(December 14, 2020 – written by Dave)
We’ve had another blue ribbon day in south-eastern Tasmania. Some rain is forecast so we soaked up the sun today. Too much in fact – you burn easy down here. Overnight in the caravan park was super quiet. We both got up at midnight to see a man about a horse and wow, the Milky Way was putting on a show. There is no light pollution here and the caravan park has minimal lights. I’m sure that it’s the same sky in Sydney but here you can see it. Amazing.
We were up with the sparrows this morning. It was fully light in the tent by 5:15 and we were up by 6AM. It’s great getting up with the sun and not even having an alarm set, right Nancy?
We left camp right at 8AM and made it all of 750 meters before the first stop of the day. Richmond has a “semi-famous” museum called the Pooseum. Yup, that’s right, an entire museum dedicated to poo. Sadly it is closed but that didn’t stop me from enjoying a juvenile moment at the dog pooing statue. Boys will be boys – for the record, Nancy took photos as well (Senior editor’s note – not of the dog pooing statue, however).
Our next stop was only 500 meters down the road at the Richmond Bridge. We rode over then stopped for photos. It was actually on our route, just the normal road. It was built in 1823 and for sure it is the oldest bridge we’ve ever ridden over in Australia. That’s not a big call really, as it is the oldest bridge in Australia and we rode over it.
Eventually we pulled ourselves from the frivolity of Richmond and headed out for the day on our ride. The morning was marked by two short hard climbs. Neither of them was nearly as hard as we read about (they hardly ever are). The first climb to Black Charlies Opening was the longer of the two climbs but it wasn’t quite as steep. The second climb up Bust-Me-Gall-Hill had one pinchy bit but it wasn’t too bad. I’m happy to report that Bust-Me-Gall-Hill did not Bust-Me-Gal-Nancy. I’ve been planning that line for almost 20 years and our first trip to Tassie!
From the top of Bust-Me-Gall it was supposed to be mostly downhill but it was a bit lumpy in fact. We had some headwinds as well but there were no complaints as we were loving our blue ribbon day. It wasn’t long before we rolled through Buckland and onto Orford where we stopped for a coffee and snack. From there it was only 7k to reach Tirabunna where we were catching the 3:15 ferry out to Maria Island.
We had some back and forth with the park service girls about how we should bet the bikes sorted for transport. They wanted us to take every bag off the bikes AND for us to pay $10 per bag. We have 7 bags each, all of them small and not worth individual fees. Thankfully, the gals got it and gave us some garbage bags so that we consolidate our gear. To be fair, they were checking bags on behalf of the ferry company, we weren’t the first cyclists to have issue and they have reported this to the ferry company (without response). It all worked out fine and we only ended up paying for 2.5 bags so all’s well that ends well.
The ferry ride was a ripper – just ask Nancy (Senior editor’s note – no, it wasn’t). For starters we all had to sit on the bow of the ferry as the tide was low and that was the only way to get the ferry over the sand bars. The ferry crew didn’t tell us to come in but we did once over we got over the bar. And boy were we glad that we did. The sailing was very rough and everyone on the bow got soaked. Nancy held it together, but just. There was a group of very young girls who thought all the bouncing was one grand carnival ride. They were screaming and yelling to no end. Add that to the waves and sea spray, let’s just say we were glad we didn’t have an ice cream before the ferry sailed.
Once on the island, it’s a 1k walk to the campground. They provide carts to help you haul your gear. Nancy pulled the cart while I rode my bike and held hers in my free hand. I was much faster but went back to help her once I reach camp (Senior Editor’s note – after I had pulled the cart up the still hill, by the way…).
Last time we were here we caught a glimpse of a wombat at dusk, plus saw a bunch of pademelons and other small hopping things. Well this visit, let me tell you, it is wombat city. We saw one on the walk up, took a thousand photos and now have them virtually walking al around our campsite. It’s wombat city! Just 4 hours after getting here, we don’t even get the camera out when we see one – ho-hum. When we first reached camp we told a couple of campers that were already here about the wombats. They looked at us like we were idiots. Now we get it – funny.
Wombat photo overdose follows.
So, we are taking rest day here tomorrow. It’s an effort to get here and we have 100s of wombats to meet. We’ll do a couple of the island walks and generally enjoy being in a pretty special place, for us and the animals.
And before I forget, there a couple nods to Covid out here. First, all passengers had to wash their hands on the dock before boarding the boot. The second, the showers here on the island aren’t running. We think the showers may be a mechanical issue but have also heard that it is Covid related. So there you have it, once you’ve cleaned up before boarding you can get dirty on the island and not have to shower – Covid solved….
Be prepared for many more animal pictures tomorrow!