Cycle Tour of Tasmania – February 2015
Day 13 - Bicheno to St Helens - A good soaking and another puncture thrown in for good measure
|Dennis, the Tasmanian Devil. Or is it Duncan...?|
Tuesday 17 February. Not quite a queue for the bathroom but with four sharing our room it came close! Breakfast was served in the room, but before you get excited we're talking cereals and milk, plus toast. A quick inventory revealed that I still haven't bothered my spare top, spare shorts, longs or long-sleeved top, so perhaps there's scope to cut out even more weight next time!
The day started grey, and before we set off it began to drizzle, so I put on arm- and leg-warmers, a waterproof top, and to everyone else's intense amusement, Tesco plastic carrier bags over my socks and inside my shoes. With non-waterproof shoes these can keep the water out for some time. But not for an entire day.
Off we all set, into the drizzle. Within 10 minutes or so we came upon the Natureworld Wildlife Park. There were mixed feelings as to whether to visit, but I was keen (I thought it might stop raining whilst we were there, haha!) so I quickly went in and asked whether they would do a group discount. Straight away I got a reduction from $24 to $20 but even that wasn't enough to persuade the majority, so in the end only five of us stayed (still at $20) - me, Ken, Valerie, Tony and Deborah, while the rest soldiered on.
|Deborah makes a new friend|
|The rather odd Cape Barren Goose - a distant relative of other geese, despite its similar appearance|
They missed a real treat - an excellent wildlife park, with lots of Eastern Grey Kangaroos (all wondering what I'd got in my plastic bag, expecting it to be food. I can't remember what it was now, but I do know what it wasn't, and that's Kangaroo food). There was a Wombat, Bennett's Wallabies, Pademelons, lots of birds, some loose like the Cape Barren Geese, others in aviaries including Cockatoos, parakeets, doves and pheasants. There were snakes, an emu, and a magpie goose, but the highlight was to be feeding the Tasmanian Devils at 10 am.
|There had to be a Joey somewhere|
|Lowland Copperheads - venomous, potentially fatal|
|Lady Amherst's Pheasan|
The two Devils, imaginatively named Dennis and Duncan, were adolescent males, almost full grown. 34 teeth, all functioning incisors, and a bite strength stronger, pound for pound, than any other animal known to man, including the Great White Shark. They will eat anything, but seem to be particularly fond of Wallabies and road kill that absolutely stinks. Once they get their teeth into something they do not let go. Ever. They can eat a third of their bodyweight in one meal, which is like you or me eating a 50 lb steak in one go. Make that medium rare for me. They are marsupials, giving birth to around a dozen pea-sized young, which make their way to the pouch (or marsupium, to use its scientific name) where there are only four teats. The first four to grab a place are assured of shelter and sustenance. The rest perish. I was tempted to say a bit like estate agency but perhaps not!
|He ain't gonna let go ever - until he's eaten this delicious portion of possum tail|
After we'd seen everything and had a coffee, we set off again, almost two hours behind the others, into drizzle which got steadily worse and worse. Then my front tyre punctured again! We pulled in and noticed that we were being watched by a nearby Wallaby. It appears that yesterday's replacement inner tube, which had been repaired, decided to attach itself to the inside of the tyre via some of the patch adhesive, so it was on with my last spare and get going again.
|Still grey at Scamander|
On the next section the drizzle turned to torrential rain, bouncing off the road. Hence no photos of this bit, as I'm not good at photography when I'm getting a good soaking. At Scamander we stopped at a filling station / cafe and had sandwiches, custard tarts and coffee, and as we were about to set off the rain cleared away, giving us a pleasant final run in to St Helens where we soon found the Bayside Inn.
|The marina at St Helens. Not exactly Monte Carlo|
|HOLD THE FRONT PAGE! Another big scoop for the St Helens Examiner|
To say it's the biggest town on the North-East coast, there isn't an awful lot to St Helens, and I reckon it has the world's smallest marina. The hotel restaurant started serving dinner at 6 pm, and it was like the opening day of the January sales - everyone, it seems, wanted their dinner as soon as possible. I was feeling a bit under the weather, which wasn't helped by the biggest helping of chicken linguine I've ever seen. I almost needed a porter's trolley to get it from the serving hatch to the table, and much of it remained uneaten.
|Just one more James Boag's draught...|
During the meal we were entertained by several young Japanese children who were in turn entertaining themselves with one of those arcade machines with the crane and grab handle, the prizes being chocolate bars. They managed to accumulate quite a stash, but at what cost I shudder to think.
|L to R - John H, Richard, Helen. Should we have a caption competition? Submit your suggestions and I'll publish the best ones (or all of them)|
So ended our wettest day, with another 47 miles on the clock, 435 altogether.
We were concerned about the longest day - tomorrow - to Scottsdale, with some serious climbing on the way. With this in mind, when Richard got to the hotel in St Helens he set about trying to arrange for our panniers to be carried so that we could travel light. And so it was that the post man agreed to take them about half way, then put them on the bus for the rest of the way, at a total of $2 (about £1) per bag. Everyone was very happy with his efforts!