Monday, March 19, 2018

8 March 2018 - Day 5 - Hobart to Burnie/Devonport/Launceston and Melbourne

The bed was comfortable and I emerged well rested by 6 am. The other roomies must have crept into their beds sometime early morning. I was loathe to disturb them, but I had to do my own things. I tiptoed around the room as much as I could without putting on the lights. I was ready before 7 am and the common lounge wasn’t open yet. At the reception I returned the pillow cover and dropped the key in the drop box. When the common lounge was opened I went there to charge the devices and complete some pending documentation. In the kitchen I made a cup of strong coffee before settling down to write a blog account.

The departure was set for after 9 am as the distance to cover was not much and I had a late evening flight for Melbourne from Launceston. I decided to explore the A5 route after Granton, taking the Highland Lakes Road. The drive right up to Deloraine, where it rejoined the A1 to Burnie and Devonport, was a most enjoyable drive. Through verdant hills, farming lands, quaint hamlets and the Great Lakes, I was glad that I had taken this route. I stopped at a town called Bothwell and fueled up, which in hindsight turned out to be an excellent decision. I did not find any fuel station on the rest of A5. Bothwell has a population fo less than 400! It is better known for hunting and is situated on the River Clyde. At the Bothwell Garage the smell of yummy sandwiches tempted me into buying a double bacon, egg in BBQ sauce sandwich. It was terrific and delayed me in Bothwell as well as on the way because all attempts to keep a portion for lunch fell on the deaf senses of the brain that controls such instincts. The rest of the drive was through the Central Plateau Conservation area, which is the highest lands in Tasmania. To the west of it is the Cradle Mountain. The other feature of the drive on A5 was the Great Lake area. The lookout point gives amazing views of the lakes. The lake does get frozen in parts during the winter. The Miena Dam is another place of tourist interest attached to the Great Lake.
From Deloraine it was barely 100 km to Burnie, the start of A1 in Tasmania. From there I drove via Devonport to take a look at the Spirit of Tasmania in Devonport port. I had missed the opportunity to sail on her this time. Maybe, soon, sometime. From Devonport I took B11 instead of A1 to drive through the woods. It was a superlative experience. I reached the car rental in Launceston at 1530 hours. The car return was as hassleless as had been collecting her. The inspection of the car was quickly made – I had topped up fuel before taking the car to the rental yard. John agreed to attest my documentation and soon dropped me at the airport. I had a few hours before the flight was announced. As I had already taken the boarding pass the previous day, I had to just wait it out.
As I was driving from Hobart this morning Deeju Shivdas of SBS, the second largest broadcasting company in Australia got in touch with me. He had seen the report that had appeared in the Indian Sun a couple of days back. Deeju mentioned that he used to work for Asianet till 2012 and moved to Australia after that. He requested for a phone in interview for Malayalam as well as English audience. They have slots for over 68 languages. The Malayalam segment was scheduled to go on air at 7 pm this day. As I waited at the Launceston airport I completed both the interviews, before I took the flight, which was on time.
I had a problem with parking my car at the Urban Central accommodation if I stayed there this night. They agreed to keep the car only till 9.30 am. I had been invited by Ashok Nair, a former railway colleague, to stay over tomorrow evening with his daughter, Ranjana, and her family in a suburb of Melbourne. The advantage of that location was that the connection to The Great Ocean Drive was not very far away and would save me time on the 10th. When the problem of parking the car hit me this morning I was toying with alternatives. In the end I chose to speak to Ashok to enquire if I could get in there a night early. It was a most unusual request, but forced by circumstances that only pointed to this solution. He readily agreed and said that he would wait up for me for dinner. I insisted that I would arrive after dinner at 9 pm. so, it was to Ashok’s daughter’s house that I set the Google Maps to, in Williams Landing, upon retrieving the car from the Pacific Airport Parking.

It took me just under a half hour to reach the address of the excellent couple Ranjana and Fazalul Rahman and their precocious son, Reyhaan. The doctor couple had initially moved to Australia to do their Master’s program in Medicine; they are practicing physiotherapists. Fazalul runs his own clinic just a few minutes’ drive from the house, while Ranjana works in an aged care centre. They made me totally at ease in their lovely home, without even feeling that I am meeting them for the first time. Reyhaan is completely ‘wedded’ to cars – he has tens of them in all shapes, sizes and makes. Ranjana served up a tasty fare of fish fry and fish curry. Here was home cooked food after so long.

With the visit to Tasmania I had completed three states of Australia and their capital cities, namely New South Wales (Sydney), Victoria (Melbourne) and Tasmania (Hobart). Within the federal structure, each state is fiercely competitive and enforces rules and regulations in the manner in which it deems most appropriate for its citizens.

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