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

Cast Away on a Whaleboat
April 27, 2011
Get on the high side! The crew of the heavily reefed Capricornia sit on the weather side to keep the open boat upright. Capricornia is a 30-foot gaff rigged whale boat.

Sheesh! Last time I wrote you I was waxing poetic on Tasmanian country roads. Just to show what wonderful things they lead to, the gravel road I followed lead me to a 30-foot open whaleboat, an overnight stranding that amounted to a modern day cast-away status – and a trophy at Australia’s southernmost regatta. All in the same boat….

I know. It’s a lot to digest. But first some clothes washing is in order. Stay tuned…

Worry Wart Factoid: Fear not, I’m fine. After the whaleboat adventure, I loaded up my trusty bike and resumed my journey toward Hobart. There, on Friday, April 28, I depart for North Carolina.

The calm after the blow: Capricornia lands on the beach in Dover. (Dover, Tasmania)

Map note: the map below shows where the Capricornia made shore in her unexpected Bruny Island landfall.

Posted Wednesday April 27, 2011 by Bernie
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Hittin' the Road a Final Time
April 16, 2011
Set for a final ramble

Sheesh Bucky! The ten dollar bike and I have been traveling around Tasmania for going on half a year now. Which means it’s time to think about heading home to North Carolina.
Yep, on May 28 I depart Hobart, Tasmania for the long wing home.

Still before I hit the road, I decided to take one last ramble over the hills. That means meandering over the mountain range that separates Tasmania’s west and east coasts. As usual, I’ll try to stick to gravel roads and paths where possible. Because that’s where the groovy signs and people live.

The road home: it’s roads like this that I’ll try to follow from the West Coast back to Hobart. Note the sign….
Whoa! I swear I didn’t customize this one….

My departure, too, means that your chance to receive a genuine Postcard From Tasmania is drawing to a close. Yep, still a few days left to sign up for a little hand written correspondence from the island under the Land Down Under. I’m hauling around some pretty cool cards from all around Tasmania, any 3 of which would look great on your fridge or office desk. Here’s more on how to get that going…

And finally, I’ll write more shortly on what’ll happen when I return to North Carolina. Plans include a program called Tasmania: a Man, a Devil and a Ten Dollar Bike. Stay tuned for details….

Have an adventurous day!

Posted Saturday April 16, 2011 by Bernie
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If You Caught 'em Smoke 'em
April 12, 2011
A mess of Tasmanian fish – among them, two wrasse and a leather jacket.

People wonder. How do you live on a bike without refrigeration? It’s as though the Big Chill is some invisible cord that tethers people to civilization.

For most things, it’s not required. Oats, vegetables and eggs don’t cooling if consumed in a timely manner. Milk comes powdered and the taste of a fine whiskey is only enhanced when drunk at outdoor temperature – especially after 8 hours of pedaling.

Which brings up meat. And for that, there’s smoke.

On my bike I carry a hand line. This allows me to catch fish as I travel. Still, sometimes I catch more than I can civilly dispose of in one meal. Which, in the absence of refrigeration, calls for smoking. Not that kind of smoking. The other kind, like with a camp fire.

Here then, in a pictorial essay, is a quick guide to Pedal Power Fish Smoking.

Go catch a mess of fish. Or better yet, see if you can talk someone into giving you some. Doesn’t matter what kind as long as they’re fresh. Not puffer fish, though. They’re deadly poisonous. Cut off the heads and put aside. Fillet the fish, leaving the skin on. Cut into strips the width of two fingers held together.
In case you don’t know what it looks like, this is a washed up puffer fish. Also called a porcupine fish. Cleaned properly, it’s considered an Asian delicacy. Cleaned improperly, the poison, tetrodotoxin, can lead to paralytic poisoning. Stick with the wrasse, friend. (Whitemark, Flinders Island, Tasmania)
Build a fire. Smoky is fine. In fact the smokier the better. This would also be a good time to pour a drink: tea if it’s earlier, something stronger if it’s later. This whole thing takes a few hours so get comfortable with your beverage.
Skewer the pieces of fish on slivers of wood or shish kebab sticks. Then, when you have good smokey fire going, lay a few larger pieces of wood across it. They should be positioned so they won’t burn. Across these, lay your fish. Yes, at first it looks like snake meat. Don’t be squeamish.
You want the meat to be bathed in smoke but no too close to the heat. Remember, you’re smoking it, not cooking it. If it starts charring, move it farther from the heat.
Optional: remove the gills from the fish heads and skewer each head. Be sure to pry the mouth and gills wide so plenty of smoke can enter the head cavity.
Now it’s just a waiting game. This type of smoking, which is called hot smoking, can take from four hours to a a day or two. I’ve found 4 to 6 hours is plenty to smoke thin strips of fish. If you’re really gung ho, go dig some cockles and boil them up like this. Just be sure someone’s watching the fire. Nothing worse than coming back to camp and finding your precious smoked fish reduced to ash. Bummer, that…..
If you’re really bored, write some postcards. In the photo, I’m sending my friends’ 20 year old blind cat a fish-scented post card. Yes, it actually made it’s way through the Tasmanian, Australian and US Postal System.
And finally, when your fish are smoked, go find someone who’ll enjoy eating them with you as much as you enjoyed making them. Here, an enthusiastic camp visitor shows how a wrasse head should be disposed off. Who said you needed a fridge on a bike….?
Posted Tuesday April 12, 2011 by Bernie
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Five Photos for 5 Days
April 8, 2011
Macquarie Heads, Tasmania: Looking due West, you’re looking under Africa at South America – Puerto Madryn, Argentina, Patagonia, to be precise

In less than a month, I return to North Carolina. My half year bike voyage of Tasmania will be over.

To sear some final southern ocean images into my brain, I spent 5 days camped at Macquarie Beach, west of Strahan. Each day I walked the beach looking for something to bring home in my brain. For you, I took a photo. Here, with a minimum of description, were the solitary objects I found.

Day 1: Sand butte and shadow
Day 2: Little Penguin skull found atop a bluff where eagles eat them
Day 3: Shell in a windstorm: look closely and you can see sand grains suspended by the howling wind
Day 4: Round Sand butte
Day 5: Lone Tree Dune

There is not photo for Day 6. I broke camp and headed east toward the Tasmanian interior. I’d found what I was searching for.

Posted Friday April 8, 2011 by Bernie
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Shonky Freewheel Repair
April 4, 2011

Recently, on a steep descent outside Tunnel, Tasmania, the pedals on my bike, which should stop spinning when you stop pedaling, went into overdrive. Like an imp of satan had taken over the pedaling, the pedals took off at a blazing, ankle breaking speed.

Luckily I don’t have toe clips, those cage-like thing that hold your feet to the pedals. So I just lifted my boots off the cheap plastic pedals and let them thrash around until I coasted to a halt

Seems the freewheel, the part on the back wheel that lets you coast without pedaling, had failed.

Months earlier, I’d interviewed a fellow named Ludo Mineur in Hobart. Known as the Alpaca Man, he’d invited me to visit his home in Sheffield. Which happened to be only a few day’s away.

So, careful on the downhill runs, I pedaled to Ludo’s to affect repairs.

It’s something you learn early on when traveling with unreliable equipment. Make lots of friends because you never know when you’ll need to call on them.

There, in Ludo’s driveway, I affected what’s become the sort of bodgy repair that’s kept my ten-dollar bike going. The type that, when they say, as they say a lot in Tasmania, “she’ll be right” you think, “well, maybe….”.

Because Sheffield doesn’t have a bike shop, I decided to repair the freewheel repair myself. When I unscrewed it, I found all the bearings gone.

This was all happening in front of Ludo’s garage door. Which just happened to be open. And in which I spotted a scrap of wire.

The wire seemed the same diameter as the b

Verdict?

The repair worked beautifully to the end of Ludo’s driveway – where the bearings in the rear wheel failed.

Posted Monday April 4, 2011 by Bernie
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Listen to Why They Call it the Pieman River
April 3, 2011
Early morning crossing: the “Fatman” barge crosses the Pieman River.
At the controls is Blackie Stewart (Corinna, Tasmania)

It struck me as curious. How does a Tasmanian river come to be called the Pieman River? Recently, while spending some time with the crew of the “Fatman” ferry, Tasmania’s smallest, remotest punt, I found out why.

In the interview you’re about to hear, I’m hanging out with ferry operator Blackie Stewart in the Fatman’s wheelhouse. After he’s explained the punt’s workings, he moves onto the river’s name.

Ferry driver Blackie Stewart

Ready for the sorta’ creepy story? Then click the audio player below.

The remains of the trade: Corinna, where the Fatman crosses the Pieman, once depended heavily on the river for trade. Lumber and ore were loaded onto vessels for export. The only trace of the trade these days are skeletal pilings.
Posted Sunday April 3, 2011 by Bernie
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