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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

April 6 – 7, 2011 Freycinet National Park (part 1 of 2)

Frank had booked us at the Freycinet Lodge, situated right in the middle of the National Park. The setting is tranquil and entirely surrounded by nature.  Our large cabin was the top-end luxury accommodation, complete with a deep Jacuzzi bath large enough for 4, a beautiful bathroom, kitchenette, sofa, sitting area, and a freestanding king bed. I opened the fridge to place our fruits, cheeses and snacks inside to find a large platter of cheeses, fruits, crackers, breads and nuts. We laughed as we read the personalized welcome note from the resort manager. Accompanying this was a bottle of champagne and chilled flutes. I felt like such a hillbilly bringing my own ice chest filled with snacks. Poor Frank was faced with the challenge of consuming the champagne all by his lonesome.  But right now daylight was burning, so we dropped everything but the hiking supplies and set off for the trails. We drove over to the trailhead and read the descriptions of various hikes.

We chose the Wineglass Bay hike. It begins with a vertical climb that is mostly stepped but steep and rigorous. There are several stopping and lookout points along the way. It is so beautiful that I hardly noticed the steepness. The colors and formations of the rocky cliffs and ledges were just remarkable. Lizards scurried about, bees and flies attacked! The greenery became dry and brittle but those rocks were beautiful. Although the weather was very cool we warmed up quickly and began to shed layers. We kept meeting people on their way down, who would remark to us: “It is well worth it! You’re half-way there!” “Stunning! You’ll love it!”, “Don’t give up – you are nearly there…”. Gosh I was loving this part so I couldn’t wait to see what was next around every bend and curve and outcropping. I was so busy looking, swatting flies and trying to breath that I kept forgetting to take out my camera. At about 2/3 of the way up we came to an inviting wooden-slatted lounge chair. We took a little rest. If I had been 30 or 40 years younger I would have thought I’d gone to heaven seeing all the cool caves and hiding spots in which I could have built a fort! We were like children all over again. Eventually we came to the summit, where a large platform had been erected to give a breathtaking view of Wineglass Bay. We posed for pictures, sat for an apple and some nibbles, explored around the area a bit more and then set off for the trip back down.Going down was amazingly steep and tricky.
I’m wobbling about trying to keep my balance going straight down when a mob of teenage boys came dashing past me on all sides, nearly knocking down a couple of elderly women in front of us. My joy was dashed as I thought, “Little Turds!” After that I snapped to it and decided to just get on with it. We excused ourselves past the older ladies and quickstepped past the flies and lizards hitting the car park in half the time it had taken us to go up. Although the hike was only about 3k, it took us about an hour and a half all together. We felt exhilarated and hungry.

Returning to our cabin, we grabbed our platter and some drinks from the fridge and retired to the back deck for a sundowner. Our cabin was surrounded by a densely forested area teeming with songbirds and other chattering wildlife, as though it was built to be part of the nature around it. Rays of sunlight were streaming down through the canopy giving our little world a sense of heavenly tranquility. Just through the trees we noted a path that led down to a golden sand beach. We sipped, nibbled and enjoyed the sounds of nature with the sun warming our faces through the chilled mountain air.  I could do this for a while.

We pulled ourselves from the dream, tidied up and walked over to the lodge for dinner. We opted for the casual dining room. The specials board featured lots of tempting dishes, including Tasmanian (whole) lobster and Sri Lankan curry. I chose the lobster; Frank the curry. We stuffed ourselves and then took a little stroll. The night air was quite chilly, but so clean and fresh! We decided a soak in our tub was in order. Afterward, Frank donned his robe, grabbed a beer and decided to sit on the back deck for a cool down. I was just getting out when Frank parted curtains and jumped back exclaiming, “Barbara, there are mammals on our deck!” What? Mammals?

I grabbed a robe and ran to the patio doors; peering out into the darkness I saw flashes of big, round eyes and heard scratching, growling and knocking. Frank grabbed a flashlight and shone it out up against the glass. It illuminated four bushy-tailed and very beautiful possums fighting over an errant beer bottle. It was so eerie and they were so pretty that I grabbed my camera for a snapshot before they disbanded. As I eased the glass open, a scrawny claw reached out toward the screen directly in front of my face. I had visions of it shredding the screen with lightening speed and then setting itself upon us and annihilating the contents of our room. (I’d read about these occurrences in the “wildlife warnings” section of our travel guides). I snapped a quick photo and slammed the patio door shut. They started making a really loud ruckus out there, fighting over that beer bottle! Frank turned on the porch light and started yelling at them like a banshee, banging on the gladd door. They scattered and then he threw open the door and dived for the beer bottle. That settled that. By now we were getting cold again, so we dived into bed with the electric blanket.

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