We got up early and were collected by the taxi service which very efficiently transported us to the airport. Here life was already ‘abustle’ but check in and security was achieved very smoothly and we breakfasted with the other early flyers. Qantas then whisked us off to Hobart and the Tasmanian extension of the trip begun.
We picked up a very up market looking car and we were on our way up the eastern coast of the island. The sun shone but it was at least 10 degrees cooler than when we left Sydney. For the first time since reaching Australia a fleece was required when out of the car. Our first stop was to take on provisions for our first couple of days to be spent at a place called Bicheno (an interesting town name, and one not falling into our usual categories….) This done we continued up the east coast. Helen was at the wheel and we chatted and dozed our way up the highway. There were very few cars about, but then the whole population of Tasmania is only 550, 000 and the majority of the people cluster around the major conurbations of Hobart and Launceston (pronounced in a very odd way to our English ears!).
After a couple of hours we reached Richmond where we were intrigued to find a number of men walking around smartly arrayed in kilts, white spats and jaunty black hats. Upon closer inspection we were somewhat taken aback to find that we had arrived at a celebration of the Scots connection with Tasmania – complete with piped marching bands! It was very odd to emerge from the car to hear the bagpipes! Not what we had expected! The little town was buzzing, the the tartan skirted bandsmen mixing with strolling locals and tourists. All there to see the spectacle of the various clans proudly marching up and down the grassy arena, kilts swaying, pipes sounding out the airs of Scotland and drumsticks swirling. Travel never ceases to amaze me!
Having gathered ourselves together after the initial shock at arriving at what seemed to be a smaller version of the Highland games we had a welcome snack and continued our journey north. Initially we passed lakes and rivers but as we travelled north the sea became our more or less constant companion. We stopped off at the beautifully located Devils Corner vineyard and purchased a bottle of bubbles with which to celebrate our arrival on the island, (but discounted their other offerings as pretty grim) and moved on to the house.
Shortly after we arrived at Bicheno, a small seaside resort. Sarah, who had worked very hard on our account to find the accommodation, had been nervous about this first house – totally unnecessarily as it turned out – we had a perfect little white boarded house overlooking the Diamond Island out in the bay. What a spot!
It was not long before we had wiped down the damp chairs out on the deck and the champagne was flowing while supper cooked. I had done some foraging for herbs in the somewhat overgrown garden and found to our delight – lemons!! There were a number of fruit trees in the garden and before the end of our stay apples, pears and peaches had been found to adorn our fruit bowl.
After a great meal we decided to try to get down to the beach that we looked down on from the house and which was said to accommodate penguins (this place lurches from one surprise to the next!). Unfortunately all routes to the beach seemed to be private, so it was not a successful mission, but we did fine some very fine blackberry bushes on the way. Breakfast sorted.
We wandered back to the house in the twilight and adjourned to the sound of the waves on the beach below us. Perfect!