From the kitchen window I can see a group of people in Aunty Noni’s driveway. They are loading a large, flat box into their car. The box is marked ‘Samsung’. “Mum,” I beckon, “do you think those people are stealing Aunty Noni’s flat screen telly?” Mum peers from the window. “Noni doesn’t have a telly,” she informs me then thinks for a moment, “I think that they must have bought a painting.” Mum has always been good at seeing what lies beneath the surface.
We rush over to the gallery where Aunty Noni is brimming with good news. Not only has she sold a painting but she has also sold five sculptures this weekend, including one of Mum’s. It seems that the World Economic Crisis has skipped Sommers Bay.
The past two days have been very windy so we are trapped indoors. Mum feels uplifted by her sculpture sale. “Why don't you drive down to Pirate’s Bay and have lunch at the Du Vin” suggests cousin Fay. “Wow” I think, “first Tetsuya’s and now some fancy French restaurant.”
We head out down the Tasman Peninsula, crossing the ‘dog line’ at Eaglehawk Neck. Eaglehawk Neck is a slim strip of land that joins the far end of the Tasman Peninsula to the mainland. Beyond lies the notorious Port Arthur, where, in convict days, the worst of the worst were sent to rot. There was no escape from Port Arthur. It is surrounded on all sides by rough, freezing and shark-infested seas. The narrow neck joining it to the mainland was guarded by a string of ravenous dogs, the ‘dog line’. Port Arthur is doubly ill-famed for being the site of a gruesome massacre in the eighties, when some maniac went wild with a rifle and shot thirty or forty people. It is now a museum site with a visitor centre selling tea towels and all the usual crapola. I have no desire to see it again.
We swing off to the left at the first junction and are soon passing through Dootown. Here all the houses have names involving puns on the word Doo. I notice Doo Me, Doo Nix, Rum Doo and, more subtle, Xanandu. At the end of the road we swing into an ashphalt car park. There are signs pointing towards trails to local attractions ‘The Blowhole’ and ‘The Jetty’. In the corner of the car park is a caravan, with a couple of umbrella’d tables in front of it. People are queuing at the caravan. “Here we are,” says mum. It turns out that the Doo Van is a mobile fish and chip shop.
The fish is fresh, locally caught and cooked to order. The chips are light and crispy. We munch our lunch from paper cones under an umbrella in the Dootown car park. This is far better than any poncey French cuisine.