Tasmania: Australia’s quirky redemption?

Posted: March 20, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

When greeted by a seemingly solitary airport worker with a limp, a lopsided grin and the answer ‘it arrives when it arrives’ in reference to the apparently sporadic airport shuttle bus, I knew Launceston would live up to all my high expectations of quirky little Tasmania. 

Entirely fed-up of Australia’s carbon cut-out cities and characterless dwellers of these urban duplicates, I’ve been relying on Tassie to give me something to smile about.  The very fact that it is littered with names from Devon and Cornwall is a pretty good start but the immediate encounter with so many eyebrow raising eccentrics made it quite impossible for me to keep a straight face for my first half an hour in this land.

Firstly, the aforementioned airport worker, his limp drawing particular attention due to his first words being ‘follow me’, an action difficult to execute due to his gammy leg having rendered him just a shuffle shy of immobile.  When ‘it arrives when it arrives’ materialised into an actual shuttle bus fifteen minutes later, the first chap to unload, seeing me looking at my phone (checking shuttle bus times, needless to say), before even stepping from the bus grins and says ‘You texting me?’ and scampers off chuckling to himself.  

 The drawled accent of the bus driver was enough to make me doubt the judgement of anyone who says Australia doesn’t have regional accents.  It took the best part of a minute for him to deliver the message that he wouldn’t take just one customer back as it wasn’t economic (much like his rambling choice of words to explain this matter).  Accompanying this remarkable Australian drawl was a tendency to repeat back entire sentences as way of confirmation, a tendency which is like to render the recipient somewhat speechless.  As way of example, when his question ‘How long are you in Launy (Launceston) for?’ met my reply ‘Until Sunday’, he thought it best to go the long way round: ‘Ahhh, so you’re here ‘til Sunday?’…”Um…yep.”  This was not an isolated case.

Despite his speech ‘characteristics’, the driver was another delightfully upbeat colourful Tasmanian, leading me quite successfully down the path of delusion that all Tasmanians would be the same.  Not for long.  The hostel manager, was there to check my rocketing optimism.  Upon entry to the perfectly tatty and characterful ‘Launceston backpackers’, I popped my head into the office and offered a cheery ‘hello’ to the bald head of said manager.  I mention the bald head as I feel that, to date, I’ve had greater conversation with it than the face immediately below it. Given that this gentleman failed to grace me with his name, he shall be called ‘Bald Headed One’ henceforth.  Bald Headed One is one of those overly officious little men who deliver clipped answers, often clad in pedantry and the type who like to conjure the impression that they perennially have something more important than talking to you to do.  Bald Headed One seemed at best ‘put out’ at my arrival and waited in silence until I delivered the seemingly obvious explanation of the situation ‘I’ve booked in for a couple of nights’.  “Are you here for a reason?” he answered, failing miserably to make eye contact. I laughed out loud.  With such exceptional contrast to the warmth and vitality of the people I had just minutes before been speaking with, Balded Headed On, in just a few short seconds, had me wondering whether my arrival in Tasmania was indeed all it was cracked up to be.  At least, that would have been my response should I not have been so amused by this peculiar little man. 

“Um…,” I began, beaming with what I can only imagine was an expression of amused disbelief.  He apparently may have retained just enough social grace to recognise the need for further explanation. “Are you here for the walk tomorrow?” 

“Yes, yes I am.  The cradle mountain walk.”  He still hadn’t looked up.  He turned to his notebook, a well-guarded companion in a much rehearsed double-act I can only imagine.  “Nope, I don’t think so!” he delivered triumphantly. 

“Oh, um…” I began peering over the notebook in an attempt to appear to be contributing to solving a problem that really I felt was entirely his given I’d spoken to another member of staff only yesterday to book the walk.

“Ah, yes, no, there you are,” he finally said, locating the pencilled in details towards the bottom of the page.  And as if to prove his own triumph in this discover, much like the one before, he efficiently summarised how all my contact details were in place, before asking me whether I had my key.

“Uh…” racking my brains to see if my travel-addled memory had somehow erased receipt of a key in the last three minutes, “no.”

“Well, you’ve just walked right past it!”

Of course.  Of course I had.  Silly me.  Two rucksacks still in hand, I backed out of the door and back through the main door.  “To your right!” he hollered from his throne behind the desk.  Sure enough, inside an envelope complete with my name, a key had been sticky-taped to the window beside the door.  By this point, I was actively working to contain a snigger at the absurdity of this individual.  It’s just as well he kept his head down as I’m not entirely sure what he would have made of my open amusement at his collection of anti-social idiosyncrasies. 

Just before pointing me in the general direction of my dorm room, Bald Headed One plonked three heavy blankets in my one free arm, seemingly oblivious to the luggage juggling act I had already been battling with for the best part of five minutes.  “Have a great stay,” were his parting words, words that uttered by almost anyone other human would indicate at least a partial desire for the other person to enjoy themselves but by this creature were administered with such a meaningless shade of monotone that again I laughed aloud before repaying him with an exaggerated ‘Thank you so much’ and opened the door to my dorm, keen for some privacy in which to freely air my amusement.

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Comments
  1. Jennifer says:

    I hope if you come to Hobart, we have less Bald Headed One’s and more of the gammy legged fun people. Arrived here from Zozowalter.

    • Yeah me too! 🙂 Though both provide entertainment! I’ve actually been near Hobart for a week – near the Huon Valley River. Popped into Hobart yesterday and LOVED the Salamanca Markets but didn’t really have the opportunity to talk to many people. Back there on Tuesday – any suggestions?

      • Jennifer says:

        You were oh so close to where I am.. Depends what you like to do. Check to see if MONA is open, a must, you can spend all day there. What did you do at Huonville, and are you a shopper, history buff, adventure-er…?

      • Yep, did mona at the weekend- albeit a flying tour as timing was tight! Great though, really glad I went. On Tuesday I’m attempting a low cost day- getting the bus from cygnet through huonville to hobart… What is really like are a few quirky cafes/pubs to hang out in and read or a while and maybe some nice outdoor spaces??? Thanks for helping! 🙂

      • Jennifer says:

        Quirky would be anywhere that is not in city centre, Cygnet and Huonville have their fair share. Battery Point (Hobart) while pretty is not quirky though. South and West Hobart, then North to find some good places. I’m not so good as I don’t go out much, not like that anyway. Enjoy, I’d like to hear what you got up to 🙂

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