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. My mission, should I choose to accept it, was to retrace my steps for a while. I had effectively done a loop yesterday, and bypassing that, I had only 28km to return to Moina and another 10 onto the mythical town of Daisy Dell. With this in mind, I retreated, completing the highly recommended “Motorcycle Paradise” loop. From Moina, I turned left, retracing my rainsoaked steps of yesterday, but this time I remained dry. After a good few km of a straight undulating stretch, observing possums, wallabies and other small furry things, I happened upon a small sign. Mission accomplished. Daisy Dell was a gate in a roadside fence, and a sign indicating a walking track to a sawmill. Whether it had at one stage been a town that had also decided it would be better located elsewhere is immaterial. I had located it. I stopped, duly photographed, and toasted the very good health of Miss Seymour, grateful once again to have brought a very small part of an amazing person with me. She too is now the proud owner of a photo; this time of a tiny roadside sign.

Job done, I U-turned and headed north. Passing Moina for a third and final time, I proceeded to the coast. Hitting Forth, I was reminded of Scotland. Luckily, I HAD been there previously and so was able to start unloading the uncomfortable feelings I had when reminded of obscure places that for some bizarre reason known only to themselves, were residing solely in my memory.

I was now hitting civilisation and that could only mean one thing: traffic. Reacquainting myself with that strangest of things, road courtesy, I headed left through Ulverstone and the curiously named town of Penguin to Burnie along the northern coast. With a few hours still to kill, I designed a short 140km loop inland again, and headed off. Out of Burnie, the road climbed majestically into the mountains behind. I imagined the view behind me would have been awe-inspiring. Perhaps I should have stopped to have a look.  However, I continued upwards. This road absolutely failed to become interesting at any point whatsoever. My map had indicated it to be a winding road, promising all sorts of motorcycling highlights and extremities. I had, erroneously as it turned out, assumed the trip out to be more interesting than the trip back, as the A10 returning to Burnie was apparently a more major road, and would constitute the returning half of my loop. I found myself at my bus stop from yesterday and turned right, disappointed. Not in the bus stop; that still proved to be an anomaly. But disappointed in the road that promised so much and delivered so much of nothing. 

The A10, however, proved to be a great little trip. Much narrower than the marked ‘B’ road of my trek outwards, it threw me left and right, gave me great little surprises, and even though it was raining, I didn’t feel it. It occurred to me that the map writers had perhaps mistaken their road markings. Not that it bothered me, but it proved curious that the main road was secondary in its surface quality, while the secondary road was superior. However, the ride standard of each road was interestingly reversed. There are some things about Tasmania that I will never understand.

About half way down this road, on the way to Yolla, I began, as you do, to feel like a break. I looked for a spot to dismount, and rounding a corner, I spotted a pair of huge trees on either side of the road. The air was wet in an “I feel like raining but this is the best I can do” kind of way; quite reminiscent of Melbourne. And beneath the trees was a marvellous, flame coloured dry patch. These trees (and my arboreal knowledge escapes me profoundly here) produced a myriad of fine fir-like spikes that smothered the ground. When escaping from the confines of their branches, they turned glorious shades of bright orange and red, creating a kind of flame blanket on each side of the road. The road had been swept squeaky clean by the passing of traffic, and you could almost run a ruler along the border between the road and these spikes. I stopped and listened. And heard nothing. Not just nothing, but a silence so deafening I found myself almost longing for a noise of any description. The wind was elsewhere, and had obviously taken the birds with it, and for a road so obviously well trafficked, I once again returned fleetingly to my generator-free Nullarbor days. I am loathe to use words such as ‘magical’ to describe a moment in time, but the profoundness of this brief stop, sitting cross-legged in the middle of a road, (and yes, I sat in the middle of the road) listening to a silence that goes beyond words, once more places itself in that Lennon-McCartney world of the indescribable. My bag was getting full of moments.

I remounted and took the world with me to Yolla. From here, it was an immensely enjoyable 10km sprint to Wynyard, between old wooden fences, flashing past elderly farmhouses and gracefully emerging on the coast road about 6km above Burnie. My end was in sight. I wandered into town and emerged quite unsurprised at the other side, aiming very pedestrian-like for Devonport. About halfway along, choosing to bypass the freeway and enjoy the more scenic northern route, I passed through a number of small coastal towns, and enjoyed a couple of photographic opportunities. No longer able to put off the inevitable, the ferry beckoned and I headed back to Devonport. With a little time to kill, and also anxious to prolong my trip, I ventured into downtown Devonport for a final look around, and perhaps a late lunch. Unfortunately, the MobilCafe that I chose to stop at totally failed to supply any food whatsoever, leaving me marvelling at the abundance of cafes throughout the country, springing up in places least expected, and then places advertised as being cafes almost rejoicing in their inadequacies to provide anything remotely resembling that which you could reasonably expect to discover in an establishment calling itself a cafe. The paradoxes here began to tire me out.

Returning to the ferry, I discovered a plethora of service stations that I had totally failed to observe all those days ago when I most needed them, but did succeed in relieving the last one of one of their pies.

There are several laws in my life that, like it or not, will choose to reveal themselves at inopportune moments. One of these is “Jon’s law of supermarket queues.” This law states that regardless of queue length, whichever queue I decide to join in a supermarket will without fail end up being the slowest moving of all. Now this is designed to be small piece of advice. If anyone should ever be in a supermarket and they observe me in a queue, regardless of how long or short other lines are, and regardless of how long or short my line is, do not join behind me. The powers that be have decreed that this is my lot in life, and should you decide to wait behind me, the wait will be longer than any you have ever imagined. I have accepted this and have been seen to be seated in various queues reading Homer’s Iliad to pass the time. This law, however irrelevant it may seem to state at this point of my journey, has also been known to manifest itself in many variations. Suffice to say that at any given time, if I am in a position of waiting in line, whether it be to purchase a bag of chips, my weekly shopping or admission to a ferry, I shall be delayed. And so it came to pass.

Arriving at the ferry terminal, the road divided into two and I selected, naturally, the shorter of the two lines. Two cars existed in this line and about eight were in the other. I edged forward and began my wait in line. After several minutes, both lines edged forward. I was now second. It now became apparent that my law of supermarket queues was indeed well and truly in effect as the car in front of me had absolutely no idea what they were doing or indeed where they were going. I watched, mesmerised, as they made a complete pig’s ear of something as simple as presenting a ticket to collect their boarding voucher. The anorexically challenged lady in the passenger seat left the vehicle approximately four times to open either the boot or either of the passenger rear doors while the driver remained steadfastly aloof in the front. After about 10 minutes of this, I turned my engine off and dismounted. My thighs were overheating and I needed a stretch. I looked around and not only had all eight cars in the queue next to me gone through, another five had joined them and were being duly processed at about one per minute. I sighed, and looked for my Iliad.

Eventually, they managed to get through the painstakingly technical process of presenting their tickets, and we moved on. Ushered to a holding yard, I marvelled at the conglomerate of campervans once more, although this time, felt strangely comfortable with the whole thing. The beast beckoned, we were summoned and I duly returned to my penguin.

By now, I had my unpacking to a fine art. I remembered not to lock the bike and headed for the lift. Unfortunately, so did everyone else on the deck and after the lift passed us by half a dozen times, we seemed destined to wait once more. The stairs beckoned, so I began to lug. Once again, I found my cabin, a smaller version than the last if that was at all possible, tucked my bags in once more and ventured into the known.

I felt different. I don’t know what it was; perhaps after giving up the stressful search of locating that demon relaxation, I had in fact found it a little. Everything seemed calmer, and even the small pajama brigade refused to worry me. This being a bigger vessel, I set about my exploring with less than the vigour I had previously expended, and found myself enjoying it. The dreaded ushers were either less conspicuous, or had decided that I no longer needed pointing at or for, and were apparently keen to let me go about my business. It all began to dawn on me.

With an astounding lack of fanfare, we departed, trolling slowly with a majesty only reserved for things of such size. Standing on the roof, I watched Tasmania fade, and I wandered. As part of my ticket, I had a reserved dinner time of, curiously, 8.20pm. I wandered the decks, dropped in on a couple of bars, and watched. There was a piano bar near the restaurant. An usher, I presumed, had donned evening attire and began to play. Normally hyper critical of such entertainment, I was, surprisingly, entertained. Dinner came and went. I sat in the restaurant and helped myself to the buffet; duck with something, chicken with other stuff and a beefy looking thing that confidently refused to offer up any taste whatsoever. As it stands, I think I had a little of each, and left my seat to the next diner.

With the end of my trip now in sight, I found myself in a state of reflection. I had discovered a number of things in my travels and mind, and noted each with due reverence. Five days alone will generate thoughts, and I found myself alone with all of them. And while the temptation is to commit them to eternity here, I have them in my heart and will address them when the time is right.

I spent the evening wandering and in reflection before retiring to my miniscule abode to read.

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