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Published: July 27th 2008
Our ride from Gladstone to Bicheno was a lot of fun. Forget the bit getting out of Stumpy's Bay, because it was as bad as the trip to get there. But by now we were feeling relaxed enough that it did not bother us much at all. Just something that had to be done to move on.
Todays ride, winding through myrtle forests, past huge tree ferns was bliss. Be warned there are no speed warning signs on any corners so it pays to not think you are Mick Doohan. When we arrived in Bicheno, our long time friend, Mandy, met us at the local shops. It was wonderful to see her lovely smiling face and curly blond hair!
After a few days camping we were happy to use her shower and freshen up a bit. It was late in the day and her offer to come to the local pub was welcome. At the pub we met her new boyfriend, Steve and some other locals. It was a big night drinking and imbibing some local herbs.
A slow morning and some sore heads
Oh God, what a hangover! So slow getting moving and the thought of any breakfast was not a good one. Lots of coffee and groaning all round! We had a very sedate meal at the pub again and spent most of the afternoon being entertained by Mandy's three month old, Golden Retriever called Meg. Meg managed to spark us up a bit otherwise we may have simply gone back to bed again.
We'll be back, off to the bike races
Sunday (7th Mar) was a horrible morning. Overcast, cold and rain. For left Bicheno headed for the race track at Baskerville, why on a day like this? Well we had arranged to meet up with some other motorcyclists, plus we had some pit passes and that was enough reasons to brave the weather. The trip involved traversing more road works, gravel, slippery mud and a very strong wind. It took us about three and a half hours to cover the 180k's to Baskerville.
At the race track, we found the boys from Goulburn who had given us the pit passes. We had just missed their first race, they were all in high spirits because they had done pretty well. Two of their names I did recall - Jason Kain and Jamie Cunningham (a note from 2008 - I must google their names and see if they ever did any good with a race career).
The Superbike races were a highlight. The Ducatis kept up the pace well, but Troy Corsa on a Honda RC30 blitzed the field. In the pits we talked to some race guys we vaguely knew - Michael Dowson and Shaun Giles. Plus, Robbie Whitehouse from the Yamaha Race Team. The Shell Pit Girls were freezing in their very short skirts and bikini tops, Lorenza offered to lend them our leather jackets while they were just standing around - they said they wished they could accept our offer but the sponsors expected these poor girls to walk around all day almost naked. They did not look so sexy with their skin turning blue from the cold!
After the trophy presentations we farewelled those we had met, felt happy to see the Shell Girls finally wearing jackets, and took our leave of the race track to go in search of some beds.
Beds in the old school, Tassie Tigers & Art (is that art?)
We found our way to the Bellerive State School, established around 1858 - which now operates as a YHA hostel. It absolutely bucketed down on the trip from Baskerville. When we arrived at the hostel we were cold, wet and tired. After parking our bikes close to the entrance and unpacking some gear into the "married room", the owner insisted we park our bikes inside the hostel entrance room. He would not take no for an answer.
Once settled, warmed up by a great shower and sitting in the comfy lounge area, we met two British tourists who were fun to talk with. Amanda and Lynne had been doing a lot of travel in Australia and seemed to be loving it. Lorenza enjoyed talking with them while I read a book I took down form the shelf in the lounge room.
We had planned to visit Maria Island the following day, but decided with the weather the way it was a day visiting Hobart museums or galleries would be a better bet. So, the following morning we took a ferry trip into Hobart and walked our footsies off. The museum was interesting and helped us identify a few other animals we had seen at Stumpy's Bay. Also, the busts of two Bruny Island aborigines were very striking. The Tasmanian tiger display and story was really interesting, but very sad how they became extinct. The year that the Tassie Tiger was declared as a protected species was the same year the last known living example died!
We took a look at an art exhibition near the docks. Mmmm, art? Very subjective I guess - in the eyes of the beholder etc. The exhibition consisted of mirrors, strips of acetate and sheets of blank paper (yep blank paper). The blank sheets of paper were titled "Blank paper run through photocopier once", "Blank paper run through photocopier twice" etc. Floating on the harbour, just outside the gallery were two pontoons, one with deck chairs and piles of bread roles. The other with bails of hay. Art? Mmm?
While contemplating the "art" we got chatting to Morris, the skipper of a large, well used yacht moored close to the pontoon exhibitions. Morris had his own opinions of the floating displays and was not afraid to express them. In fact, we soon found that Morris loved to talk, and talk and talk! He did give us some good suggestions for things to see and do at Port Arthur and Strahan. He invited us to join him for a late lunch, but we declined very politely (our ears were beginning to ache from his non-stop talking) a nice guy but wow he could flap his jaw!
We took the ferry back to Bellerive. It is a querky, little timber ferry, that putts along between Hobart and Bellerive. The trip is about 40 minutes, but you can buy a drink onboard and relax. So, with a good whiskey in hand we enjoyed the trip home. There were people onboard commuting back home from work and enjoying a drink as well - a very relaxing end to the work day.
Back at the hostel the English girls had been joined by a Scot, she was down from Launceston where she has been working for a few months. The hostel is very cosy and feels like home, some good magazines and books to read, plus a guitar to pluck a tune or two on. We spent the night, singing, playing some tunes, talking, writing postcards and making some new friends.
We called the Ranger on Maria Island to check the weather and he suggested we postpone our trip there again becuase it is so cold, wet and windy. So, we decided to head the next day to Port Arthur. (another note from 2008 - we kept in contact with Lynne for a few years after, but then lost contact).
(PS: RIP Mandy 11 September 1960 to 15 July 2011)
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