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By juliesams, 10/09/2010 - 06:06

Oh wonderful Tasmania, where for art thou Tasmania? After only two days in the Australian state of Tasmania I was thinking ‘I love Tasmania’. It felt a million miles away from the East Coast of Australia, and I think because we flew there it did feel like we were arriving in another country altogether. I have not yet been to New Zealand, but for most of the week we were in Tasmania, it felt like what I imagine New Zealand to be like. Tasmania oozed with laid-backness, homeliness, calmness, order and friendliness. OK, so it was cold, but that wasn’t a problem – we simply unpacked our fleeces from our rucksacks that had been redundant since Brisbane.

Upon arrival sometime around 11pm at the airport, we picked up the hire car we had reserved with Europcar and with myself in the navigator’s passenger seat, driver Mark at the wheel, we set off toward the hostel we had reserved. A short drive from the airport into town, it felt very strange to be in control of a car again! Since selling our car in December 2009 in preparation for travelling, neither of us had driven. Maybe we can blame this for the couple of ‘mishaps’ along the way in our first two days in Tas…?

Arriving shortly before midnight at the hostel, we parked outside on the road. The next morning we were greeted with a female traffic warden attaching a parking fine to our windscreen: $35. So much for the plan of heading straight to Mount Wellington. Instead, we had to head to the Council offices in the town centre to pay up. However, after explaining we were new in town and had just hired a car etc etc, we were let off the fine, which we were very grateful for.

On with the day to head for Mount Wellington. Here you could drive to the very top of the mountain (some 1000m above sea level) and look out over the glorious views of Hobart and beyond. We took advantage of having a car and drove up! I’m glad we didn’t hike, it was freezing, there were patches of snow on the ground, which show how cold it was up there.

After a full day’s outing, taking in fish and chips at Kingston beach and also a trip to the ‘office’ (aka McDonalds free wifi), we returned to the Hobart hostel and, after carefully checking the parking signs over and over again, agreed it was safe to leave the car on the road until 9am the next morning when the restrictions came into place.

For our second day in ‘Tas’ we had planned a day trip to Port Arthur, using the Hobart hostel as a base because we had long since learned that if you find a hostel you like, then you stay for as long as you can before you have to move on! Leaving the hostel, smug because we thought we’d interpreted the parking signs correctly the night before, we find an $80 police fine attached to the windscreen, written at 8:05am. Mark goes to speak to our hostel owner who explains that yes the council parking restrictions commence at 9am, but that from 8am-9am the road is a police clearway. He does point out though that the council and the police systems don’t communicate with each other…So off we head into town to the police station. There is nowhere to park outside the police station, so, Mark jumps out and I start to circle the large block. Half way around, the car breaks down in the middle of the road. I’m causing a jam, and there is no-one around to help, or willing to help, other than people in cars trying to get past me. Leaving the hazards on, abandoning the car and expecting to get some sort of parking ticket on my return, I race off to find Mark at the police station. Thankfully the police have also taken pity on the ‘new in town English tourists’ and have decided that they will kindly let us off the huge fine, so it’s just left to go back and get the car working. Well, they say things happen in 3’s don’t they, so a ticket on the abandoned broken down vehicle would not have surprised me…but luckily there was nothing on the windscreen this time. With all the excitement or the morning over, and with a trip to the Europcar office thrown in, we did eventually set off for our day trip to Port Arthur! We probably don’t need to tell you that the new Hyundai’s are immobilised unless the clutch is depressed when starting…