The main reason why I came to Mole Creek was not to see beautiful countryside: the area hosts a whole range of underground caves, more or less easy to visit. Since I had not much time ahead of me and speleology does not attract me at all (I am a bit claustrophobic…), I decided to visit a “tourist cave” as speleologists name them, Marakoopa cave. The guided visit was really nice. I learned a lot about the very special fauna living in caves and the excellent lighting helped to highlight the beautiful cave formations, natural artworks created very slowly by little water drops eroding the calcite rock.
In some rooms of the cave I could see glowworms. These animals are in fact larvae of a specific type of fly. They put themselves on the ceiling of the cave above a water stream and feed with little insects that they attract with the light they produce. These nice little lights that make the cave look like a starry sky are in fact the result of the combustion of the gases produced by the digestion of the glowworm. Knowing that makes the whole stuff a bit less poetic, isn’t it? 😋 Another interesting host of these caves is the Tasmanian cave spider. This spider spins a large horizontal sheet web, around one metre across, to catch its main prey, cave crickets. The male’s second pair of legs has a special notch which he uses to restrain the female while mating, to avoid that the female eats him after mating (one needs a lot of energy to hatch all these eggs 😏).
After this cave visit in the morning, I went back to my campsite to pick up my panniers and headed to Chudleigh, another nice rural village. There, I had a long gourmet and cultural stop to the local honey farm.
I learned a lot about the fantastic world of bees and could taste a broad range of honeys. Because of the flora very different to Europe, I could enjoy mostly unknown honeys! Unfortunately, I could not buy a pot for the rest of my travels because New Zealand has very rigid biosecurity rules, and is the only country in the world to forbid any honey import. At least I could buy a pot to offer to Karel and Marketa, the Czech guys I had met in Derwent Bridge. Indeed, they had kindly offered me to stay at there place for the night I would spend in Melbourne before continuing my bike trip to Tasmania. Oh, and I also enjoyed a delicious honey and macadamia ice cream, which was just perfect with today’s very hot weather (more than 30 degrees!)
Afterwards, I was supposed to have an easy ride through nice countryside towards Railton. Well, it seems that honey has a negative impact on my navigation skills: I made a few mistakes in a row and instead of biking 69 km, I ended up the day with 85 km, the extra 16 km being an infamous succession of steep climbs and downhills mainly in gravel roads. If I wanted to make the day harder, I could not have done a better job. Fortunately my legs accepted the extra effort without any problem, and this even allowed me to see some beautiful flowers!
I arrived quite late at the free campsite behind the local pub, where I ordered a meal for tonight. This was probably the only campsite in Tasmania where I saw only foreigners: one half of the campsite was speaking French and the other Italian. The campsite was quite noisy until late and for once I did not sleep that well in my dear little tent.