To the mighty mainland


14.06.07 319km Launceston - Between road, railway and stream by Villaret Gardens

Woke up from that lovely bed to find knee better, porridge being made. Eventually got off at 11.30 after a sortie into town to buy a Thermarest bed substitute and thus supplied I set off with four of my friend Truckstop's scrumptious Anzac bikkies in my handlebar bag. I was headed for Deloraine. A very pretty ride of green paddocks, cows, hedges and sleepy slowly decaying rural towns. This trip is becoming quite the goodbye tour of Tasmania! All these places I haven't been to for ages, Andy's Hot Bread Shop, the old highway, the statues along Deloraine's main street, I'm a bit sad to be leaving it all behind. Now that the knee is getting better (not using the toe straps and upping seat height appear to be the trick) I really do feel like I'm off on a long, long journey again. My mind is starting to plan my Melbourne escapades. At Railton, a chap had cycled up a tree by mistake. I think he had trouble getting down.

There are two large pulls for me on this trip - the settling-down, getting a job pull and the opposite of exploring and meeting interesting places and people. I'm conscious of the appeal of the first options, but for now it feels really good to be travelling again, there's that satisfaction in the hum of the wheels.

This is a funny camping spot. I was a little caught out and didn't find a campsite where I imagined there would be one. So I carried on, and on, and on a bit and found this instead. A triangle of land with trees, bordered by a creek on two sides, a road on one and a railway on another. What time is the first morning train? [Postcript: morning train? What was I thinking. There were six night trains.]

Distance: 72km
Cycling time: 4 hours
Average: 18kmh
Max: 42kmh
Total odo 319km
Start 11.30am
Finish 4.30pm

15.06.06 385km By that railway - Shoshin

How beautiful to cycle to the community where my friends Elyse, Melody and Arana live and see that each house, even the general store, has its own solar panel. Shoshin even has its own water turbine. I'm in alternative energy heaven. Cycling up from the cow paddocks of Sheffield took me past Paradise, which appeared to be mostly for sale. Gowrie Park had both odd metallic residents and suicidal dogs, which an up to say hello (I'm talking about the dogs) then stood in the middle of the road waiting to be run over.

At the top of the hill I found Elyse's secret 'old road' which was to save me climbing up to the top of Mt Claude on the regular road.

Old road quickly became track with precipice, followed by washout...I hadn't had so much fun in ages. With a happy grin on my face I pulled Sputnik through bogs, streams over and around fallen trees. Grin became happy beaming smile and I completely forgot my knee. And now Sputnik is a proper expedition bike.

Having regained the regular road (hill successfully avoided) it was quickly given the honour of being the first road on which I've broken the speed limit under my own steam. The limit is 30kmh, which seemed bizarre considering my mini-epic and the beautiful expanse of gravel. There is a ginormous precipice down to Lake Cethana, glimpsed through the forest.

Arriving in the community, my jaw hit the gravel.

Elyse's house, built by her parents 30 years ago, is a beauty of practical DIY with mudbrick and recycled materials. I met her parents, Bart and Ann, and was soon slicing potatoes for potato bake and making a currant pudding for dessert. It was great to be with a laughing, practical, happy family, and it's a glimpse into a very attractive alternative way of life.

Totally shagged again at 9pm and feeling very rotund after a huge dinner. Snug in my bed under the eaves.

Distance: 66.5km
Time: 4:50 hours
Average: 14kmh
Max 56kmh
Total odo 385km

16.06.07 385km Shoshin

How nice to wake up to a dozy morning. Ate oats with freshly squeezed goats milk for brekkie and pottered around doing the washing up, making cups of tea and then attempting to deal with a flood of emails. It's nice to be in touch! But apologies to those who are waiting for a reply...I'm giving each one a good reply but I can't give each justice in one sitting, so hold on...it'll come. I'm still relishing being in my own headspace.

It turns out that my parcel of pannier rack and spare has ended up in Tanzania, Africa instead of Tasmania, Australia. You'd think olde England would have sorted things out by now. It's promising to be quite the epic.

This is a fascinating community, even more so with Elyse and Melody able to fill in the background. It's all baking and maintaining and community events. The neighbour used to be a physicist in Silicon valley working on lubricants to make hard drive heads skim nanometres over magnetic platters...and now lives in a place where handmade and repaired is the norm.

What I particularly like is the absence of alternative superiority or dogma - these are particularly on to it people and absolutely up for a laugh.

Tonight we made dinner to bring down to the Saturday film night. It was a sweet, whimsical DVD of two aging men who got up to all sorts of tricks. A Czech film, it was nice to understand the greetings from my teach-yourself Russian efforts!

Off early tomorrow to make my way to Devonport and meet my parents and sister for a final goodbye. Golly, leaving Tassie, it's all happening. Marked my progress on my world map for the first time today. One centimetre!

18.06.07 462km Shoshin - Devonport

Ann demanded I have a final farewell cup of tea, and then I was off. I took the hill road to get a good last view of Tassie from up high. After a grind up the gravel road Round Mountain treated me to a great rugged view off West Coast mountains up to Bass Strait in the north. With a whoop of farewell I whizzed down the hill and froze between the shady eucalypts.

A tail wind and the thought of seeing my parents and sister spurred me to 30+kmh and I made it to Devonport at 3.30pm. Meeting them at the beach was wonderful. It was nice to see them after a week away and to have a good, proper goodbye before heading to the mainland. They drove three hours up and 3 hours down that day, just to see me off.

My last image of them was their three heads smiling and waving around the ferry security door, wishing me well.The ferry did a massive U-turn in the river and set off across the strait towards Melbourne. It felt strange to be moving without my own effort.

I found the deck 10 'bar' (converted from a swimming pool) with its cushioned seats just right for sleeping on, and had a fitful sleep through the night.

Distance 76km
Time 4 hours
Average 18kmh
Max 63.7kmh
Total 462km


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