Oodles of local cheese and ice-cream. Beautiful waterfall and alpine-rainforest walks. An impressive old dam. A budding new friendship. Heaps of local knowledge. And a smidgen of cleaning… these were the ingredients of my next few days spent in and around the tiny town (we would call it a village back home) of Pyengana.
Continuing on from ‘Tasmania’s Great Eastern Drive by bike – Part 5’ – I was camping at Pyengana recreation ground, and Lance (a volunteer there) offered to show me around the local area. I was over the moon. My knees didn’t feel all that great and the roads are far from flat, so to go exploring by car and have some company sounded like a fantastic idea.
We ventured to St Columba Falls and Ralphs Falls; through ancient alpine-rainforests bursting with vivid green ferns, and sassafras, myrtle and beech trees.
Palm and gum lined gravel roads led us up to Gould’s Country (an old mining area) and the Blue Tier, where we strolled through more lush rainforest at Goblin Forest (love the name) and Weldborough Pass Reserve. The forests in this area reminded me of parts of New Zealand; they are so green and beautiful. Very serene. In fact, a goblin wouldn’t have looked out of place here… Lord of the Rings comes to mind.
The nearby disused historic Mt Paris Dam was entirely built by hand… That’s a lot of hard Yakka!
The cleaning that I undertook was at the recreation ground. I offered to vacuum the clubhouse and clean the facilities, which I really enjoyed. People must think I am quite the oddball… I like doing a spot of cleaning when I’m at home, but I get even more stuck in when I’m travelling. I kind of miss domestic chores and homely things when I’m away for long periods so cleaning, cooking and washing satiate this hint of longing (obviously HelpX hosts, friends and relatives I stay with love this!).
After 3 nights at Pyengana, exploring and eating cheese and ice-cream from the cheese factory, Lance offered me a lift over the Weldborough Pass, which is a long slog uphill on a bike. I took it of course! En route to Branxholm we stopped a few times. Once for a drink at the Weldborough Pub. Then to pay the Tin Mine Museum – in the mountain-bike hub that is Derby – a visit. And lastly, a halt in Legerwood to look at the wooden sculptures.
Lance and I bid farewell to each other and I spent the night at Branxholm free camp. A couple from Perth (Australia) but originally from Manchester (England) came over to chat to me. They’ve lived in Oz for over 20 years but they still haven’t lost their accents. We ended up going to the local together and having some great pub grub. It just so happens that they offered me a lift to Scottsdale the next day – my next destination. My knees were still not quite right, so I accepted. Okay, I’ll be honest, I probably would have taken them up on it even if my knees were alright – it’s really hilly around there and I’m here to have fun and meet people not be too proud to accept help.
In Scottsdale I walked around the small town after pitching up in the free camping area there, then I got back on my bike after quite a few days. The pain in my knees was bad. I was cycling to find the start of the Mt Stronach walking trail. I’m glad I couldn’t locate the elusive track; it perhaps wouldn’t have been a good idea to ascend a mountain with painful joints. In the evening I had another first for wildlife encounters (Tassie seems to be the place for these) – I spotted a platypus in the water at the campsite. It was smaller than I imagined but a very special sight; they are quite a unique and shy animal.
The next day my cycle tour came to an end. I was in too much pain to continue, and Lance had very kindly offered to lend me a car if and when I needed it… what a star!
So, my cycle tour was over, but my Tasmanian adventure was still very much full-steam ahead. I bet you can’t wait…!