(December 19, 2020 – written by Dave)
You may wonder how we could possibly slow down anymore than we are currently travelling. So far on this trip we’ve had short riding days and several rest days. Well, somehow today it seemed like we raised the bar on slowness (or is that lowered the bar?). The riding part of today was short and fast – mostly flat and tailwind-aided. We had plenty to do during the day and though riding was minimal, the normal eating and drinking parts of a bike trip were done with gusto. It’s a hard job, but someone has to do it!
We had mostly blue skies in the morning but it was still hard to pull ourselves away from the lovely cabin we nabbed for the rainy night in Coles Bay. Check-out was at 10AM and it took some work to get Nancy on the road much before that. She wanted to get every minute of her “cabin time”.
We eventually made it out for the 30k ride back out of Coles Bay to Highway 3. We made quick work of this section, only having to stop a couple times chasing the odd echidna (we didn’t catch any) and at the oyster farm (it was too early to eat oysters so we just looked around). We made a 400 meter detour once we reached the highway as we had to ride the wrong way to make a return visit to the Pondering Frog. We had an egg and bacon roll and coffee there – just because. To be honest, the food and coffee at the Pondering Frog is ok, nothing amazing. But you feel like you have to stop just to chat with Lester (the owner) and give him some business. He is super helpful with the local knowledge and has fantastic customer skills – meeting people like Lester and his wife are why we travel.
The ride from the Frog to Bicheno seemed to be over before it started and that was it for the day’s riding – phew, didn’t even break a sweat. We pulled up at the Bicheno Backpackers Hostel to see how it looked and if they had rooms. The gal working the hostel was nice and we scored a bunk room all to ourselves for a good price. Sold. It wasn’t even 1PM and we were showered and ready to hit town.
Picking a spot for lunch was easy. A few weeks ago in the Sydney paper, there was a write-up on small, hidden-gem restaurants around Australia. The Lobster Shack in Bicheno featured in the article. So that’s where we headed. We both had their famous lobster rolls and were not disappointed. In fact, they were fantastic. Lobster is cheaper this year because we have a small trade war going on with China and they are not taking their normal quota. I would have happily paid 2X the price for my roll however – it was that good. I know, I know, seems like a lot of eating already today!
After lunch we took the long-cut back along the foreshore to town. Yes, we got some red rock shore photos – of course. While the ocean photos are nice, the highlight of the walk was spotting the least shy echidna that we’ve seen on the entire trip. He was more than happy to have us around and even seemed to be posing for photos at times.
Echidnas are such strange animals. They are a mammal but only one of two mammals in the world that lay eggs (rather than giving live birth). Their feet face backwards and they have more of a beak than mouth. They are kind of like a North American porcupine but don’t have quills, just pointy fur that looks like quills. Their normal defensive position is to stick their nose in the ground and curl up in a ball. If you touch them, they flex their muscles and push their pointy bits at you. Today, we were lucky and found an echidna that wasn’t shy and we finally got some good photos.
Just because we had time and there happened to be the East Coast Tasmanian wine tasting room right by our hostel, we dropped in for a round of local east coast Tassie wines. I’m pretty sure we’ve never tired any of the labels on offer and had the shop virtually to ourselves – meaning we got lots of attention and the inside story on the wines. We tried 4 different Pinot Noirs that were all different, plus one nice Cab Sav. Most of the vineyards don’t have cellar doors– we are talking pretty small batches. We felt kind of lucky getting the chance to try something new and besides, we aren’t riding far and fast, right?
After dinner at the hostel, we had one last mission for the day. We strolled back down to the waterfront to watch the local colony of fairy penguins return to their burrows for the night. We arrived way early as it turns out that they don’t come back until well after dark. Luckily however, we found a place to wait where a group of five chicks were waiting as well. We got a few photos but didn’t want to get too close for fear of bothering them, or stopping their parents from returning. By the time the parents started coming back it was too dark for photos and you could hardly see them with the naked eye. We might have seen more had we hired a guide but we were pretty happy to see anything at all actually.
Tomorrow we’ll pick up the pace and ride further, all the way to St Helens. Most of the ride is along the coast and it is supposed to be full of more red rocks. I’ll get some photos but also be careful not to doddle too much so as to upset my senior editor. There is some rain forecast but we didn’t get any today until after we arrived in Bicheno so fingers crossed.