From our beautiful beach campsite we headed back to the A3 to continue our trek north, but not before we stopped at the only bakery in town to stock up on croissants and mini-sandwiches –prime cycling food, no doubt. Once happily fueled for the ride, we welcomed our first full day hugging the coast with open arms (without falling off our bikes, of course). This time, though, we were actually grateful for a little sea breeze sweeping from the East. Through gentle hills of rolling farmland to our left and sandy dunes and beaches to our right, our course was only interrupted by periodic snack breaks and photo ops.
Lunch that day was under a lonely tree on a hill overlooking a hundred acres of cleared pasture and a long swath of Tasman Sea. A giant branch had fallen recently that made for the perfect bench. From above, the foliage provided welcome shade to us and a few curious sheep. The rest of the day’s effort was spent getting to Swansea, a sleepy little port with the perfect beach hideout to pitch two tents and make dinner. We spent two days there relaxing and paying $10 an hour for Internet.
Everyone tried to tell us that Tasmania is very different from the rest of Australia, but it’s pretty hard to heed a mainland Aussie’s warning when it comes to cold weather. For instance, most people on the continent haven’t even seen snow, no less want to actually cross an entire body of water just to arrive in a place so far south that it serves as the main departure port for Antarctic expeditions. Perhaps this is why “Tassie” served as the destination for England’s worst criminals. As if getting shoved into the bowels of a rocking ship for a eight-month journey to a continent you’re not even sure actually exists wasn’t already bad enough, they’d send you even farther south the minute you decided to get out of line again. Luckily for us, we had all the necessary provisions for a full month facing the elements, and besides, it’s summer here, right?
We couldn’t have been more wrong. The next morning, we woke up to a torrential downpour. We were freezing cold, and our outlooks on the day diminished rapidly when we realized that it was actually hailing. There’s nothing quite like the experience of holding up the sides of your tent from the inside praying your poles don’t snap. But if there’s one thing we learned about Tasmania, it’s that the weather has a mind of its own, and that it wasn’t about to let a couple of mortals on bikes who think they’re amateur meteorologists predict the forecast. In true Tassie form (and maybe out of a bit of sympathy), we were given a bit of respite that day when the sun willed its way out from behind that morning’s pitiable cloud cover, and headed for our next destination- Coles Bay just outside beautiful Freycinet National Park.