In July 2007 I visited a northern suburb of Auckland known as Devonport. Come February 2010 i was in Devonport, a totally different one, also in the north of an island. This time it was Devonport, Tasmania, which has been my home now for about 8 weeks. I believe Devonport is the third largest city in Tasmania (after Hobart and then Launceston) and to call it a “city” is pretty hard to believe. Its about the size of Donaghadee in Northern Ireland!
What is there to do and see here? Well, in truth not much – but that’s not exactly the point. I’m here to earn money and do harvest work in order to extend my Visa. To be honest its all happened by chance. When I arrived in Australia I had no ambition to go to Tasmania – it didn’t even cross my mind for some reason. Yet here I am. I think it was Daniel Evan’s idea, though I’m not really sure to be honest.
In early February 2010 we got the ferry boat, the Spirit of Tasmania 2 from Port Melbourne to Devonport. Daniel and I both knew there was farming work available in Tasmania. we had no idea where or when or how easy it would be to get. In Australia for a working traveller, you can only stay for 12 months on your initial Working Holiday Visa. I started my Working Holiday Visa on 23rd October 2009. So that will come to an end on 22nd October 2010.
However by doing 3 months work (or 88 days) of specified farming or harvest work, you can extend your Working Holiday Visa for a further 12 months, so now here in Devonport that is my aim and incentive. At the start when we arrived in Devonport that night, Daniel and I were both going to do 3 months of farming work. However within a day Daniel had decided to call it a day and decided to leave Tasmania and the chance to work on a farm. Perhaps 7 day weeks (of 10 hour days) slaving it out on fields in the middle of nowhere wasn’t his thing! I buzz off it.
So the first few nights we stayed in the Gingerbread House Hostel (detailed elsewhere) and in Molly Malone’s Irish Pub (also detailed elsewhere) and then I headed down to southern Tasmania to spend two final nights with the guys before their plane had flown from Hobart airport. Hobart is the capital and Daniel, Neil and Paul all took the same flight to Sydney while I moved into Tasman Backpackers, here in the riverside coastal city of Devonport, Northern Tasmania.
Everything fell into place, or everything was in its right place, as a 2000 Radiohead album track would have you know. Within two days of staying in Tasman Backpackers Hostel, I had gotten myself an excellent farming job! I will detail my work on future and further posts on this website/blog, but here’s the story with the city I’ve been based in – port of the flies, Devonport.
In Summer there are flies everywhere! They are very annoying, they hand around your face and hair as you walk. They land on your food. They are simply everywhere, and the song “fireflies” is simply played everywhere. So I have retitled this city “Port of the flies.” If you’ve been here in Summer you’ll know exactly what I mean.
In the city itself, the Lonely Planet Guide lists the 24 hour McDonalds as “the place to be on a Saturday night”, and they’ve got it spot on. There is not much to do and not a lot to see here. Nothing is open late, Sundays are dead and eejits fly round the city like they own the place shouting stupid things out of car windows at you, thinking its cool or funny. Its the highlight of their night, sadly.
In terms of sightseeing, there are two really nice beaches – Bluff Beach and Coles Beach. You can get a tan there, and they are both well sheltered. Bluff beach is tiny, and often the tides comes in right up to the wall by the park at Mersey Bluff. The river passing through the city is the Mersey River. Perhaps at one point some Liverpudlians were here naming that one.
There is a Maritime Museum, as there often are in cities in Australia. The Maritime Museum here is nothing special, its basically inside a building the size of a big house. It was pleasing to see some stuff in there about the Titanic. Devonport, as a port (and Tasmania’s water gateway to the Australian Mainland) obviously is proud and clings to its maritime history. And rightly so. I paid into the museum, and it was nice to see, but it’s hardly something that stands out.
There is the Tiagarra Centre, which appears to be the only Aboriginal Centre in the area. In there you can see boomerangs, didgideridoos and lots of masks and aboriginal memorabilia. It is situated up near the sea front and is free to walk around. Proud Aboriginal Flags fly from the outside, though I really do not think Devonport has a high amount of Aboriginals living here.
There is the main lighthouse at the north tip of the city, and in the same area we have a nice coastal walk and parks and gardens and a “Fatima Whitbread Statue” as I jokingly referred to it. It is in actual fact a statue of someone with a spear or javelin, and is situated on rocks by the harbour. The statue is called “The Spirit of the Seas.”
The city centre of Devonport is tiny and basic. Three main streets, one of them a pedestrian precinct make this merely a very bland, ordinary place. “Rooke Street Mall” contains the clothes shops, CD shops and Rooke Street itself is home of the main banks, and Chickenfeed (Tasmania’s very own “50p Shop” – where everything is cheap). Off one of these streets sits the main post office, on the corner of Formby Road and Stewart Street.
There are a few pubs, the pick of which is Molly Malone’s, the Irish Pub which I have stayed in and drank in. Every Thursday and Saturday nights they have live music there, and St Patrick’s Night was a busy night where I popped in with some of the ones from the hostel (and to be detailed elsewhere set up a “TasmaNIa WilderNISC” with Chaz from East Belfast). There is also the Eli (or the Elimatta), The Alex and a Danish Bar/Restaurant called the Danneborg. On the East side of the river there is the Argosy Hotel and the wine bar featured in the Gingerbread House Hostel.
There is one nightclub, called “The Warehouse”, which also has a bar called “Spurs”. A Western Style bar rather than one which Teddy Sheringham and Gary Mabbut frequent. There is a trendy wee bar on the opposite corner of the post office. That bar is The Central and is great on a Friday Night. Anytime I’ve finished work early or before 5 pm on a Friday, I try to get down there. They do FREE FOOD from 5 – 7 pm during their Friday Happy Hour and beers start at $3 for a Middy. Myself and my Danish room mate Jesper will try to go every week for free pizza, cheese and crackers, sausage rolls, pies and spring rolls.
There is a “shopping area”, much smaller than that of Castlepoint in Bournemouth or Bloomfields in Bangor. This shopping area contains a small indoor mall with a chemist, newsagent and fruit and vegetable shop. Beside it is a massive Woolworths and a massive Coles. These are the two largest supermarket chains in Australia. I take it in turns to do my shopping in either. They are both only 25 minute walk from the hostel where I stay. Also in the same area is K-Mart, which is similar to a Wilkinson or Woolworths (RIP) in the UK. There I have bought socks and boots for work (Wellington Boots), my first Australian Mobile phone and also other bits and pieces, such as a flask for keeping my morning tea hot.
That hat-trick of stores (Woolworths, Coles, K-Mart) is the only real shopping part of the city. And to prove how small a city this is – EVERY time I shop there, I will meet someone I know (either from the hostel, from work, or from a previous hostel) and I’ve only been here 8 weeks.
There are a few other things to do – go fishing, there’s a bowling alley, there’s a cricket pitch (already seen a live match), a crazy golf and an old railway track (just outside the city at Don Valley). So before I move on, I may try those places out. If I don’t I’m not bothered. I’m here to get my second Working Holiday Visa and save as much money as I can for my next venture in life.
Yes Donaghadee really is bigger and has more to see and do than Devonport! But as I said that’s not the point. So I’m here for the time being. In the port of the flies…Devonport
Where I Stayed – The Gingerbread House Hostel, Molly Malone’s, Tasman Backpackers, Coles Beach (sleeping in my custom built touring car)
Nationalities Met – Australian, German, French, Hong Kongese, Taiwanese, Japanese, Austrian, Northern Irish, English, Scottish, Welsh, Belgian, New Zealand, American, Irish, Italian, Brazilian, Chilean, Danish, Swedish, South Korean, Canadian.
Local Shop – Woolworths
Local Pub – Molly Malone’s
Transport Used – Hire car, Mini bus to work, Tractor, Harvester, Spirit of Tasmania Ferry, Torquay Ferry, Yutes, Trailers, My Own Toyota Touring Car
VIDEOS TO BE ADDED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
KEY SONGS –
RADIOHEAD – EVERYTHING IN ITS RIGHT PLACE
LIVE CRICKET IN DEVONPORT:
INSIDE THE MARITIME MUSEUM IN DEVONPORT:
ROOKE STREET MALL, DEVONPORT CITY CENTRE:
TASMAN STREET, DEVONPORT:
THE SPIRIT OF TASMANIA SAILING INTO DEVONPORT:
THE SPIRIT OF THE SEAS STATUE BY DEVONPORT HARBOUR:
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