Devils, wombats, echidnas, wallabies and they’re adorable as if putty molded by a talented child from a description of animals that we’re all familiar with but made storybook. My eyes wide in the goldpink twilight and now the wildlife is active from under the glorious pummeling heat of most of the day. Pedaling alone right now. Our brigade of seven stretched along the track into our own reactions and mirages of this place on the other side of worlds.
The syllables of the word Tasmania stretch across the space in my consciousness, resonant with being a little kid watching cartoons and knowing only that it’s far. But now here it’s an unexpected closeness. The Australians connect with that remoteness and their away identity. Steep hills lead to shirttail flapping skydive descents, crunching sifting dirt roads rickety bridge palms abandoned mines farmsteads, sometimes pastoral, sometimes proper wilderness, the silhouettes of the trees don’t fit any of our North American templates. Staring at the black pinprick sky, all the constellations are rotated displaced, too. That’s how we will find this island, all the bulky macroscopic dimensions are companionable and familiar but at higher resolution there’s difference in its own place, its own meticulous self.
We’re on the Tasmanian Trail for a thirty hours but the other nine days of my curving involuted line is from months spent on maps and satellite imagery. That line, that trace of wondering what a place will be like, turns into new friendships as Tasmanians open their homes to us, as we sit inside van Dieman’s farm brewery late into the night marveling and then unrolling sleeping bags next to the cylindroconical fermenting tanks, turns into the rumble that we hear for hours before we reach the crushing surf west coast.