Day 303 to 312 Tasmania Part 2

Day 303
Marie Island to Hobart
56 miles

Slept well even though there were a lot of noises outside of the tent, you could hear the animals hopping around outside and the rain beating down on the tent but we felt secure and warm in our little cocoon. It would have been a perfect night if we didn’t have a mosquito in with us, I managed to kill him in the wee hours but not before he’d had a meal or two.

As we put the tent away in the morning we could see and hear the Kookaburra’s in the trees it almost as if they were laughing at us, they’re so funny.

We met several cycle tourists on the island including a female called Tina from Nr Cheddar in Somerset she had travelled down from Cairns to Melbourne on her own. It is amazing how small the world is.

We stopped to say goodbye to the warden we’d met the previous day, she was lovely she even set up a video for us to watch on the Tasmanian Devils, it is worth visiting the island just to speak to this lady, she has done so much herself and yet showed a genuine interest in our travels. She has even recommended our site to her partner who is based in the Antarctic.

We were the only passengers on the ferry, the ride across to the main land was a lot more gentle than the ride to Marie Island had been. We were back on dry land by 11.30. We stopped at the supermarket for some much needed supplies before we set off.

It was a hot dry and very long day. The roads were very hilly and I really struggled, I kept thinking about the items I was carrying that we hadn’t used in months i.e. the kelly kettle, jackets and pillows although individually they don’t weigh a lot accumulatively the weight has added up and I figure I am carrying probably as much as Gary now. This was mentally hard so I have decided to ditch anything we don’t need as the roads are going to get a lot harder when we cycle the west coast of the island. My mental state was not helped by the fact that I had run out of podcasts so had to resort to listening to music which is not as good when you’re climbing hills all day.

We stopped on a down hill for some lunch it was a beautiful setting it reminded me of the Yorkshire dales and the sun was shining it was one of the highlights of my day.

After Sorell the cycle ride into Hobart was awful the cycle track over two large estuary wasn’t very well marked so we made the 1st but missed the second and ended up cycling on the main road, with motorists kindly (if fist waving and shouting is kindly) pointing to the cycle path which happened to be behind barriers we couldn’t cross. At the first opportunity we cycled onto the cycle path and it was a lot better but still hard going. The A3 became a busy dual carriage way and sometimes no hard shoulder for us, it was rubbish. We had to cycle over A3 Tasmin bridge but the cycle/pedestrian lane was very tight and it was windy so we were forced to push our bikes over the 1/2 km bridge.

Once in the city we were both knackered, it had gone 6pm we tried one of the backpacker hotels to be offered a room at £37 with a shared bathroom, the reviews for this hostel were awful so we looked on line for a better deal and found a room in a pub “welcome strangers” with it’s own bathroom for the same price. It was a really good find, we even had a complimentary breakfast thrown in and the bar served cheap food so we had pizza and chips for tea (lge pizza to share a bowl of chips for £10). The beer was on special offer so we could afford a couple of pints each, it wasn’t bad for £3 a pint. After eating and drinking we were ready for bed, unfortunately the room was hot and humid and the windows didn’t open so it was going to be an uncomfortable night.

Day 304
Tuesday 2nd February

We had a restless nights sleep due to the heat in the room, I guess we’ve been camping for a while and we’re not used to be hot whilst we sleep. As a result we agreed to book into a camp site for the evening. Before leaving the pub/hotel we took advantage of the complimentary breakfast and the free wifi.

As we were leaving the pub/hotel we realised Gary had a puncture, not sure how this happens overnight to a stationary bike but hey ho we could think of a worse place to have a puncture. As Gary fixed it I made use of the free electricity and charged up all our devices.

We had hoped to go into the museum but they wanted us to take all our panniers off and put them in lockers at £1 a time and lock our bikes to the railings we were not keen on this idea and agreed to return the following day when the bikes would be empty.

We stumbled across a reclamation shop which agreed to take my jacket and the kelly kettle for £20 this was a bonus as we’d agreed to leave them at the next camp site as we were not using either of them and they were just taking up room and weighing my bike down.

It was difficult travelling round Hobart with the bikes so we decided to get some shopping and make our way to the campsite which was approx 5 miles out of town along a well signposted cycle path.

The camp site was a bargain £5 a night this included camping, free shower, toilet block and use of a kitchen area which even had a microwave. It was a really hot day so we quickly pitched the tent and went in search of a cold drink and somewhere to download some more podcasts, I was determined not to run out again and we had 9 days cycling ahead of us with no guarantee of wifi access.

We stopped at a KFC but unfortunately they only provide 15 minutes free wifi access which was not great but it was good to have a cold drink and somewhere cool to sit. We couldn’t help reflect on how cold it had been only a couple of days previously. We have been told by the locals that you can experience all 4 seasons in one day in Tasmania and by the evening we could see what they meant as it had turned much cooler and windy.

As we sat outside of our tent we could hear a band practicing in the buildings opposite, free entertainment how cool was that. I even managed to finish my incredibly sickly sweet book which I should have put down after the first 100 pages, but once I start a book I like to see it through to the end even if it is tortuous to read.

Day 305
Wednesday 3rd February

It was a wet a windy night, it was cold and blustery when we woke up so we decided to delay leaving Hobart for another day. This provided us with time to do some further research on our route, buy some additional food supplies and download more podcasts.

We also went into Hobart to the local museum we could have spent all day in there. It had some amazing displays, videos and interactive maps and exhibits. I particularly liked the section on the aborigines and how the British had invaded Tasmania it was very humbling, Gary liked the section on Antarctica which was also very informative.

As we were walking around Hobart we bumped into 2 cyclists we’d met in Bicheno earlier in the week, it really does feel like a small world when you are travelling.

In the evening we went to a local bar for a cold beer before going back to the campsite to make our dinner in the purpose built kitchen where we chatted to 2 local men and a fellow traveller from Australia.

Day 306
Thursday 4th February
Hobart to Hamilton (Meadows bank lake, 6 miles outside of Hamilton)

We were packed up and on the road for 9.30am. We may have been on the road earlier if I hadn’t had to remove a rock from my bag several times (thank you Gary) and I hadn’t broken my speedo on my bike (Gary tried to fix it but without any success).

It was a good cycle ride and although we had a big climb towards the end of the day we were still finished at 2.30pm.

On route we met 3 older cyclists who were pretty impressive we overtook them but they managed to catch us up and ride in our slip stream one of the cyclists from Accrington will be 80 next year how impressive is that. We stopped and had lunch with them before setting off for the afternoon ride. Much to our amusement Gary managed to catch his cycle shorts on a spike and tear a hole right near his bum, which meant I had a lovely view all afternoon.

The views were stunning (is she still talking about my bum?) lots of rolling hills and streams very much like the Yorkshire dales we even passed a farm called the Woolpack. Whereas the English sounding names had amused me they now make me wonder what the area was called before the English invaded the country.

We had been for warned that there would be a big climb to our destination but it was an easy gradient and we managed it with ease. We did however have to make a sudden stop to let a big black snake slither past. There are three types of snake in Tasmania and all of them are venomous so we’re giving them all a very wide birth.

We stopped in a little village for a pint before going to our camp site and had several conversations with people passing through, including a couple from Nottingham, a motorcyclist from Tasmania and another couple who were really interested in the bikes. People seem to have more time to talk in Tasmania than they do in England and of course unlike Asia we can understand them. We managed to spend a good 2 hours there before cycling to our free camping site 6 miles down the road.

Our camp site was a designated free site with toilets and a beautiful view of the lake and hills. We put the tent up and went for a swim in the lake. It was refreshing but very cold.

Dinner was a rather exotic mix of tastes, we had herrings, stir fry curried vegetables and rice and peas.

Day 307
Hamilton to Bronte Lake
48 miles

We had a lovely evening, I chilled in the tent with my new book and Gary went for a walk down by the lake. It was a beautiful site and the view of the stars was mesmerising, if we hadn’t had so many flies it would have been a perfect site, and it was free.

We both slept well, as we were packing up camp Gary found a big spider on one of the panniers he was holding it really freaked him out. Before we left the site we stopped to take a photo of Richard’s doppledanga we set off for what we knew was going to be a hard days ride.

It took me a couple of attempts to get going i first had to sort my iPod out and then I needed to take my jumper off as it was a lot warmer than I initially thought, Gary took great joy taking the micky out of me. We stopped in Oust for some much needed supplies and drink before starting the climbing. In total we climbed 5390ft it was hot and challenging but manageable. We had hoped to reach Derwent Bridge but with 16 miles to go we agreed to stop at a camp site with a bar and shop as we didn’t know what the terrain would be like between the two towns and it had already gone 4pm. We have also been told there are not many shops along the 300 mile route we are doing up to Launceston so when ever we see a shop we stop so that we can replenish stocks especially our drinks.

On route Gary had to make a sudden stop as it looked like his spider friend had hitched a lift and was climbing over his top box. He was a big bugger, Gary screamed like a girly and stopped to take a photo.

Although there was a lot of climbing the views were mediocre no different to when we were cycling on the flat, lots of trees and rolling fields but no sign that we were climbing which was a little disappointing.

We stopped at lunch at a cafe slightly off route by a Tarraleah power station this was interesting and had a good look our point but the food and drink was too expensive so we had a picnic under a tree opposite the cafe.
Gary; the views down the feed pipes to the 2 powers station was nice but the snag was we had to cycle down to these losing another 700 feet which we promptly had to cycle back up the other side, it was a hard ride today.

Our camp site was very much like a trailer park but it least it had showers, toilets and a bar where we could charge up our devices.
Day 308
Bronte Lake to Queenstown
74 miles

We woke to the sound of the ‘OK’ and ‘Hello’ bird calls we’re sure they’re not called this but this is the very loud noise they made, it was quite amusing, Gary tried to teach them some new words but they seemed quite happy with ‘ok’ and ‘hello’

As we had a small shop at the end of the road we took advantage of this and had baked beans on toast, we knew it was going to be a hard day and wanted to fuel up as much as possible.
Our first stop was 18 miles in, we stopped at an artists show called the ‘The Wall’ it was £6 each to enter which I felt was over priced but the art work was fantastic. The artist had carved a wall and other artefacts from wood and they looked very realistic, the temptation was to touch them but there was big signage stating no touching.

We made our next stop just a few miles down the road in Derwent Bridge, we stopped at a shop in the hope of buying some more drinks but at £1.50 a can of coke we opted to go into town and buy some bottles of drink. This was a mistake because the shop come garage was the town. In the shop we met a girl called Grace who’s bike had gained a fault and she’d hitched a lift to try and sort it out. She explained 8 of her friends were heading in our direction, she seemed fairly up beat and the bike seemed to be working okay when we left.

It was a hot and undulating day, the scenery had changed to wild, rugged mountains and green forests. We had to stop often for drinks but every time we stopped we were surrounded by buzzing bees as there were hives all along the road from Derwent Bridge to Queenstown. We were lucky they didn’t sting us but when we met up with Grace’s friends at lunch time 2 of them had been stung. They were a lively group that had, had a much harder ride than us but were not covering the distance we’d set ourselves. We left them chilling in the lake as we set off for more climbing.

At about 22 miles to go to Queenstown we stopped I needed to sort my head out, I desperately needed my iPod which had stopped working at the previous break and I wanted a drink. Gary wanted to stop as he was going through a pain barrier. I managed to sort my iPod out and have a drink so we agreed to go to the camp site and see how we felt at that point. As luck would have it the next stretch was mainly down hill so when we stopped at the camp site spot we decided to carry on. This may have been a mistake because we had more climbing to do….

At about 5 miles to Queenstown I hit a pain barrier, my legs and head didn’t want to go any further, we stopped so that I could have a little talk with myself and we carried on for another mile when I had to stop again, fortunately we only had a little bit more climbing to do before we started to descend into Queenstown. The views on the descent were breathtaking it was a shame we were so tired that we couldn’t stop and enjoy them. It had gone 6pm when we got into Queenstown we were hot, sweaty and very tired. We agreed to stop for a pint before pitching the tent but much to our surprise the pub was closed but lucky for us the shop was still open so we had a drink of fizzy lemon instead. As we cycled through the town several of the businesses were up for sale which didn’t look good for the area. We get the feeling that Tasmania is struggling economically which is a shame as it is a pretty island.

We were so tired we decided to eat out that evening in another bar, but before doing that we needed to pitch the tent and have a shower. The camp site was about 1/2 a mile out of town so we decided to use our bikes to ride back to the pub. We’d hoped to use the wifi system in the pub but it didn’t work we did however speak to a lot of people who were interested in our trip. One man called Cornelius had a number of stories to share of his own, he was widely travelled, he’d cycled most of the world and had paddled down the Yukon, it was a shame we were so tired as we would have like to talk to him longer. He is from the Netherlands and cycling in the same direction as us so hopefully our paths will meet again on route.

The camp site was situated over a railway bridge and threw the more run down area of town, there were a lot of houses built out of corrugated steel which didn’t look much better than large sheds. The camp site it self was good it had a flat area to pitch the tent and good showers and toilets. It would have been a little bit pricey at £12 a night but as we arrived after the office closed and it was shut when we left we got it for free.

Day 309
Queenstown to Tullulah
40 miles

We had a lazy start to the day, we made use of the free electricity and charged our electronic devices we also made use of the free kettle, toaster and barbecue area to make breakfast. We have only got a little gas cylinder left so any extra helps. We had a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs and tomatoes, Gary even had some ham and we also had some porridge plenty to keep us going on the hard days ride.

Before setting off we stopped at the grocers for more drink, it is so hot that we are consuming loads and it’s not cheap. Interestingly theres a 25-50% mark up on drinks brought from their fridges so we have been buying a lot of warm drinks because they don’t stay cold long on the bikes.

The ride was hilly, I felt weary from the previous ride and this started to show towards the end of the afternoon when I struggled to keep up with Gary. I was happy plodding along but I was in granny gear and I had nothing left to push any higher gears.

The scenery was spectacular we had a good view of Cradle Mountain most of the day and plenty of lakes so we stopped often to take photos although they rarely capture the moment.
Gary; We opted to take a short cut and cycle past plimsol lake, this involved a climb to over 2000ft but it knocked off 10 miles and the climbing was pretty steady.

We stopped for lunch at what would have been a scenic spot if only we could have sat or stood long enough to enjoy it unfortunately no sooner had we stopped than we were surrounded by bees and May Flies. The only way to stop them from buzzing around you is to wave your arms about and move about. I think we used more calories trying to get rid of them than we did eating our lunch.

The bees and flies are a real annoyance they will circle around you whilst you’re cycling and which is not only distracting but really irritating it seems to be a constant noise buzz buzz buzz, they get me so annoyed.

We saw another big snake today and managed to stop in time to photograph it as it crossed in front of us.

We arrived at our destination at 3pm just as a cafe was closing, the owner was really kind and stayed open long enough for us to buy some cold drinks and to give us a tip on where to camp for the night. I was surprised to find a shop/cafe I had thought we were wild camping with no facilities so this made my day.

The camp site was perfect it was right next to a lake with a pontoon needless to stay after pitching the tent Gary went for a swim, I didn’t like the colour of the water and felt it was a little cold so I paddled then stripped and washed my clothes.
Day 310
Monday 8th February
Tullah to Cradle Mountain
36 miles
Slept well although I had to get up in the night to strip off as I was too hot.

In the morning I did the normal routine of visiting the toilet whereas Gary took a plunge in the freezing lake, he really is bonkers it was freezing.

We had breakfast with the buzzing flies, bees and crawling ants some of them a good 2 inches long. Gary made the egg fried rice this time and it was better than my attempt but still needed a little more tomato or veg to give it some flavour. Once fed we packed up and went to the shop for some drink. I had to use all my persuasion skills to purchase some cans of fizzy lemon juice, the town had, had its power cut off so the shop was only providing papers and post for people to collect. Fortunately the woman took pity on me and allowed me to buy the cans if I had the exact change it cost £6 for 4 cans but they tasted delicious in the heat of the day and were worth every penny.

Before we set off from the shop Gary changed his brake pads as they were binding. Not long after that we stopped to listen to a noise on my bike and agreed the tyres needed more air and the handle bars needed tweeting on Gary’s bike.

During the morning ride we met some cyclists from Australia that had cycled in Tasmania several times, they were a mixed gender older group and included a man on a recumbent bike, they told us about the hills we were about to encounter some were quite positive saying ‘you’re half way up the hill’ others being a little more pragmatic and stating how much climbing we still had to do.

The ride was challenging with over 5000 ft of climbing some of them easier than others during one of the last climbs I got off my bike and pushed but I hadn’t gone 50 meters when I remembered how hard it was to push fully ladened so I jumped back on the bike but to get going as I was in granny granny gear I had to cycle down the hill and turn around, when will I ever learn. As I reached the top of the hill I could see Gary going up to the look out point we’d reached the highest point on the Cradle Mountain Road. I had hoped at this point it would be down hill all the way to the camp site but no this was not to be the case after a 10% descent the road started to climb again!

When we arrived at the camp site on a hill we stopped off at the information centre to be informed the walk we’d planned would cost us £16 we couldn’t justify this amount as we’d already been cycling in the area and seen a lot of lakes and mountains. We were also a little bit concerned about the tight schedule we’d left ourselves, we still needed to book flights to New Zealand but more importantly we needed to get another bike box we had already contacted the shops and had one confirmed.

We booked into the camp site which costs an astonishing £24 a night and returned to the shop to use the wifi system but it was pants, we could read our emails and upload the photos but that was the extent of the service. Just as we were leaving we met a family we’d seen earlier in the week and they offered to take us up to the park in their car, naturally we agreed and we’re so glad we did. Although we didn’t get to see very much we did walk around one of the lakes and walked in the ‘enchanted forest’ it was lovely and so generous of the family to take us. As an added bonus we saw another wombat and a small wallaby.

Back at the campsite we bumped into Cornelius again and had hoped to talk to him over dinner but as we were cooking we soon realised there were two kitchens and we were probably cooking in different ones.

The camp site has excellent facilities but the downside other than the cost is the number of tourists I think it is fair to say we prefer the free scenic sites than the noisy public ones.
Day 311
Tuesday 9th February
Cradle Mountain to Deloraine
57 miles

We had a restless night due to the wildlife attracted to our tent. We had made a school boy error of leaving an unopened box of porridge in the tent and a wallaby and several large squawking birds had decided to have a party. Gary woke me to show me a wallaby actually in the tent!

We packed up and prepared ourselves for another hard day in the saddle, but we were pleasantly surprised although the ride was challenging it was far easier than the previous days climbing.

About 16 miles out of Cradle Mountain we stopped at junction to look at the map and an American lady ran out to meet and greet us her name was Judy Desire and she was from New York. She had heard about us as she was cycling around on her own, she was in the middle of eating her breakfast so we agreed to join her for a coffee and exchange travel stories.

As we ate our lunch by the side of a manor house we watched a helicopter fly over with its bucket hanging low it was either on its way back or to one of the bush fires. It was fascinating to watch and it got even better when another two flew over passing the mountains and landed in the field behind us.

During the day we cycled through a town called Sheffield which had a number of murals of the walls including one of the Wizard of Oz.

Towards the end of the ride we got attacked by flies, it is really hard to cycle when you have buzzing flies circling your head and your bike. I got so frustrated that I made an emergency stop and tried to kill them all, I must have looked demented but they were driving me mad.

We arrived in Deloraine at about 4pm we were hot and tired so hit the first bar for a cold beer. The bar was very quiet and had very small bar stools. We decided we would get a take out from the bottle shop attached to the bar, rather than serve us over the bar the barman insisted we went to the next door where he would serve us. The Tasmanians are a real stickler for their rules and regulations.

As we’d quenched our thirst our thoughts turned to food and we decided to stop at the local Woolworths (supermarket) inside we saw an Amish group shopping, it was fascinating to watch them as they were analysing each product which meant it took them a very long time to walk down each aisle.

After we’d finished shopping we went to the local camp site but as we were checking in we could see and hear a very loud train passing the tents. I was not happy and asked how often the train passed the site, the manager was very rude and said she didn’t know but we didn’t have to stay there. I thought too right at £12 a night I’d rather wild camp. Fortunately Gary was aware of a free site down the road so we went in search of this, it was much better than the paid site although still close to the train line.

We washed in the local lake and after dinner we went and sat with a couple we’d met at a free camp site earlier in the week (Peter and Debbie, Peter is the guy that looks a little like Richard), they were travelling Tasmania in the motorhome and during the day they used their motorcycle to explore the twisting and winding hilly roads of Tasmania.
Day 312
Deloraine to Launceston
34 miles

Another restless night, we’d talked about my mum earlier in the night and I could not help thinking about her and reminiscing some good and some not so good thoughts, I do miss her.
We were up and packed before 8 o’clock and decided to stop off at the library in the hope the free internet link would be working. Our luck was in and we spent the following 2 hours talking to passing walkers and shop owners whilst booking flights to New Zealand and booking accommodation in Launceston.

The ride into Launceston was up and down but we covered the distance fairly quickly only stopping for a bit of lunch at the half way mark.

We stayed in a backpackers lodge, we had a triple room with a shared bathroom. It was fairly basic but met all of our needs. Gary was able to cycle to the bike shop and pick up the bike boxes that had been put aside for him and bring them back Asian style. Whilst I washed the clothes, charged the devices, looked at flights home and booked accommodation in Auckland.

All in all it was a very productive day.