Cycling Around Tasmania – Rest Day at Dove Lake & Cradle Mountain

Previous Post: Gowrie Park To Cradle Mountain

cradle_mapA day off the saddle – a day to make use of the hiking boots that make up 1.2 of the 20 kg. load of “essential” stuff I decided to bring along for my ’round Tasmania bike ride.

From my Discovery Parks tent site I wandered over to the huge kitchen/dining building and made some breakfast. By 9:00 I was over at the Welcome Center/Transit Depot with my ticket and my park entry form – ready to catch the next bus into the park itself.

There are a number of stops along the way to Dove Lake, the end of the line. At some of these stops hikers got off for their choice of day hike.

My plan was to walk along the Dove Lake trail and then make my way up to the path going to the summit of Cradle Mountain. The image below sets the scene – it is what I saw after I left the bus and walked across the parking lot to the trailhead.

view of Dove Lake and Cradle Mountain from the trailhead

view of Dove Lake and Cradle Mountain from the trailhead

“You are here” the map reads. I would take the right hand trail and start my walk. I looked out over Dove Lake and beyond to the series of peaks in the distance. I’d be getting to know them much better from various angles as I walked around the lake!

view-of-dove-lake-and-cradle-mountain-from-the-trailhead

dove-lake-trail-map

Dove Lake Walks Sign

Dove Lake Walks Sign

The peaks at the other end of the lake may have been the ultimate objective but first up was the boatshed (built of pine and dating back to 1940) sitting on a gravel beach with the trail passing behind it.  I got one shot of it and then waited for some fellow hikers to walk into the image and give it a human element.

Dove Lake boat shed

Dove Lake boat shed

Dove Lake boat shed and Cradle Mountain

Dove Lake boat shed and Cradle Mountain

Some of the Dove Lake path is wood boardwalk and some – as the image below shows – is stone. Some stretches have a wire mesh nailed on top to provide better traction for walkers of the eight-kilometer Dove Lake Circuit, clearly the most popular of the walks in the park.

the Dove Lake trail with Cradle Mtn up ahead.jpg

the west side Dove Lake trail with Cradle Mountain to the south

Cradle Mtn reflection in Dove Lake

Cradle Mountain  reflection in Dove Lake

I left the Dove Lake Trail at the south end and started up on the rather steep path to Wilks Lake.  The trail got steeper and steeper and – after an initial section with mesh covered boardwalk to reduce erosion – it also got rougher.  In retrospect, I probably picked the wrong approach for my planned hike to Cradle Mtn.  summit. As the map below shows, there is a more gradual ascent hat starts shortly after the boathouse.

map-fo-trails-to-cradle-mountain-summit

Dove Lake trails

I didn’t even get as far as Wilks Lake before I decided to pass on the uphill scramble. No trekking poles, a bit of a kink in my left knee, and just not enough motivation to git ‘er dun!  I walked back down the track to Wilks Lake I had just gone part way up and was back down at lake level.

dove-lake-circuit-elevation-chart

Revised objective: do the walk around the lake!  I had already down the most difficult bit of the circuit – the steep up and down walk across the peninsula on my way to the south end of the lake.

boardwalk up from Dove lake

boardwalk up from Dove lake

rough path above Dove Lake

rough path above Dove Lake at the south west end

back down the boardwalk trail on the slopes above Dove Lake

back down the boardwalk trail on the slopes above Dove Lake

From different angles the peaks seemed to shrink or get higher relative to each other. The actual figures go like this:

  • Little Horn – 1355 meters
  • Wiendorfer’s Tower – 1459 meters
  • Smithie’s Peak – 1527 meters
  • Cradle Mountain – 1545 meters
a view of Cradle Mountain from the trail at the top end of Dove Lake

a view of Cradle Mountain from the trail at the top end of Dove Lake

a view of Cradle Mtn from the east side of Dove Lake .jpg

a view of Cradle Mtn.from the east side of Dove Lake

As I walked along the east side of the lake back to the starting point I looked back more than once to take a look at the series of iconic peaks that define the park.

trail on east side of Dove Lake

trail on east side of Dove Lake

east side Dove Lake gravel beach

east side Dove Lake gravel beach

The photo below looks over the lake toward the boathouse on the west side; the stretch of the shore with gravel is where it is.  I took this shot from Glacier Rock, a dramatic view-point that comes up near the end of the walk if, like me, you have done it counter-clockwise.

a view of the Dove Lake boat shed from the east side of the lake

a view of the Dove Lake boat shed from the east side of the lake

a view of the Dove Lake boat shed from the east side of the lake

a closer up view of the Dove Lake boat shed from the east side of the lake

That is Glacier Rock that some fellow hikers I have left behind are standing on.

taking in the view from Glacier Rock on Dove Lake

taking in the view from Glacier Rock on Dove Lake

looking south from Glacier Rock on Dove Lake

looking south from Glacier Rock on Dove Lake

And here is Glacier Rock again for yet further away; it certainly provides a magnificent vantage point from which to enjoy the views.

looking back at Glacier Rock on Dove Lake's east side

looking back at Glacier Rock on Dove Lake’s east side

back to the north end trailhead of Dove Lake

back to the north end trailhead of Dove Lake

After a couple of hours I was back at the beginning. I was feeling somewhat guilty for having wimped out on the hike up to the top of Cradle Mountain – it would have doubled the eight kilometers I walked around the lake and more than doubled the views. However, the Dove Lake Circuit had been an enjoyable way to spend the morning. As i neared the car park and bus stop area my thoughts turned to lunch at the restaurant attached to the Visitor Center. I’d eventually get back there but I first hopped off the bus for a half-hour visit to the Park Museum.

the car park just behind the trailhead at Dove Lake

the car park just behind the trailhead at Dove Lake

The photo from the early 1900’s of a hiking party on Cradle Mountain summit – no trekking poles in evidence, no hiking boots, but clearly lots of motivation!

Cradle Mountain summiteers photo

Cradle Mountain summiteers photo

And then I saw the following recreation of wintertime Dove Lake.  Hanging on the wall was a pair of Algonquin-style snowshoes from the boreal forests of the Canadian Shield!  A few days earlier I had seen another object from back home in Canada in a shop in Bicheno – it was a dream catcher, an Ojibwe creation which has been embraced by New Agers the world over as an expression of spirituality.  It is fascinating how bits and pieces of cultures from far away pop up in new contexts – not stolen so much as embraced for their ingenuity or poetry.

recreation of a Dove Lake cabin and winter gear

recreation of a Dove Lake cabin and winter gear

That afternoon some rain would move in and I spent some time in the kitchen/ dining building reading and planning the next leg of my journey.  Strahan was the next major destination and I hoped that with morning some better weather would arrive!

Next Post: Cycling Around Tasmania – Cradle Mountain To Zeehan 

Cycling Around Tasmania – Gowrie Park To Cradle Mountain

Previous Post: From Deloraine To Gowrie Park Via Sheffield

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gowrie-park-cradle-mountain-elevaton-chart

I got up to blue skies at Gowrie Park’s Wilderness Village and headed for the kitchen area for breakfast.  The sliced whole wheat bread and peanut butter and fruit juice from the previous day’s visit to the IGA in Sheffield were followed by a mug of instant coffee.  After I dropped off the key at the reception desk, it was time to get rolling.

As the elevation chart above shows, the gentle uphill on first setting out was followed by an exhilarating but short descent down to the River Forth. In the satellite view below you can see the switchback making its way down to the River Forth; you can also see the bridge that crosses the river.

What you can’t see is the amount of energy I expended moving myself and the loaded bike (36 kg. or 80 lbs. in total!) up a seemingly never-ending series of switchbacks! Definitely the most difficult climb – a sustained one hour – since I had left Hobart!

from-gowrie-park-to-the-river-forth

from Gowrie Park to the bridge over the River Forth

The one good thing was that there was very little traffic on the road. I had thought that given that Highway C136 goes right by Cradle Mountain it would be busier; perhaps the fact that it was a Tuesday morning in autumn with schools back in session explain the lack of traffic.

Hwy C132 switchback on the way to Cradle Mountain

Hwy C136 switchbacks on the way to Cradle Mountain

looking back at a bit of uphill on C136

looking back at a bit of  C136

When I got to the junction of C136 with C132 I stopped at the Cradle Forest Inn for my reward – a second cup of coffee. It would have made an alternative stop to Gowrie Park, albeit at $140. a night instead of the $10. for my unpowered tent site!  I enjoyed the ambiance and chilled for a bit before getting back to the job at hand – getting to Cradle Mountain and the Discovery Parks property.

approaching the junction of C136 and C132

approaching the junction of C136 and C132

looking out from the Cradle Forest Inn's restaurant area

looking out from the Cradle Forest Inn’s restaurant area

the view from the back porch of the Cradle Forest Inn

the view from the back porch of the Cradle Forest Inn

Tasmanian wines on display at the Cradle Forest Inn

Tasmanian wines on display at the Cradle Forest Inn

For some reason I thought the climbing was done when I got to the junction and had my little break.  Not quite!  Still another 300 meters to gain – and lose and then take back again.  Back on the road again here is what was on the menu for the next 1 1/2 hours –

c136132-junction-to-cradle-mountain-discover-parks

For the last 12 km of the ride the terrain was basically flat and the road took me across a treeless plateau.  It looked like there had been a fire in the area in the past decade or so. Again, without really trying, I was getting lots of pics with no vehicles in them!

on Hwy C136 to Cradle Mountain

on Hwy C132 to Cradle Mountain

road sign on C136 on the way to Cradle Mountain

road sign on C132 on the way to Cradle Mountain

a flat stretch of road - the C136 to Cradle Mtn.

a flat stretch of road – the C132 to Cradle Mtn.

the Middlesex area on C136 - on the way to Cradle Mtn

the Middlesex area on C132 – on the way to Cradle Mtn.

desolate fields in the Middlesex area near Cradle Mountain

desolate fields in the Middlesex area near Cradle Mountain

I got to the side road that takes you from C132 up to Dove Lake at about 1 p.m. A last bit of uphill and I turned in at the Discovery Parks entrance for the reception office. (It is  3 kilometers in from the highway.) Dove lake is another 8 kilometers or so further along the road.)   I had pre-booked two nights’ accommodation months ago bacon Toronto.  The satellite view below sets the scene –

The road in from C132 to the Discovery Parks Cradle Mountain property - cabins, tenting, caravans

The road in from C132 to the Discovery Parks  property – cabins, tenting, caravans

I was quite impressed with the place – great facilities – showers, gigantic cooking and eating areas,washrooms – everything worked and was well-maintained.  The only thing that didn’t work was the wi-fi.  You realize what an addiction it has become when you sit there with fellow internet junkies in front of the reception office – the only hot spot on the property – and try to get a hit – um, that should read “try to get online”!  it is annoying when a place advertises wi-fi and then does not deliver!

cradle_map

 

Immediately across from the Discovery Park property is the Welcome Center where you’ll find  a Park store with maps and last minute supplies for hikers doing day and multi-day hikes in the park. You also buy your park pass here.  Connected to it is a restaurant.

Out back in the parking lot are shuttle buses that leave from here  for Dove Lake and other stops along the way.  The actual park boundary is two kilometers down the road from the Visitors Center.

The shuttle service is meant to encourage to park their vehicles – especially their campers – and make use of the buses and thus cut down on traffic congestion. It has apparently cut down traffic by about a third. At Dove Lake there is a parking lot that private vehicles can drive to but it is often full in the prime time summer season.

the-road-from-discovery-park-to-dove-lake

From Discovery Park on the right to Dove Lake on the left via Park bus

It was a bit late to be setting off for Dove Lake by the time I got myself set up at my tent spot so I decided to leave it for the next morning. I planned to the day off the saddle and in my hiking boots walking the trail around Dove lake and maybe to the top of Cradle Mountain itself.

The next morning I would get my own version of the iconic shot of the boat house on Dove Lake with Cradle Mountain in the background!

Dove Lake boat shed

Dove Lake boat shed

Next Post: A Day Off The Saddle – Ramblin’ Around Dove Lake

Cycling Around Tasmania – From Deloraine To Gowrie Park via Sheffield

Previous Post: Launceston To Deloraine – An Easy 50 km Sunday Morning Ride

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I left my Meander riverside campsite by 8:30  on Monday morning and found a restaurant on Emu Bay Road. A cup of coffee and a quick nibble and it was off for the morning’s ride.  The goal for the day was a tent spot at Gowrie Park but I would first cycle to Sheffield for lunch.  The elevation chart above shows the morning ride through genteel Tassie farm country. I saw very little traffic on the road, even on the A1 that I followed from Deloraine to just before Elizabethtown.  The B and C series roads were even quieter.

I wondered where all the other cyclists were!  My seventh day on the road from Hobart and I had only seen one solo American cyclist in Triabunna and a Canadian couple at St. Helens putting their bike on the bus. That was it – far fewer fellow cyclists than I figured I’d see!

early-morning-scene-on-the-road-from-deloraine-to-sheffield

Early morning scene on the road from Deloraine to Elizabethtown

a-stretch-of-the-b13-to-sheffield

a stretch of the B13 to Sheffield

The B13 took me on a long downhill to the Mersey River.  At the Mersey River I made a sharp left turn on to C156 (Bridle Track Road) which eventually runs into B14 perhaps 3 kilometers from Sheffield. Given I was in the middle of farm country it was no surprise to learn that Sheffield is a farm supply center for the region.

late summer fields near Sheffield Tasmania

late summer fields near Sheffield, Tasmania

fields, farm sheds, and pond near Sheffield in Tasmania

fields, farm sheds, and pond near Sheffield in Tasmania

approaching Sheffield - watch for equestrians!

approaching Sheffield – watch for equestrians!

sheffield-tasmania-street-map

Sheffield, Tasmania intersection Main and High Streets

Sheffield, Tasmania intersection Main and High Streets

I cycled down Main Street looking for a cup of coffee and a wi-fi connection so I could check my email. I found it at Fudge ‘n’ Good Coffee, a popular spot with a steady steam of tourists coming in.

sheffield-mural-the-1920s

Lunch and email done, I had to check out the wall murals for which the town has become famous.  On another bicycle tour on Vancouver Island back in 2001 I had cycled through Chemainus and been impressed with the murals scattered around the downtown area. It was part of an effort to revitalize the town and create a tourist attraction at the same time and it worked. Well, apparently Sheffield heard of the project and applied the idea to their own town. As the Lonely Planet Guide to Tasmania (2015) notes –

Sheffield is now a veritable outdoor art gallery, with more than 50 fantastic large-scale murals and an annual painting festival to produce more.

equestrian theme on Sheffield street mural

equestrian theme on Sheffield street mural

I spent about an hour walking around and framing shots of various murals that caught my eye – lots of nostalgia and creativity and a bit of whimsy were on display!

sheffield-tasmania-street-mural

sheffield-bible-college-wall-mural

Sheffield Bible College Wall Mural – As you sow, so shall ye reap.

central-panel-of-sheffield-bible-college-mural

Sheffield Tasmania mural of Thylacine

Sheffield Tasmania mural -

Sheffield Tasmania mural – “Celebrating Community”

outdoors wall mural in Sheffield Tasmania

Sheffield mural - The Blacksmith Shop

Sheffield mural – The Blacksmith Shop

Main street Sheffield Tasmania

Main street Sheffield Tasmania

After a quick visit to the local IGA for some fresh fruits, nuts, and water it was time to finish off the day with the ride to Gowrie Park. It started with a slight climb on my way out of Sheffield and then after a nice ride downhill to the Dasher River was followed by a slight uphill all the way to the Wilderness Village and my tent spot.  Shower and laundry facilities, as well as a small kitchen/eating area  with microwave and kettle and dishes – all very well looked after – not a bad base camp if you wanted to stop and do some day hikes in the immediate area.

Sheffield-Gowrie Park elevation chart

Sheffield-Gowrie Park elevation chart

leaving Sheffield for Gowrie Park - a bit of a downhill

leaving Sheffield for Gowrie Park – a bit of a downhill to the Dasher River

a view from the road of farm fields near Gowrie Park

a view from the road of farm fields near Gowrie Park

That evening I wandered down the road from the Wilderness Park to a nearby restaurant,  Weindorfer’s. (It was up for sale when I was there in March 2016 and may be under new ownership.)  While there was nothing vegetarian indicated on the menu –  a common theme in Tasmania –  the kitchen did put together a simple pasta with vegetables dish that hit the spot.

abandoned farm house at Gowrie Park

abandoned farm-house at Gowrie Park

Below is a satellite view of Mount Roland (4045’/1233m), a part of the Great Western Tiers that I had first looked at from Deloraine the previous afternoon.  There is a hiking trail that takes you up to the ridge.

gowrie-park-with-mount-roland-behind

The total distance as an out-and-back from Gowrie Park is about 16km with an elevation difference of about 900 meters.  The  round trip time from the car park is about six hours, including breaks.  Apparently the face of Mount Roland even has rock climbing potential  – see here for some challenging route ideas that I googled my way into.

Mount Roland behind the Gowrie Park tent site

Mount Roland behind the Gowrie Park tent site

Tempting but not possible  –  I would not be hiking up to the top the next morning.  I had already prepaid a tent site at Cradle Mountain for the next two nights so I had to stay on schedule!  A good thing too since Cradle Mountain was completely booked when I arrived.

But, of course, the price of prearranged accommodation is that it does not allow sudden changes in plans if you come across worthwhile options that you could not have been aware of when you first made them.

Coming up – Cradle Mountain and a chance to slip on those hiking boots for a morning’s walk around Dove Lake. But first – I had to get there.

gowrie-park-and-mount-roland-massif

Next Post: From Gowrie Park To Cradle Mountain 

Cycling Around Tasmania – Launceston To Deloraine

elevation-chart-launceston-to-deloraine-50-km

Sunday morning is my favourite time to be on the road; the absence of traffic makes for a stress-free ride.  The week before I had left Tasmania’s largest city – Hobart – on a  Sunday morning; now I was doing it again but from Launceston, the second largest of the island’s towns. From my backpackers’ hostel I found my way to Westbury Road by 8:00 a.m. and followed it up to the top of a steep climb out of town – see the elevation chart above! – until it becomes B54. Thirty minutes on the road and I had done the day’s major climb!  For the rest of the three-hour ride, the terrain was pretty much flat and I found myself in Deloraine before noon.

an empty Sunday morning road on the way to Deloraine

an empty Sunday morning road on the way to Deloraine

B54 passes through a number of tiny hamlets and by expansive farm fields.  It was March so harvest time had come and gone. I framed the flat road and an occasional herd of dairy cattle in my camera viewfinder to capture the essence of the day’s ride.  Given that the A1 – a major thoroughfare – is nearby, the secondary roads I was cycling remained all but empty the whole way to Deloraine.

B54 route sign - Deloraine 39 km

B54 route sign – Deloraine 39 km

Meander Valley fields on an overcast Sunday morning in March

Meander Valley fields on an overcast Sunday morning in March

Meander Valley -flat road through farm country

Meander Valley – flat road through farm country

another B54 distance marker in the Meander Valley

another B54 distance marker in the Meander Valley

At 9:00 or so I cycled through Carrick and the Inn pictured below.  A cup of coffee – Down Under I’ve learned to order  a flat white with soy milk – would make a nice reward for the early start to the day!  Unfortunately,  the restaurant was not yet open for Sunday business; staff was still cleaning up the Saturday night mess!

The Carrick Inn on B54 - too early for Sunday morning eats

The Carrick Inn on B54 – too early for Sunday morning eats

Off to the next possibility just a minute or two down the road –  The Mill Inn.  The lines slashed through the food and beverage part of their offerings made it clear that there would be no flat white here either.

Carrick's The Mill Inn - closed!

Carrick’s The Mill Inn – closed!

side-of-carricks-mill-inn

Not far after Carrick The Meander Valley Road (B54) crosses over the Bass Highway (A1) and continues almost all the way to Deloraine. The satellite view below has B54 crossing above A1 in the middle of the image; the patchwork of farm fields captures the essential nature of the region.

b54-crosses-a1-bass-highway-near-hagley

B54 overpass - A1 underneath

B54 overpass – A1 (Bass Highway)  underneath

dairy herd in the fields before Deloraine

dairy herd in the fields before Deloraine

Just before The Meander Valley Road gets to Deloraine it merges with the A5, which then takes you right to the bridge crossing the Meander River and into downtown Deloraine.

Draped over hills beside the Meander River, DELORAINE is a pleasant spot on the route west. The area was settled by Europeans in the 1830s, but Deloraine was a late-starter, developing from 1846, and today it’s National Trust classified, its backstreets stuffed with historic houses. But don’t let that put you off – architecture is only a backdrop to this town’s quietly bohemian vibe. Numerous arts and crafts galleries line the streets – for a taster there’s Deloraine Creative Studios … the outlet for several local producers, and the largest of the many shops in town.  Rough Guides Snapshot. “Rough Guides Snapshot Tasmania. (2014)

deloraine-tasmania-satellite-view

I headed for the Deloraine Apex Caravan Park.  The main office for the Park is in a bungalow across the street from the caravan and tent site. I paid my $10. and got my key to access the various facilities – showers, toilets, cooking area – and then walked my loaded bicycle down to the Meander River.  I found a nice sheltered spot under the tree pictured in the image below.  Once the tent was up I unpacked the sleeping bag and inflated the Thermarest pad.  After rambling around the park for a while – there is a bridge that takes you to the other side for a different perspective – it was time to focus on essentials.  Coffee and food on main street!

the-deloraine-apex-caravan-park-campers-along-the-meander-river

The Deloraine Apex Caravan Park – campers along the Meander River

Deloraine Apex Caravan Park - my tent spot on the banks of the Meander River

Deloraine Apex Caravan Park – my tent spot on the banks of the Meander River

Meander River reeds and reflections

Meander River reeds and reflections

I left my bike at the tent site and made my way up the hill on West Goderich Street to the main drag – Emu  Bay Road.  The one thing Deloraine does have was nice views of  The Great Western Tiers, a set of hills in the hazy distance.  Okay, so it’s not the Himalayas but still – it does introduce a bit of drama in an otherwise fairly tame landscape. (I would be looking for other words  later in the journey at Cradle Mountain and then at Strahan on the West Coast – not tame!)

The next day I would be camping underneath Mount Roland, one of the bumps or ridges on the horizon that I viewed from the back porch of the Great Western Tiers Visitor Centre on Emu Bay Rd.;  the Centre is worth a visit thanks to informative displays and lots of tourist info and helpful staff.

quamby-bluff-a-view-from-deloraine

Quamby Bluff – a view from Deloraine

The Gog Range and Mount Roland in the afternoon haze from Deloraine.jpg

The Gog Range and Mount Roland in the afternoon haze from Deloraine

In retrospect, Deloraine would have made a good spot to stop for lunch and take in the views I framed above but as for that “quietly bohemian vibe” mentioned in the Rough Guide review –  I wasn’t feeling it!  There is “laid back” and then there’s “dead”.

Perhaps the fact that it was a sleepy Sunday afternoon in autumn explains the nothing-happening feel of the place.  Another 40 kilometers – two and half hours – and I would have been in Sheffield by mid-afternoon in what seemed to me a  more interesting little town with more to look at and with more restaurants open past 5 p.m.

Next Post: Deloraine To Gowrie Park Via Sheffield

Cycling Around Tasmania – From Bicheno To St. Helens

Previous Post: From Swansea To Bicheno

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bicheno-st-helens

Day 5 on the road from Hobart – having covered less than 200 kilometers in the first four days!  This day would be more ambitious thanks to the fact that there really aren’t any great accommodation options before St. Helens!  In terms of ocean views it would also be the best single day as the pix below will hopefully show.  And while the elevation chart above may look rather daunting with all those jagged peaks, the thing to remember is the very narrow range in elevation – i.e. only between 4 meters and 73. It was actually a very enjoyable ride!

The beach at the Denison River Conservation Area, about ten kilometers north of my  Bicheno Holiday Park tent spot, was my first of a number of spots to get off the bike and go for a little shoreline walk.  The path going down to the beach came complete with a reminder to be aware that the immediate shoreline is a bird breeding area.

coservation-area-sign-above-beach-near-bicheno

path down to the beach north of Bicheno

path down to the beach north of Bicheno

beach view south of Bicheno on Tasmania's east coast

beach view north of Bicheno on Tasmania’s east coast

looking into the afternoon storm cluds near Bicheno

looking north into the afternoon storm clouds near Bicheno

Bicheno beach - Tasmania

Bicheno beach – Tasmania

Bicheno beach - Tasmania east coast

Bicheno beach – Tasmania east coast

I ended up spending a half hour at the most beautiful of the east coast beaches I had come across so far.  Back on the saddle I got to do a more inland stretch of the A3 before coming down close to the seashore again in the Chain of Lagoons area.

the road to St. Helens from Bicheno.jpg

the road to St. Helens from Bicheno – an inland stretch of the Tasman Highway

path to Tasmania east coast beach off A3

path to Tasmania east coast beach off A3

beach near Chain of lagoons north of Bicheno

beach near Chain of lagoons north of Bicheno

Another stunning beach area – and perhaps due to it being autumn – like most of the others I has stopped at, I had it completely to myself.  I sat on the rocks below and had an apple and some sugared water.  A look at the map told me i could have lunch at Scamander within the hour so back up to road I went for some more eye-popping beach views before the A3 turns sharply west to the junction with the A4.

East coast Tasmania - beach scene

East coast Tasmania – beach scene near Chain of Lagoons off Hwy A3

cycling right along the shore on Tasmania's east coast

cycling right along the shore on Tasmania’s east coast

a3-runnning-close-to-the-shore-just-south-of-scamander

looking back at a nice stretch of the A3

looking back at a nice stretch of the A3

Just north of the Four Mile Creek Conservation Area the road runs right along the shoreline for a couple of kilometers before turning inland to the junction with Hwy A4.  When I got to the junction the distance markers told me that I had cycled 50 kilometres from Bicheno since setting off four hours before. This was not the Tour de France!

the signs at the A3/A4 Junction on east coast Tasmania.jpg

the signs at the A3/A4 Junction on east coast Tasmania.jpg

As i cycled through Scamander I was looking for an eatery of some sort.  I finally found something just before I reached the bridge over the Scamander River. It was a takeaway with all the usual fast – and fried – foods.

Scamander News Agency and take-away

Scamander News Agency and Take-Away

Lunch done I had another 23 kilometers to do and I had some extra motivation. Some bad weather was coming in and I wanted to be settled in somewhere before the rain came tumbling down.  As I approached St. Helens, the first option I passed was the  Big 4 St. Helens Holiday Park.  It is on the south side of the town just across the bridge from the downtown area.  However, the thought of spending the night in my tent in a rain storm was an option I figured I’d pass on.

Over the bridge there is also a Backpacker’s hostel on the main street – Cecilia Street.  It is also downtown and it would put me closer to restaurants and grocery stores. Off I went to the hostel – only to find that it was shut down and had a “For Sale” sign on it!  Yikes! What now?  Cycle the 1.5 km. back across the bridge and up to the campground?  Across the street from the closed hostel was the Bayside Inn.  It was already starting to rain as I pushed my loaded bike across the Cecilia Street.

st-helens-tasmania-satellite-shot

 

Within a couple of minutes I had my room at the Bayside Inn – not in the new addition but in the original 1950’s motel structure on the side of it. At $80.for the night I was not complaining!  My bike and gear and i would be dry for the night! I rolled my bike inside the room and checked the facilities – a shower, a small kitchenette area complete with pots and utensils, wi-fi!  It would definitely do!

St Helens - the Bayside Inn - shelter from the storm

St Helens – the Bayside Inn – shelter from the storm

St. Helens Bayside Inn - the original motel structure

St. Helens Bayside Inn – the original motel structure

The rain came down all night and it was still raining the next morning when it was time to set off for Scottsdale.  By then I had come up with a solution to spending a morning or maybe more cycling in the rain up to my next day’s destination – I would just put my bike on the bus and miss the rain completely!

On the next street over (Circassian Street) from the Bayside Inn is a BP station.  It also serves as the pick-up spot for the Calows Coaches intercity bus that goes from St. Helens to Launceston.  Putting bikes on buses in Tasmania is a remarkably easy thing to do – unlike here in Canada.

screen-shot-2016-12-06-at-2-00-01-pm

I even left on the front and rear panniers on the bottom side on the bike so the bike would be cushioned if the ride was at all bumpy. (I did put a piece of cardboard under each of the rented panniers so they would not get all scrubbed up and smudged from rubbing!)

map-of-tasmania

We left St. Helens at at 8:30 and at 11:00 I was in Launceston, Tasmania’s second biggest town.  Thanks to my revised schedule, I was also there a day early. Since  I already had the next night at the Backpackers’ Hostel paid for,  I figured my best bet would be to see if they had a room available for this day too. They did – and that is how I got to spend two days in beautiful Launceston, in some ways a more interesting town than Hobart to the south.

Next Post: Checking Out Launceston, Tasmania

 

Cycling Around Tasmania – Swansea To Bicheno

Previous Post: From Triabunna To Swansea

Overnight the clouds and rain moved through the area and the next morning the sun was back out.  I would have a pretty easy day of it.  Well, perhaps make that “morning”  since I rolled into Bicheno shortly after noon, having covered the 42 kilometers in about three hours of leisurely cycling.  I am enough of a obsessive-compulsive Type A personality that I do remember worrying that I was not covering enough distance each day and that I was spending too much time being a tourist. Noon – and dun? Ya gotta be kiddin’!

swansea-to-bicheno

Click here for the full-screen interactive view.

swansea-to-bicheno

The A3 on this day strayed far from the beaches and I recall cycling past long stretches of farm fields on fairly flat terrain.  Some of the pix below convey the overall scene. There was one bit of climbing to do; it came up near Apslaw just after the road turn off but even it – compared to the 600 meter gains in elevation I would be doing  a week later on the West Coast – was no big deal. And, of course, if you are hurting on the way up, you’ll have tears flowing out of your eyes as you bomb down the other side of the same bump in the road.

The point I eventually clued in to was that the bump on the graph above is not a 2-D representation of the actual hill but rather an indication of how much altitude you will gain in a set distance.  The  road can only be so steep; what you should really be imagining is an extended series of switchbacks that takes you up from, in the graph above, 8 meters to 183 meters, over a five kilometer distance. While it still hurts, it gets done!

heading north on A3 from Swansea

heading north on A3 from Swansea

bales of hay on the side of A3 north of Swansea

panorama – bales of hay on the side of A3 north of Swansea

road sign on the way to Bicheno

road sign on the way to Bicheno

Tasmania’s east coast and its incredible beach vistas!  Well, not on the stretch from Swansea to Bicheno!  It is only when you get to Bicheno itself that you are back at the water’s edge. Getting there shortly after noon gave me lots of time to ramble along the seashore after putting up my tent at the Caravan Park.

stretch of road S of Bicheno

stretch of road S of Bicheno

looking down more flat road on the A3 to Bicheno

looking down more flat road on the A3 to Bicheno

looking down into a valley and an upcoming set of hills on the way to Bicheno on A3

looking down into a valley and an upcoming set of hills on the way to Bicheno on A3

bicheno-satellite-shot

See here for the Google map view of Bicheno.

Central Business District Bicheno

Central Business District Bicheno

I put up my tent on the cushy grass surface in the Caravan Park’s camper section.  I was surrounded by over a dozen fellow bikers – but these guys = and their wives – were motorcyclists who belonged to the Ulysses Motorcycle Club. Billed as a club for “mature riders” I was looking at a bunch of guys who looked like they were in the retirement phase of their life journey – kinda like me!  There is a motorcycle museum in Bicheno which may have been the draw for these riders from the mainland states.  Given their friendliness and generosity with beer bottles, their slogan “growing old disgracefully!” was a bit of wishful thinking!  Later on I’d shoot the breeze and sip on the supplied beer with some of them – but first I had a veg-friendly lunch to find a beachfront to explore.

my tent at Bicheno Caravan Park

my tent at Bicheno Holiday Park

bumper sticker collection of a Ulysses member

bumper sticker collection of a Ulysses member

I would end up at Pasini’s, an Italian eatery with a lunchtime pizza that did not have cheese on it. In fact, it was so delicious that I went back again for supper and had the same thing!  Sometimes you have to take what you can get!

bicheno

Bicheno’s Foreshore Footway – my route from the campground

Along the shore is a path called the Foreshore Footway that provides some excellent view – all the way from the Blowhole at the south end.  I spent an hour or more ambling along and pointing my camera in various directions. Some of the pix are below!

Bicheno shore -

Bicheno shore –

Bicheno trail above the beachfront

Bicheno Foreshore Footway just above the beachfront

trail marker on the Bicheno shore

trail marker on the Bicheno shore

Bicheno's rocky shoreline

Bicheno’s rocky shoreline

tourists waiting by the Blowhole on the Bicheno shore

tourists waiting by the Blowhole on the Bicheno shore

As I wandered back to the campground after my lunch at Pasini’s I passed by a shop selling water sports-related gear and supplies – but it had this unexpected item hanging in the window.  There were actually two of them – two dreamcatchers.  Long associated with Anishinaabe culture in my home province of Ontario in Canada, here they were! Okay, the hoops were plastic and not willow and the threads were plastic too and maybe the feathers were not eagle feathers  – but still!

It is quite likely that someone would be offended by this “thoughtless act of cultural misappropriation”.

an unexpected bit of Ojibwe culture in a store window in Bicheno

an unexpected bit of Ojibwe culture in a store window in Bicheno

The next day would be my biggest day yet.  Not only would I do more cycling. I would also do more of it on a road closer to the shore than had been the case.  The next post has the pix to prove it!

Next Post: From Bicheno To St. Helens

Cycling Around Tasmania – From Triabunna To Swansea

Previous Post: From Richmond To Triabunna

For a full-screen map view, click on the More options prompt in the box on the top left.

triabunna-swansea-elevation-chart

A sunny morning in Triabunna – my fortified oatmeal breakfast and two cups of coffee done, it was time to hit the road for the ride to Swansea.  I said goodbye to my Aussie neighbour who was off to Maria Island and then checked in with the American cyclist who had arrived late the previous evening and set up his tent near the entrance.  He too was off to the island – but he was taking his bicycle, which he had rented from the same Long Haul Tasmania bike rental service that I had. He said was on his way to St. Helens and I would amazingly bump into him two weeks later in Strahan on the West Coast!  It turns out that by the time he got to St. Helens he decided he had spent enough time on the bike saddle.  So – he had the bike rental company pick him and the bike up in St. Helens and he returned to Hobart where then rented a car to see the island in comfort!

Meanwhile I would spend the morning on an inland stretch of the A3.  Not a lot of pix from the first couple of hours.  It is only when you come out at Mayfield Bay – thirty-four kilometres from Triabunna – that you get some nice beach views. I took very opportunity to get off the bike and walk down to the beach.  While it is still not the open ocean crashing in on the sand – I was cycling along the west shore of Great Oyster Bay – it was still a scenic treat.  [The best single day of east coast cycling would have to wait for a couple of days until the 74-km stretch from Bicheno to St. Helens.]

my bike on the side of A3 as I set off to walk the beach between Triabunna and Swansea

my bike on the side of A3 as I set off to walk the beach between Triabunna and Swansea

the beach at Mayfield Bay on Tasmania's east coast

the beach at Mayfield Bay on Tasmania’s east coast

sand-and-rock-on-tasmanias-east-coast

tasmania-east-coast-great-oyster-bay

A bit further down the road from Mayfield Bay – a very nice stretch of scenic cycling – was the Kelvedon Beach Conservation Area. It gave me a reason to get off the bike and frame something other than pavement in my photos!

Kelvedon Beach sign - Watch Your Step!

Kelvedon Beach sign – Watch Your Step!

Kelvedon Beach East Coast Tasmania

Kelvedon Beach East Coast Tasmania

seashells on the seashore - Kelvedon Beach Tasmania

seashells on the seashore – Kelvedon Beach Tasmania

After Kelvedon Beach on to another conservation area – Spiky Beach.  There is a turn off that takes you down steeply a pot-holed gravel road to a parking lot from where you can walk there rest of the way down to the beach.  I cycled down and leaned my bike against a post and wandered down the water. Thanks to the 15mm wide-angle lens I used for the shot below, my rear wheel looks much bigger than the front one!

bike park at Spiky Beach on Tasmania's east coast

bike park at Spiky Beach on Tasmania’s east coast

path to the beach east coast Tasmania near Swansea

path to  Spiky Beach on the  east coast of Tasmania near Swansea

swansea-and-great-oyster-bay-satellite-view

Like Triabunna, Swansea had a population of about 800 and its economy also  relies heavily on tourism.  I had planned to head for the Swansea Holiday Park and put up my tent but it had clouded over dramatically in the last hour as I approached the village. I figured that the Swansea Backpackers’ Hostel would be a better place to spend a rainy night – so that’s what I did.  I found it at the far end of town right next to the Barkmill Tavern and Bakery – convenient! After checking in and dumping my stuff in my room – it was a room with four beds but since the hostel wasn’t really busy I would have the entire room to myself. I also kept my bike in the room. Then I headed back “downtown” in search of a restaurant.

Swansea's main street

Swansea’s main street

Perhaps the end of high season is the explanation for the large number of local businesses with “For Sale” signs. Take a look at the following establishments – maybe one them will strike your fancy as an investment opportunity.  Even the Backpackers’ Hostel was up for sale! In fact, when no one answered my initial ringing of the doorbell i thought it might be closed. Someone did eventually come to the door – I was the first visitor of the day and a bit early!

I eventually found a meal at the Amos House’s High Point Café.  It was off-hour but the owner was good enough to make something – it may have been a pita sandwich with hummus and tahini.

swansea-ugly-duckling-closed-and-for-sale

closed and for sale

the-horny-cray-in-swansea-for-sale

For sale

swansea-bear-cottage-for-sale

swansea-all-saints-opportunity-shop-for-sale

another Swansea building for sale

another Swansea building for sale

Swansea's Amos House and Viewpooint Café - for sale

Swansea’s Amos House and Viewpoint Café – for sale

Swansea Backpackers - for sale!

Swansea Backpackers – for sale!

I cycled back to the hostel from the Amos House in the rain. Other travellers had arrived and I was able to put my German – as rusty as it is! – to use as I talked to a couple from Chemnitz and a guy from Hamburg who was motorcycling Tasmania. I would bump into them again a week or two later. Given that Tasmania as a total population of 500,000,  I guess it’s not that unusual!

my room at the Swansea Backpachers - with three empty beds

my room at the Swansea Backpackers – with three empty beds

It rained most of that night and I was glad not to be in my tent at the campground on the other end of the village.  By the next morning  the rain was stopped and I would have sunshine with a bit of wind as I made my way 43 kilometers up the coast to Bicheno and a tent spot at the Bicheno East Coast Holiday Park.

Next Post: From Swansea To Bicheno

Cycling Around Tasmania – From Richmond to Triabunna

Previous Post: From Hobart To Richmond 

Click here to zoom in or out of the Google interactive map.

richmond-to-triabunna

Leaving the  Caravan Park around 8,  I rolled down Richmond’s main street and stopped at the one open gas station and bought a bottle of sugar water for the ride.  In my brief chat with the attendant I learned that the Prossers Road that I was headed for was not the  best choice; he recommended the somewhat longer but paved B31 to C350 (Fingerpost Road)  and then along C350 to the junction with the Tasman Highway (A3).  So that is what I did.  The pix below show the relatively flat terrain for at least the first hour of the day’s ride.

richmond-to-fingerpost-road-c350

the road not taken – Prossers Road – on the advice of the gas station guy!

b31-c350-junction-richmond-tasmania

B31/C350 junction north of Richmond, Tasmania

looking east down C350 near Campania

looking east down C350 near Campania

pastoral-scene-on-the-side-of-c350-on-the-way-to-buckland

pastoral scene on the side of C350 on the way to Buckland

I got to Buckland for lunch, having done what would turn out to be the two biggest climbs of my east coast ride to St. Helens. From the top of Bust-Me_Gall Hill it was a rewarding downhill roll to the Buckland Roadhouse and a veggie burger and fries.  As the pix make clear there is not a lot of paved shoulder for a cyclist to claim as his own.  However, I saw maybe a dozen cars until I hit the A3 .  I pretty much had these secondary roads to myself while the nearby A3 – the main highway – was undoubtedly much busier.

flat stretch of C350 on the way to Black Charles Opening and Buckland

flat stretch of C350 on the way to Black Charles Opening and Buckland

the top of the day's first bump - Black Charles Opening at 296 m

the top of the day’s first bump – Black Charles Opening at 296 m

at the top of the second of the day's two hills on C350 north of Richmond

at the top of the second of the day’s two hills on C350 north of Richmond

After lunch I continued on the A3, known as the Tasman Highway.  It serves as the alternative coastal route between Hobart and Launceston, the state’s two biggest towns.  Finally, as I approached Orford, I got to see some major water!

Orford sits on Prosser Bay. As I stood there and looked east beyond the bay across the Tasman Sea,  I imagined New Zealand’s South Island, specifically the West Coast highway I had cycled down a couple of years ago.

orford-tasmania-to-new-zealand-south-island-west-coast

1800 kilometers or more separate the two coasts but as raw and wild as N.Z.’s West Coast is, Tassie’s east coast would prove to be tame and gentle. [Click here to access my  N.Z. “Down The West Coast” post.]

my bike on the side of A3 at Prosser Bay

my bike on the side of A3 at Prosser Bay

my first beach shot on Tasmania's east coast near Orford

my first beach shot on Tasmania’s east coast near Orford

view from the side of A3 at Prosser Bay.jpg

view from the side of A3 at Prosser Bay

My introduction to the beaches of the east coast would be short. From Orford the road cuts inland across a small peninsula before running along the west shore of Spring Bay to my target for the day – Triabunna (population: 800) . Given the dependably mild east coast weather and the scenery, it is a popular tourist destination as well as a retirement community. Triabunna harbour serves as the home dock for a small fishing fleet  as well as the departure point for the ferry over to Maria (Mah-rye-ah) Island, a national park and nature sanctuary.

Just off of the A3 is the Triabunna Cabin and Caravan Park. I would make myself at home under the tree you see in the photo below.  My fairly lightweight Kelty Zen tent up and my gear put inside, I went for a walk down the two blocks that make up main street. At the local IGA (a grocery store chain) I got some fresh fruit, bread, and other consumables

satellite-view-of-triabunna-tasmania

my tent spot at the Triabunna Cabin and Caravan Park -east coast Tasmania

my tent spot at the Triabunna Cabin and Caravan Park

A couple of hours later  a solo motorcyclist pulled up and set up a hammock and tarp next to me.  He was from Melbourne and was on a one-week ramble in Tasmania and was headed over to Maria Island the next morning – without his bike, which he would leave at the Caravan Park.  We wandered down to the Fish Van; he oohed and aahed about the fried fish while I made do with an order of fries! It was slim pickings for a someone intent on being vegan in a fishing town!

Triabunna cottage on Main Street

Triabunna cottage on Main Street

warehouses by the Maria Island ferry stop at Triabunna

warehouses by the Maria Island ferry stop at Triabunna

Maria island Ferry dock in Triabunna

Maria island Ferry dock in Triabunna

looking north down Spring Bay from the Triabunna Ferry landing

looking north down Spring Bay from the Triabunna Ferry landing

Triabunna-Maria Island Satellite shot

Triabunna-Maria Island Satellite view

With more time – or without the commitments I had created by pre-booking my accommodation in a few of the upcoming towns – a visit to Maria island would certainly have been worth it.  Here is the enticing write-up in the Lonely Planet guide-book I had with me –

“Maria is laced with impressive scenery: curious cliffs, fern-draped forests, squeaky-sand beaches and azure seas. Forester kangaroos, wombats and wallabies wander around; grey-plumed Cape Barren geese honk about on the grasslands; and an insurance population of Tasmanian devils has been released and is thriving. Below the water there’s also lots to see, with good snorkelling and diving in the clear, shallow marine reserve.”

Excerpt From: Lonely Planet. “Lonely Planet   Tasmania.”

Sounds pretty neat, eh!   There is camping available on the island and bicycles (“push bikes”) are allowed. It looks like an enchanting spot to explore for a couple of days. Maria Island is just one of perhaps a half-dozen parks and nature preserves along Tasmania’s east coast around which you could fashion a fantastic two or three-week retreat. With your own tent and gear you’d be all set.  If you didn’t have a bike at the ready, the bus connections from town to town are adequate so there would be no need to rent your own vehicle.   It would only sit  around unused  most of the time!  Maybe there is another visit to Tasmania forming in my mind!

Instead, my next day to Swansea on the A3 would be a mix of coastal scenery, ending with a nice ride from the Rocky Hills to my room for the night at the Swansea Backpackers Hostel,  getting there just in time to beat the first rain storm of the trip. See the details in the next post!

Next Post: Triabunna To Swansea (51 km.)

Cycling Around Tasmania – From Hobart To Richmond Via Bonorong

Previous Post:   Doin’ Time In Van Diemen’s Land –  Tasmania By Push Bike!

 Day 1: Morning – From Hobart to The Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary

Click on blue More Options prompt for full screen view of Google Map

hobart-bonorong

Sunday morning is my favourite time to start a bike trip.  Since I am usually starting from one of the biggest towns on my route, it means that I get to escape it before most people are even up.  It makes for traffic-free roads as I leave the city center.

I was up and ready to go by 8:00 from my Narrara Backpacker’s room, having left behind a duffel bag with a change of clothes and street shoes and some other items (my own panniers which did not fit on the Tubus racks !) for my return in three weeks.

my loaded Surly bike in front of the Narrara Backpackers' Hostel in Hobart

my loaded Surly bike in front of the Narrara Backpackers’ Hostel in Hobart

Every time I end a bike tour I tell myself – “Never again with so much stuff!” Well, here I was – yet again!   The bike, the solidly built steel-frame Surly Long Haul Trekker,  weighed 15 kg. (33 lbs.)  and I had another 22 kg. (48 lbs.) of gear, most in the four Ortlieb panniers clipped onto their respective racks. [The  panniers themselves probably weighed about 3.5 kg. (8 lbs.)!]

The panniers I had brought with me would just not fit on to the Tubus  racks so the afternoon before I set off  I had to arrange for the Ortliebs to be delivered to the Backpacker’s hostel.)  My tent, poles, and sleeping bag were inside that plastic bag on top of the rear panniers.  My camera gear and wallet, sunglasses, sun cream, and cycling gloves  were in the handlebar bag.  In the map case on top of the bag I also had a gps tracking device – the Spot Connect – so the folks back home could follow me along!  Stuff, stuff, stuff!  I dream of the day I set off with a credit card and nothing more!

close-up of my loaded Surly bike in front of the Narrara Backpackers' Hostel in Hobart

close-up of my loaded Surly LHT (Long Haul Trekker) bike with 26″ wheels and Ortlieb panniers

The previous afternoon I had cycled down to the harbour and followed the first ten kilometers or so of the Intercity bike path that follows the River Derwent from the Harbour area pictured below all the way up to Clairmont, an easy if not terribly scenic first 15 kilometers.

intercity-bike-train-hobart-to-clairmont

See here for a downloadable pdf file of the path, as well as gpx and kml files

hobart-harbour-8-a-m-sunday

Hobart Harbour on a Sunday morning at 8:00

The bike path ends at Claremont, where it runs into Main Road, which  I followed all the way to Grafton.  Now on Highway 1,  I crossed the bridge and made use of some service roads to get to Highway C321. It was a bit confusing so I was relieved when I saw the direction signs at the Brighton intersection below!  My goal for the morning was the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary. I figured it was only right that I see some Tasmanian Devils on the very first day of my tour.

the road to Richmond via Bonorong

the road to Richmond via Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary

The sanctuary sits on top of a hill and I actually got off and pushed the bike up the potholed and dusty gravel road to the entrance. Storing my bike in a shed reserved for tools and equipment, I spent the next hour on a quick tour of the sanctuary, home to all sorts of animals I had never seen live before – wombats, quolls, koalas, as well as those Devils! I was also given a bag of kangaroo feed for the Foresters roaming freely in a fenced-off area.

a view of Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary near Hobart

a view of Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary near Hobart

While it would have been better to be there a bit earlier – the sun was almost directly overhead for most of my visit – I still got to see a few of the locals.  It was a nice diversion from an admittedly short first bit of cycling.

Bonorong local on the fence

Bonorong local on the fence

same-bird-different-angle-at-bonorong-sanctuary

wombat in the arms of one of the guides at Bonorong

wombat in the arms of one of the guides at Bonorong

a couple of Tasmanian devils sniffing about their enclosure

a couple of Tasmanian devils sniffing about their enclosure

Bonorong kangaroo with snout way too close to my lens!.jpg

Bonorong Forester kangaroo with snout way too close to my lens!

Bonorong kangaroo chillin' in the shade

Bonorong kangaroo chillin’ in the shade

Tasmanian devil tugging at a piece of meat and bone

Tasmanian devil tugging at a piece of meat and bone

The Tasmanian Devil above put aside whatever concerns it had about the heat and the sun to put on a little show for the visitors – and to get the raw meat that the park staff person made him play tug for.  I learned that the Tassie Devil is an endangered animal whose overall numbers are down as low as 10,000 because of a facial cancer than has devastated the population.

On a more depressing note – perhaps the single-most negative thing I can say about cycling in Tasmania – is that most days I cycled by  one or two dozen carcasses of wallabies, wombats, possum,  and Tassie Devils. While I had experienced a similar thing on South Island New Zealand it was lesser carnage and on fewer days.

Tasmanian Devil up close

Tasmanian Devil up close

My tour of the sanctuary done, it was back to the bike and another 18 kilometers to the Richmond Cabin and Tourist Park where I got a tent spot for the night.

bonorong-richmond

The elevation chart above shows an easy ride with a nice bit of gentle downhill at the end. On the way I passed the Coal Valley Golf Links on Middle Tea Tree Road (C322) where I filled my water bottles and sat in the shade for a while.  It was hot out there on the road!

pit stop on the way to Richmond from Bonorong

pit stop on the way to Richmond from Bonorong

The Tourist Park is on the edge of the village of Richmond, population 750, which figured large in the early history of the island as a military post and as a convict station. A few buildings – a couple of churches, the courthouse, a jail, a post office –  date back to the 1820’s and 1830’s. The Lonely Planet guide generously bills it as “arguably Tasmania’s premier historic town”.

That’s the campground in the satellite image below; my $15. a night tent spot was in the clump of trees near the centre of the image.  I joined a few other tenters though I was the only one who had arrived on a “push bike”, the Aussie term for bicycle.  Many had rented camper vans or cars.

richmnond-cabin-and-tourist-park

richmond-tasmania

Click here for if you want to see where I got the two above Google satellite images.

My tent up and gear stashed inside, I cycled into the village.  It was a Sunday afternoon about 4 and everything – what little there is! – was pretty much shut. I finally found a restaurant attached to a gas station at the far end of the village and – to no surprise – found very slim pickings for someone intent on keeping a vegan diet.  I ended up having a cup of coffee – with soy cream – and postponed supper until I got back to the campground. I did cycle down to the bridge crossing  the Coal River to see Australia’s oldest still-in-use road bridge.  In the satellite image above you can see the bridge on the top right hand side as it crosses the river.

Richmond Bridge over the Coal River

Richmond Bridge over the Coal River

Richmond, Tasmania - road bridge over the Coal River

Richmond, Tasmania – road bridge over the Coal River

Back at the campground, I rehydrated a serving of vegan-friendly Pad Thai noodles which I had packed as an emergency item for those evenings when  I couldn’t come up with anything acceptable. Here it was – Night #1 – and I was already using it!

Chatting with my immediate neighbours later that evening – a young couple from Chartres in France who had just finished a one-month stint of work on a farm in West Australia and were now doing some travelling – I listened as the Frenchman expressed a sort of bemusement at the fuss the locals make over a few buildings that were less than two hundred years old.  Given the way that the history of my home province of Ontario in Canada mirrors that of Australia and Tasmania, I also get the Aussie perspective. To really get excited about Richmond it probably helps a lot to be born and bred in Tasmania!

The east coast of Tasmania draws rave reviews from all who travel along its roads and take in the views of the Pacific shore as they walk its beaches.  I was looking forward to those beaches but I still had a bit of inland travelling to do before I got there.  The next post details the route –

Next Post: From Richmond To Triabunna

Bicyling From Hobart To Bruny Island

My ’round Tasmania bike tour ended with a ride back into Hobart and a room at the Prince of Wales Hotel in the Battery Point district of the city.  I got there in the early afternoon.  The next day would be Good Friday and everything would be shut.  Easter Sunday would likely also be a very quiet day in the city. Having already spent some time in Hobart, I had one more short excursion,  one more “to do” on my list – a ride down to Bruny Island.

a view of Adventure Bay From Bruny Island's The Neck

a view of Adventure Bay From Bruny Island’s The Neck

I’d spend a couple of nights tenting on the shores of Adventure Bay on the south part of the island beyond The Neck.  The  Saturday afternoon boat cruise to the south end of the island promised to be one of many highlights . (See here for the Bruny Island Cruises promo!)

Bruny Island Cruises display at Hobart's Tourist Info Center

Bruny Island Cruises display at Hobart’s Tourist Info Center

My plan was simple – reorganize my gear at the hotel,  go down to the Salamanca Market and buy a couple of days worth of food supplies, and arrange to leave behind at the hotel a bag full of gear and clothing I would not be needing for my three-day mini-tour.

Hobart To Bruny Island (Adventure Bay)

Hobart To Bruny Island (Adventure Bay)

On Good Friday morning I was ready to go by 7:30 a.m., knowing that for the first couple of hours I would have the road pretty much to myself as I made my way to the ferry landing at Kettering for the short boat ride over to the north end of Bruny Island. (While a number of British sea captains, including James Cook and Robert Bligh, visited the island,  it gets its name from the Frenchman Bruni D’Entrecasteaux, who passed by in 1792.  Not only does he have the island named after him but the water between it and the mainland is known as D’Etrecasteaux Channel.)

looking out my POW window at dawn

the view from my Prince of Wales Hotel  window at dawn

From Battery Point i cycled southeast on Sandy Bay Road past the University of Tasmania area and on through Taroona, a suburb of Hobart famed these days as the town where Mary, the Crown Princess of Denmark, went to high school. Born in Hobart, she was known as Mary Donaldson in those days but a chance meeting with Frederik the Crown Prince of Denmark at the Sydney Olympics would change her life.  It would also provide endless fodder for Aussie tabloids and another potential question for the Down-Under version of Trivial Pursuit!

Taroona Shot Tower Close -Up

Taroona Shot Tower from the south

The image above – my first of the day since I started pedalling and another Trivia question – What Taroona structure was once the tallest on the island? Answer: The 48-meter tall Shot Tower. (See here for the reason behind the Tower’s name.)

the Taroona Shot Tower from the south

the Taroona Shot Tower from the south

From Taroona (with its dedicated bike lane right through the town) the road continues over Bonnet Hill, the single toughest hill of the ride but a relative piece of cake after a ’round Tasmania bike ride. Major road improvements were in progress on Bonnet Hill and a part of the plan is a bike lane.

Here is the Google Maps-generated elevation chart for the ride to Kettering.   Note that Bonnet Hill looks a lot less challenging than it does in the chart inserted in the map above!

Hobart -Kettering elevation chart

Hobart-Kettering elevation chart

Down through Kingston and on to Kettering via Margate, Traffic was still quite light and as in Taroona there was a generous paved shoulder on the B68 to make use of – it certainly made the ride even more enjoyable.

the road - B68 - from Kingston to Margate - lots of paved shoulder

the road – B68 – from Kingston to Margate – lots of paved shoulder

Approaching the ferry terminal, I had to smile as I cycled by vehicle after vehicle in a line-up that stretched back about 700 meters. Once at the front of the line, I leaned my bike on the wall of the Mermaid Café and went in for my reward, a cup of Flat White with a double shot of caffeine. I chatted with the few pedestrians until the ferry – the smaller of the two – pulled up to the landing area.

a shot from the ferry as we leave Kettering for Bruny Island

a shot from the ferry as we leave Kettering for Bruny Island

going to Bruny Island on an overcast Good Friday

going to Bruny Island on an overcast Good Friday

Once on Bruny Island I got to work on the second half of my day’s goal – the 39 kilometers to my tent spot at the Captain Cook Caravan Park on Adventure Bay. While I may have gotten on the ferry first, I (and those on foot) would wait until all the vehicles got off before getting on my way. This meant that all the traffic was ahead of me and I would not be seeing many other vehicles until shortly after the next ferry landing.

As nice a ride as the road to Kettering had been, this would be even better, given the wonderful views of bays and beaches I was treated to from my bike saddle. Other than the three hills indicated in the elevation chart below, the route is pretty much flat.

Bruny Island Road Elevation

Bruny Island – the B68 to the south end of the island and then a side road to Adventure Bay

The hill that requires the most effort is the very first one as you leave the ferry behind – and even it was dealt with fairly quickly.  As I was going up a cyclist at the end of her Bruny Island tour was coasting down.  We exchanged info on the road conditions – she was on the way to Hobart and planned to use the route I had just come in on. Since she too had been on the Strachan to Derwent Bridge road, she knew what I meant when I said ” No real hills”!

photo stop at the top of the first of Bruny Island's hills

photo stop at the top of the first of Bruny Island’s hills

North Bruny Island view on as cloudy morning

North Bruny Island view on as cloudy morning

Once the two first uphills (and the downhill rewards)  are done, there is an almost twenty-kilometer flat stretch. The wind was gently blowing in the same direction that I was going so the kilometers passed by even easier. Past Get Shucked, the oyster place; past the Bruny island Cheese Company; past the Bruny Island Airstrip towards a part of the road I had been anticipating since seeing the Google Earth satellite view months before – The Neck!  It is a four-kilometer-long isthmus which connects the north and south part of the island.

Bruny Island's

Bruny Island’s “The Neck”

The middle section – the 2.5 kilometers through the narrowest part – is not a paved (i.e.sealed) road; rather, it is hard-packed sand.  Some trip reports I had read made it seem like a big deal. From my experience even a set of 24 mm tires would be fine to deal with this stretch.  The dirt was mostly firmly packed down.   Admittedly, it would be the only dirt road I would cycle over on Bruny Island. It may be that other sections of road may require wider tires. A heavy rain would also change the nature of the road.

a view of the west side of The Neck from the dirt road

a view of the west side of The Neck from the dirt road

As I cycled by this part of The Neck, I noticed the side walking trail up to the lookout and the Truganini Memorial.  I figured I would check out the view on the way out in a couple of days, so I kept going.

Bruny Island's The Neck - looking back at the tree in the above photo

Bruny Island’s The Neck – looking back at the tree in the above photo

I had initially worried about eating the dust stirred up by passing vehicles but it proved not be an issue given the light traffic conditions, the short distance of the dirt road, and the fact that wind has already blown away the really loose sand.

leaving my bike for a walk to the beach at Bruny Island's The Neck

leaving my bike for a walk to the beach at Bruny Island’s The Neck

I got off my bike as the photo above shows and walked down to the beach. A couple were  just putting away their fishing gear and we exchanged greetings.  I’m sure I said the word “Wow” more than once as I scanned the scene and took in the view of the beach and of Adventure Bay framed by the headland in the distance. Attached to the physical beauty of the spot was the thought that just over 200 years ago the British sea captains James Cook and Robert Bligh had both sat in this very bay while their men resupplied their ships with fresh water and food. Here they also made contact with the natives who lived on the island, known to them as Lunawannalonnah. This contact would lead to the tragic demise of the entire Nuenonne community, of whom Truganini was apparently the last survivor.

fishing poles on the Adventure Bay's side of The Neck

fishing poles on the Adventure Bay’s side of The Neck

a Wow moment on the beach at Bruny Island's The Neck

a Wow moment on the beach at Bruny Island’s The Neck

the south end of the 2.5 kilometer gravel road across Bruny Island's The Neck

the south end of the 2.5 kilometer gravel road across Bruny Island’s The Neck

Back on the road I cycled south to the junction.  At this point the main road – B68 – continues on the right to the island’s two largest communities – Alannah and Lunawanna.  I turned left – as in the image below – and headed to Adventure Bay.  It was around this time that a gentle rain started to fall and I got a bit wet as I finished off the final seven kilometers to the caravan park.

South Bruny Island Junction - Adventure Bay to the left:B68 to the right

South Bruny Island Junction – Adventure Bay to the left –  B68 to Alannah on the right

wet road on the way to Adventure Bay

wet road on the way to Adventure Bay

a view of Adventure Bay from the road near the cemetery

a view of Adventure Bay from the road near the cemetery

Adventure Bay is perhaps the third-largest community on Bruny Island with a mix of private residences (weekend retreats for Hobart urbanites) and tourist rental accommodation, as well as a café and a general store for food and sundry items, a tennis court, and an Anglican church. Near the south end of the bay is the Bruny Island Cruises reception centre and not far away the dock from which their boats leave for their three-hour cruises to  south end of the island. I had booked a seat on the next afternoon’s cruise.

Bruny Island's Adventure Bay - Google satellite view

Bruny Island’s Adventure Bay – Google satellite view

Central Business District Adventure Bay Bruny Island

Central Business District Adventure Bay Bruny Island – the general store

St. Paul's Anglican Church on Tasmania's Bruny island

St. Paul’s Anglican Church on Tasmania’s Bruny island

Adventure Bay Sculpture - Globe with Whiales inside

Adventure Bay Sculpture – Globe with Whiales inside

Bruny Island sculpture plaque

Bruny Island sculpture plaque

Adventure Bay Bruny Island sculpture - different angle

Adventure Bay Bruny Island sculpture – different angle – mother whale and calf inside the globe

the beach in front of the Captain Cook Caravan Park

the beach in front of the Captain Cook Caravan Park

The rain stopped just before I started to put up my tent at the Caravan Park. Just behind the tenting area runs Cook Creek.  With my accommodation for the next two nights up and ready I walked down to the beach and then over to the mouth of the creek.  Then I walked along the beach back to the commercial heart of the the community – the general store and the café!  I also checked out the sculpture across the road – see the pix above.

my tent in the tenting area of the Cook Caravan Park

my tent in the tenting area of the Cook Caravan Park

Cook Creek mouth just south of the Caravan Park

Cook Creek mouth just south of the Caravan Park

looking west up Cook Creek on Bruny Island

looking west up Cook Creek on Bruny Island

sunset on Bruny Island's Adventure Bay

sunset on Bruny Island’s Adventure Bay

The boat cruise was scheduled for 1 p.m. so the next morning I contented myself with a walk along the beach, brunch at the Penguin Café, and a visit to the general store where I bought a copy of the Saturday paper. Heading back to the Caravan Park, I headed for the excellent kitchen/dining building. It has everything you might need – I made use of the kettle and made myself a cup of coffee to go along with the news. No wi fi on Bruny Island, at least not in Adventure Bay, so it was back to paper!

Had I been a bit more ambitious that morning – and If I didn’t have a 1 p.m. boat ride coming up –  I could have done a thirty-kilometer circuit of South Bruny Island.  The ideal thing would have been to spend another day on the island but given my schedule that was not possible. There are definitely enough to roads and trails to pedal down that two or three days on the island – maybe using Adventure Bay as base camp –  would be easy to fill.

For example, look at the map below for a ride that would take you from Adventure Bay over an elevated central plateau to the west side of the island and the two communities of Lunawanna and Alonnah before you headed back to Adventure Bay.

Bruny Island South Circuit

Bruny Island South Circuit

Instead, I made a second cup of coffee and chilled.  The woman spreading vegemite on a slice of toast responded to my “What does that stuff taste like?” with a “Here, you try this little piece and tell me”.  My scrunched-up face and a “Definitely an acquired taste – and one I don’t think I’ll be acquiring!” ended her attempt at Aussiefication.  When I told her my spread of choice was crunchy peanut butter she laughed and admitted that  her father now had her daughter eating his favourite peanut butter on toast too.

It is a short walk around the bay from the Caravan Park to the Bruny Island Cruises reception building.  At  12:30 I made my way over there for the one-hour plus cruise down to the bottom of the east coast of the island.  It was well worth the $105. even if the water that day was less than ideal.  The result was more than a few blurry images of a rugged seacoast and some animal life we passed along the way. Soon to come is a post that will cull the better shots from a boat rocking in the waves – a difficult shoot!

Bruny Island's Adventure Bay road on Easter Sunday morning

Bruny Island’s Adventure Bay road on Easter Sunday morning

On Easter Sunday morning I got up around 6:45, intent on packing up, having breakfast, and getting on the road by 8. I figured everyone would barely be waking up by the time I got going and that the road ould be all but empty. That pretty much proved to be the case. It was just me and the changing  views from my saddle vantage point on a beautiful  sunny morning.

Bruny Island view from the lookout on The Neck

Bruny Island view from the lookout on The Neck

On my way down The Neck I stopped at the Lookout.  The pix above and below capture some of the awesome view.  At the bottom of the steps I stopped to read the Truganini information board pictured below left; later, at the top  at the top behind  the top viewing platform I noted a stone cairn with a Truganini commemoration plaque.

Truganini Board at bottom of the steps to the lookout

Truganini Board at bottom of the steps to the lookout

Truganini memorial plaque at the top of the lookout - Bruny Island Neck

Truganini memorial plaque at the top of the lookout

I was looking at what was once her whole world – until strangers from far way came and took not only it – but everyone she knew – away.

another view of Adventure Bay From The Neck Lookout on Bruny Island

another view of Adventure Bay From The Neck Lookout on Bruny Island

It’s funny how a return trip along the same road becomes a completely new trip! Now the few uphills became exhilarating descents; even the views were different!  Cycling the roads of Bruny Island brought back memories of a tour I had done of the half-dozen Southern Gulf Islands between the B.C. mainland and Vancouver Island a few year ago. Relatively empty and well-maintained roads, fabulous views of beaches and bays … just a relaxing place to pedal along.

a view from the saddle on the ride back to the ferry landing at Roberts Point

a Bruny Island view from mye saddle on the ride back to the ferry landing at Roberts Point

the front of the lineup for the Bruny Island ferry to Kettering

the front of the lineup for the Bruny Island ferry to Kettering

The way back to the mainland was on the larger ferry this time – the two-decker Mirambeena. This time it would be last on and last off once we got to Kettering.

the double-decker Mirambeena coming in to Point Roberts on Bruny Island

the double-decker Mirambeena coming in to Point Roberts on Bruny Island

leaving the Bruny Island dock at Roberts Point

leaving the Bruny Island dock at Roberts Point

back to Kettering on the Mirambeena (the larger of the two ferries)

back to Kettering on the Mirambeena (the larger of the two ferries)

It was about noon when I got back to Kettering and the road to Hobart.  The traffic for the next hour and a half would be the worst of the trip, with the waves of vehicles from the ferry being joined by other road traffic coming from B68 south of Kettering. It was only when I got to Kingston where the bypass takes most of the traffic to the A6 that things settled down.  The stretch over Bonnet Hill and through Taroona and on to Hobart was almost traffic free.

Missing from this post are shots of the road for the return ride from Kettering!  I took zero pix as I made my way back to the Prince of Wales Hotel in Battery Point to collect the stuff I had left behind.  A vegan lunch and a Flat White with soy milk later,  I left the POW and headed over to Goulburn Street to Nararra Backpackers and my $60. single private room, somewhat cheaper than the $205. the POW room rate!

Hobart - downtown area

Hobart – downtown area

Conclusion: The ride from Hobart to Bruny Island and back was one of the highlights of my three weeks of cycling in Tasmania. Had I known what it was like I would have set aside a couple more days to leisurely explore further the island’s backroads. All in all, it is a laid-back corner of an Aussie state  that is already pretty laid-back.  It proved to be a great way to end my ramble ’round Tasmania!

Next Post: A Boat Cruise To The Bottom of Tasmania’s Bruny Island