06.01. to 23.02.2015
After almost 3 weeks at Paul and Kerry’s place we have finally updated our blog a fair bit, sorted an awful lot on our bike (but still not everything), completed our paperwork as much as possible, and now the time has come that we are on our way to explore a little more of this island - on our own and even though my back has been pleased to finally get some time in a bed, we are also lookin forward to be in the nature and in our tent too – after such a long time it does feel like home I suppose.
With our expert local hosts we have brooded over maps and drawn a rough plan of a route - but of course we are still always open to spontaneous explorations ...
First we head for the National Parks in the Gordon River region - there are many reservoirs and also attractive campsites that are either free or at least very cheap in these National Parks.
As we left after lunch we just make 150 km today, but we're not in a race and the campsite at Scotts Peak Dam has everything we need: a loo and a water tap! We put our tent up and what do we have as neighbours? Three young Germans! They have met through an advert in Gumtree (a website in Australia where you can find anything from a job to a frying pan) and now share the cost of the trip to Tasmania. Of course, we sit together by the campfire in the evening and share stories from the road while it is getting dark and the nocturnal animals slowly come out of hiding.
There are plenty of wallabies that are delighted to see that I cooked a vegetable soup and they now find remains of carrots and cabbage and the small “jumpers” don’t care one little bit that we sit next to them. Suddenly an animal that we have not seen at all before appears. It looks like a cross between cat and mouse with bright dots all over its back - Mr. Google knows the animal under the name of quoll.
The rest of my vegetable soup seems to exude an irresistible smell, and now we can see the cute creature as it tries to sneak up quickly and in zigzags and after a few minutes it sits right in the pot gobbling the contents.
The next morning, the three young people say goodbye - they have not much time left and we move on to the next dam at Lake Pedder. The original lake has been hugely enlarged by a dam and a hydroelectric power plant has been built. Again, there is a campsite - Ted's Beach. Of course, the name has a story: Ted was one of the senior engineers in the construction of the dam and although originally the shore of the lake was far away from this place, Ted was convinced that the lake one day would go this far and that, due to the currents, it would also end up with a sandy beach in this area. Even though everyone thought this was ridiculous, he made sure that this campsite was built .... And he was right on all counts! Now the lake comes right to this place and there is even a beautiful sandy beach…. The campsite itself is rather luxurious - there is a kitchen with and electric power points so we decide to stay here and to use the opportunity to charge our computer. As I sit lazy in the sun Kev tries to catch a few fish, but he has not a lot of luck here – it’s just as well that we have enough supplies and now will not go hungry - again we have found nice neighbours, an elderly couple from Launceston, with which we have a nice chat.
The next morning the sky is grey and it starts to storm and rain. Unfortunately, we did not pay attention when we built our tent and now the entrance faces the wind. The rain blows right into our door. After a short time we have puddles in the tent and everything is damp. With the weather as it is we have no desire to ride our bike today - it is bloody cold, everything is wet and the prospect of an improvement today is close to zero. We decide to stay, as there is at least a roofed hut, where we can sit in the dry and have the use of reasonably clean toilets.
A small shock comes in the form of a ranger who looks after things here, because we have taken a chance and conveniently forgot to pay the camp fee - there are envelopes for the honest, into which you are supposed to put the exact amount for the night and stick it into a kind of letterbox... well, we paid the $ 60 for the National Parks pass and are of the opinion that this should be plenty ....
The Ranger seems to be more interested in a chat than counting pennies and we have a very interesting conversation with him. Among other things, we learn that the ozone hole over Antarctica that gives us such problems here is due to natural causes - an active volcano somewhere at the South Pole ejects some sort of gases, which cause the ozone hole and not CFCs blown into the atmosphere by man as is the case in the northern hemisphere...
Also interesting is our conversation about bushfires. I have quite often wondered why there is such a problem with them in Tasmania, because it rains a lot and there is very rarely a month without rain. We learn that the ground hardly holds water and most of the rainfall just drains off. Nature in these latitudes has evolved in a direction that is designed to make use of bushfires - most native plants have made a virtue of necessity and use the fire to reproduce. This of course has the consequence that these plants do anything to support bushfires (sounds strange, but its true). There are between 600 and 700 different species of eucalyptus (the scholars bicker a little here) and they form the largest part of the Australian vegetation. These trees grow in all regions and sizes – there are bushes and also huge trees (Eucalyptus regnans are after the California Redwoods, the tallest trees in the world). All Gum trees (this is what eucalyptus trees are commonly called here) have one thing in common: they pump themselves full of highly flammable oil which they give off in small drops on hot days, so that in some cases you can even see it as blue haze (it’s this haze that gave the Blue Mountains their name) - by the way they usually smell extremely nice. Both the leaves and the bark are full of oil and the bark is renewed again and again, the dead parts hanging from the tree in long threads or covering the ground around the trees. This strategy not only supports bush fire but also often causes and enhances them. The smallest spark is all it takes and the trees are on fire - some are so full of oil that they literally explode, the loose bark easily catches fire and is then blown along by the wind which then provides fuel for a rapid spread of the fire - and all for the preservation of the species, because gum trees as well as some other native trees and plants need the fire to open their seedpods and rejuvenate this way. The ashes of bushfires are then washed in the soil providing fertilizer for the next generation.
What is a survival strategy for the plants, is a constant danger for the people in this part of the world and the bushfires sometimes move so fast that from the first signs of smoke to the point where the house is on fire you are lucky to escape with your life and run for it - there is such a heat generated that it can even melt some metals – it has been known for street signs to end up hanging as molten sculptures on their post, aluminum cast engines end up as a “puddle” under the car and of the houses often only stone fireplaces are left - no wonder, then that in most parts of the country strict rules are in place for open fires –fire bans are enforced and on the most Picnic areas electric grills are provided for free use.
Another very interesting information on this subject is the fact that over 90% of all bushfires are caused by man, sometimes unintentionally through a discarded cigarette, or campfire getting out of control, but often enough by intentionally set fires .... What sick minds!
After this most interesting exchange with Ranger he disappears soon and we decide to take a short break in the downpour to move our tent in the cabin - here it now dries slowly together with its contents and we have a reasonably comfortable place to sleep.
It rains all night, but the next morning we have blue skies and sunshine again so we make use of the change in weather and quickly pack everything to move on.
We don’t get far though - not much more than a hundred km out of the valley, when we get tempted to stop in another National Park called Mt. Field.
Here we meet the nice couple again and also the ranger who greets us by pointing out that his colleague is responsible for this campsite and we better pay the camping fees – which we do - at least for one night ....
There is much to see and so we walk the whole day. First, two waterfalls, then through the rain forest with tree ferns and giant White Gums (Eucalyptus regnans) that grow to a height of more than 90 meters into the air and they are so old that they were probably already there when Abel Tasman discovered this island for the first time, then we go on to another waterfall and at the end of the long circular route are hundreds of stairs which we have to climb until we finally get up to the campground. With our last reserves we drag ourselves a short way up the trail again to a small bridge where you can see a platypus if you are lucky. We wait for a long time with the camera ready to shoot and just as we contemplate to give up, we actually get to see the funny animal.
Platypuses are supposedly very rarely seen and also very shy and even more difficult to photograph. This one, however, seems to be accustomed to clicking cameras and is not even bothered when a large group of Chinese joins us with their cameras and we all franticly start clicking every time he comes to the surface. Although most of the pictures don’t show much more than a troubled water surface we do end up with a few useful snapshots. I'm so happy about my pictures that my aching back and lame legs are forgotten.
Platypuses and echidnas form a separate division in the animal world - the so-called monotremes. They lay eggs and also suckle their young once they are hatched (the terrestrial Echidnas in a pouch). You could say that these two animals form a side shoot in evolution when Mother Nature played with different variations of the new idea, which was called mammal - how exactly the relationships and developments actually came about we will probably never know for sure, but one thing is certain that they are unique and can only be found in Australasia. The platypus looks funny - like a cross between an otter and a duck (there we have it – eggs and milk)
We celebrate our successful picture hunt with a mug of cheap red wine (we can only afford beer on special days, but red wine in a 4 liter bag is cheap and does not need a fridge), and show our camping neighbours proudly all our snap shots of the platypus.
A special surprise of the day is the arrival of Tom and Abby. We had sent them an e-mail and mentioned that we would probably be here for the weekend and they have decided to come by on the off chance that we're still here. How wonderful and the evening flies by with anecdotes from Mongolia and a little celebration.
The next day we explore the surrounding area together, before our friends drive back home in the evening and we spend one last night in this nice campsite.
The next day we move on, although we really like it here, but we have to make use of this period of good weather and travel to the West Coast – which is the side of Tasmania where bad weather can in fact get quite uncomfortable. We don’t stop anywhere for very long on our way to the coast, just take a quick look at Cradle Mountain and Lake St. Clare - it's nice here, but to really appreciate the area you need to go hiking and we lack the required fitness and as it is high season everything is full of tourists and the campsite at this popular destination is extortionate - they want $ 50 per night for an unpowered tent site!
So we look for something cheaper on the coast and squeeze in with the many local families on a campsite that only costs $ 5 per night.
The next day we ride along the coast on a gravel road to Arthur River but now our luck with the weather has run out – the sky is cloudy and only now and then we get a glimpse of the normally magnificent views. The rain is getting dense and soon we are really wet through to the underwear and shivering from the cold when we finally arrive on a free camping site on the coast. There is no wind or weather protection and no way to find shelter anywhere. We decide to bite the bullet and return to the last town. We will have to pay here but there are at least a few shrubs as a windbreak at the campsite.
Along the way we are being overtaken by a pick-up who waves us to stop - 2 brothers are sitting in the car and when they see how wet and cold we look they feel sorry for us and spontaneously invite us to spend the night in a bush camp that one of the two brothers looks after.
The bush camp turns out to be a wooden hut and although there is no electricity, there is a warming log fire where we can cook something and as the fire even heats water in a tank we can also have a hot shower.
We end up spending 3 days here as the rain has settled in and Mike entertains us with his somewhat bizarre views on God and the world and in between he takes us fishing in his old Toyota, shows us around in the bush and we even try to find Tassie devils one night - finally the weather improves and we decide that it’s time to get on our way again and so we finally arrive at the north coast, where we spend a few nice days hiking quite a bit and visiting everything worth seeing - the huge rock that's called the Nut, the thickest tree in Tasmania and some more waterfalls, but the best is the campground in the dunes - it consists of many small places, all surrounded by bushes and it feels as if you are on your own here. In the evenings we are visited by a couple of cute wallabies, who pounce on our kitchen waste and are not the slightest bit afraid of us.
On our way to the east coast we actually try to see the nice couple from Launceston we met on the first campsites, but they do not answer to our email and we assume that they are still travelling around the state too and spontaneously we decide to take an unplanned detour inland to the Highland Lakes, because Kevin itches to finally go fishing after we having paid for a license.
We make use of the wonderful weather and keep stopping again and again along the way, because there are waterfalls and views to explore.
Tasmania is not quite as wild and different, as we have imagined it to be (we did not manage to see the wilderness though as there are no roads leading into those parts), but it definitely presents 4 seasons in one day and from rain forests to rugged coastline, moorland, really friendly people and a unique fauna and flora, it especially reminds me a little bit of my home in the Westerwald. Here and there, people hide their soft core behind a hard shell, they are tough, strong and weather resistant, yet again unexpectedly welcoming and helpful – you just have to like the rugged beauty.
On the evening of January 19th we end up on the shores of a picturesque lake on the plateau - too late to go fishing, but we get a huge trout as a gift from one of the anglers - and thus the breakfast is secured and then Kev can perhaps even get his own fishing rod out ....
At least there is a remarkable sunset and a beautiful starry sky.
We wake up to our tent being tossed about in the morning - as we have learned by now you just can’t expect what kind of weather you will find the next day – it has changed suddenly and after we have been able to admire the most beautiful starry sky at night we now have to fear that our slightly battered tent will not last much longer - the rods bend inward and creak threateningly. In record time we have it taken down and packed - it is of benefit to us that we could perform every movement during our sleep by now and the process runs almost automatically, because otherwise we would probably be blown across the lake like Marry Poppins.
We don’t even think about frying our trout for breakfast - there is no place where you could light the stove - so we pack everything on the bike and drive off. At the next petrol station we stop, because we need fuel, but due to the exceptionally high price around here we only tank 20 liters – but in the little shop/café we treat ourselves to a coffee and a pie for breakfast.
It is also bloody cold here - we stop a few times at various lake shores, but never for long, because even a brass monkey would not stay for long at these temperatures. Funny are some of the road signs – like the one pointing to Melton Mowbray – we used to live about 150 km north of it when we had our home in Britain and both would love a Melton Mowbray pork pie now… There are so many English, Irish or Scottish place names here in Tasmania - the former settlers probably needed a piece of home feeling. Especially on this island since the first settlers were mostly deported prisoners who did not leave their homes voluntarily.
We wind higher up and are now in the clouds, it is drizzling and getting even colder, we shiver faster than we can freeze. There are quite obviously no views to admire and in any case we have closed our misty (and scratchy) visors as we plough on. At some point it finally goes downhill again and we can see a bright light on the horizon. The lower we go, the warmer it gets, fortunately, and when we reach the valley bottom there is actually a patch of blue sky in the direction we are heading.
With the help of our GPS I navigate us through Launceston and after a short time we find signs directing us to Ben Lomond (a mountain in Scotland) National Park.
Since the direction arrow of my navigation program shows exactly in the same direction, I assume that we are on the right track.
Spontaneously we decide to have a look at Ben Lomond and turn off the paved road on to a gravel track that winds up the mountain. The campground however is nothing special and it is still relatively early so we decide to keep moving on. Eventually we come to a crossing and after I check with the GPS which way we should go, I note that the program seems to be frozen and no longer shows where we are but still thinks that we are on the outskirts of Launceston ... Oh great, we have no idea where we are now and the small hamlets that are appearing on the signs are nowhere to be found on the maps of the navigation system. After a zooming in considerably, comparing and searching I find the place called Mathinna which is also signposted and a minute road that leads from here towards the east coast – well now we at least have somewhere to head for. I restart the navigation program but quickly turn the computer on stand-by again : the battery power is very low now. Eventually after some up and down on small forest tracks we hit tarmac again, the bike shudders and stops - we have run dry! We should have filled up in Launceston but we were anticipating to ride east on a highway with lots of towns …. Well it’s no use to whinge and brood over should have’s. One last time, I consult the navigation program - it has found us again and thank heaven, it's only about 2 km to Mathinna. So now we push and hope there is a petrol pump. Even with very small inclines we come completely out of breath, because the outfit is heavy! There is also our battered pride pressing heavily on our shoulders.
Shortly before the small town a car drives past us and I wave it down to stop so we can ask exactly where to find the next petrol pump as we really do not want to push one single meter too much by taking the wrong turns here. The young men in the car are actually so nice to pull us right up to the pump – which from here is not that far, but every meter we do not have to push is more than welcome.
Mathinna is in itself hardly worth mentioning - a very small place and the only petrol pump belongs to the pub - well there we treat ourselves the luxury of a cold draft beer and at the same time we make today's entertainment for the locals. Which are also kind enough to tell us where to find the next free camping spot. Refreshed and with a full tank we drive off again and after a few kilometers, the bike stops again - brilliant! We have not the slightest clue what is going on now and because we can think of nothing better we clean the float chambers of the carburetors - there really was a bit of dirt inside - probably because we have run dry - this must have been the dirt that accumulates at the bottom of the tank over time .... because after that, she run’s again ... and after a bit of searching we also find the described place in the woods where we can set up our tent. It is a picturesque site with electric barbeques, an outdoor toilet and a covered shed with tables and benches in it. Located next to the meadow where we set up our tent flow’s a stream. It is a pity that we are not the only campers here and our neighbours – being proper Aussie outdoor people - even have a chainsaw to provide them noisily with a supply of firewood, but nothing in this world is perfect ...
Kev gets his fishing stuff out after we have set up our tent and I head for the grill to cook dinner - luckily we have enough supplies and are not dependent on the fish which my husband is not catching - instead, there is a delicious lamb curry with chick peas and sweet potatoes on the menu - one can live quite well without a trailer full of kitchen!
Of course, it soon starts to rain again and we hit the sleeping bag after a short time - in the hope that Tasmania’s weather does its usual trick and will be different again tomorrow.
But it does not. We wake up to the monotonous dripping on the tent roof and decide if it does not stop to stay put another day.
Kev suggests to push the bike under the roof and then maybe I can charge the computer and use the day to write.
No sooner said than done - I sit down on the long overdue deskwork and Kev tries to catch a fish despite the lousy weather, but eventually the charging light on the computer goes out - my fear that the battery on the bike could be empty has unfortunately been confirmed and since all others have left we are without help which is pretty stupid.
We decide now that if the rain stops to use that time and take our tent down and pack all the bags and then try to push-start our bike. It’s not easy, but we make it and while Kevin straps everything on I'm sat on the bike with my foot on the brake making sure the engine keeps running, and then it goes back and along the dirt roads towards St Helens (another place that was very near our home town in England) on the east coast of Tasmania. While we restock our supplies here the rain comes back again so we start our search for a place where we can set up our tent again for the next night.
The east coast of Tasmania is no different to the main continent - it is the most populated part of the island and also the side with the more moderate weather, which is why it attracts all the tourists ... ..
Today is Wednesday and next Monday is also Australia Day, the day that marks the official arrival of the first British ship with 750 prisoners on board who were destined for deportation and forced labor in the new colony. Well, next weekend is definitely a long weekend of celebration and all campsites are already bursting full of Australians and their families….. and their extensive equipment considered to be necessary for a comfortable weekend "outdoors". Including boats, fishing equipment, tents that can accommodate a whole village, generators, grills, solar panels for operating the dishwasher... .. it is amazing! Of course, everywhere is a group with the missionary goal to educate all other people on the campsite to their musical taste ...!
The next day we drive further down the east coast and find another free campsite in Freycinet National Park with wonderful cliffs around the Wineglass Bay - again, only with patience we find a little spot where we can set up camp.
We make friends with a young couple In the neighbouring tent who are very interested in our trip and chatting away they tell us about a place on the Tasman Peninsula, where they have spent the last night and saw three Tasmanian devils right in the campground. This animal is still missing in our collection - we have seen all different types of wallabies, echidnas and Platypuses, a tiger snake, the cute blue wren, yellow tailed black cockatoos, a wattlebird... and much more, but the Tasmanian devil feels like a must-see. They are slowly creeping on the list of endangered species, because they suffer from a seemingly contagious disease that causes facial cancer. Healthy animals were taken to another island and seem to multiply there without getting the disease, but here, where we actually expect them they have come to be rare. We decide to spend the following night in hope to be as lucky as the young couple on said campsite.
Is it necessary to mention, that we find more of the same as we did on all other places of the East Coast? One tent palace clings to the next with as much room between them as a row of detached houses in a modern English housing estate and the only animals who are not put off by this, are gulls - they are in the land of milk and honey and cannot even be bothered by noisy children.
We are glad that we are almost back in Hobart now and with that will be able to escape the bank holiday madness and in addition we have the prospect of a shower and bed again. We also need urgent help with the new problems encountered with our bike. In Western Australia, the right cylinder head gasket was leaking and now the other side has started to lose oil too. We are not a hundred percent sure, but suspect that it is now the other cylinder head gasket and the engine has started to stutter at faster speeds as if it needs a pacemaker …oh and the indicators have stopped working again. On top of that our new cooker that we bought in Darwin has fallen to pieces - the pump for the fuel tank just dropped off.... Well, at least it’s something different to always just having boring motorcycle problems.
I'm curious what Coleman’s have to say when I let them know that our sales receipt has been destroyed by water damage after the storm on the Nullarbor ....
We look forward to the peace and tranquility at Kerry and Paul’s place. The landscape around here is one of the most beautiful corners of the island, but the hype is a little too much and we are also glad to get back in time before Paul has to join the ship – we hope he can come to the aid and at least point us in the right direction in solving the technical problems.
Along the way back we stop at a few look-outs over stunning cliffs – I am most cheesed off because I can’t take many pictures .. our camera batteries are on their last legs as we did not dare charge them off the bike anymore.
After 3 weeks in the various nature reserves of the island we now limp back and it feels like not only do we still have to sort out a lot of unfinished business … we also have accumulated even more problems along the way.
Paul and Kev don’t waste much time and work the whole next day on our bike this is all the time we have left before Paul has to go into service on the Aurora Australis while I try to figure out what has happened to our Carnet, because we still have no notification, whether it will be extended or not. The old carnet will run out soon so this problem urgently needs sorting and I also try my best to get a new cooker, because even if we use it more often than average, it still should not be broken after only 4 months. Our highly anticipated parcel from home has also not arrived and I find out that the German post has sent it back to my parents because the computer batteries could be explosives....
For gods sakes … is there nothing in this world that works simply ?
I am lucky and have some success in terms of the Carnet and within one working day receive a confirmation email from the AAA-lady with which we can drive to the Automobile Association in Hobart and customs now to get the stamps for the extension.
I also achieve that we can send the newly bought batteries for our computer back and get the money reimbursed and then I find used batteries on Ebay Australia instead which I immediately order to be sent to this address. After some back and forth with Coleman I finally have someone on the phone who explains how we can fix our cooker, because without proof of purchase, we won’t get a new one…….
Paul has found a few dodgy wires on our bike and fixes them and the diagnosis of a leaky head gasket is soon confirmed - with the repairs to the motorcycle it turns out that 2 of the long bolts in the cylinder are loose. Paul manages about 10 minutes before he has to join the ship to fasten the bolts with so-called Heli Coils (a kind of thread for a thread) again and Kev is confident to be able to repair the rest on his own…….
For the next 2 days we see very little of Paul – he has to supervise the refueling of the ship and is needed in all corners.
We get quite some errands accomplished (we even have the carnet extension two days BEFORE the old one runs out!) and manage to see a bit more of Hobart – like the famous Cascade Brewery and the Female Factory and also the remembrance park for fallen soldiers of the two world wars. It’s nice how they have done this: for every person lost in the wars there is a plaque with as much information as could be gathered about them next to a tree which has been planted as lasting memorial, thus creating a lovely wooded park where we wander and read the plaques.
We also have the chance to attend a meeting of the British Bike Club in the headquarters of the old fire station with a guided tour through the adjoining museum afterwards.
On the last afternoon before sailing towards Antarctica we get a guided tour on Australia’s one and only icebreaker. The ship is in a high security compound and we have to show our passports as well as needing Paul’s reference to be let on. It’s quite some experience to be shown around and have all the workings and specialized machinery explained. We soon get to appreciate what a highly skilled, responsible and hard life it is to be chief engineer on this ship sailing to some of the most remote places in the world and in the harshest conditions…..
We even are allowed to have our dinner with all the crew on the ship before we have to leave and wait with Kerry on the shore to see the Aurora Australis off on her 3 months trip to the cold end of the world (Mawson).
The next few days Kev services the bike and puts her all back together … and I BLOG.
We have planned another few days of exploring the southernmost end of Tassie – well at least as far as the roads go – and Bruny Island. Now the school holidays are over and the places are not quite as crowded anymore – but the bike still does not run right. She coughs at high revs, keeps going out and in Cockle Creek National Park we even loose the oil filter and spill at least one liter of engine oil in the pristine environment. Thankfully the park attendants are bikers and have a Russian sidecar outfit too so they are very understanding and the only remark is:”Well- if that is the only disaster the Park has to cope with for this year – we will have done well!”
After only 3 days we are back “home” and on time for the Hobart wooden boat festival. The best time to see it actually is when we visit it with Kerry .. in the middle of the night after returning from a BBQ with Tom and Abby at their new home.
We do go into Hobart the next day again (together with millions of other people) but to see the boats at night with the undisturbed reflections on the water and no one else around can’t be beaten – even with blue skies and sunshine.
After this we spend two more weeks here even though we actually wanted to leave asap to get back into a travelling mode. But even with lots of help from Andy who is another friend of Paul and Kerry’s and a man who knows almost everything about BMs we struggle to find the fault which after a complete refurbishment of the carburetors can only be something electrical and therefore a real bastard to find…
We keep finding loose connections, exchange the CDI and the hall sensor unit as well as the spark-plugs and leads (after spending a whole day of running around to find the parts) – the process leads to severe domestics and numerous break-downs at the road side on test drives - one of those rides being a ride-out to New Norfolk with Kerry on Wesley’s (the dog)15th birthday.
Kerry and Wes have gone in the car and we arrange a meeting place but just before Hobart we are stranded on the side of the highway for the first time. Checking the fuel chambers in the carbs reveals nothing – so we take the tank of and wiggle on wires – she starts up in the end, but we don’t know why and soon enough – in the middle of Hobart traffic we are in the same position again! We push the bike down a side road and decide to try and change the CDI unit – again – and that seems to have done the trick and we arrive about two hours late (and just about before Kerry has decided to leave) at the meeting point.
What a shame – now we just have enough time to find the pie shop with the best and cheapest homemade pies in the whole country and then to whizz around one of the numerous antique shops which are all in the grounds of the old mental hospital. It is a real treasure trove and we spend as long as we possibly can rummaging about, having fun dressing up in old clothes and hats and taking silly pictures posing in them. I doubt if Wesley enjoyed his birthday as much as we did but at least he has a sausage roll as a treat!
On the way back our bike is coughing spitting and misfiring again but luckily we make it without another breakdown at the side of the road.
The next day we pull everything to bits again resuming our quest to the source of all troubles until we finally find the culprit: it’s a simple plug (that powers all the modules in the ignition chain) where the connections have rattled loose and after 3 clicks of shoving them back in place our bike runs as smoothly as she did when we left home – mind you – having clean carbs does make a difference too…
Kerry has made me promise that we could not leave before our blog is as much up to date as it could possibly be so I start stringing all our Tassie adventures to a story and I work until my eyes are square – it is getting time to move on – even if it is hard and we have not seen anywhere near everything there is to see. We squeeze in another day-out to the Royal Botanical gardens in Hobart – can’t go without having seen them. So apart from packing and blogging we also find time for this little excursion – which turns out well worth the effort. It’s free and really well kept, there is a herb garden (not so much different of my own at home), a lovely grow house for Subantarctic plants (after a visit to the Aurora Australis this definitely rounds off our claim of having been on the 6th continent), a succulent and cacti garden, rosary, native plant section – you can spend quite a lot of time in here.
As much as we’d like to drag our feet a bit more – there is never going to be a day where we find it easy to leave. In the end Kev takes the reins and decides that Friday is the day– ready or not and as we would like to spend another evening with Tom and Abby it seems like a good idea to make a break in small installments. We have all day at Kerry’s – maybe get the computer work finished and then just drive to Hobart, have a stop at their house and the possibility to say our farewells here and then just have a couple or three overnights on our way to the ferry……
Well – it is still the hardest task since leaving home and saying good bye to Johan. We have not stayed this long in any place during the last 20 months or even twice and three times – so it actually started feeling like coming home …..
Thanks to Kerry’s love for her country showing us all there is to see and explaining what we did not understand before has brought not only Tassie but also Australia as a whole a lot closer to us and unbeknown to us we must have started to put down some kind of roots. Because of Kerry’s persistence and a lot of help by Paul and Andi as well as other motorcycling friends we are actually as organized and up to date as we will ever be. We have been able to give the bike a good sort out, managed to restock on spare parts and replace some of our equipment, get our paperwork in order and a new supply on tablets. Kerry is a very special lady who has almost lost her life on a motorbike and really only thanks to her determination has come back to being able to ride again and she lives putting real value on every hour of the day – taking you with her……
It turns out to be a good plan to have a departure in stages – it makes it possible to trick myself into believing it’s just another day out but we both do have to swallow quite some tears and if you believe there is such a thing as getting used to leaving you are kidding yourself – the only thing one gets quite good at is avoiding to get too attached – as soon as you allow that to happen you have lost it.
We spend another lovely evening at Tom and Abby’s new home and the next morning Kerry turns up again bringing a few bits with her she thought we’d left behind and the tears are flowing again and even as we ride up some beautiful tracks and lanes it takes ages until I am able to appreciate the beauty of our surroundings. We manage to squeeze in most of what we intended to see and even a little bit more – and also get lost in the same area we had done weeks ago, ending up just like before – in the middle of nowhere with an empty tank! This time we are a bit more lucky – we stop next to a farm and we are even able to buy some petrol to get us to the next pump but then it is getting dark and we still have to ride 50 km back to Ben Lomond National Park – there is a road we have missed the first time round and it is supposed to be spectacular. It’s pitch-dark when we arrive at the camp site and as fast as we can we build the tent and cook up some meal.
It is actually a lot nicer here as we thought when we looked at the campsite almost 1 month ago and we have a beautiful starry sky thrown in for free.
The next morning we need to get a move on – there are quite some threatening dark clouds and apart from wanting to pack our stuff while it’s still dry we also want to ride Jacob’s ladder and see some of the views.
We are very lucky on all accounts – and the road plus the views are just as stunning as promised and then we even manage to dodge most of the storms that are building up all around.
There are a few last places to be had on tonight’s boat and after that we would have to wait another 5 days for the next available crossing – so this is it – we pay the dreadfully overpriced bunks and just like coming across here I take my seasick pills and with the aid of a few beers I sleep through a crossing that is reportedly not as calm as the last one – well I shall stick to this recipe in future – I won’t ever get to the stage of loving ships so knocking myself out is just the ticket!