(January 10, 2021 – written by Dave)
Hard to imagine that a week ago we were cold and wet out on the northwestern coast of Tassie. Today it was hot and steamy as we crossed out of the Central Highlands and down into the River Derwent Valley. The scenery changed as well. Early on we had more classic Tassie woodland-lined roads. Near the end of the day we were riding though dry, harvested grasslands. The glare was almost hard on our sensitive eyes.
We were very entertained at Wayatinah Caravan Park last night. We had kids on the mountain bike trail behind our tent, a cricket match out on the grass in front of the tent and even a troop of older residents making their rounds of the park. Walking back from the camp kitchen a yapper dog started barking at us which prompted a woman to tell the dog to stop barking at the “not normal people”. She obviously meant that we hadn’t been around before but the being called not normal sort fit our overall experience – we were clearly not one of the recognized visitors to the park, who clearly all know each other and visit often. Still, the owners are keen and I’m sure that they will make many improvements.
We feared Sunday afternoon traffic coming off the mountains as we made our way closer to Hobart so we tried getting off early. We succeeded in making it off before 8AM and we’re pleased that arriving in New Norfolk by 1:30 gave us fairly light traffic and very few caravans. I think that is because this part of the world does not have a very big population and even fewer tourists than normal due to Covid. Whatever the reason, it was nice to not be dodging traffic this arvo.
We had a 7k climb right off the get go but it was still relatively cool. We started without leg warmers for the first time in ages. It was nice climbing in the cool of the morning. We made quick work of the climb and then enjoyed a long downhill that took us all the way Ouse where we stopped for an early morning tea. Just as we were pulling away from the shop an bikepacker from Huonville, down south, pulled up. We didn’t get his name or a photo but did pick his brains for route info for the next two days. He was most helpful.
Barely 20k past Ouse, we pulled into quaint berg of Hamilton, a village with many old stone buildings and a nice looking café. Ok, it was too soon to call it lunch but not too soon for the official morning tea. We quickly recharacterised the earlier tea as a “early morning tea”. We enjoyed tasty fruit squares and proper coffees but both us completely clutched the “photo before eating” rule, so all you get is a whoopsee.
There was a stiff climb after Hamilton and by now it was really heating up. Our minds were playing games on us now as well, as the scenery was more Eastern Oregon than it was Tassie. We know that it rained here last week, when we were getting the rains out west but clearly not as much.
We didn’t make any further stops on the way into New Norfolk where we headed across the River Derwent to the town centre and the Willow Court Antique Centre. It was recommended by a few travelers we met this week. They have a café, a hotel, several buildings of antiques and more junk than you can imagine. We had lunch at their café and contemplated the next move. Unfortunately, they had no rooms as it is fruit season and pickers have taken the rooms.
While I was out getting a few snaps of the “stuff” in the yard, Nancy did some internet searches and found a great deal on a hotel room in the Oast Inn back on the other side of the river. It was barely more than the cost of a camping site so we snapped it up and headed to the shops for dinner supplies. It’s a funky old hotel that may have been some sort of boarding house in a past life. The carpet in our room is red shag and could use a good clean, if not a mow. It was suggested that I not walk in our room without my flip-flops. I snapped the photo below showing the carpet in the hallway and our room. Both are shockers – from a by-gone era for sure. The staff is very nice though, and there is a communal kitchen so we are able to cook our own dinner.
There are some pickers here as well but it is not that busy. It wouldn’t be untrue to call the Inn a hostel but we’ll be more than happy here. It was nice to get the tent up on the clothesline and dried out and an early start is possible tomorrow to beat the heat – forecast is for even warmer temperatures as we head towards Hobart, passing over the route we took nearly a month ago – that will complete our official loop of Tassie, but not our trip. In Hobart, we are staying with friends of friends just past Hobart plus we’ll resupply there for a trip onwards to Bruny Island the following day. There’s more fun to come!