We weren't really able to follow the race anyway, there was a strict "no spectators allowed" rule. So Viv, Karin and I decided to follow the general route of the course by car and enjoy some great camping and picnicking along the way, catching up with the race if and when possible.
I would have liked to post during the race, but this part of Tasmania is very sparsely populated and so there was virtually no internet access. The race started in Burnie at 9am, as the teams paddled out into the sparkling sea on inflatable kayaks and round the beautiful coastline to Penguin.
We saw the racers paddling into the beach and transitioning to a trek at Penguin. From there we decided to take Karin to a nearby wildlife park where we were able to see Tasmanian devils and koalas, as well as close up kangaroos, potaroos and pademelons...all different kind of unusual roos which one might frequently encounter Tasmania.
We spent the night back in Burnie. The following day we drove through to Tullah and met teams arriving in after 24 hours racing, looking very cold and tired having just completed a canyoning and kayaking section in cold waters. Seagate had a good lead, but had just been told the big blow that they had been given a massive 4 hour penalty for accidentally forgetting their spot GPS device on the second leg.
We drove through the pouring rain feeling very sorry for the racers who would be biking through it to arrive in Strahan on the West coast of Tasmania late in the night. This was the place where teams had their compulsory 6 hour sleep. Seagate arrived in the early hours of the morning having had another disaster - Chris's derailleur had broken so he was having to ride single speed costing the team lots of time.
The following day we followed the course of the race through to Corinna in the Tarkine Wilderness Area. There is a car ferry to cross the river and the forest closes in around you as you drive through - it had a distinctly NZ West Coast feel. We camped at Julius Creek with a little resident wallaby and kookaburra. Teams had to paddle the nearby Arthur River as far as Kanunah Bridge, from there they would cycle out to the coast again.
We drove to Rocky Point with its golden sand beaches and blue waters, and then around to Ships Harbour to find Seagate sitting out their 4 hour penalty and watching those hard fought minutes slip past as first Thule and then Silva raced past - it was awful. However, Chris was remarkably positive - especially when Nathan asked the small crowd which had gathered around if there was anyone willing to lend Chris a working bike for the final ride - and a local man offered his most excellent old school Avanti commuter bike complete with bell!
They took off at about 7 pm on the final leg, 20 minutes down on Silva. We raced to the finish, excited to see the finish of this saga of a race. Thule had already finished about an hour earlier, and as we entered the stadium we saw the lights of Team Silva coming in to the track for a final loop on the velodrome. Karin was very happy to see Dad after 6 days spent with me and Grandma - she really had been the most wonderfully natured little 4 year old to hang out with.
About 3 minutes later Seagate raced in after a incredibly fast ride averaging about 32 km an hour! It was lovely to have Chris back, but Team Seagate were pretty disappointed with the outcome of the race. They gave it everything, but it seemed like everything had been against them.
The prize giving wasn't for a few more days, because there were still many teams fighting for positions and to finish the race within the 10 day cut off. We decided to escape Burnie for a night and headed up to Cradle Mountain National Park with Nathan, Jodie and Sophie.
Cradle mountain is a neat place - alpine tussocks and beach forest trick you into feeling like you are back in New Zealand - until a wallaby hops past. The mists were down low and it was could and windy as we pitched our tents in the campsite.
Rain came down most of the night, so the following day I packed in plenty of warm clothes before meeting up with Jodie for a little mission up to Cradle Mountain. It was still very cold and windy as we set out from the empty car park and climbed the ridge up towards Cradle Mountain. Still, we were both loving getting out into the mountains!
We crossed a tussocky plateau and then climbed up amongst great pillars of rock, feeling like monkeys as we clambered up the big boulders. Mist swirled about the summit, adding to the atmosphere of being up there. A quick clamber then run back to the car made it a very satisfying round trip.
The next day back in Burnie we took a run around Rocky Cape and enjoyed a quick swim in the crystal clear waters. After the prizegiving that evening the rest of the team said their farewells and buzzed back to Nelson, while Chris and I had a few more days to potter around Tasmania before our return to New Zealand.
The highlight of our trip was a night spent out on the Freycinet Peninsula camping at Wineglass Bay. We walked over a little saddle in the late evening and then dropped down to the magnificent sweeping beach that is Wineglass Bay. We walked barefoot along the golden sand as the waves crashed onto the beach, this place could be treasure island!
The next day was our final day in Tasmania and probably the best. We ate breakfast on the beautiful (and now very still) beach, before climbing up over Mt Graham and then Mt Freycinet. The views down to the bay were amazing and we wished we had another night to spend here!
Early the following morning we started our journey back to Christchurch, New Zealand and the many more adventures which no doubt await us in that amazing country.... But don't worry, I'll make sure the Silly Billies continue to post their silly stories here for you to read (-: