January 25, 2016. 14km.
I fell asleep really early yesterday and slept for 12 hours or so. But that still had me awake a couple hours before the cafe and park opened at 10. No large animals tried to get my food last night, but I discovered that a swarm of ants had invaded this morning. I spent a while brushing them off (they hadn’t actually gotten inside most things) and washing out the pannier to get rid of the rest.
Once done dealing with the ants, I wandered around their ‘farm animal walk’ that has, among other things, an ostrich that wanted to to a dance.
Eventually the cafe opened and I got a nice warm muffin and cappuccino. I also got directions to the caves, and decided to try to make it for the 11am tour (it was 10:39). It was only about 7km, so I made it. Today the bushfire smoke seems to have invaded this valley, so it was rather thick air on the ride to the caves. It turned out I didn’t need to be in such a hurry since th tour was a bit delayed. The cave was nice. Less smoky, and nice and cool. The guide said that the caves do breathe in the smoke from bushfires (generally more in the afternoon) and that a lot of the soot on the formations that had been previously blamed on the old lighting systems was actually from fires (as evidenced by some of it being under layers of minerals and so much older).
I’ve definitely been in bigger caves, but this one was quite nice. There’s a running stream through the whole thing, which the guide said is actually relatively rare now in Australian caves as water had been pulled away for other things.
On the way back from the caves, the smoke was as bad or worse than before. Luckily I didn’t have to ride very far.
I got back to the park just in time for the 1pm Devil feeding. I never saw a Tasmanian Devil in the wild, but now I have at least seen some living ones.
The wildlife park isn’t huge, but it’s entertaining for an hour or so. I learned that the things people call kangaroos around here are actual Bennet’s Wallabies. Except for that one kangaroo I saw back in Narawntapu, which was bigger and an actual kangaroo. And apparently people often call the Pademelon a wallaby. It’s confusing.
A lot of the nocturnal animals were hiding, though I could just glimpse the tails of some possums in their little sleeping nooks. They look so innocent during the day when they are sleeping instead of food stealing.
I got another ice cream and coffee before the shop closed at 4, and am now relaxing and catching up on blog posts. It seems like much of the island is covered in smoke these days, so I suppose it’s a reasonable time to be leaving. But it will still be sad to go back to winter. My legs won’t mind the break though. I think there’s one more major hill on the way to Devonport, but I bet I can manage it th only 40km to do tomorrow.