Today (29th of January) was my last biking day before reaching Hobart. It is an important milestone in the trip since it is the capital of Tasmania and since I had set a goal to be there before the 30th of January since a few days. Afterwards, there are many possibilities and only two constraints:
- The first one is my booking to hike the Overland Track, Tasmania’s most famous multi-day hike (5-7 days). I have to be at Craddle Mountain on the 20th of February to start the hike on the 21st.
- The second one is the ferry back to Melbourne. I must be in Devonport on the 2nd of March at 6:30 PM
Approaching a big city on a bike is never an easy thing. Starting from Dunalley I tried to avoid as much as possible the main roads, which made the journey much longer. I had lunch at Dodges Ferry near a nice playground. I am always impressed by the quality of Australian public infrastructure: in nearly every village, you have free clean public toilets, playgrounds, tables and benches, and even public electrical barbecues. This last one is a fantastic idea, because it brings people out of their home to cook in public place, hence meeting other persons in the village they live in. I am sure that it helps a lot to reinforce social ties between people.
Approaching Hobart, the landscape becomes more rural again. I had a quick stop to buy some delicious cherries and talked with a German couple who finally gave me two fresh oysters. Then I took a small road passing through Richmond, a very pretty village from the 19th century that seems untouched since then. The bridge, built in 1825, is Australia’s oldest bridge still in use. Many old sandstone buildings make it a lovely place, the church is really nice too!
After passing Richmond I had a long but gentle climb on Grasstree Hill, and then a fast downhill to Risdon Vale. This city hosts a prison where the today’s convict are kept. For sure their living conditions are much better than 200 years ago!
On my way to Richmond I got the confirmation that Pete and Mary, whom I met on my first day at Narawntapu National Park, kindly accepted to host me at their home in Howrah, on the East bank of the Derwent River, facing Hobart, which is on the West bank. The road between Risdon and Tasman Bridge (which is the main entry point to Hobart when you come from the East bank of Derwent River) was probably the less enjoyable of all the roads I biked on so far in Tasmania: quite a lot of trafic and for the first time since Melbourne, a bit of air pollution. Hopefully it got better and I could finally reach Pete & Mary’s place without problem.
It is a fantastic feeling when you are travelling that far away from home with your bicycle and tent to see familiar faces and be warmly welcomed. For the first time since I arrived I felt like if I was home. It is not just the fact that I had a real bed in my own room, a hot shower and a delicious meal (Mary is an excellent cook). Most of all, it is the feeling that you are being welcomed as part of the family, and this is priceless when doing such a journey. Thank you so much Mary and Pete for your fantastic hospitality, and all the conversations that we could have during these two days! I even got a new nickname: the lean mean biking machine 😀
In the evening I also phoned Mark in order to plan our mountainbike ride. We are not sure that we will be able do do it because stormy winds are forecasted for tonight and tomorrow. However, by chance, Mark is also staying in Howrah for the moment, only 3 km away from where I am! This will make thinks much more easier!