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Days 45 to 48: From Rose to Cradle

Monday 20th

I arrived in Rosebery at around midday on day 45 of the journey, and it couldn’t come sooner as the hilly, narrow road was heavily trafficked with large mining trucks and 4WDs, as well as tourist traffic. I would spend the next five days in Rosebery as it was the last place I could fill up on resources before I started the Overland Track, four days walk away, and I was six days early!

During this time I met some amazingly wonderful and generous locals, including Colin and Lina from the local burger joint/coffee spot who were wise and welcoming. I also spoke to four classes of students at the local school about the walk, and the student council was very kind in donating to the cause. Thank you! I also attended the ABC-hosted quiz night, was recorded by ABC for the radio (twice!) and generally hung about town until it was time to keep moving. By this stage I was itching to go and went with gusto on Saturday afternoon, which is when it started raining for the first time in a long time!

Pieman Lake

Saturday 25th

I had gone to sleep in the open behind the skate park for the air was warm and sky was clear, yet just as I was falling asleep I heard and felt the pitter-patter of rain on my sleeping bag. I quickly jumped up and had to hurry to get my tent up in time before my sleeping bag got saturated. Luckily the rain wasn’t heavy and once I was inside my tent it was like a lullaby, putting me to sleep. Is there a nicer sound than light rain on the outside of your tent while you’re snug inside your sleeping bag? I think not.

I woke up and finished the book I was reading (Treasure Island) while I waited for my things to dry. Then I spent the rest of the day tidying up loose ends and buying groceries before leaving town at three o’clock on the afternoon. I had waited to miss the heat of the day, which turned out to be a good idea as the first five kilometres after leaving town were all uphill. Halfway up and the sky opened up; the rain fell down upon me, on the road and on the tree ferns and vivid green forest around me. It still being warm, suddenly I was in the tropics and it was blissful! Hiking in the rain is my favourite thing on earth and once again I found myself yelling with joy. “What life is this?”, I would ask myself. I just wish I was able to share that moment with someone.

The rain stopped when I reached the bottom of the hill and I was saturated, but maintained a huge grin on my face. The clouds were low in the valleys and it made for incredible scenery with the mountains all around. Arriving in Tullah after 16 km, I found a secluded spot to camp by the Pieman Lake and immediately went for a long swim in the surprisingly warm water. It was absolutely blissful and topped off by an incredibly vivid red sky as the sun set. It was the perfect scene while I ate my dinner.

I now sit in my tent, the rain once again pattering the outside of my tent, and I am utterly content.

Sunday 26th

Rain, rain, rain. Today it fell in sheets and in waves and was almost incessant until I got into camp. Needless to say I received many strange looks from people passing by who couldn’t understand why I would be shirtless on the side of the road while rain poured down.

For me it’s simple: I produce a lot of heat pushing my cart up hills (which was what happened most of the day), so the rain actually helps to cool me down. However, it does not cool me as much as wearing a wet t-shirt for the whole day, and wearing a rain jacket leaves me so warm that I end up saturated with my own sweat instead. So by removing my shirt I stay (comparatively) warmer and cleaner and don’t have to deal with a wet shirt at the end of the day.

Anyway, it really was quite an uneventful day otherwise. A family from Hobart stopped briefly to give me a generous donation (thank you!), but the day really was characterised by the rain.

I love hiking in the rain - it’s completely invigorating and consequently is when I feel most alive. Again, there were moments today when I wished I could have shared them with someone else, it was just so beautiful. I ate my lunch under a tarp and have set up my tent under the tarp in anticipation of a lot of rain overnight - I don’t want my tent flooded, though the floor is already wet because the ground is completely soaked through.

Now to have some dinner. ‘Night!

Monday 27th

As I anticipated, it rained heavily during the night.

I had set up my tarp over the tent to prevent as much water from falling around the tent as posible, but still the water got through the thin base, as tends to happen with these lightweight tents. Still, it was really only my sleeping mat that got a bit wet and seeing as I had washed my clothes in the lake two nights earlier they had not yet had a chance to dry, I decided to have a slow morning to give everything the chance to lose some moisture, lest mould started to develop. I managed to get most things nearly dry and leave by about 10 am.

The rain stayed away the whole day and the sun came out, but it was a very hilly time! Yesterday and today I would gain over 700 m of elevation on my way up to Cradle Mountain Visitor’s Centre. At the highest point of the road there was a lookout with views of Cradle Mountain. I stopped here for a chat with two English ladies who were travelling through, and we talked about conservation and conservatism in Australia. They were lovely! Then we continued in our respective directions, through wide open valleys in an amazing mountainous landscape.

To my complete surprise by mid-afternoon I arrived at the turnoff to Cradle Mountain, only a few kilometres from the Visitor’s Centre which had been my intended destination for the NEXT day! I went and got my Parks Pass, checked into a camping spot, setup my tent, met Rose from Hobart who passed on a donation, showered, had dinner and now here I am catching up on journal entries!

I am going to sleep well tonight.

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