You call this summer?

262km Devonport to Gowrie Park

On the beach on Tassie's northern coastlineWe rolled off the ferry in Devonport, a small coastal town (well, we call it a town – the tourist literature describes it as a city) on Tasmania’s northern shore.

After 10 hours on the boat – a crossing often noted as one of the roughest in the world – we took a while to get our land legs back. In fact, it was well after midday when we finally felt the earth had stopped spinning. So as the world was turning around us, we thought we heard wrong when a bus driver waiting for passengers started going on about snow.

“There’s going to be snow above 800 meters tonight,” he said, before slipping an offer to put our bikes on the bus for just a few bucks. Snow?? Wait a minute. This is the southern hemisphere and we are in summer. What in the world…?

Downhill we goThe bus driver wasn’t lying and we weren’t hallucinating. Snow indeed came to Tasmania that night, although thankfully not anywhere near where we were. We certainly got some of the ‘gale force winds’ advertised on the radio though and it was all of 3pm on New Year’s Eve when we crawled into our tent to take refuge from the strong breezes.

We emerged briefly to make supper, watch a wallaby wander past and greet another bicycle tourist, Sue from Hobart, who’d tried the West Coast route we planned on taking a few days earlier and turned back because of the miserable weather but was preparing to give it another go.

By the time the fireworks starting going off to bring in 2009 we were fast asleep to the sound of wind howling outside our tent. It kept right on blowing the next day as we rode down the banks of the beautiful blue waters of the Tamar River. Thankfully sometimes it had the kindness to puff on our backs, which made getting up the hills a bit easier. That made a nice change from the spate of headwinds we encountered in Western Australia.

Still, by 3pm we were fresh out of extra energy and with a mere 50km on the clock we called it a day, putting up our tent in the ruins of a flour mill. An angler came passed and greeted us as if he’d seen 100 other people tenting there. Maybe he had.

Our early stop meant there was a push to cover the 50km to Launceston Airport the next morning. We made it just in time to meet a flight carrying Frank, a fellow from Brisbane who stumbled on our blog and decided to come along for the ride for a week. Why not? The more the merrier.

The chilly weather of Tassie came as quite a shock to poor Frank, who’d been basking in 40°C temperatures at home, and he shivered all the way through his first night. We’ve never seen someone look so grateful for a cup of coffee at 6am and while we slept well, it was quite the struggle to get out of our bags to even make the coffee in the first place.

For the whole first hour of riding we froze. Friedel dug out her long cycling pants and headband to keep the ears warm. Andrew wondered if he would ever unzip his jacket during our whole 3-1/2 weeks in Tasmania. And Frank, well, Frank just hadn’t slept at all and was a little the worse for wear.

“Is this normal?” we asked one man who stopped to talk to us in Deloraine.

“Oh, yeah.” he said. “Never goes over 30°C here.”

We couldn’t be sure of the temperature, but it hardly felt more than 10°C to us! Things did warm up a bit by midday and when we reached our campsite in Gowrie Park, the owners assured us the cold front was moving out. Maybe we’ll soon see something you could really call summer in Tasmania?


  1. Debbie Mill
    4th January 2009 at 8:45 am #

    You should come up to beautiful sunny Queensland. Surf, sand and sun!!!! And lots of it. Also mangoes!!! Stay safe.


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