Having heard good things about Tasmania, I flew to Hobart, the state capital – it's a short one-hour flight from Melbourne, and it's easier (and cheaper) to fly than the 14-hour ferry trip aboard The Spirit of Tasmania. It wasn't more than two hours into my visit that things began to happen, and I mean happen.
It all kicked off as I was wandering along the dockside in Hobart, heading towards this interesting-sounding heavy rock band who were playing in a warehouse on the quay – I never turn down the chance to find original local music, however loud the amps. I went over to the entrance, only to find a small crowd hanging round a corner of the dock, all looking down into the water. 'There's a car down there,' said one observer, though there wasn't anything to be seen except a couple of worried-looking men swimming to shore, carrying a little girl to a boat.
My neighbour at the dock told me what had happened. A car had been driving along the road by the dock, and had failed to stop at a pedestrian crossing, hitting a man crossing the road and flinging him off onto the sidewalk. The car then swerved through the car park that lined the dock, and shot straight over the side into the water, narrowly missing two kids who were sitting there.
Right next to the dock was a skateboard competition in full flow, and two skateboarders dived into the water and managed to open the back seat and let a little girl out, whom they carried to the shore: she was the lucky one. The car had sunk about five metres into the black water, so they couldn't dive back down to it, but obviously the driver was still in there, apparently with another passenger. The police were soon on the scene, and it wasn't long before the frogmen were in the dock.
I'd never seen dead bodies before. The first one up was an overweight woman in a black dress. It struck me how incredibly white she looked compared to her clothes. She was closely followed by an old woman, who looked just as pale, trailing white vomit in her wake while her eyes rolled lazily in her head. CPR ensued, and eventually they were carted off in ambulances. They were dead on arrival.
And all the time this heavy rock band was playing away in the background. Some requiem, eh.