At 8 PM on the 15th of January, I boarded on the ferry “Spirit of Tasmania” in order to cross the Bass Strait between mainland Australia and Tasmania. I managed to sleep a decent 6 hours in my recliner seat. I have always slept well in ferries, mainly when the sea is agitated.
At 6 AM on the 16th of January we arrived in Devonport, Tasmania.
I took a quick breakfast, made a not so quick reorganisation of my gear (again), went to the tourism office to by my 2-month National Parks Pass and then to the supermarket. The city of Devonport is not particularly appealing.
Finally I a m ready to start! En selle!
During the first kilometres i realise how heavy the bike is (probably a little above 40kgs). Riding a loaded bike is totally different: you have much more inertia, much less maniability, and at certain speeds the front wheel is wobbling. As soon as the road is going up, you feel like a snail (escargot), whereas in the downhills you fly (max speed so far is 64 km/h). It is important to anticipate as much as possible the dangers of the road, and to manage properly your stamina. When you know that you will be biking during 5 months, it makes no sense to push harder to reach the top of a hill a bit earlier. In fact, bike touring is a very contemplative way of travel: you don’t do short-term efforts, you should never be out of breath, just enjoy the landscape moving around you at an average speed of 15 to 20 km/h.
During this first day the route was rather hilly, but without big long climbs. I got a very sunny and windy weather. First the landscape is rural (with many poppy fields, is Tasmania exporting opium? :-p), then for the second part of the day it is more forests of pine trees and eucalyptus. I caught a cold in the ferry, but no doubt that with all this eucalyptus fragrance it will be quickly fixed 😉
After passing the rubicon river (like Julius Caesar, what a symbol), I arrived to the national park and found a lovely campground near the sea. On my way to the campground I saw my first wallaby!
The pitching of the tent was a pain in the ass because it was the first time I pitch this tent, and I was alone, and there was a lot of wind. Finally I got everything set up and went for a hike towards a bird watching point on the shore of a lake. The national park is really beautiful and the wildlife is very rich.
I was then invited by my “neighbours” Pete, Mary, Tom & Sally for a glass of wine, a cup of tea and delicious home made brownie. They were so kind with me and we had a very enjoyable chat about Belgium, Tasmania, Australia, true love and even the electricity sector. (They suggested me to tell Elia that I was in fact doing a proffessional travel so that i could get refunded. Not sure they would agree :-p)
Meeting such nice people during this kind of journey is unvaluable. It changes totally how you experience things. I hope that I will meet them again when I will be in Hobart in a week or two! Thanks a lot to the four of you for your kindness and all the good advices!