Australia ĖTasmania Island

 

Denis Kertz, ©2002

 

 

 

Day 62: Mon, Nov 04, 2002 - Melbourne, VIC to Gowrie Park, TAS [59.6, 04:33:13, 13.1, 5721]

When I went to my cabin to sleep I noticed I had the cabin all to myself.Sometime close to midnight the ferry was rocking as it went through a rough sea, probably shortly after leaving the protection of Phillips Bay.I enjoyed the rocking motion but hoped I wouldnít get seasick.I slept fairly well and woke up at 5:30, just before a wakeup announcement came over the intercom.I checked out the breakfast arrangement and wasnít too excited but decided to eat because I feared it might be a while until I got off the ferry.The breakfast was very bland in sharp contrast to last nightís meal.

The ferry got in a little early at 6:30 and I was off and picked up my bike by 7:30.I rode into town in a roundabout way, traveling 5K to get to the Visitor Centre, which was conveniently open at 7:30, undoubtedly to accommodate the ferry passengers.Then I looked across the way and spied the Spirit of Tasmania, about 200 metres across a water channel.If my bike could swim I could have saved almost 5K.

Today was Recreation Day, a Tasmanian holiday, so many things were closed.I did find a newspaper shop open with Internet access.Then I found a bakery open for another round of breakfast.It took a little more work but I also found an open grocery store.I took my time with these activities since Gowrie Park, my goal, was only 44K and I had plenty of time to make it.

I finally headed out at 10:30 at a leisurely pace.I wanted to make this a relatively easy day so I geared down accordingly but there was one fairly long hill that required my lowest gear as I traveled through hilly farmland where farmers were often plowing their fields for spring planting.After 34K I stopped briefly at Sheffield but when I started again I missed the turnoff to Gowrie Park and went 4K too far.After backtracking I headed west to Gowrie Park right into a strong westerly wind, descending into a scenic bowl with rugged Mt Rowland as a backdrop.

At this point the weather was very changeable.One minute it was pleasantly warm with no wind and then it was chilly with a strong wind accompanied by occasional drizzle.At Gowrie Park I stopped at the Weindorferís restaurant, an acclaimed restaurant, where I got a single backpacker room for $10, a great deal.Later I ate at this restaurant and had smoked trout that was very good.During this time the wind really picked up several times accompanied by a hard drizzle.I was glad to be indoors and not riding.But 5 minutes after the rain stopped the sun would be shining again.

Day 63: Tue, Nov 05, 2002 - Gowrie Park, TAS to Cradle Mtn Natl Park, TAS [43.5, 04:10:36, 10.4, 5765]

I was ready to go at 8:00 but it was hard to get going knowing I had probably the hardest climb of the trip ahead of me.On the other hand every minute of delay meant the climb stayed there Ė ahead of me.So I shoved off a little after 8:00 with overcast skies.

The first 5K was nothing special.That was followed by a 4K steep, twisting descent to the Forth River.Then the climb began.Immediately I was in my lowest gear.The first K relented a couple times but then the road just climbed steeply through the forest.I made a couple short stops at photo opportunities and to catch my breath.Then when I thought I still had 2K left based on my guide I saw a sign for tea rooms in 400 metres.It was Moina, the end of the climb after only 5K and a little less than 1 hour rather than the expected 7K.I stopped at the cafť and was pleasantly surprised to see pancakes on the menu.So I devoured a stack of 3 as just reward for the hard climb.

The bad thing about stopping, though, was I got damp in the warm room.Fortunately, I heated up quickly as I started some more modest climbing but nothing like before.Then the wind picked up along with occasional light drizzle but not enough rain to require rain gear.

At 35K I reached the turnoff to Cradle Mountain National Park and rode another 5K to the Visitor Centre.The Visitor Centre had a weather forecast that called for rain in the afternoon, possibly okay tomorrow, and not so good the following two days.Cradle Mountain was famous for the Dove Lake and Cradle Mountain views.Ideally I wanted to hike to the summit of Cradle Mountain tomorrow to see both.However, the ranger didnít advise a summit hike since there was still snow at the top.Still there was a lookout near the lake and a loop around the lake for hiking.

Meanwhile, it was raining in earnest so I spent a couple of hours at the Visitor Centre that also had some interesting displays.Finally I bit the bullet, donned my rain gear, and cycled the 3K back to a campground with a backpacker.But even better, this place had 3 alpine huts that were just small huts with bed bunks, just perfect at $8 compared to the $20 for a backpacker in a 4-room bunk.

After storing my bike in the hut I walked across the street to a cafť for fish & chips and a short session on an Internet PC.When I got back to the hut I cleaned up and left my hut door open.Magically, a couple of Pademelons appeared, looking for food, and were joined by a crow.Eventually they all went away disappointed.



Day 64: Wed, Nov 06, 2002 - Cradle Mtn Natl Park, TAS to Roseberry, TAS [84.3, 05:04:24, 14.5, 5849]

When I got up it was a chilly 5C but the sky was clearing up.This was the first night I needed to zip up my sleeping bag.Overnight I decided to check out Dove Lake and Cradle Mountain and then head for Roseberry.Ideally I would have stayed over and hiked around but the weather forecast for the next several days was not encouraging.

I packed up and left around 8:30 and headed to Dove Lake, 10K away.The first 3K was to the Visitor Centre and then the rest was on gravel road, pretty good in places and rough in others.There was some hard climbing made harder by the gravel road.There were several views of Cradle Mountain along the way but the best view was at Dove Lake with Cradle Mountain in the background.I hung around for almost an hour, enjoying the view but disappointed I wouldnít be hiking.

Heading back was easier but not much faster because I had to take it slow on the gravel road even if it was mostly downhill.Just after I started back I noticed my cyclometer was not working so I pulled into a parking lot to investigate.I decided to replace the transmitter battery and opened my front pannier to get my cyclometer guide.While reading instructions I heard the ruffle of a plastic bag and looked up.A crow in search of food had pulled a plastic bag out of my front pannier that contained food.I shooed him away hungry.

Unfortunately replacing the battery didnít help.So I was going to replace the main battery when I noticed jiggling the main unit fixed the problem, apparently marginal electrical contact.I continued on and near the Visitor Centre I met an English couple struggling up the hill with mountain bikes and daypacks.I told them it would be more fun returning.

At the Visitor Centre I checked the weather report and, as I expected, it was not looking good for the next several days.I continued on to the main road and headed west.Initially there was climbing and descending through a couple of wide, brown, scenic valleys.The second valley had a long, hard climb out.When I stopped for a breather, there was a breathtaking view of Cradle Mountain and Mt. Pelion looking back.

The rest of the way was undulating with a fair amount of climbing on C132 until it intersected with A10.Just before the intersection I saw a brown animal scuttling across the road.It turned out to be an echidna, somewhat similar to our porcupine.When I stopped for a photo, it balled itself up and started burrowing into the ground just off the road.I waited a while and it moved a few feet but just balled itself up tighter whenever I got close.

At the intersection I headed south on A10 to Tullah.After some initial climbing and a lunch break, I coasted at least 10K to the small town of Tullah, population 250, with an impressive line of thin mountains in the background.Such a descent has its price however.Just after crossing the Murchison Bridge I had a hard 4K climb to the top of Mt. Black, almost as hard as yesterdayís climb although I noticed near the top that I hadnít used my lowest gear.

Then I did a controlled descent down the steep road to Roseberry, a gold mining town of 2,000.I got a room at the Plandome Hotel for $27.50.Then I did some grocery shopping, ate, and retired to the bar for a J Hoags, a Tasmanian beer.

Day 65: Thu, Nov 07, 2002 - Roseberry, TAS to Strahan, TAS [76.4, 04:42:35, 16.2, 5926]

When I got up I saw water on the window and I feared the worst but it was only condensation.Outside it was clear blue skies so I was in a hurry to take advantage and was off by 7:30.Just outside town was a golf course with $5 all day green fees, a steal on a day like this.

The first 20K was hilly with a fair amount of climbing.There were a couple of hard climbs but nothing longer than 1K.The road passed through heavy forests until it approached the A10/B27 junction when it opened up with some views of brown mountains.

At the intersection I took the Zehan/Strahan route.After 6K I turned into Zeehan, a historic mining town.I visited their mining museum ($6) and it was pretty good.I spent about an hour in town before leaving at 10:30.

When I left the road was mostly flat to descending with a couple of climbs and some good views of mountains in the distance.After 55K I crested a hill and had a coastal view of the west coast.Then I descended and took the flat road into Strahan (pronounced as strawn) with a good tail wind, through tall pine and coastal scrub, marred only by some pot holes.

In town I stopped at an Internet center then stopped at the Visitor Centre where they suggested the hostel would be the least expensive place to stay.The hostel didnít open until 4:00 but a booking center just down the street was able to confirm a booking.Since my cycle guide said everybody takes the river cruise up the Gordon River, I signed up for 2 nights at the hostel ($27.50/night) and got the cruise for $49.50, a discount from the normal $55.Actually I was looking for an excuse to take a day off since my legs were crying out for it.

Then I killed some time until 4:00 when I headed for the hostel.Around then the wind kicked up to gale force and I was glad I had a gotten in early as the wind was impossible.Later, I walked back to the town centre for a good pizza and then a Cascade Premium Lager at the pub, another Tasmanian beer.

Day 66: Fri, Nov 08, 2002 - Strahan, TAS, rest day

It was good to wake up to a leisurely morning and not have to jump on a bike for a change.After breakfast I walked downtown for a coffee at the bakery.At 8:30 I boarded the cruise ship for the 9:00 departure.There I met a couple who stayed in Gowrie Park the same night I did.Later, I met Simon and Maria, the English couple (Maria was an Aussie) I met cycling to Dove Lake on their mountain bikes.Itís amazing how many people I run into several days later when you would thing they would be long gone since they have faster transportation.

First the cruise took us to Hells Gates, a narrow opening in the Macquarie Harbor to the Southern Ocean.Then the cruise headed back through the huge harbor up the Gordon River.Along the way we passed several fish farms, net enclosed pens for salmon and trout.Then we stopped at Sarah Island, a famous penal colony settlement from 1822 to 1833 reserved for the worst criminals.We had an excellent tour director who was in the process of publishing a book on Sarah Island.

Just as we were approaching Sarah Island in late morning it started drizzling and would rain most of the rest of the day, typical weather in this western part of Tasmania.We continued up the river to Heritage Landing where we walked through a rainforest.Then we headed back to Strahan and arrived at 3:15.

On my way back to the hostel I ate at a takeaway.One problem with Australia is that most cafes/restaurants donít open until 6:00 for dinner.Usually I want to eat before then and end up at a takeaway.These takeaways all have virtually the same fare Ė hamburgers, chips, sandwiches, chips, fish, chips, and packaged ice cream bars.

After eating I retired to my room and contemplated plans for tomorrow.The weather report was rain for the next day and a half so there was a good chance the ride to Queenstown would be in the rain.Earlier a brochure detailing a railway trip between Strahan and Queenstown had gotten me excited, thinking that might be an alternative to riding in the rain.But further investigation revealed the railway currently only covered a short distance around Queenstown.By Christmas, the railway was expected to cover the full route but I didnít think I could wait that long.

Day 67: Sat, Nov 09, 2002 - Strahan, TAS to Queenstown, TAS [43.1, 03:25:21, 12.6, 5973]

When I got up it was dreary looking but not raining so I expedited my departure to catch as much dry time as possible, leaving at 7:45.The road started climbing immediately but not a hard climb.After climbing for about 6K the road undulated with overall climbing.There was only one climb of a little over 0.5K that could have been classified as hard.

About an hour after leaving, it started misting and then changed to a light drizzle.I donned my rain gear for the rest of the trip and was reasonably comfortable.The main problem, however, was there were no views as the low clouds restricted visibility to a few hundred metres.For much of the route this didnít really matter as the trees along the road blocked views but there were supposed to be several very scenic views.

I made good time and rolled into Queenstown just after 11:00.What was visible were the barren hills surrounding the historic mining town.These barren hills were the result of environmental degradation due to mining practices.I got a twin room for $10 at the Mountain View Lodge, which was good except they wouldnít let me put my bike in the room.

After cleaning up I spent the rest of the day wandering around town as it kept up a steady mist/drizzle.The weather forecast called for more of the same tomorrow but improving and then good weather the following two days.So I all but decided to layover tomorrow unless the weather looked encouraging right away.I checked into taking a wilderness trip on the ABT Railway although I had some concern about the visibility.

Day 68: Sun, Nov 10, 2002 - Queenstown, TAS to Queenstown, TAS [, 00:00:00, , ]

When I woke up I was surprised to see blue sky.Then in a few minutes it clouded over and drizzled some.Then it cleared up and continued the variability.It was obvious this was a better riding day than yesterday but the clouds were still obstructing the views so I opted to layover.

As I had considered, I took the ABT Railway wilderness trip ($39).The railway was established in 1896 to transport copper from Queenstown to Strahan but was discontinued 40 years ago.Now it was being reopened for tourism but only 11K of the full 34K was open to Rinadeena with the remainder scheduled for opening by Christmas.This railway used a rack & pinion steam engine to handle the 1/16 grade (1 metre up for each 16 metres of travel) to Rinadeena.This was accomplished by placing a 3rd notched rail between the two normal rails.The engine had a second notched cylinder with a gear that gripped the notched rail to pull it up normally impossible slopes and to provide braking down steep slopes.

The train first stopped at Lynchford, a gold mining site.Leaving that site, the ride became interesting as it passed through rainforests enclosed by steep hills.When the slope increased, the 2nd engine cylinder was activated and you could feel it pulling the engine up the 1/16 slope.At the top (and at Lynchford) the engine was filled with water and it was moved to the last of the 2 carriages to back us down the hill and back to Queenstown.

We left at 10:00 and got back at about 1:00 on the 11K ride.It was too bad the full route wasnít open to Strahan.There was supposed to be some spectacular sights as it followed first the Queen River and then the King River, passing over 35 bridges and through mountain gorges.

I spent the rest of the afternoon loafing around on a nice, partly cloudy afternoon and did some bicycle maintenance.I also saw 3 tourist busses pull up to the ABT Railway, apparently for another trip to Rinadeena.I was glad I went on the morning trip with only about 20 passengers on 2 cars.Later, I had pizza and then retired to the historic Empire Hotel for a beer.


Day 69: Mon, Nov 11, 2002 - Queenstown, TAS to Derwent Bridge, TAS [98.2, 07:00:58, 14, 6067]

When I got up I saw blue sky as I expected so I hurried to take advantage of it and was on the road by 7:30.I started off on a 5K climb up a mountain, leaving Queenstown below in a bowl.There were some good views along the way, looking down on Queenstown.The climb used my lowest gear but my fresh legs managed nicely.

This climb was followed by a descent and then a ride along the side of Lake Burbury, surrounded by mountains.At 28K there was a 3.5K climb but it only used my 2nd lowest gear so it wasnít too hard.At 25K I entered the Franklin-Gordon Wild River National Park, part of the Tasmania Wilderness World Heritage Area.

After about 58K I found a nice scenic spot and stopped for lunch.At about 63K I started a long 8K climb.The first 3K was relatively easy and then it got more serious, requiring my lowest gear.But even though I was getting a little tired after a lot of climbing this still wasnít too bad, climbing to the top of Mt. Arrowsmith.At the top, King William Saddle, there was an information turnout that had a nice view of Frenchmans Cap and other mountains looking back.King William Saddle marked the line between the wet west with its rainforests and the drier east.As I descended from the saddle I saw evidence of this change as my favorite gum trees, gleaming in the sunlight, were in abundance.

At 87K I pulled into Derwent Bridge and turned off for the 5K ride to Lake St. Clair in the Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park.Lake St. Clair is a long, narrow lake but from the Visitor Centre only a bay and Mt. Olympus was in view.I returned to Derwent Bridge and got a backpacker for $25.

After settling in I had a beer at the hotel.I also ate at the hotel, having a pot roast that was good but a little over priced at $16.50.Best of all, the hotel had a bunch of Cyclist magazines to read, with several interesting Australian touring articles.

Day 70: Tue, Nov 12, 2002 - Derwent Bridge, TAS to Hamilton, TAS [104.2, 06:11:13, 16.8, 6172]

I woke up earlier than usual and was off by 7:15.I noticed my bike seemed a little sluggish and discovered I had the hook of my shock cord, which holds my tent and sleeping bag to my rear rack, around the yoke of my rear brake.The first 20K was more of my favorite gum trees on a relatively flat stretch.Along the way a kangaroo hopped across the road in front of me, not too far away from being hit.

Up to this point the road headed east and then it did a 90-degree turn to the south, passing several lakes that were part of the Tarraleeah power generating station.I saw an echidna on the road along the way but it waddled into the bush before I could take a photo.At 42K there was a steep descent to the generating station.After a break at a rest area I had a very hard climb of 3K up the other side.I detoured a short ways off the road to the town of Tarraleah where there was a lookout for the two generating stations where I had just climbed from.One had 4 water pipes feeding down the steep hill with water from the east side and the other had water pipes feeding water from the west side.

After a short refreshment stop in town I continued on with 50K to Hamilton, my goal for the day.After some up and down there was a long 4.5K descent to the Nive River and the Wayatinah power station area followed by another climb.Around 75K the landscape changed from forests to rolling hills of farmland with sheep.After another 14K I rolled into Ouse and stopped for more refreshments as it was getting very warm, about 30C.There was Internet access nearby so I took care of email and paid a bill.

When I left it was very warm but I had a good tail wind so it didnít take long to make the 16K to Hamilton.I wanted to take advantage of the tail wind and continue to Gretna but my inquiries indicated there was no accommodation there.So I got a room at the historic Hamilton Inn for $50, more than I wanted to pay but the cheaper rooms must have all been taken.The room was on the 4th floor and I was not about to lug the bike up there.So I carried my panniers up and locked the bike on the back porch of the hotel.Then I had a beer in the bar and a rump steak ($14) for dinner.

My legs felt really tired most of the day, not too surprising after yesterdayís hard day.After my stop in Ouse they felt much better, probably because there was no climbing left and there was a tail wind.

Day 71: Wed, Nov 13, 2002 - Hamilton, TAS to Hobart, TAS [79.2, 04:27:53, 17.7, 6251]

I got up early but hung around for the 7:30 breakfast that was part of the deal.In somewhat typical fashion the breakfast wasnít available until about 7:40 so I didnít get off until 8:15.

It had rained overnight and there were blue skies overhead.However, further west didnít look so good as it appeared to be raining in the mountains.In fact, no sooner had I started riding than it started to sprinkle but it didnít last long.

The ride started with a 4K climb out of a valley of farmland.Near the top there was a really good view looking back down the valley with sheep on the hill and a rainbow in the distance.After about 7K there was a great 13K descent to Gretna, one of those 20-30 kph descents that doesnít threaten to get out of hand.As I climbed out of Gretnaa it started to rain again and it looked bad so I donned my rain gear.The rain didnít last long but it kept coming and going so I kept my rain gear on.

At 34K I pulled into New Norfolk and headed across the Derwent River on B10 to Bridgewater to avoid the traffic of the main road to Hobart, the 2nd oldest settlement in Australia (Sydney is the oldest), founded in 1804.At Bridgewater I took the bridge back across the river and took the Granton/Austin Ferry turn-off and then the Berriedale and Glenorchy turn-offs.When the road veered left I took a concrete bike path that paralleled the railway to near the Hobart city centre.From there I stumbled my way downtown and found the Pickled Frog backpacker and signed up for two nights at $30 per night.

After cleaning up I found a barber and got a hair cut and beard trim after 2 months of growth.The barber was also a cyclist and was probably so excited talking to a real cyclist he cut almost everything off, ensuring I wouldnít need another haircut on the trip.Then I found a phone and called Rowan, a Hobart local, who I had made contact with via the touring group list before the trip.We arranged to meet in the morning at the backpacker.

Finally I washed my clothes and ate at a pizza joint.Then I got a beer, Cascade Pale Ale from Australiaís oldest brewery, at the backpackerís bar and did my notes.

Day 72: Thu, Nov 14, 2002 - Hobart, TAS, layover

I took advantage of the free continental breakfast at 7:30 and then met Rowan just before 9:00.Rowan passed on some thoughts and ideas about what to do in Hobart and the route up the east coast.Rowan is a cycle tourer and commuter and has solo toured from Perth to Adelaide among his trips.

After Rowan headed to work, I made my way down to the wharf and stopped by Salamanca Place, a collection of shops and restaurants in converted wharehouses.I had a coffee and muffin at a cafť on a nice sunny day.Then I found some tourist information and started walking toward the Visitor Centre.I stopped at a cruise office along the way and signed up for a morning tea cruise that left at 11:00 for a very reasonable $15.

In 20 minutes the boat stopped for the pickup and I was off.The cruise headed up the harbor with great views of Hobart and the suburbs nestled under Mt. Wellington and the Tasman Bridge that links the east side of the Derwent River with Hobart.Of course, we had the required morning tea/coffee.On the cruise I met three young folks from Northwestern University (Chicago suburb), tipped off by a Northwestern sweater.They, of course, were surprised to meet someone else from the Chicago area.

Upstream the cruise stopped to let folks off for a wine tour and then circled back down the harbor to make a loop.We completed the scenic loop at 1:30, a nice restful 2.5 hours.Then I checked with the tour office about their Port Arthur cruise that ran on Fridays and Sundays.I had visions of taking the tour down to Port Arthur with my bike and riding up the east coast from there but the tour didnít run on Fridays until the peak of the touring season.

I stopped at the nearby Visitor Centre and then the Tasmanian Museum that was very good, with sections on wildlife, aboriginals, ships, and penal colonies and all for free.Then I wandered through downtown before heading back to the backpacker where I took the opportunity to clean my bike chain.

Later at the bar at the backpacker I met Lance and John, both from Melbourne.So I asked them about the route up the coast from Melbourne to Sydney.They both said it was very scenic but they advised skipping Canberra.Interestingly, this was the second time I was advised to skip Canberra, the capital of Australia.

Day 73: Fri, Nov 15, 2002 - Hobart, TAS to Triabunna, TAS [99.9, 06:06:57, 16.3, 6350]

Waiting for the free breakfast at the backpacker, I didnít leave until about 8:15.I retraced my way back to the concrete bike path that I came in on.Then I took the path 9K to Elwick Road which happened to be exactly where I started on the bike path.From there I followed the signs to Bowen Bridge that had a bike path across the bridge.After the bridge I took B32 to Risdonvale where the road veered off to the left on to C324.C324 took me up Grasstree Hill, a fair climb of about 4K through mostly forest.Then it descended down into the Coal River Valley where I turned left onto B31 to Richmond.

I arrived in Richmond, a historic tourist village, after 30K.I stopped for a short coffee break and then continued north 5K until the turnoff on C350 that took me to A3 and the rest of the way along the coast.There were 3 significant climbs along the way but nothing longer than 1.5K so they didnít particularly bother me, especially with my fresh legs.There were a lot of sheep in the occasional fields and at one point I got to watch a modern day shepherd herd his sheep through several fields with the aid of his ATV and his sheep dog.

The bad part of this route was between Buckland and Orford where the road fell off sharply to the Prosser River below.On the left side a cable fence guarded the edge but left no room for any logging trucks.Fortunately, I encountered no big trucks on this 6K stretch.

As I pulled into Orford there was a great view from the beach of Maria Island, just off the coast, a former convict settlement and now a nature reserve.I continued a few more kilometres to Triabunna.There I rode to the east side of town to the Udda Backpackers and got a single room for $18, a good deal with friendly proprietors.I walked back into town to eat and pick up some grocery items.

Unfortunately, I got some dismaying news at the backpacker.Tomorrowís ride to Coles Bay promised to be about 120K rather than the 80K I had hoped for.There is a turnoff at Swansea that goes directly to Coles Bay except it is blocked by a river.In the past an enterprising local had a ferry service to carry cyclists across the river but this year insurance coverage had skyrocketed and he was forced to drop his ferry.As a result, a trip to Coles Bay, home of the famous Wineglass Bay, would require an extra 40K U loop to bypass the river.

Day 74: Sat, Nov 16, 2002 - Triabunna, TAS to Coles Bay, TAS [118.1, 07:43:56, 15.2, 6469]

I was on the road just before 8:00 on a nice sunny day although I wasnít looking forward to having to do the full ride to Coles Bay.The first part of the ride was inland with fields along the road with a lot of sheep and trees further out.I had a modest headwind that didnít affect me much.

At about 30K I started getting views of the coast with Freycinet Peninsula and Schouten Island off the coast.After 50K I rolled into Swansea.First, I called the ferry guy.I had the idea that if I came up with a written waiver of responsibility maybe I could get a ferry ride but no way.The ferry guy said the liability didnít work that way and added ďYouíre gonna have to cycle.ĒSo I stopped at a grocery store and got lucky.I found my favorite cereal Ė Uncle Tobyís Nut Feast.I lived on this stuff on the mainland but this was the first time I found it on Tasmania and I quickly grabbed two boxes, which should last me for the rest of Tasmania.My alternative to Nut Feast was Kelloggís Crunchy Nut that was more available but not quite as good.

After a lunch break I took off about 12:30 and noticed right away that the head wind had picked up noticeably and was now a factor.Without the ferry option, I had to do an inverted U route of about 70K, all against the wind except for the last leg of 28K that would be down wind.There was one significant climb of 4-5K that was much harder because of the wind.On the descent there was a nice view looking down on the Moulting Lagoon and the Freycinet Peninsula, but not one I would have cycled an extra 40K for if I didnít have to.

The last 10-15K leading up to the turn south to Coles Bay was hard with the ever increasing head wind.When I finally turned off to Coles Bay it was a relief to finally have the wind working for me.At the same time I noticed my bike rear seemed squirrelly and bouncy so I stopped and, sure enough, my rear wheel was going soft.I pumped it up again, hoping it was a slow leak and I could make it to my nightís stay to fix it.I ended up having to pump it up once more for the ride into town.

I arrived in town about 4:15 and stopped at the Iluka Holiday Centre.Their hostel was full and they had a potential on-site van available for $50 if someone didnít show by 5:00.Of course, tenting was an option but then the host mentioned they had a hostel in the park.It was another 6K and had pit toilets and no shower but it was next to a beach and near the walking trail area that I needed to get to tomorrow, meaning I could leave my bike locked in the hostel.The hostel was a cottage configured as a duplex with 5 beds in each.I had to pay for 2 beds to get a site but that was only $18 so I jumped at it.

There was a bakery next door so I fueled up on a pizza and headed out to the hostel.During this period my tire had gone soft again so I pumped it up for the last time.Then it was an up and down 6K to the hostel where I was the only occupant with a notice that warned about a local wallaby Ė Donít feed Willema the Wallaby Ė and provided some telltale identifying marks.†† There was a drop off to a beach area so I spent some time wandering along the sometimes sandy and sometimes rocky beach.

Back at the hostel I checked my rear tire and found a slow leak as I expected.I also inspected the tire to see if it might have caused the flat but couldnít find any evidence.With over 6,00K on the rear tire I had considered replacing it in Hobart but chose not to because it looked like it had enough tread to last the trip.

Day 75: Sun, Nov 17, 2002 - Coles Bay, TAS to Bicheno, TAS [54.7, 03:42:58, 14.7, 6523]

I got up early and walked out the door at 6:50 for my hike to Wineglass Bay, one of the famous Tasmania sights.The plan was to hike to Wineglass Bay in the morning and cycle to Bicheno in the afternoon.It was about a 0.5K walk to the car park where the walks started.Along the way I saw a wallaby but it wasnít Willema.This one didnít beg for food and didnít have the distinctive ear notch.

At the car park I signed in for the hike, the 2nd signee for the day.It was about a half hour walk up to the Wineglass Bay Lookout, a saddle between Mt. Amos and Mt. Mayson.As one of Tasmaniaís premier attractions, the view did not disappoint, giving a great view of the bay with a sandy beach and mountain on the other side of the bay.I hiked down to the beach and did a little walking along the beach.

I chose just the right time to begin the return hike, as I saw about a dozen hikers coming down as I left.Obviously, they came on a mini bus tour and got unloaded like a bunch of cattle.Back at the saddle I stopped at the lookout again and hung around for 20 minutes or so.It really was a great view and others who came along obviously thought so too.When I left to return to the hostel there was a fairly regular stream of people hiking up to the saddle.

At the hostel I packed up and left at 11:00 and rode back to town.I dropped off my hostel key and stopped at the bakery next door again for bacon & egg rolls that were really good.I would have liked to stay a little longer but the wind was a northerly head wind for me and it appeared to be picking up steam at mid-day, just like yesterday.So I hit the road just after noon for the relatively short 40K ride to Bicheno.

Of course, the first 28K was what I had ridden yesterday so it wasnít particular interesting, mainly a forested area with occasional glimpses of the Moulting Lagoon.However, just outside town I did the short detour to the river to see what the ferry would have covered.The river looked like about a 200 metre wide crossing.

On my ride out the wind seemed to be fairly strong but didnít seem to bother me that much.However, when I returned to A3, the main road, the full force of the wind caught me, probably because there were mostly open fields along the road, posing no obstruction to the wind.I had trouble doing just 13-14 kph.Fortunately, I only had 12K to Bicheno so it wasnít too bad.

When I rolled into Bicheno around 3:00, I was back at the coast again.Bicheno is a popular holiday resort as well as fishing village.Since it was the end of the weekend, I didnít expect problems getting a place to stay but the backpacker didnít have any singles and wasnít setup for handling my bike very well.So I tried two caravan parks but their on site vans were all booked.I finally stayed at a Cosy Cabin that cost $70, more than I wanted to pay but apparently a reflection of the popularity of the place.At least it was a self-contained unit so it was very comfortable.

Later, I walked back to the town centre and had fish & chips at a takeaway but this time I was able to get the fish grilled rather than the typical deep-fried.I was surprised because I thought takeaways were required to deep-fry everything.I also saw two touring cyclists pass through but didnít get a chance to talk to them.These were the first cyclists I had seen on the island.

Day 76: Mon, Nov 18, 2002 - Bicheno, TAS to St. Helens, TAS [78.2, 04:17:22, 18.2, 6602]

I slept well in my unaccustomed cabin luxury.I was ready to roll at 7:30 until I saw some clouds rolling in to cover what started looking like a good day.So I hung around for a bit to see what might happen.I finally left just before 8:00 when the clouds looked stalled to the south.

The road to St. Helens was generally flat and certainly flat by Tasmania standards.On top of that I had a tail wind so it was an easy ride north.Initially, the road was along the coast with a thin strip of fields, usually filled with sheep, on the left side next to a continuous hill covered with eucalypts.Not long after I started, clouds took over and it was overcast.Then the fields with white sheep shone in stark contrast to the dark trees and sky.

Along the way a vehicle pulling a camper loaded with various toys including a canoe sounded a welcoming honk as it passed.A short while later the vehicle was along side the road and a guy was checking his load.I stopped and we chatted a bit.He said they had seen me at Cradle Mountain and yesterday at the Wineglass Lookout, which I remembered then because he had distinctive yellow hair.Interesting how people in faster vehicles seem to cover ground at the same rate I do.I can only guess that Iím faster than I give myself credit.

Around 10:00 the overcast sky suddenly cleared up in just a few minutes.I also started seeing some scenic views of the isolated beaches along the coast.After about 60K I passed through Scamander and just outside of town there was an inlet teeming with over 50 black swans so I stopped for a photo.When I started again I got that dreaded feeling of a soft rear tire.I stopped and pumped it up but it went soft shortly.So I pulled off into a rest area to fix it.I was naturally concerned whether this was related to the previous flat but I couldnít locate the hole in the tube so I replaced the tube, thinking it could be a tube problem since I didnít find anything wrong with the tire.

When I resumed I had about 15K to St. Helens.I pulled into St. Helens, a fishing and tourist town, at 12:30.As I rode through town along Georges Bay, I saw the sign for the Pancake and Seafood Chowder House and stopped.I had a stack of 4 pancakes with bananas and walnuts and ice cream.Their menu had pages of all kinds of pancake toppings, unlike anything in the US.The pancakes were very good.

A short distance later I stopped at the Visitor Centre.It was early afternoon on an easy day so I considered continuing but the next place, Pyengana, was another 30K with climbing.In addition, the only accommodation was 5K or so off the road in what sounded like an interesting pub.In the end I decided this was too uncertain and decided to call it a day.

I found the nearby hostel that had dorm rooms for $19.50.Normally, I shy away from these because I canít put my bike in the room.In this case there was a reasonably close place for my bike, outside but hidden from view, so I decided to stay although I couldnít officially check in until 5:00.However, I was able to sign up on a chalk boared outside and unload my gear in the dorm room.Afterwards I messed around town until 5:00 when I paid for my room.I also got out my punctured tube and located the puncture and patched it.

Then I walked downtown and ate at the Wok Stop, having satay chicken with peanuts and vegetables and rice.It was excellent and I didnít know what to think Ė two great meals within 6 hours.

Now that I was four days from Devonport I decided it was time for a ferry reservation.Earlier when I arrived in Tasmania, I saw a newspaper story that ferry usage was up significantly from pervious years and extra sailings were being added.Given that and my previous experience, I called for a ferry booking for Saturday night, giving myself an extra day beyond the four travel days.There was nothing available except a private berth that was too expensive.So I signed up for Sunday night, meaning I would have two extra days to kill.

Finally, I retired to the local pub for a beer.

Day 77: Tue, Nov 19, 2002 - St. Helens, TAS to Scottsdale, TAS [103.7, 07:20:59, 14.1, 6705]

I ended up having the dorm room of 8 beds all to myself and a woman had her dorm room all to herself.However, the hostel was fully booked for tonight as some adventure tour had booked the entire place.I left early, just after 7:30.The day had significant climbing and I wanted to get started before the predicted north wind could get started and pick up.

After 3K there was a significant hill but only about 1.3K so not too bad.The road passed through undulating farmland and forest.At 27K I arrived at Pyengana, which was just a roadhouse.I stopped for a sandwich before the big climb ahead.After 3K I started a long and fairly steep 8K climb.At the lower level there was a great view of a farmland bowl.Then a climb through a rainforest before the road opened up near the top with great views of fields cut into hillsides.In the end an enjoyable climb that was really steep in just a couple places and eased off enough to never be too hard.

The top of the climb was Weldborough Pass followed by a descent through rainforest to the little settlement of Weldborough, home of the 100-year old pub dubbed the ďWorst Little Pub in Tassie.ĒBut it couldnít have been the worst because it advertised cyclist facilities.I stopped at the pub for a break.

Some more climbing and then a short steep descent followed to Derby, a historic tin mining town.At 2:00 I stopped in Derby for another break.When I saw they had an online access center, I took advantage to check my email, all for $2/hour.When I was done it wasnít 3:00 yet and my legs felt surprisingly good despite the climbing.Just a little over a week ago I was concerned with my leg fatigue but after rest days in Strahan, Queenstown, and Hobart over an 8 day period my legs seemed to have recovered well.Of course, I did have pancakes yesterday and, like the last time I had pancakes in Apollo Bay, my legs were strong.

So feeling good and not particularly wanting to stay in Derby, I continued another 30K to Scottsdale.There were a couple of significant climbs and a couple of nifty descents that could be let out on good roads that were not too winding.The rest of the way was undulating through farmland and forests.At the end I was getting tired.Close to Scottsdale there was a climb which I was sure would descend into town but that was followed by an even bigger climb to Scottsdale that sits on a hill overlooking farmland and forests.

It was jut after 5:00 when I hit town and I continued to the Visitor Centre that was at the other end of town. Fortunately, they hadnít completely closed and a gracious woman took the time to give me the town scoop.She pointed me to the Lords Hotel that I had seen but assumed would be expensive.It had single rooms for $25 so I rode back to the other end of town and stayed there.Even better, as I was fixing to struggle up the stairs with my loaded bike, a local pointed out there was a ramp in back where I was able to simply roll my bike up to the 2nd floor into my room.Every hotel should have such a rampÖ

After cleaning up I found a takeaway that had good lasagna and then retired to the pubís bar.Interesting aside, I have been noticing the looks I have been getting from locals in Tasmania.They acknowledge my presence but with a little shake of their heads that suggests they canít imagine why anybody would want to ride through the hills of Tasmania.

Day 78: Wed, Nov 20, 2002 - Scottsdale, TAS to Launceston, TAS [71.9, 04:44:48, 15.1, 6777]

There was no way I was going to sleep late because my room was right on the corner entrance into town where the main road did a 90 degree turn and I heard all the traffic.One of the first things I noticed was my rear tire was flat Ė not a good sign.When I removed the tire I saw the tube had a 3-4 inch long abrasive mark where the puncture was so I was sure the tire was the culprit.I patched the tube and hoped it would get me to Launceston where there were bike shops and I could replace the rear tire.

It was 8:00 by the time I left and then I had to stop at a bakery along the way.The route went via Lilydale to skirt some climbing and to take quieter roads.Fortunately my guide said to look for the turnoff to Lavender Farm or I might never have found the way to Lilydale.There were several climbs along the way, passing through farms and forests but none too terribly steep or long on an overcast day.

I rolled into Lilydale around 11:00 after 42K and stopped for a relatively short break.When I left I checked my rear tire and it was fine.About 3K outside of town I started a fairly long climb and on the climb I got that soft but not warm feeling and I knew my rear tire was going flat.I pumped it up but that didnít last long.So I pulled over and installed my old patched tube and hoped that would get me to Launceston, 25K away.

At that point it was hard to enjoy the ride.I did have a spare foldable tire but didnít want to have to bother with it.I had one fairly steep descent but didnít dare let it out at this point.

Finally I reached Rochlea, the outskirts of Launceston, and began to relax a little.I rolled into Launceston, a city of 63,000 with a metropolitan population of 100,000, and headed south, looking for the Launceston City Youth Hostel.I had trouble finding the turnoff street and when I was looking around I saw a bike shop across the street.They didnít have the Continental Top Touring 700x32 tire I was looking for but the owner marked my map with 3 bike shops clustered together downtown and pointed out the hostel not too far away.

So I rode back downtown.The first bike shop didnít have the tire I wanted but the second one did for $40.I snatched it up and got two new tubes since I wasnít going to trust the two tubes that had flatted.While looking for the bike shops I also found the Visitor Centre and picked up some information about the Tamar River Cruise.

Then I rode south again and found the hostel.The first bike shop warned me the hostel guy was a character so I was somewhat prepared for the elderly, somewhat gruff guy.Their brochure advertised single rooms for $20 so thatís what I got.However, they didnít really have single rooms.Instead they gave me a dorm room with 14 beds for my own room.This hostel was a former factory canteen building with a bunch of dorm rooms on the 2nd floor. The first floor had all kinds of stuff the guy worked on including bikes that he rented.

First order of business was fixing the tire.I put the new tire on the front, on the theory you want your best tire on the front wheel, and moved the old front tire to the back tire with one of the new tubes.Then I cleaned up and walked downtown and found a pub with pretty good pizza.When I returned I used the (free) washing machine for a load of laundry and hung the wash to dry on the 2nd floor veranda with an overhang that protected the wash from any rain.

Day 79: Thu, Nov 21, 2002 - Launceston, TAS, layover

The plan for the day was to take the cruise up the Tamar River bit it didnít start until 10:00 so I had a leisurely breakfast downtown.Then I walked to the wharf for the cruise on the Tamar Odyssey ($60).This catamaran could hold 60 people but there were only 10 of us (6 minimum required for a cruise), a nice comfortable number.

The cruise started off towards the Cataract Gorge but could only go a short way under the Kings Bridge before it had to turn around.Then it was down the river to Batman Bridge, about 45K, and return.It was a nice relaxing cruise with a lot of bird life on and near the shore.The cruise completed at 2:00 and I spent the rest of the afternoon messing around downtown.

Day 80: Fri, Nov 22, 2002 - Launceston, TAS, layover

Another leisurely breakfast that I decided could get to be addictive.I spent the morning hiking the Cataract Gorge that started not far from the town center.A nice hike with a stop at the original Duck Reach Hydroelectric Power Station established in the 1890s to first light up Launceston.

I spent the afternoon at the library and wandering around town.

Day 81: Sat, Nov 23, 2002 - Launceston, TAS to Devonport, TAS [102.6, 06:17:18, 16.3, 6880]

I had to wait for the managers to get up and return my $5 key deposit before I could leave.I managed to take care of this before 8:00 when they were officially open and I was off about 7:45.On a Saturday morning there was little traffic as I headed out of town on A7 along the west side of the Tamar River.

It was 26K to Exeter with the river on my right and houses and then some vineyards on my left on the valley hillsides.There was only modest climbing and I saw several groups of cyclists out for their Saturday morning rides.Just before Exeter there was a lookout at the top of a hill with a great view of the river in an S bend with the hills on the other side.

In Exeter I picked up B71 to take me to Devonport.The road was undulating with modest climbing and only one hill with a short section that required my lowest gear.After 10K on B71 I stopped for a short break at a store in Frankford.

Continuing, I passed through mostly forests until about 20K from Devonport when the landscape was transformed into fields of croppings.Less than 10K from Devonport I picked up A1 and followed signs into town.I stopped at the Visitor Centre to get accommodation and activity information.Then I stopped at the same bakery as before in the mall for a lunch break.

After lunch I called the ferry and was surprised to find they had a Saturday night opening so I switched from my Sunday sailing.Then I wandered around town to kill time until the sailing.Later, I learned that there was a little ferry to the ferry Ė to cross the waterway from the city centre to the east side where the Spirit of Tasmania ferry docked.Nevertheless I chose to bike the 5K U route to catch the bridge across the waterway and come back on the other side to the ferry.

I got to the ferry terminal around 6:00, well in advance of the 7:30 boarding for the 9:00 departure.In actuality we didnít get to board until 8:00 so it was quite a wait.I did notice that the Bali bombing, which happened while I was on Tasmania, must have had an impact on the ferry.In Melbourne I put my bike on a baggage cart at 7:00 and boarded at 7:30.This time they followed the standard security practice of taking our baggage, my bike in my case, at the same time as boarding, to insure that no unaccompanied baggage was on the ferry.

When we boarded I was again the first on and I found my room quickly with my familiarity of the ferry.In my shared room I was able to shower and dress in normal clothes.Then I ate at the help yourself eatery that was not as good as the trip from Melbourne.A beer and my note writing followed.

 

 

 


 

Copyright Denis Kertz, 2002. All rights reserved.