The last time I felt this exhausted from my travels was on my last day in New Zealand when I miraculously managed to climb up the lookout over Queenstown, which took me two hours instead of the normal 30 minutes. But I wanted to see Launceston (plus, my room wasn’t ready yet) and so I set out for the main attraction, which is kinda a local secret. The walk was not too difficult. But then it wasn’t meant for walking zombies.
I dragged myself through the town and realised that it would help my condition immensely to get some food into my system. Accordingly, I scouted cafes and restaurants, but nothing would quite please me until I found an old mill next to the waterfront. Comprised of several attached buildings in different colours, it looked perfectly eccentric from the outside and charmingly rustic from within and I was sold when they served me blueberry and pear cake – my two favourite fruits combined!
By then the weather had decided to show its unreliable side – seeing that we’re on an island – was doing its best to rehydrate nature. That didn’t bother me in the least as I was enjoying my cake and reading a book about travel writing. It wasn’t a good book though and very disillusioning. The rain stopped just as I had had enough of my read and I proceeded on my journey.
When I arrived at the bridge that marked the entrance to the gorge and provided a great lookout, I took the first path that had a sign on it unawares that it was the difficult path. It actually is a circuit walk so it wouldn’t matter which way to choose unless you prefer the easy way out and take the same walk twice.
How could I have known that? And while I was walking, the forest trees obstructed my view over the gorge and led me up higher and higher. It made me suspicious but the passing hikers reassured me that the first basin of the gorge wasn’t too far away. It felt like an eternity to me. Up on top of one of the gorge’s walls I saw a futuristic house standing on pillars, made out of glass and steel and thought I might have climbed to another galaxy. Or maybe it was just my tiredness playing tricks on me.
In the end I made it to the basin and a nice view it was. A little bit too much on the touristy side with a gondola, public swimming pool, playgrounds and a 70s style restaurant but as seen from the suspended bridge on the other end, quite remarkable in its own right. It had started to pour down with rain at this point and the bridge was shaking slightly while I was trying to get a good shot of the continuing valley and roaring stream. I love rain.
On the other side, the rain stopped and I found myself in a heavenly little place surrounded by hortensias in full bloom guarding a Victorian style gazebo. Walking in this beautiful garden I watched as families were having their lunch on the verandah and elderly couples had peaceful walks. It was soon time for me to walk on and on the way back, I met a nice Dutch woman who was also travelling alone and told me about how she also had to explain to everyone she met why travelling alone was perfectly fine. It’s good to meet someone above the regular backpacker age and we had a nice little chat before we parted.
I felt exhausted by now and decided for a little nap before I continued my exploring but I couldn’t help but have a peak inside place that looked beautifully British and had a sign pointing me towards the Sweet Factory. No more invitation necessary when it comes to pleasing my sweet tooth. I stepped in and was delighted by the small shop/open factory.
My excessive delight must have shown on my face because the owner, who was busy cutting ginger caramel fudge, stopped and handed me his latest creation to have a try and when I announced that I loved chocolate, the next thing I knew was a huge spoon full of the liquid pleasure handed to me. With one condition. He wanted to take a photo of me being smeared with it. No problem, anything for chocolate.
We had a lot of silly fun in there but eventually I found myself back in my hostel room, taking a nap. Just for half an hour I told myself. I woke up 4 hours later. It was already late afternoon and I wanted to see the Japanese monkeys and thus ran out again to the park where their cage was. It was, however, already sleeping time for them and so I was unfortunate in my endeavour. Well, I would see them the next day.
Instead, I idly floundered about the park and chased down the sound of a distant concert. What I found was a street festival in the middle of town with bands covering classical rock and pop rock songs. They were good and I would have loved to stay, but it was getting cold and I wanted to keep my budget under control (how else did I manage to travel this much without being broke?) and opted for the boardwalk along the harbour front with the music following me wherever I went. It was a win win situation.
The boardwalk was nothing spectacular and started shortly after the riverwalk and the fishing village. Seagulls screaming overhead, fishing boats bobbing on the water and seafood coinnosseurs dining in blue and white painted restaurants, it was a typical scene that could have taken place in any seaside town. Pretty nonetheless and so I danced along the wooden planks in the receding rays of sunshine and made my way back to the hostel yet again.
Takeaways: Places of Interest
- Walk Cataract Gorge in any weather – there are three ways to walk there: either choose one on the left or right, or do a full circuit
- Stroll along the Boardwalk – for a coastal flair and seafood treats
- Take to the Park – to see Japanese macaques and pleasant gardenry
- Attend the Sunday Farmers Market – to taste the best of Tasmania