Tasmania by the Numbers

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)

Heidi Pohle
2011-05-04 09:10:38

Hi Bernie,

Welcome back! It sounds like a terrific adventure!! I’m glad you brought us along for the ride. Are you going to tell us more about the whale boat, the storm, and the unplanned landing?


2011-05-04 17:55:19

How do ya tell a mule from a donkey?

A couple wallabies would look damn cute hangin’ out on the porch of The Bean.

2011-05-05 18:24:01

Glad to have you back. This side of the planet just isn’t the same without you.

Why the brown-filter on all the pics?

2011-05-06 08:46:04

Bernie, Bienvenidos espalda!!

Glad you made it back safely. I figured you would leave the bicycle there but since you splurged to ship it here, have you considered auctioning her off after some talks? We hope to see you at Hoffman this month. You are an inspiration to us all.

God bless you. Victory

2011-05-06 21:25:24

Howdy Heidi, Victory, Al, Keith, et al, A hearty Carolina howdy to all of you. And now some answers.
Heidi, you’d asked about the whale boat. I fear I left that article dangling. Trouble is the moment I set foot back in the Tar Heel state I got sucked into farm work – cabin renovation, hunt lease and the first hay cutting STILL isn’t done. Still, I’ll be sure to drag that story up again as soon as I need to illustrate another example of poor planning wedded to exuberant sailing conditions. As to the brown filter you’d asked about Al. Well, let’s just say those photos were taken on the photographic equivalent of the $10 bike. The color sensor was so sketchy I just ran the photos as sepaia – and hell, they came out pretty well. And finally, Victory, the $10 bike is now worth a bit more. Let’s start bidding at $1,000…
Sure look forward to seeing you all in Hoffman, Oriental – or wherever we cross tack by bike, hull or mule. Hold Fast! Bernie Lenoir NC

Carolyn Howell
2011-05-08 22:14:47

I have been in Oriental without a computer. In fact I was in the History Museum there on Friday (May 6) Looking at some of your books and chatting with the lady that used to run or own M & M’s. (I can’t remember her name.)
Upon returning home to my computer I discovered that you were already back in North Carolina.
A belated Welcome home!!!

2011-05-08 22:40:57

Carolyn, Yeah, those jet planes get you back from Aussie way faster than the way I did it last time – by boat….
Great to hear you’ve been over at the History Museum. Say hi to Marsha for me next time you see her. I’m heading down to Oriental for a quick visit at the end of May so flag me down if you see me pedaling by! Cheers, Bernie

2011-05-15 04:07:03

Welcome back to NC, Bernie!
Glad you were able to bring your $10 bike back with you!

Give a holler if you make it over Raleigh / Durham way- I really enjoyed keeping up with all your adventures in Tazmania!

Enjoy being back on the farm, and back in NC!

Morrisville, NC

Stephanie M Sellers
2011-06-03 11:43:34

Glad you are still in Peter Pan land. I’m so jealous.
If only you’d needed a lady and TWH as a scout. Oh, well,
Been busy as you though. Check out what I did after you inspired me to ‘keep writing’.
Horses as National Treasure. Make Horse Slaughter History with Fair Taxes and
Committees. Petition and addresses on website.

Author’s website. https://sites.google.com/site/fictiononfact/home

See you on the trails one day.


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