Difficult ride uphill
On the 2nd of January, we said goodbye to our Hungarian hosts and continued our trip to the east coast. In the evening, we had a big hill to climb in the Mt. Victoria National Park. It was a gravel road and pretty steep at times. It started to drizzle. When we got to the top of the pass, it was already dark and we were wet, but luckily there was a shelter, so we put up our tent under there and went to sleep.
Mt. Victoria National Park
In the morning, we went down to the Ralph’s waterfall. The waterfall itself wasn’t very interesting, there was only a thin ribbon of water falling down a rocky wall, but the walk to the waterfall was fantastic. We walked there through a rain forest full of fern trees. All the vegetation and fallen decaying trees were covered by damp moss. We felt like in primeval times. Then, we continued on gravel to another waterfall, St. Columba Falls, the access to which was also through a beautiful rain forest. After that, we rode down to the valley and tasted locally made cheddar cheese in the village of Pyengana.
Meeting a man with the Czech passport
As we were riding along the coast, all of sudden, a car pulled over and the guy from the car came to us waving with his Czech passport. He had seen our Czech flag, which was hanging at the end of my bike. With his pidgin Czech, he told us his story how they fled with his parents and his brother from the Communistic Czechoslovakia when he was three and later settled in Burnie on the north coast of Tasmania. We gave him our expedition sticker, which he later gave to his father, who contacted us and invited us to Burnie.
Missing Freycinet National Park
We wanted to cycle to this gorgeous peninsula on the east coast, which was supposed to be like Bahamas and then take a little ferry across the river and continue southwards. In the visitor centre at Bicheno, a coastal town before Freycinet, we were told, that most likely, the little ferry taking bikes across the river was no longer operating, which meant that we would have to return from the national park on the same road quite a long way. That was why we decided not to pedal all the extra kilometers and miss this place. Later, when we were already quite far from the national park, we learned that the ferry was operating, which made us very sad and disappointed. We couldn’t go back. Please, don’t rely on information from the visitor centers and double check what they tell you.
Tasmania has got beautiful coastline and beaches. We have seen famous geological formations named Devil’s Kitchen, Tasman Arch, Blowhole and Remarkable cave. They all were created by constant wave clash against the rocky coast. Blowholes are quite common in Australia. The wave erosion has created underground channels. The water swells rush in with great noise and blow up like geysers.
We went for one day walk close to the Remarkable cave, which was named remarkable because the opening of the cave had the shape of Tasmania. Isn’t it remarkable? We climbed Mt. Brown on the way, where was a spectacular view over the southern tip of the peninsula with its rugged cliffs and a little island with a lighthouse. Then, we walked down to Crescent Bay, maybe the most beautiful Tasman beach with 40 m high sand dunes. Since there was no easy access, there wasn’t anybody. It really looked like paradise there. There were a couple of tiger snakes on the path along the coast. Tasmanian tiger snakes are black. There are only three kinds of snakes in Tasmania, all venomous and the distribution of them is much denser than on the mainland.
We couldn’t miss this little historic town, where all the convicts used to be brought. There are remnants of the jails, the commandants’ offices, the church and other buildings. It is an impressive site and you can learn about the life and fate of the convicts in a very proficiently made adjacent museum.
On the way to Hobart, I had four punctures, what a bad luck that day. Hobart is relatively small and pretty town on the foothill of the dominant Mt. Wellington (1270 m). We spent two nights there at Stuart and Rosie’s house. We had met this nice couple on the ferry. They did a lot of cycling with panniers in Europe a few years ago, so we had a lot to talk about. They lived on the best spot in Hobart with a great view of the city and the sea. We also visited the city museum, where we saw an old short film with Tasmanian Tiger, which was declared extinct in 1936. They had all been killed by the farmers. It was a carnivorous marsupial of the size of a dog with black bands on the back.
From Hobart back to the north via central plateau
Riding north from Hobart was quite difficult. We had to climb up the central plateau. The weather was very weird one day – cold in the morning, then tropically hot, and then it cooled down again in the afternoon and during the night it was almost freezing, only 4 degrees on the plateau. We saw a bushfire that day. Actually, we didn’t see the fire, only huge smoke coming from behind the first small hills, very close to the road we were riding on. We had to cycle through the smoke. There were four bushfires that day on the island. On the top of the plateau, there is a big lake called Great Lake. The water plant built on the lake provides 48% of all Tasmanian energy. The scenery was similar to the Nullarbor Plain and when we got down the valley on the northern side, the landscape was very picturesque reminding me of the Slovakian mountains, but only at the first sight. We tried the local honey with various flavors and visited Marakoopa Cave near Mole Creek, which was interesting for the occurrence of “glow worms” that lived on the cave ceiling and looked like stars in the night sky when the guide turned the light off.
These mountains attract the attention of thousands of tourists every year. It is a beautiful mountain range with the dominant rocky Cradle Mountain reflecting in the Dove Lake below. There are several walking trails, one is around the Dove Lake with the remnants of the rain forest, another is up the Cradle Mountain and yet another take about a week and goes across the whole range. We had marvelous weather for our one-day trip up the Cradle Mountain and we didn’t walk alone. We met Catherine and Lachlan, a young couple, which worked at the local chateau. They had a day off, so we joined them for the trip. On the way back to their place, where we stayed for three nights, something extraordinary happened as the sun was setting. We saw a quoll first, a cute brown animal with white spots, something between a cat and a fox. We watched it licking its paws and tummy. A while after, we saw a wombat trundling across the road. We scared the poor thing. I couldn’t believe how fast this clumsy animal could run. And this was not all. A few moments later, there was a devil running by the road. We saw all the three animals that are so difficult to spot in the wild within a only couple of minutes. Awesome!
We accepted the invitation to Burnie from Vlastik Skvaril and spent two nights there. Vlastik is an exceptional person. He started to run at the age of 57 and now when he is 68, he has made several unbelievable projects. He has run around Tasmania and then from Hobart to Cape York, which is the northernmost tip of Australia. The distance was over 5,500 km and he ran 3 month without a break, 60 km every day on average. He even took his treadmill on the ferry from Tasmania to the mainland and ran while on water. We admired his energy level and enthusiasm. Next year, he wants to run from the westernmost point of Australia to the easternmost, through the centre of the continent. Incredible!
Vlastik took us for a walk near Burnie to watch platypuses. We were lucky to see two of them for a brief moment.
We have spent three unforgettable weeks in Tasmania and cycled about 1,200 km. Then, we returned to Melbourne and continued along the southeast coast to Snowy Mountains, Canberra and Sydney.