Waking up to the quietly moody atmosphere hanging over Lake Burbury, I had two surprises awaiting me. Last night, I’d left my camera running the black-frame noise-reduction for the 23-minute long exposure I did of the Milky Way over the lake, and it was great to dig the cold camera out of its bag to find that the battery hadn’t died before the noise-reduction finished, and the resulting shot looked like a winner. It was just a shame that without a computer of my own, I’d possibly have to wait almost 8 months until I returned home to have a chance at post-processing it.
Next, Kevin’s dead car awaited the attention of my somewhat-amateur mechanical skills, after we killed the battery by leaving the headlights on to help with tent-pitching last night. Handily, we were parked at the top of a slope that ran – not-so-handily – into the lake, so we pushed the car round to line it up and then I tried a rolling start. Half-way down the hill, thinking I had enough speed, and wanting to be able to stop the car one way or another before I ended up in the lake, I let the clutch out, but nothing. So it was do or die, clutch in, off I rolled until, just before I hit the boulders marking the shore, I let the clutch out again, but the engine was lifeless. Now we were buggered, down an anonymous road, with a dead car, and nowhere to push it. In a last-minute-save, two guys who were camping beside us, probably quite amused by two foreigners trying to resuscitate their dead car, helped us push the car back up the hill, and back down, giving me the momentum I needed to tempt the reluctant engine back to life.
Hardly daring to let the engine rev down to idle, we were back on the road west. Cresting a hill we stopped at the lookout to take in the view of what looked like an open-cut mine, then realised it was Queenstown. The combination of it being the Australia Day public holiday and the west of Tasmania drew all but the smallest bit of life out of the town, so we cracked on through the rain to Strahan (pronounced ‘Stawn’). It was great to hear from David, who we’d left in Hobart with his bike, saying he was in Strahan too so we caught up with him and sheltered from the rain in a café across from the police station, soon stuffing our faces with as much chips, wedges and burgers as we could summon from the ever-beckoning food counter. I can’t remember the name of the place but the food was really good despite being pretty decently priced.
Afternoon saw the weather clear up enough to let us get the body boards out and head – against the warnings of rip and undertow in the Lonely Planet book – to Ocean Beach. As usual I found myself freezing and desperately paddling, almost in vain, towards the shore within 15 minutes of jumping in, so I left Kevin – now master of looking like he was caught in every possible rip and undertow – to it. Reunited with David on Australia Day was just the excuse we needed to check out the pub, which kept us going till we had to stagger back to the other end of the village to find the car and try to squeeze the three of us in to sleep. Like that was ever going to work…