2021 Tasmanian Trail

Day 14 And its over
Virus image
Virus image
Those of you who have been paying close attention to the online realtime Garmin map for my Tasmanian Trail journey would have noticed that my map has been stagnant for the last few days showing me in still in New Norfolk.
As mentioned in my post earlier this week and in the most recent podcast episode, episode 193, the out of control spreading of COVID through NSW was a big worry to me. While I was waiting for the New Norfolk post office to open on Monday morning, I was also making the decision on whether I should continue to Dover or return back to Canberra. For me the risk was getting stuck in Tasmania for a week or two should Canberra lock down given the inevitable cancellation of flights that would have occurred. My decision resulted in a very short notice air flight back home on late Tuesday afternoon.
For me this was a hard decision based on Canberra going into a very hard and rapid lockdown which was announced only a few hours prior to this post it and proved to be the best one. Given that the ACT Government has now designated almost the entire state of NSW as hot spots, with the exception of areas immediately adjacent to our border, I won’t be travelling anywhere for hiking at least for the next week.
I still have leave up my sleeve and after a few days off I will use that time to get back into a routine with posting and I will also be doing a wrap up podcast next week.. Que sera sera!

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The image in this post is of the Tyenna River at Westerway and had I of stayed on track I would have crossed this river, or more specifically swum it, given it was so high. I camped just outside of Westerway at the point where the old railway track crossed the road as it allowed access into the pine plantation.

It’s the same every time; you find a spot to camp only to get up and walk on the next morning and find a much better spot about another 500 metres away. I know there’s not much you can do about this and there are times you walk on and don’t find anything suitable.

I spent much of this day walking towards New Norfolk passing through the towns of  Glenora and Bushy Park. They may well have been twin towns – they were really just an extended row of houses with Glenora having the school and Bushy Park having the shop come post office come petrol station. I am yet again staggered at the friendliness of the people in these country towns and at Bushy Park after buying up on food I was offered a free fresh pastry. I would have loved to take up the offer but wouldn’t have been able to walk after eating them – I would’ve ended with a sugar comma they looked so rich.

I headed on towards New Norfolk taking the road route and later in the afternoon hit a brick wall. Decision time. Rather than staying around 10km short of New Norfolk I opted for a lift into town and I’m hoteling it for three nights. Usually I do two nights to allow me to do the podcast but the post office doesn’t open until Monday so I’m here until Tuesday morning to allow me to pick up my drop box, sort out what I need and press on. Having said that the COVID news is a bit concerning and only seems to be getting worse.

I’m glad that I did get a lift in because many roads in Tasmania aren’t made for walking. Between where I got picked up and town, there was nowhere remotely possible to set up a tent without hopping a fence into someone’s paddock which typically contained livestock.

Lastly one final blast from the past – all I can think of when walking past the Derwent River is Derwent pencils. I know they are produced in the UK but for some reason I have always associated them with Tasmania. Go figure.

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Only a short walking day today spending the first half of the day jumping ahead to the town of Ouse, thanks Paul, including picking up resupply boxes. One box I sent ahead for later use and the other one I stocked up on and sent any extras home.

I started walking  around 1:30pm and travelled just over 9km to the other side of the Derwent River. This involved road walking because my other option was to cross a river and given that all the waterways are very up in level, this wasn’t an option and not safe. As such I’m finding myself doing a bit of a choose your own adventure on this trip.

After crossing the single lane bridge over the Derwent I was almost going to camp just of the road. Luckily I decided to press on and found a formal campsite complete with picnic shelter and toilets only a few hundred metres away. Great campsite but as I discovered it was noisy due to the frogs, the swans and a possum that was eyeing my tent off for through the night.

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Today was most physically demanding day of the whole trip for a number of reasons. Firstly it was a 22km day, my biggest so far, and secondly the wind.

The day started out okay but by mid morning I found myself walking up a series of steep hills into a strong headwind. I did an Instagram post and at that stage the winds were steady at 60-70 km per hour. Just after I posted they increased to around 80 km which made for very slow going. Then to make matters worse, they shifted to a tail wind which you think would have made things better but actually made it hard the balance.

Overnight the winds have come and gone requiring me to add the additional guy lines to stabilise my tent.

During the day I passed through two towns, Ellendale and Westerway. Both smallish towns as towns go but with small shops and post offices. Most of all it was a chance to have a snack and in the case of Westerway, to top up my water. I ended up camping on the southern outskirts of Westerway.

For those following me on the online map you will have noticed that I am now firmly dipping in and out of the Tasmanian Trail. As previously mentioned all of the creeks and streams are running very high and if there is a water fording required I will detour around it. My choice was backed up on this day as I went over a bridge crossing that had if I had tried to cross the river, it would’ve been a swim.

Both the weather and the landscape have changed quite dramatically from the north and I am now walking through a drier farmland environment. This walk really does provide an opportunity to see Tasmanian and go off the beaten track to many small communities that most people are unlikely to ever visit. Sure the trail bypasses all the national parks but that’s a visit for another time.

I’ve been asked on social media if I’m warm enough in my tent and the answer to that is yes. I have a new Sea to Summit sleeping bag which is keeping me toasty and on those really cold nights, I have a thermal liner which I’ve only used once to boost up the temperature.

Over the next two days I have just on 29 km to walk to my next town stop. So I’m planning for a long then a short day and then will take advantage of the hotel room.

The forecast is for rain but thankfully not a lot.

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Yesterday was a planned rest day and an opportunity to do the week one podcast for my Tasmanian Trail Trip. Every time I do on-trail podcasts I swear I need to refresh my memory about the process because the software and technology is different. As such it took me most of the day to put together, edit and post this latest episode; big fingers and an iPad mini don’t always go together.

It was also an opportunity to work out my plans for the rest of the trip. From here I will be jumping forward to Ouse and will restart my journey. I’m looking forward to getting back on trail again.

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Yesterday was an alternate route day to avoid having to cross the Mersey River. All good in that sense. As usual I had a couple of periods of rain and today I went off track a couple of times due to my interpretation of the guide book but quickly came back on track again.

Where I had an issue was at the end of the day where I was planning to camp. I knew I had to cross the Lobster Rivulet for a second time and like the first crossing I had assumed there would be a small bridge. My mistake. In this case I needed to cross the fast moving waterway.While it wouldn’t have been my first choice, I was prepared for it if it was safe.

The photo in this post doesn’t do this crossing justice – it looked fierce. I tested the water close to shore and it was 1 metre deep and appeared deeper further across. In addition, I threw a 25 kg sapling in to test the water speed and I have never seen something move so quickly. I decided to camp and wait until the morning of day six to see what had developed overnight. Unfortunately the marker I had placed on the shore was now under water and the depth risen by another 30 cm.

This is one of those times where being a solo hiker is a disadvantage! Solo hiking is all about risk management and there was no option to cross this rivulet without ending up getting soaked and likely, washed downstream even if only a short way. Not something you want to experience particularly in winter.

Short story is I have decided to backtrack. Given I only have 1.5 days of food left I’m heading to the town of Deloraine today to resupply and assess my options.

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Yesterday was very much a day spent road walking, both on bitumen and dirt management roads. The first real sign that today was going to be different was my first steep descent as I made my way towards the very prominent Mount Roland fully realising I was going to have to go up again. The ascents and descents were severe but a noticeable change from the previous two days. Another pattern for yesterday were the occasional rain storms that seemed to come from nowhere very quickly and then go almost as fast. Both times I rushed to get my rain gear on only to have it stop by the time I did.

Yesterday also saw my first flood division and according to the guide book this is unmarked but there was an alternate route sign at the start along with the occasional trail marker along the way. I hit the diversion bridge in about another 4km. Another day just on 20km and for a number of reasons that seems to be my limit so it looks like I will need my spare days at the end of the trip to complete.

Last night I camped about 50 metres off the road in a eucalyptus reserve as the area that I am walking through at the moment is farmland and the verges aren’t very private so I have no choice. I spotted this area about 3:45pm and managed to set up and cook dinner before another small rain storm. I had a good sleep last night including a long block between 4:30pm and 11:30pm so I am feeling rested.

For the first time I’m going to have to filter water and while there is plenty to be had, I need to find some that doesn’t have a dead road kill wallaby in it which is easier said than done. I’m just going to have to find a source that starts at the top of a hill.

Now for breakfast and then pack up and go.

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Yesterday wasn’t really a bad day rain-wise. It rained lightly until around 10:30am and I left my rain gear on as it was just an easier thing to do. A couple of kilometres after I started walking I came across the bridge and river shown in this post. The guidebook said to pay attention at this stage because if you couldn’t cross here then you wouldn’t be able to cross naturally at a late stage. The water level is up around 2 metres and with the additional heavy rain we had much much of yesterday evening, I definitely need to take the designated detour which is an issue for later today.

I hit two towns yesterday the first being Railton which is where I stopped for morning tea/brunch. A great little town and a chance to find some hot food. The second was Sheffield which is where I spent the night. Sheffield is definitely the larger town with a lot more to see and do but as soon as I hit town and booked a hotel room, that was me. It gave me an opportunity to dry my tent fly and to also dry my boot and sock which I managed to put into a puddle of cow water above the top of the boot!

I also spent a bit of time looking at the plans for the next few days and for those following me on the online Garmin map, I’ll being going off track for the next couple of days as the designated detour allows me to cross the river by bridge. The route isn’t marked with signage so I’ll  need to pay attention to the designated turn points that I have photos of so I can avoid getting out the paper version (in the rain).

The combined distance is 62km and while I used to be able to do 30km+ sort of days I’ll need to work back up to those distances so I expect this section will take three days instead of two. I have a number of days up my sleeve so can take longer if needed or if the conditions dictate. I’m starting to get into a routine but I’m definitely discovering muscles I’d forgotten I had!

Over the next few days I’m expecting to have erratic phone and internet signal but will try to post as I can. This may also impact my next podcast release but I’m still hoping to post towards the end of the week.

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I ended up walking 20km yesterday which is not a huge distance by my standard but more than my planned 8km to Latrobe. I discovered why the caravan park was showing up as being full was because they were doing maintenance work and didn’t open until the 10 August. It was a good thing I had decided to do a bigger day. All through the afternoon I came across some good campsites but in a location that was way too early to stop. Once I passed through the eucalyptus plantation (see entry gate in this post) it was back out onto road walking with narrow shoulders unsuitable for tents.

I came across an area that looked like a good option but then realised it was a shooting range so pressed on. I like to stop around 3:30pm-4:00pm as it gives me time to set up in the light and eat before it gets dark. I found a great location about 800 metres further on and by the time I set up and got into my tent, it had just started to rain so I couldn’t have timed it better.

I tend to sleep fitfully when I camp and my usual sleep requirement is around six hours but last night I spent around 12 hours sleeping, tossing and turning. As I write this post it’s just after 4am and I’m wide awake listening to the rain which continued throughout the night, and watching a leach just above me trying to get inside my tent. From what I understand they target CO2 so it’s been circling my head area for about 30 minutes.

The weather forecast isn’t looking good for the next few days with heavy rains forecast along with flood warnings. I’m glad I had already decided to take the flood diversions but will still need to keep an eye out on the wider impacts on my walk.

I’ll aim for a start at around 7:30am this morning but will see how I go.

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Yesterday was spent travelling. A last final check prior to catching a flight from Canberra to Hobart before lunch in Hobart and then a two-leg bus trip to Devonport via Launceston. I looked at all the travel options and this worked out to be the most economical and practical. I had a couple of hours in Hobart so it allowed me to purchase gas which means I can start walking earlier in Devonport now as I don’t have to wait for the outdoor stores to open at 9:00am.

The bus was only half full and I snagged a seat with lots of leg room. Even though I have been to Tasmania before I hadn’t traveled the countryside so it was both a good opportunity to see the scenery and to also gauge sunset – I know to set up camp around 4:15pm which will allow me to do everything I need while it’s still light.

I checked in to my hotel around 7:40pm in Devonport and took advantage of room service and set all my gear and food out on the floor for packing in the morning before heading to bed around 11:00pm.

I woke this morning after my typical fitful sleep and very quickly realised I should have drunk more water yesterday. I’m about to head to breakfast but not before doing my main pack which I’ll finish off just before I leave. I’m hoping to start walking by 8:30am at the latest with rainfall forecast for much of the next five days, some of it heavy.

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Yesterday was spent travelling. A last final check prior to catching a flight from Canberra to Hobart before lunch in Hobart and then a two-leg bus trip to Devonport via Launceston. I looked at all the travel options and this worked out to be the most economical and practical. I had a couple of hours […]