This morning I left Strahan heading North towards Zeehan, then Roosebery, two mining towns that had known their glorious time. The first 20 km were covered very quickly because of the flat and wind-sheltered terrain. After 15 km I made a first stop to admire and explore the beautiful Henty Dunes, a series of 30m-high sugar-fine sand dunes nestled between Ocean Beach and an eucalypt forest. The contrast between this sea of sand and the forest is stunning, and reminded me the magnificent landscapes of the Lençois Maranhenses in the North of Brasil.
Unfortunately, the heavy winds and a strong shower pushed me away from the dunes. On my way back to my bike I met a very friendly young couple from Hobart who ended up giving me a big piece of delicious kangaroo lasagna for today’s lunch. I could avoid the rain on the bike until Zeehan, but had to make my way across two steep hills and mostly against headwinds (again!).For Zeehan, named after one of Abel Tasman’s ships, everything started in 1882 when a prospector discovered silver and lead on the banks of Pea Soup Creek (what an amazing name!). From then Zeehan became “Silver City” and in the early 1900’s, it was Tasmania’s third largest city with 10000 inhabitants, 27 pubs, a theatre seating 1000 people and even its own stock exchange! Nowadays all the mines have closed, and with only 500 inhabitants, the city looks a bit like a ghost town, perfect decor for a western or a film of the Dardenne brothers 😂.
The town, however, has a fantastic museum about the West Coast mining history. The museum, previously the renowned Zeehan’s School of Mines, features a world-class mineral display that every geologist in the world could admire for hours. It his quite amazing to see how all these shapes and colors are declined in the mineral world!
Outside there are a lot of stuff that an engineer loves too see: old steam locomotives, Pelton turbines, old pumps, and the original Zeehan steam driven direct current that used to produce the town’s electricity in the early times. This old marvel reminded me my courses on electric drivetrains ten years ago! 😃
Once again, I was kicked out of the museum at the closing and I continued my way towards Rosebery. Altough I had avoided the worst weather of the day thanks to the stop at the museum, I had to bike most of the time under the rain. This time however the weather was hotter and I was better prepared, wearing my rain gloves and socks since the beginning of the day. The last 30 kilometres were rather hilly but I was in excellent shape today! While pitching my tent, I met a couple travelling with their campervan whom I had already seen twice before! Pam and Peter invited me for “a tea”, that was in fact a full meal! I had brought some biscuits for the tea, and I felt a bit ridiculous, but very grateful. We had a nice discussion and I learnt that their daughter had spent one year in Belgium during a Rotary exchange. Once again, such a small world! After this excellent curry chicken, I went back to my tent and slept like a log despite the rain.