“There’s a tidda,” came the announcement as we approached Scottsdale, a largish town in Tasmania’s often under-rated north-east. “Do you want me to stop?” I asked, but had answered my own question by braking hard into the verge before I had finished the query.
And sure enough there was a tidda – a boy-speak term coined many years ago for an echidna – quite happily digging itself a burrow in the rocky slope leading up from the road.
We watched the tidda – actually not a bad descriptor of one of Australia’s strangest creatures – for a while, took some photos, then motored on.
We were skating across the beautiful north-east of Tasmania towards Devonport, where we had a date the following morning with the Spirit of Tasmania and a ferry trip back to Melbourne, but we had left time for a beer in the Pub in the Paddock at Pyengana, a visit to the monkeys in Launceston and a glance at the Great Western Tiers on the approach to Devonport.
If time had allowed, my lady at the time, aka The Woman With Altitude, and I would have visited the spectacular championship golf courses at Barnbougle, right on the coast near Bridport, fed the wallabies at Mount William National Park, and explored some of the wineries in the beautiful Tamar Valley.
Anyway, the Pub in the Paddock, its beer-swilling pig and its fantastically friendly hosts provided a refreshing enough break before continuing on to the 90-metre St Columba Falls to marvel at the watery feats of nature.
The falls really are worth the drive and the walk to spend some time at.
The last thing you expect to see in northern Tasmania is an island of monkeys, though that’s exactly what you get in Launceston’s fabulous City Park.
The monkeys obviously have no worries about the cold weather, and, if activity is anything to go by, they certainly do enough to keep themselves warm.
And the park, with its neatly trimmed grass, rotundas and various other man-made ornaments, really is gorgeous – an absolute credit to Launceston and its citizens.
Anyway, enough of Tasmania’s northern capital. We still had some driving to do to reach Devonport, where we were booked to stay in the Gateway and dine at the restaurant there.
Most of the way we were accompanied by the magnificent spectre of the Great Western Tiers to our left, protecting the vast and truly rugged Tasmanian wilderness beyond.
The accommodation met our main criterion of being close to where the ferry left but it was little more than a suburban motel in Devonport of all places, so we didn’t expect much.
And sure, the restaurant didn’t measure up to the Hobart top end but the seafood and the rest of the menu were excellent, especially an entree of salt-and-pepper squid, which was just so so tender and came with a delicious aioli dipping sauce.
It turned out, as The Woman With Altitude so rightly said, to be a highlight of our Tasmanian adventure.
And the bed was large and comfortable, the towels were plush and the hot water was plentiful … and we got to the ferry in plenty of time. What more could one ask for?