Day 1 Melbourne – Richmond
We spent an hour and a half assembling bikes at sleepy Hobart airport. By the time we’d finished and had a bite to eat it was 3.30 before we left. Just as well it was only a short 20km undulating ride into Richmond. Our first stop was the local IGA for important provisions (mostly food), followed closely by the campground. This trip isn’t going to be all cooking on campstoves, more about eating and drinking local food where possible, so after working out how to pitch Leonie’s tent we headed back into town for dinner at the Richmond Arms.
Notable food & wine moments: Pork cutlet with vegies, local trevalla, roast beef. Bream Creek Riesling, 42 Degrees South Sav Blanc.
Day 2 Richmond – Maria Island
An early start today as we wanted to make the Maria Island ferry from Triabunna by 4pm. Our first full day of cycling involved two largish hills and 60km of riding and we were unsure how long it would take. Turned out that we made it to Triabunna by 2pm. After the obligatory stop at Richmond bridge, the first decision of the day was which road to take. There won’t be a choice for a lot of our ride, but today we could take a sealed road, or a more direct but unsealed road. I lobbied for shorter and unselaed and won. Luckily for me it was well made and a beautiful ride, otherwise I would have been flat out of credit in the route-choosing dept!
The two big hills were over in time for an early lunch. And we happened upon the perfect lunch spot – The Tasmanian Bushland Garden just near Buckland. It’s a community-built garden on 20ha of bush. Lovely landscaped gardens with lots of native plants all labelled, an old quarry that’s slowly being transformed and has a waterfall on a sensor switch that turns on as you enter, plus picnic tables for passing cyclists!
After lunch it was mainly downhill into Orford. The last 6km along the Prosser river were stunning. The road winds right alongside the river, with no spare room on either side. Opposite we could see the remains of the old convict road that used to run all the way to Hobart. We made a quick stop in Orford for a drink and met a dog called Mildred. Mildred was a 3-month-old miniature daschund being held on a lead by a girl so small she couldn’t keep control of the tiny thing.
Sleepy Triabunna provided us with groceries for our next two days (Maria Island has no shops) and a couple of bottles of wine. For some reason I’d been starving all day, despite a big breakfast, two bana stops and and early lunch. So a snack at Triabunna’s fish van on the wharf was the order of the day. There was a moment of worry when it appeared that the ferry had gone at 1pm today, but all turned out well in the end as it was an additional sailing. The threatening black clouds dissipated as we made the 40min ferry ride out to the island. Maria Island is an old convict settlement, although it’s nowhere near as depressing as Port Arthur. Maybe that’s because it also has a history of farming, wine-making and as a cement factory! It became a national park in the late 60s. Now the old penitentiary is used for accommodation and the island is a natural habitat for cape barren geese, forester kangaroos, pademelons and wombats. There’s also a quarantined devil population, and Leonie says she saw an emu. But I was the one with glasses on and it looked like a goose to me.
Notable food & wine moments: Local scallops, flake and trevalla, plus home made potato cakes from the Triabunna Fish Van. No restaurants on Maria Island, so pasta with mushrooms, capsicum & salami. NZ pinot gris (nothing local cold in the bottle shop), Ninth Island Pinot Noir.
Day 3 Maria Island
Bit of a sleep in until 7.30 today! It’s a gloomy day, not really beach weather, so this morning we took a walk up one of the peaks on the island – Bishop & Clerk. It was a spectacular walk along the cliff tops and then winding up and up to finish up a rock scree slope to a peak of dolerite columns. The other side of the columns dropped 700m almost straight down to the sea. Whilst we snacked on top the cloud moved in and remained there for the rest of the day, so we were lucky with the timing. After lunch back down at the campsite in Darlington we took part in the day’s ranger activity – learning about shorebirds and in particular the hooded plover. A stroll around the old buildings in the afternoon topped off the day. Dinner in front of the open fire in the picnic shelter as rain pitter-pattered on the roof.
Notable food & wine moments: None :-(
Day 4 Maria Island – Swansea
I was determined to get a snorkel in at Maria Island, despite being warned of icebergs in the water. No way was I carrying that snorkel and mask and not using it! So around 8.30 when there was a break in the clouds that I could kid myself was warmer, I headed off to the jetty. Neither Guy nor Leonie were interested in joining me! And they had the right idea – the water was so cold that I could hardly breathe! And the water under the jetty wasn’t clear enough without the sunlight to see much anyway. But I was glad I did it!
The ferry departed at 10.30 and by noon we had the bikes unloaded, sea-water rinsed off and panniers loaded up. Just for a short hop up to the bakery for lunch.
We cycled 50kms in the afternoon to get to Swansea. We started off in sunshine and finished in the pouring rain! The ride was as beautiful as I’d expected – undulating farmland most of the way and then along a winding road close to the sea. If it had been hot I’d have been jumping into the sea at every beach I saw! We stopped off at the Spiky Bridge – a convict-era bridge with stones sticking up along it’s top and just as the rain began we arrived at Kate’s Berry Farm. An icon, it’s been running for 21 years. We feasted on berry pie, milkshakes and coffee and then stocked up on chocolates before we left. Unfortunately we’ve still too many hills to ride to justify buying their delicious but heavy jars of jam!
Unfortunately the rain showed no sign of letting up, so we rode the last few kms into Swansea in the pouring rain!! We got drenched. Time for a night indoors. At the swish Swansea Backpackers the manager greeted three dripping cyclists without batting an eye – turns out she’s a cycle tourer herself.
Notable food & wine moments: Mingleberry and Apple Pie. At the time of writing we’re about to head out and sample the local produce at The Ugly Duck Out, therefore update on dinner to follow.