Thursday, 21 May 2015

On Moving and Being Moved


At the moment time seems to be passing ... well, at the speed of light! A week ago Dianne and I headed up north to Launceston to start a quick trip around the western two-thirds of the state. We had a special function to attend in Launceston; more about that later. The forecast was pretty good so we decided to take our bikes with us.

Arriving at our accommodation in Riverside just on noon, we quickly changed into our cycling gear and headed north on the West Tamar Highway (the A7) for an afternoon's ride. After about 10 kilometres, apart from a very brief rejoining of the highway it is possible to leave the A7 and ride down along the water all the way to the Batman Bridge, a distance of about 20 kilometres. This route meanders through a few small settlements and past a number of wineries and cafés. Boats are snuggled into cosy little coves and orchards abound.

When we reached the B73, which joins the West and East Tamar Highways and passes over the scenic Batman Bridge we turned west and headed to Beaconsfield, an old gold mining town where we paused for a late lunch. We decided that we'd be pushing our luck to be back before dark were we to continue on to Beauty Point for our intended 100 kilometre round trip so after a feed we got back on the bikes for the return journey. On the way back we stopped briefly to get a snap of the view across the river towards Windermere ...

Near Blackwall on the Tamar River
By this time we were about 10 kilometres from home and chasing the remaining light so we didn't loiter - although we were very tempted. This stretch of of road is one of Tasmania's most popular for cyclists. We've ridden along it many times in the past on visits to Di's mum in Launceston and look forward to more trips along it in the future.

Being Moved

The special event we'd come up to Launceston for was Riverside High School's 50th anniversary commemoration of the Scott/Kilvert disaster in the Cradle Mountain - Lake St Clair National Park.
Dianne was on the walk 50 years ago when a student and a teacher in training lost their lives in dreadful conditions. As a consequence of this disaster a hut was built on the shores of Lake Rodway and named the Scott-Kilvert Memorial Hut. It provides shelter on the "back" side of Cradle and makes a great spot to stop on an overnight hike in the Cradle Mountain area. Here's an image I pulled out of Google Earth that shows the location of the lake in relation to the peak (the larger lake to the right of the peak is Dove Lake; the one above and behind Dove Lake is Crater Lake):

Cradle Mountain topography, showing the position of Lake Rodway

The assembly was a very moving affair, with various members of the party and family members of the deceased telling their stories. Riverside High School's highest student award is named in honour of the two lost young men and a number of past recipients were there to talk about what the award has meant to them. All in all, I'd have to say it was the best school assembly I've ever attended (as a former teacher I attended plenty!), and despite the long program the students were remarkably settled throughout.

That night before the assembly and after our ride we caught up with an old primary school friend of Dianne's, one Jane Olsen (née Wagner) who had moved away to Melbourne before High School. She too had been on that fated hike, as Dianne had asked and received permission for Jane to come across from Melbourne and join the group. Dianne had managed by to get in touch with Jane to let her know the commemoration was happening. It had been about 48 years since they'd seen each other so they had a lot to catch up on over dinner; Jane's husband John and I talked sport while the ladies ticked all the memory lane boxes.

On the Move Again

We had decided to continue on to the Cradle Mountain area after the function at Riverside High School. It was pretty late by the time we got away from the lunch that had been organised for members of the 1965 hiking party and just coming on dusk as we entered Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. Just before arriving at our accommodation we came across a wombat, peaceably wombling across the road, which finished the afternoon's journey from town into world heritage wilderness off very nicely.

Although we'd attended the 40th anniversary of the building of the Scott-Kilvert Hut and there was to be another function up there this year, my still-healing ankle and Achilles injury meant that I wouldn't be able to hike all the way in to the hut on the Sunday. Instead, we opted to have an early walk around Dove Lake on the Saturday morning and then drive on to Strahan on Tasmania's west coast. 

It was a day out of the box: completely still with an impossibly blue sky. Here's a few shots from our hike, starting with a couple of stunning reflections of Cradle Mountain. This one's from my phone ...

MY photo

... and this one's from Di's phone ...

DI'S photo

She reckons she's got a better camera in her phone. Hmmm. Not sure I can see any difference. What do you reckon? (To be fair, maybe her photo is just a little sharper.)

Credit where credit's due though ... as we were nearing the end of the walk Di did get this great photo of the boat shed with Cradle Mountain behind ...

Dove Lake Boat Shed
We hoped to get a ride in at Strahan after lunch so we didn't linger, but as we were leaving the park Di got a nice photo of a wombat who was out rather late, as wombats are meant to be nocturnal  creatures ...

Wombat near Ronny Creek
We did manage to get to Strahan in time for an afternoon ride, but it was fairly short. 

Our plan was to have a good night's sleep, get up early and try to get in a hundred before driving home to Hobart, but when we looked at the forecast we decided to make a change. The prognosis was for it to be drizzly in Strahan and sunny in Hobart. Almost a no-brainer as far as cycling goes. Besides, we noticed as we drove through Zeehan that the café we intended to have a break and a bite to eat at was now closed - another victim of the contraction of the economy of Tasmania's west coast.

By the time we got home we'd covered just over 800 kilometres of Tasmanian highways ...

Our Long Weekend Away
It was very tempting to stop along the way home and get on the bikes as the weather was just gorgeous once we got away from the moist west coast. However, the thought of being able to get off our bikes and into a nice warm spa bath kept us motivated to get home. And it was a stellar day in Hobart when we arrived, and we did manage to squeeze in one of our pet rides: out through Brighton, across to Richmond (via Di's favourite route), back over Grasstree Hill and home. A lazy 80 kilometres in still conditions and more blue sky. Not a bad way to finish off the weekend, eh!

Just How Easy is it To Ride a Bike?

Incredibly easy, right? After all, most people learn to ride a bike around the age of five. Given that fact it  may just not be so easy to learn to ride a bike. It may just be that our brains are so adaptable, so plastic  at that age we just don't realise the difficulty of the task we are mastering. This wonderful video suggests that riding a bike is a little harder than most of us think and that we can get smarter every day, and that's where I'll finish this post (and thanks to my friend Jon Jones for sharing this with me) ...