Daily Kilometres: 23.5 (27.3 TT less 4.3 saved through TT re-route plus 1.0 in towns)
Total TT Kilometres: 470.2
Weather: Mostly overcast, cool to mild and breezy, with occasional light showers.
Lunch: Egg & bacon pie, vanilla slice
Dinner: Pizza, ice-cream
Aches: None really
Highlight: None really
Lowlight: The 13km roadwalk from Railton to Latrobe, required because of the closure of the official TT route following a dispute with a landowner, was not much fun. Although it is a public holiday in northern Tasmania, there was still plenty of traffic and quite a few trucks. There was not much verge to the road (more of a narrow rough ditch), but I still retreated there every time I met an oncoming vehicle as I walked facing the traffic. I thought I was OK staying on the edge of the sealed surface when there were no oncoming vehicles, but learned my lesson when a car coming from behind overtook another vehicle and missed my left elbow by a few centimetres at most.
I took my time getting up, knowing I did not have a long day, and didn't leave the cabin until about 8:45am. I was guessing I only had a couple of hours walking to Latrobe, a bigger town than the tiny Railton, so decided to wait until I reached the former before eating breakfast. I miscalculated and it took over three hours of tedious roadwalking (see above), though the forested countryside was attractive, to reach Latrobe. Once there, I detoured into the town and found a very busy bakery open for business, and ordered some lunch, since it was now midday.
Half an hour later, I was walking again, this time along a less busy road that followed the broad Mersey River estuary towards Devonport. I could smell the sea air. After 90 minutes I entered suburbia and then reached the unprepossessing East Devonport port area. Although check-in to get on my overnight ferry to Melbourne supposedly doesn't start until 5pm, I walked down to the passenger terminal and found it open, arriving at 2:30pm and reaching the official end of the Tasmanian Trail.
I did a quick change in the toilets into some less smelly/dirty clothes and sorted out what gear I needed to keep with me on board after I checked my backpack, although ultimately, I decided to keep my backpack with me and just leave it on my booked recliner seat. I boarded soon after 5pm and the ferry departed at 7:30pm.
My ferry arrives in Melbourne at 6am tomorrow and then I have a 4km walk to the main railway station from where I will catch a train departing at 8:30am for Sydney. From there another train to Gosford where Julie will pick me up at 9:30pm tomorrow night, all going to plan.
While I enjoyed the Tasmanian Trail, and it met my expectations for attractive rather than spectacular scenery, I do think it is more suited to mountain bike travel because there are so many long road stretches. Although I had feet problems the whole way, I think they have improved since buying the New Balance shoes at Deloraine three days ago, and generally, I feel I got into the hiking groove properly by the end of the trip. Now looking forward to next year.
Daily Kilometres: 15.3 (12.3 TT plus 3.0 in towns)
Total TT Kilometres: 442.9
Weather: Mild and mostly overcast with some showers later in the day.
Breakfast: Apricot Danish
Lunch: Chicken salad roll
Dinner: Hamburger with the lot and chips, ice-cream.
Aches: None really
Highlight: The first 5km out of Sheffield followed the course of an old rail line through farmland and forest. It was soft underfoot and the walking was easy. I listened to the Deloraine Community Radio station which plays music I like (though even I find some of it a bit old) with little interruption and I found myself singing along out loud as I walked along and enjoyed the beautiful scenery.
Lowlight: Now that I'm in a more populated area, I'm again seeing a lot of rubbish dumped along the vehicle-accessible forest roads. At one point, I met a guy driving along slowly in a pickup with a large slab of concrete in the tray, and I have little doubt he was looking for somewhere to dump it.
Pictures: Click here(For some reason, pictures for the last two days were not accessible. This has now been corrected and the links for those two days work.)
I slept fitfully, waking a few times with pain in my feet, but managed to doze in bed all the way through to 9am and checked out of the motel at 10am. As planned, I walked to the bakery next door and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast before walking out of town, admiring the many murals adorning the walls of buildings.
Once out of town, the TT followed an abandoned rail easement for 5km through farmland and forest (see above) and then entered a pine plantation, following forest roads. It was pleasant walking, apart from the dumped rubbish (see above), and I found a quiet place to eat the roll I had bought for lunch from the Sheffield bakery.
From there it was another hour or so walking on rural back roads and old trails to get to the very small town of Railton. Unlike Sheffield, Railton seems to be a very quiet town in decline with nearly as many closed stores as open ones.
I had a short walk around town, bought a snack, and walked to the cabin I had booked on the outskirts, arriving around 3pm. After attending to a few chores while watching cricket on TV, I later walked back into town to the fast food store and got some dinner. It was an easy and enjoyable day, and I am almost sorry my Tasmanian Trail hike is nearly over. One day to go.
True to the forecast, it was raining lightly but continuously when I left my cabin at 7:15am. I walked the 500 metres into town and bought a sandwich for lunch from the bakery before continuing out the other side of Deloraine and walking the 9km on roads to rejoin the official TT. Around this time the rain stopped, and I enjoyed a nice walk along Cox's Road (see above) before entering the Gog Range forest. It was very pleasant forest walking, apart from the cobwebs, but my mind was on the looming ford of the Mersey River which had been described as potentially difficult on the TT website.
I reached the river around noon, about the same time the rain started again. It was difficult to see how deep the water was in some parts, and the river was wide, but the current was not strong, which gave me confidence that I wouldn't get into trouble. I took it slowly and got wet up to my groin, but crossed safely and happily. My goal for the day was to get about 10km past the river crossing before looking for somewhere to camp, and feeling OK, I continued on in the light rain. My shoes and socks were wet from the river, and I was beginning to feel quite damp all over. The trail was easy forest road, although it seemed to always be ascending or descending, and the forests were a mix of eucalypt and pine plantation. At times the trail seemed to ascend into the clouds and there were no views from anywhere in the Gog Range.
It was too wet to stop for a break, so I just kept walking, but must have switched off in my little rain-hooded world and missed a turn. By the time I realised, it was easier to continue on, following a different road in the same forest, knowing from Maps.Me that I would rejoin the official TT further on. The error cost me about 2km. Because I wasn't taking breaks, I was still making quite good time, and decided I would walk further than planned until I reached the edge of the forest and then camp at a river shown on the map.
After a very long descent, I reached the river, but found the area wasn't particularly good for camping. It was continuing to rain, and I didn't relish the idea of setting up camp in the rain, and perhaps packing up a wet tent in the morning. I began to think about how far it was to the small town of Sheffield which I had originally intended to reach about lunchtime tomorrow, and wondered whether I would be able to get accommodation there. Unfortunately, there was no phone signal at the potential camping site, so I had to decide whether to continue walking into the farmland, where I was unlikely to find another campsite, in the hope that once I had a phone signal, I would be able to book accommodation. By the time I got a signal it was 6pm, and I was lucky enough to get a room at the only motel in town. However, it was still 10km away and I was starting to get very tired.
The last 10km, though hard on the body, particularly because it involved some long ascents and descents, was actually some of the most beautiful scenery of the day. The steep green pastures had backdrops of spectacular mountains and mountain bluffs. To top it off, the rain stopped around the time I booked the motel, and I began to feel a little warmer.
I finally reached the motel around 8:20pm and pretty much collapsed in a chair in the room (in which the receptionist, knowing I was going to be late, had turned on the heater). After a shower and getting into some warm dry clothes, I felt much better and ate my dinner watching the second half of the Rugby World Cup Final on TV.
I only have about 13km tomorrow to my next booked accommodation, so I will sleep in as late as I can, have breakfast at the adjacent bakery, and check-in as early as I can at the next place. My feet are sore, as to be expected after 48km with a pack, but I enjoyed the day despite the weather and am happy with my fitness overall.
Highlight: Wandering around six of the Tasmanian Craft Fair venues and looking at some of the 260 exhibitors on a comfortably warm day in attractive Deloraine. I find the ingenuity and skills impressive, but think it would be a hard way to make a living with so much competition in the same space. It wouldn't be hard to think of a score of friends who would have savoured the exhibition more than me, and I'm sure I didn't appreciate adequately a lot of what I saw.
I had a slow start to the day, and attended to some chores before walking the 500 metres into the centre of Deloraine, which is a pretty little town set along a main street leading up from manicured parkland bordering the Meander River. After a wander up and down the street, I visited the Post Office to collect my last mailed food package where the girl was very impressed that I had arrived on the exact date specified on the package as my ETD (all my packages say "Please Hold for Tasmanian Trail Hiker Due ~ dd/mm/yy"). I told her I was a "man of routine".
I had some breakfast at one of the bakeries on the main street, and as I walked from there towards some of the Craft Fair venues, I passed the town's small sports store and saw they had some discounted running shoes in a bin out the front that got me thinking about replacing the old Nike Pegasus shoes I have been wearing, and which I feel are well past their "use by" date (and are half a size smaller that I would like). I visited three of the Fair venues, before deciding to return to the sports store to see what they had in stock.
WARNING! BORING PARAGRAPH ABOUT SHOES.
The discounted shoes in the size I wanted (US12) were Asics Gel Nimbus, which have a good reputation, but after doing some Googling, I found their heel drop (how much higher the heel is than the forefoot) was 10mm, and I would prefer 12mm. I have had lifetime Achilles tendon problems (five surgeries) and the higher heel drop (which Nike Pegasus also has) takes pressure off the tendon. Inside the store, they had some New Balance 880s, which have a 12mm heel drop, in my required size and I bought them. I was once also sponsored as a marathon runner by New Balance, and have found them to be good shoes, though sometimes a little on the heavy side. The proof will be in the pudding when I wear them tomorrow.
After buying the new shoes, I had lunch at the other bakery in town, bought a few things at the supermarket, then walked back to my cabin, by which time it was 2pm. I then walked to the three Fair venues close to my cabin and spent another hour looking around the exhibits, before spending the remainder of the afternoon, doing a few small chores and watching TV.
Later, I walked to a 50s-themed diner for dinner and packed ready for a reasonably early departure tomorrow (rain forecast). Around lunchtime, I will have to ford the other major river on the Tasmanian Trail, the Mersey. A TT website update says that there is a deep channel that makes the crossing difficult, and suggests a road alternative, but I think I'll take a look first. If I decide to backtrack, it should only cost me a few kilometres.