Stories from Bernie's new trip - heading "down under" to explore Tasmania

You Can't Take it With You
October 29, 2010

You know I don’t cotton much to fancy gear. Nothing wrong with it. It’s just that you always end up buying too much of it. The only time I ever bought all the stuff the magazines told me I needed I ended up walking out the door with two backpacks strapped to me – one fore and one aft. Like the guy at the airport baggage pickup sandwiched between two massive rucksacks and he’s looking for another one on the baggage conveyor. You know the one.

I don’t want to be that man.

Besides, in the past two days, here at headquarters, we’ve run twice for the basement for tornado alarms. Then tonight the power line leading to the house shorted out and my brother leapt onto the heat pump to put it out before the roof caught on fire. Who’s got time and money left over for gear?

Pack. Pack? Man, we’re fighting fires over here. Brother Christian putting the hurt on today’s electrical fire.

And I’m supposed to be packing for a six month trip.

So forget the fancy pants. Nah, just like the whiskey and the borrowed fire extinguisher got us through the tornado drill and the electrical fire, I’ll get by fine in Tasmania with the clothes on my back. The whole point, after all, is to immerse in the country. Why show up with new $300 hiking boots to find they wear rubber boots on account of the rain?

And really, wouldn’t you rather hear I was freezing in the Southern Ocean rain because I showed up with a 2-dollar poncho instead of a $200 Gortex rainsuit? Oh wait, I’m not packing rain gear. I’ll find some there.

Packed for half a year on an Australian island: Yeah, it looks a little Boy Scoutish(Christian Harberts photo)

Okay, because you’re going to bust my chops if I don’t tell you I will. I’m packing a camera, small laptop and voice recorder. Also, a sleeping bag made from a duvet folded in half with a zipper sewn into the long edge(thanks Thies and Kicki aboard sailing vessel “Wanderer III” and a $10 backpack (thanks thrift store in Beach, North Dakota). Then, for lodging, a small hammock. For repairing the hammock, dental floss. Passport. Hundred dollars cash money.

Oh, and a pen. To write post cards with.

And that’s about it.

Scales don’t lie: 16 pounds of gear

Saturday afternoon I step onto a plane bound for south of the equator. I’m packed. I’m ready. Because I’m taking most nothing at all.

Hold Fast!

Posted Friday October 29, 2010 by Bernie
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Getting Mail Like You Used To
October 22, 2010

Your mail’s gone to hell hasn’t it? Remember back in the day when your cousin Benton used to send you those mashed up cards from the funky places he visited. The time he went to Tumbleweed Adventure in Wyoming, snagged his jacket on the gift shop jackalope (he was trying to light his cigarette) and brought down the whole row of stuffed heads….. Yeah, but he sent you a postcard, didn’t he? It was the one with the Jackalope Hunting Permit on it.

The kind of stamp you used to get

Then something happened. We all got laptops, cousin Benton got an email account and all he writes about is his marathon times and resting heart rate (he quit smoking and moved to Colorado).

Well have I got something to drag you back to those analog days. It’s a post card from Tasmania.

Yep, as I travel around Tasmania, I’d like to send you a card. No, not one of those virtual online post cards that end up with a sanitary “bing” in your inbox. No, I’m talking about the kind the mailman risks his federal pension to sneak a peak at. The one that, if you catch him glimpsing into your bulk mail pizza and cable tv offerings, you’ll see him shaking his head wondering “Where the hell is Tasmania?”

He still thinks it’s a make believe place. Not you. Since you’ve been getting cards from there you know better.

So put that spring back into step, the one you used to have when you walked to the mail box to see if cousin Benton had sent you a card from his latest road trip. You want it. You need it. Here’s how to get your postcard from Tasmania….

Posted Friday October 22, 2010 by Bernie
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Heading for Tasmania
October 20, 2010

It’s time to head for Tassie.

Come the end of October, armed with little more than an audio recorder and camera (oh, and one spare blue shirt), I head off to learn more about Tasmanian devils, tigers, wallabies and wombats – and the folks that call Tassie home.

Tasmania: it’s the land under the Land Down Under. In the image above, mainland Australia is visible at the 11 o’clock position. Tasmania is the island directly below it.

As always, you’re invited to join the adventures on RiverEarth.com. Instead of making detailed preparations the plan is to simply go to Tasmania and hit the road with whatever means present themselves. It could be hiking boots, bike, boat or horse- or any combination thereof. But it won’t be planned, predictable or organized. Think an adventure held together with bailing twine, pipe smoke and Tasmanians met along the way.

Hold fast!


Posted Wednesday October 20, 2010 by Bernie
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Where in the World is Tasmania?
October 20, 2010

If someone gave you a world atlas and told you to put your finger on Tasmania, if you’re like I was until recently, you’d spend lots of time searching. Your finger would quickly pass over the major continents, Africa, South America, North America, Asia, maybe head out into the Pacific for a quick spin then start looking for island specks in the ocean.

Then, if you’re like me, your finger would drift landward and start hovering over places you’d read about in National Geographic. Tanzania? Tunisia? Romania?

Finally, if you looked south under Australia, about 150 miles off the southeastern corner, you’d find an island – Tasmania.

Australia – and below it, at the 5 o’clock position, Tasmania

About the size of Ireland, Tasmania, or Tassie as some call it, is an Australian state just as Queensland and Victoria are. Home to about 500,000 Tasmanians, it’s also the stomping grounds of more exotic creatures such as the Tasmanian devil. Which yes, exists, but that’s a whole different story…

The island state of Tasmania

Posted Wednesday October 20, 2010 by Bernie
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