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Days 42-44: The Road to Replenishment

Saturday 18th

I think that physically, this was the most difficult day I have had on the entire journey.

I said my goodbyes to the lovely staff at Corinna and caught the ferry across the Pieman River to meet a slim bitumen road. I soon found out why it was bitumen because for the next 8 km I encountered innumerable steep but short ups and downs. Having not had a chance to warm up, my calf muscles were quickly screaming in protest as I leaned into my cart with all my body weight and slowly urged us both up each hill.

To get to the crest of each hill was heartbreaking, as from there I met the next downhill, where I would lose much of the elevation that I had just gained. I could also see the next steep rise that would shortly need to be tackled!

Still, I soon resigned myself to this fate for the morning and when the road became unsealed again I felt relieved as I knew it meant that the worst of the steep terrain was over.

I met the intersection with the highway and turned right onto the larger bitumen road, covering the kilometres quickly. The landscape changed from closed forest to wide open hilly scrub and rocky mountainous terrain. The day became very warm and I stopped twice to rest (once for lunch) and also to splash myself with water from the Tasman River.

After 30 km I decided to stop at the next good camp I found, setting up at the 32 km mark right by a swiftly flowing river. I commenced to was away the day’s sweat, grime, dirt and settle in for a warm evening...

Sunday 19th

I fell asleep under a brilliantly star-lit sky last night, and woke up to a bright blue sky. Just like yesterday, I knew it was going to be a hot day and I was right. I had expected my journey through the West in the Tarkine to be wet and cool for much of the time, but so far I had only experienced warm, dry weather. That was fine by me, even if it only meant I didn’t have to pack up a wet tent each morning!

I put on my shoes to go down to the river and collect water for my morning cuppa, neglecting any socks for the short trip. I didn’t check my shoes, however, and soon felt a sharp, painful pinch on my toe. I quickly removed my shoe to discover an big, red, angry inch-long ant hanging off the end of my toe with his pointy pincers. Bugger! I quickly brushed him off and hoped that it wouldn’t swell too much and impede my walking for the day. I was lucky, it didn’t.

I would be passing through Zeehan at around the 16 km mark today, arriving at around lunchtime. It’s a strange town nowadays. It has a long silver mining history, at one point even boasting its own mineral science academy in partnership with UTas as well as the country’s largest concert hall at 1000 seats (it’s still there, but is no longer the largest)!

Nowadays however, the ore body having long since been depleted, the town is but a shell of its former self. Walking through town felt eerie, ghostly even as there were many abandoned buildings and very few people around.

I treated myself to a milkshake in a local cafe while I briefly had contact with the outside world to find out that one of my best friends got engaged! Congrats Rick! After buying some bananas I continued out of town, intending to cover another ten kilometres so that I would be only 20 km away from the next town, Rosebery.

On the way I passed an otherwise healthy-looking Tasmanian Devil that had been hit and killed by a car. It’s a shame as these iconic marsupials are Endangered, mainly due to a facial tumor disease that has been rampant over the last decade. I took a picture, as I have done with a lot of roadkill that I have come across, as a very tangible reminder of the collateral damage that we have on nature through our day-to-day activities.

At the 10 km mark from Zeehan there was a good spot to look for a camp but for reasons beyond me I decided to continue despite the afternoon heat. There wouldn’t be another suitable spot for five km, but I found myself camped amongst a scene from Hansel and Gretel.

Monday 20th

Waking up from my slumber I knew I did not have far to go to reach Rosebery today, only something like 16 km. It was a good thing I had done the extra kilometres yesterday because the road conditions were not great.

The Murchison Highway was listed as an 'A' road on the map, but was only single-laned and with no shoulder. It was steep, windy and filled with trucks and tourist traffic as it was a main thoroughfare. With the heat, the hills and need to pull off the road whenever a vehicle came in my direction those 16 km were slow going and not particularly relaxing. Podcasts because my friend in the last 5 km and they went by quite quickly.

Arriving in town for lunch, I found myself in a local cafe talking to the owners Lina and Colin. We had a great chat about jumping into the unknown in life. He sent me on my way when they had packed up at the end of the day, laden with some extra hot food.

I bought a few extra things for dinner, vegetables that I otherwise would not get to eat, and bunkered down behind the skate park in town, hoping that the town's youth did not decide to come skating in the middle of the night. They did not come to skate, but a few came to hang out and I think I scared them more than they scared me!

Six days ahead of schedule is far too many, so I'll be in Rosebery until Saturday before starting my journey up to Cradle Mountain Visitor's Centre to start the Overland Track with my friend Lauren on November 30. Rosebery is the last place I will be able to fill up on supplies and I can use it as a base to get other things done while I wait!

On Tuesday I was able to chat with Ross Marsden on ABC Local Radio and on Thursday I'll be speaking to four classes of students at Rosebery High about the journey and need to protect our Threatened species. Wish me luck!

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