…and, finally, homeward bound. The end…or maybe not?? by: JK | Tue 22 Feb

I was again introduced by the mayor, at my Kingston talk, and the audience was well engaged. My host, John, and I headed home afterwards and the next morning I left bound for my next stop 4km from Oyster Cove and my talk at the Kettering Community Hall.

The directions given by Mark [the Spark] were explicit and accurate and I arrived at their place just after noon. Mark and Narelle live a low impact life in the hills west of the highway. I was to be in the cottage they have and the afternoon was spent assisting Mark and a friend Dan replace some rotten stumps under the workshop – grunt work but satisfying nonetheless. The talk went well to a great audience and I returned home with Mark and went straight to bed. The next day was a ‘biggy’ from there to Oatlands – a distance of some 120kms!

It dawned rainy and this continued for my entire ride up the Channel Hwy through Hobart [and I mean UP – it seemed continuous except for the steep downhill into Hobart along the Southern Outlet] and the rain only just started clearing by the time I reached Brighton for lunch – 63km done, another 60km to go.

I stopped at the Bakehouse there and the wonderful Val looked after me especially well – thanks Val. I set off again in damp clothes but with a sunny disposition. I was soon climbing again – I was getting distinctly weary as the day progressed and, by the time I eventually rolled into Oatlands, I was decidedly the worse for wear. Exhaustion was my close friend that evening as I prepared to make camp – I had been unable to get a billet that night so had to camp out. With the wind starting to pick up, I opted for the safety of a barbeque shelter. Sunday is to be 130+km and I need a good night’s sleep.

As I am preparing to set up my tent, I hear my name called. It is Wendy, one of the people who attended my talk in Kettering on Friday. She has come up to Oatlands to spend an evening with her parents who are touring Tasmania in an amazing 2.2l Mercedes Sprinter motor home with solar panels on the roof and very minimalist [but quality] fit-out. She had come over to invite me in for cheese & wine – this kind of offer [and others like it] has humbled me often on my journey around the country. I joined them later but only had a  very small glass of wine – I have another big day coming as previously noted.

I headed off to bed after thanking my hosts for their hospitality. Possums on the roof kept me awake for much of the night – sometimes it’s difficult to win! I set off the next morning just after 8am into a strong headwind. I thought at one stage that it would be better to have the rain of Saturday rather than the wind and I got half of my wish – it rained! Strong winds all day took their toll of me and by mid-afternoon, my rest stops were reduced to every 20 minutes or so.

By the time I reached Perth [the OTHER one] after 100km, I had to bite the bullet and call Sean who had organised a talk for me in Westbury. If I continued, I would miss the 7pm start time. He offered to come and pick me up en route, so I got back on my bike and he duly met me – I did a total of 112km for the day beforehand. (If you factor in the Tassie multiplier, this equates to 168km after a 184km [equivalent] the day before. I’m certainly getting a work-out in Tasmania!)

There was a small group of us at Sean’s place that night and they had to wait briefly while I finished my dinner but soon I was immersed in what I have been doing most evenings for so many months now. Being more informal, it went on somewhat longer than the normal 2 hours and it was with relief that I headed off to bed. Monday was the final stretch into Devonport before catching the Spirit of Tasmania back to Melbourne. Only 70km approximately and I managed this before 1pm.

In all, I have travelled by bike over 8,100km around [and over] this wide & beautiful country of ours and spent over 400 hours in the saddle. I have seen many wonderful sights, met [and stayed with] countless individuals at various stages on their journey to a more sustainable [and, dare I say, more equitable] existence on this planet we call home.

This has been a journey that would have been worth doing had I not had a purpose but made doubly so by having one. I trust that in some small way I have made a difference to their lives as they have to mine. Thank you, one and all, for allowing me to share my vision and passion with you all. Please remember to tell all your friends – perhaps we can make this viral [in a good kind of way] and know, that when we take on that elephant in the room called Climate Change, one bite at a time, it will all be worthwhile.

Cheers, for now. John

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