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November 4, 2006 Ė 10:20 PM

Hobart, Tasmania


Well, Iím in Hobart safely, but I have had a couple of little glitches to my plans.  Iíll explain when I come to the glitches.


I slept well last night in Perth, and I was up in good time this morning.  I finished my packing, went out and got breakfast at McDonaldís, gassed up the car, came back and checked out.  The airport is only five minutes away, and I was all checked in about two hours before my flight.


I waited around, of course, and I read my book on Tasmanian birds.  I found that there were quite a few more birds that I could reasonably expect to see here than I had expected.  I also got some more ideas about places to bird here.  After reading the book, I felt more glad than ever that I had canceled the Cradle Mountain part of the trip.  There will be plenty for me to do here in the south, near Hobart.


The flight to Melbourne was on a 747, which is odd on domestic service, and I had an aisle seat just behind a door, so I had lots of leg room.  I was actually comfortable enough, it was just boring for the three plus hours of flying time.


We got to Melbourne on schedule, and I had over two hours to hang around there.  I talked my way into the Qantas Club lounge, like I had done in Sydney a few weeks ago.  Technically, you are supposed to be flying business class that day to use the club lounge, and I was flying economy today.  I told them my trips to and from the USA were business class, and he told me to go on in, just as they had done in Sydney.  Great.  It meant I could use their computers for free, to access the internet.  Better than that, I discovered I could access an outside phone line and call my ISP, so I could connect to the internet with my own computer for free.  I did some email and passed the time.  They also had free snacks in the club lounge, so I didnít have to buy food either.


My flight to Hobart, the capital of Tasmania, which is one of the states in Australia, was on a 737.  It was full, but I had an aisle seat, and it is only about one hour of flying time, so that was okay, too.


So, everything up to then had gone well.  Maybe too well.  (Ominous music in the background.)  I finally got my luggage, and I rented a cart and took it across the street to the rental car place.  Now, Hobart is a very small airport.  They donít have jetways, you walk down the stairs to the tarmac and into the terminal.  There is just one tiny baggage carousel.  At 9 PM on a Saturday night, there were few people around, except people from our flight.  But, at the Budget rent-a-car counter, I got there just after a couple of Americans (judging from their accents).  It took them 25 minutes to get their car!  And, they not only had a reservation, they had prepaid it as well!  There was a long discussion about insurance Ė evidently they had never rented a car before, hard as that is to believe.  It took a full five minutes for the clerk to give them directions about where they were going tonight.  While I was waiting for them in line, I got out my Budget paperwork, and oh-oh, I discovered a problem.


I had made a mistake, it seems.  I had changed my mind about my Hobart car rental plans a couple of times.  At one point I was going to take a taxi into the city center, stay at a motel there,  and pick the car up at their downtown office tomorrow morning.  The two reasons for doing that were that it saves about Au$40 in airport fees to rent from the city office, rather than get your car at the airport, and I wouldnít have to drive at night when I got in from my long day of flying.  Well, I had reserved the car when that was my plan, and then later I changed my plans, and decided to pay the airport rental fee and drive from the airport tonight.  I got a motel near the airport (well, I thought it was near, but it is a lot farther from the airport than I thought), and planned to drive in the dark to the motel.  But, evidently, I forgot to change the car reservation.


Ooops.  So, when I got to the Budget counter after waiting literally for 25 minutes, it turned out that they didnít have the kind of car I wanted there tonight.  Bummer.  I wanted the small 4WD SUV I had reserved.  So, I ended up taking a taxi to the motel after all, to the tune of Au$40.  As I said, it was much farther from the airport than I had thought.


Well, I finally got into my motel room, and the second glitch jumped up and got me.  You have heard me go on and on about internet access, and how important to me it is, and I was counting on having it tonight here in my motel.  But, old Aussie technology has defeated me, not for the first time.  This time I was able to make the connection to the motelís phone system, but their system doesnít give you a standard dial tone, until you dial 0.  That should be fine, but Windows XP is so ďsmartĒ these days, that it saved me from making a mistake, by not being willing to dial until it heard a dial tone.   I havenít been able to find a way to override that, and I havenít been able to find a way to fool it or get around it either, and I did try.  So, here I am in a motel in Hobart, with a phone in my room, and I canít figure out how to use the phone line to connect to the internet.  Ok, you are probably laughing about now, and I do agree it is funny, but I am not laughing, nonetheless.  I am smiling now, though, so Iím sure I will be laughing later. (By the way, I am booked into this same motel next Friday night, and you can bet that I will be cancelling that tomorrow.  Iíll have to try a different place to try the internet lottery game.) (Just for the record, when I checked in here, I looked in the little refrigerator, and there was a medium sized ice tray Ė empty!  It figures.) (Oh yes, this place is backward enough that the motel office closes at 8 PM, and I had to phone from Melbourne to find out my room number and where the key was located.  The motel has over 40 units, too, so it isnít all that small.  This is just the 1950ís over here, and things are much more laid back.  I actually rather like that aspect of it, so I am not complaining, only commenting.)


So, now I will have to get another expensive taxi (these taxi rates are the highest I have ever seen, much higher than what I have experienced in Australia in the past Ė Iíll bet it is partly because it is Satruday night, after 9 PM) to the downtown Budget office, in the morning, to get my car.  Slight change of plans, and slightly more expense, but really no big deal, when you think about it.  Eventually I will find a way to connect to the internet and get this Ramblings up, and life will go on.  In the meantime, it is frustrating.  Just part of the adventure of traveling, though, really.


In the meantime, I have to deal with a three hour time change now.  The time here in Hobart is 10:45 PM, but to my body, it is only 7:45 PM, too early to go to bed.  On the other hand, even though I have been getting up early, now I will have to make an adjustment, and get up even earlier, according to my body time.  Normally it is only a two hour difference between Hobart and Western Australia, but Hobart is on daylight saving time now, and Perth isnít, so it is three hours.  It does mean that the sun sets at 8 PM, though, so I will have long evenings to enjoy.  I donít imagine I will manage to get back onto an early schedule after this.  I did great to stay on an early schedule for 4 Ĺ weeks, though, since I am a night person and donít get up early at home.


Tomorrow after I get the car, I have two or three places to stop for birding, on the way to my destination.  I also need to stop to get groceries, because my destination tomorrow night is Bruny Island.  It is not very settled and I donít expect to be able to get much in the way of groceries over there.  You have to take a ferry to the island, but it is short, only about 20 or 30 minutes (if that long), I think, although they only run every couple of hours.  I have a ďself-containedĒ chalet on a beach.  Self contained means a kitchen and dishes, utensils, etc.  It supposedly also has a laundry, which is good, because I only have two sets of clean underwear left.  I am booked in for two nights, but if I like it, I will try to change that to three nights, since I have canceled Cradle Mountain.  If it is booked the third night or I donít like it, I will try to find someplace else on the island for the third night.  I wonít have a phone there, so I will be relying on an internet cafť, supposedly located in a tiny town about 4 miles from where I will be staying.  It will be interesting to see how that works out.  If worst comes to worst, I am prepared to abandon my internet fetish and live without it for several days, although I know that sounds like some kind of heresy, if not treason.  Iíll get this up when I can (I expect I can find A place to get online tomorrow in Hobart), and after that, weíll just have to see.  I would bet that I will find a way.  But, I thought I would be online tonight, and I was wrong, so what do I know?


I think I am going to like the weather here more than anyplace else in Australia.  Hobart is supposed to have highs in the mid-50ís to mid-60ís in the next week, and no rain is forecast.  No rain is good, for Hobart.  55 to 65 degrees for highs sounds great to me, but maybe that will turn out to be too cold, even for me.  I donít have any long sleeve shirts with me, but I do have a light jacket, which should be good enough (I hope).  It sounds like maybe I can retire my shorts, though, until I get back to Melbourne next week.


(Educational content warning!!!)  Tasmania has a total population of about 400 and some odd thousand, so this is sort of back to small-town existence, I think.  There are 12 endemic species of birds here in Tasmania.  To review past lessons, endemic means that they are only found here, not anyplace else on Earth.  All 12 of those species can be found on Bruny Island, although a couple of them are easier to find elsewhere (in places I also plan to go).  So, to prove myself as a birder, I have to see all 12 of those endemic species.  I have trip reports from people who saw them all in a few hours, so if I donít see them all in a week, I am definitely a second or third class birder.  Not that I am claiming to be anything else, but it will be interesting to me to see how many of the 12 I manage to see and identify.  (Iíll actually be satisfied to see ten of them, as some are not very common or easy to identify.)  I donít have any guiding or local help lined up here, so I am all on my own.  In addition to those 12, there are 10 or 15 other species I could potentially add to my trip list here in Tassie, so I have good birding prospects ahead of me.  Iím ready for the challenge.  Bring it on!


About to be roughing it in Tasmania,


Barry Way Downunder now