North…

Well my last post was a little bit early, so I thought that maybe I should make this one a little bit later (I got lazy). So last you heard I had beaten up Ron’s undercarriage doing some not so 2×4 driving and had spent the night in Hobart. After that quite lovely view and sleep, I decided to head south towards Huonville and Lune River to see what bees I could find.

Well I did manage to find a couple of ‘new’ species, but I was really looking forward to finding a camp that was a bit out of the way for the night. So, south of Lune River along a gravel track that ended in a locked gate I found an awesome campsite with no one else around!

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One of Tassy’s beautiful little southern towns
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Should I… maybe not!
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And this was camp – never saw another soul while I was there!
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Nothing beats a nice campfire (this is post-mortem)

After a brilliant night in the bush, I had to go north again as, while there were roads heading south… I didn’t really know where they would go not to mention the fact that I cannot collect in a national park! So I had to backtrack all of the way to Hobart. Not bad considering the scenery though! Not to mention the fact that I found a tree with six new bee species on it! Fantastic – I needed more!

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Sansa apples – so good! In Stark comparison to most store-bought varieties!
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Oh Tassie, you sexy sonofabitch! (That could apply to many of the photos here…)
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I spent a few hours photographing my bees at the botanical gardens, before returning to my previous camp in Hobart (now my usual haunt)

My goal the next day was to make it to the Huon Campground in Southwest National Park. The park itself, part of Tasmania’s wilderness, is amazing and I want to do a big trek through it. Along the way, I found an amazing river, amazing roads, a burnt out caravan and well… just have a look.

 

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River Derwent. I want to make this my new home… maybe not IN the river, but near it
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Just about the enter the national park. I had to at least try and find some bees, but no dice (I mean bees)!
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Just lots of winding, hilly, beautiful roads
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Southwest National Park…
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Free caravan!
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The Creepy Crawly Trail – 20 minutes of stunning, mossy rainforest floor!
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That’s a nice boardwalk
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And at the end? More moss!
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Edgar Pond [Edgar Mirror]
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Lake Pedder
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Oh Tassie, you sexy sonofabitch!!! 

I hope that you enjoyed some of that landscape porn, and my profanities about said landscapes. Perhaps a bit over the top, but you weren’t there. You don’t know what it was like!

I finally made it to Huon campground. Now normally, I don’t go too far into national parks as my time would be better served trying to find bees to photograph. HOWEVER, this time I decided to venture in for the day, as my ecology-friend, Chrissy, saw no fewer than five endangered black eastern quolls and a tiger quoll only a few days before! So I stayed up until 11 PM trying to find a quoll. I even went for a [slow] drive at night! …Let’s see what I found:

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Huon Campground
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Yep, I’ve belittled myself enough to photograph and share a fungus shot…
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One of the many Tasmanian pademelons found around the campground. Parks Tasmania has this to say on the subject: “The pademelon is a stocky animal with a relatively short tail and legs to aid its movement through dense vegetation.” Good thing it has legs to aid its movement through the dense vegetation 😉
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I like these coralline fungi!
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Macro often lacks a size scale so… It also shows that I had to use a long exposure in order to use natural light

Anyway, I’d been looking around for any exciting mammals for quite some time before full dark, but not much caught my eye… What luck would I have after dark?

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Yes, a brushtail possum, the bane of any campground!

 

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Yeah, bugger off mate! 😛
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I went back to Lake Pedder on my night drive and shot this panorama

And there you have it folks, many hours of searching for a quoll count of zero… But I still got to see some nice stuff and walk around at night, with purpose!! There was nothing for it but to head out of the park early the next day and start my journey to the north of Tasmania… to the north of Australia really…

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The [gravel] road back out of the park
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Another mirror, err, lake on the way north

 

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Secret Valley, maybe?
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Frenchman’s gap
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Nelson River
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Nelsons Falls, aka. Heaven. I was very lucky to have a few moments at the waterfall by myself, just so beautiful.
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Bushfire remnants
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Why’d the bushfire cross the road? …It didn’t
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Oh Tassie you se… you get the idea.

Well, I was having a ball driving through some amazing mountains towards Queenstown. But, as I got closer to Queenstown (and not knowing of its history) I was a little saddened to see chewed-up metal-rich mountains.

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The not-so-wild southwest
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Mining mountains
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More chewed up mountain

Well, I was on the lookout after Queenstown (where I originally was going to stay) for a nice campsite. I found one hidden away at the boat ramp to Lake Plimsoll where I thought that I’d stay for the night, but it had no reception and moved on (I needed to call Matty, one of my other ecology friends for his birthday later that night). Anywho, I found a nice spot off wikicamps at another boat ramp near Tullah.

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Nice, level and shaded ground next to the lake!
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And some nice views up a bit of a slope… Tassie you s… yeah, right
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Another stunning Tasmanian mirror, I mean lake!

That last lake was what I woke up to, and the water was really surprisingly warm (not that I got in much further than my ankles to take that shot). And it was great to wake up to that, considering it would be my last full day in Tasmania. Very sad, I know. I’d have to go back to that eye-sore that the Tasmanians call the mainland! I joke, but really Tasmania is a stunning place that everyone should see. One last drive from Tullah to Devonport then…

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I pulled over at a random shoulder to find some bees and noticed a gap in the forest wall. I found a ~200m piece of track that looped back around to the road again going through some stunning, mossy forest! Oh Tas…
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Even their power lines look nice (or at least what’s around them)
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On a more bee [but not quite bee] related note, I saw a bunch of these flies while in Tassie. They seemed to be mimicking European honeybees (and quite well I might add). I’m curious then, if they came from Europe, or have evolved this mimic since the bees were introduced…. Also if anyone recognizes this big bush from the flowers, I’m curious to know what it is!
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I spent the arvo reading (feet of clay by Terry Pratchett) and watching the river in Devonport.
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That’s the bugger I caught over, I’d be catching the Spirit of Tasmania II on the way back!
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Another 5:30AM rise to wait in a queue of cars… And watch the sunrise in my rear-view mirror
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Into the belly of the beast
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Ships don’t do 3-point turns, they do a 1-point turn…

The ferry ride over was quite nice actually! I talked a fair bit with a lady who had just sent off her book to the publisher. Her book was on Australian-Irish sign language, which is apparently a completely different language to Australian sign language. It sounded quite fascinating! I also talked to a dude wearing short-shorts and a sailer’s outfit, which was quite hilarious and he said he’d not had much chance otherwise to wear it! Aside from that, I read more of my book, and enjoyed the ride back to Melbourne.

I stayed in Melbourne that night and one more, meeting a couple of friends while I was in town, then dropping one of them off at Anglesea before moving even further north…

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Melbourne botanical gardens (I slept on one of the roads under a flowering gum the second night… camping is a legitimate strategy!)
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More of the gardens! (I got to see a lot of the gardens… while trying to find a toilet…)
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Waiting to pick up Stephen to bring him to Anglesea… I don’t know if I was allowed to park here – Federation square

After a lovely drive and chat with Stephen, I set my sights northward, somewhere near Bendigo. Well, I managed to find a nice camp just south of Bendigo at a rest stop not marked on wikicamps (and so blessedly empty) with a few resident flowering gums! So late that afternoon and early the next morning a managed to find some natives, before it got a bit hot and the Europeans seemed to take over.

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Nice spot, surrounded by gums! (A bit close to the highway and a railroad though!)

That day, the hunt was on again! But the hunt would have to take me to Rochester, a town of some significance to my best mate… But all I could find was a milk factory… oh well! I did manage to find three new bees species before returning to another site near Bendigo.

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Rochester with the milk factory down the street (worked on by Jem’s granddad, dad, brother and himself!)
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I camped near here, but not next to a fallen brother… Ron nearly wept!

That night and the following day were a bit too overcast and rainy, unfortunately. So I just had a late start and breakfast and drove off the Shepparton to find a new camp there! Turns out that Shepparton has some pretty interesting art installations!

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Get it? Whoever came up with this is my new personal hero.
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Things were going swimmingly in Shepparton.
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Dairy capital of Australia… not recommended for the lactose intolerant or vegans.

Well, this is a day out of date, but you’ll all have to wait until my next post to catch me up. However, I will say that I’m in Wodonga, Victoria and will be heading across the great alpine road to Canberra and Sydney in the next week! So, until then…

Bee count: 178

Kilometers traveled: 23 110

James

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Ron the two by four and more

Once I left wet Marrawah, I headed across towards Launceston where I thought I’d camp for the night as I had nothing better to do with the poor [pour] weather. But about 30 minutes before Launceston, the clouds buggered off and I got some sun which encouraged me to go further! So I made it all the way to Kempton that day – just 40 minutes outside of Hobart! Unfortunately, I arrived a bit too late to get a key to the shower block at the campsite where I stayed, but that is a day in the life of the vanpacker!

I decided the next day to go meet up with Chrissy and the other plant-bandits near Freycinet – a 2.5 hour drive, some of which was back-tracking north! But it was a fantastic drive, with an even better end-point near wineglass bay!

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The mountains above Wineglass Bay and Freycinet
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Coles Bay on our walk over a saddle between the mountains

 

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Chrissy and Leander, taking a rest
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Wineglass Bay – I’m told it got its name from the colour it turned when the whalers killed whales in it… Like a wine-glass. Yeah much less romantic now, huh?

 

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Coles bay again
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Coles Bay plus a setting sun

After a lovely afternoon and evening with the plant people, I headed out towards Hobart to find bees along the way and a camp! Well, I found no bees despite the good weather. It really does seem like bee season is coming closer and closer to an end… I did however manage to find a camp at a scout-managed piece of land just South of Hobart, which was really quite nice to camp for $10. And that evening, I shared my campfire with an Irishman, a Canadian and a Dutchy… No joke.

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Some more Tassy coastline
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The road West of Orford
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Tasmanian Bushland Garden! Good place to find bees? Not really… Nice walk though
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Even has a guide rope and all – being a moderate hazard of course it needed one
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Found a cool little Bug (Hemiptera) as well – it didn’t need a rope
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And a T-rex thing
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Also this little ball of ouch!
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The Road to Hobart is quite cool as well, with two bridges(?) crossing over some lovely waters
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There were signs warning of sea spray!
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Hobart: only 15 “Wakkas” away…

So I thought, maybe I can find bees tomorrow! But come morning, the weather wasn’t looking great: cold and rainy, not good conditions for bees! Well, I tried to find what I could but was again thwarted. So I decide to drive around the Tasman and Foresteir Peninsulas to see what could be seen!

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A private [and decrepit] jetty
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Tasman National Park Lookout

Tessellated Pavement – a natural formation at Eaglehawk Neck

Lime Bay

Lime Bay rock formations/patterns

As you can see, I found some pretty cool places! And Lime Bay had a great campground on the coast for only $13/night. But there were too many people there (c.a. 10). I thought, “You know what? Tonight I’ll stay somewhere no one else is, and maybe find some Tasmanian Devils!” I knew that there were some devils on the Forestier Peninsula. But there weren’t many free campsites on wiki camps, so I decided to take a little road out East of Murduna. I knew that it wound its way close to the coast, and through some forest that looked pretty wild, and that was enough for me!

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Yep, nice forest (although I understand it is mostly regrowth after a big fire and, prior to that, logging

Everything was going pretty well. I even took a turn onto another road that my GPS had marked but google didn’t which seemed to get closer to the coast! But…

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Turns out that road was kaput. But where was my warning?!
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Ahh, there it is!
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On closer inspection the damage is much worse than I thought, the road being eaten away 1-2m under the road!
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No way I’ll risk bringing Ron over that! (Although I see others have done so by the tracks)
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Hey, look I found a sign!
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Schofields road wasn’t great
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I had to get out and walk through a lot of puddles to make sure I could get past – I couldn’t turn around, and I certainly wasn’t backing out!
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So Maybe I’ll stay here tonight… It’s hard to see the big wet ruts along the road, next to the car, but they are there!

I went through quite a few puddles, ruts and other miscellaneous hazards without being able to turn Ron around, so I thought that I’d stay here the night… I had a look around, and even found the end of what must be a fantastic bush walk coming out here, with an arrow pointing back towards a car park (which I never went to) a few kms back up the road! Where you can find out about this walk, I’m not sure, but I think it’d be amazing – wet, mossy rainforesty stuff, maybe extending to the shore? I only speculate, but I may look into this for future reference. It would be a wild walk! (I found it, and it does indeed extend to the shore – 10km, mostly on Richardsons road (from the carpark), at the end of which is a barrier stating 2 hours return, which is apparently a bit optimistic – http://www.portarthurtasmania.net/cape-surville-bushwalk.html)

Back to the story though. I told both my parentals and Chrissy my coordinates in case I ran into troubles. But my parents thought maybe I should get out in case it got wetter overnight and I got bogged. Sounds reasonable, so I did! And thankfully with no worries, as it was a pretty steep and muddy incline with a sharp right hand bend with a huge tree chopped up close on either side (quite fun actually). Thankfully under the mud was [mostly] gravel, so there wasn’t [too much] slipping and sliding!

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This is just past the top of that slippery hill, I didn’t want to stop on the boggy parts to take pictures
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A crop of the above image shows one side of the chopped up tree (almost as tall as Ron) at the crest of the hill and on the sharp right hand turn. I’d guess the gap is 1.5x the width of Ron, so not too much wiggle room when you’re… literally wiggling!
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So I made it to drier (although less wild and beautiful) grounds.

It’s not hard to see why people think the trees are talking to them. When you stand in the calm of the early evening and hear the rustle of the wind through the leaves, and the soft creaks and groans of the old gums towering above, you are reminded of a long slow conversation of which you are not a part… Yet, you may be the subject of discussion.

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These musings made me hungry so I thought it was time to cook up a storm!
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Another grey fantail!
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And a very cool flower! …It had a crab spider waiting in it when I arrived

That night was the coldest I’ve had yet! I slept in thermal pants, clothes and jacket under my blanket (at which point I was nice and toasty). I managed to find some cool spiders, moths, a couple of possums and something else that I never saw in proper light! Perhaps a bandicoot, but it was pretty big for a bandicoot… I like to think that it was a devil 😛

Anyway, next morning I set off pretty early in hopes of finding some animal life still out and about on the roads! But then I heard a funny noise from under Ron when I reached a certain rev count….

I had a peak underneath the car, and quickly saw that it was a guard plate, which had been knocked pretty hard (by a stone the previous day… I actually remember the bugger). So I took off the plate for a closer look…

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Yep, pretty dinted alright!

It was time for me to use the only tool in Jeremy Clarkson’s toolbox: The hammer.

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And what do you know? Maybe I should take up part-time work as a panel beater?

As luck would have it though, I snapped off a bolt while undoing the damn thing, so I had to zip-tie it back on with my only zip tie! But, panels beaten, bolts substituted with zip-ties, I was ready to go again! Now that’s what cousin Pete would call bush-spec!

Once again though, the clouds and the cold kept the bees away… All I caught that day, was a rather impressive 7.5cm long Gasteruptid wasp (2.5cm body, 5cm ovipositor!). I decided then that it was time to get a service, after all it had been 10 000 km since Perth! I did this in the little town of Forcett, 30 minutes East of Hobart (I was trying to think of a joke about the name, but my creative juices weren’t flowing, and I didn’t want to Forcett). After this, I drove to Hobart and spent a couple of hours parked above Hobart, watching some wallabies having a good time watching the city and eating some grass/wallaby pellets left by a resident.

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The Gasteruptid – a parasitoid of solitary wasps and bees
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The country life isn’t exciting enough for some wallabies
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City slicker
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Wallaby surveying its domain – I can only imagine, that it tells its joeys “One day Joe, all of this will be yours. Everything the light touches is part of our kingdom.” (Damn wallabies think that they own the place)
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All the while, this little dog watched me. Seriously, for like two hours!
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And here is camp for tonight – the urban jungle!
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Good morning, Hobart

Kilometres travelled: 21 339

Bee count: 157

James