Delayed in Frozen Finland- Waiting for Spring.

We haven’t made it to Oulanka yet. We’re not even really close. In the last ten days we have spent 5 days in Jyvaskyla trying to get healthy, and 5 days back on the road. The first 5 days were relatively lovely and warm, the last 5 days not so much.

Jyvaskyla was a nice place to hang out for a while. We combined one night camping in the forest, one night in a cheap airbnb, and two nights with our Australian couchsurfing host Steve. Our final night at Steve’s place involved a poker and sauna night, followed by a midnight fishing excursion to take advantage of the few days a year the whitebait are running in the rivers. Steve’s Finnish friends got a huge bucket of fish, and we took a small amount to cook and eat before leaving the next day.

Not bad at all.

Last Friday, feeling rested and hopeful of our health and injury problems being behind us, we set out again. Over the first two days we covered 75km, taking it fairly easy. We found great camping spots both nights in forests and on the edge of frozen lakes. On the third morning we had only ridden 5 kilometres when Tanya’s knee pain resurfaced. Having spent hours researching and tinkering with our riding positions, we now decided to resort to a couple of other changes we had talked about. Tanya changed from hiking boots into crocs, and started riding with her knees pulled in close to the top tube of the bike. By some miracle, the pain was instantly alleviated and we were able to cycle 35km in no time before having lunch.

A whole field of doors!

After lunch we continued, full of hope that we could start making some real progress. Alas, within kilometres Tanya started experiencing intense stabs of pain in her knee again. Dejected, we limped down a small road towards a lake, and decided to camp in the yard of the final house on the road, which was a small summer cottage which are so common here and not yet in use.

There was even a powerpoint!

It was a freezing night, and Tanya used some of the snow to ice her knee. In the morning we thought the only thing we could do was give it another shot. We were now 150km away from our next warmshowers host, and we wanted to try to make it in two days. As we packed up our bikes to get going, I managed to hurt my back while reefing on a cord, necessitating an hour of lying on the ground and gingerly walking around just to get it in a state where I could ride.

Now both injured, we set out. It was only a few degrees above zero, and the wind made it feel colder. We limped through a very long day, finally making camp at 8pm having covered 75km in ten hours. The next morning we were up at 5, and on the road at 6 with the temperature at negative 2, although thankfully no wind this time. I managed to slightly injure my calf muscle while climbing an innocuous little hill, but again we limped through a cold, snowy day, and 12 hours after we started we finally reached 75km for the day and our hosts farm. We shared some tired conversation, had a sauna, and slept well.

Our last ten kilometres was mostly pushing along snowy, muddy tracks.

So, basically, our bodies are not handling the combination of the cold and the demands of cycling large distances on heavy bikes. It seems my long-held attitude that training is not required for a cycle tour may be a little off the mark. Or at least not true for everyone. We have self-diagnosed Tanya’s issue as some form of patella tendonitis, and we feel that we need to take at least a week off the bike to let it recover and avoid anything more serious happening. If we’re lucky it might warm up a little too.

One of our better lunch spots, a random hunting cabin in the woods.

The only big downside to such a decision is that we will have to scrap something from our itinerary for the trip. The most luxurious plan we had was to try to squeeze in a two week hiking trip in Greenland, so we have decided to stop dreaming about that. Our bodies need the time to rest, and we’ll save a bunch of money on the few extra flights that would have been required. And hey, we can always go there next time we are in this corner of the world.

So, that’s our update. Things aren’t exactly going to plan, but we just have to sit back, go with the flow, and wait for our bodies to adapt to what is being thrown at them. We are staying with our host family again today (we watched Finland win a match in the Ice Hockey World Championships last night), and the father works at a beautiful outdoor resort where we can camp for as long as we need to stay still. There are also a couple of nice national parks nearby if we feel up for some hiking. Things are certainly not all bad.

T & T

Out Of Ten

It has been ten days since we arrived in Finland. I think the best way to sum it up is to say that we have had a really great time so far, but that it will be even better once we overcome the various teething problems we have encountered.

First, the vital small part that we discovered was missing on arrival. We ordered it online and will receive it in the next few days. The small mechanical problems caused mostly by the inherent roughness of being transported to the other side of the planet; we’ve gradually ironed out with the help of some of our hosts. The flu/colds that we’ve both been carrying all week, from a mixture of jet lag related exhaustion and cycling in very cold temperatures…we will be resting a lot for the next few days to give ourselves a chance to get back to full health. The bitter cold; well, the forecast suggests spring is about to finally arrive and with it some double degree temperatures.

Despite those minor complaints, it has been hard not to enjoy ourselves. We were hosted in Helsinki for two nights by Sebastian, whose vast cycle touring experience helped us to get a few things sorted and get our heads around what was ahead of us. Plus he was good company. We had a look around the city, and enjoyed the extensive network of bike paths which meant we didn’t have to ride on the road once.

Town square in Helsinki.

We left the city on Saturday, moving slowly throughout the day into less densely populated areas. We ended up covering 60km before finding a small forest (which is not hard here!) to camp in. It was at this point that Tanya realised that she had been riding with her brakes partially on for most of the day, making her life more difficult . We were exhausted, and mostly slept through what we thought was a rainy night, before waking at 6am to find a very different looking forest around us. We had a little play in the snow and then got back in the tent for more sleep. It was almost midday before we got underway.

Our first morning tent view of the trip. Wow!

For the next two days we made our way through a mix of bike paths, quiet roads, and highways. Even on the highways the shoulder was wide enough and traffic was much more respectful than we are used to in Australia. Late on the second day we turned off a highway to find a place to camp next to one of the many lakes we had been passing. After 10 minutes we stumbled upon a campground, which following a short inspection we found was still closed for the off-season. There was no-one around, so we set up camp on a sheltered deck next to a sauna. What a luxury that was!

Some luxury camping by our standards. On that tiny deck to the right of the sauna building.

We were hosted on a farm by Pekka and his children, where we stayed two nights, spending the entire day inside the warm house as it snowed outside. By the time we left we were bursting to capacity with Pekka’s wonderful cooking, and our sickness and soreness was much improved by the rest. We then had 4 rather difficult days where a combination of sickness, injury, cold weather and navigational challenges meant we had to ride most of the day to average a little over 50km per day and arrive at our hosts place for the weekend. We made it last night just before the snow set in again, and Maija, Esko and children are making it very easy to enjoy some rest.

With Pekka and his son.

As we become more accustomed to the rigours of cycle touring, and leave the more densely populated areas of Finland and head further north, we hope to be able to put in some bigger days on the bikes. So far we have done a little over 400km in 7 days. Our first main target of the trip is Oulanka National Park, still over 600km away, and I expect we’ll post next once we arrive there. First we have the small matter of a few days rest to allow our bodies to adapt to the big changes we have put them through.

A spot of ice fishing anyone? One of the many frozen lakes we have been passing.

I think it’s fair to say we’re both glad to be through the settling in period of this journey, and are looking forward to better health, better weather, and more of the same beautiful surroundings (and people). That will truly make this a ten out of ten experience.

T & T

Silence

No more talking. No more daydreaming about open roads and nothing to do but ride on them. After many months of thinking and occasionally speaking about what we want to do, we are now almost at the point of actually starting. Sitting in the departure lounge, we are in a beautiful bubble of suspense, right on the verge of doing rather than planning.

We’ve already had our first little speedbump when we were forced to spend a weeks budget on extra baggage, we just couldn’t shave off those last few kilos. We’ll suck it up, buy a few less treats over the coming months, and maybe figure out what we don’t need before taking any more flights.

These boxes are seriously heavy.

For the next 24 hours we can’t really do much of anything, other than watch movies and try to get a few hours sleep to avoid the jetlag being too brutal. Once on the ground in Helsinki, we’ll give ourselves a day or two to acclimatize and get our bikes and gear into some sort of shape. It’s going to be cold, and we’re not sure how we’ll handle it, but we know it will be okay!

Those first pedal strokes of the journey are not far away now. If the feeling of moving through the world on our bikes is anywhere near as good as the anticipation, we are in for one very special treat.

Bring it on.

T & T

Tasmania Roadtrip- Part 2

We’re back in Gulargambone. It’s been 30 days since we left, in which time we’ve driven 5500km, walked over 150km on 6 seperate hikes, slept in our tent 24 times, and had 7 showers. Okay, so we smelt a little funny (even allowing for the occasional river wash), but we had a fantastic time. Let’s pick up where left off in the last post.

After spending a couple of recovery days driving around the Lyell Highway and the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park, we spent a rather rainy day travelling towards Lake Pedder in the South-West National Park. Our next aim was to summit the apparently beautiful Mt Anne, and we found a nearby campground to sleep in the night before. We started our ascent mid-morning, and immediately started gaining altitude at an uncomfortably rapid rate. The steepness of the track was made bearable only by the increasingly stunning panoramic views we were getting each time we had to stop to catch our breath.

Early slopes of Mt Anne climb.

Climbing into the clouds.

The blankets of cloud further up the mountain meant that we couldn’t see where we would end up. We slogged our way up to High Mountain Hut, where we lunched and left our packs, carrying on with only water and jackets. After slowly boulder hopping our way up Mt Eliza, we reached the plateau on top and right on queue the cloud cover moved away and we had a 360 degree view of the high mountain tarns and the never ending mountain ranges of southern Tasmania.

Looking back at the ridge we’ve walked up.

We could also see Mt Anne, still a few kilometres away across the plateau and some more boulder fields. Michael and I set off to see if we could make it to the summit, which we’d been told culminated in a treacherous climb along narrow ledges. We eventually reached the base of this section, and after watching Michael try the first 15 metres and decide not to attempt a particularly scary section, I didn’t even bother trying. We instead watched a large family, including 3 boys of around 10, come down from the top. We walked back to the hut feeling suitably put in our place, and camped in a beautiful (and windy) spot on the side of the ridge.

On the plateau, walking towards the slightly obscured summit of Mt Anne.

Spectacular camp spot on the way back down (teeth cleaning time).

After walking down the next day we spent a day in Mt Field national park campground eating and resting. The following day we travelled into Hobart, where we wandered around the city, looked in some camping stores, and ate Japanese. In the afternoon we met up with our friend Kate, our very own local Hobart tour guide. After making wallaby burgers and doing some slack lining in a nice park, we went up to sleep in a secret spot on the side of the imposing Mt Wellington. After a nice brekky at a cafe in the morning, we said our goodbyes and went off to check out a couple of other recommended spots, including the free showers at a nearby sailing club. We briefly visited the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, and then drove north to spend a night with a friend of Michaels. This was our first night sleeping indoors for almost 3 weeks, and we all got a solid 9 or 10 hours.

We had one day left before Michael flew home. After a lazy morning, we thought we might drive down to the Tasman Peninsula for the afternoon. We did that, but a lack of research meant that we didn’t really end up having time to do anything, so we drove back to Hobart to spend a few hours partaking in whatever Friday night activities took our fancy. For Tanya and Michael that meant a dance event and some night markets, for me it was a super cheap pub feed while I watched the cricket. The next morning we dropped Michael at the airport.

We now had to decide how to spend our remaining week in Tasmania. I was especially keen to fit in some more hiking, and after some quick research we decided to go back to the Tasman Peninsula. We spent two days there, completing a 30km hike to the stunning Cape Pillar with it’s views of Tasman Island. For a lot of our walk we were walking on the tracks built for the Three Capes Track, as well as past the luxury huts, but we thankfully didn’t need to pay the $500 per person for that experience.

Cape Pillar on the left, Tasman Island on the right.

Standing at the top of the knife on Cape Pillar.

The next two days we spent doing another 30km hike around Freycinet Peninsula. The views are apparently stunning, but as it was overcast and drizzling for most of the time we didn’t really get to enjoy many of them. We emerged having hiked 60km in four days and with most of our gear thoroughly wet, covered in sand, and generally smelly. Thankfully we had organised to stay with some family friends an hour further north in Scamander, so we drove up there via a cafe, and prepared for a much needed rest.

The beach on Freycinet Peninsula.

We ended up staying with Jo and Ted for two days, enjoying a thorough hosting experience including guided tours of the area, an incredible wealth of knowledge on the local environment (in particular the birdlife), lots of good food, and perhaps most impressively getting to sit in on a rehearsal session for Jo’s very talented band. We left on Friday feeling rested and clean, and drove to Devonport via Launceston ready for the boat back to the mainland (or as Tasmanians call it, Australia).

Needed a slightly bigger lens for this one.

Over the last few days we caught the ferry, camped just north of Melbourne in a state forest, stayed with family in Cootamundra, and finally arrived in Gulargambone today. Highlights included me locking the keys in the car and having to pay $90 for them to be retrieved, witnessing a minor car accident while waiting for our Thai food in Melbourne, and the joys of playing with my 4 little cousins, all boys, who are constantly engaged in some kind of competition or mischief.

We’ll be going back to Tasmania someday. There is just too much to do down there. For now we have a couple of days in Gulargambone, possibly the last time I’ll see my family before we go to Scandinavia for the next 6 months. In a couple of days we’ll drive back to Newcastle, where we’ll be spending most of the remaining 3 weeks before we fly to Finland. It promises to be a busy few weeks making final preparations, enjoying our last little bit of Newcastle living, and attending various events.

After that, we can’t wait to get back on the bikes. Going on a road trip has been a great experience, and it allowed us to do a lot more hiking than usual. In the end though , it has definitely provided confirmation that cycle touring is the mode of travel for us. Not long now…

T & T

Tasmania Roadtrip- First Half

We’ve been on our month-long road trip for just over two weeks. We left Gulargambone on the 26th of Feb. After a day driving to Cooma and a chilly night camped at nearby Badja Reserve, we drove up to Kosciuszko National Park to begin a few days of hiking.

The very start of our first hike for the trip.

First up was the Main Range Walk, a 22km loop which includes the summit of Mt Kosciuszko. After we figured out how to fit all of our freshly acquired food into our virgin hiking packs, we finally got underway before lunch. We were pretty slow to get into the rhythm of things and only hiked around 8km before choosing perhaps our most picturesque camping spot to date.

Camped somewhere on the Main Range Walk, stunning views.

After a cold night (though no match for our extensive camping gear) we were up early to walk the final 14km, summiting and then having an early lunch in Seamans Hut before enjoying the steady downhill gradient for the final 6-7km. We returned with more than half of the food we packed, a good lesson in efficient packing. It’s a beautiful walk and we recommend it to everyone.

Early morning hiking means early morning colours.

That afternoon we did a short 5 km walk along the Snowy River, startled a snake on the return walk, and then camped at nearby Island Bend. Over the next few days we travelled through Tumut, Glenrowan, Cathedral Ranges, Warburton, and then Lentil As Anything in Melbourne for lunch. Our extremely sore calf muscles wouldn’t have let us do any more hiking that week even if we’d wanted to. We were supposed to meet some friends, but their ride to Melbourne didn’t turn up in time, so we found ourselves holed up in our tent in a dodgy caravan park, where there was almost as many cars without number plates as permanent residents sleeping in tents around us.

Bathing in the chilly Snowy River

The final day of our week long journey to Tasmania was spent sitting on board the Spirit of Tasmania. We passed the time eating, playing cards, reading, sleeping and generally moving towards Devonport. On arrival we picked up our friend Michael who had flown down earlier in the day. By the time we shopped, ate, and drove to nearby Leven Canyon it was late and cold and we were glad to rest.

Our first two days in Tasmania were fairly relaxed. We drove to Stanley and did a short hike around the top of ‘The Nut’, which was better than expected with quite dense vegetation growing on top of it. We then drove to Julius River Reserve, our favourite campsite from last time we were in Tassie (this place is packed full of beautiful free camping spots), and spent a night there. Next day we drove to Arthur River, otherwise know as ‘The End Of The World’, but didn’t find it all that interesting. More to our liking was a trip down the Western Explorer, with stunning scenery all the way. We had lunch in the funky little outpost of Corinna, and drove for a couple more hours to Vale of Belvoir Conservation Area, where we camped not far from Cradle Mountain.

Making the most of the sunshine on the north coast

Tarkine Wilderness as seen from the Western Explorer.

Michael loves campfires, this one was at our camp near Cradle Mountain.

Now it was time for the most anticipated day of our trip, Cradle Mountain. We arrived at 8:30, started our hike at 9:30, and ended up spending 8 hours on the move. The target was the summit of Cradle Mountain. The first few hours involved hiking up the the plateau, and after a slow ascent of the boulders of Cradle Mountain itself, we finally made it. The views to the south were incredible. Once we got off the mountain it was a bit of a dash back down around Dove Lake to make sure we didn’t miss the last shuttle bus back to our car, but we made it with plenty of time to spare. We drove out and found a nearby lake to camp at.

Lower parts of the Cradle Mountain hike.

Crater Lake, Cradle Mountain.

Marion’s Lookout, Cradle in the background.

Taking a break halfway up the mountain.

Another view of Cradle from the plateau right below it.

Summit photo!

Racing the clock to make sure we don’t miss the shuttle bus.

Posing in front of Dove Lake.

Next on the agenda was the Walls of Jerusalem. We’d been told by a fellow camper a couple of days previously that the road in was closed, and after we drove to Sheffield this was confirmed at the information centre. We were told there was no alternative way in, but we went to a cafe and did some googling, and found that we could still get in from the east by driving up onto the Central Plateau. It was an extra 10km of hiking (40 in total), but we had spare time so we drove to Liewenna, and left our car at the end of 20km of dirt roads to begin our hike.

We started at 4pm, and by 7 we’d walked almost 10km and had chosen a nice campsite by a lake. Little did we know that we’d already taken a wrong turn by this point also. The next morning we continued on our path, and by the end of two hours we knew for sure that we were heading in the totally wrong direction, South instead of North-West. A chat with some hikers we found confirmed this, and they gave us a spare map to avoid similar mistakes. We turned around, but by the time we got back on the right path we’d lost half a day and added 10km to an already long hike, so we decided we’d leave the Walls for next time. We camped in a beautiful spot at Lake Fanny, and then hiked out in the morning.

Lake Fanny.

Hiking though large patches of beautiful cushion plants

A change of direction

We got out at midday on Friday, drove to Lake St Clair, and spent the weekend exploring the area between there and Queenstown whilst recovering from 4 straight days of hiking 10+kms. We’re now almost halfway through our month long road trip, as well as halfway through Michaels two weeks with us in Tassie, and we’ve already begun making the most of our remaining time.

Tell you about it next time.

Tasmania: Last Time We Were Here

Tomorrow we arrive in Tasmania. It’s been 14 months since we were here with our bikes and got our first taste of travelling together. What a setting we chose! Now we’ll be back in our car, our friend Michael in the back seat, and we’ll more or less be hiking our way around this rugged little island. Here’s a little recap of how our first visit went down.

We arrived in Tasmania on December 1st 2015, having endured 24 hours of train, bus and ferry travel in a 36 hour period. The highlights were some particularly dodgy bus driving, awesome eating in Melbourne, and a solid nights sleep on the ferry. It was 7am when we disembarked in Devonport and found our way to the supermarket, loaded a pannier full of food for the next couple of days, and headed west out of town.

Straight away we were riding up a steep hill with trucks squeezing by, but I was encouraged to see Tanya grind her way up and settle into the days riding. For two whole days we rode into strong headwinds on sometimes narrow, busy roads teeming with logging trucks. Despite that we had a good time passing through little coastal towns, camping in a park, ducking down to the beach a few times, and eating an awesome amount of good food. We reached Stanley on the second afternoon and after a look around we decided we’d stay at the caravan park, pitching our tent out the back and sleeping the sleep of the dead.

img_0585

Posing in front of ‘The Nut’ in the distance.

In the morning we headed south, but not before raising Tanyas seat a little as her knees were aching slightly. We wound our way through a farming region, on steeper hills but quieter roads. We took a wrong turn and got a little lost, and then not long after rejoining we unfortunately witnessed a dog run in front of a car that was speeding past us and get hit. It seemed dead for all money as it lay bleeding in the gutter making an awful sound, but as we sprang into action trying to find the owner or a neighbour who could help (while the driver stood around being useless and making excuses for his shit driving), the dog slowly made a miraculous recovery. After half an hour we’d finally found the owners, who rushed the dog off to the vet with what we hope was only a broken leg.

After that incident we entered the Tarkine rainforest, and had a magical afternoon riding in what seemed like an antigravity environment, hardly pedalling at all and still covering plenty of ground. A snack by the river with some elderly caravaners, followed by a 10km ride to a beautiful camp area on the Julius river topped off a solid days riding.

On the fourth morning, Tanya was sore and swollen in the ankles, and we realised we may have raised the seat a little too high the previous day. We tried to correct our mistake, but in combination with diving straight into some strenuous riding, she had developed Achilles Tendinitis. It was a slow and painful morning riding 30km to the junction with the Western Explorer road, where we hoped to be able to hitchhike to the next town and figure out what to do about this new problem.

Waiting for a ride at the top of the Western Explorer.

Waiting for a ride at the top of the Western Explorer.

The Western Explorer is a remote place, one of the more remote in Tasmania. We ended up stranded at the end of the road for nearly 24 hours, in which time we saw less than 10 cars heading in our direction. We flagged each one down, but most of the vehicles were either too small or too full to be able to take two people and two fully loaded touring bikes. Eventually Craig from England in his fancy Land Rover decided to take up the challenge, and the car was bursting at the seams by the time we jammed everything inside. We drove together for a couple of hours through stunning wilderness (such a shame we couldn’t cycle this road), before he left us at Corinna.

Corinna is a beautiful little tourist trap, on the Pieman River, where the town owners operate a pub, camp ground, cabin accommodation, river cruise and the little punt to get across the river. Once you drive in it’s hard to leave without handing over a decent amount of your cash. We paid $45 to pitch our tent on a wooden platform and have a shower, and then spent a bunch of other money in the shop and at the bar as we waited around for another lift to a bigger town where we could stay until Tanya recovered.

Tanya icing her achilles at Corinna Pub.

Tanya icing her achilles at Corinna Pub.

In the end the platypus around our campsite made the cost worthwhile, as did our eventual ride out of there after another 24 hour wait. This time a family in an RV was able to fit our bikes but not us, so they went ahead with all our belongings, and we got a lift with the chef who was heading into town for supplies (avoiding the ferry charge!). She dropped us in Zeehan, and from there we stuck out our thumbs and the first car that came past took us to Strahan. We ended up arriving a couple of hours before our bikes.

We spent four long days in Strahan, mostly hanging around our tent in the $10 a night caravan park (including wifi, bbq’s, common area, etc…not too bad!). We went on a cruise around Macquarie Harbour, which was pretty cool but not really our thing, although we did destroy the buffet lunch. We made friends with touring bikies of both the motor and non-motor variety, and went more than a little stir-crazy being confined to the tent for days on end. After lots of icing and stretching and sleeping, Tanya felt ready to give riding a go, and we headed east.

Trying to avoid insanity while stranded in Strahan.

Trying to avoid insanity while stranded in Strahan.

It was 40km to Queenstown, where we had lunch and moved on quickly. Before we got to the edge of town, we encountered another cyclist coming down the hill, and it turned out to be our friend Jono who we’d hosted a few moths earlier in Newcastle. He was a couple of days ride away from completing his dream of cycling the equivalent of the length of the equator! After a chat and some photos, we headed up the pass out of town, over some truly alien landscapes from all the mining over the years killing the vegetation.

Ran into our friend Jono just out of Queenstown.

Ran into our friend Jono just out of Queenstown.

The climb out of Queenstown.

The climb out of Queenstown.

We camped 20km further along the road that night. It poured all night and the next morning it was still coming down. We hit the road anyway,riding into the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park and towards the end of the morning we encountered a long pass that Jono had warned us about. For the next two hours we were chugging away, riding close to 10km (I think) to the top of the pass. It was raining the whole time, but the climbing kept us warm. When we reached the top we had 20km to the next town of Derwent Bridge. We absolutely flew down that distance, but unfortunately by the time we reached town we couldn’t feel any of our extremities, and Tanya was in quite a state of distress. It didn’t take long to decide to ride back to the big old pub we’d just passed and ask about their cheapest rooms.

We spent the night in a converted shipping container. The room was nothing special, but the showers were hot, the food was good, and we were able to spend most of the night in front of the huge fireplace inside the pub. When we woke in the morning the ground outside was covered in snow, and we were glad that we hadn’t tried to camp. Despite being an Australian summer, the weather looked pretty horrendous (ly cold) for the next couple of days, so we opted to take our friend Kate up on a lift to Hobart.

Our luxury shipping container in Derwent Bridge, so grateful to be dry and warm.

Our luxury shipping container in Derwent Bridge, so grateful to be dry and warm.

A few days in Hobart did some more good for Tanyas Achilles, and we managed to head out of town to Mt Field and spend 10 hours walking up and down a ridiculously beautiful mountain. In Hobart we hit up some markets, cafes, and a couple of museums, and although we’d only managed 6 days cycling in the first half of our trip, it certainly hadn’t been a waste of time.

Halfway up Mt Field West.

Halfway up Mt Field West.

The last two weeks can be summarised much more easily. The east coast was hot and sunny. The roads were still narrow, but now there was more traffic and so the cycling wasn’t quite as fun. Still, we found lots of nice camp spots, spent a couple of nights on Maria Island with lots of wildlife (including a couple of feisty Tassie Devils), visited Freycinet, stayed at the house of a stranger Tanya had met in Newcastle, had a lovely Christmas riding on some quiet dirt roads and chatting with a Spanish cycle tourist we met, and having very few issues with Tanya’s ankles.

A day spent exploring the very dry Maria Island.

A day spent exploring the very dry Maria Island.

Freycinet.

Freycinet.

Much of the last few days riding in the North-East was on roads like this.

Much of the last few days riding in the North-East was on roads like this.

All in all the first half of the trip through the west and south of Tasmania was the beautiful setting we’d been hoping for, without any luck with our riding. The second half of the trip we got plenty of riding done, but found the east coast less inspiring. This time we won’t be on our bikes, but we’ll still be focusing most of our attentions on the west and the south, as well as the central area of Tasmania which we had to completely skip due to lost time. Can’t wait to be back in this beautiful part of the world 🙂

Almost Away

We’re almost on the road. We’ve packed up house, and in a few days time I’ll be finished working and Tanya will be a week from doing the same. More than a year since we returned from Tasmania feeling like it’d be good to do a big journey together, we are still super keen and about to get underway. In that time we haven’t travelled more than about 500km from Newcastle, although one of those journeys took me two weeks as I cycled home to Gulargambone (almost).

The last two years in Newcastle has been a great experience for both of us. For me I’m leaving one week shy of 2 years since I arrived in the depths of a pretty significant depression and spent the first few months getting better with the help of new friends and some medical professionals. Thanks to some cool people, a great workplace, a lovely city and Tanya, I’ve very much enjoyed living here. Tanya grew up here, but this period has seen her graduate, become a teacher, and discover cycle touring (you’re welcome).

No big declarations here. We have boat tickets to Tassie for March, return flights to Scandinavia for the northern summer, a couple of important weddings to bookend that trip, and then flights to Ushuaia (the bottom of the world) at the end of October. We’re keen to live every day and see where we end up.

A big thanks to everyone in and out of Newcastle who has helped make it a fantastic two years. We’ve had plenty of very nice weekend getaways and a couple of short holidays, but from now on the concept of ‘weekend’ and ‘holiday’ will be a long way off our radar. It’s still 10 weeks until our bikes will become our mobile homes, but in the meantime we’ll be travelling in my car and enjoying as much hiking, camping, and general living of life in the slow lane as we can manage.

It’ll be nice to be able to write and think about what we are doing, rather than what we hope to be doing. We’ll post again when we reach that point, in Tasmania in 3 weeks time.