Cat scratch fever

You need to think laterally today re my blog title….do let me know if you ‘get it’.

We started with a healthier breakfast today.

Tony’s breakfast as he catches up on strava.

Leaving Orford we were on the Tasman Highway for about 15 km following the Prosser River. A narrow and winding road but quite pretty. It would have been far nicer without the constant buzz of traffic dashing off to work.

As we peeled away from the river, the road widened, and the wind arrived. The wind was to be a fairly constant nuisance today as it was a SW, and guess what direction we were broadly heading?

As we reached Buckland we turned left towards Nugent.

I do have memories of Buckland being the coldest place ever from my Army Reserve training days. We conducted a 24 hour medical triage exercise there. It was freezing! Sleep was rostered for about 2 hours each during the period, and the sleeping bags were rubbish. I also peeled more potatoes than I care to remember during my mess duty. In addition I wrongly diagnosed a patient as being alive, when apparently she was dead…..well they had a pulse and nice pink skin colour….🙈

There was a solid climb to Nugent as seen here on the climbing graph. You can see that right from Orford we gradually climbed and at the 20 km point it became steep. There were numerous 12 percent pinches and it was hard ( remembering we have extra weight on the bike with all our gear). Maximum gradient was around 12 percent.

Fortunately the steepest section was bitumen but from the first peak and descent it was back to gravel.

Nearly at the top…..

We rolled along undulations arriving at Nugent. According to Wikipedia the main feature of Nugent is its hall where locals hold gatherings. Hmmm….this is a two building, no houses town. Here they both are.

There is a sign on the door of the club….home of the Nugent Roosters. No football oval to be found…think I will stick with Cat Scratch Fever alternative facts.

Over the road from the hall

Back onto dirt, it was well maintained and compacted with some great scenery.

We turned left onto the Arthur Highway at Copping, and by then it was blowing very hard, and we either had a head or side wind with the South westerly. Certainly we needed to concentrate extra hard to hold our line. Traffic also increased significantly.

At Dunalley it was howling and again we had trouble holding the bike steady. An interesting place on a narrow isthmus with the Denison canal and a swing bridge that allows boats easy access between the two bays. The canal was originally hand dug commencing in 1901 and taking 4 years to complete.

Denison canal

The Tasman and Forestier Peninsula are both important habitat for the Tasmanian devil. The local devils are free of disease and there is a conservation project aimed at boosting the population. the narrow isthmus at both Dunalley and Eaglehawk Neck assist in this regard.

White caps Dunalley Bay

We battled on to Murdunna and stopped for lunch at the local road house overlooking Norfolk Bay.

Norfolk Bay

On the approach to Eaglehawk Neck there was a signed option for Pirates Bay Drive. We ummed and aahed and decided to take it and wow, we were pleased we did, as there were brilliant views from the Tasman National Park lookout.


The bonus was being able to ride up to the coffee van counter.

After a great descent, we arrived at the Tessellated Pavement.

Eaglehawk Neck is only a 30 metre wide isthmus. It was once guarded by a line of ferocious dogs to prevent convicts from escaping across the Neck from the Port Arthur penal colony.

Port Arthur was our destination today and we decided to head straight there rather than doing a loop to Nubeena due to the wind, thereby shortening our ride by 20 or so km. On the upside, we could wander around the Port Arthur historic site.

Port Arthur was a 19th century penal settlement established by the English to house their most hardened criminals. Life was tough. 1646 prisoners died and are buried on the nearby Isle of the Dead. The prison closed in 1877 and fell into disrepair until its value was realised as a tourist destination.

The penitentiary
The Asylum
Two churches
The two churches closed up,

Etched into the psyche of adult Tasmanians were the dreadful events of 1996 resulting in the death of 35 people. The memorial is moving. The Broad Arrow cafe ruins remain in the background.

After 1996 I vowed never to return. Many years later I did as I was the manager of the Tasmanian Swimming team at the Australian All School Championships being held in Hobart, and the educational day was to Port Arthur so I had no choice. Today I found the memorial still stark and moving.

A great ride again, some 97 km and over 1200 metres climbing. Progress was slow but we made it in one piece. Tomorrow we have a solid climb to get out of Eaglehawk Neck and head to the outskirts of Hobart to my eldest sons home, catching up with family en route.

Thanks for reading, ooroo

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