An Open Invitation

Words by Alison Wormell (they/them)

Photos by Alison & Caz

There’s power in an open invitation. There’s generosity, inclusion, and the potential for something really special to happen. So when Caz extended an open invitation on the Bikepacking Tasmania FB group for a Spring equinox camp out, we were onto something special.


The forecast was particularly ominous. Rain, small hailstones, and frost overnight. Caz, Christine, and myself began on the Saturday but the total crew grew to seven, including Bobby the dog. The open invitation stood for the whole weekend from nipaluna/Hobart to Dodges Ferry, not just the start line. Can’t ride a bike? You can still come along!

It took but a moment for our group to grow. The Tasman Bridge spans the timtumili minanya/River Derwent, making it our first water crossing for the trip. Notoriously long, narrow, and with high winds, we assessed the conditions and took the safe option. I was certainly grateful as we walked up and down the bridge with our loaded bikes. We tried to let someone pass us; instead, he stopped for a wee chat.

Turns out, this was our soon-to-be-pal, James! He had seen Caz’s poster about the trip, and had only failed to join due to a pannier malfunction. So three became four, and we pedalled through the back of Mornington, chatting about who we were and anything else that came to mind. A theme of the conversations all weekend was identifying birds and plants.

After a climb to cross the Meehan Range, we descended through dreamy dry sclerophyll forest to flat open roads passing through fields near Cambridge. A short stint on the shoulder of the Tasman Highway took us to our second and third water crossings. We crossed Pittwater in sunshine and light winds – the spit in the middle that divides the two bridges is named tipina/Midway Point.

Just as we got to the first bridge, Caz had a puncture. Christine, James, and I offered entertainment and chats while she swapped out a tube. Even without pedalling, the conversation flowed. 25km on, and a fresh group of partial-strangers were now definitely new pals. A bakery stop in Sorrell, called for hot chocolates and pies and at this point James turned back to nipaluna. We waved him off cheerily, alongside hopes of future pedals.

On our way to Dodges Ferry we battled an unavoidable section of the Arthur Highway. It thankfully began pleasantly with a wheeling murmuration of starlings. Despite the traffic we had panoramic views across Pittwater, but everyone breathed a sigh of relief as we turned off towards Dodger’s. A golden field of rapeseed was particularly striking on this section, but not so much as the frogs at Townsend’s Lagoon. A near-deafening chorus of brown tree and eastern banjo frogs left us all smiling.

We set up camp (it turned out we were in the neighbour’s field by accident) and spent about 45 minutes trying to locate a tawny frogmouth, whose hooting appeared to be coming from the ground rather than in trees where they normally nest! Any information on this would be welcome… it was both infuriating and amazing to hear this constant call that seemed to come from everywhere at once.

A short coast down to a little peninsula to watch the sunset followed. Snacks laid out on the rocks, the water buffeted the cliffs and Pacific gulls played in updrafts. I don’t remember what exactly we talked about, but there was a warmth and openness to the conversation that felt really precious.

Shortly before true sunset, Andy arrived in the van with Bobby the dog, and more importantly a huge package of hot chips and potato scallops. Sticks were thrown, and fried potato wolfed. Going back up the hill after dinner was going to be painful for some very full stomachs! Word came through that Rosie was joining us too, just for the evening, after a day painting her flat.

Rosie arrived just in time for tea, piping hot and served in enamel mugs with Nice biscuits and a chaotically divided cinnamon bun. We huddled over our mugs, hands and hearts warmed, and looked up at the milky way. Jupiter, bright gold winked at us. The gulls were playing even still.

A mix of cars and bicycles made their way up the hill, tents were moved to where they were supposed to be, and somewhere in the midst of this, Rosie was convinced to stay the night. Andy and Caz had a spare tent and sleeping kit in the van… just right for a spontaneous adventure! We stood around with torches as hammocks and tarps were gradually set up, talking about everything and nothing. There was a lot to talk about – who was who, what was what, where we came from, where we were going. Somehow being there all together in the cool of the evening, ready to sleep outside no matter how we got there was a catalyst for conversation.


In the golden morning light, we slowly appeared from our tents, sitting quietly. Nothing needed to be said at first. We just watched the sun rise above the trees, and the birds busily go about their day. The sky was a pale blue, the sea intensifying its reflected hue. Gradually we talked, naming birds, looking for binoculars and slowly warming ourselves up to the day.

Folding tents and stuffing sleeping bags, strapping belongings onto bikes, shoving bits and bobs into the van, the day came into focus. We’d all go to breakfast together by the beach, then Rosie, Andy, and Christine would drive back to nipaluna. Caz and I would pedal together with some detours since we were both on offroad-capable bikes. I’d like to give a big shout out to Christine for coming on her first bikepacking trip, and absolutely slaying! Next time with some padded cycling shorts, hopefully her bum will be as enthusiastic and ready as the rest of her on day two.

Dog watching ensued at breakfast, and after a lazy slow start, everyone was off. Andy and Christine detouring via a little flock of pardalotes, and Rosie making a beeline to her painting duties. Refreshed from a night under the stars and good company, we were all feeling sparkly and warm in the Sunday sunshine.

Caz and I popped by the Dodges Ferry community garden and then made good time, finding a rhythm together as we retraced our steps. On the other side of the Pittwater bridges, we changed tack and followed some back roads parallel to Seven Mile Beach. This was the stuff – open roads, dead ends with trails out the end, minimal traffic, and enormous gums lining our way. We wound our way along the back of the dunes and past the Hobart Airport runway, eventually joining the Seven Mile Clifftop trail.

Deliciously sunny, the sea sparkling and inviting with minimal breeze, we gradually coated ourselves with mud from yesterday’s rain. Puddles to splash through meant that a quick rinse off was required. At a little cove, I went for a swim. Once the squealing subsided, it was really rather invigorating if you didn’t mind a taste of the Antarctic. We rode onwards to a bakery we had picked out earlier.

Negotiating horse trails, aggressively friendly sheep, single track out the back of properties and through forest, tannin-dyed deep waters which we left V shaped ripples in, and being daft gaining air off dirt speed bumps we continued onwards. Our lack of planning took us up a rather large hill to the bakery (complete with doughnuts and the singular vegan option of bread).

Then… downill to nipaluna! Along the foreshore we saw other cyclists galore. My favourite was a toddler with training wheels and pink sparkly gumboots. Heck yes.

Caz and I rolled in, happiness from the weekend contentedly sitting in our souls. It didn’t feel like it had just been the two of us in the slightest despite waving bye to everyone else after breakfast. This spring equinox was so full of connection and the beginnings of new friendships, it was like going on a journey bigger than the ride to Dodges and back. Caz’s open invitation had opened the door to more than just the six other folk who joined her. It invited openness, candidness, acceptance, and inclusion. I feel so fortunate to have said yes to it.

You can support Bikepacking Tasmania by purchasing a sticker for $3.50 via @caztheturtle on Instagram.

This trip took place on Palawa land. We acknowledge and pay respect to the past, present and future Traditional Custodians and Elders of this nation and the continuation of cultural, spiritual and educational practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Sovereignty was never ceded. This is their land.


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