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January 14, 2018

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Days 39-41: Traversing the Tarkine

November 21, 2017

 

Wednesday 15th

Today was a day that I will always remember. There was not particular moment or event that made it so spectacular, but rather the combination of every part of the day that made the whole experience, like a timeless album. Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” or Radiohead’s “In Rainbows” are good examples of these. 

 

Today was a hilly day, easily the most hilly day I have had on the road so far.The hills made me sweat like I’ve never sweated before as I pushed my 50 kg + trolley up these extended inclines for hours. The sweat would drip down my face and into my eyes, causing them to sting, and then into my mouth as well, where I could taste the salt. But I didn’t mind all that; it was a reminder of where I was, of what I was doing and of why I was doing it! I came to relish the hills and then began to enjoy them more than the flats. And the hills were what today was all about. 

Coming down from up high I noticed a change in the landscape and stuck my head through the seemingly impenetrable roadside thicket to discover a lush, dark, mysterious wet forest. 

 

I reached 950 km early in the day, the halfway marker for the entire journey! It was a nice moment but was interrupted by the need to set up and take photos of the occasion! I pressed on.

 

After lunch (at about the 27 km mark) I came to what I think was the highest point for the day, approximately 3 km short of the Savage River mine. I decided to see if I had any phone reception and in doing so found out that Australia had voted for marriage equality! Tears welled in my eyes as I thought of the joy and retribution that must have been felt across Australia, and especially thought of those close to me who would be affected most by this historic occasion. Well done Australia!

 

It was at this point that Chris pulled up to see if I was okay. He suggested a few places that I could camp up the road and went on his way once he saw I was alright. I would see him again later in the day when he came to see how far I’d gotten and again check that I was alright. Cheers Chris!

 

I continued on. Down to the mine, past the huge tailings dam, past the death, the desolation, the eeriness. Through town and onto the dirt track on the other side. Finally.

No more cars, no more trucks making their way back and forth to the mine (not that there had been too many). But it was finally just me, my trolley, the white dirt track and the beautiful expanse of the Tarkine. That’s when I begun to feel peace, joy, purpose, meaning, life.

 

There have been many moments on this journey where I have realise myself, realised where I am and what I was doing and had to shout to express my joy for what I was then experiencing. This was one of those times and this one was special.

 

“I AM HERE. 

I EXIST IN THIS WORLD.

I AM DOING SOMETHING.

I’M ALIVE.

HEEEYYYYYYYY!!!”

 

Damn, did it feel good. And after that it seemed as though I was floating. I was aware of everything happening around me and there were tingles running up and down my spine. My feet were feathers, I was simply floating up the track. 

 

Gabe pulled up beside me and we had a yarn for a little while, mainly about how much busier Tasmania was compared to when he was a teenager just a few decades earlier. He and his son Joshua were headed to Corinna to get away for a few days. I guess I’ll see them tomorrow if I keep going at this rate!

 

I pulled into camp after 37 km, expecting to have completed on 20 km for the day but feeling as though I could have continued to walk all night. 

 

What a day.

What a beautiful day.

 

Thursday 16th

How to start a day after a day like yesterday? Slowly, of course.

 

I woke to the sound of rain on the tarp that I had set up over my tent. I had done this to see if I could collect water and it worked, even though I hadn’t needed it.

I had breakfast, trialling broken dried banana chips cooked in cous cous and fig jam, mainly to try to get rid of some of my cous cous, but it was only so-so! I made myself a cup of tea and read a chapter of my book, only starting to pack up once I heard the rain ease off. 

The area was still completely shrouded in mist once I set off and it was magnificent.

 

After a few kilometres Mark from Adelaide approached in his car and stopped me and we chatted for a time. He fondly gave me a donation and not two minutes later I was stopped by Matt from Adelaide who lived and worked at Corinna, my destination for the day at ~20 km away. He also gave me a donation and said that they would put me up in a campsite for free once I arrived. This was perfect as I was planning on having a rest day there; thanks Matt! My Adelaide brethren were certainly pulling through for me today!

 

About half an hour later I was stopped by Dennis, who travels between Victoria and Tasmania for environmental monitoring work at mine sites. He was just on his way back from Corinna after the workers at Savage River mine had advised him to visit in his spare time. He told me that near Corinna was a mine that produces the most pure silica in the world - so pure that it as used for the glass in the Hubble Space telescope. Now how is that for a bit of trivia?! Dennis and I got a photo together and he was also so kind as to give me a donation as well as some money to get myself a coffee once I arrived at Corinna. What a gentleman Dennis was. And as they say, when it rains, it pours!

 

Well, after the late start and getting stopped all morning by passers-by (not that I minded!) I was sure taking my time and it was a trend that would continue. High open rolling grassland turned back into wet sclerophyll temperature forest complete with mosses, tree ferns, shadow and mystery. It honestly felt as though I was stopping every 10 m to take another photo. The final 10 km of the day took me four hours to cover, during which I took hundreds of photos. And I’m not exaggerating!

 

I eventually made it down to Corinna, passing the silica mine on the way. I met much of the rest of the staff there, who had been clued in to my arrival by Matt and were all extremely kind and accommodating. What a beautiful spot!

 

As instructed and provided for by Dennis, I treated myself to a coffee and also some hot chips, relaxed by reading some more and eventually went to set up my tent and have a shower, but only after jumping into the beautifully cool, refreshing and picturesque waters of the Pieman River. What a beautiful place to have a rest day! 

 

Friday 17th

I had been woken up multiple times throughout the night by pademelons (a type of marsupial, like a small wallaby) getting into my things, which had bothered me to no end in my sleepy state! But on waking I felt guilty as I knew that their scavenging behaviour was simply a symptom of people intentionally feeding them or having left food out previously. There was probably also a good metaphor about our relationship with nature in there somewhere, but I was too sleepy to give it much thought.

 

For breakfast I tried my cous cous and dried banana chip ‘porridge’ again, but this time added some trail mix in for good measure. Much better! Okay, actually just a little bit better.

 

I had kindly been promised a free kayak for the day, so went off upstream in the morning to a place called Lover’s Corner, where I found some beautiful waterfalls. I also found Chris and Nicole, who had arrived shortly after me the day before and just missed out on lunch being served. At the time I had offered some of the fresh food that I had and we’d struck up an acquaintance as a result. But now we had a great opportunity to talk and in such a magnificent setting as well! We found out we had very similar views on the world and backgrounds, even down to Nicole’s Colombian heritage! 

 

I stayed around to take some photos and then went back to find that they had kindly prepaid for my lunch, which I promptly ate with gusto! It was a special example of meeting and experiencing the generosity of kindred spirits on the journey. It was such a pleasure to meet you Chris and Nicole!

 

I saw out the afternoon by reading some more and catching up on these journal entries, then had a nice long chat about the magic of travel with Rosa from the reception. It was the perfect way to spend a rest day and just what I needed!

 

Back on the road tomorrow...

 

 

 

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