Bonus for breakfast when Melissa discovered that the Dunalley Primary School were doing pancakes in addition to the obligatory bacon and egg rolls. Yet again a climb out of camp and an eerie run down to Dunalley as we moved further into the fire affected region. The pervasive memory of the day is the smell of smoke – you could just taste it the whole time you were riding. Stopped at the Dunalley waterfront cafe – along with about half the rest of the ride – which although being the least fire resistant building I have ever seen had somehow survived intact. Scenes so typical of fire ravaged regions – one house just a mess of bricks and tangled corrugated iron, the next standing intact.
A long climb out of Dunalley but at a much gentler pitch than we had gotten used to and took a couple of stops to look at how the regeneration from the fires was already getting underway in the forest. Magnificent viewpoint at the top of Pirates Bay followed by a super descent to Tesselated Pavement. Decided to do the sidetrip to Blowhole and Tasman Arch, though was really wondering why as did yet another climb away from the highway. Calm and low water at the Blowhole so not a lot to see but a pretty ride and got the added bonus of yummy scallops at the food caravan there. Yet another climb through Doo-Town to Tasman Arch where greeted with magnificent views and watched a pacific gull soar back and forward riding the thermals without a single flap of its wings.
Back to the highway for a wonderful run along the shoreline of Eaglehawk Bay – could easily have stopped a dozen times but with the relaxed pace and sidetrip I was starting to push the prospect of missing lunch. Yet more hills awaited after leaving the shoreline – while not big each one took its toll. Could hear one rider from a LONG way back – heaving and puffing like he was about to have a coronary – only to hear him shortly after passing me uttering extroadinarily loud expletives as he rounded the corner and saw yet another one. Finally made it to a wonderful lunch spot at Stewart Bay where got to paddle in the shallows and wish yet again for a gun with a telescopic sight as 2 idiot jet skiers set about destroying the calm.
Hauled myself back up to the road and with a few more little rises finally rolled into Port Arthur. I finished a ride here some years back in very ordinary conditions but today was just perfect. The day was topped with dinner on the lawns of the historic site – under our familiar pavillion but a BBQ prepared by the locals rather than by the BNV cooks. Good food, cider, wine and a magnificent setting – what a way to top it all off. In a rather strange decision BNV chose tonight as the night for the vollies party, so had them eating a separate dinner back at camp and missing the occasion. Despite the open bar at the vollies dinner we were joined by 2 who had decided the plebs were having much more fun.
Somehow managed to haul ourselves back up to camp for yet more drinks – it was last night after all – before staggering off to bed. At least this time I managed to get all the way into the tent.