From that roadside, to the delights of Launceston

11.06.07 178km Day 2 Roadside near Jericho – Forest near Isis

A twelve hour sleep from 7pm to 7am saw me wake up to frost on the tent. Having shaken off the ice and started on my way to Oatlands, I was feeling a little sore and thirsty.


Oatlands’ sleepy Georgian architecture and plentiful water woke me up. I was pleased to find you can go into Callington Mill, a windmill built in 1837, very early in Tasmania’s colonial history. A nifty recorded sound system substitutes for the real machinery, but it was recently announced that the group of enthusiasts maintaining the mill have been pledged more than two million dollars to fully restore it.


After I’d found the essential toothpaste I headed north again. This time, Sputnik and I got on very well. We’ve worked out a good rhythm of about 80 pedals a minute. To keep it up, I drop down a few cogs on the hills. I’ve decided that gears 6, 7 & 8 are the cake mixer gears – they make a whirring sound not unlike an eggbeater.


I notice that I’m beginning to establish a lot of little routines. Evenings are me-maintenance, with food being quite the focus. Mornings are bike time, with minor odd jobs.


Coming out of Oatlands you find St Peter’s Pass. From a New Zealand perspective I’ve always found it amusing that Tasmanians call small hills mountains, and similarly call small saddles passes. The shoe was on the other pedal this time though, as I ground my way up, and I’m sure there’s more to come once I’m amongst the Tibetan plateau.


Soon I was in an extremely happy mood, swooshing along at 25-30 kilometres an hour, and a lovely 40-45 kmh stretch. Yesterday, I’d felt the pull of home, and the thought “I can always turn back….” Now, my mind feels like it’s reaching forward and feeling the pull and excitement of the unknown ahead.


Suddenly, I was at Tunbridge. I’d always passed these small towns; the highway goes around them and I’d either been hitching or getting a lift from a friend. They’re real gems. Nicely dilapidated Georgian highway inns stand by the now-empty road, waiting for horse drawn customers who no longer come.


Shortly after the Pass I found not only a lonely lost number plate by the side of the road (now adorning Sputnik), but also a gaggle of friendly State Emergency Service volunteers manning a Driver Reviver stall. We decided I qualified for a reviver and I had the chokky milk I’d been dreaming about. I thought some of the volunteers looked a little portly to be galliphanting about dealing with emergencies, so I took them up on their offer of a handful of chocolates.


Ross was quite a contrast. You enter over the majestic convict-built stone bridge, wonderfully carved with the local characters of the time. Then you’re in the town, which is tacky tourist heaven. Any Japanese visitor to Tasmania worth their salt will tell you that animator Miyazaki, of My Neighbour Totoro fame, based his film Kiki’s Delivery Service in the Ross Bakery. You can go there now and get served hot scones by women in frilly hats.


My father had recommended a side road from Ross. It’s the old highway, and felt like New Zealand. Green grass stretches over small hills, and farmers waved from the paddocks. After a few experiments, I’ve discovered that cows run with me, but only if I moo at them. Sheep just run away whatever. Neither do anything when cars whiz past. Bizarre, if you ask me.

Having hit 85km and imminent sunset I found a convenient gate by a forest. I snuck in when no cars were about and had a dinner of hot chocolate and pasta under the milky way and southern cross. The sand under my feet from a lake in the area 5 million years ago made it feel like beach camping. Sleep came with the rustlings of possums above me and the thump-thumb of wallabies in the distance.


Distance 85.05km

Total 178km

Start 9am

Finish 4pm

Riding time 5.5hrs

Average 18.5kmh

Roadkill 56

12.06.07 247km D3 Forest near Isis – Launceston

An even colder morning with frost I couldn’t shake off the tent and an attack of the slows I couldn’t shake off, either. I think I’m paying for yesterday’s big day.


Dawdling along the road I seemed to find quite a few excuses to stop.


A flock of 40 sulphur-crested white cockatoos rose off a paddock as I went by.


Nine tree planters walked along furrows making a eucalypt plantation. When I looked from them to the fields they were planting, the furrows extended over the hills and dwarfed them.


A small wooden church built in 1869 stood on a hill beside the road. The was lined with neat hawthorn hedges. There was hardly any traffic.


At Brumby’s creek a ‘Picnic Area’ sign made me feel suddenly hungry. I flaked out in the sun by a weir, at half a loaf of bread and felt that my knees were getting very sore. By Cressy I was down to a agonized crawl. Decided seat was too high. Sat on loo for a while and thought about it. Popped a Voltaren. Looked at the funny power poles. Rang around friends for a place to stray. West towards Deloraine, or north to Launceston? Matt had a bed for me at his boyfriend’s place in Launceston: Tom’s baby had just been born.


Granny gear to Longford. Decided seat too low. Fixed that, and knees feeling much better. Wondering why knees hurting – too much guiding? Too much pedaling on first day? Geometry of bike? Not sure, and it stresses me out. Inclined to last two.


It was a huge relief to be in a friendly house in Launceston, I was really stressed out. Broke my budget with a meal at a pub and beers at home. Lots of baby talk. The new baby is called Saskia, my mother’s middle name. A funny feeling to be immersed in lives going on around my bike trip, which is very in-the-moment right now, it takes up almost all my thinking.


I feel like life is changing a lot in this week. The change is from my last few days’ ride being just a bike ride to the beginning of a very long journey and a way of life. I feel my mind changing to a different outlook on life and societies, and an opening to dependence on others – I’ve always been fiercely independent. Now I have to let myself ask for help when I need it. It may sound corny, but I’m realizing how interconnected everyone is.


So many would say a solo ride is the choice of a loner – but I find it’s the opposite. Because you’re alone you’re dependent on others and must open yourself to others’ hospitality in exchange for a smile, a story and a laugh.


So, so tired now and will go to bed.


Distance 68.8km

Start 9.25am

Finish 4.20pm

Average 17.7kmh

Max 64.95kmh

Total 247

13.06.07 248km Day 4 Launceston

Was all packed up this morning and no oomph to go! Had to go into town anyway to look at Thermarests and was in one of those funny moods where I couldn’t decide on anything. Didn’t buy a thermarest.


Knee bloody sore, quite stressed out because of it. But, I was walking past protestors singing against the proposed Pulp Mill (the hot topic in Tassie right now)) – and one of them was Sarah, who I’d guided with, and now I’m at her and James’ place. SO nice to be with familiar people and guidery, bikey types to boot. They reckon my gear looks extremely rational, absolute minimum, and that knee is most likely seat height and using toe straps when I hadn’t used them before. So have sorted those two factors out.


Sarah made a huge dinner of meat patties, wedges, and more. I’ve got a HUGE appetite, it’s astonishing even me. Laid out all my gear over their living room floor complete with undies, freshly washed, drying by the fireplace. After a thorough rationalization, decided that it was indeed quite rational already, except for four bandaids, one pair of tweezers, a heavy spare spoke key and half a ton of postcards.


Now delighted to find myself snoozing in a snug double bed. I reckon it would fit into the tent?


Distance 2km :-)


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