Friday, 10-10-2014. Day 51.
The Demise of Valencia the Alpaca
At some point during the early part of the day (and by early, I mean before we checked out of Alpine Lodge), Jackie decided she no longer liked Valencia the alpaca, the stuffed animal she chose at Sheepworld 30 days ago.
I remember telling her at the time she chose the alpaca that she may want to hold out for a stuffed Tasmanian devil or a wombat, as those are pretty cute. And, sure enough, now she wanted a different stuffed animal—a Tasmanian devil or a wombat. So, because the agreement was she could only have one stuffed animal on the trip, she rejected Valencia categorically. Potential future suitors, take note.
Our final destination for the day was Launceston, which set us up for to prepare us for flying out of the Launceston airport the next afternoon. But before we got there, we had to drive through Ross, the only town in the whole world that's (allegedly) within a few kilometers of the southern 42nd parallel.
The sign on the front door doesn't claim this as fact, but the the flyer available inside does claim to get thousands of Japanese tourists visiting each year.
Also inside the bakery, there are plenty of pictures of fans dressed up as Kiki posing in the bakery, and they even have a room called Kiki's Room in the adjacent Ross Village Inn where fans of the movie can sleep right over the bakery.
Read more about the connection to the Ross Village Bakery and Kiki's Delivery Service over at Geekdad Passport: Ross Village Bakery.
In addition to this potential pop culture connection, the bakery is notable for having a nearly 200-year-old wood-fired oven that can bake 300 loaves of bread at once. It's been rebuilt at least three times.
Frankie was interested in visiting the nearby Ross Female Factory, which might sound funny, but was one of the places where female convicts were held in Tasmania. It's called a factory because the incarcerated ladies were expected to work during the term of their sentence. There's only one building left standing here that serves as a self-guided museum telling the story of the Female Factory and the experience of women convicts in Tasmania. It's not a happy tale.
Ross is most famous for the Ross Bridge, which was built by convicts (like many of the structures still standing in Tasmania) and completed in 1836 after 23 years of work. It took so long because the townspeople kept "stealing" the convict labor in order to build their own dwellings (including the Ross Bakery Inn), but when it was done the two (convict) overseers earned full pardons for their efforts. The bridge, which features numerous Celtic-inspired carvings on its arches, finally provided travelers a safe, direct route between Hobart to the south and Launceston to the north.
After we finished with Ross, we headed up the Heritage Highway (built by convict road gangs) toward Launceston, but it was more like the dead wallaby highway—every few kilometers there was a dead wallaby on the side of the road.
We drove right through the heart of Launceston to the Tamar Valley Resort (and Spa), a hotel with adjacent cabins (although they call them villas) located in the suburb of Grindelwald. As we checked in at the front desk, we were told that if we wanted to eat dinner in their restaurant, we should book as soon as possible because it tends to fill up quickly. Duly noted.
The room rates here were reasonable, but the charges for everything else were pretty relentless. There were bikes, tennis courts, and a jumping pillow that cost guests extra money. They'd even charge you a tidy sum for doing your dishes.
At least the playground equipment, including the requisite boat-shaped play structure (every town in Tasmania had one of these) was free. And access to the resort's prime attraction, the Grindlewald Swiss Village, boasted free admission. But that was about it.
The Demise of Valencia the Alpaca, Part II
That day, the fate of Valencia the alpaca was a near-constant point of discussion during the hours we'd spent in the car, and by the time we checked in to our cabin, Frankie agreed to adopt Valencia. This, in Jackie's opinion, opened her up to the possibility of a Tasmanian devil. It was a frustrating parental moment. The trick is, Jackie often has trouble making decisions, but she'd made one when she decided she wanted an alpaca. So we didn't want to punish her for making a choice (which could backfire on us in future choice-making situations), but we discussed the ramifications of this reversal and (hopefully) now that all the parameters of the choice are clear, made it understood that the next stuffed animal to be chosen will be a final choice. No take-backs. Choose wisely ...
So we went over to the Swiss Village (free admission!) and looked for a Tasmanian devil stuffed animal. There were a few, but none of them quite cut it.
Once that was settled, we had to decide about dinner. We checked the menu for the Alpenrose restaurant. It looked pretty pricey and the reviews were somewhat mixed, so we decided to skip the booking and drive the four kilometers to nearby Legana Pizza and got some pizza instead. It was pretty darn good.
- Wallabies seen: 1
- Dead wallabies seen:17
- Kilometers driven: 205
- Jumping pillow jumped on: 0
- Pizzas eaten: 3