Truck Converted to a Guest Room

Days 463-464

I checked out of my motel in Queenstown, Tasmania, and grabbed a delicious toastie from a nearby restaurant before hitting the road. The road leaving the small town climbed up the mountain that is on the edge of town. A road sign warned, “Rest Survive The Drive.” The roads in Tasmania are very curvy, making it challenging. The sign listed how long it would take to get to nearby destinations because you can’t use mileage as a gauge with the constant zig-zagging on the roads. 

Sign survive the drive
road around mountain

I drove up the mountain and stopped at the top. There was a “Welcome to Queenstown” sign which overlooked the whole town. It was still cold outside, with clouds turning the sky white. There were green trees and bushes, but also a lot of brown dirt and rocks. 

welcome to queenstown, tasmania
queenstown sign with rock
mountains and town

Shortly after that stop, I pulled over to see an old mine filled with water. The rock walls had layers that had been cut as it got deeper. In the middle of the circle was an emerald green pool of water. The edges of the water were yellow. It was beautiful! 

mining quarry with water
water in quarry
woman near quarry

In the distance, I could see an abandoned town. The sign read, “The settlement you see in the distance is Gormanston. It is living proof that our destiny can unravel in an instant.”

old mine with clouds

There were a few towns that were created with the mining, but not all survived. The sign explained, “They were the product of a bitter feud between two mining men and their rival companies. The men, James Crotty and Bowes Kelly, had by the end of the 1880s each built their own major mine, smelters, railway, port and series of towns, housing a total of 10,000 people.”

The sign continued, “Crotty had the richest mine, North Lyell, which suffered from poor management and financial blunders. Kelly’s Mount Lyell Mining Company had astute leadership but diminished ore reserves. A merger was inevitable.”

They reached an agreement in 1903, and it went against the North Lyell Company. The sign described what happened next, “The town of Darwin, south of here, was abandoned almost overnight. Crotty was soon deserted – its site is now below man-made Lake Burbury. Pillinger, at Kelly Basin, with brand new wharves, houses, shops and brickworks, lingered for a few years. Gormanston and its sister town, Linda, despite much adversity, have managed to survive with a permanent population of around 50 people. New recreation opportunities rather than mining are now the life blood of the communities.”

It was wild to see how fast towns could be created and destroyed. Life on the island was remote, and I could see why people gravitated to where other people were. 

I continued driving, and the views were incredible! At one point, trees were to my right, and water was to my left. Mountains surrounded the water. Even though it was cloudy and misty, it was still beautiful. 

road with ocean to the side
bridge over water with mountains
road with leafless trees

I stopped at a hiking trail at Franklin River and walked along the path for an hour. It was peaceful and reminded me of the Pacific Northwest (USA). It was wet, raining off and on. It was also cold. 

hiking path in forest
hiking trail through forest
tree log with moss
wooden boardwalk through a forest

I continued driving past green farmland and rolling hills. The road took me up and down various mountains. There were virtually no cars around. 

I arrived at The Wall and pulled over. It’s a building in the forest that has wooden sculptures in a gallery. Pictures aren’t allowed, and a sign warned, “Badly behaved children will not be tolerated. Please think about the supervision of your child before entering to avoid any unpleasant repercussions. By order of the Artist.”

Once I was inside, I understood why the artist was so concerned. His artwork is incredible! There were panels of wood with various stories of people, animals, and the landscape. It told the story of Australia. Some panels were smooth, and others were 3D. They were all very detailed and realistic. The beginning of Australia was a hard life for those who ventured there. 

There was a sign from the artist explaining that he didn’t intend his work to be political like most contemporary art does these days. He just started working and let it unfold.

The artist, Greg Duncan, uses Huon Pine to create the masterpieces. Some of the pieces were incomplete and were still being worked on. Greg said he’ll work on it until it feels complete. There wasn’t much about aboriginal culture because they wouldn’t participate. The artist has said he realized it’s their story to tell. You can view glimpses of his work here

Once I was finished browsing the gallery, I went into the cafe. I ordered soup and tasty biscuits with jam and cream. I browsed Airbnb for a place to stay that night. I found a homestead, and I couldn’t wait to get there! 

biscuits and jam with cream

I continued driving, and the landscape became a little drier and browner. Some of the roads weren’t paved, and it felt remote. I stopped at Little Pine Lagoon Lakeside Reserve. I walked around a grassy area, and kangaroos were out eating. If I got too close, they’d hop off into the distance. 

road through tasmania
kangaroo with tree and water

It was time to keep driving, and the road took me up a mountain with views for miles. Once I was at the bottom again, I drove past sheep and cow farms with bright green grass. The clouds started to dissipate, and the blue sky peeked through. 

creepy tree
road up a mountain
lookout from a mountain
sheep farm
tree in farm

I arrived at Belmont Homestead at 6:00 pm, just before dark. The owner came out to greet me. She was in her late 50s to early 60s. She was tall and was wearing modern city-type clothes. Her hair was pulled back in a sophisticated way, and she wore glasses and nice makeup. She was fit and pretty. Her look didn’t seem to fit the homestead and country vibe. 

Belmont homestead

The woman told me that she and her husband bought the property two years before, but he passed away at the beginning of the year. She couldn’t handle the property independently because it was too much work, so she was selling it. 

The woman walked me around the outside of the property. She rented the main house and lived in a separate wing. There was a small cottage that she also rented out. I was staying in the converted truck! 

pond with little bridge

The landscaping was beautiful around the house! There were chickens and mini-goats in two different pens. When we arrived at the mini-goats, the woman let me feed them through the fence. They looked like stuffed animals and loved when I scratched their heads! 

woman with mini-goats

The woman walked me to the converted truck where I’d be staying. She explained that they took the large truck bed and put an arched ceiling, bathroom, and balcony on it. The previous owners started it, but she finished it and decked it all out. The truck cab was still attached to the front. Stairs and a small porch were leading to the front door. 

truck converted to a guest house

I walked inside, and the design looked like a gypsy. There were a lot of purple items and crystal designs. The bathroom was by the front door, and the main room had a full-sized bed, a couch, and a little kitchenette. There was a sliding glass door leading to a porch on the backside with views of the property. The sunset was a pretty purple-pinkish color. 

bed inside a converted truck
kitchenette in converted truck
bathroom in converted truck

The truck was cozy and comfortable. I ate dinner in my room and watched some T.V. This was one of the most unique stays that I’ve ever been to. The more unique stays that I found, the more I wanted to own/host something like that.

The following day, I walked around the property because I wanted to pet the goats again. As I approached their fence, I noticed two of them were outside of the pen! One of them walked over to me, sniffed my shoe, and then lightly bit my big toe! Then he tried to eat my jeans. 


I grabbed some grass and fed the mini-goats inside and outside the pen. They really loved it when I scratched their head, and I loved petting them. Their eyes were so beautiful with unique pupils. 


Next, I walked over to the chicken pen and called them over. They all came running and were curious about me. The whole property was peaceful, and I didn’t want to leave. 


I had more to see, so I drove to Wineglass Bay. On the way, I saw a winery called Devil’s Corner. There were beautiful views, so I pulled over. I climbed into a structure they had onsite and was rewarded with views of the fields, ocean, and mountains in the distance. I ordered a coffee for take-away and continued my drive. 

devil's corner sign

When I arrived at Freycinet National Park, I went inside a building to buy a permit for the area. I walked around a beach where boats were parked in the ocean and houses were on the hillside. 

ocean with boats

When I arrived at the hike that would take me to Wineglass Bay, I quickly realized it would be a steep incline. Sometimes the path was just dirt with a steep slope, and other times it was a never-ending staircase of rock steps. 

hiking path
stairs in hiking path

It was chilly outside, but the sun came out, providing some warmth. The steps were a workout, so I had that cold sweat going on. 

rock and stairs in hiking path

There were a lot of people climbing up and down the path. Once I arrived at the top, there was an incredible view of the ocean. The mountains surrounded the ocean that was a circle, with a smaller opening to the rest of the ocean. 

wineglass bay
wineglass bay
woman at wineglass bay

As I pondered why it was called Wineglass Bay, I overheard a tour guide telling his group how it got the name. When they used to have a lot of whaling, the water turned blood red from the creatures being murdered, making it appear that it was a glass of red wine. 

wineglass bay

That was a horrible image, and I was glad the water was now a pretty blue. There were longer hikes available that would take you to the beach, but I didn’t have time to go farther. 

I turned back towards my car and started the long descent down. The mountains had many shrubs and greenery, and it reminded me of parts of southern California hiking. 

hiking trail

I drove back across the peninsula to Cole’s Bay, and there was a small town there. I grabbed lunch and sat outside at a cafe overlooking the ocean. I couldn’t help but hear a guy around 20 years old talking with his mother. He had spent a few months in the U.S. When the server brought his coffee out to him, he told his mom, “That’s another thing that’s different in the U.S. Their coffee is extremely hot, almost boiling. I suppose it’s because they sip on it for hours, so they need it to stay warmer longer.”

ocean with boats

I was amused by the conversation and realized that we do drink our coffee over a period of time, sipping it. Australians drink many cups a day, often smaller than the U.S. cups, but they drink it fast. 

Cole's bay

I continued driving to Port Arthur. I was treated to views of the ocean, trees, and farms.

ocean from road
ocean view

I pulled over a couple of times when I saw a lookout spot or a sign. One sign read, “Spiky Bridge,” so I pulled over. Sure enough, it was a spiky bridge. It was a small, old bridge that had concrete on the sides. Buried into the concrete were uneven, sharp metal bars sticking up. 

Spiky Bridge sign
spiky bridge
spiky bridge

The drive often provided views of the ocean, and I did my best to view it while driving. Thankfully, there weren’t many cars around. 

tasmanian landscape
Road by ocean

I stopped for gas, and it cost $164.9 per liter ($6.21 per gallon). While I pumped my gas at the small station, the guy (Adam) next to me asked about my travels. I explained that I had driven around the entire country, and Tasmania was my last section, and I was almost done with it too. 

Adam was impressed with my trip and said, “Good on ya!” He said that he hadn’t seen Western Australia and he was from Melbourne. I told him that W.A. is a wonderful and unique place. He was so excited to hear about my travels that it made me even more excited! 

I continued driving and took a longer, less-traveled route. It was a bumpy, dirt road, and it reminded me of the outback. I passed farms and climbed up and down hills. 

dirt road through farmland
dirt road
viewpoint of forest and ocean
sunset over mountains

I arrived at my motel, which was small cottages, just before dark. It was just outside of Port Arthur, and the owner met me in the lobby. She walked me to my room and explained that she and her husband lived there. She was really friendly and said that she turned the heat on for me so that it would be warm when I arrived. 

The woman and her husband bought the property two years earlier. They gutted the rooms and made them larger. Everything was new inside. The woman said she was so nervous when they ripped everything apart, and she wondered what she was doing. 

The woman was from Tasmania but left decades ago. She realized that she kept coming back, so she decided to stay. I could tell that she was nervous that their enormous investment would work out, so I gave her a good review. 

motel room
motel kitchenette
motel bathroom

My room was huge! There was a queen-sized and a twin bed. It was brand new, but the kitchenette had basic fixtures. It was a comfortable room, and I slept well. This seemed to be a common theme in Tasmania – people in their 50-60s buying accommodations and hoping that it would set them up nicely for retirement. I was happy to stay with them. Not only did I get to support small businesses, but I also got to stay in many unique places with personal touches. 

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Hell’s Gates and Devil’s Island

Day 462

I checked out of my motel in Strahan, feeling sleepy. I was once again racing to get my car packed. I left the key in the door as instructed and started to pull away when the woman who was watching the motel appeared. She thanked me for understanding the situation the night before when my power went out, and I had to switch rooms. 

I drove to the harbor, paid for parking, and walked into the ticket office at 8:50 am. I picked up my ticket for the famous boat tour and was the last to board. The large ship wasn’t even halfway full (perks of traveling in the non-peak season).

Ocean with dark clouds above

I sat in the third row of seats and against the window. It was cold and raining on and off. There was a door at the front of the ship that led to the front bow. People occasionally went outside for pictures, and each time the door opened, a rush of freezing air swept over me. I ordered a muffin and coffee and looked at the ocean around me. 

house in trees near ocean

I decided to go outside for a bit, and it was incredibly windy, cold, and was sprinkling. I took a few pictures but quickly returned to the warmth inside. The boat was cruising fast to get us to Hell’s Gates. 

Light house on island

Hell’s Gates is the name for the entrance to Macquarie Harbour. It’s notorious because it’s shallow and dangerous waters, but the only way in and out of the harbour. The name is also because of the convicts who were sent there, their personal hell. 

Ocean waves

There was a long sandbar close to us and waves fiercely crashing when we went through Hell’s Gates. We passed a lighthouse and an old break wall built by hand because they couldn’t get machines into the area. 

sandbar and ocean waves
lighthouse on an island

We passed fish farms, and the announcer explained that they care about the environment because their jobs will go away without it. We turned around and went back through Hell’s Gates. I stood outside again for some pictures, but couldn’t stay for too long because of the cold rain.

mountains and ocean
woman with lighthouse in background
woman taking picture of lighthouse
mountains and ocean

Our first stop was at Sarah Island, an old settlement island. The banishment settlement, also known as Devil’s Island, predates the more famous Port Arthur. They started sending convicts there in 1822. Second offenders were sent to the island. 

People walking on wooden ramp to island
Tree laying on ocean

Life on the island was isolating with harsh conditions. We walked around various brick rubble from old, fallen buildings. The weather was wet, cold, and windy. It was easy for me to understand just how horrible it was to be there as a prisoner. 

Old brick rubble

Our large group followed a tour guide, David. He wore a black cowboyish hat, a gray trench coat and appeared to be in his 50s. He was a classic Aussie in his attire and thick accent.  

David explained that the convicts built a 30 meter (98 feet) wall using tree logs on one side of the island to block the wind. Life there was awful. They liberally used lashes with metal in them to punish convicts. It was banned in places like Port Arthur. 

There were a few signs around the island with information. One poster titled, “12 years – 1,200 prisoners. To the end of the Earth,” stated, “From 1822-1833, Sarah Island was the most feared place of banishment for Tasmania’s convicts. Yet, despite this reputation, it became the most productive shipbuilding yard in Australia in its time.”

Sarah Island sign

The sign continued describing life on the island, “Located on the far western edge of today’s Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, Sarah Island was described as ‘Hell on Earth’. The authorities believed it to be a place from which escape would be impossible, with the seemingly impenetrable mountainous wilderness separating it from the newly settled districts in the east. They were wrong.”

Another sign described the operations on the island, “Upon arrival, the convicts were tasked with clearing the island of its vegetation so their movements could be easily monitored. Working in chain gangs, they then became Tasmania’s first piners. Huon pine and other valuable timber was cut from nearby forests. Initially, the timber was stored then shipped to Hobart to be used principally for boat building, but the difficulty of access (due to frequent poor weather and long voyage times) required a change of plan. Within a decade, authorities had transformed the island into an industrial village. Under the guidance of master shipwrights, over 100 vessels of varying sizes were built. It was hard, cold, wet labour, but the convicts that survived departed as skilled tradesmen.”

The convicts that survived. That was the key. Life was hard on the island, and conditions were rough. There were huge wooden signs with the deaths of some of the convicts. Some of the causes of death were: flogged to death, murdered, drowned, speared by natives, shot by the military, and cannibalized. Yes, cannibalized.

Sign about deaths at Sarah Island
Sign about deaths at Sarah island

David told us more about the lucrative trade going on at Sarah Island. The prisoners made walking sticks from the timber and were paid $2 for ten sticks. The guards took the items and sold them in Hobart for $5 for ten sticks. The trade was so good that people were purposely getting sent to the island. 

Trees and grass with ocean

It started raining pretty hard, so I pulled out my umbrella. A couple was standing near me, and the girl had an expensive camera. I offered them the shelter of my umbrella to protect it (and them), and we all squeezed under it. 

People on boardwalk on sarah island

Another sign described the end of Sarah Island, “In 1833, after 12 short, brutal but productive years, the settlement and its shipyards closed due to access difficulties, frequent escapes, and the opening of Port Arthur.” 

sarah island convivt settlement

The sign continued, “Shortly after, the island became a base for local piners harvesting in the area – and later still, became a place for Strahan locals to enjoy a picnic. Over time, the forest grew back, and the buildings and fencing collapsed – their bricks looted and timbers left to rot. Today only scant ruins survive, though the layout of the original settlement remains intact.”

old brick on sarah island
fallen buildings on sarah island
fallen buildings on sarah island

The sign’s final sentence recapped the island’s history well, “Australia’s most feared – yet most productive – convict settlement.” Australia’s history always fascinates me. I couldn’t help but laugh at the idea of locals using that same island for picnics.

grass with fallen rubble

On the way back to the boat, I talked with a guy from England. He appeared to be in his late 20s, was tall, and had dark hair. He was in Australia for one year with a working holiday visa. He was teaching high school math in the Northern Melbourne suburbs. He told me that he had seen most of Australia except for the Northwest. I told him that’s the best part! He was on a school holiday so he decided to see Tassie while he could. 

trees and ocean

Once we were all back on the boat, we drove down the Gordon River. The river snakes through a forest with thick trees. The water was so still, it seemed like we were floating on glass. The river was large, and hills surrounded it. 

Gordon river
gordon river with mountains

The tour guide provided commentary while we ate the provided lunch. He explained that they put in a hydro dam that powered the whole island of Tasmania and was an engineering marvel. Before it was built, they had to import all of their energy (oil). In 1982, a group wanted to add a second hydro dam, which was met with protests. The dam would force large areas underwater, ruining the landscape. 

trees reflecting in river

Many protestors went to Strahan and the river to create blockades. They hurt and slowed down the company that was trying to build the dam. The Tasmanian government put a new law in place so they could arrest the protestors. They arrested 1,200 people. Yes, they arrested the same number of people who spent time at Sarah island 150 years earlier. 

In 1983, the protestors successfully got a World Heritage listing from Switzerland, so they couldn’t put in another dam. The case went to the high court on the mainland. One group argued that tourism and adventure activities would create more money than the dam would. After more than a week of deliberations, they sided with the heritage area four against three – the site needed to be protected. 

They used to take the trees in the area for timber until they were forced to stop. The guide said that decision really hurt Strahan. They don’t have roads because of the protection, and the primary way to get there is by boat. They’re isolated, which has hurt them economically. 

I thought the provided lunch was just ok. Once I finished, I went outside to enjoy the views and saw the guy from England. I asked him what he thought about the dam, and he said, “I wasn’t paying attention to the commentary. That’s the best meal I’ve had in months!”

The boat made its way along the river. I saw thick trees lying in the water. The mountains reflected in the water. 

trees reflecting in ocean
gordon river boat

We made another stop, and this time we’d get to walk through the rainforest. I walked along the boardwalk, soaking up nature. My time in Australia was almost over, and I desperately wanted to remember every little detail; the smells, the bright green moss clinging to the trees, the wet air, and trees that reached the heavens. 

path through the forest
tall tree in tasmania

I arrived at the end and needed to turn back towards the boat. I saw a very short, heavyset woman with blonde hair who was in her 60s. She was from England originally but lived in Tassie for years. She moved back to England, just outside of London, but her youngest daughter hated it. The woman moved back with that daughter (and her daughter’s husband), but they lived on the mainland. 

The woman and I were the last people in the group, and we slowly made our way back to the boat. We talked about how beautiful the area was and how it’s a temperate rainforest, just like the Pacific Northwest, USA

path going through forest
moss on tree trunk

The woman told me about the housing problems in Sydney. She said that the Chinese have taken over the housing, forcing locals to leave. She said, “You hardly see any Europeans there anymore. Most have moved to Tassie but go to the mainland to escape the winter. So, I suppose it’s worked out in the end.”

I told the woman that I quit my job to travel full time. She told me that she’s been to the U.S. and Canada before. When she was on a tour in Sydney recently, she met a man from the U.S. who was vacationing there for one week. His travel agent told him that’s all he needed to see Australia and Sydney. How crazy for a country that size. The jet lag alone would make it difficult to explore in such a short time. 

The boat honked the horn, warning people that it was about to leave. We were strolling, and I got the impression that the woman couldn’t walk much faster. I started to get nervous that we’d miss the boat, but I couldn’t just run away. 

Thankfully, we made it back to the boat in time and just missed the rain that started again. On the way back to Strahan, they played a slow, boring video about the region. I slowly drifted off to sleep. I woke up and realized most people were sleeping. My throat was hurting, and I felt a little under the weather, so the nap felt good. 

trees on hillside and river
gordon river

When we disembarked, there was a wood cutting station for us to watch. A man was cutting a massive tree trunk with a tall mechanical saw. I watched it for a little while and then briefly walked along Main Street. 

cutting a large tree

Right after I got into my car, it was so windy that I wondered if a hurricane was about to hit. The rain started again, and I was stuck in a storm. I had to get gas, and Australia doesn’t have the little bracket that holds the pump on, so I had to stand outside pumping it. My hair flew around my face, and I was freezing. 

strahan harbor
strahan main street

I drove to Queenstown, which should have taken 45 minutes, but I had to go slowly because of the storm and the windy roads. The English guy on the boat told me that he wanted to drive the Nullarbor just to have a straight road. The roads on Tassie are rarely linear. 

road with trees

There were some beautiful lookout points, so I made a few stops. The trees looked like they were in a battle against the wind. 

lookout point with trees

I arrived at the small, rural mountain town and walked into the motel attached to a bar and restaurant on Main Street. I paid for a room and pulled my car around to the back.

motel room
motel room
motel bathroom

The heater wasn’t working, so I walked to the front and told the guy at the bar. He said it takes 20 minutes to get warm. I said, “But the light isn’t working either.” 

The man walked with me to the circuit breaker box down the sidewalk outside and said the circuit was probably out. Sure enough, only my room had the circuit out. The man said, “If it goes out again, just walk down here and switch this circuit.”

I said, “That’s so strange. My motel room yesterday had a circuit out, and I had to switch rooms.”

The man replied, “You know how it is, being from Canada. It’s the cold. You’re from Canada, right?” I laughed, “No, the U.S., but I get it.” Maybe the hydro dam doesn’t work so well after all?

I walked down Main Street, and it was a ghost town. Some of the old buildings had construction going on, some were vacant, and others were beautifully restored old Victorian buildings. I bought some water and Thai food and took it back to my motel. 

queenstown main street
Old building under construction
general store
restored Victorian building

I felt so cold that I turned on the heated blanket, which is rare for me because usually, I like to sleep in a slightly cold environment. I was afraid that I was getting sick. I turned in early, hoping a good night’s rest would fix it. 

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Tasmanian Landscape

Day 461

It was time to leave my cozy cabin with an incredible view so I could continue driving around Tasmania, but first, I walked into the main house for breakfast. My Airbnb host, Jo, made me eggs, bacon, and toast. We talked about problems with family members not getting along. Then Jo got a phone call that he needed to attend to, so I walked back to my cabin to pack up. 

I loaded up my car, and Jo said he’d show me around his nine acres. We walked on the rolling green hills, and it all looked like something I’d seen in fairytales or movies. Large trees were scattered around the green fields, and the mountain was in perfect view in the distance. 

Man walking in field
Field with mountain in background

Jo showed me a spot where he planned to build a few cabins and another area where he’d build an eight-room lodge. Jo had it all planned out. He’d create two rooms for himself and sit on the porch while a manager ran the compound. 


Jo also planned to put a restaurant on the property, which would include space for live music. He already had the cidery and tasting room, so I had an easy time envisioning it all. Jo described the compound as having a luxurious, natural vibe. He laughed, “Maybe I’ll put in a helipad for the super-rich.” 


The cabin that I stayed in would stay, but Jo planned to add a bathroom and use it for the farmworkers that came during the apple harvest. The manager of the compound would live in the main house. Jo estimated that it would take ten years to build, but he was motivated. The previous owner bought the property when he was 50 years old and worked it until he was 80 years old. Jo didn’t want to work until he was 80, so his goal was to complete it all within the next ten years. 

Jo and I walked back to the house, and Jet, his black and white collie, wanted us to throw the ball for him. He was a sweet dog, and I couldn’t help but play fetch with him. Jo and I talked while Jet was entertained. 

Black and white collie

The conversation went into climate change. Jo said he used to tear the earth up when he worked in the mining industry, but now he knows there’s a better way. He planned to put in compostable toilets, even though they are a lot more expensive. We agreed that the planet would change anyway (it always has, and we’re just a tiny blip), but we can do our part. 

Jet was such a well-behaved dog, and I loved throwing the ball for him as he raced around the property. Our conversation ended up drifting in politics and the current events (Trump and the election that was just a year away). 

I suddenly realized it was noon, and I was two hours past my check-out time. I said goodbye to Jo and started following him on Instagram. I love seeing the harvest and new gin being distilled. I also can’t wait to see the transformation of his property. 

Sheep in field

I drove to Leven Canyon and hiked to a lookout point. I walked down a dirt path through thick green trees and ferns. When I reached the end, the view was vast and awe-inspiring! 

Hiking Trail
Trees and mountains

Mountains and rolling hills were all around me. Directly below me was a river that snaked through a deep canyon and had a horseshoe bend. The canyon was full of bushy trees. Across from me was a steep, jagged mountain. 

River through Mountains
Steep Mountain

I was all alone at the viewpoint until a young woman appeared. She had taken the reverse route, meaning she climbed up 697 stairs to get there. I was about to go down those stairs. I was grateful Jo told me to take the route that I did. 

Woman at mountain lookout

I started the climb down the dirt steps built into the mountain, and they seemed to go on forever. There were wood pieces at the end of each stair, keeping them in place. Wooden posts along one side held up a thick rope to use as a handrail. 

outdoor stairs
Stairs down mountain

I felt slightly dizzy from the stairs’ constant downhill, so I tried my best to look around to break up the view. 

Sign about stairs
Bridge in nature
Dense forest

I arrived at the bottom, and there was another lookout point of the canyon. Because it’s lower, I could see the river in more detail. Then it was time to walk up the path back to the car. 

Lookout point
River in canyon

There weren’t stairs, but it was so steep that I had to stop every minute or two to catch my breath. I was starting to wonder if taking this route was any better. It had been an hour of hiking and climbing in jeans, which I regretted. 

Hiking trail
Tall trees

Once I made it back to my car, I drove to Preston Falls. The hike was much shorter and more manageable. I passed the river on a bridge and walked around the edge to see the waterfall. It was beautiful! The water raged over the cliff and fell hundreds of feet. Green trees and brush surrounded it. 

Bridge in nature
River going into waterfall
Dense trees

I continued my drive and didn’t pass any towns or gas stations for two hours. The road was narrow, without a center divider line. I passed farms and rolling hills. 


I finally arrived at a small express IGA. I was feeling fatigued, so I got a coffee. The girl behind the counter was in her late 20s and asked where I came from that day. She explained that their location is excellent because they were 30 minutes from the ocean and not far from the mountains, which were on the other side of the valley. They were in the middle of nowhere, but she had a great attitude. 

remote IGA

I continued my drive, and the road winded its way around the fields and hills until I came to a small, two-lane highway. There were mountains in the distance when I was driving in the valley. Then, the road took me through trees and mountains until I found my way to Strahan. 

road through farmland
Remote road
Tullah Tavern
Road with mountain in background
road with mountain in background
Road with trees around

I arrived at my motel at 5:30 pm. The driveway was gravel, and there were a couple of small buildings, each housing motel rooms. The lobby door was locked, and a woman came around the corner to explain that she was helping the owner because he had to go to his other motel in a different town. She said, “I was just supposed to be helping with a couple of rooms, and it’s turned into 12 rooms. All of the rooms except for two are booked.”

The woman showed me to my room and handed me the key. Then she exhaustedly said that a few people from the YHA hostel were upgrading their room, and they just arrived. She left her cell phone number taped to the locked reception door if I needed anything and took off to assist the other guests. 

motel room
motel room
motel bathroom

I ate dinner in my room with food I had in my cooler. I wanted to take a warm bath with the jets because my legs were really sore. I booked the motel because of the bathtub. I filled the tub up with water, got undressed, and right when I was about to get in, the power went out. 

I got dressed and looked outside. The building across mine had power, but it appeared the four units in my building didn’t. I called the woman, and she came to the property within a few minutes. She was wearing pajama bottoms and said, “I knew you’d be a problem.” I couldn’t tell if she was joking and wasn’t sure why she thought I’d be a problem. 

When we walked into my unit, I noticed the unit next to mine had power. The woman found the circuit box, and the safety switch was on. She flipped it, and the power came back on. She explained that I could try the jets again, and if the power goes out, I should just flip the switch again. 

The woman left, and I got into the tub. As soon as I pressed the button for the jets, the power went out again. I got out and wrapped a towel around me. I tried to flip the circuit box, but it wouldn’t turn the power back on. 

I called the woman again, and she drove back over to help me. She couldn’t get the power back on, so she moved me to a unit two doors down. I was able to take a regular bath but wasn’t about to risk the jets again. It was 43 °F (6 °C) outside, and I just wanted to get warm. I relaxed and worked on my blog. Thankfully, the power stayed on the whole night. 

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Hiking at Cradle Mountain

Day 460

I woke up in my cabin at an apple orchard/distillery feeling refreshed. I slept in and saw that someone delivered gravel for the homeowner, Jo, who had run into town. I walked into the main house to use the bathroom and noticed Jo left some food for me. I enjoyed orange juice with my breakfast and then got ready for a long hike. 

I drove 45 minutes through the windy roads filled with farms and trees until I reached Cradle Mountain. The blue skies faded away, and gray clouds now covered the sky. It also dropped several degrees. 

road through farms

There was a large parking lot at the entrance with a visitor center, so I talked with someone at the help desk. I asked the young woman which hikes she recommended, and she showed me a map. 

The woman explained that most people hike around Dove Lake, but if I were to hike the trail wrapped around the mountain, I’d see fewer people and get a good workout with the climb to the top of the peak. I was sold. I bought a Park Pass and hopped on the shuttle to Ronny’s Creek. 

nature park
river and mountains

The hike started with a wooden boardwalk through a meadow. A slow river snaked through the grassy area. I saw my first wombats in the wild, grazing just a few feet away! They were stocky and uninterested in me. They were focused on the delicious yellow grasses. 

boardwalk through meadow
boardwalk through meadow
wombat in meadow
wombat in meadow

I walked up a hill, but it led me to some cabins. I turned around and walked back through the meadow and then took Crater Lake Trail to the falls. There were small ponds of clear, still water. Once I left the field, the few people I had seen earlier disappeared because they were only hiking a short distance. 

still water in meadow
pools in meadow
yellow grasses
hiking trail

I followed the path and was in awe of the waterfalls! Wooden steps led up the left side of the falls, and they seemed to go on forever. A canopy of lush trees surrounded me. The bright green moss wrapped around tree trunks, and I felt like I was in a rainforest. 

wooden staircase in nature
moss on tree log
fallen tree over river

The raging waterfalls created mist in the air, and I noticed the droplets all over me. I couldn’t believe I was able to enjoy the waterfalls with no one else around. 

woman in front of waterfall
wooden steps in nature

I followed the path up wooden steps that were buried into the side of the mountain. I came to a clearing with views for miles of the surrounding mountains. 

trail of steps up a mountain
dead tree
hiking path in meadow
hiking path in mountains

Next, I arrived at Cradle Lake, and there was an old, small boathouse on the edge of the water. Mountains on all sides surrounded the lake. The peaks across from me had snow, and clouds hovered at their tips. It was a cold and gloomy day, but I loved it! It was a beautiful landscape. 

boathouse at lake
lake with boathouse and trees

Two women were taking pictures of the boathouse and left shortly after I arrived. I sat on a rock and ate some tuna for lunch. I was cold, but I was also sweating from the climb. 

trees surrounding lake
lake surrounded by mountains
mountain and lake

I continued climbing up the trail, and it became steep and rocky. The path reminded me of the John Muir Trail in the California mountains. 

steep rocky trail
steep hiking path
waterfall down mountain

Halfway up, I came to a clearing with beautiful views. I could see Cradle Lake with the clouds starting to move down the mountain. I loved seeing how far I had climbed up. 

crater lake

On the other side was the opposite end of the park. I could see two lakes close together. I felt like I could see everything! The landscape reminded me of Norway and Alaska, which made sense because they’re all close to poles, just opposite ends. 

two lakes in landscape

The next section of the trail that would take me to the top was extremely rocky and steep! There was a chain attached to metal poles going into the ground that I could use to help me up. The rocks were sharp and jagged, but at least I was climbing up, which is easier when traversing that type of terrain. 

wooden and rock steps up mountain
wooden and rock steps up mountain
jagged rock steps
jagged rock trail

The air got colder with each step of elevation that I took. I wasn’t exactly sure what the temperature was, but I guessed it was close to freezing. When I started, it was around 50 °F (10 °C). It dropped significantly, and I couldn’t help but laugh. 

When I told people on the mainland that I was going to Tasmania, I kept hearing, “You know it’s really cold there, right?” I explained that it was the end of winter, basically spring, so it wouldn’t be bad. I definitely underestimated the cold, but thankfully, I had winter gear with me. Now I understood why the guy at the visitor center (when I first arrived in Tasmania) said it had been a long winter. 

Crater lake

I arrived at Marion’s lookout, and it was incredible! I could see a little farther than at the lower lookout point. There was another peak slightly higher, but it required going deeper into the mountain range. The clouds and fog were now moving at warp speed as they closed in the area. 

view of hiking trails on a mountain
two lakes in nature
bird on cradle mountain
rock statue

There were a few people at the lookout spot who had taken a shorter trail there. As I stood there taking in the view, a couple of kids came over with snow they had gotten around the corner a little farther up. I decided to climb up a little bit just so that I see and feel the snow. 

view of dove lake
woman on mountain
crater lake
dove lake
snow on mountain peaks
snow on mountain peak with lake in background

I met Sam and Luke on the way, and we talked as we hiked. They were from Victoria and planned to hike the whole trail – 80 kilometers (50 miles) over seven days. Their backpacks weighed 21 and 23 kilograms (46 and 50 lbs). They planned to stay in a hut on the trail that night, but their tent was their last-case scenario if they didn’t make it. They had gotten a later start because of the shuttle schedule. 

The men appeared to be in their 30s. Sam was a teacher, and Luke worked with train tracks, making sure it’s safe when they work on them. 

still water on mountain

I told the men that I hiked the John Muir Trail (JMT) in California in three weeks – 225+ miles over ten mountain passes. I had a few freezing nights during that trip and advised them to put their water filters inside their sleeping bag, so they didn’t freeze overnight. The men weren’t used to snow or freezing temperatures. We bonded over the fact that we all carry extra water, just in case. 

fog and snow on mountain

The three of us arrived at the snow and saw a snowman that the kids made. Sam realized he would need to put his gloves on soon, and I couldn’t believe he didn’t have them on already. The men needed to continue hiking, and I needed to go back down, so we said our goodbyes. 

two men on a mountain

As I hiked back down, I realized how much I missed hiking the JMT. Long-distance thru-hiking is a fantastic experience. Everything you need is on your back. It’s freeing to be away from society. 

snow and fog
fog over lake
fog over two lakes

I stopped at the lookout point again and looked at the map to see which trail I wanted to take back down. There was a shortcut loosely marked on the map, but the girl at the visitor center warned me that it was extremely steep. I was tired and felt that it would be shorter, and how steep could it be anyway?

trail sign

I regretted that decision almost immediately. It was the steepest trail I think I’ve ever hiked. The path was massive slabs of sharp, flat rocks. They were slightly wet, and going downhill is much harder to avoid a slip and fall. 

steep rocky trail

The trail was so steep that there was a chain on one side with metal poles going into the ground for most of the path. I grabbed the cold, wet chain and tried to hold the poles whenever I could. 

steep rocky trail with chain railing
steep rocky trail

I went very slowly down the trail. Many sections were more like jumping down rocks or occasionally sliding. My legs were shaking from the intensity. I was all alone, and there was no turning back, so I had to keep pressing on. It was clear why nobody else was on that section. It felt like I was going straight down. 

steep rocky trail

I made it to the bottom, and my legs were quivering! Then, it was an easy 15-minute walk around Dove Lake back to the parking lot where the shuttle would arrive. 

hiking trail by lake
hiking trail with mountain
lake, hiking trail, mountain

Once I was on Dove Lake Trail, I quickly noticed that the woman at the visitor center was right – most people just hike around it. That is so unfortunate because they missed the best parts of the park. 

lake and mountains
lake with boathouse

The shuttle arrived ten minutes after I arrived at the pickup spot. I was so cold, I felt it in my bones. My body was exhausted, and I ate a protein bar for some energy. It took 20 minutes to get back to my car, and when I got off the shuttle, my stiff muscles hated me. 

parking lot sign near lake

As soon as I left the mountain, the skies cleared to bright blue once again. It was still chilly outside but not nearly as cold as the mountain. I arrived back at my Airbnb around 5:45 pm. Jo, my Airbnb host, was talking with a guy about repairing his tractor. I told him there was no hurry for dinner because I needed to rest a bit. 

green pasture with road and blue sky
green pasture and blue sky

The sunset was incredible over the apple orchard, and I watched it through the window as I laid on the bed, unable to move. It was a long, strenuous hike, but it was worth the pain. 

sunset through a window
sunset over apple orchard

For dinner, Jo made sausage, veggies, and mashed potatoes. I brought some bubbly wine that I had gotten from another Airbnb, and we enjoyed it with dinner. 

sausage, veggies, mashed potatoes

Jo and I talked about how we react when someone does us wrong. We are both stubborn, and we fight back. 

Jo told me about a time he was visiting his sister in South Africa, and the waitress treated them horribly when he asked if she could cook the steak well done (that’s how his sister likes it). The waitress spoke in Africana, not knowing Jo also speaks it (because of his Australian accent). 

Jo described the woman as being a white supremacist and someone who had the old-school mentality. She refused to help him, and he went off on her. The next day, Jo went back to the restaurant with 20 black men from his old construction site. The staff refused to serve them, even though they were sitting at a table. His group stayed, making a scene until guests left. Jo told them that his goal was to shut them down. 

Jo said, “It’s been decades, but they are shut down now.” I completely understood Jo and his stubbornness when someone mistreats you. I told him about my awful motel experience in Newcastle and how the owner just kept going off on me in person and through email, all because I wanted to check in. Jo understood and said he would have made their life miserable. I told him that I left a bad review, but that’s about it. 

I asked Jo about his work before he bought the distillery. He was an engineer for underground mines. Many people in that field are only skilled in specific areas, but Jo knows the mechanical and electrical components, so they only needed to hire him instead of three people.

I told Jo how we’ve done away with teaching and encouraging skilled trades in the U.S., and now there is a national crisis. There are more than 1 million jobs in the U.S. that can’t be filled because people aren’t trained with those skills. 

Jo and I talked about the high salaries in Australia – the highest in the world. Jo has worked in Canada and the U.S for several years, and he said the problem with the high wages in Australia is that they’re priced out. They’re not able to earn that much anywhere else, so it’s not competitive. He made an excellent living doing his job around the world, but especially in Australia. 

Once we finished dinner, Jo and I sat on the couch and watched the Food Network. We talked about class differences in society and how it isn’t easy having neighborhoods that are all low-income. In Australia, they integrate low-income properties, so there aren’t slums. That seems like a good idea. 

Jo was a strict boss, but he was also fair. Jo said, “You need to get the respect of the people if you’re going to be a hard boss.” One time, Jo called a guy into his office to give him feedback. The man was large and intimidating and started going off on him. Jo put the man’s wife on speakerphone and told her that her husband was disrespectful, and if he didn’t stop, he’d be fired. The wife went off on her husband, and he walked out the door. When the man returned, he apologized to Jo and said, “You didn’t need to call my wife.”

I thought that story was hilarious! I would have loved to call someone’s spouse if they acted up, but I don’t think we could get away with that in the U.S. 

It was 11:00 pm, so I showered and went to bed. I laid in bed feeling so grateful for the beautiful hike that I was able to complete and for the dinner and company that Jo provided. So far, Tasmania was a fantastic island. 

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Fairytale Cabin at a Distillery

Day 459

I walked to the passenger terminal to board the overnight ferry from Melbourne to Tasmania on the Spirit of Tasmania. I was the only person at check-in because most people were already on board. I asked if there were any shared female rooms available. The woman said there were no beds or rooms left. I would have to sleep in my reclining chair. 

After check-in, I went through security, and they allowed me to bring my cooler on as a checked item. I hoped they didn’t take my wine or gin and tonics hiding inside. 

I found my recliner seat in the recliner lounge, and it was okay. It was bigger and nicer than an airplane, but it wasn’t a bed. My seat was at the front of the ship, and the section was on the right side. The section had about 15 chairs and was farther back from the door in a slightly separate area from most of the chairs. There was a wall to my left and an aisle to my right. The side windows were only a few chairs away. 

Recliner chair on ferry
Ocean with dark clouds above

I walked around outside and took pictures of Melbourne with storm clouds above. I browsed the inside of the ship, and it was reasonably crowded. There were restaurants, game rooms, movie rooms, bars, and lounges. I sat in my recliner seat for a while, and then we took off at 7:30 pm. I bought a ticket to see Toy Story 4 in one of the small movie rooms, so I had some entertainment. It was mostly children, but I was happy to watch it. 

Woman with cowboy hat
Ocean with city and clouds
Spirit of Tasmania ferry boat
Inside ferry with chairs
Hallway in ferry

When the movie ended, I went back to my recliner and reflected on my time on the mainland. I was sad to be pulling away. It was my home for almost six months. The landscape was diverse, the people were friendly, and the remoteness was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I was satisfied when I looked at my map – a complete loop with the middle too. Like my friend Daniel said, I saw more of Australia than most Australians. The loop was complete. Now it was time to discover the sixth state, Tasmania. 

City buildings with ocean

I had a tough time sleeping on the ferry. The recliner had a small footrest that popped up, but my legs were too long. To stretch my legs out, I would have to put my legs on the arms rests in front of me. 

There was a snorer behind me (my earplugs were no match) who also smelled. I noticed an empty recliner one row up that was against the window. It also didn’t have any other chairs to the side or front of it. I moved to that seat and used two of the provided blankets, but it was cold against the window. 

I fell asleep around 12:30 am and woke up between 3:00-4:00 am to use the bathroom. At 5:45 am, an announcement came through the speaker saying we had arrived and disembarkments would start at 6:30 am. We had successfully made it across the 266-mile (429-kilometer) journey. I brushed my teeth and put my contacts in, and tried to wake up. 

Tasmania is the world’s 26th largest island, and almost a quarter of it is preserved in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. The island is about the size of Ireland, and the population is around 540,000. Other travelers told me that they loved the mountains and landscape, and I was excited to explore there. 

Once I picked up my luggage, I walked across the parking lot to Budget’s car rental. They gave me a silver Hyundai i30, which was pretty small, but would do just fine. I drove to the visitor center and asked the man there what I should see in the week I was visiting. 

hyundai I30

Tim was a large, tall man in his 30s. He showed me a map and pointed out things to do. After 45 minutes, I felt like I had a good plan. I asked Tim about the weather because it was cold outside (the real feel was 36 °F; 2 °C). He showed me a webcam of Crater Mountain with clouds and snow at the top. He said, “It’s been a long winter.”

devonport city

Next, I drove to the Maritime Museum because Tim told me the cafe there was one of the best. I walked inside, unsure if they were open because I was the only person there. The owner appeared and assisted me. She was in her 30s and opened the cafe with her husband a few months before. The woman was friendly, and we talked about her business, and I told her to update Google Maps to show that they serve breakfast.

The food was excellent! The owner makes fresh pita bread and spices daily. I gobbled it all up and left a great review. 

artesian breakfast with eggs, pita bread, mushrooms

Once I was full, I drove along the coast to Smithton. My Airbnb host and the visitor center gave me great tips that included driving around the coast. I made a few stops at lookout points along the way, and the drive was beautiful! The ocean was to my right and stretched as far as the eye could see. 

RV driving on country road
Road through green landscape
Ocean lookout point
ocean lookout point with hill

I continued driving and turned south. I passed bright green rolling hills with farms. I saw cows, sheep, and horses. It reminded me of Norway and the countryside in Scotland. Sometimes I stopped on the small, two-lane road to play some music for the animals, who seemed to love it. 

Green rolling hills
cows grazing in field

I arrived at the Edge of the World. According to this website, “The sea west of Tasmania is the longest uninterrupted expanse of ocean on the globe. From Argentina, the currents sweep unimpeded more than halfway around the planet until they hit this point.”

Ocean waves crashing against rocks
Woman at cold ocean
edge of world sign

I couldn’t believe it, but not a single person was there! I walked a wooden path to a lookout point that provided views of the rocks and the raging ocean crashing around it. Tons of tree trunks and tree branches were piled up against the shore, having been pushed inward by the ocean current. It was incredible, but the cold, mighty wind made it hard to stay for long. 

Floating tree trunks
Rocks and ocean

I drove back towards Devonport, where the ferry dropped me off. My eyelids felt extremely heavy, and I struggled to stay awake. I blasted my music, talked to myself, and opened my window. My restless night on the ferry caught up to me, and I started to feel out of it. I wanted to pull over to take a quick nap, but there wasn’t anywhere to park. 

Rolling green hills
trees and grass

I drove to Stanely and saw the view of Rock Town. There is a massive rock formation with a gondola that you can take, but I didn’t have time to do all of that, so I just enjoyed the view of it from afar. 

welcome to stanley sign
large rock behind a town
ocean road

I finally found a gas station and pulled over. I bought some Doritos and a coke, hoping it would help to wake me up, but I continued to struggle. When I arrived at Ulverstone, I pulled into the grocery store (Woolworths) and bought a small amount of food. I walked around like a zombie, and all I wanted was a bed. 

ocean with clouds
rainbow over green fields

Next, I drove 30 minutes to my Airbnb. The drive was breathtaking, and the hill was at a 15% grade! It was so steep; I wasn’t sure that my car would make it up. 

green fields
country road

I pulled into the property, and Jo came walking towards me from the shed. He explained where I should park, next to my cabin. Jo lived in the main house, and I stayed in the small cabin about 50 feet away. 

cabin in an apple orchard

My cabin had a bed, a couch, and a small table. To use the bathroom, I needed to walk to the main house. There was a space heater to warm up the cabin. I put my bags inside and stood outside in amazement. My rustic cabin sat between sweeping trees and green grass. 

inside a cabin

Right next to my cabin was an apple orchard with a cute brown wooden fence. Next to the house was a distillery where Jo turned the apples into cider. The view was worth a million bucks! I could see a mountain in the distance, and I was surrounded by rolling, green hills. Thankfully, I felt less tired. 

Apple orchard
Orchard and mountains

I stood in awe of the view, and Jo said he was used to it. Jo was 61, around 5’8”, and was stocky. He was bald on the top of his head, and had short, light hair around his head’s sides and back. He was a hard worker and talked really fast, so I tried to keep up. 

After showing me the apple orchard, Jo invited me inside. He got the meat marinating for dinner and took me to his tasting room in the distillery. There was a small wooden counter with various tall, skinny bottles of gin. I tried several gins with different flavors. Jo even let me taste his apple brandy and wine!

Distillery tasting room

While I very much appreciated all of the delicious beverages, my lunch had been a small bag of Doritos, and the alcohol hit me fast. Jo showed me the barrels of wine and explained how he distills the gin. 

Jo had recently bought the property from a husband and wife team who were 75 and 80 years old. The husband built the place himself over the years. Jo changed up some of the recipes and the way he gets cider from the apples because the previous owner was going too fast and missed a lot of the juice. By doing it only when the apples are ripe and letting the press sit overnight, Joe gets an extra 70 liters in each batch. It’s also fresher that way. 

mountain and country landscape

I went back into the main house with Jo, and he started cutting veggies while we drank gin and tonics. I told Jo about my journey and the place I had recently purchased to put on Airbnb. Jo pointed out that I wasn’t drinking my gin and tonic, but I needed some food in my belly. He made another drink for each of us, and we kept talking. I’m sure I was starting to slur some words. 

Jo was from South Africa and had been in Australia for 22 years. He was married in South Africa and had two sons, who were 30 and 31. They divorced, and then when he was living in Australia, they married again. A few years later, they divorced again. 

For most of his career, Jo was an engineer and did underground structures for mines. Ten months earlier, Jo bought the distillery and property with plans to ease into retirement. He listed the cabin on Airbnb a few months before I arrived. Jo told me about his grand plans of adding four cabins with bathrooms and a lodge with around nine rooms. 

Jo worked hard, and I felt like I got a steal! He provided me with tastings, dinner, breakfast, and wine. There was a B&B across the street, and they charged double what I was paying. 

I was fascinated by Jo’s life and work path. When I house and pet-sit in Bridgetown (three hours south of Perth), I met the homeowner from England who left the business world to build a bed and breakfast on a beautiful piece of land she bought with her partner. It’s something that appeals to me, and seeing people completely change industries, move to the country, and start these businesses made me want to know how they did it. Maybe I could do it one day too. 

Jo had a commercial property in Sydney and three in Perth. He sold two of the properties and kept two. He used the profits to buy the property in Tasmania. Jo used Work Away for labor and had some young Europeans there to help with the harvest. They only worked 15-20 hours a week, and in return, he provided a room (he has a guest room inside the house) and food. 

I noticed that Jo had an 11-month-old dog border collie named Jet. I told him about Trusted Housesitters and how it might help him when he travels. My experiences with it were wonderful. 

Dinner was ready, so Jo and I sat at the table with some red wine to compliment our meal. It was cold outside, so Jo put some wood in the fireplace in the kitchen. The food was delicious, and I stuffed myself. Jo doesn’t always provide dinner for his guests, but because I was alone and he had the time and food, we enjoyed each other’s company. 

Jo told me about his family. His older son lived in Hobart (in Tasmania) and is also an engineer, so they relate well. His younger son is an actuary and lives in Melbourne. 

Once we finished dinner, we sat on the couch and turned on the new Dave Chapelle comedy special. Dave was mocking Jussie Smollett because the claims he made that he was attacked in Chicago by white Trump supporters were completely fabricated. Chapelle has a way of making some great comedy and the special was hilarious. 

Jo said that because he grew up in South Africa during apartheid, people assume he’s racist, but he’s not. He left the country because he felt that he and his sons wouldn’t have a future there. They left when his kids were 10 and 11. When I was on a bar tour in Sydney, a man from South Africa told me the same thing. His sister moved to Australia, and he was considering it too because of the lack of a future he felt he had in South Africa. 

It was getting late and time for bed. I took a shower and walked back to my cabin in the dark. It was cold outside – around 40 °F (4 °C), so I turned on the space heater and the heated blanket. The bed was comfortable, and without any lights or noise, I slept really well. Maybe all the alcohol and pure exhaustion helped too. I needed a good night’s sleep because I planned to hike Cater Mountain the next day, and I couldn’t wait! 

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Full-Circle with Old and New Friends

Days 457-458

After dropping off the key to my rental car, I continued walking around downtown Melbourne. I bought a coffee, something the city is famous for, and a pastry. While sitting in the small café, I made sure I had a few things booked for my last ten days in Australia. 

city park
Donut and coffee
City alley

I walked to the clock tower, where I met Linda. Linda and I met on the ten-day adventure tour through the Kimberly Region. She was 28 years old, from The Netherlands, and had a working holiday visa in Australia. Back home, Linda was a travel agent. She found a job in Melbourne as a travel agent and was settling into a life there. 

Melbourne clock tower
Downtown Melbourne

I was so happy to see Linda again! We hugged hello and then walked to an outdoor restaurant. We sat at a small table under a canopy in the busy laneway. 

City building
Melbourne laneway
Melbourne Centre Place

Linda was beautiful. She had long, light brown hair. Her skin was so clear and smooth; I wanted to know what her skincare routine was! It was nice seeing Linda in the city in regular clothes. We had spent most of our time together in dirty hiking clothes. 

Two young women
Linda and Me

I told Linda about the last two months and my experience driving along the east coast. When we parted in Darwin, Linda planned on doing a campervan relocation to get to Melbourne and wanted to do it with a small group of people. That didn’t work out, and instead, she did a group tour to see the Northern Territory and the center of Australia. 

Now that Linda was in Melbourne working, she was hoping to settle for a little bit. Unfortunately, she had already been taken to the hospital in an ambulance when she dislocated her knee. It was the same knee that got out of place on the third day of our tour. At that time, she was able to get it back and feeling better. In Melbourne, she was at a party, and her knee got so out of place, it was actually crooked! 

Thankfully, the hospital was able to fix Linda’s knee, but she had to do physical therapy to strengthen the muscles around it to keep the knee cap in place. 

Linda told me how she met up with the guy she partied with when in Darwin (since he lived in Melbourne), but they didn’t hit it off as well as they did before. Instead, she was on dating apps and recently went on a date with a guy who had some potential. It was fun listening to her dating stories because my dating life was non-existent. 

I had a great time catching up with Linda over a meal. She had positive energy, and we had a fun time reminiscing about our time in the outback. The outback is a special place where we slept under the stars, hiked in gorges, swam in natural pools, and made new friends. 

Two young women

It was time to say goodbye, so we parted ways. Linda stayed in Melbourne for a couple more months and then traveled to Tasmania and the east coast of Australia. Then she returned to The Netherlands at the start of the Covid-19 closures. 

The next day, I packed up because I needed to check-out of my hotel and get on the evening ferry to Tasmania. I no longer had a car, and I had to continue paring down my stuff. I left my sleeping bag at the hotel, threw away some food, and took my remaining bags to the lobby. I asked if they could store my luggage for a few hours, and they agreed. 

Next, I took the tram to The Kettle Black to meet an old friend and co-worker, Daniel. It was the same restaurant that we met at five months earlier. He worked nearby and was on his lunch break. I ordered the same incredibly delicious pancakes that I ordered the time before. 


Daniel was in his 30s, about 6’1”, and had short, dark hair. He left the company we both worked for a couple of years before me, got his MBA, worked in South Korea for almost two years, and was now living and working in Melbourne. 

Man and woman
Daniel and Me

I was so happy to see Daniel and to catch up! Daniel said, “The last time I saw you, I think I told you that you shouldn’t drive around the entire country. And here you are, having just driven around the country.”

We laughed, and I had a lot of explaining to do. When we met five months earlier, I had finished a three-week house sit in Ballarat and was still figuring out how to spend my time during the six-month visa that I had. Daniel had been living in Melbourne for about eight months at that time. I didn’t even have a rental car back then but was contemplating driving around the country. The only problem was that I had no idea how I’d do it. 

Daniel said he was interested in hearing all about the country and what I liked the most, so he could plan future trips. He wanted to know why I liked Perth so much. I explained that it’s because it’s isolated, it’s not crowded, but it’s clean and sunny.  

I talked and talked to Daniel all about my experience, going in chronological order. He is a fantastic listener. Daniel was engaged and enthusiastic, making me get excited to relive all of my favorite moments and laugh about my mistakes. 

I talked through most of the lunch and realized that time was running out, and I wanted to hear about his life over the last several months. The last time we saw each other, he had a toddler, and his wife was pregnant with their second child. 

Daniel told me about the birth. His wife had their first child very fast, so they were hopeful for the same with their second. Unfortunately, the baby was breached. The hospital wanted to do a C-section, but his wife didn’t want one because then every birth after that would require a C-section. 

The doctors insisted on a C-section, but Daniel and his wife insisted on natural birth. After talking with the hospital director, they were allowed to do a natural birth but had around 18 people in the room for safety. Everything worked out well. His wife and the baby were doing great. 

Daniel liked living in Melbourne. He planned to vacation around the country so he could see other parts too. Daniel had to get back to work, so I walked with him to the building. It was raining outside, and I used my umbrella to help cover both of us. I didn’t have good rain shoes, and they were quickly soaking wet. I hugged Daniel goodbye and hoped to be able to meet up again one day.

Pedestrian bridge