TAS day 3: Devonport to Narawntapu National Park
December 29, 2015. 51km.
I had fallen asleep early enough that I felt wide awake and ready to go when the PA on the ferry woke everyone up at 5:00am. I still took a while to get everything packed up into bags, but was ready to get off by the time they opened the doors. I really appreciate quick-drying fancy tech clothes. This was the second time I had washed my pants and shirt in a sink and had them dry by the next morning (probably a lot earlier).
Since I was only going about 40 km down the road there was (a) no rush and (b) no place to buy food after leaving Devonport. The grocery store didn’t open until 8, so I had time to kill. Luckily, across the street from the grocery store was a 24 hour bakery and cafe (I think they survive in large part off the ferry passengers leaving and arriving at odd hours. There were certainly a lot of other ferry people there. I ordered a giant breakfast (‘The Big Brekie’) and a cappuccino and ate slowly while watching the world go buy and catching up on blog posts.
At 8 I bought the trusty bike tour combo of peanut butter, Nutella, bananas, and rice cakes (and a red pepper) and headed out of town. The route was rolling hills through farm country on a road with no shoulder but fairly minimal traffic. Early on I noticed some poppies blooming on the side of the road, and shortly thereafter realized that they probably escaped from one of the many poppy fields lining the road.
There were also cows and sheep and a cement boat in the middle of a field.
Being not in a city was relaxing, even though the drivers appear to be about the same as US drivers: mostly reasonable with a few speeding by way too close. But it’s much easier to navigate when there is only one road. On the occasions when there were intersections, I just followed the signs to the park. The scenery was basically pastoral, and it didn’t feel too different than other farming areas, except that all the road kill was funny shaped (and there’s a lot of it), and the trees have a different profile.
I got to the park at about 11am. The woman at the checkin said the campground by the visitor center (powered, with the showers) was full but I could camp in the horse lot campground (didn’t look appealing) or bike a whole 4km down to the unpowered camp sites. Didn’t seem like a hard decision, though the road turned out to be rather washboard-like, which wasn’t ideal. The powered campground turned out to be crammed with RVs anyway, so I wouldn’t have wanted to stay there anyway.
On the way out to the other campsites I met a couple from eastern Australia just finishing up their month-long bike tour. They went counter clockwise instead of clockwise, but otherwise are just finishing what I’m starting. They had camped at the horse lot the day before because they arrived late, but were staying another night and moving to the farther campsite as well.
I made it to the campground, set everything up, then noticed a much nicer and shadier site hidden in a corner. So I carried the tent down the road a bit and set up a second time. The other cyclists ended up in the other half of the same site (this was the campground advertised as having ‘small’ sites, but small relative to camper vans is giant for cyclists.
The showers and an interesting looking walking trail were back at the main entrance, so I headed back in that direction, stopping to wander down the very appealing beach in the middle. The water was incredibly clear, and the temperature was perfect. I (sedately) chased a flock of birds down the beach, and then dat for a while listening to Station Eleven (the audiobook). Eventually I got sick of the sun and wandered back.
Back by the entrance I ate a bunch of banana, peanut butter and chocolate and then set off on a hike. I meant to only go on the short nature loop, but ended up walking nearly to the top of a rather large hill. There were wallabies everywhere. And a kangaroo in the field on the way back. Plus black swans and a host of other birds I couldn’t identify on the lake.
It was a nice walk, but by the time I got back I was rather tired and sweaty, and the showers were calling. Bike touring (and hiking up hills) really makes you appreciate showers. I also filled up on water from the park supply. They don’t treat or test the water in the parks in Tasmania. Many people drink it without problem, but since I have a filter I went ahead and used it. Makes the water taste better anyway. I was stumped for a minute about what to use to hold the pre-filtered water, but then realized that a nice thing about waterproof panniers is that they keep the water in as well as out. Turned out to work very well.
Back at the campsite I chatted with the other cyclists about what to expect. They weren’t particular fans of the north east. Said the scenery wasn’t that interesting, and there weren’t great places to stop (towns few and far between, many parks without water). This more or less matched my expectations, but I figure putting it at the beginning of my trip means I can get through to the more interesting parts of the east coast and save the west (everyone’s favorite) for last.
Sometime around 3am by a ruckus outside my tent. Certainly animals of some sort. There was screeching and thumping, and when I peaked out of the tent something four legged, small and black ran out of the site. I don’t really know what it was, but there was this sign coming in to the park.