(extract from the book)
Day 141, Saturday 19 January 2019, Hobart (Australia)
With closed eyes I let myself drifting away. Dreaming. Remembering. Imagining myself sitting behind a car’s wheel, windows widely open, wind blowing through the interior and mixing with the tones of unforgettable music, which is trying to find its way through the Tasmanian wilderness. In loneliness, interrupted only very seldomly by another car, I am crossing places, where my eyes cannot catch all the beauty. Green hills and serpentine rolling like a never-ending snake. Fields as yellow, that I cannot differentiate where the borders of their scenery end and the reflection of the almighty sun begins. Savannas with stock and flowers of all the world’s colors. Endless beaches, sunny or foggy, so mystical, that I would be able to knife into the fog. Rocky cliffs, behind them nothing but the mighty ocean. Lonely grey mountains with unexplored lakes, reaching them takes the car to literally climb up, without meeting any other living soul. Surface with no end, at least not one you can reach with your eyes. In the night, the most spectacle stars, tens and thousands of stars and a moon, which the same time pleases and blinds with its brightness. This is Tasmania. Every day different, at every end charming. The best music makes this a song of the moment, which I will not forget until the day I die. The view from the window makes it already immortal.
I am waking up in a camp not more than few kilometers from Hobart and I feel cold. The fading chilly night in the car is being warmed up in the morning by memories of the past week. Memories of a week in the country with the cleanest air in the world. A week ago, on Monday, I set out on another round trip, in order to travel through the whole island. I would visit the impressive historic prison of Port Arthur, where the most dangerous criminals of Great Britain ended between 1833 and 1853. On the same day, before driving into a lonely camp in the wilderness, a tiger snake, one of the three deadly venomous snakes of Tasmania, lazily crosses my path. At a campsite at the end of the world, I realize that being alone in beautiful nature is what I need more than streets crowded with people. At sunset, I stand on the rocks and listen to the ocean, which traditionally sooths any fears that a person can have so far away from home. One by one, the stars are slowly appearing overhead to tell me that the night is ready to cover the country with a mysterious blackness, interrupted only by their shine. Watching them, I realize how little I do the same back at home, how niggardly I treat similar moments. We shall set aside more time for the stars, more time for quiet moments, more time for yourself.
Traveling through Tasmania, that is the ultimate feeling of freedom. The following days take place in a constant symbiosis of feelings. In the coastal town of St. Helens, I would run ten kilometers, feet still like a stone after Sunday’s half marathon. Less than two hundred kilometers inland to the town of Launceston, I make my way through a scenery that alternates hills, serpentines and greenery so green that I feel like at home. Tasmania is a unique mix of everything, so much that it can remind of home.
Tasmania is full of kangaroos, wombats and other animals that can at night easily become victims to their own confusion. In Tasmania, about half a million different species of unique animals die on the roads each year after a collision with vehicles. Myself, I almost hit at one evening’s dusk a small kangaroo, missing it by millimeters and milliseconds. She runs out of the woods in a fraction of a moment and stands a few inches away on the opposite side of the road, before deciding to take the jump in front of the bumper of the car. The jump for all coins and my animal statistics remain at zero. Driving in Tasmania during the night is not worth it. It is the same evening, that I reach a camp at the lake Barrington. I sleep here at the foot of the hill, no one around me, the nearest tent fifty meters away. An oasis of peace. In the morning, being woke up by raindrops falling on the hood of the car, I lazily roll back into my sleeping bag and sleep on. Two hours later, in the very north of the island in the city of Devonport, I am escorting from the beach park the famous Spirit of Tasmania, a cult ferry between Tasmania and Melbourne. It slowly disappears in the far distance, and only when it is entirely out of sight, I do continue my journey as well.
In the Fern Glade Reserve near the town of Burnie, I will walk one of the sixty most visited short walks in Tasmania, at least the board before entering says so. In the evening I camp again by the lake, again there are a minimum of other tents around me. Lake from the old times. I have never seen anything like this in my life. The end of the day rewards me with a picturesque sunset, as it has so many times before. I stopped counting them. I am glad that I am traveling alone, I meet an Israeli woman who complains about her fellow French traveler: “Fucking Frenchmen, never believe them”. The girl with beautiful eyes and big breasts, a synonym of Israeli beauty, lived here for a while, there again for a while, restless, unstable and dissatisfied, who know what she is running from.
Without a specific goal, I traverse the roads of Tasmania and stop where I want. Sometimes it is a walk around a lonely lake, other times a (successful) search for a toilet in the middle of a dense forest. Incredible, where everywhere I can find toilettes in Australia, maintained, equipped, clean. Triathlon in New Zealand is approaching, and I use the empty pools of Tasmanian towns, which also serve for shower and daily hygiene. Like an apparition from another planet, but always getting a smile back. Such as in the town of Queenstown, in the first town with this name, which I will travel through on my journey around the world. I am a traveling-swimmer; I am a running-traveler.
The last night is rainy, breezy, a cold night in the car. I am waking up in a camp not more than few kilometers from Hobart and I feel cold. I pack up and hit the road. The sun rises, it warms up for the last goodbye. Last moments in Tasmania. I walk the streets of Hobart with my backpack on my back. The last meters in Tasmania. This is how the Tasmanian chapter ends. This is how my journey continues.