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Days 55 to 58: Marathons out of the Mountains

At Oura Oura, Bob Brown’s old home in the Liffey

Wednesday 6/12

We woke to my alarms in the free campsite at Lake St Clair, shared a cup of tea and then I packed my things. All too quickly Lauren and I said our farewells to each other and I was back on the road.

The previous afternoon I had repacked my things from my backpack into my trolley and while doing this met Fred from Belgium and Jean Paul from Switzerland. Fred had spent the last year walking the Te Araroa trail along the longitudinal length of New Zealand, then doing the same in Australia starting at Cape York and soon to finish in the south of Tassie. What an incredible journey! Jean Paul had family in the Otway Ranges (north of the Great Ocean Walk) and had also been a part of some amazing hikes himself, including hiking from Lhasa (the capital of Tibet) and through the Himalaya. What stories HE must have! Anyway, I asked for Fred’s details and we may meet again later in the journey.

As for the walking today, well it was a fairly uneventful day. I was not stopped by anyone and only cruised through a small settlement where I stopped for a cold drink. I continued on, starting my way into the central highlands, where I would camp after a 40 km day.

Thursday 7/12

A marathon day! Only the second (official) marathon distance I’ve covered in a day since the first day of this journey, it would be a trend I would continue tomorrow!

Though it had not rained during the night, I packed up a dewy, wet tent and got on my way by 8.20 am. I had already been travelling through tall eucalypt woodland for some time, on dirt roads, climbing up to the central highlands and lakes district.

Around 15 km into the day I broke out of the forest and into the highlands, resembling what I imagine the moors of Scotland look like - vast open areas of low-rolling scrub, interspersed with lakes, marshes and lagoons that are all surrounded by hilly, rocky outcrops. It was beautiful and certainly unique amongst the diverse environments I have experienced on the journey so far.

I reached the small settlement of Miena 22 km into the day and to my dismay found that there was no supermarket in town! I was lucky enough to get a few vegetables from the very kind shopkeeper at the green all store, who also gave me a generous discount on the other items I purchased there. Thank You! I then ambled over to the pub for a $4 bowl of hot chips and to charge my devices before beginning the next 100 km to Launceston. But without any fruit!

At the 30 km mark I realised that if I pushed myself I could make Launceston in only another two days. I decided to go for it, which would mean completing a marathon for the day. I ended up arriving in a small holiday hamlet on the edge of Great Lake after 43 km.

Cheekily, I set up my tent under the verandah of an unoccupied shack to dry while it rained on the metal roof above my head. Bonus!

Friday 8/12

Waking up to light rain, but with a dry tent, I packed up my things feeling the previous days’ efforts in my legs. It took a little while to warm up once on the road, and the early winds did not seem to make the morning too pleasant but after climbing a large hill above Great Lake and up to the highest point of the road of the central highlands, I was feeling pretty good. What awaited was a long and steep descent into the midlands of Tasmania.

I had chosen this route because it would take me through the Liffey Valley, a site of historical importance in Australia’s environmental movement. But before I got there I would need to pass through what looked like nice easy dirt tracks in the Liffey Forestry area, but which turned out to be steep, rough 4WD tracks that were nearly the end of my cart and I (See picture below)! Luckily it was all downhill and after the trolley got through that safe and sound I now know it can get through anything!

I made it into the Liffey Valley and came across Oura Oura, a property managed by Bush Heritage Australia and originally owned by Bob Brown, previous Australian Senator and Greens leader. It was here on his property that the many meetings opposing logging in Tasmania were held, and you could say that organisations such as the Wilderness Society and Australian Greens were born from this movement. I certainly had a bit of a moment here and left on a high, surrounded by the mountains forming the Liffey Valley. It culminated in jumping into the Liffey River fully clothed on my way out!

On I continued, eventually making my way into the town of Bracknell where I congratulated myself on my 47 km day by grabbing a meal at the local pub. It was also where the reality of the time of year hit me as everything was decorated in the theme of Christmas!

Saturday 9/12

If I woke up feeling tired yesterday, I woke up feeling flat today. The last three 40 + km days were taking their toll. Luckily I knew I only had 34 km to do today, half of which would be easy as Clare Pitt (previous Director of Wollangarra) would be walking alongside me. Clare had also been instrumental in helping get my pack and cart logistics organised around the Overland Track, using her contacts with the Tasmanian Walking Company to help me out. Thank you Care and Tas Walking Company for that logistical support!

But before I met Clare (for the first time!) I would need to cover the 17 km between Bracknell and Carrick, which I had completed by midday, but not without effort! I was still feeling flat until I Clare and I sat down for lunch in the shade and cool next to a river. She had prepared some delicious fresh food from her garden, which weren’t down an absolute treat. I think I had been missing fruit the last few days!

With renewed vigour we hit the road again, with the traffic getting busier as we got closer and closer to Launceston. About 10 km out Katherine stopped her car briefly to make a donation to the cause and after that my energy begun to wane again. Not too much further! A little over an hour later and Clare and I arrived at her house, cool drinks in hand and chatted with her lovely neighbour Peter, clearly a very intelligent and clued-in man!

I went to have a much-needed shower and came out to find another Claire in the house - this one had lived and worked at Wollangarra in 2015 and I already knew well! Together we prepared a feast for dinner, most of the produce coming from Clare’s garden and it was just what I needed: delicious food shared with the absolute best company! I really couldn’t have been blessed with a better evening.

After a rest day today (Sunday) I’ll be feeling right as rain for the final leg in Tasmania, finishing up in Hobart!

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