Stories from Bernie's new trip - heading "down under" to explore Tasmania

June 4 2011 "Tasmania" Program
May 17, 2011

Okay, so the voyage around Tasmania on a $10 bike is over. That doesn’t mean the adventure ends. In fact, it’s the perfect chance for you to come visit a spell and start an adventure of your own.

On June 4, the Caldwell County Public Library hosts the first “Tasmania: a Man, a Devil and a $10 Bike” program. It’s about people and things Tasmanian – from guitar repair master Ian Sommers and the Alpaca Man to draggy compasses and that “upside-down” moon thing.

John Rose: here John is splitting wood aboard his crayfishing boat Chaparral. To listen to John’s take on bringing the sea to the garden, click here.. (Dover, Tasmania)
Ian Summers: Ian is an expert musician and knows a thing or two about leeches. His popular interviews can be heard by clicking on the following links. Have a listen to Ian tell stories about leeches, twelve string guitars and banjo music from Tasmania.
The Alpaca Man: Ludo proves you can fund your travels damn near any way – even with an alpaca. Come to the program to hear more about this and other ways I’ve hear of folks funding their rambles. Here’s the link to an earlier story about Ludo and his alpacas. (Sheffield, Tasmania)

The heart of the program, though, will be about coping. About taking on life with what’s on hand. In my case, that was showing up in Tassie with high hopes for a mule adventure – only to learn that mules didn’t exist in that neck of the world. It’s about the rebound from mule to bike and how that opened doors no equine ever could have.

Kenny’s mules: This is my friend Kenny Tyndall driving his mule team. I would have been happy with any one of these mules. Instead, I ended up on a bike…. (Hoffman, North Carolina)

So how does this apply to you? Well, in addition to learning about Tasmania, you’ll have a chance to ask me about any travel questions you’re sitting on. Yes, the economy is tight. And right now you’re probably thinking the travel dream you’re harboring (you do have a travel dream, right?) isn’t going to pan out.

Don’t write it off yet.

Rather, come out June 4 and learn about Tasmania. About how a trip can be salvaged. And about how, ultimately, you still have a shot at escaping on a journey of your own. It may look nothing like what you’d initially imagined. The important thing is you get out there.

“Tasmania” is presented by the Friends of the Caldwell County Public Library. The program will start at 10:30 in conference Room 6 and there is no charge. Yes, the $10 bike will be on display. And yes, chances are good I’ll let you take it for a spin around the parking lot!

Come ride this bike (Dover, Tasmania)

See you June 4.

Saturday June 4
Caldwell County Public Library
10:30 am Room 6
120 Hospital Avenue Lenoir, NC 28645
Caldwell County Library

Map Note: the map below shows the location of the Caldwell County Public Library.

Posted Tuesday May 17, 2011 by Bernie
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Tasmania by the Numbers
May 4, 2011
Tasmania creek crossing. Next time I’m hauling along a kayak (or portable bridge) so I can explore these rivers! (outside Balfour, Tasmania)

It’s official. My voyage around Tasmania on a junk shop bike is complete. I’m back in North Carolina spending some time on the farm. Still, before life in the Tarheel state drags me into another adventure, I wanted to share some last Tassie thoughts and images with you. To that extent, I’ve put together a “Tassie by the Numbers” article to catch those loose ends folks often ask me about.

The farm: on many Tasmanian nights, sweating in my hammock surrounded by leaches, I kept this image in my mind (Kings Creek, North Carolina)

And my crusty war horse of a bike? At the last moment, I packed it into a box and shipped it back to Carolina where it will accompany me on the upcoming “Tasmania: a Man, a Devil and a $10 Bike” program tour. I mean really, what better prop can you think of to show folks they don’t need big bucks to go adventuring?

Tasmanian bull ant: they’re called the “Inch Man” for obvious reasons (Laughing Jack Lagoon, Tasmania)

Okay, here goes.

Tasmania by the Numbers

-Purchase price of bike: Aus$10 at the Margate, Tasmania junk shop
-Total time in the pedals: almost 6 months
-Wheel revolutions to pedal around Tasmania: 776,470,588 (give or take a few ten thousand)
-Total cost of bike repairs: $35 for a new freewheel and a set of bearings
-Touring bicyclists spotted: 10
-Pedals replaced: 2 at a cost of free (gift of a landlord whose tenants had vanished with everything but their bikes – whose pedals I ended up with….

Sketchy pedal repair: miles deep in the rainforest, it was duct tape, dental floss and a shishkebab stick that came to my rescue. This jury rig, shockingly, lasted almost 2 months. (Puzzler Mountain, Tasmania)

-Mules spotted: 0
-“Mules” I was sent to go see that turned out to be donkeys: 2

Note to all Tasmanians: these are mules. The fine team on the left are Alice and Tippy and belong to long time friend, travel mate and world champion mule chariot racer Ronald Hudson. The mule on the right is Polly with which I traveled from Canada to Mexico. (outside High Falls, North Carolina)

-Tasmanian devils spotted: 2
-Hills so steep I had to pull out my pipe and consult the God of Nicotine: 3
-Hills so steep I had to drink a toast to Neptune: even more.

Break time: okay, sometimes I took smoko without a hill in sight. The wallabies seemed to enjoy it – or was it the rice I was feeding them? (The Patriarchs, Flinders Island, Tasmania)

-Wrasse fish caught on my hand line: 7
-Seagulls caught on my hand line: 1
-Flat tires: zero (astounding, considering the country I traversed. I chalk it up to the heavy mountain bike tires – and the three inner tubes I used to line each tire)
-People who said I reminded them of Henry Winkler as “Fonzie”: 1 (shocking, I know. But bless you anyway Sarah of Strahan – now get your eyes checked.)
-Times I was mistaken for a Canadian/guy from Texas: 5/10 (Tassie needs more Lone Star exposure)

-Highest priced bananas: $6/pound (Queenstown, Tasmania)
-Times I vomited: 2 (rotten broccoli in Zeehan and spoiled cheese and Marmite sandwich in Lost Falls)
-Number of dead wallabies in one 10 mile stretch of Flinders Island:20+
-Wallaby sausages/schnitzels consumed: 60/4

Dang they’re cute – and tasty too…. A Bennett’s Wallaby, also called a Red Necked Wallaby, takes a closer look at my dinner. He doesn’t seem concerned the skillet has cooked many of his relies…(The Patriarchs, Flinders Island, Tasmania)

-Leach bites: don’t ask
-Times I cried: 1

Call me a sissy but I shed a tear when Stormy the pony ambled into my camp. He’d escaped late in the night from a paddock across the street. If he’d wandered across me the first week of my trip, his owner would have woken to find a bike in his pasture – and his mount gone…(Moogara, Tasmania)

-Times I heard “you’re sure doing it hard, mate!”: 12
-Times I lost my cool: none of your $#!$#@!! business!
-Cemeteries slept in: 1 (Zeehan)
-Tombstones that referred to drowning: 3

Etched into this headstone is the story: “Sacred to the memory of Margaret Monaghan aged 24 years 5 months and her two children James and Patrick Monaghan who were drowned on 23 December 1840 by the upsetting of a boat conveying them from on board Brig H. M. “Tamar” to the settlement of Flinders Island” (Wybalena, Flinders Island, Tasmania)

-Photos taken: 5056
-Time to next voyage: stay tuned…

So what’s next? Over the summer, I’ll be working on the farm and doing another stint with TownDock.net in Oriental, North Carolina. Also on tap are plenty of travel programs, details of which will be available soon. And yes, I’ll be hitching up my mule Polly and hitting the road with friends for more than one Tarheel mule wagon ramble.

Thanks for joining me on my trip around Tasmania. See you up the road!

The calm after the adventure (Franklin, Tasmania)
Posted Wednesday May 4, 2011 by Bernie
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