It was a breezy brisk Friday evening. The southermost sunset I’ve ever seen nestled deep into the sky. Our ship for the day, the Spirit of Tasmania 2 had arrived safely and without drama into the port of Devonport. I had been to a “Devonport” once before – back in 2007 I had visited Devonport north of Auckland, New Zealand. This was a touch more different. This was an entrance into the sublime. Myself and my four travel buddies had arrived in Tasmania.
It was the furthest south I’d ever been in my life. It was the closest I’d ever been to Antarctica and the South Pole. The February breeze gave me goosepimples for the first time since I’d left England. We escaped uncharged through the sniffer dog’s Quarantine check (after from some Vegemite I didnt have a lot of food on me) and then we collected our bags safe and sound off the ferry’s baggage carousel. Neil and Paul looked weary and tired. I was buzzing off it.
The night before in a hurry I had booked us into the Gingerbread House Hostel at short notice. They had exactly 4 beds left and these were spread over 2 rooms. The Gingerbread House Hostel isn’t even on hostel guides to Devonport or Tasmania and I’m not sure why not. “Its quite new” said the tourist agent on the ferry when I asked him directions to it. He gave me easy directions to the hostel. The ferry would arrive in the terminal on the east side of Devonport, on the street called Norton way, From there it would be straight down Murray Street where on the corner the beautiful orange and white building, Hawley’s Gingerbread House would make an obvious appearance. It was literally a 5 minute walk, I couldn’t have picked us a closer hostel to the ferry – because there wasn’t one.
I had already spotted it anyway from the boat. It stood out from the rest of the buildings. Devonport was one of the 3 cities on the island of Tasmania, though it reminded me of Larne in Northern Ireland. Dark and dreary and the only real purpose it served was the ferry terminal to Melbourne. Although thats actually a bit harsh – on both Larne and on Devonport. It was just before 9 pm when we finally walked with our bags into the hostel entrance and reception at the Gingerbread House.
I was already taking a few photos of the hostel – it looked great – nik naks and souvenirs every where – a very different and special hostel. I’d put it in the top 10 hostels I’ve stayed in. And the bonus was that it was also cheaper than all the hostels we’d stayed in on mainland Australia. It was $22 a person per bed. We could only book one night there however as the Saturday night they only had one bed.
They had 4 beds for us over 2 rooms. I got a choice of staying with two ladies or two guys, so I naturally chose the 2 ladies! In Room 1 was me, Daniel and the 2 ladies. Helga from Germany in the bunk below me. Alex from Austria in the bunk above Daniel. The room was very cosy and had a sink and some decent carpet. Having spent the previous week or so traveling, including 2 nights of sleeping on buses/in cars it was about time we could get a decent night’s sleep. It felt like home. And for one night it would be.
Before sleep though I was ready for a shower and to head out into the town for a bite to eat and a drink. Just before we headed out, we had a visit from a guy with a Belfast accent, who had first spoke to Neil. “No way” I thought, it seemed everywhere I went there’d be a link to Northern Ireland. A few days before I had done a Neighbours Tour and sang karaoke with Gerry, from Finaghy. Now in walks a guy from Bloomfield in East Belfast!
So we bargained with a taxi driver (which the pub booked for us) to take us back to the Gingerbread House Hostel for just $12 and he said yes. I never normally get taxis as a rule, I’d much rather walk, but it was a one off and we were all tired. The taxi driver hinted to us about some jobs going, doing apple picking in Spreyton and ironically a place called Parramatta Creek (we had just moved from Parramatta), which was good information for Daniel and I who were staying there to pick fruit. Once home I was off to bed quickly and comfortably in one of the best sleeps I’ve had in Australia.
Early morning I was up, showering and having a cup of tea. We were due to check out by 12 noon, so I took some time updating photos onto my laptop and chatted with the Belfast boy Chaz. We both were travelling with NI flegs and we posed for a photo by flegs each of us had brung. I got his contact details and we left Hawley’s Gingerbread Hostel with all our bags for the trip across the Mersey River to our next hostel, Molly Malone’s. The Tasmanian experience had begun.