The main reason Captain Caveman was visiting Australia was to attend the Australian Speleolgical Federation Caving Conference. When I agreed to tag along on his month-long trip it was on the understanding that I would also need to suffer being a caver’s widow for over a week over the new year period. It also meant that in order to keep the costs down and be able to allow Captain Caveman to fit in as many caving related days I would need to rough it a bit on the accommodation.
On Friday 28th December we left the luxurious comfort of Hobart at 5am and headed, in the borrowed car, to a little place called Mole Creek. Captain Caveman was booked on a trip to Kubla Khan cave at about 8.30am so we didn’t have much time to waste and we had already borrowed a tent which had been erected for us. We decided that rather than be stuck at Mole Creek Caving Hut all day I would get dropped off at a cafe near by called Earthwater. I will be honest I was not impressed by the Mole Creek camping facilities, or lack there of, but at least the cafe was really nice and had lots of choice. Captain Caveman had been moved on to a different cave trip, called Tailender, due to the organiser thinking he might be too much of a ‘tired little bunny’, after his 3 hour drive. I logged on to Netflix and started watching Sinner 2 (my Netflix now has it on there), had bacon, mushrooms and glute free toast for my second breakfast, I’d had chocolate and crisps for the first one). Along with numerous cups of varying types of tea I had chicken salad and fries for lunch and basically sat in the cafe until 5pm when Captain caveman arrived back from caving, with Janice and Cathy. In the evening, knowing I had to sleep in the tent on the worst campsite, I thought it best to have a few wines and therefore had 3 white wine and sodas followed by fish and chips. We went to the toilet at the pub before going back to the campsite and got in to the tent and in to the sleeping bags. At about midnight I had a claustrophobic panic attack and had to get out, despite it being pitch black and raining outside. I decided it would be better to sleep in the car but it was too hot and I couldn’t sleep there either. I ended up having to walk back to the tent to wake up Captain Caveman to take me to the toilet, which was a good 250m up a hill to a rangers station. I really was not impressed but neither was Captain Caveman.
On Saturday 29th December I obviously woke up in a bad mood and had hardly slept but when I saw that Captain Caveman looked far more tired than me I felt a bit bad. I had a gluten free brownie for breakfast before approaching a fellow camper, Janice, for a lift. Captain Caveman went on an all day caving trip to Kubla Khan and wasn’t expected out until 10pm. I didn’t fancy spending another night in the Mole Creek/Wolf Creek non-campsite so had agreed we would sleep in the car at a place with proper toilets. We had to take the car back to Hobart and be ready to meet Sarah for our lift to the caving conference the next day at 7am and that was 3 hours drive away so logistics were key, but not my forte.
I spent the day at the Earthwater cafe again, watching Netflix and scoffing nice food. The cafe owners were friendly and didn’t mind that I would be there all day again. They were as surprised as I was when Captain Caveman returned before 6pm and we had food together before heading off to Kempton via some very remote roads, lined with wallabies and wombats, as dusk approached. There were some really remote townships along the way without so much as a convenience store. At one point the windscreen was so smeared from bugs that Captain Caveman had to get out and wipe it down with his T-shirt while wallabies watched him. It was so difficult to not hit the animals in the road but we made it, unscathed but knackered, to a tiny camping spot. It was just before 11pm and I was actually looking forward to a kip in the car, having set the alarm a little earlier than I’d have liked.
At 5.30am on Sunday 30th December we were up and off driving to Hobart from Kempton, feeling a little better than the previous day. We dropped the borrowed car back at the house and transferred our luggage, including the dreaded tent, in to Sarah’s car. We drove to Devonport with me in the back of a very hot car, feeling a little travel sick, after eating cheese and a cherry and goji berry health bar for breakfast.
We would be attending the 31st Biennial Conference of the Australian Speleological Federation for the next 6 days and, as you can imagine, I had my concerns. I’m not a caver, I don’t get excited by listening to people talk about caves and I only knew 3 people out of the hundred or so people who were going to be there. We arrived and after a bit of faffing about we were allowed to pitch our tent. I suggested a good spot would be nearest to the toilet block but Captain Caveman thought the best spot would be the opposite side of the cricket oval, furthest from the toilet block but next to Sarah, who had a jazzy camper van being delivered. I’m not normally a jealous person but I really wished we had one of those instead of the small tent we had to put up with. We both made full use of the washing facilities and I was in the shower for about an hour – it was one of the best showers I had had on a camping trip. At 5pm the conference registration started and by 5.30pm the bar was open – I even got a free glass of wine. There was a welcome BBQ where we got given sausages and steak with salad. In the buffet queue I did meet some older cavers who didn’t know how to use tongues which seemed a tad worrying. We shared another bottle of wine from the bar, which closed at 8.30pm, before borrowing the glasses and heading back to the tent, where Captain Caveman had another bottle stashed away. We made friends with some fellow campers, including an American who hadn’t washed for a few days and his poor wife who seemed even more out of her depth than me.