We left Cradle Mountain in what looked like a cloudy, cool, and damp day but before we had covered 5K the sun emerged and our moods elevated just as quickly. After climbing out of the park we had a 3K winding descent. We were not looking forward to the upcoming climb of about the same length but to our surprise we enjoyed about a 6 to 8 degree of elevation throughout so we just had to grind our way through. It was our last big hill before Dave and Amanda leave in Launceston the following day. We had to alter our route for the afternoon because of fires and smoke. We were still seeing helicopters bucketing water overhead. The afternoon ride was great – winding country roads through little villages with more and more farms. We were moving out of the heavy forest and into pastureland. The smoke was thick – the trees along the upper side of the lane had burned in the last couple of days. Barry tells us that they remain alive but can take years to recover. This little country lane was easily the home of the most road kill we have seen on the trip. It was crazy. Mostly wallabies. We didn’t clear the smoke until we cresred the small hill into Deloraine, our home for the night. After cleaning up we headed down into town for a drink before dinner. A local pub with four chairs outside in the shade was perfect as we reminisced about the days ride. A burley beer-bellied old boy shuffled out of the bar and leaned up against the wall just below our table. Slow in his movements, He fumbled with a set of papers and a pouch of tobacco while trying to keep the filter pursed in his lips. The paper dropped from his hand and while trying to catch it the filter shot out of his lips towards me. I picked up the filter as he struggled to bend down to retrieve the cig papers. “Thanks, mate. I appreciate it,” he said. That led us into a pleasant conversation and we teased him about his phone ringing. She found you, we said, there goes your afternoon here. He was a regular. Ruddy complected, he was tattooed along both arms. His hip obviously bothered and when I asked him about it he said he was waiting for the government to pay for a replacement. Despite appearances I think he was younger than Barry and I. He’d had a hard life. We left our new friend heading back to his favorite chair. His wife would come to pick him up later.
I asked Dave if he found himself, as a doctor, diagnosing people as he observed them casually. He said yes, with his training and experience, it was almost second nature to pick up on certain things.
We moved down the street to a very good meal in a little cafe/pub. The food in Tassie, even in the smallest villages, is really well prepared. Gourmet cooking is obviously part of the culture and we are loving it.
Dave and Amanda will leave this morning after breakfast. They pick up a car here in Launceston to explore the East Coast of Tassie then are on to Melbourne to visit a friend of Amanda’s.
We will miss them big time. It’s been great having them along on this part of the ride!
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