Cycle Tour of Tasmania – February 2015
Day 8 - Miena to Hamilton via Stonehenge
Thursday 12 February. Freezing cold this morning! Tasmania can be very chilly at each end of the day and very warm in the middle. Talking of the end of the day, this comes very soon for many of the locals. The evening meal is taken no later than 6 pm and by 8.30 everyone seems to have gone to bed. It takes a bit of getting used to, especially when you're accustomed to Spaniards who don't even think of starting their evening meal until 10 pm!
|Tour leader Richard leads the way out of Miena|
Although I still had some heavy fruit cake, I nipped across to the 'village' store for an egg curry (!) sandwich and some energy bars. Steve and Irene appeared, complaining that their alarm clock hadn't gone off, but I'm not sure there was any rush. Almost as soon as I set off I saw a large bird of prey. It always makes me wonder about the reliability of witnesses in court when I remember thinking "It has a very square tail" yet when I talked to Tony about it later, he said it definitely had a "wedge-shaped tail" - who was right? There's no way of knowing.
|First stop for some fruit cake|
It was still cold. I'd donned leg- and arm-warmers and was regretting the fact that I hadn't brought full finger gloves. The sky was blue and my fingers were the same colour. The road passed through some really pretty farmland and woodland, entering Steppes National Park, and I turned off at a sign saying "Steppes Sculptures" to find a kind of modern-day Stonehenge.
|The Steppes Sculptures|
As I ambled along, bringing up the rear as usual (it's a big responsibility being deputy tour leader!) a pair of Blue-winged Parrots flew across my bows, and before leaving the woodland, a Dusky Woodswallow was perched on a fence. Open farmland followed, with lots of irrigation reservoirs (one on the outskirts of Bothwell with over 40 Cormorants loafing around) and by the side of the road at one point there was an enormous dead Wombat. It was so big that for a moment I thought it must be a Grizzly Bear!
|Little Black Cormorants outside Bothwell|
In the little town of Bothwell I found that everyone else had stopped for a coffee and cake. I continued the heavy theme by having a very dense slice of banana cake. Leaving town I passed the local sports field where the entrance took the form of a fine war memorial, and I was reminded that the Australians sent troops to Korea and Vietnam as well as the two World Wars.
|The Bothwell Sports Ground with its War Memorial gates|
A pair of White-fronted Chats were a good find - very pretty - and for the rest of the afternoon I passed through very dry country, with parched fields, dead trees and sheep looking like they'd never get a square meal. Then after a final 3 km descent I arrived at today's destination of Hamilton. Our group had found another cafe on the outskirts: it turned out that Richard had been to our hotel to find it closed: the gardener told him that the owner had gone to Hobart and been delayed, so he wasn't sure when she'd get back. We hoped it wouldn't be too late!
|The dry central plateau|
The cafe had a really excellent gift shop with some exquisite wood-turned items, including a fantastic chess board and clever letter racks, all made out of local woods - Huon Pine, Myrtle and... something else.
We made it to the Hamilton Inn at the same time as our host. The Inn was built in 1826 by convicts, and certainly has character. Dinner was good too, although despite the large number of draught taps in the bar there was no draught beer! Various bits of missing plaster in the bar / dining room were disguised by the presence of decorations such as old yacht sails (or perhaps they were to catch any plaster falling off the ceiling!)
A good day all round, with another 59 miles on the clock making 214 in total. Of course tomorrow we'll have to start by going back up that long 3 km hill on the way to Hobart...