Friday, March 6, 2009


Get your minds out of the gutter, I'm talking about the beautiful island of Tasmania!

After Team Nails: Australia disbanded at the Holiday Inn Melbourne, I was on my own to head south to Tasmania. It was a 1 hour flight and I land in Launceston (Lawn-sess-ten). Or something like that. It's really hard to say. It's a little town of about 100,000 that feels like it's in Colorado someplace (though the mountains are much smaller).

The best thing about it is that 10 minute walk from downtown there is the GORGE. This totally awesome river gorge where you can hike, swim, rock climb, cross suspension bridges, ride a chair lift and just have a blast in nature. I spent 5 hours + there on my first day, just enjoying the trails and tracks, the views and more. I couldn't exactly swim since it was rainy and about 55 degrees, but it was still really great.

I also rode a bike around the valley a bit and saw some sites.

And naturally had to hit up the University night at the Saloon. Filled with live music and, you guessed it, KARAOKE! I sang a little "Bust a Move" and "Sweet Caroline" for the mates down there. Was fun.

Of course, when I got back to the hostel at 2am some douche was in my bed in the dorm, and since you don't really know who it is that isn't supposed to be in there, (in fact there were 3 guys who snuck in and out and didn't pay that night), it would have been impossible and stupid to wake them up. So, having anticipated this I went to the other room I had a key for, but before I opened the door I heard this couple just going at it (no, not in a fun way, having an argument), so I ended up sleeping in a room with no door that had just been painted where no one else was. I took a sheet off a couch in the hallway (yuck) and it was like 40 degrees that night. Wooo summer! (they actually say it's unusually cold for march).

When I told the cool girl at reception what happened when they opened in the morning, she gave me a free night and a free bike rental and made sure I had a bed for my last night. (in the dorm, nothing as exciting as you might think :).

So my last day was a long bike ride down the valley, past Tamer Island wetlands, with its 2km boardwalk, and out to a town called Grindelwald. A scenic swiss town with food and fun (I was told). So I rode 14 km's on the main road, mostly flat. Then got to the turn off... and one big ass bastard of a hill. 3kms up up and UP! I walked it, it took an hour (ugh). There were plenty of animals to see, Kangaroo, Wombat, somthing else -- of course they were all road kill, but at least I saw them in the wild!

When I finally got to the town, sweating, hot, hungry and exhausted I had to look twice because it was so F'ing small!!! it was this tiny little place, like a hotel, a pond and a little kitchy square with a couple shops and bakery's. I laughed out loud at how f'ing stupid it was. The fact that I worked my butt off to get there is so funny in how rediculous the whole thing is. And on top of that... the restraunt was closed!!!

Fortunately the bakery was open and they had good old Meat Pies. So I got 2 of those, and told the ladies there of my adventure. They say no one comes up that hill on a bike (yeah, cause it's insane!). Needless to say, I wasn't looking forward to 18kms back to town. My ass already hurt and legs to. Then one of the ladies, Pat said "Well I'm going back that way, I can take you." YAHOOOOO!!!! So I rode my bike down the hill (had to do that). Took about 4 minutes, maybe less. That was GREAT! Then loaded up the bike in the car and drove back to town. Her names Pat, I took a picture. No email, no nothing. Just a super nice person from the super nice country of Australia.

Sleep 5 hours, after a nice seafood meal at sunset.

Today I got up and flew and flew. To Melbourne, to Aukland (hello New Zealand, that place is gonna rule to visit! I think I saw the marshes outside of Mordor on the flight in!), and there were delays on every flight. So it took 30 hours door to door from hotel to home to get back to the US of A. Ironically I sat in the same row that I rode over to Australia in, and met a cool guy who works at McMurdo base in Antarctica on the way. (next trip... possibly!)

And that's that...


Good old rainy (yep!) home.

The trip was grand, it was fun, full of highlights, laughs, great times with friends. Olga asked if I liked Solo or Group travel better, and they are both very different animals, and both awesome. As for this trip, i couldn't have imagined it any other way. It was awesome to share the adventure with good friends and have memories to share with them. ("when you go rafting, be sure to bring a towel!"). And in fact I'm greatful that I'm able to go with friends to such places. I hope everyone can take some time and get away, go alone if you want, grab some friends if you want. Australia is a wonderful country, safe, friendly as can be mates. We barely scratched the surface of things to do and places to go and see in the land down under, fair dinkum. I mean, we were withing 20 miles of the coast the entire time, and Australia is 3/4's the size of the continental US! There's a lot of land to explore, and a lot of fabulous people to meet. It's really fantastic just how nice and giving everyone is there. Sure they drive on the other side of the road, but you can't fault them for that. They have some funny slang, but that's part of the charm. It would be wonderful if everywhere you could call everyone mate. "G'day mate!" "No worries!" (just like Africa...hmmmm). They are laid back, not pushy, don't seem to get offended at much. Maybe we can all take some lessons from our mate's down under and chill out, lay back and treat each other kindly. They do and things seem to be going well there, fair dinkum. (I have no idea how to spell that:)

So grab your happy hat, saddle up your right handed automobile, and hit the land of Kangaroos and Coral Reefs, friendly people and fancy cities. Australia's got something for everyone, and if you get lost, they'll gladly give you directions and maybe even a ride. Fair Dinkum to that I'd say.

This is Craig Ouellette,

last surviving member of the Nostromo (otherwise known as Team Nails: Australia)

Signing off.

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