(December 26 2020 – written by Dave)
Happy Boxing Day everyone. We had a nice, quiet Christmas in Evandale. Nothing was open so we just stayed “home”, relaxed and enjoyed a lovely Australian summer day – not too hot, not too cool and not much to worry about. Perfect way to relax after our day out climbing Jacob’s Ladder yesterday.
We had a fairly short day planned today and we wanted to hit the bakery on the way out of town so we got to extend the “chill” and have a lie in this morning. We made it to the bakery about 9AM. They are supposed to open at 8 but sadly at 9, there was no sign of life. I guess we missed the sign about them being closed for Boxing Day. Dang.
For those wondering, Boxing Day is the day after Christmas and typically celebrated in Commonwealth countries. The name comes from a time when the rich used to box up gifts to give to the poor. Boxing Day was traditionally a day off for servants, and the day when they received a special Christmas box from their masters. The servants would also go home on Boxing Day to give Christmas boxes to their families. Contrary to what I used to think, it has nothing to do with the Boxer Rebellion – the anti- imperialist uprising in China.
Once we worked out that the Bakery wasn’t open and checked every corner of our house, we managed to be on the road by 9:30. It really is hard to get all the bags repacked after a break – things seem to explode in every direction when unpacking and getting a few days in the same location.
We’d ridden all of about 5k when we had our first stop of the day. We came across two echidnas on our side of the road, just a little bit apart. Nancy was in front and stopped at the furthest one, I stopped at the rear one. This time I was able to position myself in between my quarry and the roadside fence. We sat for a good 15 minutes hoping for a face shot. But it was not to be, for every time my guy poked up even an inch he would see me and duck back into a ball. I think it would have gone all day that way so eventually I gave up and let him go on with his days without further bother. Nancy had basically the same result, though her guy was more clever having ducked inside a roadside drain pipe.
We mapped a route today using Komoot and for some reason, after the echidnas, we got routed onto the M1 – as in Motorway 1. It had a nice shoulder but it was very busy with weekend traffic. I’ve included a photo of the motorway just for reference. Yup, one lane in each direction and no centre barrier passes for a motorway in Tasmania. After about 5k of the motorway, Nancy dug out the phone and rerouted us onto the Meander Valley Highway. It more or less paralleled the motorway, had a lower speed limit and very little traffic – much better.
Riding the motorway was not a complete loss however. A couple K in, I spotted my first Tassie license plate – not connected to a vehicle that is. Nancy, somehow, rode right passed it – either she didn’t see it or didn’t think we needed to collect any more junk. Anyway, I stopped and tied the plate to my bag. I’ll probably have to carry it now until next week until I can find an open post office to mail it home.
We rode the Meander Valley Highway for another 25k before reaching the small berg of Westbury. For the record, the Meander Valley Highway travels pretty straight, not meandering at all, go figure. We didn’t pack any lunch today because it was supposed to be a shorter day. But with the late start, the echidnas and the re-routing, it was getting past noon and we were feeling a bit peckish. We pulled up at a coffee van in Westbury where we got coffees plus a ham and cheese toastie. I took advantage of the break to remove the extra bits from my license plate so as to make it fit better in my bag.
Just after Westbury we met a touring cyclist, Geoff originally from France, heading the other direction. He pulled over to our side of the road and we had a great chat and exchanged route tips. He is on nearly our same route in reverse so we had lots to share. He lives in Perth, WA now but is originally from Brittany in France. Earlier in the day we’d ridden through Perth, Tasmania and he was headed generally in that direction himself – just to confuse things a little.
We finally made it to Deloraine about 2PM. The four days after here there are no stores so today was a big shop for supplies. So we got a room so that we could get everything organized. There are a couple hotels that rent rooms – we’ve ended up in the Deloraine Hotel. They upgraded us to an ensuite room but I don’t think we really got much of a bargain. Oh well, there is some rain forecast and the room is nice, I’m sure that I scored a few points for future use no doubt. Right Nancy? (Senior Editor’s note – just a little off the payback that is owed for that run up Jacob’s Ladder, right Dave?)
Deloraine is a surprisingly cute little town. The main street is lined with cafes and a couple hotels, plus there is a nice park and river right through the middle of town. Over the past twenty years they’ve tried to make the town more interesting by putting up small, whimsical statues along Main Street. There must be more than 30 of them, all by different artists. They are uniform in humour and also uniform in look – the latter coming from their construction – carved from polystyrene and then sand-cast in aluminium. We had fun walking the street and checking them out.
Tomorrow we have a slightly shorter ride than today, but more than twice the climbing. We are heading towards Cradle Mountain which means uphill for a couple days. The day after tomorrow is even shorter, and yes, it has even more climbing. Yes, I picked the perfect time to pick-up a roadside license plate, plus all the extra food for four days. Oh well, Nancy’s bags are not too full and she is strong. Maybe when she’s not looking, I can slip some things into her bags (no wait, she’ll proofread this later – why did I write that?) (Senior Editor’s note – classic Dave, can’t stop talking until he gets himself in trouble).
We should get a blog out tomorrow, but maybe not for a few days after that. We don’t know what the mobile signal will be like as we reach the wilderness….