The incoherent blathering and deranged rantings of the self-styled Guru Bob...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Off the Grid

Just finishing up the first days back at work after a few days away in the southern provinces.

Sweet Thang and I had taken advantage of a ridiculously cheap airfare offered by Tiger Airways way back in October or even November - flights from Melbourne to Van Diemans Land for zero dollars plus tax - which worked out about thirty-five dollars each way per person. In fact I think the cab to Melbourne Airport was more expensive than the flight. So we took advantage of Singapore Airlines' stalking horse strategy to gain more international flight routes into Australia (which can be the only reason they offer such ridiculously cheap flights) and took ourselves down to Tasmania for a quick holiday.

We flew into Launceston on Thursday afternoon (following only a slight delay in departing), picked up a silly little car from the rental guys and headed up the hill to our lodgings at a slightly overdone B&B that billed itself as 'Victorian accommodation'. However the guy who ran the place gave us a quick once-over tour of the facilities and some very good advice on where to go for a feed. His recommendation of The Northern Club was a very good call for a couple of hungry travellers keen to start their Tasmanian food extravaganza...

This place supposedly used to be a 'gentlemen's club' but not the sort with brass poles in the middle of it, rather it was more like the establishment which Mr Bedak oversees in Wagga Wagga, all old timber and leather chairs. However a great menu and wine list got us off to a good start. Afterwards we staggered back up the hill to our lodgings and ventured into the 'lounge' room where we were hoping to partake of the complimentary port, tokay or muscat. Unfortunately we were confronted with a trio of fellow travellers from the UK who kept on reminding Sweet Thang of the 'bitty' people in Little Britain...

The next day we had to do the whole B&B breakfast thing with whoever else was there before heading off to see the sights of Launceston. As it was Good Friday, almost all of the town was closed - so we drive around the city centre and then headed to the Gorge (which is almost right in the centre of town anyway) for a quick walk and then headed off on our journey.

We drove up the Tamar Valley and eventually found a winery that was open and dropped in for a bit of a tasting. Then headed up to Georgetown, which sounded much more impressive then it actually was. Then we headed up to Low Head where we admired the semaphore system, the Pilots Cottage sand the Lighthouse for a wholoe five minutes before hitting the road again to Pipers Brook Winery to try the 'Blanc de Blanc' which Flinthart had highly recommended, before heading over to see the man himself.

FH had been slightly vague as to how to find his residence and it didn't register at all with the GPS when I tried to input it - so he is definitely living off the grid there, but it wasn't too difficult to find based on his directions. When we arrived a kid came running up to the car and I knew straight away that I was in the right place because Elder Son definitely takes after his mum in the looks department (which is probably a lucky thing)...

Flinthart and family extended the usual hearty loud welcome to us and we were immediately given an extended tour around the ancestral manse, which has become so familiar to those of us who follow his adventures and tribulations.

Anyway you can get the gist of the visit over here ...

From my point of view it was fantastic to see him on his own turf surrounded by his family and living a life which is truly extraordinary. I always worry about introducing Sweet Thang to my old friends because they are such a contrast to our 'inner city Melbourne life' and everything, but she is a bit of an old hippy at heart and had a ball with FH and family and just loved the location. FH put on a continuous feast of food and fun for us, so I don't know where he found the time to write an entry while we were there.

After the Easter morning celebrations at Chez Flinthart we headed over to the Bay of Fires for a great lunch at a place the B&B dude had recommended and then down to Hobart via the Heritage Highway. We dropped into Cambell Town to look for Sweet Thang's great-great- great- great Grandfather's place and then wandered through places like Ross and Oatlands which looked like they had just fallen out of a museum. Fortunately I work in museums and don't particularly like the thought of living in one, and our interactions with some of the locals only served to reinforce this thought...

Finally we reached Hobart and settled into our little apartment there. It was just around the corner from Salamanca Place and so we had dinner down there at a great place next to the Salmon shop. I think I may have eaten the Easter Bunny though becasue I went for the extremely rich rabbit and venison pasta dish...

The next morning being Easter Sunday we did consume a hell of a lot of chocolate before waddling out to greet the day. This mainly involved finding a suitable breakfast spot before heading over for more Easter celebrations with Sweet Thang's sister and her three year old kid.

The quick round-up of the rest of the weekend included lots more nice things to eat (seems to be a recurring theme down here but included a very silly and delicious meal at a seafood theme restaurant), a late night walk through battery point, another semaphore station (another recurring theme - they seemed to bring to my mind all sorts of Stirling scenarios) and a long time sitting around at Hobart Airport waiting for a much delayed flight home...

By the way beer people should keep an eye out for the great Tasmanian drop called Moo Brew!


  1. Great to have you back.

    Lunch friday?

  2. Sounds like a great little trip. Must drag the missus over there one day, she has never been.

  3. Tassie is great. I try to get there at least once a year. In Hobart I love those pubs around Battery Point. And the 'tasting' tray at the distillery.

  4. Moo brew I'll have to check it out.

  5. Sounds like you had a blast. But i bet you're glad on the mainland again...

  6. Barnes - this week is mental - may have to make it next week.

    Naut - it is great over there - absolutely gorgeous and brimming with history - am just finishing the book Van Dieman's Land by the historian James Boyce and it is fantastic - especially after having just been to some of the places mentioned.

    Therbs - there is a fantastic bakery at Battery Point called Jackman and McRoss which is totally fantastic - check it out:

    Bangarrr - I added the link to Moo Brew into the text above - but the brewery and Moorilla winery are owned by this ridiculously rich guy who is building his own art museum (concentrating on sex and death) on a peninsula just outside Hobart.

    Chaz - it is always good to be home...