Cycle Tour of Tasmania – February 2015
My room mate, Ken, is a touch on the deaf side. This came as a relief when someone rang me at 3.20 pm. Because this was 3.20 pm UK time, therefore 2.20 am Tasmania time. I scrabbled to turn it off without answering (it was a sales call anyhow!) and was about to apologise to Ken for the rude awakening when I realised he was still sleeping soundly. Jet lag doesn't seem to apply after travelling west-east and I quickly dozed off again.
|Deborah finishes re-assembling her Hewitt while the neighbours look on approvingly|
Getting up at around 7.30, it seemed amazing that it was Friday already, having left the UK so recently - on Tuesday. Talk at breakfast was of folks going into town to visit the bike shop, but encouraged by my brief outing to Mersey Bluff yesterday afternoon, I thought I'd saunter around the headland and then head back along the creek, doing a bit of bird-watching and generally being lazy.
Setting off alone after applying Factor 50 (in deference to the depleted ozone layer down here), I followed the coast path, looking at birds which were all new to me - Galahs, Masked Lapwings, Small Wattlebirds (not very small but very noisy), Silver Gulls (like our Black-headed Gulls but with white heads), then through mixed woodland, where the narrow trunks of the trees were densely packed and quite spectacular in their own way.
|The path winds through densely packed trees|
|A passenger train runs on the hour|
A few little birds appeared, like native Silvereyes, Grey Fantails, plus some which had obviously been introduced - Blackbirds, Starlings, Sparrows, Greenfinches and Goldfinches. Past the car park at Coles Beach, over the narrow-gauge railway track and into more mature eucalyptus woodland with a Grey Butcher-bird and then the distinctive (and loud) call of a Laughing Kookaburra. It felt very Australian. A Beautiful Firetail (grey and scarlet finch) tried to hide in the higher branches of a path-side bush.
Behind the Aquatic Centre a wooden footbridge (Sawdust Bridge) took me over a small tidal creek where a second view of a large log revealed no crocodile-surprises (I don't think there are any crocs in Tassie).
Re-entering the outskirts of town a massive, noisy bird in the top of a tree in someone's garden turned out to be a Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoo.
|The railway museum|
I turned towards the railway museum and said 'Hello' to a man in a pickup truck. He said he was the famous 'Bo' the clown (meant nothing to me), and when I told him I was from Lancashire in the UK he said "Well you won't be goin' 'ome mate" - apparently because I would like Devonport so much that - like him - I would settle down there. I suggested that Mrs Honeywell might have something to say about that, but it didn't seem to register.
Nothing to eat at the railway museum so I set off back towards the Aquatic Centre to rejoin my outward route. A Superb Fairy Wren bobbed about and looked stunning, with a head of Kingfisher blue and black. Two or three miles later I was back at Mersey Bluff and called at the Surf Club for a bite to eat. Ordering the Brekkie Burger was perhaps a mistake, as the huge bread roll, two eggs and multiple rashers of bacon dripping fat everywhere was rather more than I'd bargained for. As I ate it I sat watching the Silver Gulls sorting out their pecking order - literally - with one dominant bird keeping all others away in anticipation of me giving up on the Brekkie Burger before I could finish it. He was neither wrong nor disappointed.
|Rainbow Lorikeet - an invasive species native to NE Australia|
Back at the Sunrise Comfort Motel, John Hartigan was still waiting for his bike to arrive. He'd travelled from his home in Omaha, Nebraska, where he is a retired judge, and unfortunately the bike hadn't been able to keep up with him. He was sceptical of the promises he kept receiving as he rang the airline, but around 4 pm it finally arrived by taxi from the airport, to his great relief.
This time our evening meal was at the Devonport Croquet Club (I'm sure we'll find a proper restaurant some time!), and on our return we looked for the Southern Cross and found it (I think).
Tomorrow, Saturday, will be a gentle re-introduction to the art of cycling - upside-down of courese - so we all turned in early to get some sleep ready for the off.
If you've any comments to make or questions to ask, feel free to add a comment at the end of this blog, and also feel free to share it with your friends. It gets more interesting once the cycling starts!