|First campsite at Exeter|
|Motorcycle repair shop Legana|
|Sunset at Swimcart Beach|
|Reading on the rocks|
|Campsite at Cosy Corner|
|Favourite place to visit in St Marys|
Filling in the gaps
I followed Ben's original path from Devonport to Exeter, then Legana, Scottsdale and on to St Helens, meeting people he'd met along the way: Steve at the Ampol service station in Exeter, Scott at Legana and the owners of Willows Roadhouse. Steve and Scott both remembered Ben, and I was too tired to converse with the people at Willows.
Tasmanian roads are narrow, winding and the edges are rough. In the early morning, unladen logging trucks sweep around the corners at high speed. It took hours to reach St Helens and then more time to find the campsite and discover a solitary figure in a motorcycle jacket, sitting on the beach and reading.
The next few days were busy with practicalities. We didn't haul the bike to Legana, just waited for some news of the insurance claim. Now, two weeks later, there's still no news. The bike sat in the car driver's back yard for a week, until we moved it to storage just before I left.
After plenty of earnest discussion and the occasional argument, all transport options were ruled out till we were left with just one, buy another bike. Achieving that goal required lots of advertisement browsing, more discussion, many phone calls and two separate day-trips to Hobart. The end result was a red Ducati Monster, purchased for a good price with the largest wad of cash I've ever had to carry. The duration between reading the ad to actual purchase was six hours, then followed by an epic night drive along the east coast and back to St Helens.
The return trip began in Cambridge, north of Hobart, where we stopped for the best wood-fired pizza in the entire universe. The intention was to stay at Cambridge for the night but there were fires burning in the valley and the air was full of smoke, so we had to push on. The Falcon travelled in front to clear the road or signal, with two stabs of the brake pedal, that wildlife or other hazards (like rocks!) were on the road. The only casualty was one hapless possum who left me with no choice, and I still feel bad about it. It took five hours to complete the trip and we arrived back at camp at 1.30am on Wednesday morning.
The transport problem solved, over the the next few days we sorted out the other practicalities of insurance (comprehensive), how to change registration (not straightforward) and RACT membership (easy).
Fishing would have to be the most popular past time on the coast. People spend heaps of money on rods, reels, hooks, bait and other accessories in the hope of catching a free feed. The local fishing competition at St Helens brought out the 'big guns' with their massive fishing boats towed through town on tri-axle trailers hauled by monstrous trucks. Ben's a small-scale fisherman who can catch a decent feed on most days, and more than he can possibly eat on a really good day.
We visited towns near St Helens: Pyengana, home of the Pub in a Paddock, a cheese factory and St Columba falls; Weldborough, home of the Weldborough Hotel which has a selection of micro-brewed beers and ciders, as well as a non-alcoholic chilli ginger beer that's guaranteed to keep older folk awake all night; St Marys, home of the Mt Elephant Fudge shop and the Cranks and Tinkerers museum; and towns like Scamander and Orford along the east coast.
The cleanest air in Tasmania was discovered at Elephant Pass, high in the mountains and facing the coast, where the air was perfectly crisp, sweet and clean. The restaurant there also sells delicious pancakes.
Some entries from the diary: Scones and coffee at Willows. Yesterday's plans don't seem sensible today as the 2D map becomes real... Woken by the sound of a 4WD reversing and someone yelling, "Stop!" to prevent it backing over a corner of my tent... Possums wandering the campsite last night... People love to catch fish but, every once in a while, when a fish catches a person, we're horrified by it... Two Ducatis available in Hobart and dismay at the thought of driving there and back in a day... Pizzas were exquisite but the cabins had carpet and the air in the valley was smokey... Ben wore my jacket over the top of his leather jacket to stay warm and bit-by-bit we got back "home" - funny that a cotton and polyester fabric dwelling can feel like home but it does... Stopped at the pub for a cider and a game of pool which I won without wearing glasses... The owner said he's looking for staff; 4 hours work per day for a room and food...