Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Pollyanna lives

One of the - no, actually, the only advantage of having my travel restricted this year is that, being forced to root through old material to produce new stories, I've revisited, mentally at least, some gorgeous places. And really, I've been very very lucky to have been able to go to so many, and I should be grateful and stop hankering after auroras and suchlike (but I won't).
The most recent effort was about the Bay of Fires in Tasmania - it's billed as a four-day walk, but really it's barely two, and it's along a beach so it's eminently do-able. But what a beach! Well, beaches: a series of brilliant white silica sand empty beaches, bookended by heaps of rounded granite boulders dusted with a bright orange lichen that only grows in the purest air (and Tasmania has the purest in the world, they reckon - hard to disagree, even as a Kiwi).
It's all very sustainable - accommodation in floored tents and a substantial lodge, all of them dropped in by air, off-grid, solar-powered, with composting toilets etc. But there's no roughing it: Matt, one of the guides, humped in salmon to barbecue for our first dinner, and even an ice-bucket to chill our wine. That first night was a bit more basic, with no showers (hot water supplied for washing) but the next two, at the lodge, were really comfortable, and the food was brilliant, from the rhubarb and cinnamon cake for afternoon tea when we arrived, to the spinach eggs en cocotte for the final breakfast.
There was no foot massage then, though, which lying Matt encouraged us with the prospect of when we were fading a bit towards the end of the 14 kilometres of the second day (Kate got us out of bed the next morning by shouting "Dolphins!" which was another bare-faced lie. Aussies!) - but there is now. Eight years after I was there, they now have a proper spa which I would certainly have visited for the pepper berry pedi-mask and massage.
The only real disappointment was that there were so few guests - just the four of us, two Poms and an Aussie girl, so the company was a bit dull. Also, the Brits were somewhat scathing about how unstrenuous the walk was, which was pretty stupid of them, since it was clearly described as a beach walk. Really, they just wanted us to think of them as proper hikers. Me, I was perfectly happy to stroll along a flat surface, clamber over rocks periodically, wade through a stream and do a bit of bush walking (with added tiger leeches! Well, one, anyway, on someone's sock. Not really a Stand By Me scenario). As a bonus random connection though, the Poms, who live in England, had a friend who lived round the corner from me in NZ - a piano teacher whose house I walked past most mornings.

The scenery made up for the company though, in spades. Not just the beaches and rocks, but also the sea - the Tasman, same one that pounds in, grey and fierce, on West Coast beaches here, but over there it was clear and turquoise and totally gorgeous. Revelation.

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