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Days 59 to 62: Flying to the Finish Line

Pascal, Churchy, myself and Bennie with Jacky Boy the choppper at Freycinet Air Scenic Flights

Monday 11th

I was lovely waking up at Clare’s in Launceston. Again, I had had an excellent night’s sleep, more than likely comforted by the hospitable people and warm household.

I said goodbye to Clare, who left before me to pick up her husband Raku who had been away. I bid farewell to their dog Tilley and got on my way. I made a quick stop to replenish supplies and before I knew it I had left Launceston and was passing the airport!

Here I was distracted by an aerobatic biplane that was practicing touch-and-go manoeuvres. I have always wanted to be a pilot and I spent some time watching this plane, wondering if I’ll ever make the time or resources available to chase such a dream. Then I got on my way again only to stop again in the historic, quaint and beautiful town of Evansdale for lunch and a coffee.

“This walking thing was pretty great a lot of the time!” I thought to myself as I devoured a cherry and cream cheese strudel with my coffee.

Another 20 km or so down the road and that mood had worn off somewhat, but was lifted again when Max stopped for a chat. After hearing about my project he told me about his: he was trying to start a business turning African Boxthorn (a highly invasive weed across Australia) into briquettes that people could use in their fireplace. What a great idea! We exchanged details and promised to keep in touch. (He does not yet have a website but when he gets one I’ll link to it).

Apart from jumping in a creek along the way, I lost track of the rest of the day, stopping to check how far I’d gone at the 43 km mark, so decided to set up shop for the night on the side of the road. So I was perched in the middle of the Tasmanian Midlands, with the sheep, cows and mountains in the distance for company during a magnificent sunset.

Not a bad life really!

Tuesday 12th

More than a few people stopped to give me donation today, which was great as it made having to briefly walk on the main highway (for 13 km) not seem as bad as it actually is. Before arriving at the highway I saw a White-bellied Sea Eagle whilst crossing a river, which made my morning!

In truth, I wish I could only walk on back roads. The main highways are incredibly loud, windy, rough in texture and they leave you exhausted quickly. This is why I was so happy to arrive in Campbell Town as it meant I would not have to walk on the A1 again!

I picked up a few groceries, filled up my water and waited out the heat of the afternoon with a bowl of wedges in front of me. Then I turned back towards the mountains on the East Coast and covered another 11 km, finishing at an unintentional marathon (again!) of 42 km, partially because it was so difficult to find a place to camp!

Wednesday 13th

I started off early, leaving by around 7.30 am to try to beat the heat of what I knew would be a 34 degree day. I would also have to gain over 500 m elevation, coming up over the mountains at Lake Leake, so I was expecting a hot, hard morning.

In the end I had passed Lake Leake before lunchtime and stopped to jump fully clothed into a nearby lake and have lunch. A few hours later as the heat of the day set in I felt drops of liquid on the side of my body and assumed that the cooling effect of my wet clothes had worn off and I was starting to sweat. I felt the drops again and reached down to feel my side, raising my fingers to discover that they were covered in blood. Without even knowing it I had been leeched for the third time on the journey! (The over two times got me in the left leg on The Great Ocean Walk and Overland Tracks). I dressed my wound and continued on.

During this day I realised that the cushioning in my first pair of shoes had been finished and were leaving me feet aching at the end of the day. I decided to retire them and to celebrate used them as brakes on the tyres when going down a hill. Results in the photos. Thanks New Balance 380s!

Not long afterwards I found Louisa stopped on the side of the road. She had seen me earlier in the day heading in the other direction and on her way back stopped to gift me a sandwich, mince pies, a bottle of cold orange juice, apples, bananas and water! Again, such an incredible display of generosity of the people I’d met along the road! Louisa had been on my end before as a cycle tourist so could relate. I couldn’t thank her enough! Thank you again Louisa!

Then at the 35 km mark I stopped to address some blisters that had been developing over the previous week. As I was sat on the side of the road a 4WD pulled up and a happy-go-lucky young fella named Sam (Churchy) asked jumped out and asked if I wanted a lift! I politely declined citing the charity nature of my walk so he refined my offer. Would I like to put my things in the back of his car, go for a swim in the beach, then join him and his pilot buddies at a housewarming party? He would drop me back at this exact spot in the morning. My response: Absolutely!

The rest of the evening was incredibly fun and it felt like I had known Churchy, Bennie and Pascal for a lot longer than a few hours by the time we went to bed!

Thursday 14th

When we woke up Churchy asked if I wanted to hang around the airfield (Freycinet Air) for the day and I said “sure!” I’m glad I did as I had a great time helping the fellas with their operations that day, and I even got to ride along Pascal on a scenic flight! I found it incredible that only a few days earlier I had been wondering if I would ever give myself the opportunity to become a pilot and then this experience came along serendipitously. I’m pretty keen!

Thanks for an excellent experience guys, I’ll have to be back to visit.

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