of species. Tasmania is wasted upon Tasmanians.
Feeling a bit down, I had an excellent lunch at Derby, which is a lot smaller than the big dot on the map. The old tin mine’s museum had a tea room, and I had a largish pastie with an even larger fresh salad. Nice, and set me up for the rest of the day.
Pressing on, I zoomed through St Helens, and saw the Tasman Sea (big salty water thingy) for the first time since Burnie. Theoretically, I could see it at one of the lookouts I stopped at, but the day was too gloomy and hazy to actually see Flinder’s Island and Banks Straight.
After passing Ironhouse Point, I had to make a pit stop as the baked beans (I was traveling alone, remember?) had kicked in good and proper. After using the facilities at a beach camp site (do you know there are free camp sites all around Tasmania? Some with facilities, like this one. Wow.) Anyway, my Evil Plan’ to moon the Pacific came to fruition. The water was cold though, so I gave that up as a joke before I had full retraction. I love absolutely deserted beaches. Enough said, or I’ll scare the more delicate readers.
Then I found the Pancake place. It’s on top of Elephant Pass, and has spectacular views of the coastline. I met and had pancakes with a lovely lady from Canberra who was riding around on a sorta holiday whilst her tame (or not so tame) scientists were dragging themselves around regional Australia, in this case, Tasmania, with a traveling science show. We had a good talk, and I gave her my copy of Salmon of Doubt as she mentioned she had nothing to read at night, and I know how boring that can be, even with baked beans for entertainment. I hope my book goes to a good home. I think so.
The lemon pancakes were every bit as good as I remember, but the semi automatic gunfire in the background wasn’t. My dining companion thought it might be construction, but no one goes ‘psht!! psht!! psht!! psht!! psht!! psht!! psht!! psht!! psht!! psht!! psht!! psht!! psht!! psht!! psht!! psht!! psht!!’ in less than a second with a nail gun. Not unless they’re very drunk.
Tasmanians. It’s wasted upon them.
The road leading up there is just marvelous. It’s part of the Targa Tasmania route, and for good reason ‘ it’s just one of the world’s best driver’s road ‘ if the Hume Highway or your favorite stretch of straight Interstate is a difficulty level of one (even including the need to stay awake from boredom and counting the speed traps and playing ‘spot the hidden cop car’), this is a difficulty level 9 road; no Armco, just little white sticks indicating the side of the road and a 100+ meter plunge into thick forest. The road quality is good without being brilliant, and just wide enough for two cars or one truck. Luckily, there were no trucks. As usual, the road was nearly abandoned except for me. I love that.
After descending this wonderful road, I dawdled to Bicheno. It’s weird letting people pass me. I’m in no particular hurry, and although my new car is nice and everything, it is not a 1.8 litre turbocharged hoon-mobile. So I let people pass me. Whoosh. I even let an old 1960’s vintage Rover pass me. He was really pressing on. Must have had an appointment with a fish or something.
Checked in to the caravan park. Next time I think if I’m not doing the bookings, I’ll mention ‘B&B’ explicitly rather than saying ‘I’m easy. Anything’. I’m glad I’m in a cabin, not a unit or a caravan or tent, though. B&B’s are about the same price as a caravan park’s self-catering cabin, and way nicer in most cases. However, I can’t really complain as I’m not paying for it, I suppose (this booking is part of my boat fare).
Bicheno is a nice sleepy seaside resort town. Lovely beach views, freezing cold water; English tourists would be right at home here. I had a choice of French restaurant or Australian pub meal for dinner. I took the pub meal. I tried eating outdoors, but there were too many feathered rats outside. Once the other two gentlemen drinking outside had tactically retreated indoors, it was like Hitchcock’s The Birds, but with seagulls. I had to move in or jealously guard my food and beer from the aggressive winged rodents. Oh well. Next time.