DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK 8 2019
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 19
People hurry to work in up-town Hobart, as I seek out my morning coffee on the first full day of our Tasmanian holiday. Oh. How good is it, to be retired. A wild looking young bloke recounts a story about the police, to a mate: “The c…s asked, ‘What’s in the bag?’.
The cruise ship in the harbor is ‘Carnival Legend, which was the centre of a major drama when a large group of people were evicted from the vessel following a wild brawl. The people I see walking from the ship, do not look happy. They do not look like they are having a holiday.
Marie and I catch the ‘Mona Roma’ vessel to Mona Museum, which is ‘different’, as we expected. A lady is feeding the poo machine when we arrive at that section. An attendant tells an Asian family to move on, as they ‘anchor’ in an area where there is an R rated display. We have one drink at the museum’s cellar bar – Marie a gin from Brighton. Enjoy drinks in the mosh pit on the Mona Roma cruise back to Constitution Dock. Dinner at Shipwright Arms (calamari, moi/seafood chowder, Marie). The Italian restaurant at Battery Point is packed. Last drinks at ‘The Den’, Salamanca.
Back in Brisbane there is a cocktail party for retiring Australian Rugby League Commission chairman, former Test winger, John Grant. Still loved in Queensland, but not so by the Sydney media. In attendance are the likes of Wally Lewis, Steve Haddan, Laurence Lancini, Dennis Watt and Kevin Brasch.
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 20
Drive south through Sandy Bay, lovely Kingston Beach, Blackman’s Beach and then Tinderbox, where we have a walk along the beach, looking over to Bruny Island. Marie spots a large stingray in the shallows. Drive to Howden and Margate, and then over Sandfly to Willie Smith’s Cider Shed for lunch. I have one pale ale from the Huon Valley’s Church Hill Brewery. The barman is from Novia Scotia. Next stop is the Home Hill Vineyard, although we almost come to grief, when confronted by a Chinese driver, trying to do a u-turn on a bridge. The Chinese have locals on edge with their bizarre driving habits. Marie and I have a leg stretch in Huonville, which boasts a wooden, Boer War Statue, referring, in particular, to the Siege of Ladysmith.
Book into Secret Garden B & B at Cygnet. The house dates back to 1913, and is built in the Federation style. A bit shabby, but has plenty of character. Plum trees in the garden. The house creaks a bit, and at night, Marie thinks it is a ghost. One beer in Commercial Hotel, where there is a game of pool taking place, and the participants swear like mad. There is a photo of a 1915 woodchop event. Marie cooks salmon, bought from Cygnet’s organic food shop.
In Lismore, the Tatts Hotel has closed, a victim of the floods.
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 21.
Picnic lunch at Randall Bay after walk from Micky’s Beach. Buy lovely cherries at Birch’s Bay, then to Hartzview Vineyard.
Cygnet Town Hall hosts a food and drink event, and there is such a lovely vibe. Chat to ‘Brody the Roady’ and his wife, (a nurse) who have moved from Perth to Cygnet. The Riesling and pinot noir is from Elsewhere at Glazier Bay. Marie and I share a Bass Strait squid burger and a British pork pie. The singer, Miah Aplin, is cute, has a good voice, but sings too softly.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 22
Borrow book ‘Great Australian Historic Hotels’ from ‘Man Shed’ cupboard in Cygnet – donated by Bill Spotswood. Good on you, Bill. Scallop pies for lunch. Walk along the foreshore to the yacht club, then up the main street to the ‘top pub’, where a friendly barman serves draft Coopers. Watch the world go by – from the verandah – trucks carrying apples, firewood and sheep.
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 23
Nothing opens before 8 in Cygnet. Get the ferry from Kettering to Bruny Island, where our first stop is Barnes Bay, then the old quarantine station. Lunch at Bruny Island Gallery/Cafe where our waitress hails from Bordeaux in France. ‘Get Shucked’ is the next stop, and I demolish a dozen osyters and a Cascade Pal Ale. The cheese shop is next, and we buy George and 1792 cheese, plus Oxymoron Pale Ale. At ‘The Neck’ we climb the lookout for the fabulous view. Our accommodation on the island is a cabin at Adventure Bay. There is a water truck there when we arrive, and there are wallabies and hens everywhere. A group of Asians come in to take photographs, despite the private property notice. Former deputy Prime Minister, Doug Anthony and his wife, Margot stayed in our cabin back in 2014, and my sister, Gay Lynch and husband, David stayed there in January, 2015. Marie and I adjourn to the bowls club, where wallaby schnitzel is on the menu. We chat to an old couple from New Norfolk. He is meeting the Premier, Will Hodgman the following day, on Bruny, before returning to the mainland to attend a Max Gillies’ play at Hobart’s Theatre Royal. Now 74, the former forestry worker had arranged a cuppa with the Premier, to discuss some of the problems confronting Bruny.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 24
At Bruny Wines we buy two bottles of Dillon and Sons Cider. Explore Cloudy Bay, and then the headland where there is the lighthouse. Chat to a Melbourne Storm rugby league fan, who wants to know why I don’t say ‘Eh’ at the end of a sentence, given I am a Queenslander. I tell him that is a North Queensland thing. One beer at Bruny pub, where our barman is Canadian.
Learn of the passing of Dr Betty Marks, 93, who for 66 years was a medico at Murwillumbah.
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 25
Walk Fluted Cape, and it is quite a challenging cliff top adventure. See parrots that look like big budgies, as well as an orange wren; a blond wallaby and an echidna, the fourth we have seen on Bruny. Celebrate the walk with two drinks at bowls club. Higgins is a big name on the honor board. See a young bloke wearing a solar back pack. You still hear people in Tasmania address each other as cobber, which I think is wonderful.
Photo 1: Our B & B at Cygnet
Photo 2: The Neck, Bruny Island
Photo 3: Our cabin, Adventure Bay
Photo 4: Fluted Cape walk.