How many Grannies ride 900 km to see their granddaughter? Not too many I suspect, but yesterday we would finally arrive at my eldest son’s place in Acton Park, on the eastern shore of Hobart.
We left Port Arthur heading towards Dunalley, retracing our previous day heading in. There we would take a different route towards Hobart.
The air was still, with the forecast NE winds not yet being felt.
We had an excellent ride out to Eaglehawk Neck with minimal traffic. There Tony and I parted ways to tackle the climb out.
As we paid for dinner the previous evening a local lady, Audrey, upon discovering our ride around Tasmania, had exclaimed ‘but how will you get to the top of Eaglehawk Neck’? ‘It goes up like this’ indicating steepness with her hand.
Tony chose to head straight up the highway and I chose to climb Pirates Bay Drive to the lookout. My way was longer with a steady gradient of 6-8 % whereas Tony’s way was up to 10%. We both made it ok and met at the Tasman Lookout for a last look over the Peninsula.
The coffee van guy was there setting up but would not sell us a coffee for another 30 minutes so we were not waiting and pushed on, as todays ride was undulating.
We rode straight on to Murdunna to stop at the roadside house for some breakfast.
As we finished our breakfast and headed off, the first of the NE breeze was noted. At Dunalley we turned off the Arthur Highway heading towards Carlton River.
Fulham Rd followed the coast in a westerly direction then bearing north westerly. Our next stop was Carlton Beach where we stopped to visit my cousin Phil P and his wife Marcia. Phil has been kept very busy in supposed retirement converting bikes to electric. His own bike has ‘incredible speed’ capacity. He converts around 5 bikes per week.
Leaving Carlton Beach our next stop was to my Uncle Stuart and Aunt Janine who live in Lewisham up the top of a very steep hill (21%). I walked that bit!
I had not seen either for around 15 years since my Nan’s funeral and that was far too long a gap. I had been a junior bridesmaid at their wedding in 1972 when I was 10.
We sat outside where they have amazing views, these photos not doing it justice. The gaps show the two causeways we will shortly ride across.
I think next visit we will drive up to their house.
Leaving their home we headed towards Forcett and Sorell. The Arthur Highway was very busy by now and quite narrow, and we just put our heads down and concentrated on the slight verge.
From Sorell there are two causeways to cross, and fortunately both have dual pathways keeping us separated from the fast traffic.
We skirted around the Hobart airport boundary, through Seven Mile Beach, up a final hill and then we arrived at our destination. Granny arrived to a lovely hug from Sienna.
Today has been our one and only scheduled day off the bike. A busy day that included coffee at a cafe, waterfall walk at Strickland Falls, weeding the garden, covering fruit trees and playing with Sienna.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We battled on to Murdunna and stopped for lunch at the local road house overlooking 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.
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.
A beautiful start to the day as the sun rises above the Hazards.
We headed north to the Bush Mill to grab some food, before turning south towards Triabunna and Orford.
Today was shorter, a mere 60 km with around 500 metres climbing. The views for the first half was beach after beach, with the omnipresent Hazards and later, Maria Island.
We stopped at each beach turnoff, including Cressy, Spiky, Kelvedon and Mayfield.
I particularly liked this view at Kelvedon Beach looking towards a farm building and Maria Island poking its head behind.
Roadworks were occurring on the northern approach to the Spiky Bridge so we could not ride over it today.
Built by convicts in 1843 the bridge was made from field stones laid without mortar or cement. The parapet features field stones laid vertically, giving the bridge a spiky appearance.
Three arch bridge is a short walk, or bike push at Mayfield Beach. The bridge was built in 1845 by convict labor from the nearby Rocky Hills Probation Station, as part of the old convict built coach road that connected Swansea to Little Swanport.
The bridge spans Old Mans Creek and has the current highway built over the top, some 10-15 metres higher.
Just after we left the Mayfield Conservation area we came across an echidna, not keen to be photographed as it tried to bury itself. Great to see one alive, as sadly we past one earlier that had been killed on the road.
Another beautiful view as we approached Little Swanport.
We had not planned to stop for coffee until Triabunna mainly because we did think there would be anything. When we came across this cafe in the middle of nowhere, we thought ‘why not’. We had time to kill today so we chilled here for 30 minutes or so, until 3 guys on motor bikes arrived and we offered up our table (there was only one).
The owners dog came over for a pat, making us think of our two loved dogs Simba and Jack hoping they are going ok at the kennels.
The Highway is quiet here. Traffic overall was not too bad today with one major exception. One idiot driver of a red convertible Mercedes, registration starting with MHH…I was hoping we might see the car in Triabunna or Orford so we could have a chat! He came within inches passing us, making no attempt to leave a 1.5 metre gap.
Triabunna is the gateway to the Maria Island National Park. Decent looking ferry and we’ve added that trip onto our local bucket list.
Another dog came over for a pat. This is Archie who walked ahead of an elderly lady walking with her frame. She told us Archie belonged to her grandson and that he is a good boy. I think she meant the dog.
We knocked off another hour at Triabunna making the final 7 km ride to Orford, located on the Prosser River. Another very quiet town. Interestingly the jetties are all privately owned.
So a short day but tomorrow is a tougher day as we head to Port Arthur. We have a few different possibilities route wise but will make our mind up in the morning depending on the weather. The forecast is potentially problematic wind wise, so we will see how bad it is and tweak accordingly.
We are planning another early start, having purchased breakfast supplies. The wind tends to be kinder earlier in the day.
Up early, ate, packed and headed south at 6.40 am. The day was looking great and we were keen to get cracking as we had about 125 km to ride, all on the Tasman Highway. No options for quieter roads.
It was quite cool and at 2.94 km Tony realised why he was feeling cold. He had left his gilet hanging over a chair in the kitchen at our accomodation. Worse still, we had locked the unit and put the key into a box, and reception did not open until 9 am.
A few phone calls later, the jacket was retrieved and we headed back out like Groundhog Day. What is an extra 6 km on such a beautiful day?
Just a glorious morning.
We arrived in Scamander, and the local supermarket has a series of metal characters.
Scamander is a small town, with lovely vistas and a great coffee shop.
Off we rolled, making good progress and riding at a very chilled pace. That is the beauty of cycle touring. If you get the daily distance and destinations right, and you are lucky enough to have the weather gods on your side, it is very pleasant as you have all day to ‘get there’.
An agricultural region, this old farmstead was quite impressive even at a distance.
Approaching the Chain of Lagoons.
The Chain of Lagoons was very pretty, with an expansive camping area, surprisingly quite busy.
I like the chains on the chairs, taking a seat I enjoyed looking out at the beach and ocean.
Today was all about beaches following the East coast south and it is hard not throw a few more beach photos in. The beaches were all fairly secluded with few people visible.
Arriving into the town of Bicheno marked 75 km of our ride, and whilst a bit early for lunch, we had some anyway.
Bicheno has some wonderful geological formations.
At the junction of the Tasman Highway and the road to Freycinet National Park is this kitsch cafe. They sell good icecream though! If you ever desired a frog souvenir, they will have it.
First glimpse of The Hazards. We had originally planned on cycling there, but there was a distinct lack of reasonably priced accomodation. At the time, the minimum there was well over $200 for the night, plus it is an in/out ride that did not overly appeal.
The biggest climb of the day was Cherry Hill, and it provided lovely views of Freycinet.
What goes up, must go down. This is the descent looking towards Cranbrook.
So here we are now in Swansea, a very quiet town on the shores of Great Oyster Bay looking towards Freycinet. This is the view from our room.
The beach here is not as great as earlier beaches. I realised today that this area was the scene of one of my great faux pas in life.
When I was at Uni, I did some sailing, crewing for a Uni friend Peter H on his beautiful wooden enterprise class dinghy.
This particular weekend we had the Tasmanian Championships. I was sharing a room with his mother, my former Home Economics teacher at high school. She gave me some ear plugs to wear as she said she snored badly. She did not exaggerate.
The following morning we had our first race and we had our best start ever. We were flying, and before we knew it, it was all over. Another dinghy crashed into the side and apparently it was my fault as I should have seen it coming. Whoops!
Major damage was inflicted. Some 25 years later I worked with his wife at the LGH. She went home and told her husband and he said ‘ she wrecked my boat’. Ouch.
For dinner we walked up the road to the old Bush Mill passing by this wonderful shoe in the local primary school yard.
Today we rode the Tasman Highway the whole day, and we had three close encounters. Firstly a black van with Victorian registration that came within inches, then a B Double who underestimated his length before cutting us off requiring evasive action not only by me, but the cars coming the other way, and finally an arrogant black Porsche driver who also buzzed us closely.
So it was with a smile on my face as I watched these kids playing football in the middle on the Main Street, that is also the Highway. Swansea is a sleepy town after hours.
A fantastic day on the bike, with the wind behind us for most of the time. 128 km, nearly 1000 metres climbing. Tomorrow is a shorter day so we will chill a tad…besides, we cannot get access to our bikes until 7 am. I needed to negotiate a more secure arrangement for the bikes than the rear of the building, outside!!
We awoke early, had breakfast, packed and were in the road by 6.40 am.
We had discussed various routes with Angela, one of the pub owners the night before and had decided to take the dirt road option to St Helens. Why? Well certainly not due to my ‘ love’ of dirt roads, as you would all know now that dirt is not my favourite option.
We chose it simply to minimise traffic.
Heading off on the same route as the previous day to head to the Cape Portland wind farm, we descended and crossed the Ringarooma river and today the dog was not present.
At the two km point we veered right to start our dirt adventure. We were heading to Anson Bay some 25 km away and despite the dirt, it was a pretty well maintained road, even by my highly judgmental gravel index.
I love these signs. Our kangaroos are super strength, able to lift the front of cars up. They are also bigger than cars it seems. International tourists must be shocked when they see the local wallabies. The wombat is relatively larger again. Mind you, both animals can render significant damage to a car.
Our route formed part of the Great Eastern Drive promoted by local tourism authorities.
We enjoyed this section, the weather was cool but pleasant, we were protected from the winds and the scenery was pleasant. The road dissected the Mt William National Park. Neither of us had been before and made a note to return and head up to Eddystone Point.
As we entered Ansons Bay the road thankfully was bitumen as it was a steep descent, to the so named remote paradise. What a pretty bay.
Just behind the bay was this lagoon.
Back at the bay one needs to maximise opportunities to rest. This was one of my least comfortable choices.
Further along the bay was a boat ramp and jetty.
After the steep descent into Ansons Bay we figured there would be a climb out. Dirt climb through lovely virgin bush.
We rejoined the main dirt road and another very steep descent to this flood crossing, reminding me of Spellman’s Rd, near home. Tony has the route in his Garmin and could see what was ahead, reminding me to drop into my granny gears.
Oh my goodness….17 percent climb out and it was a bit much with the bike weight for my knee and I bailed about half way up, walking a few hundred metres before riding at a mere 11 percent. I was astounded that I actually recleated my bike shoes back onto the pedals, but riding was easier than walking!
Just finishing the climb
Some interesting areas passed including conservation and farming land.
A lone wombat sign. So far we’ve not seen any live wombats but sadly have found 3 dead roadkill.
We ventured upon the newly opened Derby to Bay of Fires MTB track half way point. Plenty of bike racks, two tables (you cannot sit as nothing to sit on) and a wash station.
Given you can’t sit and chill at the table, I might as well rest.
We arrived in St Helens around 11 am, plenty of time to chill, starting with a nice coffee. After checking into our accomodation we headed to the local supermarket to grab dinner and breakfast supplies, walking along the new foreshore path.
So this photograph is really for one person, who will laugh. Leon White! We found your stolen donut trailer!
Day 4 done and dusted. Tomorrow we head down the East coast to Swansea, overlooking Freycinet and the Hazards.
What a unique bed head, made by the pub owner from wood acquired from the Portland wind farm. Appropriate as that is where we were planning to ride, and that is Tony checking out the wind forecasts.
Not looking great. Better get moving!
Leaving Gladstone we descended to the Ringarooma River. Looks like a great place for a dip on a hot day.
What goes down must go up when cycling, and I laughed as I noticed Tony being chased up the hill by this dog. The dog was barking, and when it stopped, started howling. Not sure if it was seeing Tony off, or wanted to join us.
Looking ahead towards her coastline.
We had a pretty good ride up until the last 5 km before the wind farm. Then we had a northerly headwind, confirmed by the turbine blade positions. The picture below shows a good aerial shot providing perspective.
We rode to the very end of the gravel road, and found this walkway and great little beach.
Heading back along the road we turned off to Little Musselroe Bay. The shots below are from the boat ramp (fairly rugged construction) with some delightfully located ‘rustic’ shacks.
Further along the same road, we rode into the campground, and that was really nice.
There are two shacks off the campground and position, position, position. Tony went past the ‘do not enter’ sign and took these two photos.
The Tebrakunna Visitor Centre was to be the next stop a few km past the campground, up a hill with extraordinary wind exposure! The centre was excellent and well worth visiting. It was a welcome respite from the winds (inside the centre).
Mannalargenna was born c1780. His clan was the pairebenna and his homeland tebrakunna ( Cape Portland). Mannalargenna was a revered bungunna, formidable warrior, and in his older age, considered a seer.
Before the arrival of the white colonists, he and his people had lived an uninterrupted cultural life world. Throughout the 1820’s mannalargenna led his warriors in a war of resistance. Ultimately the story is shocking, with the decimation of his people too sad to write about. They were hunted and killed and their clan of over 10,000 reduced to 300 and then they were shipped off to Flinders Island.
Some wonderful examples of aboriginal arts see on display.
The wind farm has 56 turbines, 80 metres in height. Each turbine blade is 44 metres long and each turbine has 3 blades weighing 7 tonne each. Each turbine can generate 3 megawatts.
The average wind speed at the wind farm is 9.1 metres per second, or approximately 33 km/h, so hardly surprising the farm is very windy and is regarded as a world class wind resource. The turbine blades feather and stop turning at 90 km/h ( 50 knots) but are designed to withstand wind gusts of more than 250 km/h.
We later checked to see how strong the winds were that we were experiencing on our ride out and found out that it was 48 km/h gusting to 67 km/h. Close to non rideable, and questionable safety wise.
We continued to battle staying upright and the gusts continued throwing us around. We rode in the middle of the road, as we had good visibility both ways and it provided us with a few extra metres from the left gutter margins.
A welcome reprieve was a necessary stoppage to allow this herd through.
No more pictures were taking heading back to Gladstone as we really struggled, and put our head down and counted the km down . We had intended to visit Little Blue Lake, but keen to get the bikes, and us, off the roads. It was scary riding in this wind and I did my best to control the bike and stay on it. Progress was slow.
We are the only guests at the pub, and the pub is closed on Mondays. The owners were at a private appointment in Bridport, and would not return for another two hours. Once we arrived back we killed time sheltering from the wind out the front, with a direct view of this renovators delight across the road.
This old church is for sale a few doors down. Not well maintained externally but internally quite nice and only $130,000.
Tomorrow we head to the East coast. We are hoping the forecast winds are a bit less…and intend to set off early. Most of the ride will be gravel, so it will be a slower ride, regardless of the wind possibilities. We have chosen it as the main road is quite narrow and windy.
Up and about at the crack of dawn and not having any breakfast supplies we ate one of our emergency protein bars and drink. We had intended to head into George Town as the supermarket opened at 7 am but we could not be stuffed….as our route turned east before the town and we would have to double back.
Over the road from our accomodation we had a final look at the Tamar River.
Well we thought it was our last view but we had to climb a hill and there was another final view.
Our choice of route was great. Literally car free at such an early hour Sunday morning. We arrived at Beechford, where there is a nature reserve.
A smaller section of dirt road before our route brought out onto the main arterial road servicing the north east. No avoiding it.
We stopped for some food at the Pipers River store, and were amazed at how busy it was. Most drivers seemed to have dual cab utes.
Certainly the road was much busier but we made good use of our Garmin radar notifying us when cars were approaching well before we could hear them or see them in our bar end mirrors. We soldiered on to Bridport where we planned a longer break.
First views of Bridport from the top of the hill.
As we ate our lunch, we both discovered people we knew but not seen for a long time. For me, it was Cathy C, a swimming mum who I had not seen for around 12 years. Her husband Marcus and I had managed a Tasmanian swimming team one year at national championships.
Tony…..well, a mob of motorbikes pulled in adjacent to where we were sitting. I could see Tony checking them out (as he used to sell motorbikes many many moons ago). He went to pop something into his bike bag and next thing a motor bike guy starts talking to him about bicycles. I knew it would not be long before the topic changed to the other two wheelers. Some 20 minutes later I took this photo…I got sprung 😂
Leaving Bridport a snap of the Bridport River and across the bay to where we were heading.
The surrounding land as we rode towards Waterhouse was very open grazing land
The biggest laugh of the day happened just past Waterhouse as we hit 100 km for the day. We wanted to stop and have a break and snack and finally found a lovely spot just off the road with nicely mowed lawn and shade.
We leaned our bikes against a tree and about 5 minutes later the local farmer arrived with support. He (Barry) had seen our red flashing rear lights and thought he’d better check us out, in case we were dodgy. Apparently they do get the occasional dodgy! We passed the test and had a lovely chat.
The farm is predominantly beef, lamb and cropping and quite large, with frontage into the beach. Sounds idyllic until I asked about snakes. Yes heaps of them including some huge tiger snakes. Eeeeek.
So this must have jinxed us. Great we were not dodgy but not that far up the road (about 10 km) was a very brilliant coloured copper head snake. It was a metre or so away from the bike as I screamed past. I decided I should scan the road more carefully, as it was quite warm and the last thing I wanted was to run my wheels over a snake and get it caught in my wheels or chain!!
For some distance we had been viewing Mt Cameron.
After a nasty climb to finish the day we arrived in Gladstone. Not a busy town but once upon a time it boasted 2 pubs, a bakery and 2 butchers, but these days you could sit down in the middle of this main road.
A quick walk around town we found what looks like an old jail? Must remember to ask the pub owners.
An abandoned building has an interesting mural.
Our day is done and dusted. 128 km and 1050 metres climbing in what was lovely riding conditions. We had some mizzle and had our raincoats on and off a few times, but overall the day was great.
We were up early. Tony had forgotten to turn the weekday alarm off, so at 4.45 am some random song blasts out of the radio.
We got up, as we were wide awake.
We took our time and had a solid breakfast including mushrooms, bacon and eggs.
A few last minute checks and we were ready, rolling out the gate at 7 am. A note here about the photos…later in the day when uploading the photos we discovered an issue with the camera using automatic, it has applied macro, hence the blurring. Tony has subsequently found a way to override it….fingers crossed.
Our plan took us straight out onto the Bass Highway, through Don and skirting around Devonport to Spreyton and then Latrobe. There was no wind and we knew that would not last as the forecast predicted NW winds of 30 kmh plus. Westerly would be ok for a bit, but the northerly could become an issue later.
Made use of the public toilets in Latrobe and liked the following….well I am descended from about 18 convicts I have traced so far, including a First Fleeter.
I have no explanations though for this guy as he has a distinct lack of convicts in his ancestry.
From Latrobe we started climbing up towards Moriarty and Harford, rich agricultural land.
We crossed the rice grass infested Rubicon River as we edged our way towards Narawnaptu National Park.
Before we turned onto the dirt road we came across this sign, not an unfamiliar one to most Tasmanians. The Tasmanian Devil survival is threatened due to a facial tumour disease that is a contagious cancer.
In this particular area, many undiseased devils have been released, and sadly killed by cars. The devils feed on carrion ( rotting flesh) and many native animals are killed by cars around dusk and dawn. The devils come out to feed on them ( in the middle of the road) and sadly they too get hit.
We had decided to take a dirt road option near the National Park boundary as it would get us off the narrow and winding Frankford Highway. The downside was that it was quite steep in places.
There were pinches of up to 12 percent with loose slippery gravel that also featured some delightful corrugation. Part way up an older couple stopped and told us ‘it gets worse’ and to be careful.
They were not wrong. I found it very challenging with my bike wanting to take a different line to the lower level, slippery camber.
Worse was the descent. You could walk faster!! The descent was up to 15 percent so I was thankful that we did it the other way.
What did amaze us was that we crossed Municipalities into West Tamar, and the road improved out of sight. It was better compacted and far less corrugation.
At the end of the dirt road is Yorktown, the site of the first permanent settlement in northernTasmania. The site was selected as fresh water was available and a town set out. however, it was an failure and did not proceed.
We were hungry by now, and Beaconsfield was about 5 km away. We check into a local bakery adjacent to the old Beaconsfield Gold Mine. Well know to Tasmanians as it has had a fairly checkered past, including the more recent disaster that will live on in many Australians memories.
Are you looking for a unique Christmas present for someone special? The gift shop in the Heritage Museum had some unusual choices.
Moving right along…..we headed towards Kayena and Sidmouth
From Sidmouth boat ramp….Batman Bridge. At work the pronunciation discussion-debate has ensued for many years. Mike B, a Kiwi insists that it is Bat Man ….yes like the famous Batman character. However, he is wrong! We do like to tell him that.
This Batman is named after John, who founded Melbourne. Before that though, he lived in Van Diemans Land ( Tasmania) in the 1820’s rising to prominence hunting bush rangers and sadly through his participation in the Black War ( Colonists vs Tasmanian aborigines).
His name is pronounced Batmn.
The Batman Bridge is 432 metres in length and 91 metres in height. It was opened in May 1968.
I visited the bridge during construction with my step granddad. He was a Tasmanian Minister in Parliament having held numerous portfolios. He married my nan in 1967 and he passed away a few days short of their first wedding anniversary, also May 1968.
Therefore, my visit with Tom would be late 1967 or early 1968, aged 5. I still remember it though. In latter years, I did numerous cross country running events over the bridge.
We needed to cross the bridge but chose to follow a dirt road around the Tamar River to visit the Auld Kirk church.
We crossed the Batman Bridge and the wind was really picking up now. Very gusty NW and we knew this was going to become a slog soon. Turning left onto the East Tamar Hwy we battled very strong head and side winds. Very slow as we climbed and just ticked the kilometres over.
We were relieved to arrive in George Town.
We did a quick reccy to check out food options noting lots of food shops closed. We then headed towards Low Head and checked in to our accomodation. Feeling a bit wind battered ( we checked the current weather reports and it confirmed the wind was 39 kmh NNW).
We were only 3.5 km from the Low Head lighthouse and initially just could not be stuffed as it meant headwind. Being out and back, tail wind home. Off we went.
First stop was the old Pilots station. You can rent accomodation here, have a meal and there is also a museum. It was established in 1805 and is Australia’s oldest continuously used pilot station.
The lighthouse was established in 1833 and was Australia’s third and Tasmania’s second.
The lighthouse sits at the mouth of the Tamar River overlooking Bass Strait. It is a particularly rough piece of water.
Big first day. 127 km and around 1400 metres climbing, too much dirt and crappy headwinds to finish off.
Tomorrow another big day so better get some shut eye. Thanks for reading. Climbing details and maps below.
2020 has been a year like no other. We all know that, we have all been affected in various ways.
The sad reality of cancelling our Italian, French, Swiss cycle holiday in May plus our cycle tour of Taiwan hit home. The saddest part is knowing I won’t see one of my kids (Ben) for what literally could be years (as he lives in Switzerland).
I have always needed goals, and with two being removed, saddled with another reality check of Tony being made redundant after 25.5 loyal years with Caterpillar (and that was via Skype) new goals seemed difficult to find. We always knew that one day this would occur, but we had a plan…I would take 6 months off and we would travel. I never did factor in a global pandemic. The timing was a bit sucky.
My travel guide reading started to resemble the picture below….
My work had changed. I’d been pulled off my usual activities and was establishing and administering a grant program for business continuity. I was also assessing a sustainability grant and loan applications. Daily my job involved reading multiple stories of financial and personal distress particularly in the hospitality and tourism sector.
Much coffee was consumed…reminding me again of the cycle tours where it was cafe to cafe to cafe…..reminiscing of wonderful trips of years gone past.
We had never contemplated doing a cycle tour in Tasmania. Whilst the roads are superior to Europe we do not have the same cycling mentality/acceptance with our car drivers. Frankly they can be pretty scary here…and it only takes one careless driver to snuff your life out…in a split second.
As I sipped that coffee it hit me…no, not the car….but C19 presented a unique opportunity as there were no tourists (at that time). Our roads, in theory, should be quieter. Hopefully quieter would equate to safer.
Since that realisation, our borders have opened to most states of Australia, but not international tourists.
I also have not had one day off work on annual leave since last Christmas. There was one period where I worked 7 days a week for over a month, under a lot of pressure. It has been a tougher work year and a bit of time off would be good for the mind, body and soul.
So we started mapping and came up with a plan.
This route is just over 2100 km. Far too much climbing, and some gravel sections. But this is touring and we will chillax as much as possible, trying to get on the roads a bit earlier (as most places here do not provide breakfast options like Europe) to try to minimise traffic as much as possible.
Our first port of call is Low Head. Other overnight stops include Gladstone, St Helens, Swansea, Orford, Port Arthur, Acton Park, New Norfolk, Strathgordon, Mt Field NP, Lake St Clair NP, Strahan, Corinna, Waratah, Cradle Mt NP, Deloraine, Poatina, maybe Deloraine again, then home.
I have certainly got a serious amount of km in my legs…41,000 km this calendar year…that is more than the worlds circumference. The legs are tired, having just finished a massive October raising $ for kids cancer charity. I rode in excess of 5,000 km, and raised $16,800. Full recovery won’t be possible before this tour starts, but we will be taking it easy. This ride is not about speed but safety and enjoyment.
Covid presented other opportunities this year including being the first female Zwifter, globally, to ride 100,000 km. That occurred in April. I am now at 129,500 km. In addition, this assisted me in becoming a Trek ambassador in Australia….so look for the opportunities in difficult times.
Door to door cycling has its advantages…no packing your bike up. We will roll out our driveway maybe 7 am ish…..this coming Saturday. Cycle touring is all about ‘ish’. So stay tuned for the latest adventures.
This ride has been on the bucket list for some time, and the opportunity presented itself last week. The weather forecast was good, if a tad chilly.
The big decisions – what bike? The obvious choice was to take my (Specialised Rockhopper Pro) MTB bike given the trail is all gravel and we would be doing over 50 km of gravel.
However, I do not generally do obvious! I chose to dust off my touring bike (Specialized Roubaix) as I had not ridden it since our last cycle tour in New Zealand at Christmas time, and I missed her!
The drive to Scottsdale took a couple of hours, and crossing the Sidling I was feeling decidedly seedy (as I do suffer from car sickness at times). I was most relieved when we pulled into the old Scottsdale railway station site.
The Scottsdale to Branxholm line was built to accommodate both passengers and freight. In addition, there was an ambulance carriage to allow patients requiring medical help in Launceston to travel easier. Typhoid patients in 1918 resulted in the carriage being known as the Fever Carriage.
Leaving Scottsdale, the track gently descends passing by some homes and then farmland.
We saw a sign indicating toilets some 700 metres away at a camp ground and went to pay a visit – we did not find them, and went bush, then necessitating a short 16% gravel climb back to the main track!
Scottsdale’s strong heritage with forestry is undeniable as we pass by business involved in forestry and then forest coups. This warning sign ensured we did not stray off the track.
This sign brought back memories from Europe – one of when we were riding through France and entered a French armoured tank training ground, another when riding in Italy when leaving a rough path there was a warning sign advising the use of a Glock with trespassers…then there were the land mine signs in Croatia!
The track was well formed with lovely vistas.
There were a few highway crossings, plus some well designed minor crossings.
At the old Tonganah Clay Mine we left the rail trail and followed a dirt road for maybe a km or so. The mine pits, now full of water, were over the former rail area.
The mine produced kaolinite, a layered silicate clay mineral, a product that had been in high demand in pottery, refractory and rubber production.
The mine opened in 1975 and closed in 1999 – post the closure the area was rehabilitated and now forms part of the Tasmanian Forest estate.
Perhaps the most impressive area of the former rail line is the section where massive cuts were made into granite. The construction of this section of railway posed many problems for engineers.
Teams of men were set the task of cutting through sections of solid granite and building bridges and embankments through ravines. It was also necessary to wind the track up and down the mountains to accommodate the maximum incline permissible on Tasmanian railways of 1 in 40.
Along 7 kilometres of track 5 cuttings were made, with depths of 10,17,11,14 and 12 metres respectively.
Trewalla Station lies 15 km from the Scottsdale station, and 204 m above seas level. The station was built to service the small farming area of Maryvale, a settlement that has since disappeared. Trewalla is a Tasmanian aborigine word meaning mountain.
Riding through wet and dry sclerophyll forest, we reached a spot where the sign stated it is possible to view the Furneaux Group on a clear day – it was a clear day, but the horizon showed little ocean given the height of the forest. The Furneaux Group consists of 52 islands, and was the base for the sealing industry, but fortunately the last sealing permit was issued in 1828.
Kamona Station – an aboriginal word for venom, lies 5 km from the Trewalla Station towards Legerwood and is situated 311 m above sea level. This is 107 m higher than Trewalla station, making it the steepest section of the rail on this side of “Billy-Cock” with an average rise of 1 in 46.
The station closed in the 1950’s and none of the original buildings remain. However, there is an excellent shelter for picnics on the site now.
Tulendeena Station sits 24 km along the track from Scottsdale and 342m above sea level – making it the highest point on the North East Rail Trail, as the infamous Billycock Hill descends into Legerwood further on.
Tulandeena Station is the end of the trail, at the junction with the Tasman Highway. Time for a snack before retracing our steps.
We zipped back as it was a gradual downhill for about 15 km, then slightly undulating for the balance. No stopping. Very pleasant and enjoyable.
Back in Scottsdale we came across this amazing thumb with an interesting story.
Joshie Janoschka was a local resident (formerly from Germany) and he had a tree fall across his gate after a fierce storm. Instead of cutting it into firewood, he opted to carve a Big Thumb, such was his sense of humour, and his gift to the district. Joshie passed away in 2004.
The final view is from Scottsdale looking back over the area we had ridden.
Is this trail good? Yes, 54 km return, well made, scenic, safe for families.
Well done Dorset Council and Scottsdale Rotary for their vision and hard work in establishing such a wonderful trail for the benefit of multiple users.