I had saved for months on end, working in Sydney to fund the trip. Finally the day came and off I went “Under Down Under”. I had heard from friends that Tasmania was wild, blissful and “so like Ireland or Scotland”.
I had to check it out. I spent a few nights in Launceston where I walked the amazing Cataract Gorge and checked out the few but pretty older buildings of the town.
The first of two tours I joined was a three-day active adventure heading west and then on to Hobart.
It certainly was blissful. The awe of Cradle Mountain half covered in mist, the seemingly endless sprawl of eucalypt trees and green hills, plus the wild wombats crossing our path, just for added cuteness.
We also unfortunately encountered some not so cute Tassie devil roadkill. Our final night was spent in the town of Strahan, on the central west coast.
I had the task of cooking the barbie and my unfortunate travel buds had the task of tackling the half burned chicken breast.
The tour guide John was your typical Aussie who loves to chill with a Cascade beer (he is a local after all) and “snags” on the barbie. Cool guy though.
After a few too many beers and not too much food I noticed an itch on my right foot. Thinking nothing of it I drank myself silly and fell into bed.
The following morning it still hadn’t gone. We packed our stuff and headed for Hobart. I couldn’t shake the itch though, staring down at my foot every few minutes. “She’ll be right mate” said John. “Yeah right,” I replied.
By this time I’d noticed very small marks almost like a bite and it was red and swollen. By lunchtime we had reached Lake St Clair – the finishing point of the famous Overland Track from Cradle Mountain.
Upon greeting the exhausted bushwalkers fit enough to take on such a task I could deny it no more – my foot was aching and getting bigger and bigger.
By the time we reached the beautiful portside city of Hobart, everyone said their goodbye’s and a few agreed to have dinner that evening. I shook the thoughts of my ever growing, painful foot and decided to go along.
Halfway through our locally caught dinner I could smile and chat along no more. “I need to see a doctor,” I announced. The swelling was so bad it had started to go numb, and purple. I couldn’t even fit it into my shoe.
Stupid me, I know. David, a mate from the tour accompanied me to Accident & Emergency (it was a Friday night) where I waited for about two hours. Eventually my name was called and in I went. It was quiet enough (surprisingly for a booze-filled Friday night) and the staff were friendly.
A senior on call doctor was called as the intern wanted a second opinion. “Yep,” he said, “you have cellulitis (an infection of the cells)… and we’ll need to operate.”
“You what?” I said. “The swelling is so severe we’ll need to open the tissues to release the pressure. You’re looking at surgery and a two week stay.”
Great, I thought. So much for my week in Hobart and the east coast.
They started Intravenous antibiotics and sent me to a ward. A more calm consultant visited the next morning and happily said: “Let’s wait and see how the drugs go.” Music to my ears…
Luckily I didn’t need the surgery in the end. A week in a boring hospital ward was enough for me. After some direct questioning I discovered it was a white tailed spider bite that caused all this.
I never got to see Hobart or the east coast on the trip.
The day I was discharged I flew back to Sydney. Bummer…
I will be going back this year though – a little more mindful
as you can imagine!