Delicate: Pan-seared sea scallops. Photo: Supplied
This was the sight that made me realise I was getting ever so closer to a very defining place.
In the next lane, a pair that look like resemble the lead actors from Easy Rider, are pushing their broken down '50s station wagon.
The fact that it is blowing an absolute gale and we are on the loading ramp for the Spirit of Tasmania makes me sure we are indeed heading back, 20 years since our lives were shaped here.
Billy and Captain America eventually get the Facebook going but still I have to look at my daughter, who was Tasmanian-born, to see that she is probably thinking "oh my god...#hashtag, my kin".
This howling gale, 120km/h winds, as the captain cheerfully explains, are going to make for a rocky crossing to Devonport. It could not possibly be as bad as my last voyage over Bass Strait on the ill-fated SeaCat all those years ago. Very disconcerting seeing every seatback chockablock full of sick bags and all the staff waiting with elbow length rubber gloves and mop buckets.
This crossing is quite pleasant in comparison, sure we are rocked but it is almost a womb-like gentle motion if your mother was a steeplechaser.
Day one sees us heading up the Pipers River to the Bay of Fires winery.
The beauty up here is palpable, originally set up by a Swiss couple who weren't the first to realise that a pretty visage doesn't mean a sound climate for growing grapes. Frost and wet vintages took their toll, now the vineyard, after changing hands many times, is set up with frost protection and winery draws fruit from all over Tasmania.
We are here however, not for a winery tour.
'Tis the annual 2010 Len Evans reunion. A very serious affair as wine tastings at this level are want wont to be. After all we industry professionals will be tasting the very best wines from producers like Chateau Pichon-Lalande, Entienne Sauzet, Domaine de L’Arlot.
Well that's how I like to portray this event to get my annual hall pass. This year my daughter realised quickly that this isn't quite the hoity-toity event. A few hours in, one scholar stands up and shout-sculled his shoe full of claret. (Shout-sculling is a technical term for tilting head back and yelling as you drink the contents).
No this is a very casual, slowly unravelling affair. We hang out listening to old music, having great food and work our way through the long list of beer, fizz, wine, records, anything really. Finishing with a Tassie whisky masterclass (again a technical term for running out of wine late and hitting the art deco drinks trolley).
Standouts are the 1990 Chave Hermitage, 2010 Raveneau Les Clos Chablis and a pair of Yalumba oldies (1934 riesling and the amazing 1908 okmuscadelle) to name but a few.
After a wobbly start to the next day we head out, first stop the Pipers river store for their famous toasties. Not sure how they do this but a range of sandwiches are essentially steamed in cardboard boxes. This give the sandwich a ghetto sous vide-like quality and texture.
There is nothing better when you are feeling tender yet have to be a parent still.
On the road to St Helens you drive in and out of beautiful temperate rainforest remnants and pass through PyenganaPyangana. A tiny village set in this, for me, achingly green valley. The home of the cloth-aged Pyengana cheddar. Last visit it was a shed with a table and a block of cheese.
Now it's very tourist-oriented, a cafe which turns out a cracking pork belly and local beef pie. The shop has more rainforest-wood-handled implements than you could point a celery-top pine stick at. Outside the dairy cows line up to be off-loaded of their creamy cargo.
We head from here down the east coast, via sleepy, (well everywhere is sleepy it being winter), Bicheno where we stand on a lonely wharf and watch a pod of dolphins jump and carry on.
Meanwhile up north, where everyone must be, in Queensland, their sad-eyed cousins would be performing to hordeshoards of fast-food stuffed tourists.
We stay at Freycinet Lodge at Coles Bay and walk over to Wineglass Bay, the poster beach for tourism Tasmania - which it should be, being so perfect.
Day three, this day marks the start of the scallop season and we celebrate this with a curried scallop pie in Swansea.
There is nothing better. Sure you can go to fancy restaurants where they'll add some form of pork, but here in the south, where they do love a box of Keen's curry powder, the scallop pie is perfection.
We finish the first part of our trip at the Lufra Hotel. This may not mean much to many but we managed this place 20 years ago.
You expect the very many impressive features like the tessellated pavement, devil's kitchen, remarkable caves and Tasman arch to change little over 20 years. That's geology, time and pressure. What you don't expect is for the hotel and its clientele to have not changed since the day we walked out. Same barman, same locals, or their offspring, same pool table, jukebox and playlist.
Thunderstruck is still the anthem. When our AFL team finally, after 25 years, won the local premiership, they played this solid for three weeks. I might add that there are but three teams in this competition.
So memories flood back, our daughter's first crawl was on that pool table, the first and last time I've been hauled over a counter was in the top bar. I felt the 6 foot 6 fisherman had had enough to drink under my new, and short-lived, RSA house policy. He convinced me otherwise and I realised that this was a special place and the closest policeman was 30 minutes away.
Now we head to Hobart, MONA, Garagistes, then the wild west coast.
You'll start seeing new season Tassie scallops soon. Have a crack at a curry pie if you will, but here's one of the easiest ways of dealing with these sweet, nutty little orbs.
Pan seared scallops with parsley, lemon and caper.
500g scallops, roe on
1 splash of olive oil
50g diced butter
1 small bunch flat leaf parsley, leaves only, chopped
1 thick-skinned lemon, zest end and juiced
1 tbsp tiny capers, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and pepper
Mix parsley with lemon zest and juice, capers and garlic, season.
Heat a frypan wide enough to fit all the scallops you are using in one layer without crowding. Once it gets pretty hot, add just enough oil to coat the base, add scallops, toss quickly to sear on both sides, should really only take a minute at the most. Off the heat add butter, let this coats the scallops and then add dressing, there's enough for four servings here. Serve with good sour dough, butter and a glass of crisp Tassy Riesling.