Friday, 10 March 2000

day thirty-four: st. helens to port arthur

It had rained all night, and the day looked miserable as we started off for the drive to Freycinet National Park. Shaun, our "Steering Wheel Attendant" promised the sun would appear, but as we started the hike to Wineglass Bay, it rained again.

We started over the Hazards Range, shrouded in mist, and at the top, the lookout could not be seen, so we moved down to the bay.

After about an hour, we arrived, and the weather had brightened, but the waves crashed against the sand, so it looked unlikely anyone would venture in. Shaun went first, and then I got up the courage to follow, as did Maddy. It was fun, the sea sucked you in, bowled you over, then spat you back out onto the beach.

We were privileged to see the bay in this mood, normally calm and tranquil, and probably a little dull. The return climb was a pain, but when we neared the top, Maddy noticed the lookout was visible, so we took a detour to see the view.

A drive to Coles Bay for lunch and another swim, before heading on to Port Arthur.

Port Arthur, the most infamous of the convict settlements set up by us Brits, where life was harsh, cruel, and the cause of death for over 1000 prisoners. It was everything I expected it to be. Atmospheric, and a little creepy. We booked into the YHA, itself boasting a resident ghost, Alice, who wanders the corridors and was often seen in the dorms.

After dinner, tasty pasta cooked by Shaun, we went on a ghost tour - just making it to the starting point, we all got lost in the dark, and stumbled upon another ghost tour in the church. The noise we made did not help the spooky atmosphere the guide was trying to create.

We heard interesting tales of sightings and some history of the buildings we visited. Unfortunately, the walk wasn't scary, but fun all the same.

With the tour finished, we walked back to the YHA, via the church, and climbed the tower. This failed to scare the four of us, Nik, Maddy, Sven, and I. We returned to the YHA, Maddy and I had a beer outside before going to bed, where we saw a levitating stone frog move up onto the porch from the garden! Honestly, Nik, we did!!

A night without sleep, snoring from all four corners of the dorm