I left my new family in Hobart and headed to the confluence in Sorrell where one direction leads to the Port Arthur Convict site, the other to Freycinet National Park where I’m going. A scientist named Craig picks me up, he’d just finished 4 weeks on foot in the Pilbara, he’s also into photography. I asked him why he picked me up, he replied “why not?” A truckie ride told me about the deterioration of Triabunna’s local economy since the wood chip mill closed down, forgot his name. A state housing contractor took me to the Coles Bay Road turnoff and it was here I struggled to hold a conversation. That’s the thing when your hitching, most people want to talk and I felt terrible that all I could say was “yeah” and “oh, that sounds cool”. Hopefully a thankyou was sufficient gratitude. I got a ride right through to Freycinet within a few minutes with Hannah, a local massage therapist, yoga teacher and contemporary hippie. I opened up to her on account of her credentials and found myself being corrected on the way I “phrase things”. I soon became reserved as the conversation was far too didactic for my liking. It did remind me of something I already know and that is “Be wiser than your peers if you can, but do not tell them so”.
Freycinet National Park is a 38km long, wild and mountainous peninsula on the East Coast of Tasmania. It is dead this time of year being the coldest winter month for the region. After a night in a YHA backpackers I dissapeared into the park for 3 days. After walking for 3 hours to the park and along the track, I spotted a monolith about 100 metres away on a steep incline. My inner child spoke to me and upon investigation I found a cavernous composition of rocks and evidence another hiker shared a similar sense of adventure to my own. I will stay in the cave tonight.
To the sky glance an eye
A sea eagle is graceful
A photograph it may be
Floating high on a blue canvas
The sun does show he looks at me
Long tinted wings like eyelashes.
I collected some firewood, despite the no camp fire instructions at the park entrance, “This is my park just as much as it is theirs” I say. On a west facing rock platform I setup and record a time lapse sunset, screaming, playing evocative sounds from my phone and dancing in the warmth of retreating suns rays. I think I understand the meaning of surreal. It was tight in the cave, I had enough room for my blow up mattress, my pack (just) and a fire in a rock recess. My eyes felt like they were bleeding and my clothes still smell like smoke, I was thinking about the weather, if I was going to be savaged by the predator and if I was going to freeze to death. It was super cool and another tick in the box. I did have a dream about a giant seagull coming towards me that made me jump, literally.
Cooks Beach the next day after 3 hours of walking, resting my aching back and chasing butterflies. The sky is a patchwork of black and grey as I leave the beach through a clearing in the bracken. This is a campsite? An eerieness lingers in the whistling air, a purple toy shovel snapped in half lays forgotten on the layer of brown pine needle beneath me. A track barely visible winds through a forest of decaying shrubland, fallen trees obstruct my path, twisting branches merge overhead creating shadowy arches. I can see the colours of a building filtering through the fauna, I get a small headspin and continue monitoring my peripherals reminding myself it’s safe here. After all, I haven’t seen a person in two days.
I enter a clearing with sparse rich wet grass, there is an old campfire, a wooden bench and a sandstone log cabin with the front door boarded in. I have to get in there I think, looking at the dusty floorboards through a missing shard in the window. I investigate the perimeter as night falls and find a rear access point with an inward opening picket door. I will stay here tonight. I started a fire in the vintage iron stove and read graffiti from as far back as the 70’s carved into the window frames. I started to get jumpy around 8pm, it was pitch black outside and I kept pointing my little LED torch out into the misty woods while filling up my billy. It reminded me of when I was a kid and had to put the rubbish out, “I’m not scared, I’m not scared” then when you turn your back on the darkness you sprint for the door. I was worried about the sanitation of that rainwater because I saw wallaby shit on the roof draining into the tank. How did a wallaby get up there? I saw 3 huntsmen, one of which I nearly put my hand on getting water, it was flaring it legs out to touch my finger, I whipped my hand away quickly, the torch light reflecting off its ebony fangs. Once again I’m being smoked alive but this is the best peppermint tea I’ve ever tasted, I’m eating Tinned kippers and rye bread with almond spread and strawberry jam. I’ve been waiting for years to have a campfire, diligently maintaining a healthy flame. I haven’t had phone reception for a week, nobody knows where I am, there’s not a thought in my mind. I wish it was my birthday. I’m in the peace zone.
The next morning I started heading for the exit via the Tourist Renown “Wineglass Bay”. I started rushing with an almost frantic pace with the plans to get out of Freycinet today and head back to Hobart. I was puffing and getting hot, there was a monkey on my back repeating songs over and over, rehashing passed relationships and I could have done betters with a pointless circumnavigation. Trying to relax, trying to breath, calm down it’s OK. Trying just turns the crank and powers the machine. I look up to the trees in my frustration and take a moment to observe my surroundings radiating my breath into my limbs. A cluster of lipstick red flowers shaped like gramophones sharpen in my focus, a cloudy blue sky backdrops 20 grass coloured birds chasing eachother around the tree tops in a noisy malarkey. “What’s the rush man?” “You don’t have to do anything or be anywhere.”
I’m so running behind schedule with my updates. Freycinet was at least 2 weeks ago. Right now I’m at a good samaratins house in Iron knob 88km’s from the halfway point Sydney to Perth. I got stranded here coz noone would even smile at me on the Eyre Highway let alone give me a lift.