An airhead chasing a blonde through Tasmania
Porwit-20130405-1143-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
Porwit-20130403-1027-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
When hewby took off for her long trip, we had agreed to make an effort to see each other at least every three months for a couple of weeks. With her trip now done, hewby is in Australia for the next couple of months, working on replenishing her bank account a little. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to come to the Land Down Under, as I’ve never been. I have two weeks, one of which will be spent hanging out with hewby’s family in NE Victoria. The other week involves us taking a couple of bikes from hewby’s dad James and heading down to Tasmania. James has three bikes – a 1995 BMW R80, a 1995 Suzuki GN250, and a 1937 BSA Empire Star.
James and his BSA
Porwit-20130403-1048-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
I’ll take the R80 and hewby will be on the little ‘zuke. As cool as it would have been to take the BSA, it’s probably a little more temperamental than a V-Strom owner like me is able to deal with.
The R80 is in mint shape, but it comes with very narrow bars so it feels a little weird initiating turns. As such, hewby, James and I went out for a little country cruise to give me the chance to get a feel for the bike (and for riding on the wrong side of the road). Hewby’s folks live near Wodonga, so the mountains of the Great Dividing Range are nearby. Makes for pretty riding terrain – valleys, hills, and twisty country roads. Fun stuf. James rode with us on his BSA, treating this as a shakedown trip after he redid the wiring harness on it. 130km – not bad for the old gal.
The BSA gets some exercise
Porwit-20130404-1068-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
Stopping for food
Porwit-20130404-1070-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
Porwit-20130404-1106-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
In a couple of days, hewby and I ride down to the Mornington Peninsula via some back roads, hang out at the beach for two days, and then we catch the ferry to Tasmania.
Day 1 – Allans Flat to Merricks
We got a late start today. Sidestand up was at 1pm, two hours later than originally planned. Today is probably the longest day of riding on this trip, and we knew we would be finishing the ride in the dark. Since hewby’s GM250 isn’t well suited to the freeways, we took small roads, heading out via Beechworth and Milewa, on to Powers Lookout, Alexandra, and the Black Spur.
Porwit-20130406-1184-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
The roads started out pretty straight, but got twisty once we began the climb up to Powers Lookout. The lookout itself was a hideout for a bushranger named Powers, from where he could survey the valley and know when police were coming. The views were nice, but riding the gravel roads through the eucalyptus forest, with dappled sunshine, felt really nice. We rode through some rain, which made the eucalyptus forest smell of smoke – much of this area had burned in the great fires of 2009. The smoke smell didn’t last long and soon turned to that fresh mentol scent of gum trees.
Porwit-20130406-1185-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
Porwit-20130406-1187-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
Porwit-20130406-1197-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
After Powers Lookout we continued south towards Bonnie Doon, a touchstone location in the iconic Australian movie The Castle. From there we headed towards Alexandra, and then over the Black Spur. This was another great piece of road, reminiscent of the Bay Area’s Santa Cruz Mountains, with its dense forest canopy of gum trees, and great ferns forming the underbrush.
Porwit-20130406-1202-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
Porwit-20130406-1208-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
Porwit-20130406-1214-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
From there we entered the outer suburbs east of Melbourne, eventually hopping onto the newly constructed Eastlink motorway, which took us down the Mornington Peninsula, to Merricks, a small beach community, where hewby spent many a summer as a child. The next day and a half were going to be a family reunion on occasion of hewby’s mother’s birthday, and I was looking forward to meeting the extended hewby clan.
Porwit-20130406-1217-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
Porwit-20130406-1218-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
Wow, Peru in January, Tasmania in April; you certainly are covering the globe!
Looking forward to the next installment.
James has a nice BSA. Keep posting.
Day 2 – Merricks to Spirit of Tasmania
After a day and a half at Merricks, we headed out Monday afternoon for Melbourne.
Hanging out at the Merricks Yacht Club
Porwit-20130407-1303-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
As part of this trip, I wanted to get pictures of every type ofanimal warning sign I could... I really wish I would have gotten the skunk one in Peru, on the way up from Ollantaytambo. Kangooroo:
Porwit-20130408-1304-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
We took the scenic route, heading first towards Flinders and then to Cape Shanck and the lighthouse there. It’s really quite a lovely ride along the Mornington peninsula, passing through little beach towns. I had expected it to be flat, but there’s a bunch of nice hills there, with great turns and very good views. At Cape Shanck we walked around for a while, taking in the views of the two bays that it separates. We did not spring for admission to the lighthouse itself, so you’ll have to make do with pictures from a distance.
The lighthouse at Cape Shanck:
Porwit-20130408-1307-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
Porwit-20130408-1310-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
Porwit-20130408-1314-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
Cool rocks at the end of the point:
Porwit-20130408-1319-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
From there we headed back north, towards Rosebud, and then Mornington. We kept along the coast wherever possible, with the small towns slowly merging into each other, until we were riding in city traffic on the approach to Melbourne. Because we still had plenty of time before the ferry departed, we took a quick run around a part of the city, and then headed to the docks. After quickly clearing the ag inspection, we spent about 40 minutes waiting at the dock before they allowed us to board. While waiting, I met two riders heading to Tassie for a month.
Leaving Cape Shanck:
Porwit-20130408-1326-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
Dropbear... err, I mean koala sign:
Porwit-20130408-1333-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
Stop in Mornington:
Porwit-20130408-1337-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
We're going to Tassie!
Porwit-20130408-1340-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
They made us wait:
Porwit-20130408-1346-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
Sue and (I think?) Andre:
Porwit-20130408-1353-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
There were 7 motorcycles on board – this is not really peak motorcycle season in Tasmania, as the weather starts to turn colder and rainier.
Loaded up and ready to go:
Porwit-20130408-1354-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
We grabbed a nice dinner at one of the on-board restaurants, and then turned in for the night. We would be in Devonport at 6:30am the next day and have a bit of riding to do, but fortunately the Bass Strait was calm that night and we got a good nights rest.
Leaving Melbourne on a calm evening:
Porwit-20130408-1359-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
Playing around with nighttime photos:
Porwit-20130408-1360-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
Day 3 – Devonport to Strahan
We had our first taste of riding in Tasmania today. Well, I did. Hewby has been here before, on the same bike. It was early morning when we headed out from Devonport, as the ferry had dropped us off at 6:30. Our tentative plan was to head towards Cradle Mountain National Park, and then on to Strahan.
The northern portion of Tasmania is rolling hills, and very much feels like parts of the English countryside. We stopped in a little town called Sheffield for breakfast. The town calls itself the city of murals, and wall art is everywhere. In the distance, I could see the mountains of Tasmania rising through the clouds.
On the road to Sheffield:
Porwit-20130409-1369-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
Having eaten our fill, we headed onwards to Cradle Mountain. This is a place that hewby has raved about for a while now, and as an added bonus, hewby’s cousin is a helicopter pilot for a tourist flight company at the park. The riding is fun, and the weather is cooperating in that it is not raining and we get treated to some views.
Riding to Cradle:
Porwit-20130409-1374-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
We continue on to the park, and meet up with hewby’s cousin, Dean. The weather is looking so so, with the iconic Cradle Mountain partially obscured by clouds. We talk it over, and decide to wager that the weather will improve later in the day, so for now hewby and I will take a hike through the park. We purchase park passes, and head in by bus to Dove Lake. From there, we do the loop around it. The hiking is easy, on very well maintained paths.
Hewby chats with her cousin Dean:
Porwit-20130409-1380-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
The park bus takes us into the park, towards Dove Lake:
Porwit-20130409-1387-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
Dove Lake and Cradle Mountain:
Porwit-20130409-1409-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
The old boathouse on the lake:
Porwit-20130409-1424-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
Easy hiking on engineered paths:
Porwit-20130409-1440-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
Hewby and Cradle:
Porwit-20130409-1447-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
Up close and personal with the wildlife. This is (I think) a paddymellon, which is a type of small kangaroo:
Porwit-20130409-1455-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
Tasmanian rain forest:
Porwit-20130409-1459-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
Fungus among us:
Porwit-20130409-1460-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
Paths hugging the cliffs:
Porwit-20130409-1463-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
The weather improves, with the clouds clearing, and we take in some sunshine on Glacier Rock before heading back to the park entrance. We’re going to get a ride in the helo! Dean takes the two of us up, along with another customer, in a Robinson R44 helicopter, and we do a 15-20 minute flight over the park. We’re treated to beautiful views as we swoop around and between the peaks.
Taking in the sun at Glacier Rock:
Porwit-20130409-1487-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
Hewby's cousin, Dean, about to take us up:
Porwit-20130409-1505-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
Dove Lake and Cradle Mountain from the air:
Porwit-20130409-1514-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
Tarns and marshes. The white ribbon is a wood plank causeway that makes up this section of the Overland Trek:
Porwit-20130409-1538-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
Hewby enjoys the ride:
Porwit-20130409-1544-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
It seems our flight served as good advertising, as right after we land Dean has another two bookings, so he goes back up. Hewby and I hang out and wait for him in the helo shack, drinking tea. We get a visit from Mort, a 93yo local who lives right by the park entrance, and he regales us with a few of the many stories I’m sure he’s accumulated over the years. Dean finally gets back and we take our leave. We have another three or four hours riding to make it to Strahan, and given the amount of roadkill I have seen on Australian roads, I don’t want to be riding too late in the day.
Hewby and Mort:
Porwit-20130409-1568-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
Tourists photographing the (combat?) wombat:
Porwit-20130409-1582-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
Wombat doesn't give a damn:
Porwit-20130409-1599-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
Heading west and then south from Cradle, the surroundings begin to feel more and more like the PNW -- more green, moss, different vegetation. At times it even has a tundra-like appearance, with scrub and bare rock, though hewby tells me it’s so bare here because parts of the region were logged and mined extensively. We don’t manage to outrun the setting sun, however, and we pull into Strahan in the dark as my eyes furiously scan the sides of the road, looking for wallabies with a death wish.
An aerial tram that looks like it was used to transport ore?
Porwit-20130409-1601-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
Strahan itself is a logging/mining/fishing town that is also a tourist destination. Situated on a large bay, it feels very much like Wilapia Bay in Washington, or the mouth of the Rogue in Oregon. We look around for lodging, but prices border on ridiculous, with even a small cabin coming in at $120AUS. We decide to camp, and put the money saved towards a really nice dinner. For anyone looking for tasty, tasty food, Risby Cove restaurant is highly recommended, with excellent seafood, as one would hope for a coastal town.
Day 4 – Strahan to Hobart
We woke up to the sound of rain on the tent fly. You’d think that after almost ten years in the Seattle area I would be used to it, but it still annoys me. Maybe more so now, even. We waited for it to stop, and when it did, rolled up camp and went in search of breakfast. Risby Bay was closed, as was another place in town that had come recommended, so we went to a café attached to a store. Nothing special, but we got to eat which allowed us to hit the road.
On the road from Strahan to Queenstown:
Porwit-20130410-1604-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
Some nice curvy bits:
Porwit-20130410-1607-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
From Strahan we headed towards Queenstown. The town and its surroundings are pretty desolate terrain, having been logged bare and then strip-mined. Hewby tells me that when there was a replanting effort made to green the place up a little, the locals actually objected, claiming it ruined the “character” of Queenstown. :huh
Hewby at Queenstown:
Porwit-20130410-1614-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
Mines and red dirt:
Porwit-20130410-1615-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
In case you didn't know where you were:
Porwit-20130410-1621-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
More red rocks:
Porwit-20130410-1622-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
We continued through the mountains that make up Tasmania’s interior, heading toward Lake St. Clair National Park. We make a quick stop, got a look at the lake, and headed onwards. There was no time for hiking this time. We were expected in Hobart for dinner. From here, we would be more or less following the flow of the River Derwent, which has its origins in the lake and terminates in the Tasman Sea at Hobart. The riding was pretty, and the countryside slowly gave way again to hills and small towns and farms, and got that English countryside look.
The road to Lake St. Clair:
Porwit-20130410-1633-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
The mountains of SW Tasmania behind us. The one above the R80 that looks a bit like Half Dome is called Frenchman's Cap:
Porwit-20130410-1640-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
Gnarled trees on the southern shore of Lake St. Clair:
Porwit-20130410-1643-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
The weather is starting to improve as we head east:
Porwit-20130410-1648-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
More animal signs. I got an echidna and a wombat!
Porwit-20130410-1657-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
In Hamilton we stopped for food and coffee. This was a very tasty place, and excellent, friendly service. Highly recommended.
Tasty food on the road to Hobart:
Porwit-20130410-1659-Orig.jpg by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr
From there we headed into Hobart, and after grabbing some groceries, we rode up Mt. Wellington to hewby’s friends Neidra and Wolfgang, who were expecting us. We would stay with them for the next few days, and hewby would stay with them another 10 weeks while she works in town. And for anyone who wants some great pictures of Tasmania, Wolfgang is a fantanstic photographer. You can view (and buy) his work here.
You sure know how to pick the right spots for your rides :clap:clap:clap
Awesome ride report!
Geez, I miss Tassie. Great RR guys. :clap
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