Era 2, May 17

I should talk about water here. Not drinking water, but the white stuff churned up by boats that flows delicately along the side of the hull, and maelstroms at the stern. It fascinates me. I can spend hours staring down at it. I’ve often caught the famous Manly Ferry and spent the entire trip looking down at the wake. Now, many people have bizarre fascinations. With some, it’s cars, others are fascinated by animals. Unfortunately, my fascination can only be realised when I’m on a slow moving boat. It’s not white water in the canoeing sense: I’ve stood and looked at furious streams for minutes on end with what borders on an almost complete lack of fascination at the bubbling stream. Niagara Falls bored me after a while. Yet I will stare at a boat’s wake for hours. Which makes it just a little embarrassing when I am showing people my video of the trip and have to fast forward over the endless show of froth emanating from all sides of the vessel. It’s easier to skip over it than try to explain. I remember when we as family emigrated to Australia in 1972, that I would spend hours looking over the side of P&O’s Oronsay at the white water below. Maybe this is where my fascination started, I have no idea. All I know is that I will happily stare mindlessly at a white water wake for hours while people around me do what people on boats do. Unfortunately, I’ve never stopped staring at the water long enough to find out what that is. But I do know that when my staring is over, I am relaxed and things are right with the world. At least with the boaty world that I am at that point immersed in.

Today was going to be exciting. My first day in a new world. Well, a new state, but it was a new world to me. As with all exciting days, I awoke before my alarm. And then had to wrestle with the dilemma of “Do I really want to get up and enjoy it all, or is my bed just too warm and toasty?” Unfortunately, the dreaded PA put an end to that dilemma, as it too decided to get up before my alarm. Proudly announcing that it was 5.30am and that we would be docking shortly, I was then issued with all sorts of instructions which I dutifully ignored as I squeezed into my cupboard to find the hot tap. In any case, I’m sure that if I needed instruction as to how to get off, my faithful usher would delight in pointing me in whichever direction he had pointed the least amount of people that morning. Venturing outside to watch, we proceeded gracefully into port. At least I think it was port. The sun wasn’t yet up so I guessed the captain knew what he was doing. He’d probably done it before and in any event, I’m sure he has a string of ushers in his wheelhouse all pointing him in any direction they fancied.

My friend the PA then visited me once again, instructing me to get to my vehicle, along with every other vehicle owner. By now, I was a past master at lugging my bags. I untucked them and we ventured below.

There is an art to packing my bike. And I have done it so often I tend to forget that to other people it is fascinating. There I stood in the belly of this water-churning beast, surrounded by my bags that I had dumped at the foot of by bike, and I was aware of a crowd. I thought the orange overalled brigade had come to scoff at my unlocked vehicle, but not an overall or a scoff was to be seen. I guess when you are off on holiday or returning from one, and you’re stuck in a floating garage with a bozillion other like minded folk, all comparing caravans and other forms of portable accommodation, the sight of a lunatic with more bags than sense, preparing to mount them on this most unstable of machines has the capacity for providing a light hearted form of morning’s entertainment. Either that or everyone was just bored. I like to think it was the former, but logic tells me it was the latter. Either way, 5.30am is not the time to be looking for stimulating entertainment. A lunatic bag-toting bikie will do. Unfortunately, I hadn’t counted on the fact that while the ferry folk were happy to tie my machine down, I was now struck by the complete absence of anyone remotely able to untie it for me. So with the supreme confidence of someone who not only knows how to pack 18 bags on a motorcycle, but also is a past master at untying it, I approached the straps. Seemed logical enough. A ratchet on each strap, joined across the handlebars, each end attached to the floor; it’s not rocket science. I loosened the handlebar straps and leant into the first strap. Ratchet released, strap comes off. Damn I’m good. “Nothing to this.” I told myself brazenly. “Who needs orange overalls.” I swaggered again to the second strap, released it from the handlebars and prepared to undo the ratchet. Now, at this point, I really wish someone had told me that to tie the bike down meant compressing the front shock absorbers as if they were running over a mammoth pothole at 180km/h. Had I looked at the bike, I would have realised that it was in fact pointing down at the ground most severely. And that could only mean one thing. The forks are compressed, so when you release the ratchet, they are probably going to want to bounce back to where they should be and they would probably want to do this in the shortest possible time. Rather as if they had been holding their breath all night and were just waiting to expel air as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see this. Maybe my swagger was in the way. I know that if my usher was there, he would have cheerily pointed this fact out to me as he was happily sending people in no particular direction whatsoever. Alas, no usher, no overalls and no idea: a bad combination at 5.30 in the morning when you are on a boat, surrounded by onlookers wanting some early morning amusement.

Back to the ratchet. Thinking of nothing in particular (I don’t think well in the am) I released the clasp. What happened next is still something of a blur. All I know is I was suddenly standing up, I was panting, my bike’s front end had just bounced and I could have sworn it did a wheelie without me on it, such was the release of pressure. The ratchet strap was almost smoking it had slid through the clip so fast, and while I’m sure it wasn’t me who screamed out in sudden panic, I’m yet to find who it was. But it’s remarkable that there was someone very nearby whose voice was strikingly similar to mine. I’m sure it was the revenge of the child eater from yesterday. I felt like I had just tripped over in the middle of the road, and had to look like I meant to. You know that feeling: you feel so incredibly stupid, but your ego says “Hey. That was cool. Act like you meant it and no one will ever know.” So I did. And while I thought they didn’t, I have a feeling that they did. I had just been made a complete bumbling fool by a length of nylon and a metal clamp. I promised never to swagger again.

That done, I proceeded to load my bags. By now, everything else that I was planning to do had paled into insignificance. The crowd dissipated and I was left to pack alone. I sheepishly awaited instruction and duly disembarked via an endless string of ushers and overalls.

Devonport. Cold. The two words will forever be inextricably linked. In fact, I have since discovered that if you took all the letters that spell “Devonport” and mix them up, and then added a couple and took some others out, it spells “Cold.” The synergy involved in that thought kept me amused for hours.

Cold. I needed petrol before heading off. I tried the freeway, thinking that a roadhouse would be the go. Nope. Cold. Retreat to the town. After much searching, I found a servo, just as the sun was coming up. Not that one thing has anything to do with the other, but seemed worth noting. Heading back to the freeway, I rounded a corner and was struck by the most stunning sunrise I had ever seen. Now, I should add that I haven’t actually seen that many, but this one was up there with the other two.  Should also add  that it took me about 25 minutes to find this servo, and I discovered when I returned to Devonport 5 days later that I had actually passed four on my way into town, right next to the ferry. I’ll just blame it on the cold.

Heads I turn left, Tails I turn right. I dropped the coin and couldn’t pick it up, so I guessed and turned left. My journey had begun.

I have a book. An atlas of some description that is designed for us, the most lowly people on the planet. We, the unfortunate few who have, in our infinite wisdom, decided that we would be happier on two wheels instead of the required four. This book lists 50 of the best roads in the country for motorcycling; whether they be fast and straight, very well surfaced, twisty and tight so you can pretend you are Wayne Gardner or Rossi, or just roads that are fun to be on. You see on a motorcycle, it’s not about the destination. It is purely and simply about the journey. Being so much a part of the elements, you cannot help but become a part of the road that you are on. Whether it’s joyfully receiving a choice selection of bugs either in your teeth or disintegrating with an extraordinarily loud noise and startling splatter just centimetres from your face if you have your visor down, you can’t help but be physically involved in all that is around and passing you. And I guarantee that regardless of the bugs’ sizes, you will never see them coming. You become a barometer, knowing which clouds are most likely to generate rain and therefore wet your socks, or where the sun is most likely to be around the next three corners. You can also tell when you are passing water. Now that may sound easy if you consider that statement in the medical sense, but I am talking purely in the physical. You may not be able to see it but if you travel over a creek, however small it may be, and however fast you may be travelling, you will notice the temperature drop several degrees. Birds are the enemy. They sit in the middle of the road, pecking at an ex piece of wildlife, and you have to guess which they are going to jump, so you become an expert on random bird behaviour. You see, in a car, all these things do not matter. You hit a bug, you have wipers. Your climate control removes you from all things temperature related outside. You only know you are passing a creek when you pass the sign that says “You are passing a creek and this is its name.” And if you are unfortunate enough to strike an animal, possum or any other furry dude, you buy a new number plate protector and make a note to wash the car when you get home. I hit a bird and I will probably die. Or at the very least, receive bruising to be proud of as I recover my bike from the creek that I knew was there before I got to it. And this is what we call fun. This why we venture out on weekends dodging birds and passing water. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Now, back to my book. I had earmarked a whole heap of these roads in Tassie to venture down and along. They all received great motorcycle vertical thumbs from those who had been down them, and so I trusted those who had gone before and marked my route. I had also contacted the president of the Tasmanian Motorcycle Riders Association (a club of lunatics who get together and venture pointlessly along various roads for pure pleasure as we all do, but at the same time, do wonderful things not just for us motorcyclists, but also communities around Australia)(Thanks Chris Cook) for his recommendations of roads to ride. I figured some local inside knowledge wouldn’t go astray. It turned out that I could do almost all of the roads in this state that had been recommended by my book, and by Chris. My trip was starting to look awesome.

The first of these was a short 70 kilometre dash from Devonport to Exeter on the Tamar highway where I would turn right and charge up to Launceston. This road runs through farmland and hence, you had best be on the lookout, not just for birds and bugs, but other things like tractors and farmers. Equally as ‘in the way’ but somehow, just a tad heavier and more likely to separate me from my machine and life. Fortunately, I avoided all. However, my main memory of this road was not the scenery, the smooth surface, flowing sweepers, cows or tractors. It was the fact that however hard I tried, my fingers just plain refused to be felt. I think this was the coldest that I had ever been in my life. (Apart from that time I had to walk in socks through the snow for about 3 ks but that’s neither a story of which I am overly proud or prepared to tell.) One of the effects of being so cold is that after a while, you tend to go numb, which in itself is something of a godsend, because you then don’t realise just how bloody cold it really is. Unfortunately, the joys of numbness lay tantalisingly around the next corner, and while I did my best to chase them, they remained regretfully elusive.

Blasting heroically over small bridges and between monstrous trees, I maintained my pace and eventually ended up at Exeter. By this time, it was around 7.30am and the sun was beginning to do that which it does so well: heat stuff. I made a mental note not to ever get up this early in Tasmania ever again and pulled over for coffee. Now this again proved to be interesting. I saw a sign that said “Supermarket. Cafe.” Awesome. I pulled over, reversed as effectively as I could with frozen legs and over 300kgs of machine and luggage, and attempted to dismount. And while I won’t go into the intricacies of attempting to be anything remotely approaching graceful while blood refuses to circulate, I have a feeling that they are still talking about my attempts to this day. I had visions of my blood cells gathering in the warmth of my body, and debating about who was going to be first to travel down those bloody legs first. “I’m not going down there. It’s too cold.” Eventually, I reckon a million games of Scissors Paper Rock decided it for them and my blood cells marched gamely into the icy regions that were my legs and feet, distributing warmth where they could.

Now, I have seen a great many things in my life. But I’d never seen a combined Supermarket and Cafe. So I entered and stood somewhat bewildered in the front door. It looked like an ordinary IGA or Bi-Lo, aisles of food etc., but where was the Cafe? That would be it. Over there, under the sign that says Cafe. Unfortunately, it also doubled as the cold meat and deli section which is I guess what threw me. I gamely ordered my coffee and was asked if I wanted it here or to take away. Bravely, I said “Here thanks” although the sight of any tables at which to sit and enjoy my coffee blatantly refused to greet me. “Great” she said. “Have a seat the table.” That’s it. Table. Singular. I looked at the end of the deli section and there it was. One plastic table with one plastic chair. Having a seat I then realised that here I was, sitting at a plastic table while people shopped around me, Trolleys were both plentiful and customarily directionless, so I sat and waited to be bowled over by someone who had lost complete control of the trolleyed aim of their groceries while I attempted to warm up. Now, this may be the norm in many parts of the world. I however, found it somewhat incongruous, and just slightly amusing.

Coffee done, warmth returned, I tentatively stuck a toe outside the SuperCafeMarket and was surprised at how cold it wasn’t. The sun had done its stuff and I was ready. I was away, now with more time and ability to look, I began my job of marvelling. With Exeter receding in my mirrors, I discovered we were following the Tamar River. Half way up a hill I stopped to have a look. It swept towards me, having carved its path through the hills a few million years ago; a feat to be marvelled at by road builders the world over, turned sharply and sped off towards Launceston. Now here again, I am faced with my Science and Art, Lennon and McCartney dilemma. I could sit here and use words like ‘majestic,’ ‘sprawling,’ ‘beautiful.’ And others designed to evoke emotion, but unless you have stood on that hill top, smelled the air that was there that day, listened to the birds that decided then and there to call, and watched the various boats head on their way to do whatever it is that they had planned for that morning in Exeter, it will just be a series of words on paper. So I’m going to be selfish, take my memories and keep on riding.

Launceston appeared a short time later. I’m sure it wasn’t intending to, but nevertheless, there it was. I wasn’t here to see a city, so I charged blissfully through and found the road I needed. Flicking through the notes that I had taken on this trip, right next to Launceston I have written “Aussie Disposals.” Now I’m sure there had to be some anecdote surrounding this quote, but unfortunately, I can’t for the life of me remember. Once I realised this, I made a note to take more detailed notes. All it means now is that at some point in my life, I will have to return to Launceston, travel the same route through it and look out for every single Aussie Disposals store along the way and try and discover just what it was that made such an impact on me that I felt the urge to commit it to paper. For now, I can only dream of what that thing may have been. Perhaps they had made a Swiss Army Knife in a colour other than red. And while the Swiss Army Knife is perhaps one of the most useful things ever invented, particularly if you have the need to extract wayward Boy Scouts from horses’ hooves, I believe that the Swiss Army has never actually been to war. Probably because all they have to arm themselves with is those silly knives. But if they ever did go to war, they would most certainly be beaten. Their country would be run over while their soldiers tried to decide whether to attack with a corkscrew or a pair of scissors! But I digress.

I had no idea how long I was going to ride today, or indeed any other day. I’d stop when I felt like it or when it got dark. At this stage, it was around breakfast time for most normal people, so there was no danger of my day ending just yet. All I knew was I was heading East on the A3, my eventual goal being the seaside town of St. Helens. The A3 is the second of my recommended rides; about 170km of fast windy road, travelling through some amazing scenery, hamlets and villages. Leaving Launceston, I headed through towns such as Nunamara and Targa (I’m sure that’s where Porsche decided to name their roofless sports cars) and headed over a glorious Mountain Pass. It was here that I decided to experiment by strapping my video camera onto the Tank Bag and attempting to film. This I did with great success. However, the results I have to say are a little disappointing. While at the time of filming, I did my best to impersonate the knee scraping antics of Valentino Rossi, and made death-defying leans into hairpin bends. I couldn’t wait to see how this would turn out and how impressed everyone would be with my skills on the road, taming this luggage laden behemoth with ease over the mountain passes. From corner to corner, I found apex after apex, skillfully changing direction with an instantaneous yet microscopic shift of my weight and flick of the handlebars, the wind was roaring, the engine howling in a way that can only appreciated by those who appreciate howling engines, and I was on top of the world. Unfortunately, watching it back, it appears though I could have been overtaken by a Granny in a Volvo on her way to bowling! Somewhat pedestrian is how I likened it. In fact, at one point during the tape, I’m sure I actually do get overtaken by a pedestrian; a man walking his dog I believe. I anguished over this for a long while: Why did it look so slow when in fact I’m sure if I had been spotted, Honda Racing would have happily signed me up to race alongside their proteges. Then I realised. In these days of telecast racing, where the techno boffins will insert miniscule cameras into shoes, orifices and exhaust pipes, I am used to actually seeing the real Rossi take corners on race cam at approximately 200km/h. My 75km/h on a wet mountain road is a pathetically slow comparison. So I resigned myself to the fact that I would be left with a pure tourist video and kept going. I may also add at this point that like all holiday photos, be they video or otherwise, they are nowhere near as interesting to anyone else except you. And while I may enjoy watching my three hours of footage of me tearing up Tasmania’s forest roads, I don’t think there is actually another soul on the planet that would; except perhaps the pedestrian that overtook me. He’s after bragging rights at the local RSL, and I will not sell!

Motorcyclists have a keen sense of each other. We acknowledge each other on the road with a nod or a wave, saying “Hi. Hope your ride is as much fun as mine.” It’s, at the risk of sounding predictable, a brotherhood of like-minded souls, enjoying life and against the same odds: birds, rabbits, rain and cars. A motorcyclist will almost always stop and help another stranded soul. We’re in this together. I passed a guy on the side of the road. A cursory question to ask if he was ok was met with a nod and a wave and I pushed on. It turns out he was donning the wet weather gear; obviously a local with a knowledge of the dramas to come. Further down the road, I pulled over to mount the camera and breathe in the mountain air, and he arrived behind me, also pulling over. We exchanged pleasantries, he chastised me for parking on a corner and I retaliated by commenting how small his engine was. (The joys of riding a large sports tourer.) And being typical boys with their toys, comparing sizes and egos, we bantered for a short while. I had the feeling he wanted to ride with me for a while, though he never said as much, the implications were there. On the other hand, the purpose of my trip was to be alone, so I sent implications of a negative response, we compared sizes again and off he tootled. I wasn’t in the mood to be racing someone, or even concerned about where another rider was. One of the reasons I was here was to relax and not be around anyone. And while l am happy to pass the time of day, that’s just it. Passing. If I was to find myself accidentally riding with another rider or group, I would either stop or turn off. This was my time and I would socialise when I was ready to. But nevertheless, I enjoyed and appreciated the company and wished him well on his travels.

Leaving Scottsdale, where I had sat in a real cafe this time and made my saddening discovery that my road video was boring, I aimed for the Weldborough Mountain Pass that would lead towards St. Helens. The road bent seamlessly through tiny towns, often consisting of one or two buildings only, nestled usually in a valley with some sort of cold producing creek nearby. The town of Derby was an amazing looking little place. Somewhat cute and very British it seemed. Up and over the Weldborough Pass, the scenery is apparently quite wild and untamed. The road apparently also drops away severely to the right hand side down into apparent undergrowth that has almost become overgrowth. I say ‘apparently’ because the entire Weldborough Pass was entirely fogged in and my view consisted of white lines and little posts indicating that I would be well advised to turn in this direction, unless of course I felt like charging over the cliff at this point. Not only was the fog an absence of pleasure to be inside of, it was made just a little worse by the sudden onslaught of rain. Not only could I now not see where I was going, but I was going to be saturated when I got there. Now, after my next trip to Launceston to discover the reasons behind the existence of “Aussie Disposals,” I would also have to take the Weldborough Pass again to see what I missed out on. I was beginning to think that I may have to come back and do the entire trip a second time: an experience I almost immediately began to look forward to.

There is in fact at one point along this road, a small turn off to a place called Pyengana. For reasons best known to itself, the town appears to have upped-sticks and left, but forgotten to take the pub with it. All that this town is is a pub in a paddock. And somewhat surprisingly, the pub is called “The Pub in the Paddock.” (I have always loved the Australian love of the statement of the bleeding obvious. A hill with a sole tree on it called “One Tree Hill,” a red-headed guy called “Blue:” that sort of thing)

The road descended into St. Helens in a rather non-descript sort of way. I was revelling in the fact that I was able to see again and the rain had decided in its infinite wisdom to remain on the pass in wait for the next unsuspecting traveller. I did have the opportunity to share the road with the local log trucks, which proved in itself to be an experience. However, we afforded each other due respect and I continued travelling and they continued I guess, logging. After refuelling in St. Helens, the road beckoned. Now it was a run down the coast. Having left the intense (apparent) forest of Weldborough, I was now immersed in scenery that usually belongs in postcards, but had somehow found its way to real life. The sea crashing on my left, and the right hand side of the road alternating between barren, windswept outcrops and sheer cliff faces made for a constant wonder as to what view awaited me around every single blind corner. For some bizarre reason, I was reminded of the northern west coast of England. Now this is really strange because that’s not a place I have ever visited. So I concluded that it reminded me of what I imagined the northern west coast of England would be like if it even remotely resembled anything at all. Having thought about this inside my helmet for a while, I decided that I really hadn’t got a clue what I was thinking about so I stopped to take photos. Maybe I would run into someone one day who knew what the northern west coast of England looked like and I could ask them if I was right or just insane.

A little further down, the A3 became the A4 and here started the next of my designated rides. I followed the coast road for a while, loving the fact that it was nowhere near as cold as I had thought and been warned it would be, and enjoyed passing over small bridges, between monstrous gum trees and passing endless picket fences. According to my li’l book, the east coast is great motorcycling country and the dear chap is correct.

Somewhere around the Chain of Lagoons, I turned right and followed the road up St. Mary’s Pass. This one instantly became twisty and tight, and while not the best road to take on a larger bike, it was still immensely pleasurable. No view to speak of as the trees had begun to encroach on the road; but then again, it’s not overly practical to take in the views while you are riding. And at the risk of sounding very ‘Steven Wright-ish’ I actually became quite adept at sightseeing with my peripheral vision. Unfortunately, I had been stalked. The rain that I had left at Weldborough had spied my intended route, had taken a short cut inland and was waiting for me. Damn you! Rain-1, Me-0. I was determined to even the score so I set about defeating it. But as soon as it realised my plan, I was gone. Dumped on by a major storm. I retreated, defeated and let Mother Nature laugh openly at my failure as I drizzled my way dejectedly up the mountain.

Arriving in St. Mary’s it was lunch time. I spied a cafe, and ordered, all the while watching the rain cascade outside. And after waiting for it to stop which I knew it would refuse to do, I began digesting my burger and headed out to be soaked.

The plan was to head inland for about 70 km to the main route from Launceston to Hobart, turn left, and then left again and head back to the coast. Even though the coast seemed to be where the rain was planning its holiday as well, I pressed on undeterred. Surprisingly, about 10km out of St. Mary’s, the rain stopped, wishing me well on my way, and the road dried. I imagined the clouds lying in ambush behind me for my return, daring me to come back. Like a grumpy cousin after a bad Christmas, it says goodbye with smiles and scowls furiously after you’ve left, glad that you’ve gone but waiting to torment you should you dare to return.  I took this image with me and charged on.

This was also a great road. Not the most scenic, but that in itself made it enjoyable. I passed uneventfully through Fingal, and aimed further west. The main road arrived with an astounding lack of fanfare and ushered me south towards Campbell Town, where I headed back to the coast, anxious to avoid my grumpy cousin again. I began to notice smoke; somewhat curious I thought, but there was indeed smoke. Discovering it was part of what appeared to be a controlled burn off of some description, I proceeded through the haze, inhaled that remarkable unique winter odour that can only be produced by burning wood and continued. This was, and unless there have been major developments recently, still is, a ‘B’ road. Not as well surfaced as others, a tad narrower and in slightly worse condition. But nevertheless, still a good road which I proceeded to use and enjoy to its fullest.

I have some people in my life who I am incredibly fortunate to be associated with and unbelievably proud to call my friends. And this next episode involves one of them, albeit in a signposted and strangely named kind of way. About halfway along this road lies a small turnoff to a lake, curiously named Lake Leake. During my jaunt around Australia’s southern most state, I was to come across several locations that shared names with people I hold close, and so deemed it my responsibility to pay my respects to these places in light of the fact that I was unable to share them with their namesakes. I ventured to the lake, duly photographed it and drank the very good health of Kitty, who is now the proud owner of a picture of a sizable pond sharing her name. Good health!

The chalet at Lake Leake was a curious affair. From the outside, it appeared to be a classic log cabin, very fitting of the environment in which it sat. A small chimney protruded gently from the angled roof tiles, and rails resembling old horse tethers guarded the front, kind of like bumper bars for the ancient abode. Inside, it unfortunately rather resembled a Coles cafeteria. Plastic seats and benches abounded, and it entirely failed to produce the cosy atmosphere as promised by the exterior. I resigned myself to the fact that I would photograph the outside and imagine the interior to be the same. The mind is a wonderful thing.

The sun was going down, and anxious to get my imminent soaking over and done with while I could still navigate by the sun, I returned to the road, and aimed at Swansea. Fortunately, the rain, obviously tired of waiting for me, thankfully had decided it was best suited elsewhere and I was greeted in Swansea by clear sky and nightfall.

There’s something strangely comforting about roadside motels. Well, let me rephrase. There CAN be something strangely comforting about roadside motels. I picked one in Swansea that turned out to be all a motel can be expected to be. I had a room. It had a bed. I parked. And I fell asleep. Not a lot to it really. And yet I am often astounded at how some places can’t even get that right. But this one was ok. Although I have to say that if anyone has a desire to be called ‘sir’ rather a lot, then this place would be highly recommended. After I stopped turning around and looking for my father, I realised that I was the one being addressed and promptly proceeded to respond. This one also had a restaurant which was always a bonus. That meant I didn’t have to undress, unpack, relax, then get redressed in order to ride into town to eat. Don’t get me wrong, I love the bike and the gear that comes with it. It’s just that it’s highly impractical to go out to dinner.

I arrived at the restaurant approximately 25 seconds after leaving my room. This was a good sign as if I had too much to drink with dinner, it meant it shouldn’t take me longer than about 3 minutes to get home. I stored that number 3 away and made a mental note to check the time as I left. There were three of us in the restaurant: another couple and myself. Still not being in the mood for any conversation other than “I’ll have the steak and a scotch please” I sat at the corner table and rather curiously it must have seemed, sat facing the wall. That way, I couldn’t accidentally lock eyes with anyone and have to make pleasantries. Not that there is anything wrong with pleasantries at all. I can be most pleasant, most of the time. I just didn’t feel like it. And that had to be ok. I did, however, want to remark to someone about the plastic chair on which I was perched, and would have liked the opportunity to question the burnt green thing that arrived sharing the plate with my steak, looking like it had been passed through a small dog, but alas, my antisocial behaviour removed both of those opportunities from me rather dextrously. I also resisted the temptation to play “Achy Breaky Heart” on the jukebox, for which I’m sure the couple sharing the restaurant with me were extremely grateful.

Retiring to my room, the 3-minute target I set myself was well and truly beaten, I shared thoughts with my book and reflected on the end of my first full day travelling.

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  • Era 7, May 22

    With no PA to help me out of bed, I had a little lie in. Gently rolling with the swell of the boat, I allowed my brain to join me. We arose together, grabbed a quick shower and went outside for a look.

  • Era 6, May 21

    I awoke with a mission. Maybe it was the environment, or maybe I was just cold, but I had a mission. All I needed to do today was to be in Devonport to re-greet the orange overalled brigade and be ushered places by around 2pm and it was only 30km away.

  • Era 5, May 20

    I was becoming used to my grudging acceptance of all things morning. Morning, I’m sure, was mildly tolerating my existence also, and we met again. I had a quick wander through town, buying film and other necessities, and continued on my way.

  • Era 4, May 19

    Today, I wasn’t going to travel as far, so I allowed myself the luxury of a short sightseeing jaunt. This was a good call. Battling my morning dilemma, my fast was broken so I got the hell out of Hobart and headed South.

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