If you look on a map of Tasmania, you’ll see that Swansea and Coles
Bay are only about 13 miles apart as the crow flies, with just a very small gap of water separating the two as the land curves outwards around the South to form Great Oyster Bay. In America, there would probably be at least eight different bridges spanning this small swatch of water. Here in Tasmania, however, people take pride in keeping their natural treasures as protected and poorly accessible as possible, even if that means they have to take the long way around with all the tourists. So instead of embarking upon what would have been a fairly short ride (across an imaginary bridge), we rode nearly 45 miles up north, then back down south to the park. This wonder-ride also gave Grant two flat tires. But in the end, we justified the ride by stopping at a few of the island’s most renowned wineries, and finished the day setting up camp on an isolated bay that boasted views of a mountain sacred to the Aboriginal people in the area.
Traveling in a car is about the destination. Cycle touring is about the journey. It feels incredibly cliché to say this, but it’s one of those things that really is true. Like when your mom told you “Don’t make nasty faces, because your face will get stuck like that!” Tara’s face has never been the same. Anyways, back to the benefits of a bicycle…
Driving a camper van (as most backpackers in Australia try at least once) is expensive, horrible for the environment, and you miss soaking up the scenery. With a few hundred dollars up-front, you can have a bike and all the gear you need to ride for as long as you can stay on the saddle. We once heard that if you convert calories into gas, a bicycle gets the equivalent of three thousand miles per gallon. Sounds good to us, so we’ll call it a fact, ha!
The clean, pure sensation of your body performing at its peak for several hours each day is something to which we both became very addicted. We found Tasmania to be a cornucopia of fresh fruit and vegetables around every corner. We shopped at roadside stands and mom-and-pop food shops for everything we needed. Getting food in this sparsely populated land was not the issue. In fact, we almost had too much of it. It felt good knowing that the food we were using to fuel ourselves was coming straight from the land we rode through each day. We didn’t need the food section of the newspaper or a trendy organic magazine to tell us what food was in season; all we had to do was stop at the local grocery store and buy whatever they had.
Because whatever was in stock, it was most likely a freshly harvested batch from the farmer up the road. Whoever first figured out that all a person needs to survive is food, clothing, and shelter certainly hit it on the nose, but then again, they probably didn’t have a bike to make it more fun.