23 Dec 2009
This needs no comment from me. Here’s a letter from today’s Leicester Mercury. OMW.
I enjoy all forms of music from heavy rock to punk, garage, hip-hop, disco and even classical. Every Christmas from the very early 1960s I have bought the Christmas No 1 song and have never been disappointed.
Over the many years they have all been relevant to the season and most have contained in some form the spirit of Christmas. They were all able to be enjoyed and understood by the whole of society.
The current Christmas No 1, to be brutally frank, is the worst piece of music I have ever heard. It has not one solitary thing to do with this time of year and was apparently composed and played by a group of talentless and mindless youths who have engaged the “power” of that other waste-of-space, society-destroying junk, Facebook, which they have used to rally an easily-led and seemingly mindless section of our society into making some form of protest.
Rage against the “whatever” gives the truth to the story. Exactly what that protest is about I dread to think.
Even as I briefly watched the so-called performance of it, I could only describe that as being performed by a group of seriously demented individuals who had no idea of how ridiculous they looked.
Hopefully, this will be their one and only entry into the music world and they will disappear. Any DJ who gives this “music” airtime should be suspended – thankfully, some DJs have already stated that they will not play that piece of auditory torturous junk. Those are the ones I will listen to – and my extensive collection of CDs of past No 1s, too.
Now this is why I bothered to come all the way to Aus. Been wanting to get to Tasmania since I was little. No idea why it grabbed me at that time in my life but the older I got the more I wanted to see Tas.
But first I had to get there from Melbourne.
Tanya had booked us on a ferry so we could take her car over and have easy transport for the time there. Nice idea.
Shame she’s a bad traveller. Not that she dislikes travel. More that she doesn’t manage to keep her lunch down when moving on a boat or plane.
And the weather forecasts were not looking good for the crossing. (The day of the crossing was the Aussie rules final day)
“An Antarctic blast is set to hit today’s AFL Grand Final, making it the coldest premiership decider in history. Hail as well as heavy rain and thunder are expected.”
Nice. The isobars were squeezing ever closer together over the Bass Straits as well.
At one point R texted me with the words:
“I’ve just looked at the weather for your crossing. Are you sure it’s a good idea? It just smacks of Northumberland again but more dangerous.”
The seats we had (yes seats, not even a cabin) had not 1, not 2 but no fewer than 3 vomit bags each. All the loos had a huge stash of them too.
And then the captain comes on.
“Hello ladies and gentlemen. As you know the weather’s quite bad today. The swell on the crossing tonight is expected to be 3-5 metres on average so it should be a little bouncy out there.”
Thankfully he didn’t say “fingers crossed” or some such at the end.
Now miraculously I managed to get through the journey with no vom from me. Unfortunately I was surrounded by people of all ages, creeds and nationalities projectile vomming from about 10 minutes into the trip. And we didn’t even hit open rough water until about 2 hours through.
Not the comfiest night I’ve ever had.
We made it into Tas at about 7am on a Sunday so there wasn’t even much open to see. No cafes to get breakfast. Pah.
That day was spent travelling along the north coast as far as “Table Cape” through such metropoli as “Penguin”.
On the way back to the hostel we stopped at a place where the Little penguins come ashore for the night. There are a bunch of volunteers show up most nights to tell tourists what they are seeing. In our case we saw absolutely nothing. Until a feral cat showed up. Hence the lack of penguins. Poor show. Apparently they’re not even allowed to shoot the cats. What is the world coming to?
The next day we drove over the river Don to the dinky town of Sheffield. This place had a mural painting thing going on where many of the buildings had murals on and they market this as a thing to come and see. Wasn’t really worth it as far as I could tell.
So from there to the longest and most disappointing tangent ever as we drove miles and miles to a place called the “Devil’s Gullet”. This was a view point with a rather nice view and it was perched precariously on a high and sheer cliff but it was just too far for the hit. A shame.
From there we headed to the Marakoopa cave. Our guide was a bloke called Brian (this seems to be a common name in cave guides). Nice caves with lots of glow worms.
Eventually got to the Cradle Mountain national park and found that they had been hit by some pretty awful storms which had left them without power. This meant no card payments (a problem) and free frozen food ‘cos their freezers had switched off (a nice bonus).
But before settling in for the night we had a bit of a scout out of the local area. One place “Waldheim” was an ancient (in Aus terms) wooden house where some mad Austrian lived many years ago with his family. They seemed to have been the founders of getting Cradle Mountain its National Park status. His kids were the ones who set up the Overland Trail. It’s also where I saw a stack of small kangaroo type things. They turned out to be called “Pademelons”. Never heard of them.
We were in a bunkhouse next to a couple of germans and a young aussie bloke. Dinner was spent with them in the communal kitchen. It was here that we figured out a route for the planned hike tomorrow and chatted a lot. I also discovered that the german girl was of the same mind as me re Tim-Tams. IE that they’re massively over-rated and nowhere near as nice as Penguins. And that was it for the day until we were woken by a bunch of annoying Mercans who seemed to think that shouting and banging around late into the night in thin sided wooden huts was the thing to do. Tan went over and did her “Oi shut up” thing with the learned authority of being a law enforcement officer.
Next day was big hike day. I’d have loved to have done the overland trail but we didn’t have the 6 days necessary, nor the equipment. So instead we headed up towards the Cradle Mountain summit. It wasn’t the plan to make it to the top but we did have a decent long hike planned around a couple of lakes with a few steep climbs thrown in for good measure.
Started at a car park and walked through rain forest complete with waterfalls and then into alpine territory. Marion’s Lookout was the main target and the views of Cradle Mountain from there were stunning. At this point we were above the snow line (which I’d really not expected). From here it was down to Dove Lake via an unfeasibly steep descent route. At the bottom of this we met a small but bickering family. The kids were complaining about the walking at this point but the dad was keen for them to make it to the lookout. Somehow I think the kids and wife would have over-ruled him well before they made it.
And back to the car park. A good few hours hike. Completely loved it. We were extremely lucky with the weather too, apparently they only get about 30 days of clear, sunny weather there a year. Nice.
And on to “Strahan” on the west coast. More wandering through the evening and back to the hostel. At this point I was sat and started to scratch my leg. And there was blood! Loads of it. I found a small hole in my leg which had bled copiously and the clotting had gone weird. I think I’ve gone and got myself leeched! Whoot! Shame one of my socks got rather badly manked up with matted blood.
Strahan was nice but nothing very exciting going on so we spent a day driving to Hobart via Lake St Clair (the other end of the 6 day hike). We ended up in a quiet hostel in north Hobart where we spent about an hour being talked at by the receptionist. We heard tales of wanting to leave Tas and seeing photos of her new house on the mainland and why the new place is better than Tas and that the crime here is getting worse and how the Tassers are small-minded colloquial idiots and on and on and on…. This was odd but not quite as odd as her habit of saying “Air air” to signal her agreement with you when you were talking. Very strange indeed. But she was a hive of info and pointed us at a very decent Indian restaurant.
The next day’s travel was Hobart – Huonville – Franklin – Kettering – Margate – Hobart. Best bits were drive up Mount Wellington into unfeasible gales and a town called Geeveston where we ate in a little place called “The Bears Went Over the Mountain” which was stuffed full with cuddly toys. This while region felt very American. When we put the local radio on they even had country and western playing.
Next day to the Cadbury factory in Hobart where they make far more varieties of chocolate than they make at Bournville. Most disappointing that I can’t get hold of these varieties here. Much nicer than boring old “Fruit and Nut”.
And then to Port Arthur. This is the site of two rather depressing things. One is the old penal colony – now people thought Tasmania was hell on Earth at the time and Port Arthur was where they sent you if you didn’t behave. It was cold and mournful. But still quite pretty and you can imagine rather liking it if you came here voluntarily and there were nice things around. As it was though almost everyone feared it and hated it and the work was horrific even on good days.
The second event was sadder more through being more recent. In 1996 a gunman killed 35 people at the site. Today there’s a memorial garden for the victims both tourists and staff. And a portion in the visitor guide asking people not to ask the current staff about it as many lost friends and were there that day.
After a sombre sort of day we headed north to Swansea and the most prison like of the hostels we stayed at. There were loads of tedious house rules starting with “no shoes” and a stern woman enforcing things. Nice new place tho. Would have been a great place to stop if it hadn’t been for the excessive rule giving.
Everything in Swansea was shut. Except one restaurant. So we ended up there and it was sort of ok. Nicer food than expected but expensive.
The following morning’s brekkie was in a nearby bakery that seemed to be attached to the local tourist spot “Tasmania’s only working bark mill” museum. We didn’t stay to see if it was worth a look. But they were very proud of it. They even had a certificate they’d won. “1983 Museum of the Year”.
The day’s trip was to Wineglass Bay in the Freycinet national park. This beach was beautiful (high praise from me considering I firmly believe that sand adds nothing of value to any form of endeavour except maybe sand castle building). A hard walk to get to it though. Something they don’t bother to mention in most of the tourist articles.
That night we stopped in another hostel, this time in St Helens. After yesterday’s clean but miserable hostel this was much more relaxed but it had the filthiest floors and surfaces, the worst beds and coldest rooms of any in the state. Minging it was. I got bitten loads by crawly things.
And that was about it. Tasmania was bloody marvellous. If it wasn’t so far I’d be back there with no hesitation.
The mainland has a strange relationship with Tassie tho. It’s a bit like England’s view of East Anglia. They’re all seen to be inbred and mutant in some way. I had no preconceptions but then I saw an advert for a local event that I’d loved to have seen but we weren’t going to be there.
Here’s the advert in full:
The Ulverstone Show
Many great attractions including
- Performing ducks direct from Queensland
- Beaut Ute display
- Alpaca judging
- Ferret display and races
Sounds utterly brilliant but really doesn’t favour the “they aren’t rural hicks” view of the locals.
Tasmania – bloody lovely, beautiful, cold and welcoming. Go there if you get the time on an Aus trip.