THE RaTTAToT TOUR
(Ramsay's Terrific Tag-a-long Adventure Tour of Tasmania)
Well what can we say ? Ask anyone who attended this amazingly
successful event and they will tell you it was 'Dattastic'.
Members took it in turns to write a formal run report for
each day, but heh, we don't want to bore you with all those
details here. Well, you really had to be there.
So here is a summary. The full transcript of each day, with
lots more photos, will shortly be posted on the DSOA (NSW)
Inc. Internet site for anyone interested.
Since the 'Spirit of Tasmania' Ferry didn't leave until 7:30,
the boys payed a visit to the famous Lou Mondello Factory
and were welcomed with coffee and Lou's usual helpfulness
with last minute adjustments. Nan was particularly happy to
drop off Phil Egan's 'head' which she gleefully told us all
she had had between her legs all the way from Sydney !
We had not even reached Tasmania and Paul was already nicknamed
'Warren' by Syd who no doubt was jealous that Paul and Diann
were enjoying each others company and not partaking in the
evening meal with us in Melbourne. The name was allocated
due to the association with rabbits. Paul and Diann took the
joke very well and the naming changed throughout the holiday
to 'The Warrens' or "Warren and Jessica (Rabbit)".
Due to being the only male passenger (with Syd as driver),
poor Alan.A was duly named 'Allanson' and became the butt
(literally) of the gay jokes. Later in the holiday Syd and
Alan.A were renamed Cyril and Cecil (although they could never
remember which one of them was which).
The boat trip across Bass Strait was extremely calm and all
members said they slept well. But we are still trying to locate
those members that a female passenger complained were "smoking
pot and enticing young girls to their rooms". Actually
it didn't seem so funny there for a while, but fortunately
Haydn located the real culprits and cleared the Club's name.
After this incident we renamed our contingent the 'Victorian
Hotels Association' to anyone who asked. No, we all behaved
ourselves. Even Sylvia managed to curb her hormonal urges
and restrain herself from leaping on the dinner waiter who
she said was 'real spunk'. Sorry Sylvia, he could have been
your grand-child !!
On arrival in Devonport, Steve collected Jan and Angelique
from the airport and then we set off down the West coast,
stopping at Sheffield (town of murals) and Cradle Mountain.
The winding roads and craggy mountain scenery were excellent
and most of our drivers could not resist some fast speeds.
It turned out that Tassie is somewhat of a 'driver's heaven'
and the roads continued to be curvy and empty for the remainder
of the trip !! Our 13 cars split into natural groups of the
Rev-heads (eyes on the road), the Romantics (eyes on each
other) and the Pleasure drivers (eyes on the scenery), which
pretty well stayed the pattern for the next 2 weeks.
On arrival in Queenstown, what a shock. We were presented
with a sharp contrast of desolation, naked hills and much
temporary type housing associated with this long-time mining
town. Had we arrived on the Moon ? or in Afghanistan perhaps
? These thoughts were further increased by our good but basic
accommodation and warnings not to drink the water.(it's orange
colour hadn't made us inclined to anyway). Oh well, variety
is the spice of life. All the scenery and accommodation was
better after this and we were very glad of Jim's decision
to go against the trend and travel Tasmania in an anti-clockwise
On Tuesday we drove to the pretty coastal town of Strahan
and took a cruise on Macquarie Harbour and the Gordon River.
A guided tour of Sarah Island was included which was settled
as a penal colony in 1821. The tour was relaxing despite the
presence of some MG car club members (only joking) and the
lunch served was varied and plentiful. Norm and Liz chose
the cruise to introduce the first of several Tasmanian knowledge
quizzes, to ensure our minds didn't completely seise up. Norm
had organised bright yellow rugby shirts to celebrate the
tour which were wonderful because they made members easy to
spot and did not need ironing. The weather left a bit to be
desired with continual drizzle, but as we ended the cruise
the sun came out for a group photo (no cars this time). The
dry roads then provided a much more interesting return journey
back to the hotel.
At our Queenstown accommodation we met Mike the cyclist from
San José who has peddled 22,500 kms in 12 months and
used 8 tyres and 2 sets of brake blocks. We met him again
at Nelson Falls and a number of other places over the 2 weeks.
The following day was completely taken up with a trip between
Queenstown and Hobart, although there was plenty to see on
the way. Sights included Nelson Falls, Lake St Clair, Russell
Falls and a Salmon (actually Trout) Farm. On this run some
'car swapping' started which continued for the subsequent
days and educated our drivers about the different handling
and capacity of their cars. We also had the first of three
BBQs, which proved really successful. Sixty or so sausages,
5 loaves of bread, 1 tub of margarine and 1 bottle of sauce
worked out at about $2 per head. On this occasion they were
gratefully accompanied by Bev's home baked cookies.
Three cars (and their owners) decided to remain in Queenstown
a little longer to ride the ABT Railway, delaying them for
3 hours. Alan.C and Marie used this delay as their excuse
for being last throughout the remainder of the holiday but
we think it is more likely to be to do with Marie's passion
for antique shops !
Hobart was a four-night stop that was much appreciated to
allow washing to be done and just so that we did not have
to try and pack those cars again for a while! Geoff and June
must have been pleased to stay in one place too, having already
given us a few demonstrations of their ability to get lost
(Geoff says they were just taking the scenic routes).
Friday consisted of the cruise to the Cadbury factory (oh,
it was such a strain to eat all those samples and, well, we
didn't want to seem ungrateful!). The weather was fantastic
and so we brought forward the planned trip up to the summit
of Mount Wellington. It was not at all cold and we got a magnificent
panorama view of Hobart. On the trip up the mountain, Paul
and Diann noticed Bob and Sue's gearbox support housing hanging
precariously low. A quick jack up and some tightening at the
summit showed a stripped thread.
Next, we accepted a gracious invitation by Geoff Richardson
(fellow Datsun owner) to wash our cars in his driveway. Geoff
Duggan and John Dagwell (also Dato owners) came to say hello.
A few of us joined the two Geoff's at the Derwent Yacht Club
for drinks before we dispersed to the various seafood restaurants
for cocktails and hearty meals.
The Hobart Christmas Pageant the next day was unfortunately
greeted by drizzling rain (good call to go up the mountain
yesterday). As part of the pageant, our cars were parked outside
of Parliament House next to Salamanca Markets. We were joined
by three other Sporties belonging to Tassie dwellers : Geoff
Richardson's 1500 (H20), John Dagwell's white 2000 H/S and
Geoff Duggan's "Targa Tasmania" white race car.
Two TV channels featured the cars that evening.
Afterwards, Geoff Richardson led our trip to the historic
town of Richmond, renowned for its Georgian architecture and
the oldest bridge in Australia.
Des was gasping for some Kentucky Fried Chicken (well, he
WAS on holiday), but 12 of the holidayers went to an Indian
restaurant that evening. There was plenty of wine to keep
us occupied, but unfortunately the service was abysmal. After
2 hours of waiting we still had no main courses and Michael
decided to be our spokesman and express his dissatisfaction
to the waitress-in-charge. On suggesting that she had some
power to improve the situation the waitress "No Sir,
I'm just a basic human being like you", Michael was somewhat
put out that someone had discovered his 'basicness' - much
to the glee of the rest of our party who immediately named
him Basic Honer. That one should be good for at least a few
On Sunday Geoff and Debbie Duggan led us on a trip around
the Huon Valley. We drove along the South West coast of the
Derwent River past Battery Point to a Shot Tower, built to
make shot to defend the colony in 1870. It was Huonville for
morning tea then an hour's drive to Hastings Caves, the thermal
pool and our second BBQ of the trip. There were two possible
ways to go to Kettering for our dinner stop. Relaxed and easy
over the hill, or winding around the coast road. It was a
hard choice because both were very scenic.
Before leaving Hobart, some chose to visit Mt Wellington
again, because by this time the summit was covered in snow!.
Others visited the Tasmanian Devil Park (Megan and Rachel
loved the friendly cockatoo), but we all met up at Port Arthur
Historic Site and spent the afternoon viewing the ruins. Each
of us was allocated a convict identity, most people having
been convicted of steeling some small item (or even being
innocent), but Anne-Marie got much enjoyment about having
been deported for buggery!
After dinner we returned to the ruins for a ghost tour around
the site. The guide requested volunteers to carry the lamp-lights.
People were selected to take up the fairly 'safe' positions
at the back and centre of the group. Then the guide asked
for a REALLY BRAVE person to lead the group into the darkness.
Without a moment's hesitation, Syd leapt forward and was duly
selected. Cecil (Alan.A) admiringly said "OOOOH Your
so brave Cyril". Everyone laughed, but André was
already in stitches having been responsible for Cyril's 'bravery'
in the form of a firm 'shove' in his back !!.
After a morning photo session at Port Arthur, we had a great
day's driving to Bicheno, viewing sights on the way such as
the Remarkable Caves, Doo Town, Devils Kitchen, Tasman Arch,
Blow Hole, Spiky Bridge and Freycinet National Park. One of
our convoys stopped for lunch at Swansea. Some of the Tassie
towns are so small that the idea of feeding 8 people at once
is a major challenge. At this particular place the cook/waitress
was so flustered that she jumped at Julia's offer to help
out making the drinks and serving the meals!. The evening
consisted of dinner at the pub and Fairy penguin spotting
The next morning we took the Elephant Pass route to St Helens
where we stocked up for lunch followed by a stop at the Pyengana
Cheese Factory for tasting of their chilli and herb cheeses,
just to name a few. Then it was onto St Columba Falls, which
are the highest falls in Tasmania at 90 metres. It was Scottsdale
for afternoon tea before another awesome drive to Launceston
over the mountain range for a 3 night stay.
A trip up one side of the Tamar River and back down the other,
provided us with short drives, food, wineries, more food,
strawberry farm, strawberry wine, more food, car swapping,
the Swiss Village, more food, more wineries with, eventually,
more food and wine back at the motel.
Launceston has a strange ritual within the city. Each late
afternoon in the centre of the business district, the local
rev-head brigade test the surface tension of the road surface
and pavers using, we believe, a special type of diff modification
that allows singe wheel spinning for an entire city block.
Rev Head Geoff believed the problem was in the road surface
rather than the diff and proof of this theory was confirmed
in a practical demonstration.
It was off to the National Auto Museum at 9am followed by
Cataract Gorge for a BBQ lunch and cake to celebrate Jan's
birthday. A visit to a pub in the town of Longford (which
is the centrepiece of the famous Longford racing circuit of
the 1960's) found us a photograph of Doug Whiteford racing
his Datsun 2000, hanging above the bar. A stop at Carrick
before returning to Launceston then allowed us to purchase
some interesting copper craft items from their unique store.
9:35am, Saturday morning, 15ºc and raining heavily in
Launceston. Tassie wept as the DSOA left the motel to begin
their last day of sight-seeing, morning and afternoon teas,
lunches, dinners and curio hunting. Deloraine for morning-tea
and then Devonport for lunch before sadly loading the Dato's
back onto the ferry.
At dinner, the final quiz results were seen to. Liz was very
confused at why someone had answered all the questions with
the name 'Steve Naudi' - no doubt the explanation (with live
appearance) is a future pleasure she has in store.
Another good ferry crossing with tea early at 6pm, then we
watched the sun set over the waters of Bass Strait and Steve
amazed us all with the digital photo display on his PC. Despite
the 3am start time, most people were up bright and early and
made breakfast before we docked at 5am.
Off the boat, quick goodbyes, hug and kisses and off home.
We took with us smiles, happy memories, photos, some Tassie
souvenirs and a few kilo's extra on our waistlines.
Until next time