We have a mutiny on our saddles.
True … it’s not quite on the scale of Fletcher Christians Mutiny-on-the-Bounty, but it is a mutiny just the same.
After months of researching the route from Melbourne to Sydney, of downloading vast numbers of maps from ViewRanger, of checking how many climbs, how many kilometres each day … Clare has suggested we might cycle 1200km (750 miles) around Tasmania instead.
And we’ve even cycled towards Sydney for a couple of days!
Like many people before her, Clare was inspired by a boat. It was the sight of The Spirit of Tasmania ferry chugging out of Melbourne harbour that got her thinking …
- It’s a bloody long way to Sydney … and she’s not training for an Ironman.
- People telling us that Tasmania is their favourite part of Australia.
- Andy’s near miss with a ‘road-train’ truck.
The road-train incident was genuinely scary. On a narrow country road, one of these massive beasts passed within a few inches of Andy at extremely high speed, causing him to wobble dangerously in it’s wake.
Had the driver bothered to look at the angry cyclist in his rear view mirror, it’s fair to say he would have had no doubt about how Andy felt.
Cycling in Australia seems to be more challenging than other countries we’ve toured through.
Cities are brilliant with loads of dedicated cycling lanes. But outside the cities there’s often only one busy main road between distant towns. There isn’t the network of quiet country roads that cyclists love.
On our travels, we’ve found the Irish to be the most patient drivers with cyclists. So far I’m afraid we’ve found Australians to be amongst the least tolerant, often seeing no need to slow down or deviate even slightly.
This is particularly true of truck drivers … they ‘own the road’ and they know it. To be fair, they don’t pass many foolhardy touring cyclists on their long, dull journeys.
But it seems that snakes and spiders are not our biggest danger after all.
It’s the truck drivers!
Riding out of Melbourne was beautiful, gliding around Port Phillip Bay on a lovely coastal cycle path. It was easily the hottest day we’ve ever experienced on a bike, peaking at over 40°C (104°F). We both drank more than 6 litres of water but still didn’t need to pee for 24 hours. When we stopped for lunch we just wanted to rub ourselves down with towels and ice cubes.
After 70km of sweaty peddling, we were very happy to board the small, local ferry across to Phillip Island and cool down in the gentle sea breeze.
Phillip Island is home to the nightly Penguin Parade. Hundreds of Little Penguins, just one foot tall, commute back to their burrows at dusk after a busy day fishing. It was delightful to see these cute little creatures tumbling out of the sea and waddling back to their mates.
As we rode along the coast the next day, we began to appreciate how big and dry Australia is. We noticed a huge cloud forming inland. It turned out this was caused by a number of bushfires merging together. They are often started by lightening strikes from the dry storms (no rain) that build up in the intense heat.
It’s an increasing and dangerous problem across Australia.
One such lightening strike had hit Wilson’s Promontory National Park, one of the most spectacular parts of the Victorian coastline and a highly anticipated highlight on our ride to Sydney.
The resulting bushfire meant that 300 campers had to be evacuated. It’s serious enough to keep the park closed for two weeks but we’re glad to say that the fire looks like it will be controlled before it causes to much damage to this pristine wilderness.
Instead, we stayed an extra night at a lovely campsite in Inverloch, just metres from a beautiful, empty beach that led out to a wide estuary.
The camping has been great. The equipment is working well and we’re relishing the outdoor life that we miss when we only stay in hotels or B&B’s.
Because of the bushfire, we’re now no longer going to Wilsons Promontory. But where are we going? Sydney or Tasmania?
Here are Clare’s arguments for a tour around Tasmania:
- It’s one of the great cycling destinations … lots of people cycle around Tasmania and very few cycle from Melbourne to Sydney (there must be a reason for that!)
- The scenery is stunning
- We’ve never been there
- We’ll have two trips on an iconic ferry
- It’s great for camping
- It won’t be as hot and sweaty for cycling
- There are less long, dull roads
- There are less big trucks
- There are less snakes and spiders
- The bushfire on Wilsons Promontory was a bad omen
And here are Andy’s arguments for cycling to Sydney:
- It’s the original plan
- It’s a proper journey (not a circle)
- It might be a bit cold in Tasmania
What do you think we should do? Should we stick or twist?
Clare and Andy