Tuesday, October 22, 2019

191022 - An easy day in the sunshine

Day: 05
Date: Tuesday, 22 October 2019
Start:  New Norfolk
Finish:  Bushy Park
Daily Kilometres:  23.1 TT (+1.2 other)
Total TT Kilometres: 124.3
Weather:  Mostly sunny and mild to warm 
Accommodation:  B&B
  Breakfast:  Egg & bacon croissant
  Lunch:  Ham salad roll
  Dinner:  Tomato soup and rye bread, bangers and mash
Aches:  Feet still very tired/sore
Highlight:  I really enjoyed the bucolic scenery as I traversed the Black Hills on a very quiet back road under a warm sun, with some snow-capped mountains in the far distance.
Lowlight:  None really.
Pictures: Click here
Map and Position: Click here for Google Map
Knowing that I only had about 24km to walk in total, and wouldn't be able to check into my B&B until after 3pm, I slept in, and took my time to pack before leaving the motel and walking into New Norfolk to have breakfast at the nice bakery I found yesterday.  While there, I also bought a salad roll to take with me for lunch on the trail (road),

I left the bakery around 9:30 and spent the first few kilometres on suburban footpaths (sidewalks) including crossing the Derwent River (which I was to cross again at the end of my day's hike).  Although suburban walking is not a highlight, I enjoy watching everybody going about their usual daily activities, feeling somewhat like an observer from another planet. People exercising, shopping, mowing lawns, watering gardens, primary school kids playing cricket in a Phys Ed class, and so on.

The day was warming up, and I soon stripped down to my T-shirt for the first time on thi trip.

Originally, without checking the map, I assumed I would be following the Derwent River upstream for the day, but in fact, the TT took backroads over the Black Hills before dropping back down to the river late in the day. The climb was long, though not particularly steep, and overlooked a rural valley where I could see small holdings and observe farmers going about their various activities.  There were some small forested sections and then a sort of plateau before the road, which was very quiet, turned to gravel and began an equally long descent providing good views to the north and west. The farms were larger on this side, with few trees and vast grassy fields sweeping up the side of the mountain.

I leaned against a farm gate to eat a late lunch in the sun and watched with interest a flock of white cockatoos in the distance, trying to work out which bird was making the decisions for the group as to which tree to perch in, and when to fly.  It seemed a bit random, but I'm sure PhD's have been written on the subject.

After lunch, I had another 10km to the B&B, half of it along a busier road that followed a gorge created by the Derwent, before I descended to cross the river, pass through some hop fields and reach my quaint B&B set in a large garden around 4pm.  They provide a limited dinner menu, which I signed up for, there being no other nearby dinner options. It turned out to be delicious, homemade from local produce, and I ate it on their front verandah on a beautiful mild evening.

Monday, October 21, 2019

191021 - Lazy day in New Norfolk

Day: 04
Date: Monday, 21 October 2019
Start:  New Norfolk
Finish:  New Norfolk
Daily Kilometres:  0.0 TT (+ ~4.0 around town)
Total TT Kilometres:  101.0
Weather:  Mostly sunny, cool and breezy
Accommodation:  Motel
  Breakfast:  Egg & bacon croissant
  Lunch:  Curried egg & lettuce roll, vanilla slice
  Dinner:  Chicken pasta
Aches:  My feet welcomed the day off.
Highlight:  None really.
Lowlight:  None really.
Pictures:  Click here for pictures.
Map and Position: Click here for Google Map

I was up late last night working out the best way to technically manage my blog and redoing Day 2, while watching English crime shows on TV and didn't get up until after 7am.  I then spent some time drying out my damp tent from yesterday, and after that, trying to clean up all the dried twigs, leaves and dirt that fell on my room floor as I repacked.

I later walked into town, about ten minutes away, had some breakfast at a cafe and attended to a couple of chores.

Firstly, I mailed back home my topographical maps, which are relatively heavy and haven't been used at all thus far.  I'm navigating using a GPS track on the Maps.me app, which is working well, and also have the hardcopy sketch maps of the entire track produced by the trail management organisation.  I'm a bit reluctant to be primarily dependent on a battery-operated device, but it has worked well for all of my recent hikes, and I'm carrying a battery powerpack.

Secondly, the jack for my headphones does not fit through the designated port in my protective phone case, so I bought another set of headphones that seemed likely to work (later I found out they don't work either, though they seem to fit ….. looks like I will have to continue just using my little AM/FM radio for occasional entertainment, but that's OK).

New Norfolk is smaller than I expected and doesn't take long to walk around.  While doing so, I made several observations.

  • The largest shopfront on the main street was the Reject Shop (Dollar Store).
  • They had toe warmers on display for sale at the Post Office counter.
  • There was a butcher shop on the main street selling only pet meat.
  • There are a lot of large derelict buildings in and around town.

After a lazy afternoon planning, TV-watching and napping, I walked back into town to get some dinner.  I'm looking forward to a relatively easy day tomorrow on backroads in the Derwent valley. 

Sunday, October 20, 2019

191020 - 4WD heaven

Day: 03
Date: Sunday, 20 October 2019
Start:  Stony Ridge Conservation Area
Finish:  New Norfolk
Daily Kilometres:  30.6
Total TT Kilometres:  101.0
Weather:  Overcast and windy with persistent drizzle in the morning, partly sunny with a cold wind in the afternoon.
Accommodation:  Motel
  Breakfast:  Trail mix
  Lunch:  Trail mix
  Dinner:  Spring rolls, honey chicken and rice.
Aches:  Very tired again and feet still problematic.  Hopefully, a day off tomorrow and then an easier day to follow will allow the body to adjust.
Highlight:  Although overcast and drizzling, I enjoyed the long climb onto the Wellington Range in the morning with the wind roaring in the tree tops and no-one else about.
Lowlight:  The first 10km of descent from the Wellington Range which followed an over-used, heavily-rutted, muddy and massively-puddled 4WD track.  I did my best to keep my feet dry, but slipped once and got both feet wet.
Pictures: Click here
Map and Position: Click here for Google Map

I slept quite well and was tempted to stay in bed longer, but got myself up at 6am, and was packed (with a very wet flysheet from overnight rain) by 7am.  Happily, my feet were tolerable, and I continued on up the mountain under cloudy skies with light drizzle. The wind was roaring in the treetops, but it was relatively calm at ground level.  It was one of those climbs that seemed to go on forever, with each bend rounded revealing another ascent. Eventually I reached a ridge which the very stony/rocky trail then followed for some time.

When it did start to descend, the geology seemed to change and I encountered very rough trail, mud and huge puddles (see above).  A few kilometres down the mountain I joined another 4WD track which seemed to be the venue of choice for every Sunday 4WDer in the region.  There were many vehicles negotiating the muddy rutted track with varying degrees of skill and confidence (not always matched to each other) and it became a bit tedious dodging them and the massive puddles.

After some time, the trail reached civilisation (occasional houses) and the surface and scenery improved.  It was still a long way down the mountain and my feet and legs were complaining, even before I reached the sealed road in the Lachlan valley which became a plod.  I had hoped to get some food and drink at a shop in the hamlet of Lachlan shown in the TT guide, but it was long derelict. I still had a little trail mix and water left, so had some and set off for the last 7km to New Norfolk.  The road was busy and narrow, not making it very pleasant to walk along, but I survived.

I reached the motel, which I was later told was formerly some kind of institution (and looked it) at 4pm, very glad to have finished.  After a shower, old running friend, Ian, who had driven up from Hobart, picked me up for dinner, which proved easier said than done. New Norfolk on a Sunday night could not be described as vibrant!  We finally found a Chinese and ate well.

On return fo the motel, I began to try and load my blog from yesterday and found that the app had deleted it (for the second time, counting last night)!  Curses! I have changed the system and hope to do better in future. Looking forward to a day off tomorrow. 

Saturday, October 19, 2019

191019 - Overdoing it?

Day: 02
Date: Saturday, 19 October 2019
Start:  Geeveston
Finish:  Stony Ridge Conservation Area
Daily Kilometres:  38.0
Total TT Kilometres:  70.4
Weather:  Cold and squally in the morning, partly sunny in the afternoon.
Accommodation:  Tent
  Breakfast:  Cooked breakfast
  Lunch:  Snickers and Mars bars
  Dinner:  Soup and rehydrated meal
Aches:  Exhausted overall and feet particularly sore.  Running nose and constant coughing ….. maybe man-flu, but more likely spring allergies
Highlight:  The beautiful and peaceful walk down a rural road following Dickensons Creek to the Huon valley.
Lowlight:  Very tired/sore feet took the gloss off some of the beautiful scenery.  I'm wearing trail shoes instead of my normal boots, and maybe that has something to do with it.  This is a trial for next year's big hike where trail shoes make more sense with a lot of river fords.  Goretex boots, once wet, take a long time to dry.
Pictures: Click here
Map and Position: Click here for Google Map

There were three mountain-bikers also having breakfast at the B&B.  They were on the last day of a ride down the Tasmanian Trail from Devonport.  They warned me that finding somewhere off the trail to camp north of Judbury later today might be a challenge (and it did). The trail is primarily designed for equestrians and mountain-bikers, and during the day I encountered, separately, two very fit-looking female bikers riding strongly up the mountains.  I also later met a couple of young guys labouring up the mountain who looked like their trip may have been planned last night in the pub. There was all manner of baggage hanging off their bikes, including a large duffel bag strapped to one's handlebars.

My day started with a very pleasant climb past farms and orchards on a road that was very quiet apart from the dogs I stirred up while passing.  Fortunately, none of them came out to greet me on the road in person.

Eventually, the gravel road entered a mix of forests, much of it burn-damaged, with a couple of clear-felled sections that allowed views to distant snow-capped mountains after a steep climb.  It was very cold on the ridge and some wind-blasted hail made it feel very wintry. However, once the trail began to descend, it was sheltered from the wind and the sun made an occasional appearance.

It was a beautiful long rural walk down into the Huon valley (see above), marred only by some sore feet.  Once in the valley, I crossed the Huon River at 3:30pm and reached a sports field at Judbury that was the nominated Tasmanian Trail campsite for this 28km section.  Given that it was a long haul (40km) from here to tomorrow night's stop at New Norfolk, including the climb over the Wellington Range, I decided to continue on. However, I first took a 30 minute break and watched the end of a local cricket match before getting water from the toilet block and setting off.

I followed another pleasant rural back road north out of Judbury, following Judds Creek up into the Wellington Range.  I was tired, and it was a plod, but I was determined to walk until at least 5:30pm, and ultimately did not find somewhere (a tiny patch of mossy ground beside the very stony forest road) to erect my tent until soon after 6pm.  Of course, it immediately began to rain, so I waited another 20 minutes before putting up the tent. Almost immediately it was erected it began raining again and I quickly chucked everything in the tent, including myself. I was exhausted and it would have been very easy to just lie down and go to sleep, but I knew I should eat, and cooked just outside of the tent from within.  While eating dinner, I managed to find a radio station broadcasting the last half of the World Cup Rugby quarter-final between England and Australia. I might as well not have bothered.

Later, whilst writing my blog, I lost half of it and had to start again.  Fortunately, there is no-one camped within earshot. I'm a little concerned about how my feet will be tomorrow.  Hopefully a night's sleep will make a difference.

191018 - On the trail again

Day: 01

Date: Friday, 18 October 2019

Start: Dover

Finish: Geeveston

Daily Kilometres: 32.4 (+2.0 unintended detour)

Total TT Kilometres: 32.4

Weather: Partly sunny and breezy in the morning, then windy, cold and raining in the afternoon.

Accommodation: B&B


  Breakfast: Cooked breakfast

  Lunch: Mars and Snickers bars

  Dinner: Meat pies and cheesecake

Aches: For the past two months I have had (self-diagnosed) plantar fasciitis in my right foot and some right hip issues for even longer. I'm hoping the hike will either resolve these issues or give me confidence that I can hike with them (with a much longer hike next year in mind).  For today, the hip wasn't too bad, but the foot became more painful as the day wore on.  It will be interesting to see how it is tomorrow.
Highlight:  It was really nice to be on the trail again.  With some notable exceptions, it has not been a great year.  Being on the trail and back in the bush lifted my spirits, though I'm still mindful of the travails of others.

Lowlight:  It was disappointing to see the amount of rubbish, particularly on the trails closer to civilisation, that had been dumped in the forest - tyres, cars, household appliances and furniture.  There were also many discarded bottles and cans along the way as well.

Pictures: Click here

Map and Position: Click here for Google Map


I flew down to Hobart yesterday and then caught a bus to the tiny town of Geeveston, where I stayed in a B&B last night.  This morning, I caught another bus for the 25 minute ride to the tiny seaside town of Dover, from where I began hiking north along the 470km Tasmanian Trail, my home for the next 2.5 weeks.  The trail will be predominantly along rural backroads, forestry roads and firetrails, so not as hardcore as some others I have done, and I will often be staying in B&Bs, pubs, etc.

It was 9:20am, by the time I climbed away from the picturesque Dover on tranquil Port Esperance, passing by farms, apple orchards and fallow deer enclosures, accompanied by evocative agricultural aromas.  I was only carrying a daypack, since my day's hike would take me back to Geeveston via forests and mountains, but a "bushwalkers weather alert" issued last night encouraged me to pack it with warmer clothes, wet weather gear, and my emergency kit.  The early weather, however, was perfect for hiking and I thoroughly enjoyed the easy climb into the mountains.

Although there were glimpsed views to distant mountains and valleys, for most of the day I was surrounded by forest, with occasional clear-felled patches, burnt areas and a high swamp.  Light drizzle late in the morning, was followed in mid-afternoon by a sudden weather change which saw the temperature plummet, winds rage and rain fall.  I went from warm one minute to cold and shivering a few minutes later.  However, the weather change roughly coincided with the start of my descent from the mountains and the temperature became more tolerable on the leeward side.

After a long descent, I finished my day walking along another beautiful rural valley road occasionally bordered by lovely flower-filled gardens.  I reached my B&B around 5pm in light rain which continued into the evening.

Rather than trek another 500m to a pizza place for dinner, I opted for a couple of pies from an adjacent service station for dinner.  I could have had dinner at the B&B, but it was a bit pricey, and I knew I would sit there eating and thinking a couple of pies would have done just as well.

The bad weather is forecast to continue tomorrow, but may clear, if I'm lucky, by tomorrow night when I will be camping out.