Huge hike and floor space only

Today we had another early start (they were all early starts this week) to get to Cradle Mountain. You can see how it got its name when you view it from certain angles – imagine a hollow volcano with a part crumbled away so as to give it the appearance of the chair. There is one large lake and several smaller ones at its foot and a variety of walks available for those of varying degrees of ability.

The majority of us opted for the long-haul three-hour hike up to the peaks and around the lake at altitude while around eight of the group decided to walk around at ground level and paddle. I’m really glad I went for the tougher option. The views were astounding, the animal and plant life fascinating, and the company just great. Lyn, one of the two Aussie ladies in our group, somehow managed to make it around on her own steam – not too bad for someone (I don’t think I’d be rude in saying) of pensionable age. It certainly wasn’t all flat plodding – a lot of clambering was involved.

We ate our packed lunched on a summit with the sun beating down before trudging for another ninety minutes to meet up with the rest of the group at a coffee shop. Astoundingly, despite my ramshackle footwear ($18 in Singapore) I didn’t have a single blister. I did, however, still have a spring in my step and an urge to do more walking.

Today was the end of the three-day “West Coast” part of the tour and we were to lose a handful of our group as they boarded planes and ferries from Devonport. Mariah, the American girl, had a minor nightmare due to her travel agent making a cockup by booking her in accommodation flipping miles outside of Devonport. Fortunately, she managed to change her ferry booking, so didn’t need to make the long journey by taxi in the morning.

What remained of the group – the people doing the full 6-day tour – arrived in Devonport slightly behind schedule at 7pm. We were all pretty much ravenous after the day’s plodge and desparate to dump our stuff, shower and get out for a meal. Fate, however, was having a bit of a giggle this evening. The hotel we were staying at had overbooked big style. Five of us ended up with two single rooms to share. Floor space was organised and spare blankets from the cupboards spread out to make the carpet a little softer.

We met up as a group and strolled into town – what there is of it around Devonport – and ended up in two groups. The majority plumpled for a seafood restaurant which was overjoyed to see a huge bundle of tourist money drop into its lap as closing time approached. There were a few of us, though, who weren’t too keen on fishy dishes, so we elected to go next door to an Indian. Good choice, as it turns out.

The crowd to went to the seafood restaurant all enjoyed their meals while Delphine, Sophie, Makiko and another Japanese girl had a delicious curry each. The “hot” beef vindaloo I had wasn’t anywhere near as spicy as the food I was getting in South Asia but that’s usually the case! Regardless, it was a decent size, well cooked and very tasty – and not a bad price either. They even had Kingfisher beer to wash it down!

Back at the hostel, we tried to sort more rooms out, but the only one they’d had spare (a double-booking with one of our own group) had already been allocated to someone else. To be honest, I was fine with that as the pair of people who ended up with a bed were an elderly couple who had been stuck in the same situation as us. I’d rather they’d had a bed and we were on the floor than the other way around. I had a chat to the guy running the bar in the hotel and he apologised, said there was nothing he could do (which was true) and offered free beer all night to those stuck in the two single rooms. Result!

Paulo and Michael went AWOL with two German girls, though, so they missed out. Taketo was already upstairs doing work on his laptop. Instead, Leon, Nettie and myself sat downstairs quaffing Mercury cider and Hoegarden until it flowed from our ears.

We retired after midnight, and I found Taketo still tapping away on his laptop. I think we talked till around 2am before I flaked out on my mildly-padded floor. In the morning I found out that Michael and Paulo (sharing the room with Leon) had been refused entry to the hotel as they didn’t have a key to prove they were in a room – single room, single key! They tried to clamber up walls, throw stones at windows and eventually just walked round the back to see the fire escape door at the top of some metal stairs was wide open. Handy.

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