Jan 22 – Jan 23
We left Strahan early knowing that we had a tough section with 1900 meters of climbing. The morning was beautiful with wonderful descents in the thick forest and mountains flashing by as we sped along the roadway. There are fires burning all through this part of Tassie which has lent some haze in the vistas. The trees are tall and closely line the road which makes taking landscape photos difficult. The Tassies could help us tourists along by establishing viewpoints. Can’t complain much about this countryside though as it is spectacular. When we do come to the ascents they are steep and long. Barry and I have been riding ahead, then finding a good lunch spot to wait for Barry and Amanda. Amanda is doing great but these long rides and big ascents do leave her knackered (as our Aussie, Barry says).
The climb up to Roseberry was steep and sharp but after 107K and a lot of steep climbing we arrived in this friendly little mining town.
The next morning we turned off of our course northward and headed to Cradle Mountain, an Australian National Park which is world renowned. Again, our route, though very beautiful and heavily wooded, is tough with a couple of big climbs and a long one of 14 percent grade just before the park. We climbed 1800 meters in just 67k of riding which is an indication of our mountainous surroundings. Dave and Amanda spotted a Kangaroo during the ride and got a couple of nice photos. We all saw Wombats and Achidnas along the Tarmac. Wombats are chunky vegetarians which look sort of like a fat Beaver without the tail. Achidnas are Spiny Anteaters and are small. I will try to post some photos when I figure out this Wifi connection from my camera to my iPad. It’s being stubborn today. Most of the animals we see are road kill since they are nocturnal and easy for cars to hit along these curvy mountain roads. It’s great to see some moving around on their own accord.
When we arrived at our cabin in the park Barry elected to get a rest, have a beer and check out where we could find a well deserved good meal. Amanda was really tired but determined to have a hike in the park where we could have great views of the lakes and mountain sides. Her number two goal on this trip was to see a Platapus (number one is to snuggle a Koala in her arms). The Koala snuggle was not about to happen in this part of Tassie so we were looking for Platapus once again. Amanda had had enough of her bike for the day, so over to the Park Headquarters we hoofed to get our passes and catch a shuttle bus for the 6k ride down to Dove Lake where the roadway ends. We had chosen (actually Amanda) a 3.5k hike up to Cradle Lake and back along an wildlife area where we hoped to find the elusive Platapus. The walk was said to be a three hour affair but we were counting on our fitness to make it in two since that was all the time we had to make the last shuttle bus back to where Barry was quenching his thirst. This is rugged country but sections of the trail were boardwalked to protect against erosion and make it easier for folks to saunter along. We took some photos of scenic Dove lake then headed up the sharply pitched trail along two small lakes (Wombat and Lilla) where we found great photo opportunities. We also discovered a Wombat along the trail who cooperated very nicely for our cameras. The sun was out after a mostly cloudy day and thoughts of our tough cycling day were put aside. Cradle Lake itself was nestled below the rock towers of Cradle Mountain and beautifully flat and still. There is an old boathouse located at the far end of the waters – no boats in sight. Our cameras were clicking away as we swung back around the rocky high terrain on down to the tussock humped open meadow heading back to our shuttle stop. We were well within our time frame despite taking our time with photos.
It was on this stretch where we were surprised by a number of Wombats trundling along next to the walkway. Pretty cool. Then we came to a small slow moving creek with deep under banks that got our Amanda excited. Perfect habitat for that elusive Platapus which might as well be extinct as far as we could tell. We peered hopefully long both sides of the walkway then Dave and I started to move away in surrender when suddenly Amanda yelled out “there’s one!” Dave and I turned and caught the ripple, brown haired body and light colored bill just before it disappeared back into the dark waters. The sun was in our faces making good photos impossible. We caught one more view before he moved back under the embankment. Wow! Amanda’s day was complete and so was ours.
We enjoyed a good meal and a glass of wine to celebrate the day, then had a nice chat with a young woman from Pittsburgh who had pitched a tent near our cabin the night before. She had a PH.D. in statistical computer analysis for the medical field. She had saved up vacation time to take a month long trip here in Tassie. Off we went to our cabins knowing the sand man would catch us early this evening. Sent from my iPad