Touring Tassie Part Two

Cover Photo: Tasmania’s Central Plateau.

14th – 17th February Tasmania, By Jenny.

After checking in to the Bayside Inn at St Helens, we ate lunch in their bistro, then took a leisurely stroll around town in the blustery sunshine. It is a nice little town, and well worth a stop over. We missed the Bay of Fires, a little further north, as some other bike riders told us they were riding on a 45 degree angle, due to the gale force winds, and it was unpleasant.

St Helens is on The Tin Dragon Trail, which takes you on the historical Tin mining history tour of Tasmania. There were some pretty cool murals too. After our strenuous exercise and massive days ride (2kms) we needed to unwind. Tracey and I played a little Keno ( and won $2 between us) and Neil and Will played pool. It was a close comp between them both.

We got the last room, with beds for four. A queen and two singles. We are old enough to manage this, but we were all a little concerned . Tracey has sleep apnea, and has a machine and mask, she wears at night (you know the ones, the “Darth Vader” breathing machine?), both Will and Neil snore (like a Wookiee and a Grizzly Bear) and I am perfect (right?). So what could go wrong? Well, as it turned out, we’d all slept pretty well, and old Darth Vader was the quietest one, and almost decided to record us three when we woke her….ha ha ha.

St Helens to Devonport 275km

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Thursday morning was still overcast, and a bit windy, but no rain expected, so we were all set for a big day to Devonport. Will had got on to Messenger, and contacted Heidi and Steve, who live near Devonport,  we’d met them on our European cycle tour. He’d arranged for us to all meet for dinner, so we had to get there, no matter what the weather gods threw at us.

First stop was The Pub in The Paddock. Apparently we “Had to see that”. Unfortunately it was way too early for a beer, and on top of that, it was a little underwhelming. We were told it was right on the side of the road, and we couldn’t miss it, but in reality, it was not. It wasn’t very well sign posted, and was about five kilometres off the main road. But hey, we saw it.

Tracey had a nice quiet stroll, while we snored, and got some great after storm shots. The Pub in The Paddock was a little quiet.

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Sweeping corners like this all morning. Lots of fun, but lots of concentration.

Next stop was the little town of Derby, where we stopped for a break. This was a nice little surprise. The last time we stopped here, about 15 years ago, it was just a run down country town. They have really put the effort in, and now it is one of the Mountain Bike hot spots in Tassie. Clean, neat and interesting. Great to see. It was also full of people on mountain bikes, having a coffee or hot chocolate and getting ready for round two of their ride.

We stopped for a coffee and to shared a toastie. At least they can make a decent one in this country. 🤪

From here, we were battling the blustering wind, but enjoying the roads and scenery. There was lots of debris on the roads, so we did have to take it a bit easy, and we did come around one corner to find a whole tree down on our side. Luckily no cars oncoming, so we all had room to avoid it. The short storm that hit this whole state, was a ripper. We enjoyed the challenging conditions, and took another break, at the Batman Bridge, that crosses the river Tamar. It was named after John Batman, a Launceston business man and co-founder of Melbourne. It is a great bridge.

The corners just never end in Tassie, and there is no shortage of bikers out enjoying them either.

The Batman Bridge, funnily enough, I was the only one singing the old Batman theme song, going across it…..”Na na na na na na na na, Batman!” These bumble bees are huge. They are not native, and were smuggled in illegally. Some producers are trying to get them authorised/legalised, as they are prolific pollinators, but the are not good for our native environment.

The winds were up to about 40kms per hour, and we pretty much danced our way across the bridge. The final run to Devonport, was through farm land, and lots of small hamlets. We managed to find a couple of rooms in The Alexander Hotel and Backpackers, which was in a good location, and the rooms were refurbished and nice.

Our lunch stop was in Exeter, about 15kms from the Batman Bridge, where we stopped for a drink and  a pie. Then it was about an hour more to Devonport. Secure parking was an issue, but the hotel did their best and let us park almost in the doorway, to be out of plain sight. Tracey again took some great photos while us snorers we’re still out to it. The Spirit of Tasmania, bringing people to The Apple Ilse.

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An important reminder to keep an eye on the tyre pressures, with changing temps and road conditions. All our back tyres needed some air.

Dinner with Heidi and Steve was great, and we were so glad they made time to catch up with us. Can’t wait to read about their next cycling adventure at Run Ride Roam on WordPress. It wasn’t a late night, they have to work tomorrow, and we have the big ride back to Hobart, through the middle.

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Steve and Heidi were kind enough to drop us back at the hotel, which was the perfect opportunity for a great memory picture. Run, Ride, Roam guys, check it out.

Devonport to Hobart 280kms

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The wind was lighter, the sun had come out, and we were looking forward to the highlands and Great Lakes area. But first we had a breakfast date in Railton, 24kms south. Rob, another of our cycling friends, has been touring around Tasmania for a couple of months, on his bicycle, and was in Railton. So we had a nice breakfast catch up with him, and found another great little town. Rob had checked out the local brewery, and stayed in the pub, and recommended both. The little cafe/bakery was great, and the town was full of topiary sculptures, that were fun to check out.

Another great catch up with Rob, he is doing a great job of showing us how to live a minimalist lifestyle and enjoy everything this life’s has to offer.

Tracey went for another walk (she is doing well with the exercise, not like the rest of us), and got these great shots of some of the Topiary work around town. A lot of fun. Then we waved off Rob, and blasted off towards the highlands.

After waving off Rob, we rode through some hilly farm areas, before starting to climb up into the highlands. Another interesting town, we passed through, was Deloraine. There were plenty of “Oldie Worldie” buildings, that were in great condition, and several gorgeous old pubs. Definitely worth another visit. From here the ride was fantastic. Up and up and around, and around. The temperature was dropping fast, and the wind was only moderate. The scenery was spectacular, and we came over a small rise, then “BAM!” there was the Great Lake. Wow, it is huge. It’s just under 25kms long, and 12kms wide, and is the second largest water reservoir in Tasmania. As we rode around it, the road turned to gravel, and we all slowed accordingly. At several spots, we were forced to stop at traffic control lights, and wait our turn in the freezing cold cross winds. We are at over 1000mtrs above sea level, it was very bloody cold.

We came around a nice sweeping right handed, to these views. It was a definite Wow moment, and a must stop spot. We all put another layer on, as it was getting too cold, and I think my hair is growing long enough for piggy tails. 

The dirt sections weren’t too bad, fairly firm, and not too much loose stuff on the top. A couple of sections were a bit corrugated, and Neil almost lost the Tom Tom, which was only secured with a suction cup on the tank. It’s a car one.

Amazing scenery, and they are busy doing road works to try and seal the middle section of this great ride.

By the time we reached The Great Lakes pub, it was 9C, feeling like -1C, and we were all freezing. Luckily they had their fire going, and some nice beef stew to warm us up. It is a very interesting area, but I could only imagine how cold it could get here.

A fantastic pub up here in the highlands, warm stew, fire pumping, and a great view. It’s for sale folks, so who’s up for a tree change?

Once warm, it was time for the final run home, down to a warmer temperature and through the rolling hilly farming lands. Most of this central region is mountains and farms. But it is beautiful riding, if only it was a few degrees warmer. The sun didn’t show it’s head again. We did amuse ourselves by tooting our horns at the mobs of sheep in the fields, and watching them jump and run around. Bloody idiots! (The sheep, or us?)

By the time we got home, we were tired and cold, but totally satisfied with our journey. Lots of great riding, lots of fantastic scenery, and many laughs. Success!

Roxy doing what I was doing, enjoying an afternoon nap. The views from Neil and Tracey’s balcony change with the weather, but are always spectacular.

Saturday was a pretty chilled day, with Tracey and I just resting our stupid dick knees, and taking care of washing and the boring stuff, while Neil and Chelsey, took Will out to the Hobart Rifle range, where they are members. Will used to do this, years ago, and was excited to see how he would fair after a 10+ year break. The competition they were doing today, was called Centrefire, at 300mtrs, using a .223 centrefire rifle. With ten people shooting, all adults, except one 17 yr old, Chelsey won the day with a score of 91, so Will was very happy with his 3rd place & top score of 89. Still got a good eye.

18th February – 325kms

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Sunday morning Will, Neil and I took three bikes on a circuit of winding roads, from Hobart, to Swansea, over the Lake Leake road to Campbell Town, through Ross, Richmond and back to home. We took three different varieties of bike, so Will and I could try them. Leaving home, I took the big girl (Yamaha FJR 1300), Will took Effie (Honda VFR 800), and Neil rode Suzie A (Suzuki GSX 650F). As I could only just touch the ground on The Big Girl, and she weighs about 280kgs, I had to be very careful when having to stop at lights and things. A bit of sliding forward and slipping off the left side a little to make sure I had good footing. Riding her was a breeze, and on the wide open road, it was an absolute pleasure.

The way north was via the Tasman Highway (A3), back to Orford, where we had a cool drink and short break. While there, lots of other bike riders came in and also stopped for a rest. When leaving, I wondered what they all thought, watching us head over to the bikes. Small, medium and large bikes, two big guys and a short lady, and the shortest person got on the biggest bike. Ha ha ha, I would not have expected it to go that way if I was watching. I felt pretty big.

Looking at those photos, The Big Girl doesn’t look that big, but she is.

The ride through to Swansea was very enjoyable, except for one incident, where we came over a couple of roller coaster hills, and the middle car of a long line of oncoming traffic, decided to pass the car in front. Will was leading us, and saw the car pulling out. He flashed his very bright lights, And with two more sets of oncoming headlights, we thought the car would just pull back in, but no, he just kept passing. Will had to brake very heavily, and was almost off into the gravel shoulder (Indian style), Neil pulled left aggressively, while braking firmly, and I was far enough back to just brake and slide left. Both Neil and I had plenty of time to give the dumb arse driver a few stern hand gestures, while shaking our heads and swearing. Will was just flabbergasted the whole thing had occurred.

At Swansea, we paused at the Bark Mill again, and just as we were preparing to head off on one of Neils’ favourite rides, it started to drizzle. We waited, of course, who needs to get rained on? At this point, we did a bit of a bike exchange, so Will took The Big Girl, and I rode Suzie A, so Neil could blast the cobwebs out on the Lake Leake road. A minute after getting onto that road, we gave Neil permission to get up front, and “ride his own ride”. We’d do the same, (only slower) and meet up again in Campbell Town. It was a very nice ride, with some sweeping bends, up and over a large hill, through some unreal forest areas, more sweeping bends, then down through the farms to town, where we found Neil, parked up waiting for us. Superb!

We weren’t the only ones enjoying a Sunday out in Swansea, some old cars were too. 

Neil smashed the Lake Leake road, I have a feeling it is one of his favourite rides, and he knows it well. Diablo seemed to enjoy it too.

Another bike swap, had me on Effie, with the thundering V4 motor, Will refusing to give up The Big Girl, (he was loving it sick), leaving Neil to bust out on Suzie A. Before blasting our way back to Hobart, we were under strict instructions, from Tracey and the girls, not to come home without stopping in Ross and purchasing the world famous vanilla slice, from the Ross Bakery (north end of town), and I needed to try at least one Scallop Pie (also famous in Ross) from Bakery 31 (southern end of town). We got everything to take home, as none of us were actually hungry.

A very nice little town, barely big enough for two famous bakeries. Vanilla slice, check, scallop pies, check, old bridge built by convicts, check! Happy mascots, double check.

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The old sandstone bridge in Ross, built by Convicts between 1830-1836.

The final run home was a lot of fun, with some great double lane highway that I enjoyed blasting the throaty motor of Effie along, she really likes to go a little faster than she should, and Will was in heaven on the comfortable seat of the Yamaha. We did stop at St Peters Pass, for a potty emergency (Will), and one last bike swap. Will was pretending he didn’t speak English, still refusing to hand Neil his beloved Big Girl, so Neil and I just swapped back. I felt a bit more comfortable riding Suzie A into the busier traffic to home. All in all, it was an awesome days riding, and fantastic to experience the different riding styles and power of the various bikes.

19th February – Drive the Dodge 264kms

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A day off the bikes, for a run down to the furthest Southern point in Australia that is accessible by vehicle, Cockle Creek. The drive down was interesting, going through Huonville, a huge apple growing area, on the Huon River. We followed this river down to Dover, and Ida Bay, where the road changes to dirt and the ferns grow to prehistoric sizes. Tracey had made us a picnic lunch, so we found ourselves a sheltered bay and enjoyed the quiet of the ocean while eating our sandwiches. What an amazing place this is.

On the way down, we stopped to pick some apples from a tree on the verge. They weren’t real good, a bit tart, but there are self seeded trees everywhere. Huonville, along the Huon river, had lots of historic buildings, statues and of course, boats.

  • Ida Bay is the last little stop, and where the dirt road starts. It also has a cool little rail line, and train, that takes you to the beach. It was just leaving as we arrived so missed the photo op.

Southern Right whales used Recherche bay to have their young, until we humans indiscriminately hunted and killed pregnant whales and the young ones, until the 1850’s when breeding numbers had declined too severely. It is a beautiful spot.

Diablo enjoyed the outing, and photo-bombed a few pics. Recherche Bay was calm and relaxing. Some good, free camping here too.

Left over Silverside and salad sandwiches, some Malteser slice (thanks Tamara) and we were loving ourselves sick. 

The tree ferns were enormous, and absolutely stunning. Neil asked Tracey to drive home, I don’t know why, do you? Ha ha ha, sleeping beauties. At least you know Tracey drove well, if those two slept most of the windy way home. The Hobart pics are from Rosny Hill lookout.

20th February – Hobart to Strathgordon and Back 365kms

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A totally new place for us all today, as Neil and Tracey hadn’t venture to Gordon Dam or Strathgordon, either. So we set off with some excitement. We all stuck to the usual rides, with only one top box for water and extras. We’re going light. To start the day, there was no wind, and it was a little cloudy, but by the time we’d reached New Norfolk, a fast 30kms from the city, it was all sunshine. Fantastic!

In New Norfolk, we crossed the Derwent river, and followed the Lyell highway along the river, to Bushy Park and Gordon River road, where we crossed again to get through to Westerway and The Possum Shed. This is a cute little coffee shop, on the Tyenna river. We had a break, enjoyed the sunshine, and a BLT (bacon, lettuce, tomato sandwich).

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One of Tassies best summer days (they only get about 30, ha ha ha, jokes, just jokes). The Possum Shed was a great little stop.

From Westerway, we had an absolutely cracking ride through some brilliant forest and winding roads. We saw our first snake, and it was alive. Coming down from a rise, into the dappled light of the thick forest, Neil out front, we hear, “SNAKE, SNAKE, SNAKE”, in our comms. No warning of where it was located, or if it was dead or alive, but I can tell you it was very much alive when I rode past it moving well to the right. Neil must have woken it from it’s warming rest in the sunshine, because Will said it actually tried to strike at him as he sped by. It was just looking confused and heading off the road when I saw it.

So I can totally recommend a visit to the dam, both for the journey in, and the dam itself. Some of the scenery, was spectacular, the roads were incredible to ride, and on a perfect Tasmanian summer day, you can’t ask for more. There were plenty of other riders out enjoying this area, and once, after we’d stopped for photo taking, as we pulled back out onto the road, which was clear, a group of three riders came from nowhere, and had to slow down quickly behind us. Oops, but we did all pull well left and wave them past. They were absolutely fanging it, having a ball.

Spectacular! That’s all you have to know. This is one of my techniques for getting a great shot, just because the Stupid dick knees won’t let me squat anymore.

Seriously, look at us. We were loving this ride so much. It has everything you want. Sun, good roads, great sights, and good company.

A few photo stops along the way, and then the dam. Wow, what an amazing feet of engineering. The Gordon dam was built in 1974 for Hydro power. There are lots little bays, beaches and camping spots around Lake Pedder, the larger body of water, and on a day like today it looked amazing. There are no shops, just the Lake Pedder Resort, so we decided to head back to Maydena, 80 odd kilometres toward home, to grab a snack and a cool drink. A great ride back with the changing sun on the rocky outcrops, and beautiful forest areas. Through one of these, Tracey spotted a small creature crossing the road ahead, and we all slowed right down to avoid it, only to discover a small, extremely cute and terrified echidna. It stopped in the middle, and tried to bury itself in the road. “No mate, not there, we won’t hurt you, go back!” So we tooted, and talked until he turned around and scurried into the bushes. I only managed to get one glove off, and couldn’t get my phone off the Quadlock in time, as we were in the middle of the road, and not safe. Number two echidna, so cool.

We weren’t the only ones, plenty of bike riders making the most of this run. Neil and Tracey looking great on The Big Girl.

Magnificent rocky outcrops around the dam, which looked like it was missing a fair bit of water. Neil did tell us they’d had a couple of dry winters, and Tassie was looking considerably browner than I remember.

There are a couple of good walks available here, but with over 100 steps down to the dam wall, both Tracey and I were not keen, and it was actually getting quite warm.

After a brief stop in Maydena, and a stupid dick knee stretch in New Norfolk, we pretty much just blasted home. All of us were shattered, but it was such a superb day. This is the stuff that makes Tassie famous.

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Will and I bought some fish and chips to share, which was Birdseye Battered fish, straight from the frozen section in Coles, but was priced accordingly, and all we needed to get us home.

Last meal out in Tassie, at the Shoreline Hotel, the “Local”. Chelsey and I both chose Brisket Mac and Cheese, which turned out to be a deep fried brick of Mac and Cheese, it was delicious, but a bit like Man verses Food. On this occasion, both of us conquered the food. We weren’t sure if that was such a good win though. Food coma!

21st February The Southern Loop 150kms

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Our last ride in Tassie for this trip. Just a short run south of Hobart, along the coast to Cygnet, then back over a small mountain road, to home. No wind, a little sun, but a lot of cloud, and a warm 19C. Will, Neil and I did the loop, stopping at The Commercial pub, in Cygnet, for a light lunch (Neil was cooking his version of KFC for dinner, and we didn’t want to spoil it), then loved ourselves sick on the winding Nicholls Rivulet road, until we got stuck behind a slow black Mercedes, who wouldn’t pull over and let us pass. Grrrrrr! But still a good run. Lots of apple and cherry orchards, lovely big gum trees, and views of the Northwest Bay and Derwent River. There was another windy road we could have had a run on, but we were all feeling a bit tired, and dare I say, satisfied.

A great road, but not too many safe spots for photos. Helen the Blue-ringed octopus came out for the last ride, but I think she may prefer the Kombi. She tried desperately to jump off, lucky I caught her and tucked her in the tank bag.

After a nice break at the Commy in Cygnet, and a relaxing run home, the boys did the bike cleaning and put them back to bed, while I made a start on this monster blog. Note to self: Write every two days, minimum! This has been difficult.

So that is it, The Tour of Tassie is done, and we have had an absolute blast. Neil, Tracey, Tamara, Chelsey and Roxy (the dog), have looked after us amazingly, feeding us, leading us, and sharing with us. The bikes didn’t miss a beat, Neil is spot on with his care and maintenance. Tracey (with her stupid dick knee) put up with us stopping for photos way too often, and making her get on and off the bike a lot. She also let us take photos with her in them, and even took some awesome selfies. The two girls, chatted to us, and laughed at our old people jokes, and we really enjoyed their company. I reckon Neil would be happy to share this experience with other interested parties too……hint hint hint!

Team Tasmania! Tracey, Will, Jen, Neil, Chelsey and Tamara. Awesome guys, Thank You!

At the crack of dawn tomorrow, we fly home, to get back to our gardening and future adventure planning. Lots to be getting on with, and we even came up with a few more ideas, while here with Neil and Tracey. Who knows, you might see them here in this blog again soon.

Total kilometres over ten days riding, 1857!

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