Disclaimer: Leonardo DiCaprio did not actually come to Tasmania (I fucking wish), I meant this BLOG features a cameo from Leonardo DiCaprio. You’ll see why…
The latest place I’ve crossed off my 30 Before 30 list is Tasmania, which is an island off the southern coast of Australia. I initially thought Tasmania was a different country, but it’s not, it’s an Australian state.
I went there with my friend DD, who I knew was outdoorsy, but not quite the extent of his outdoorsishness. I thought maybe we’d camp once and take a walk, but spend the rest of the time inside. This was not to be.
At it transpired, we spent the whole five days camping out of the back of a ute (van with enough space for a mattress in the back). It was quite cold at times. There was rain. And damp feet. And we cooked stuff on a portable gas thingy.
Anyone who knows me will be chuckling at this point.
Then the other day, I saw The Revenant, purely because Leonardo DiCaprio is in it and he is my Number One.
This put everything into perspective. Especially when he (Leo) had to disembowel a dead horse and then SLEEP IN ITS CARCASS just to stay warm. And when he ate a bison’s raw liver (in real life, it was actually a bison’s raw liver, and Leo is a vegetarian – give the man a bloody Oscar already!).
From what you’ve read so far, it sounds like I had a shit time in Tasmania, but I didn’t at all. Granted, I didn’t like the damp feet. Or being bitten by mosquitos so many times I genuinely thought at one point that all the swelling might nudge me into anaphylactic shock (diagnosed hypochondriac).
But it was all worth it because the rest of it was really fun.
We spent New Year’s Eve eating and drinking at a buzzy venue by the harbour with DD’s friends, overlooking a legion of towering sails, the sky painted with fireworks to the drunken tune of ‘ooohs’ and ‘ahhhhs’.
I usually at-worst-hate and at-best-ignore New Year’s Eve.
It means that Christmas (my favourite day of the year) is really far away again, and that we are waving goodbye to all the gluttony and excess, and the time off work, and people being hilarious; and that we are about to welcome all the ridiculous resolutions and the lycra and fucking Dry January.
The only person I can rely on to treat all this January-good-intentions-shit with the scorn it deserves is my brother Charles. Everyone else, even my Cool Aunt and my Best Friend Forever fell for it this year.
New Year’s Eve in Tasmania was great. We all woke up a bit too early because of the camping aspect (reason 117 why I am suspicious of camping), and I felt like SHIT all day on January 1st – but if you’ve actually bothered to go out on NYE and you don’t feel like SHIT the next day, you did it all wrong as far as I’m concerned.
We spent the rest of the trip driving around to look at things.
Tasmania is beautiful. It’s very green and jungle-ish, because the weather is schizophrenic. One minute it’s so boiling hot you burn your nose, the next minute it’s so freezing cold you need a jumper and some socks.
DD, who I met in Antarctica of all places, is a brilliant shower-rounder. He knows everything about everything, so I learnt lots and lots of facts as we ambled around.
Since graduating from university (he did History), DD (now 32) has spent more nights in a tent than in a house. Fancy that! He’d be great in an apocalypse, or in The Revenant.
DD was quite good at gently forcing me to do things I usually wriggle my way out of. Like exercise. His strategy was to suggest things casually. For example, “let’s do this little walk up to blah-blah”, and it would turn out to be a monumental hike.
We climbed (walked up) one mountain which apparently never ended. It wasn’t one of those mountains you stand at the bottom of and look up and think ‘fuck!’ – it was this magical mountain which we wound our way up and around, and every time I looked up, I couldn’t see a peak so I thought, ‘thank goodness, we must be nearly at the top’, but we weren’t, there was still lots more climbing (walking) around the corner.
But exercise is good for you, and the view from the top was sublime, and DD was a legend compared to J, who you may remember from Cape Town – the one who tormented me relentlessly the whole way up Table Mountain for being a wimp.
DD obviously knew I was a wimp, but he let me complain a lot, and he pretended to be sympathetic, and suggested plenty of ‘rests’.
And at one point, we met a wallaby who bounced up to us and let me caress her lovingly. This obviously made my heart near-explode with joy.
We also went sea kayaking, which was quite hard work, but led us to a very dreamy mostly-deserted beach; where I lay down, burnt my nose, and felt smug about all the exercise while DD crashed around in the freezing sea – the lunatic.
And we clambered up some rocks jutting out into the ocean with the waves hurling themselves towards us – DD leaping nimbly from boulder to boulder like a mountain goat, and me tiptoeing unsteadily with propeller arms like a drunken tightrope walker.
Considering the fact that I hate camping, and am an unfit spaz, Tasmania was a triumph. And DD remains one of my favourite humans.
So what’s next?
Well, I’m back in London now to do some shifts at MailOnline, to lovingly caress my animals (dog, cat, cat) and to see my mother and my BFF, and some of my other favourite humans; including Ant Toe Knee and Kitty Cat (a human, not a cat).
Then I am returning to Australia for a month, because I’m not done with it yet, and then I’m going back to Cape Town, to be reunited with members of Team America, from Antarctica.