Syphilis Monkeys (Tasmania #3)

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I always fear that whenever I write about traveling I recycle ideas from past posts without even realizing. We come to many realizations that, due mostly to our busy lives, we end up forgetting. If traveling resurrects those ideas, at the cost of plagiarizing myself, then it is all worth it.

10:00 monkeys n parks

Again and again, Daniel would rave about Launceston’s “syphilis monkeys”. Which probably sounds strange for the casual readers. Basically, there’s monkeys in a park and they all had syphilis. Supposedly. Though I’m quite sure it was herpes. They’re caged, not free, but MONKEYS. If you have ever read any of my Malaysian travel logs, you know i go bananas for monkeys.

Technically they’re not monkeys but Japanese Macaques. Which is also know, shockingly, as the Snow Monkey (they’re those monkeys that you see in all those brochures of Japanese onsens, the hot springs, sitting there whilst snow covers their furry little heads). Did you know it is the northernmost-living non-human primate?

Queue endless pictures of macaques. It is no shock that I love taking pictures of animals. The same way humbolt had this absurd fascination with plants, and it was one of his major focuses when he went to explore Southern America, so do I have a fascination with animals. Just like my friend humbolt, this fascination has it’s roots in childhood: from my many dreams of becoming an Animal Planet presenter, to a biologist or owning an entire floor filled with various snakes, rodents and birds, looking back today I’m not entirely sure how that path of life became obsolete. Sure, having pets and traveling a lot doesn’t go all that well together.

12:00 cataract gorge

One of the great thing to do in this part of Tasmania (apart from the loving monkeys) is to take a short trek to Cataract Gorge. Like everything in Australia, getting there is confusing and off course there is no public transport (which isn’t all that grave since it about only 2-3 km away – a half hour walk).

Once there you are bombarded with all the possibilities of walks and crossing suspension bridges. The Duck Reach Power station walk is most probably the longest one (90 minutes return), and in an overdose of adventure spirit, I decide to take on the challenge and be an explorer.

As the geek that I am, all those walkways glued to the edge of the cliff constantly reminded me of the latest Tomb Raider. The path towards the power station was eerily deserted, only occasionally seeing other hikers going the opposite way. That “Tomb Raider” feeling started also being about me expecting all sorts of ruffians to jump out from somewhere and try to kill me.


The views were much better than the first basin ones. Bar my meeting with a random dog and the constant thought of what a perfect spot that is for serial killer to prowl, it did feel rather adventurous. In a good way! Towards the midpoint (as in when you start making your trek back to the start), there’s another suspension bridge and then some stairs where you have to duck under water pipes. The landscape easily changes from dry bushland to wet and cold rainforest like surroundings, the leaves of the trees literally dripping water.


Rewarded myself with some water and a can of Pepsi when I arrived, in one piece and unmurdered, back at the first basin. To make things interesting, I took the way back through the Zig-Zag Track (about 20 minutes), which for those not feeling all that keen to constantly go up and down stairs after taking my advice of risking the Duck Track, it might not be the best idea. Then again it offers some different views (and much better ones) than the way I initially got to the gorge.


I need a haircut. I also need to stop forgetting I am very much in countryside Australia (sorry Launceston but you’re not all that city-like), which means restaurants aren’t open all day long, but have a lovely break in between like 12 and 5. So if you have unusual eating habits like me, or simply sleep until 10 because you’re on holiday, make sure you eat before this break. Otherwise one is sentenced to eat at KFC, which is indeed open all day long. Woe is my tastebuds.

You will notice that everything I do is concentrated in e early part of the day, and that towards the night my blog becomes silent. I see two distinct explanations: firstly, I could see this trend exist even in my Vietnam trips and, occasionally, in my Japan one. It’s mostly because I travel alone – so going to a bar by myself would be sad (unless its a really nice bar – not the case here). I’m also involved with a man, so there goes any options to just frolic during the night.

Yet another explanation would be that nothing happens in Tasmania after 6pm. Sure, Saigon and Tokyo and Sendai still had lots and lots of life after dark even for the lone traveler. Tasmania… Not so much. Ended up going to the movies tho – as I needed to waste some time. I can’t possibly go to bed so early in the day.

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