As we ready things to leave Deal Island for George Town, two more boats turn up. It’s time to go. I love this place, I love that people visit it – but I don’t want to share it – the very loneliness of the locale leaves me requiring solitude to enjoy it. Meeting caretakers is different – lighthouse caretakers, in my experience, are reliably excellent people and a great source of information.
We have had a day soaked in sunshine. Crazy clouds funnelling through Murray Pass in the morning. I imagine that over in Melbourne the Mothership must be a pool of sweat – it’s been too hot for us to walk to Pebbly Cove – we were seduced by the coolness of the museum, with its thick block walls, the green grass surrounding it and the breeze coming over the top of the hill.
The wind won’t be from the right angle until dinner time so we have had a full day and it’s lovely to sail away down Murray Pass and out into the ocean with the sun lighting up the cliffs on the island. The sailing is perfect. Ford St Clair has been foiled again – conditions are perfect – his maritime heroism is yet to be tested in big swell and savage winds.
The night shifts were uneventful and we arrived in George Town the following morning – 1 November 2019. By this time I’d realised we were absolutely mirroring our first sail to Tasmania after launching in 2016 – to the day! So crazy – but kind of cool as well, to realise how much more relaxed we are this time…
George Town does not seem to have fared well in the intervening three years. The town seems more economically depressed. The shining light is the library, which, in comparison to everything else in the town, looks like it has been dropped there by accident. The range of books had the Smalls squealing with delight – we hung out there most of the day…
Ford St Clair went shopping at the very well-located supermarket and made us a dinner to celebrate his stay with us – he left early the following morning on a bus back to the nether regions of Burnie. We were sad to see him go, although of course, we embraced the extra space. His presence remains aboard in the guise of multiple bottles of hot sauce.
Like goldfish we returned to the library with great glee… it was closed. Why would a library be CLOSED ON A SATURDAY? The same thing happened the same time we were here last time. It was literally the same weekend – the Monday was a public holiday in the north of the state – they call it ‘Recreation Day’ – but it’s really name is ‘Hobart Had A Public Holiday For Some Reason So We Will Have One Too’.
Grey skies. Rain. M and I left the Smalls aboard and haemorrhaged over $30 at the excellent coin laundry (the only thing open besides the pub/s and supermarket). I took a traveller cup of tea and my laptop. M took…himself. And so, by the time we’d flung everything into the dryer, he wanted to go an get a drink somewhere.
The closest place to go within our 29 minute timeframe was the pub two doors down. The front bar was intimidating – TV screens and a posse of local dudes around the bar. The bistro was all set up and entirely empty. The lounge? There was stuff going on in the lounge – the most populated area of the pub. At least twenty pokie machines, more than half of which had people feeding coins into them with a glassy kind of concentration. I noticed a coin machine on the wall and realised that I could have got all my dollar coins from here without a problem instead of lining up at the supermarket and convincing the check-out person to sell me a roll of one dollar coins for the laundry.
M got a beer. After some investigation, I got a glass of something white from Marlborough. We sat on the two upholstered chairs in the room that were not in front of a machine. I noted the free tea and coffee available and the way that the person behind the bar knew the name of everyone who came up and ordered something. I was forcibly reminded of what people in Tathra had told me – how the new owners of the local pub had removed all the pokie machines and in doing so had revived it into a community hub where people would drop in for a drink or dinner, where there was free live music on Sunday afternoons.
George Town. Tathra. Opposite ends of the coastal spectrum. The former low lying at the mouth of a river. Mud flats, some historical significance, very little money floating around. The latter all cliff edges, whales and blue blue ocean. Lots of money floating around; and although there didn’t seem to be much work available in the area, people worked in Bega. It’s a holiday spot and the community hummed along. The community in George Town appeared to be struggling to put one foot in front of the other.
The Smalls professed their dissatisfaction with George Town, apropos of nothing. This is not to say anyone was horrible to us – every single person we chatted to was nice. It just felt bleak. We spent two nights there and then took off for Launceston on Sunday morning, early.