quiregrrl: (Me)
[personal profile] quiregrrl
I never finished writing about my holiday... and now so much time and stuff has elapsed that I can't remember it all, I'll do my best though...

Thursday 11 June - The choir had rehearsal in the morning, and then in the afternoon they went and sang for the detainees at Pontville Detention Centre, which is just outside of Hobart and houses unaccompanied minors classified as "illegal immigrants"... kids from 11 to 17, no family, no parents, held in what is essentially a prison. Don't even get me started. So anyhow, the choir organised months in advance to go and sing for the kids, I wasn't able to go as it was all very strict and secure and they'd had to submit names and ID's weeks before they went, but best boy, and everyone else in the choir that i spoke to, said it was an incredible experience, very confronting in lots of ways, but the kids seemed to really enjoy it and it felt very worthwhile and good. I think I mostly spent Thursday at "home", hanging out with Sarah and doing washing and ironing and snuggling Jaffa the awesome dog.

Friday 12 June - I actually can't really remember much of anything on Friday, the choir would have rehearsed in the morning, and there was something in the afternoon, but I've no idea what... I am pretty sure i had another fairly chilled day, doing not much at all. Friday evening we went to Meeks' parents place for dinner with them, and Lisa - a friend of Meeks and Sarah who has been made part of the family as well. They were lovely, and it was a really nice evening.. Meeks' dad is also very musical and there was lots of uke and guitar playing and singing and dicking around... I have such envy of families like that, but it was really nice to enjoy that dynamic, and feel a part of it, for one evening at least.

Saturday 13 June - Spanky had rehearsal in the morning, and I went and wandered around Salamanca Markets, which was lovely, although I was sad that he didn't get the chance to go as well, because Salamance MArkets are awesome and he would have really enjoyed it... I bought myself a couple of lovely pendants, and some socks, and some earrings for Lisa, and managed to resist buying anything else! I met up at with Spank at lunchtime, in time to join all the gay choirs on the ferry to MONA (Museum of Old and New Art), which was a very scenic half hour cruise up the river from the harbour. The choirs were doing small group performances for 10 minutes at a time all through the museum during the afternoon, and I wandered and explored on my own... MONA is AMAZING, I loved it so much... the building alone is worth going to see, it's wonderful, hewn out of sandstone, half of it underground, with rooms leading into rooms, some massive, some tiny, it's gorgeous... and then there's the art. In the three hours I spent wandering, I only managed to take in the lower floor... so much beautiful, macabre, confronting, uplifting, challenging, ugly, weird and though-provoking art, in all manner of media. Loved it. The choirs all joined together and sang the crowds out at closing time, and then we all moved over to the function centre for dinner and lounging, before the Divas and Diversity concert, which was the big full concert by all the Gay and Lesbian choirs in the festival. The concert was good... quite varied standards across the different choirs, but overall they were great, and some of them were phenomenal, so it was a very enjoyable evening.

Sunday 14 June - This was the last day of the festival, and there was sound check in the morning for Spanky (and the choirs), and then the big finale concert for the whole festival, which had some featured choir performances, and then all the workshop performances... these were amazingly good, one of the best choral concerts I've seen actually. That finished in late afternoon, and we went and had drinks with two couples from the choir, and the guest conductor/workshop leader who had been working with the queer choirs, in a lovely little pub just up from Salamanca Place. Then Spanky and I went and met up with Meeks and Sarah for dinner in another pub over in north Hobart, as it was our last night with them. There are many things i love about Hobart, but one of them I realise now on writing this is that they still have proper pubs. Old, comfy, proper pubs, with fireplaces and couches, and local brews and good hearty pub food with no pretensions, and a tiny stage in the corner, and the only tiled part is in the toilets.

Monday 15 June - Given that I only managed to see half of MONA, and Spanky saw slightly less in between singing for 10 minutes every half on Saturday afternoon, we decided to go back on our way out of Hobart, and Sarah came with us as well, so we spent a couple of hours wandering and checking out the bits we'd missed, sometimes together and sometimes alone. See above for my impressions of MONA... next time I go to Hobart I am seriously setting aside a full day for it. There were still things I didn't get to see, and other bits I wish I could have spent more time appreciating/experiencing. HOwever, given that we were driving to Strahan, at least a 5 hour drive, we didn't want to be setting out too late. We headed off about 12:30pm and stopped briefly in New Norfolk for lunch, and then continued on... the drive across the highlands is breathtakingly beautiful, there was still snow on the ground in some places but only sparse patches in the shade. We wanted to see The Wall In The Wilderness, but unfortunately got there 15 minutes after they closed, so instead pressed on. The last hour and a half of the drive was a bit tense, the sun sets early, and it was very misty and raining, and the road is mostly through forested mountains, so windy, narrow, poor visibility at the best of times and this was not the best of times. We stopped off in Queenstown for petrol and to stretch our legs and for me to have a much needed cigarette, Queenstown is no less of a hole than i remember it from 15 years ago (the last time i was there), although the couple working in the dingy grubby old petrol station which was the only one open at 6:30pm on a Sunday were very friendly and chatty and helpful. Then it was back on the road for the final super bendy, foggy, rainy drive into Strahan... Fortunately we made it unscathed, stopped in town for another pub dinner, had a quick look at the cruise companies to see if there were any timetable boards (there weren't) and then went and found our accommodation, a cabin at the local caravan park.

Tuesday 16 June - we were up earlyish but took our time getting into gear, and then headed into town to see if there were any short cruises we might be able to do on the Gordon River. Unfortunately as it was the off season both cruise companies only had one cruise each day, which left at 8am and didn't get back till 3pm, not an option for us even if we HAD been there before 8am. So we wandered the harbour, mavelling at the beauty of Strahan now that we could see it properly, drove around to the other side and hung out at the old train station for a bit, and then stopped back in town at the bakery for coffee and pastries. Heading out of town, we decided to follow the signs to the Hells' Gate lookout, which quickly became a dirt road, and after about 40 minutes of driving through scrub we emerged at the far end of the lake which feeds off the harbour. It was breathtakingly beautiful, and well worth the drive for that alone, which was good as unfortunately the rest of the road to the lookout was 4WD only. We headed back to the highway to drive to mum's via Cradle Mountain. I followed the sign to Lake St Clair National Park, which is where Cradle Mountain is, and was surprised to find that we were heading back through Queenstown, but didn't give it much thought. The drive back along the bendy road was much prettier and less stressful in the daylight, but it was a long way back to the turn off to the national park. We stopped near the turn off for some lunch, and then headed into the national park. Unfortunately, 2kms along from the turn off the road ended with a visitor centre and no vehicle access. We'd gone the wrong way. It was now mid afternoon, and the options for getting to mums were to drive back along the super bendy 3 hours of road we'd just driven, for the third time in less than 24 hours, or head an hour further east on the highway before turning off onto a 150km stretch of dirt road up through the national park. Given my anxiety levels at driving on dirt roads, the fact that we were in a rent-a-bomb sedan with no 4WD, it had been raining lots, and snowing some, and the dirt road would therefore really be a mud road through the middle of nowhere with no civilisation and precious little traffic, we headed back to do that fucking stretch of bendy road AGAIN. After i'd had a wee bit of a stress/cranky/tanty. So, three hours back to Queenstown. And then onwards in the RIGHT direction. Of course, it was now dark again, we weren't going to make it to Cradle Mountain, we had a long stretch of lonely highway to drive through an area notorious for nocturnal wildlife on the road. Best boy kept up an excellent soundtrack of upbeat music to sing along to, and made me laugh, and was generally a very good passenger, which was good because I was rather tense. Especially having to keep an eye out for and dodge wildlife on the road rather a lot, plus it was now also raining again. We eventually made it to mums at about 9pm, and bless them they had a lovely big pot of curry waiting for us and mum had made cupcakes and generally fussed about a lot being pleased to see us. The best part though was having a long hot shower in mums excellent double-head shower, and crawling into a big comfy proper bed.

Wednesday 17 July - we enjoyed a very leisurely sleep in, and then headed out about 10:30 for brunch with mum and Roger at Anvers Chocolate factory, which is a tradition when staying with mum. It's also really yummy! We checked out the viewing area of the factory and watched all the lovely truffles being made, purchased some goodies in the shop, and then Spanky and I headed off for more foodie adventures and mum and Roger headed home. Next stop was Ashgrove Cheese, where we tasted all the cheeses and between us we managed to buy about 4 kilos of different kinds, sooooo much yummy cheese! Then on to 41 Degrees South Salmon farm for more tasting of delicious hot-smoked salmon, and more purchasing of tasty noms. AFter the Salmon we headed for Chudleigh, and the wonderful Chudleigh Honey Shop for more tastings and buying of noms, and concerted scrutiny of the perspex hive, trying to find the queen. We couldn't. Mum had packed us a flask of tea, and a container of cupcakes and cookies, so we loitered in Chudleigh and had a cuppa, and then it was on to Trowunna Wildlife Park. I love this place, they are more of a sanctuary than a tourist park, and are very involved in rescuing and protecting the Tassie Devils, which are being decimated in the wild through facial tumour disease. We got there a bit before the afternoon tour, and killed time by making friends with the kangaroos, wallabies, and paddy melons that have free range around the property. Making friends with them is easy when you have a paperbag of food for them. They were very cute, if a little insistent about getting food! Then the tour-guide/keeper person appeared with a baby wombat, and as we were the only people there for the tour we were both able to take turns holding her while he chatted to us about the parks mission and the animals and stuff... to be honest i don't think either of us were paying much attention because OMG SNUGGLY BABY WOMBAT!!!! Seriously, she was so cute, she kept burrowing into our clothes and snuggling harder against us, and she smelled like eucalyptus and straw, and was ridiculously adorable. Sadly, we weren't allowed to keep her, and my efforts to button her inside my jacket and hide her failed and we had to give her back to the keeper. He made up for it by then climbing in with the devils and picking them up and letting us pat them, although not hold them, they don't take well to being held by strangers, they were all very cheeky and cute and awesome. He also took us around to some of the other enclosures where they had devils who had new babies segregated on their own. Devils have rear facing pouches, like wombats do, and the babies stay there for many months, and one of the mums actually had triplets, who were close to being old enough for her to ban them from the pouch, but on the day we saw her they were still in there, poor mum waddling along with a pouch that almost dragged on the ground, and this bundle of teeny baby devil feets and tails poking out the back. So awesome!! It was really cool visiting here again, i never get tired of it, but what was even cooler was watching Spanky turn into a gleeful excited kid, getting to hold a wombat, and seeing devils for the first time ever, and quolls for the first time ever, it was happy-making :-) Especially after the cock-up and crankies of the day before, I felt like I made up for it as holiday guide this day. After Trowunna we headed back to Latrobe and I introduced Spanky to the wonder of Reliquaire. There aren't words for this shop... it's massive, and absolutely crammed full of toys, collectibles, antiques, jewellry, home restoration stuff, knick-knacks, dolls, teddies, puzzles... it's really full on and kind of mind-blowing. We didn't get to see everything as we got there kind of late and only had half an hour before they closed, but it was still fun... and Spanky loved it. We headed home to mums and spent the evening hanging out and watching TV.

Thursday 18 July - Another reasonable sleep in, and breakfast with mum and Roger, and then Spanky and I headed off up the north west coast, stopping off in Penguin for the obligatory photos with the big penguin, very important especially for Floyd! Next stop was the Burnie Makers Centre, and a wander around looking at various arts and crafts and pretty things. Then on up the coastal drive to Stanley, it was raining most of the way, which was a shame as it's such a beautiful drive but the rain detracted a little. We wandered Stanley, another of my favorite places in Tassie, it's such a cute little town, and then Spanky wanted to climb the Nut, so we drove up to the base and I hung out while he was Very Fit And Enthusiastic and did the 45 degree climb up to the top. Apparently the view is even more spectacular from up there, but it was also VERY windy and cold and starting to rain so he came back down fairly quickly! We wandered a bit more about the town, and then headed for home once more. Another evening of dinner with mum and Roger and couch and TV. I went to bed early, feeling very very unwell, and had quite a bad night

Friday 19 July - It was raining again, so our plan of going to Cradle Mountain was scuppered, as there is no point on a cloudy day... and I was feeling a bit delicate and unwell still, so instead we headed up the road from mum's to Spreyton, about 15 minutes away, and home of a new(ish) cidery, Spanky did the tasting and we both bought some cider based on his preferences, and then we headed over to Sheffield, the mural town, near where mum used to live, and tried to have a wander there but it was raining, and really very windy, and ICY cold, so we opted for scones and tea in a cute little cafe instead. Spanky had picked up a leaflet for a leather shop in Devonport and wanted to check it out, so that was our next stop... we walked in and immediately to the left of the door was floor to ceiling shelves stocked with a huge variety of animal skins, and sitting right at eye level was a super soft pretty white bunny pelt which I just had to buy for best girl. Both Spanky and I stepped through the door and kind of stopped and took a deep breathe and sighed... the guy working the counter looked about 16, and gave a very strong impression of being a nice, naive, country boy, pretty sure he didn't know what to make of us. From there we headed home again, and made a start on packing our bags. We took mum and Roger out for dinner that evening, as a thank you for putting us up, I told mum to pick somewhere, and we ended up in a pub in Devonport at the mouth of the river. It wasn't bad... and it was nice to be able to take them out for dinner. Then it was back to trying to make everything we had bought over two weeks fit into our bags and magically weigh less! We managed it, just!

Saturday 20 July - up very very early for the drive to Launceston, we dropped the hire car off in Launie, and then mum and Roger drove us to the airport to check in and put our bags through. Once that was done we headed up to Evandale for breakfast, another tradition when leaving mums, it's only five minutes away, the bakery/cafe is excellent, and it sure as hell beats sitting around an airport for an hour or more!! They dropped us back to the airport in time for us to line up and go through security and only wait about 10 minutes to board, and then it was up in the air and back to Sydney, where the awesomest best girl was waiting for us at the airport to pick us up! huzzah! And then home to my Macy who I missed dreadfully, HUZZAH!!

It was a really lovely holiday, best boy makes a good travel companion, and mum was very well behaved, and it was all just nice. Wanna go back.
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