It was hard to leave the Bay of Fires. On our last morning, the sun was bright and the wind was still. I stuck my head down the beach on my way back from the loo before reporting to the rest of the sleepy heads in the caravan that, ‘it is glorious down there’.
A breakfast of french toast was quickly arranged and transported to the dunes. We spared a thought at that point for those of you rising and on your way to work. It promised to be a wonderful day. After breakfast Amy and I tried for a swim, but the water truly felt as if it had fallen several degrees from the day before and so it didn’t last long. We turned our attention instead to schoolwork and to packing up.
We chose the slow route to Launceston, specifically to make a return visit to the Holy Cow Café and to stock up on cheese. This accomplished it was on the road again where I amused myself greatly by making up ludicrous and implausible answers to eye-spy, and then laughing enthusiastically at my own humour. It rubbed off on Amy and Oliver who laughed along and added their own ludicrous answers. Not sure it rubbed off on Emma, but as I keep telling the kids, ‘It’s ok. She loves me’.
I thought our run to Launceston had been mistimed, and that we would arrive well before Emma’s friend Nerida had finished work. But that was before we hit the Sideling Pass, and spent an hour or so travelling at little more than 30 km an hour up a long steep climb and through beautiful, but twisting turning road through the forests. We eventually arrived, though only just managed to get the van up their steep gravel drive, wheels spinning furiously.
We dragged ourselves away from the Bay of Fires specifically to visit Evandale and the annual penny-farthing festival, which we did the next day. All out of cash, we had to borrow money from Amy to get in! No sooner had we paid however than there were penny-farthings heading at some speed straight our way. They had just crossed the finishing line and we were in the slow down zone. Some have brakes, but not all.
Having missed the slow race – last across the line wins – we did see various other events including the heats and final for the National Penny-farthing Championship. This event presented us with a most incongruous site. Penny-farthings ridden by lycra clad cyclists all of whom meant business. Admittedly it’s not the Tour de France, but the competitors sure took the game seriously. The National title was determined after four laps of a triangular course through the town. The riders leant over precariously at each steep corner in order to keep their speed up as best they could.
Turns out we met the women’s champion on the beach down at the Bay of Fires. It was nice to mingle for a while with the upper echelons of the penny-farthing world. There were loads of other events including biathlons, and relays, with penny-farthing riding interspersed with wheelbarrow and running legs. The whole of Evandale is heritage listed and so the atmosphere was fantastic. We topped off a great day watching Symphony Under The Stars with our hosts Nerida and Rob and Nerida’s mum Nancy. A free concert by the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra in City Park at Launceston. I loved the CanCan, and danced enthusiastically to prove it. Amy and Oliver laughed. Not sure about Emma, but it’s ok, she loves me.
The next day was the weekend and Nerida and Rob took us to Liffey Falls for a walk. Along the way we stopped and visited ‘oura-oura’, Bob Brown’s home from 1975 onwards. It is a small cottage nestled at the base of the Great Western Tiers; enormous stone castles that stand over the coastal plains. Around the edge of the property a beautiful creek runs. It’s a stunning little spot, and although Bob no longer lives here, day use of the property is ‘encouraged’ as the site is now managed by Bush Heritage Australia. The walk to Liffey falls was through a lovely forest following the creek bellow the falls themselves, some 8km in all. Amy and Oliver finished in style, chasing me down the path in return for dangling Oliver by the feet and dunking his hair in the creek. It’s ok. He loves me.
On our last day in Launceston Rob and I headed off to ‘bag a peak’, one of many, in the Great Western Tiers. We climbed ‘Mother Cummins’ to be rewarded with views clear out to Bass Straight. Emma, Amy and Oliver meanwhile entertained themselves in the pool at Cataract Gorge.
Today we moved on, though we could probably have done with another week in and around Launceston. Emma and I had however studied the map and the number of weeks remaining to us before our ship sails for the mainland. There is just too much to see and do, and so we have pushed on. We are camped tonight on the shores of Lake Barrington, a renowned rowing destination. It’s beautiful, apart from the noisy possums outside the door. I went out to check what it was. I guess that’s why Emma loves me.