Day 0: Launceston
Flying into Launceston, Tasmania, is, in itself, an amusing experience for a city boy. The airport is tiny, and “baggage claim” consists of going into the garage and waiting for the truck to pull up. It’s a city of 50,000 people, second largest on the island, but very small by any American standard. (Of course, that was the point). Here I met up with our guides, a father/son pair, Bob and Damien, with the improbable surname of “Boocock.” (Note: “The Boococks” would be a good name for a rock band). Bob and Damien turned out to be quite affable and capable guides, though I was warned in advanced about the need for a Tasmanian-English Dictionary. I also met Peter and Tammy, who along with me were joining the tour for the western half. There were a total of 15 riders now, 12 of whom had done the eastern portion from Hobart to Launceston; the three of us were joining the tour midway, for the more remote and challenging western portion of the ride. It turns out that all of them were from the States, and 13 were from California. Peter and Tammy, along with Wally and Claire (the two couples with whom I was most closely matched) were from the Bay Area. I must say I was a bit disappointed to come halfway around the world to hang out with a bunch of Yanks. I suppose we’re suckers for these supported lodging tours, while the Aussies go solo and camp.
After getting an overview of the trip, along with some maps, jerseys, and water bottles, I went out for a moderate hike in the striking Cataract Gorge, where I was fortunate enough to see and photograph a kookoobura.
After a hearty dinner, I got off to sleep early in preparation for the long rides ahead.