Thursday, March 29, 2018

Mar 30: Over 3000 Stairs in 6 Kilometers

This morning I headed to the car park (bike park for me) to do the walk to the Wineglass Bay Lookout. It’s the shortest of the walks in Freycinet NP. I don’t exactly have hiking shoes. Surprisingly, my Five 10 shoes were okay. They’ve got a good grippy sole.


Anyway, I wanted to get an early start as there are lots of people here for the Easter holiday (Easter is very big here as holidays go). I was on the path shortly after 9:00. The path up to the lookout does exactly that—it goes up...and up...and up some more. There are lots of stairs. My quads seem to be in pretty good shape by now, so I didn’t find it too taxing. 

Looking back at Coles Bay



The view of Wineglass Bay from the lookout was quite spectacular. After the lookout, I decided I would continue down to the beach itself. It was only another 1000 steps down. The sign said 1.5 hours return. Down down down I went. The quads were beginning to feel it. But, I made it to the beach. I took off my shoes and socks and dipped my toes into the cold Southern Ocean water of Wineglass Bay. 

Pano of Wineglass Bay



Flat Will did the hike too!


Some of the thousands of stairs


Down to the beach at Wineglass Bay


Dipping my toes in the Southern Ocean


I met a group of 5 older guys who were also cycling around the island. Unbeknownst to us at the time, we had seen each other before. 


I put my shoes and socks back on and began the climb back up the 1000 steps I had come down. I was glad I had come early because there were now lots of people doing the walk. It gets so busy that there is a section where it’s a one way return to the car park. Along this path, I happened along a wallaby munching some vegetation along the side of the trail. He/she let me take a photo.

Wallaby along the path


Rock that looks like a whale



Back on Tilmann, I decided to ride into the town (Coles Bay) for some lunch, and a look around.

Coles Bay

I had pizza at Geographie, then continued along the Esplanade in search of dessert. I found the bakery, and who should be there but the guys from the trail. When I got there, one of the guys said they had seen me before between Rosebery and Zeehan. Then, I remembered passing them too. I think I even mentioned it in the blog post for that day. I told them, the funny thing about riding around an island, you usually see people twice! Especially when you are going in opposite directions. They seem to think I’ve been doing quite well getting where I am in the time I’ve taken to do it. Cole, the guy I talked to the most, said we might even see each other again! Who knows...


When I got back to my tent, I decided to go take a shower. The map said there were coin operated hot showers in the powered site area of the campground. I couldn’t find them. I went to the Visitor Center to ask. The ranger said they are only for the campers in the powered sites. Now, quite honestly, this doesn’t make sense to me. Why do they get hot showers when they could shower in their caravan? And, since they are coin operated, why can’t everyone use them? Crazy concept! So, I will have a cold shower once again...



Tomorrow is supposed to be a short day. I backtrack more miles than I’ll have new road. 

Mar 29: I’m Glad I Didn’t Start From Triabunna Today

If I had started from Triabunna, which I had planned, today’s ride would have been about 110 km, maybe more. Instead, it was 91 km. Still, a long day.


I left Gumleaves earlier than I have so far, at 8:30. I didn’t see Graham and Jenny this morning. Just as well, I suppose. It was good to get going.

Sunrise through the trees at Gumleaves



There were no major climbs, but the wind was definitely a factor. Often a very strong crosswind, but on occasion a headwind. 


I passed Mayfield Bay, a place I had possibly planned to stay. There was a campsite there. The Bay was very nice.

Mayfield Bay



At about 32 kms, I arrived in Swansea. I resupplied some groceries, and used the WiFi at the Visitor Center. I also had a snack overlooking the park and bay. With another glorious day of sunshine, it was enjoyable.


From Swansea, I just kept pedaling. The wind was still blowing and now, to add to the fun, there were these clouds of flies. I’m not kidding when I say clouds. I could see them from quite a ways away. I would plow into them, or they would plow into me, and I’d be covered in the little buggers. (Note to self, keep one’s mouth shut when going through a cloud of flies)

Flies hitching a ride



It was about 3:00 when I came upon the Pondering Frog Cafe. With a name like that, I had to stop (okay, I also needed a break). I had a delicious chicken and Camembert pie with chips (fries) and salad.

Pondering Frog Cafe

I was looking at a map of Coles Bay/Freycinet NP. The owner came over and asked if I had ever been. I told him no, so he showed me and told me distances of the things to do on the map. He also asked where I was going to stay, and had I booked it. I told him the caravan park, and no I had not booked. He said I might not get a site (Easter weekend coming and all). He recommended I stay at Freycinet Park campground, and that I should ring ahead to make sure they had a site. I told him I couldn’t really ring ahead. He let me use his phone, which I was unsuccessful getting through. A guy named William took the phone and made the call for me. Freycinet had space for me! Yay!


The Visitor Center at Freycinet closed at 5:00pm. I rolled in at 4:58, just as they were getting ready to close. The gal knew I was the one on the bike who had called. They set me up with a spot in the backpackers/overflow area. It costs a total of $10 for two nights! Cheap accommodations for a National Park! So far, I’m the only one here. The toilets and cold showers are close, as is a kitchen shelter with a BBQ. This is really a day use area.



Tomorrow I will hike to the famed Wineglass Bay.

The Hazards from Richardson Bay where I am camped


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Mar 28: Another Two-Part Day

Part 1: Maria Island Riding Adventure


Since I kind of did all the close short rides yesterday, and I didn’t catch the ferry until 3:30, I decided to ride to Frenchs Farm. It was only 22 km roundtrip. I left about 9:00. The going was pretty easy for the first 6 or so kilometers, even though they were doing some roadwork where I had been yesterday (I just went around on the walking path). When I got to where I had turned around yesterday, it was muddy (it rained last night), then very very sandy. They were also working on that part of the road. I had to push through a bunch of sand. I could ride between most of the sand dips (see photo), but then would have to get off and push. Once I got past where they were working, things were better, and I could ride. I just kept thinking it was good practice for Munda Biddi, even though I didn’t have any of my gear (except my handlebar bag). Tilmann did quite well considering the terrain. 

Deep sand



It took me about an hour to get to Frenchs Farm. I was hoping to see some of the Forester kangaroos, but alas, there weren’t any. Frenchs Farm is also one of the free campsites on the island. I had thought of going there to camp, but I am really glad I didn’t. It would have been miserable trying to ride.

Frenchs Farm



Since I was doing good on time, I continued on to Encampment Cove. That is another free campsite. It was nice too. There was a view over to the isthmus that goes to the Southern part of Maria Island. 

The isthmus to the south part of the island



From there I rode back to Darlington. Going back I did a little better, but still had to push through some of the sand bits. I saw several other cyclists who had rented bikes. They were all walking through the sand. I told them they would be able to ride soon.


When I got back into the township, I stopped at the bike hire place and used the floor pump to add back the air I had let out of my tires yesterday. I talked briefly to the bike hire guy. He (along with many other people) told me the Nullarbor would be boring. 


It was about lunch time, but I decided to take a shower since I probably wouldn’t have one in Triabunna. Besides, I had the time. Then I ate some lunch, and packed up my tent and gear. As I was eating my lunch, a kangaroo went hopping across the grassy meadow by the campground. Of course, i didn’t have my camera with me...


I rode Tilmann down to the place where there is a television showing a documentary about when they introduced Tasmanian Devils to Maria Island. I watched some yesterday too. That killed some of the time I had before the ferry. After the show was over, I went outside and sat with this wombat for awhile. He didn’t seem to be bothered by me sitting near him. In fact, he went to sleep for awhile. 

Wombat friend



The ferry arrived and I packed up the same as when I had come over. We headed back to Triabunna. I’m really glad I stayed the night on Maria Island (although I didn’t see any Devils, I did hear them last night). 


Part 2: So Nice, I Just Had to Ride!


As I was riding the ferry, I looked at my map and saw that there was a caravan park in Little Swanport, which was about 22 km north of Triabunna. I calculated that the ferry would get in about 4:00, then by the time I got Tilmann all loaded up and ready to go, it would be about 4:30. If I could make it to Little Swanport by 6:30, it would still be light. The only downside was not being able to use the WiFi at the Visitor Center in Triabunna to upload the last two day’s posts. But, the weather was so nice and warm, I just couldn’t pass up riding. Plus, doing the 22 km of tomorrow’s ride today, meant I don’t have to ride 100km tomorrow. That makes me happy. 

Beautiful afternoon for a ride!



I didn’t know the name of the caravan park, but there is always a sign. Sure enough, there was a sign to Gumleaves Park. It was about 2km off the highway on a dirt road. It is quite the extensive caravan park. It’s also kind of an...I guess an amusement park. They have a flying fox (zipline), and a bird aviary, miniature golf, etc. Currently, it’s pretty quiet. The office was closed (I arrived just after 6:00), but Bob must have seen me roll in because he came up and registered me. I came down to the campsite to find wallabies everywhere, and rosella parrots (one variety with a red head, and another that’s mostly green). Graham and Jenny, the managers invited me over after I set up my camp. At one point, in their little courtyard, there were 16 wallabies and one pademelon (I can see the difference now—pademelons are smaller and have a shorter tail). There were also a number of the rosella parrots, and three kookaburras. They feed the wallabies and birds, so that’s why there were so many. It’s funny because I’m sitting in my tent, and I keep hearing the thump thump thump as the wallabies hop by.

Rosella parrots


Wallabies galore



Graham and Jenny are very nice. They gave me a couple of bottles of water, and said to let them know if I needed more in the morning. I think it would be cool to stay here a couple of days, but I don’t have time. Besides, I still plan to take a day off in Freycinet NP. I will get there tomorrow. 



I think it was a good plan to ride here instead of staying behind the pub in Triabunna (even though that would have been free). 

Mar 27: Oh, So This is Where All the Wombats Are!

I’ve been in Tassie now for almost two weeks (seems like longer somehow), and I had yet to see a wombat. They told me at Cradle Mountain I’d see wombats...nope. There were signs at Lake St. Clair to watch for wombats. I wombats. Well, I’ve have more than made up for the lack of wombat sightings today. In fact, there are so many wombats that I don’t even get too excited now.


I took the ferry this morning to Maria Island. I was only able to fit my rear panniers and tent in the bag Dorothy gave me. I just carried on my front panniers, helmet, and handlebar bag. They didn’t say anything. The ferry ride was about an hour. It was not the usual ferry (that one is having some problems), but one of the boats from Hobart. They just took the bikes (there were three of us) and tied them to the railing at the back of the boat.

Ready for the ferry



I loaded everything back on Tilmann on the pier, then headed over to Darlington, which is the settlement area of the island. Along the way I saw several little pademelon (they look like wallabies), and a couple of Cape Barren Geese. Quite a bit for just getting off the boat!

Cape Barren Geese





 I paid my $7.00 to camp in Darlington, and set up my tent. There were quite a few tents. Turns out there is a high school group of 40 kids here. They were off hiking most of the day.


Once my stuff was set up, I hopped on Tilmann to ride around the island...well, not exactly “around” the island. My first destination was the Painted Cliffs. They are limestone cliffs that have been eroded by the iron rich water to create beautiful patterns in the rock. The best way to view them is when the tide is low. It was low tide at 12:30. They were really really cool! The patterns and shapes of the rock were amazing. Of course I took a ton of photos. Here’s a few.

Painted cliffs


More cliff color


Erosion at work


Flat Will at the Painted Cliffs



Flat Will enjoying the beach


After the Painted Cliffs, I continued along the road going south. The coastline was quite spectacular. As I was riding along, I came to an open grassy area. There, munching on the grass were three wombats. I parked Tilmann and walked toward them to get some photos. One ran off, but the other one let me get quite close. They’re awfully cute! Apparently when they fight they are kind of like sumo wrestlers. They just push each other around. I took a bunch of photos, then let them continue their munching.




Munch munch munch


Beautiful Coastline of Maria Island


I saw more wombats at another grassy area further south. I was heading toward an area called French’s Farm, but ended up turning around before reaching it. I came back, stopping at  Mrs. Hunt’s House. She lived on the island for a long time, operating a telegraph. 


The island has a long history of being a convict prison, then a farming community, then back to a prison, then a place where they quarried the limestone for a cement plant, and finally a World Heritage National Park Wildlife Refuge...that happens to be crawling with wombats!


Of course, wombats aren’t the only critters here. There are the pademelons, kangaroos (haven’t seen them yet), the occasional penguin (the smallest penguin species known as the Little Penguin), brush-tail possums, and...Tasmanian Devils! Some years ago they brought over 15 devils that had been in captivity, and released them on the island in the hopes that they would survive and multiply. The Tassie Devils on the East Coast of Tassie are suffering from a face cancer, so the hope is to increase the healthy population. So far it has been very successful. One of the rangers said they are soon going to take another 30 devils off Maria Island, and back to the East Coast. 


I returned to my campsite, and ate some lunch. After lunch, I headed to the Fossil Quarry. This is where they got the stone for the cement plant. The track was not quite as bike friendly as the road to the Painted Cliffs. This was a bit more like a walking track. It was also quite steep in places, but I made it. The Fossil Quarry is indeed rocks with fossils in them. An entire wall of rock with fossils in it. The view along the northern coast was pretty spectacular too.

Fossil Quarry


Fossils in the rock


Had to walk up this one



After seeing another couple of wombats (this time a mother and baby), I rode/pushed Tilmann up a very steep hill to the edge of the cliff. The track continued up, but that was the way up to one of the peaks. There was another trail that headed back to Darlington. I took that one.

Mom and baby wombats



Back in Darlington, I parked Tilmann at my campsite, and walked up to the town buildings. One place was the Coffee Palace. It was a sort of restaurant back in the 1800s. It’s all been restored. One building has been turned into a bunkhouse. It used to be the penitentiary. Now you can stay there.

The old prison



Back at my campsite, I decided to take a shower before the kids started getting in there. Over in the kitchen shelter I ate my dinner, and also met Haley and Erin. They are from Hobart and New Norfolk. They asked if I wanted to play UNO with them. We played until it was too dark to see the cards. It was fun. 


As I was getting ready to go back to my campsite, we noticed a possum was up on one of the tables eating some bread that one of the kids had left stuffed into a mug. Two of the rangers happened to be there  (they are helping to run the camp for the kids). The one ranger took a photo to show the kids what happens when they leave food around. When I got back to my tent, I could hear a bunch of rustling around amongst the kids tents. The kids weren’t there. Apparently, one kid have left a tent open. One or more of the critters had been in the tent.

Brush Tail Possum




So, my first day on Maria Island has come to a close. Tomorrow I think I will ride to French’s Farm. I take the 3:30 ferry back to Triabunna—plenty of time to explore more. Maybe I’ll see some kangaroos!

Mar 26: Riding to the Sunshine With a Little Help From the Wind

I got some sad news via text message this morning. My mother-in-law passed away from influenza. At least she was not ill for too long. It feels like the end of an era. 


So, it was with a heavy heart that I left Hobart this morning. The rain seemed to fit my mood. I said goodbye to Dorothy and Greg. I absolutely know my stay in Hobart would not have been nearly as fun without these two wonderful people. I’m so glad to have made two new friends, and to also have met so many of their friends and fellow cyclists. 


I made my way back to the Intercity Cycle Path. I would ride this path to the Bowen Bridge, instead of going across the Tasman Bridge. It was a good option. The Tasman Bridge would have been quite the climb. The Bowen Bridge was much easier.

Intercity Bike path



The bridge I didn’t have to go over


Today I followed the suggestions of Greg, Dorothy, and Bob. The first major climb was Grass Tree Hill. While it was pretty long, I found I didn’t need my easiest gear. Either the hill wasn’t too bad, or I am getting more fit. Perhaps a bit of both.


I arrived in Richmond about 11:30. I only stopped to use the toilet, then continued on. Dorothy had told me about a dirt road that was shorter, but I thought I had to go toward Campania to pick it up (it was very small on my map). Turns out I needed to continue through Richmond. However, it wasn’t much longer the way I went, maybe a couple of kilometers. Once I did the cut over, I was on the Tasman Hwy for the rest of the day. It was busy, but had a fairly decent shoulder in many places. I had two more “hills of note” on the Tasman Hwy. One was called “Black Charlies Opening”, and the other was called “Bust-Me-Gall Hill”. Funny names, I thought...


I had planned to go to Buckland, but I had a nice tailwind, and arrived there at 2:45. Since I was going to be trying to pitch up my tent behind the roadhouse, I decided it was too early. Plus, I knew I only had 16km to get to the next town of Orford, where there was a proper caravan park. 

Rainbow in Orford



The wind was still pushing me along nicely, and it was off and on sunny. I arrived in Orford at 3:45. I got some cash from the ATM, then noticed it was only 7 more kilometers to Triabunna. What the heck, I may as well go to Triabunna! That’s where I’ll be catching the ferry to Maria Island tomorrow. 


I arrived at the Triabunna Visitor Center in time to get my ticket for the ferry to Maria (FYI, it’s pronounced “Mariah”) Island. In addition to my fare, I have to pay $10 for Tilmann, and $10 for my bags. Dorothy gave me a Chinese Rice Bag (she calls them “stripy bags”) to put all my panniers in so I only have to pay for one bag. The total was $65. I’m taking the 9:00 ferry tomorrow, then camping overnight on the island, and taking the 3:30 ferry back the next day. That gives me almost two full days to explore the island. There are no cars on the island, so it should be quite nice riding. 


When I purchased my ticket, the woman asked me where I was staying. I had come straight to the Visitor Center, so I told her I would go to the caravan park. She said I could just go check in with the people at the pub across the street, and set up my tent for free behind the building. I did, and am within a stones throw of where I’ll catch the boat tomorrow. Best of all, I met Anna. She is a 25 year old from the UK, but has been living in Melbourne. She is doing her first cycle tour. Unfortunately, we are going the opposite direction. Also, she is not going to Maria Island. Since it was still quite windy, we decided to eat dinner together at the pub. We had a great evening chatting, and both enjoyed having the company. 



Today was now my longest day at 94.8km. I actually felt pretty good. I think a day off always helps, plus it was not quite as hilly as the West Coast. Tomorrow’s weather should be pretty good for my Maria Island excursion.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Mar 25: A Taste of the World, and a Tour of Hobart

It felt awfully nice sleeping in a bed last night! There was supposed to be a bike ride to the Taste of the World Festival, but it was “pissing down” rain, as they say here. Just when Dorothy started fixing some lunch, the skies cleared, and the sun came out. We decided we would go to the festival after all. 


The three of us hopped on our bikes and rode down to the Intercity Cycleway, and made our way to the festival.

Here comes Greg on his Brompton

A Taste of the World was, as one might guess, a multicultural event featuring food stalls from all over the world, and entertainment as well. Since we had eaten lunch, we only sampled a couple of things. I had these World’s Smallest Pancakes. Quite honestly, I’m not sure which country or cultural group they were representing, but they were tasty.




Greg headed out ahead of Dorothy and I, then we took an awesome sly dog way along the waterfront, stopping in at an aboriginal art gallery that is housed in a former jam factory. The aboriginal art is very colorful. I was so tempted to get a painting, and ship it home. I resisted, and instead got a kangaroo ornament and a card. There was also a very cool carved white cockatoo, but it was $525. 

In the old jam factory



We continued along the waterfront for a bit, stopping to take these photos.





Shackleton, I think

We went as far as Battery Point, then started heading uphill to work our way back to South Hobart via a number of small side streets. There is no way I could possibly recreate the route we took on my own. It was very much a sly dog route!


We rode by the house, and on up to the Cascade Brewery. Dorothy told me how there had been a massive fire that burned the entire area including the brewery, leaving only the facade. They rebuilt it, and it is still a functioning brewery.

Cascade Brewery



We took the Rivulet Trail back to the house.

Dorothy on the Rivulet Trail

A friend of Dorothy’s came over for dinner as she wanted to talk to me about off-road cycle touring. Bob, who I had now met twice, also came over to help me plan my route back to Devonport. 


We had a great dinner, then a great discussion (with varying opinions) of which way I should go. It’s possible I might have to take a bus from Launceston, depending on how much time I decide to take on Maria Island, and if I still take a day off at Freycinet NP. One slightly complicating factor is the fact that Easter is coming. It’s a major holiday here, and I will find the camping places to be pretty full. I’m sure I’ll figure something out.



So, I’m back on the road tomorrow. I’ve really enjoyed my stay with Dorothy and Greg. I could not have asked for better hosts. If I can have half the adventures they have had, I will consider myself quite lucky!

Zoom in to see the tree full of white cockatoos