Maria Island, Paradise Prison
December ninth we took a foot ferry to Maria Island National Park. The captain remembered sailing with his family for two years along the Queensland coast before settling in Hobart. He invited us to stay with them in Hobart. Maria Island is a little paradise I reckon: native hens, Cape Barron geese, kangaroos, wallabies, paddy melons forage the campgrounds among the tents in full daylight. We sat on a small shelf of sandstone by the beach, watched the soft mauve sunset, and pied oystercatchers selecting the evening roost. After tea, we through an open wood of shaggy bark red gums under a full moon, paddy melons scattered before us, jumping into tunnels in the grass. Roos stood silhouetted against the sea. We hoped for wombat, but none came.
We were up early the next morning in hopes of seeing penguins on the rocky north shore. No luck there, but beautiful views and morning light. A meadow filled with grazing kangaroos, also brick and stone buildings, some in ruins, a cemetery with a view to sea, testimony to the prison, and convicts who lived here in the 17th century, the foundation of Australian history. The Poms sent all their undesirables to Australia to settle Terra Incognita. Some Australians will tell you the Poms still sent their worst to Australia. They certainly made something out of a very difficult place.
Bust Me Gall And The Twist
After the aptly named Bust Me Gall hill we stopped at the Barilla Caravan Park. We quickly sat up our tent and showered when we heard there was a dance that night in the lounge. There was a wagon wheel hanging from the ceiling, Christmas decorations and people in holiday dress dancing Latin, swing, fox trots and waltzes. How lucky. No matter how tiring the day, we always seem to find energy for dancing to good music. The band was two guys and the typical karaoke set up, but unlike most such bands, they were both excellent singers and entertainers. When they played the Twist, and most of the more-than-a-little overweight crowd got up to dance, I realized that these people were the same age as me. By now, I am, after all these years of touring and training for various athletic events, accustomed to being mistaken for being closer to Claire’s age than my own chronological one (credit also due to my Cherokee Native American blood). But somehow seeing all those people dancing the twist, from my high school/college era, made me realize that I really am entering the era of the pensioner/senior/oldfarthood. If I can’t hold off the graying temples any longer, at least I can hold off the fat (most of it) for a few more years, keep the heart pumping and avoid the need for Viagra. We met several couples and had a nice chat about their part of Tasmania. The Western U.S. décor, the Christmas decorations, the music and the people, could have all been just as well in Montana or Calgary as Tasmania. We Westerners are more alike than different. The Aussie accent has all but disappeared for me, unless I am listening for it, and I reckon that lets me listen more closely to what they are saying. Another wonderful evening with more friendly Aussies.
Family Fix In Hobart
Richard, Catherine (Catt), and children Amelia and Lachlan (Lockie) welcomed us to their Battery Point home for our stay in Hobart. We had a wonderful apartment complete with kitchen and bath and view of the bay. We took some meals with them and kept each other up late talking bicycle touring and sailboat cruising. Their two years of cruising the east coast of Australia with Amelia, Lockie was born in Hobart, are very important memories. They are into the child rearing years now and have sold their sailboat, but I reckon they will be back under sail someday. Claire asked lots of questions about sailing and cruising. Hmmmm. We’ve been told our long experience with being together in small spaces, a tent and a tandem, is valuable experience for cruising.
One day Catherine drove us up to Mount Wellington for the fantastic views over the city and bay. The city had been warm, but it was spitting rain and cold on the summit. All the plants were ground hugging in the relentless winds that bring the southern ocean weather; the mountain hovers protectively over Hobart, giving protection from all but the most severe weather. We enjoyed he city. It is just the right size for having all the necessaries, many of the best amenities of larger cities, and still has a bit of the feel of a small town. Found a small bike shop where they special ordered new chain rings for Zippy and helped me install them on the spot, putting off other work for us.
On the bike trail out of town, two riders recognized us from the newspaper article, and another when we arrived in Richmond. After an unloaded afternoon ride to some wineries, we got back to the caravan park we found Nicole and Toby, the Swiss couple we had met on the southbound ferry, and a Dutch couple just finishing their short bike tour of Tasmania. We had a long visit in the camp kitchen talking past and future tours.