We arrived in Tasmania somewhat worse for wear after Tim and Kates engagement party the night before in Adelaide at which a moderate amount of alcohol was consumed.
My previous memories of Hobart were all good and as usual you always wonder will it be as good a second time round?
Upon our arrival at Hobart Airport we were met with a non-performing seal on the baggage conveyor belt and sniffer dogs snuffling round our luggage. Not an auspicious start. The weather was closing in with rain and strong winds when we arrived at our Tower Hamlets Motel which Tremers had booked the week before. The set up of the Motel was odd.
There was a row of chalets out front and a big tower looming ominously over the whole site. The Motel sign was flickering on and off. Mother was knitting.
When we checked in we noticed a free taxi service phone – Pro-Cabs – and the contact number – 696969 – also seemed very odd to me.
We had a few days to spare before the cricket started and sightseeing was the order of the day. Hobart was buzzing by now with news of a very important wedding just announced – yes , you guessed it , Glenn McGrath has remarried in secret before his beloved first wife has had time to go cold. While we were here there was also a Christmas Pageant complete with a bagpipe band playing Jingle Bells , which Tremers enjoyed immensely. All this on November the 20th.
Our good friend and Addis member George from Guernsey duly arrived in Hobart and we celebrated his coming with a full – on 6 hour drinking session in the Prince of Wales pub on Battery Point before he landed, followed by several more pints and a few bottles of wine post-arrival at ” Magic Curries”. George was staying at a hotel on the seafront which was a little up market from our own , and also had the added benefit of live music being performed for free directly under his room every night until 3am. I can only say his first night in Tasmania became very messy.
My earlier purchase of a brand new Barmy Army shirt was looking unwise the following day when I woke up with red and brown curry stains all down the front which will now need a little more “Magic” to remove.
Well , the cricket match against Australia A commenced and most days we caught a water-taxi from outside George’s Hotel across the bay to the Bellerive Oval.
In Australia’s first innings , Monty Panesar took a stunning catch which I’m sure you all saw on TV and when England batted a huge lead was amassed , thanks almost exclusively to Ian Bell , Tremers favourite cricketer , who batted for almost two days. As his score built up Tremers took exception to my suggestion that even the great Don Bradman could not have played so well by retiring to the top of the stand in a sulk and even resorting to wicket walks. All this had no effect. Bell sailed on serenely. When he was eventually out just short of 200 , almost everyone in the ground rose in a standing ovation. Almost everyone.
A personal highlight of this game for me was the day I wore my Lancashire shirt to the game and met the legend that is flat Jack Simmons , who is a national hero in Tasmania for past services and victories rendered. Jack is here with the ” Pit of Hate ” tour group comprised exclusively of Lancashire CC members and we sat with this group most days.
However we also met some old friends. I have a personal message for James and Laura our Addis members , whose wedding we will be attending in Fremantle next month.
The message is as follows:
” Hiya mate its Robbie from Leicester. Enjoyed Pretoria mate. Ive heard youre ‘avin a bit of a knees up – ok if I bring the missus? Ive dyed the barnet specially and can sing you some songs at inappropriate moments…how about ….What We Need Is A Barmy Army Wedding – Can Jim Fix It -etc etc”.
James, if you let me know, I’ll pass on the answer.
The cricket ended in a comprehensive 10 wicket victory for England and in high spirits we went out to celebrate. The weather was by now relenting , with warm sunshine the norm and we enjoyed a fantastic meal in the Ball and Chain steak restaurant , another old favourite. Tremers did his usual trick of overstuffing himself with about 20 kilos of meat and retired back to Tower Hamlets , to be informed by his taxi driver when requesting he be dropped at the rear of the Motel:
” Well , I didnt think you were on the front row mate. The local prostitutes hire those rooms out”. Tee Hee.
Meanwhile back at the harbour George and myself were living it up & fraternising drunkenly with a Hen Party , who by the looks of it didnt appear to be having enough fun. One of their number , a pommie lass called Anne , approached us to request that we perform a strippogram service ( for free , naturally ). George seemed overly modest so I obliged , becoming in the process Tasmania’s first Topless Harold Bishop Strip Act. Luckily , the local Police took a lenient view and I was let out the following morning after they had all stopped laughing.
So it was then that we hired a car and set out into the Wilderness. From Hobart to Queenstown , an old gold rush type place where the mine closed many years ago but the locals are still clinging on to their town. Very sad , and a very quick exit onto the road again to Strahan , which is out on the West Coast. Here the “Cow That Sh*ts Gold Bars” passed another ingot. Tremers got talking to a group of Tassie guys on a golf trip and one of them , Jim , has kindly offered to put Tremers , George and myself up free of charge at his house in Launceston for the night before we leave for Brisbane.
From Strahan we headed due north across hours of mind-boggling nothingness taking the Fatman Ferry across the Pieman River ( honest – look at the atlas! ) to Arthurs River , where the wind lashes the breakers in direct from Argentina and has been compared to the End of the World. Some primeval stuff. And Tremers nearly stood on a poisonous snake.
The following day we drove further north to Stanley , which I had suggested. Unusually , instead of being another fine mess I’d got us into , this turned out to be a nugget of Golden Cow proportions. A brilliant place , a good night out and some excellent company provided by the lovely Christy & Kara from the Stanley Hotel. We stayed in a rented house for the night complete with 1920’s furniture and fittings, right next to the sea. The place looked like something out of a Charles Dickens novel.
Today we are just about to meet Jim for our night in Launceston so I’ll have to go soon but before I do I know you are all dying to ask ” was Tasmania as good as last time “.
Well here’s my verdict.
Two hundred years ago we should have moved the entire population of GB over here to live permanently and left the convicts at home to rob , rape , pillage and murder each other.
We’ve done it the wrong way round – like we did when we gave America to those bloody Yanks.
My application for a Tasmanian passport is already in the post……..only kidding.
Ive got to be positive now , because I cant imagine I will be saying anything quite as nice on the next blog from Brisbane – apart from lots of mentions of Ferals , Hoons and Bogans.