Welcome to the blogspot of Melbourne writer, Elizabeth Jane

Welcome to the blogspot of Melbourne writer, Elizabeth Jane

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Strange interludes

Tasmanians are friendly. They also colour code their bins. This has led to some strange interludes.

Are you intrigued?

Good. I will explain.

On Saturday, we went to Salamanca market. We were thrilled to learn that Hobart was also hosting the Australian Wooden Boat Festival, which meant music, food stalls, nautical exhibits, and acres of every size shape and variety of wooden vessel.

This was a lovely piece of synchronicity for me as I got to go on a tall ship, photographing its saloon, captain's cabin and steward's pantry, all of which will feature in the next draft of my novel. The day before, at Port Arthur, I had likewise spent a great deal of time sitting in the reproduced steerage compartment of a convict vessel, just getting the vibe.

This is called a writer's holiday, by the way. The mind never stops working.

But, back to the bins.

We had finished perusing the market, listened to the navy band, and wandered the wharf pointing out every manner of wooden craft, to find ourselves standing outside the folk music pavilion. I had just downed two sushi's and a bottle of cascade ginger beer, and begun to think about disposing of the bottle.

Turning to Andrew, I said: 'Do you remember what colour bin this bottle should go in?'

He wasn't there.

Only big beefy security guard, with a badge and a polar fleece vest.

'I'll put it in, 'he said, 'it goes in the yellow bin.

Okay, I thought. This is odd, but I may as well go with it. I handed the bottle over. The security guard lifted the heels of his Blundstone boots, his grey eyes searching the quay. I followed his gaze. It halted on the far side of the wharf. His smile faded.

'Perhaps, I'd better take it, after all?' I smiled, holding out my hand.

'Yeh, sorry.' He reddened.

Taking the bottle, I headed towards the bin.

'Excuse me!' It was a woman's voice this time. 'Excuse me!'

I turned back. The woman was rangy and thin like string bean. She smiled, her lipstick bright, and held out an empty coke bottle.

'Take this one too, please love. While you're at it.'

At this point my jaw fell open. Maybe I even stared. But I took the bottle anyway. I mean why not?
Tasmanian's are friendly - and, well, 'different,' in the nicest possible way. And when in Tassie, you must do as the Tasmanians do. Even if it does involve colour coded bins.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Three days in the wilderness ...

Strahan was lovely. But it had no mobile phone coverage. This isn't the towns fault, by the way. It's all part of the big beautiful experience of having had all our utilities privatized. But, as it turned out, zero phone coverage was the least of my worries. We also had an unpowered site (another shortfall in our planning). School had gone back. There was no need to book ahead ... surely?

'A common mistake,' the caravan park lady said with a flick of her lips. 'But we have plenty of unpowered sites. Or ... you'd like to upgrade to a cabin?'

We took the unpowered site - and it was the right decision.

But, I have to admit, that first evening, as dusk flexed its chilly fingers, there were tears.

Maybe even a small tantrum.

Hey, it's pretty damn cold, in Strahan, and we didn't have a lantern, and I had only brought summer pyjamas. Besides, the battery on my iPhone was and showing a fiery red strip. How was I going to access my Weight Watchers point tracker? Or use my electronic workout trainer? (her name is Sandy, by the way). She speaks to me, Bluetooth, via my icom device, which also needs charging.


Yes, that's right, icom. Hearing aids. A recognized disability. Do you feel sorry for me now? Books. Camera. Bible. Notes. I've had the iphone less than a month - and my whole life is on it.

Something had to be done. I wasn't going to take this lying down. Neither was I going to embrace-the-find-yourself-in-the-wilderness crap they were spinning. I'm a city girl. A librarian. I live in the twenty-first century, even if web 2.0 hasn't made it to World Heritage Tassie.

I would make a stand.  Make every moment a recharge opportunity. 

Over the next three days, I adopted the furtive behaviour of an addict. I took long showers (four power points in the women's bathroom). Did some extensive eyebrow plucking. Volunteered for extra dishes duty. Drank my morning coffee in the camp kitchen (six outlets if you unplug the TV) and, as for the men's toilets ...

No, of course, I didn't go in there!

But I did manage to keep my iPhone charged. It was a true feat of endurance - a pure wilderness experience.

And I even took pictures to prove it.


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Spirit of Tasmania

After lining up for the Spirit of Tasmania twice, we eventually boarded early on Sunday morning. After looking at the bay, all white capped and wavy, and heeding the captain's dire weather warning, we took two Travelcalms  and prepared for the worst.

It never occurred.

We ate. Read. Journaled, listened to music and chatted with very little inconvenience apart from the occasional jolt and shudder, and a vague bored sense of being stuck for nine hours in one place.

We were supposed to have cabins but because we stuffed up our bookings, we had to sit on deck. We chose a spot on level ten near the bar.  (yes, I have discovered Emoji).

There was nothing particularly noteworthy about our location except, I think it used to be a swimming pool. 

I know, it sounds ridiculous. Imagine people cavorting on deck ten of the Spirit Tasmania, as if they were on a Pacific pleasure cruise.

But you see, there were tiles.

And a round railed area that looked suspiciously like it might have been a spa.

And a suspiciously rectangular area at the centre of deck ten. No one actual ventured into this space (probably because they weren't wearing bathers) and besides, the air-conditioning was far too cold. But, one by one, throughout he day, people took turns sleeping poolside (myself included).

This is one of the best things about traveling in Australia. I see it all the time in caravan parks. People can leave cameras, phones and money, and equipment unguarded, without the security of lock or key, and nine times out of ten nothing gets pinched.

The only other remarkable feature of our day on the pool deck was an absence of power sockets.

People had to take turns charging their digital appliances. I tried to charge my iPhone but the power cord wasn't long enough. I had to balance it, cord twisted about the handrail, hoping it didn't lurch skittering onto the floor.

In the end a man took pity on me and plugged my phone into the USB port of his laptop. 

Andrew says I am a little obsessed with my new iphone (actually he left the word little out). He says I have issues. Clearly, this is not the case. But, if I do have a digital dependence problem, I am not alone.

On the Spirit of Tasmania, the power sockets were in use all day.