Now that I have I finished the west coast, I want to see what the east coast of Tasmania has to offer. Lots of water, it turns out. I mainly follow the coast road which offers beautiful views of the ocean. But if you think it’s flat for cycling, think again. Nothing in Tasmania is flat. The coastal road undulates up and down and if you drive a little bit inland, there’s always a big hill waiting for you.
There is one busy highway and I try to avoid it as much as possible, but sometimes there’s no way around it. On that highway it’s busy, too busy. It's summer and everyone is going on trips. But when I leave the main road, it's wonderful. Moreover, there are only a handful of tourists and that quiet feels good.
I climb from the coast to the Wielangta forrest. Massive climbing over a stony gravel road with regular views on the bays below. Intense but definitely worth it.
I take a ferry to Maria Island (pronounced Me-raa-ja). This is definitely paradise for cyclists. No cars are allowed to come here, it's full of animals (wombats, Tasmanian devils, possums, wallabies, pademelons ...), there are picturesque blue bays and white beaches without a living soul, you ride through ancient forests and camping costs almost nothing (or a paltry contribution). I enjoyed it big time.
Another must see is Freycinet National Park. You do need courage to ride all the way up there and then back the same way. I don’t really like doing that, but I'm glad I made an exception. If you want to camp in the national park, you have to apply for it months in advance and hope that you will be chosen. But the advantage as a cyclist is that they always keep some spots for hikers or cyclists. It costs almost nothing and -in this case- it was a very idyllic spot along a creek that flowed into the sea, with excellent views of the Hazards (the mountain range there).
From here I go inland again (climbing, climbing, climbing) and sleep overnight at Lake Leake. The next day I climb a little further and then suddenly the lights go out...
Done. Finished. I’m so tired. When I think of my plan for the next few days I'd rather cry than laugh. I suddenly feel so tired. Not my body, which is in top condition, but my head. I can’t charge myself anymore to make my full circle of Tasmania. And I'm so close... (still cycled 1268 km here)
I decide to listen to the alarm that goes off and take the bus to Launceston. I rest for two days and then decide ... to rent a car for the remaining days. A nice big SUV that has room for Barry so I can still cycle here and there.
And so I am now cruising on those roads I'd rather not cycle on. And I can still see those beautiful things which I would have let pass otherwise.
Barry is neatly packed in a box and travelling at this very moment through Launceston airport on his way to the airplane. I have plenty of time at the gate (this is really a very small airport!) and I have some time to reflect on my past 114 days in Australia. (Almost 4 months)
I started in Perth (with a cold) and I made my way down through the Munda Biddi trail to Albany. 1049 km of mountain bike trails through the woods with a detour along the coast. A trail where Barry had to give his best. He broke his chain and only yesterday it showed that he also has a broken spoke. (Although the actual fracture probably only happened recently, otherwise I would have noticed)
Back in Perth I flew to Melbourne which I would pass through four times over the course of three months. A sort of hub from which I started cycling.
First to the Victorian Alps & Snowy Mountains and on the Barry Way to Jindabyne. 665 km, a lot of which through my beloved mountains.
Then to The Grampians and the Great Ocean Road. The best of mountain and sea combined in 282 km.
The ferry took me to Tasmania. I had heard a lot of enthusiastic stories, but also some negative ones about this part of Australia. I think my experience is somewhere in the middle but still tilted to the upside. Tasmania has everything: lush green rainforest, mountains and al lot of uphill cycling, white sands, blue ocean, small towns and medium cities. After 1283 km, I feel like I've had it here.
And then I haven’t mentioned the people yet. Besides that one time a woman wouldn’t refill my drinking bottles with water, I have not had a single negative experience. I noticed that the Aussies have a big mouth and are very proud of their country (sometimes a bit too much), they love to chat and help you wherever they can.
I deeply enjoyed this huge big country. I spent a lot of money. (Unfortunately gone a bit over my budget but I will make up for that in the following countries). I'm going to miss my favorite cookies (shortbread cookies). I’m very good at driving on the lefthand side. It was so easy, a country where everybody understands you...
But it's time for something else. I’m looking forward to that!