The day had come when I would have to leave my new friends Churchy, Pascal and Bennie at Freycinet Air, but luckily we didn’t get a chance to leave for most of the morning! By the time Churchie dropped me off where he had picked me up a few days earlier, and then put my cart back together, it was already midday and I would need to make a good pace to make a decent distance for the day.
I did just that, stopping for lunch after around 8 km then continuing another 10 km to Swansea where I stocked up on food. Continuing on I covered another 16 km, getting stopped a few times on the way to be given donations, before coming across a designated campsite filled with weekenders! I had hit the coast just past Swansea so before setting up camp jumped in the ocean for a cleanse then got myself sorted for the evening.
It was a little strange camping in a real campsite, surrounded by people, but I slept soundly, albeit perhaps not quite long enough!
Waking up a little earlier than normal, I packed up my things and left the campsite before another soul stirred! I would cover 27 km before stopping for lunch, which was too long in coming because I was famished!
The road was the main road going to Hobart so was quite busy and did not have much of a shoulder. Although most of the drivers were quite pleasant, it did get mentally tiring to continuously have to steer the cart on and off the road to avoid traffic and I felt my energy waning as I entered Triabunna and the 35 km mark.
As this was happening a car ahead of me flashed its lights and pulled over so I took off my glasses and hat, expecting to have another chat about the project with a stranger. Instead I found my brother Brugh and sister-in-law Nicole with grins on their faces - what a surprise!
I had forgotten that they were arriving a few days earlier than the rest of my family to visit their friend Glenda, who, (if you’ve been playing along at home) hosted me in Penguin when I first arrived in Tasmania. After a quick reunion we agreed to meet for a feed in Triabunna town and enjoyed a lunch together before we all went on our respective ways. I’ll see them again in just a few days!
Another nine kilometres down the road and I passed through Orford before finding a spot to camp, just as the road turns inland to cut through the mountains back to Hobart. That will be the mission for the next few days!
I had intended that today would be a short day. My mum would be arriving in Hobart in two days time and she wanted to walk the final leg into Hobart with me but I was covering too much distance! If I had a short day and then a rest day somewhere then perhaps this would be a possibility. But it wasn’t to be so!
My friend Churchie from Freycinet had warned me about a section of road just past Orford, where I had spent the night, that had no shoulder and was bordered by the river and a cliff face. He suggested I get a lift through that section but I wasn’t going to do that so woke up early to get it out of the way before there was too much traffic. It was a good idea and worked well! I was even stopped by Jorja, who was taking her mum back to the airport. I had met Jorja, who works as a guide in the Coles Bay area, whilst staying with the boys at Freycinet Scenic Air Flights.
Thinking I would be having a shorter day I stopped regularly and had lunch on the side of the road after only 20 km. It was a busy and windy road, so I enjoyed briefly getting away from the traffic. The landscape was quickly becoming agricultural again.
Around this time I was also stopped by Mitch, who gave me a donation and warned about some ‘big hills’ that were coming up in the next 20 km or so. I figured I had already had some big hills on the journey, so they weren’t likely to be an issue, and I was right! The hills were creatively named though: Break-Me-Neck Hilll and Bust-Me-Gall Hill!
Coming down from the second of these, I went with the momentum so it was easy going. Along this path Churchie pulled up with his family in the back of the car - he was taking them back to the airport too! After a quick chat and well-wishing flying back and forth they continued on their way and so did I. What seemed like not long afterwards Churchie was back from the opposite direction. He had dropped off his parents, done the grocery shopping for the week and returned with a few beers for us! We sat in the back of his ute and had a yarn before he realised that the other boys were waiting for the dinner he was returning with, so he was off! And once again so was I.
At this point I was already at 50 km so now it was just a matter of finding a good spot to camp, which I found just past the town of Sorrell, adjacent to a Ramsar-listed wetland (of international significance for migratory birds).
I can tell you - I crashed!
I woke knowing what today would bring - the final leg of my walking journey in Tasmania. I was also looking forward to a reunion with friends I had not seen in a while and some well-earned social time!
Before I packed up I spent a short amount of time sending out a media release about my arrival in Hobart. Hopefully someone would pick up on it, and they did! Not long after packing up and starting on the road I heard from Nikki of The Mercury newspaper, who would meet me in Hobart later that afternoon. Great!
Along the way I met Donn and Sarah, two lovely people who showed generous support for the walk. It was truly fantastic to have met such environmentally-conscious and supportive individuals at this, the beginning of my final day in Tassie. It was fitting really, and set the mood for the rest of the day.
I walked over bridges, weirs and before I knew it was in central Hobart, ready to meet Nikki at the foreshore. We took a few photos in the brilliant sunlight, then my friends Oscar, Claire, Six and Emily arrived (all of whom I know from Wollangarra!), making a lot of noise for my arrival. It was sublime! We found a good spot for me to jump in the bay, then went for a drink, where my friend Pippa from school joined us. It had been years since I had seen her, and it was excellent to hear her enthusiasm for some sustainable energy projects she was working on in Tassie!
All in all, I felt extremely lucky to have loved-ones around at this moment, but also a little sorry that I couldn’t have been a touch slower so that my family could have joined me too! I would get to spend the next week with them in Tassie though, so I was very content with that thought.
So I’ve now covered 1655 km of the 1900 that I intended. If you remember, early on in this journey I was injured and had to take 10 days off to recover. In order to keep to my schedule, I elected to continue from further along the route I had planned.
So now the idea is to wait for an opportune period of weather to complete the 255 km between Kingston SE (SA) and Heywood (VIC) in the New Year. The journey continues!