Cygnet, Tasmania: Careful What You Wish For

Posted: April 3, 2013 in Uncategorized
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As I sat with coffee and cookie in hand beneath the broad blue sky in the garden of The Velvet Cafe, Cygnet, Tasmania last Monday, I looked around at that bohemian-flavoured town and wished I had more time to spend there.  Be careful what you wish for.

I travelled from Cygnet on the remarkably well priced local bus winding through an hour and a half of forested mountains and chameleon sky.  I found my hostel for the night with ease, already knowing my way confidently around the compact city of Hobart.  I packed a small rucksack with books, notepad and water and set off for an exceptionally relaxed day in the city before waving a fond farewell to Tassie and jumping on a plane to Sydney the following morning.

Two coffees, a small chocolate brownie, a superbly relaxed and purposeless browse through some shops and a couple of parks later, I laid out my coat under the dappled shade of a tree in the park nearest the water and settled down for an afternoon read before maybe treating myself to a pie and beer situation in the Irish bar across the road.  I read in comfort and dosed a little, content and relaxed, enjoying the gentle, lush surroundings.  I read a little more.  Inevitably, my mind wandered from time to time.  On one occasion, it strayed to how best to pack my bags for the flight tomorrow (what exciting thoughts I have).  Now, I usually start the smaller rucksack with my notepad at the bottom, followed by my laptop, my raincoat, any food, my…hold on.  My raincoat.  Where…oh no…no…tell me no…I haven’t?! Oh, I have.

I’m always faintly amused how well my calm and reasoned approach to things stands up even against what could be a moment of panic.  It’s a calmness I sometimes feel is detrimental…it takes a lot to draw external displays of excitement/shock/anger from me (except dogs…dogs always do it).  A student I used to teach in deepest darkest behaviourally nightmarish Croydon still laughs over facebook with me about the time a fight broke out between two of his friends and I sat with raised eyebrow and asked him to ‘sort those two out will you’.  And here, sitting in this park, 5pm nearing on the clock, realising I had just over 12 hours to instigate a raincoat-retrieval mission, the calm remained and instantly I was planning take-off. 

First port of call, phone the farm where I’d left it.  Robynne already knew and suggested she post it.  Problem: the parcel would arrive to an empty house in Sydney, I would not be there for another six days when I’d have one afternoon only to find the depot where it had inevitably be returned…without any transport.  Couldn’t ask brother and family (whose house it is) to sort it – they had enough on with moving house, getting two children up to the Bluesfest etc. Also, bloody expensive coat – risky business sending it through the post untracked.  By 5.05pm, I was determined to get the coat myself that evening.

Checked bus timetable.  I could get to Cygnet that evening (bus due to arrive in 24 minutes) but could not get back to Hobart until the one single bus leaving Cygnet the following morning – which would just, just get me to the airport in time.  Which would mean I’d need to take all my luggage.  I can’t say my internal calm quite extended to external niceties when I barged into the dorm room having sprinted across town, piled all my belongings into my two rucksacks and belted from the room, leaving an alarmed fellow-traveller staring in my wake.   I may even have tiptoed into the realm of sighing impatiently when the French speaking hostel manager failed to understand my explanation for leaving and somewhat half-hearted request for a refund – which I totally did not expect to get but did (60% of it – nice one Hobart Hostel).  There was definitely a moment whilst running with one rucksack loaded on my back and another on my front where I actually laughed aloud, considering from the perspective of amused/concerned looking passers-by how absurd an image I must have given.  After google maps could not recognise ‘Treasury Building’ where my bus left from and I had to take three re-directions, I arrived at my bus stop four minutes late.

Defeated, sweaty, slightly dizzy but ready for round two, I collapsed onto a nearby bench.  Here, neatly positioned at a time of brief pause, there were two minutes where there was a real possibility of giving up and sinking into a tired heap of tears.  Only reminder of how in just a matter of hours, I’d have this sorted kept me together.  Plus a few well-placed words expressing non-too-politely my disdain at the lack of bus timetable presented at the stop.

And so I began phoning Huonville – the nearest town I could now reach – taxis for price estimations to Cygnet.  $40.  Fine.  Next: phone Cygnet hostels.  There aren’t many.  Make that any.  Hotel accommodation was looking to be costing me an extra $80 when I remembered camping.  I think my exact words when I rang up were ‘I have no tent but wondered if you have any form of shelter I can sleep beneath in exchange for money’.  He did.  A caravan, $30, second on your right when you enter the park, he’d leave the keys in the door.  Brilliant! I’ve actually always wanted to stay in a van.  Things were looking up!

Having finally caught the bus, I phoned Robynne who said she could meet me in Cygnet with the coat.  Only, she could not longer meet me.  The taxi would have to take me to the house – another twenty minutes in total.  My saving grace – the Steve Irwin-like energy of Stuart, my taxi driver who, whilst speeding through the moonlit lanes of Tasmania’s coastline, detailed the peaking and troughing industries of Tasmania and the changing climate of the past two decades…together with the prank he was playing on his mate in the pub later on.  Total cost: $70. 

And so I arrived back in Cygnet, van exactly where the man on the phone said it would be, key in door as promised.  Rowan, the owner’s son, came to take my money and amused me further with a thorough run-down of all the places that would no longer be open serving food.  Well I’d got what I wished for…and, despite the $100+, my extra night in Cygnet beneath the moon full, star-littered sky was well worth the trouble.

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