Grant Walsh ’08 and Tara Bott ’08: Adventures in Tasmania

For the Australian summer months of February and March, we chose to ride our bikes around Tasmania. Starting in the port town of Hobart and riding north along the East Coast, our plan was to lap the entire island state. We decided to spend the first night in a proper campground about ten miles out of the “city.” Taking a quick walk around the place, the painfully familiar smells of garlic, oregano, burnt toast, boiling sausages and pasta floated through the air. Backpackers always seem to eat the same food no matter their nationality. I guess it’s the staples of life…well that and peanut butter and jelly.

After our first experience paying for camping and sleeping next to a bunch of motor homes, we decided we wanted to wild camp from there on. We wanted our journey to play out like a movie…like an episode of
Crocodile Hunter mixed with “Into the Wild” if Lance Armstrong was the protagonist, and didn’t die in the end.

Grant Walsh '08 and Tara Bott '08

Grant Walsh '08 and Tara Bott '08

So with that in mind, we woke up and cycled about 40 miles northeast to the coast through rain and unforgiving headwinds. Only about thirty minutes into the ride, Grant was feeling confident and sure of the directions he had looked over the night before. Whoops. Well, lets just say that his confidence in directions took us on an hour detour that rose tensions between the tiny cycling team of two. We kept ourselves tucked into small hunched positions to fight the winds and keep the cold rain out of our faces. We rode like this for three and a half hours. In that time we had climbed our first two “hills,” each about 1,300 feet in elevation. (Remember, we started at sea level.)

That day, salvation came in the form of a roadside stand selling apricots for pennies on the dollar. Taking a much-deserved break, we ate our fill and chatted with the fruit-peddling grandma about the road that lay ahead, literally. She told us we had another hour to ride, and the storm was clearing near the coast. Nice! Fueled up on fructose and the dream of nice weather we peddled on.

The descent to the coast that afternoon was awesome. We both recall flying down the windy hills, not pedaling or using our brakes for 9 minutes straight. Grant is a bit nuts for hills though. He always puts “riding bikes down hills” on his top 10 things that make you happy list. Tara’s list tops out with dark chocolate. Anyway, that night we found ourselves nestled just behind a small dune overlooking the Tasman Sea about 100 feet off the road. It was perfect.

Grant Walsh '08 and Tara Bott '08- photo for Entry 1The only sounds of the night were wallabies rustling in the bush, waves breaking nearby and mosquitoes the size of Buicks buzzing in our ears. That night we burned paper-thin tree bark that produced a heavy smoke to keep all the mosquitoes out of our mouths while we were eating. It wasn’t until the sun rose the next morning that we saw each other’s faces, covered in pink welts and soot. Ah, the beauty of remote Tasmania.

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