Tasmania, Land of Enchantment and Eccentricity
Between Dec 3 and 27 we were touring in Tasmania, the island state off the south coast of mainland Australia that often gets forgotten by the rest of Oz.
The Spirit of Tasmania is a large modern ferry on the Bass Strait run between the mainland and Tasmania. The Strait is considered one of the roughest bodies of water in the world, due to the long western fetch from Africa, the nearness of Antarctica and a relatively shallow bottom. We could have flown just about as cheaply, but we love long ferry crossings and weren’t about to miss Bass Strait. Our southbound crossing was a rare smooth daylight run, and we met a young Swiss couple on a long bicycle tour of a number of countries.
We found the going hilly straight away, and unfortunately the truck traffic heavy. The second day we saw our first echidna, one of Australia’s cuter marsupials, trying her best to hide that long skinny snout under a large clump of grass. After a couple of days we left the bigger hills, and log trucks, behind and turned south on the beautiful coast.
At Coles Bay we were greeted by sulfur crested cockatoo. “Hello Jim!” Everybody, including herself (yes, her) is Jim. She lives in a tree in the town square. Jim’s sex was just discovered, on a trip to the vet. Did you ever try and sex a fowl? Cockies are very raucous, and I can imagine a loud time at the vets that day.
By ringing up a local, we were able to get a tinny (small aluminum boat) ferry across a narrow inlet to saveseveral kilometres. We needed all the help we could get, because the middle chainring was slipping drastically; it was so bad that we could not get started on the slightest grade, and any uphill would trigger an awful grinding of gears and chain and, after awhile, colorful words from the captain. There would be no bicycle shops until Hobart, three days away. Fortunately I almost always carry spare middle and small chainrings, and I changed them that night. The middle chainring had been reduced to needle sharp points by the 13,000 kilometres of bulldust and road grime. The mechanic (and captain) was chagrined at having let his maintenance slide. This happens almost every trip. It is so easy to let each day come and go without checking the small things, until they go crook and demand fixing. The cog set (rear gears) was crook also and would have to be changed in Hobart.