We had a lovely stay with Jude and Astrid. They are keen cyclists as well. They will leave in April to ride overland to Europe. So we might very well have them in our house in a year or two. Warmshowers just is fantastic, we were housemates.
We mostly spent our Melbourne time in the National Art Gallery of Victoria. They have two locations and in both of them we spent hours and hours. On Tuesday all of us had breakfast outdoors, joined by Astrid's mother, who liked to meet us. Both Astrid and Jude have European ancestors, their parents being immigrants from Latvia and Germany. Makes the conversations the more interesting.
On our way to Port Melbourne, where we had to board the ferry (The Spirit of Tasmania) we picked up two new Schwalbe Marathon Supreme tyres at the Commuter Bikeshop next to Brunswick railway station. We have had 3 flats during our 4000 ks here and we consider that worryingly many. I now regret that I hadn't laid on new tyres before we left, since mine have done over 12000 k now and Eveline's over 8000. They're visibly becoming a bit old. Prices are unbelievable here: one tyre costs $ 105,--, = over 80 euros. Crazy! In the Netherlands I could have bought them through the internet for €39,95 a piece! One of the guys in the bike shop said that it was because of the sea miles these tyres have had before ending up in their shop. Schwalbe is a German brand, but these ones were produced in Indonesia. So he didn't have it right this time, did he?
Then we took a train. Just a 15 minutes ride, but convenient and cheap. Cycling from the station to the ferry port we were addressed by another cyclist. He was very interested and, since we were early, he invited us in his home, just 5 minutes from the port. We had a cold drink and talked about cycling in Tasmania, which he and his wife had done. Things just go like that here.
At 18.00 we boarded the ferry, together with a Dutch young man on a bike. He had started his trip in Australia as a backpacker, but didn't like the backpackers' environment. So he had bought a bike and now he was travelling round on it. He had done quite some distances, he had no maps or anything, he just decided day by day where to go, based on information he got from people he met. An adventurous chap, this Vincent from Nijmegen.
The sea was rough and though the ship was not small (194 meters long) and very modern, it moved a lot. Taking your glass to the table was quite an effort, making you look like a drunk without having had a drop yet. We had a nice two-person cabin with private bathroom for our own and had a comfortable night sleep. At 07.00 in the morning we disembarked in a very windy and cold (10˚C) Devonport. A severe temperature shock after over three mostly hot months. We spent the day gathering information and making a plan as how to tackle Tazzie. We will travel by bus to Stanley and from their, backed up by the prevailing westerly winds, ride round the island is easterly direction and along the east coast to the capital Hobart. This will be our final Australian destination and the most southerly point of our tour. Then we will have done pretty much the entire eastcoast of Australia. We will try to fly back to Melbourne from there, stay with Jude and Astrid for a couple of days more and then fly home on Feb. 14th. See if it'll work out.