The wind and rain continued to hammer our tent when we woke. Across the other side of the cricket ground, the locals were setting up their market stalls, and the previously deserted area was soon full of cars and market goers. We ate breakfast and packed our gear within the shelter of the tent, delaying as long as possible before braving the chilly outdoors. Our friendly ground-keeper appeared again, this time bearing a handful of white peaches for us. We delayed our start while we cooked and packed our lunch, knowing our tendency to avoid stopping to prepare food during the day when the weather was unco-operative.
We stopped by the market on our way out, planning to support the community’s Progress Association barbque. Kim was soon tucking into a mammoth burger, while I tentatively enquired about getting just a sausage and egg. The country folk wouldn’t hear of it, and organised a burger for me bursting with sausage, egg, onion and lashings of salad. Thankfully Kim was on hand to help. After a quick look through the other stalls, I attempted to steer Kim back to our bikes when he spied the table of home cooked yummies. The lovely lady on the stall rifled through her produce to find the biggest pieces, and we left bearing a decadent looking chocolate brownie and piece of fruit cake that I immediately confiscated and packed into my bag for smoko.
We finally rode out of town after chatting with roughly half of the local population, and almost immediately turned into the ominously-named Burmuda Road and started climbing on a well formed dirt road. The first few kilometres kicked sharply upward, then eased out to a relatively comfortable undulating climb. After a second sharper section, the undulations continued, and the road surface deteriorated to include patches of loose ballast-sized rock. The rain and wind started to become serious mid way up the climb and the temperature dropped to a chilly six degrees. We stopped for a quick break near the top of the climb, then pushed on wanting to get out of the unpleasant weather as soon as possible.
The descent was again on large and often loose rock that felt too slippery and treacherous to ride, particularly in the wet. Despite my needing to clamber down several sections on foot, we dropped altitude quickly, and I began day–dreaming of something warm and indoors. To my horror, the trail markers then appeared to be pointing left and over a cliff. The cliff was actually a roadway following the powerline, and was strewn with very large and wet grey ballast. I slid and scrambled most of the way down, until I was somewhere between distressed and mutinous with the repeated near spills. Kim came to my rescue yet again, and we all made it safely down to the roadway below, having descended over 200 metres in 800 metres.
It was another nine kilometres into Geeveston, and my tolerance was tested several times by further steep loose sections and the continuing wind and rain. I was very pleased to finally roll into town, and find our second food parcel at the Information Centre. Once again the Customs folk had sliced it open and taken a very close look before taping it back together and letting it into Tassie. We were a bedraggled and chilled mess as we checked into a trendy little b’n’b in the main street and headed off for a long hot shower. When we emerged some time later to order coffees, the proprietors greeted us like newcomers and did a double-take when we reminded them they had just shown us to our room. With one more stage to go on the Tassie Trail, and the rain still tumbling down outside, we were happy to indulge in another night inside, ready for our final stage to Dover tomorrow.
(12 February 2017)