Australia - The four amigos

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Benji13, Apr 23, 2020.

  1. Benji13

    Benji13 Been here awhile

    Sep 5, 2017
    Thanks Mark! It’s important to choose the right season. You’re correct that November is still cool and likely wet in Tassie. For NT, I would time it better next time for a cooler month.
    BTW I was watching the BBC news this morning. Sorry to hear the wuhan virus is getting worse in Lancaster and Blackburn. Please take good care.
  2. Benji13

    Benji13 Been here awhile

    Sep 5, 2017
    Day 5 - 393km

    Today we were going through the Northwest region to Queenstown.

    I did not study sociology. However I could imagine the problem in this colony when men outnumbered women six to one in the early 19th century. The ratio was even more ridiculous amongst the convicts. Before we came, I heard some Tassie jokes about "two-headed" and "six fingers". I was surprised that they did not ask for independence after so much taunting.

    We had some cereals in the house and enjoyed the view before slowly packing the bikes and got out of Arthur River. The place was still very quiet.

    There was a rather new Western Explorer road to Zeehan. However a few very long stretches were dirt and silicon. We would save it for next time when we have more offroad tyres ( I think Doc and Sir were riding on Michelin road pilot 4). And we were happy to ride the wonderful Bass Highway through the Dismal Swamp back to Edith Creek and then Somerset and started the whole length of the Murchison Highway via Rosebery to Zeehan.

    Morning stop at Edith Creek after some unsealed road.

    When we enjoyed the Hellyer Gorge corners on the Murchison Hwy, the weather was holding up. We met a group of bikers later here at Rosebery.

    They said the way we were going was pouring. So we finished the perfectly drinkable espresso at the bakery and put on the rain gear. My research said the northwest was always wet. Perfect for this former Mancunian.

    Even in the rain, the roads and corners here all the way to Zeehan was thoroughly enjoyable. This was a perfect build up to my favourite Lyell Highway later.

    We were taking a break on the Murchison surrounded by the mountainous views.
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    After Zeehan, we travelled down B27 to Strahan. Still wet but we had fun on the curvy run between the Little Henty River and the Badger River. Then on to the fast and open run along the back of Ocean Beach. If you come visiting with family, Strahan is a good choice to see this remote rugged west coast. Better than Queenstown for its river front beauty.

    Some Wicked Campers we saw on the roads. Popular amongst backpackers.
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    After Strahan, we rode the western part of the Lyell Highway towards Queenstown. This road was quite tight and twisty as it worked its way up a long ridge above the King River Valley. Imagine if it was not raining...

    Queenstown was interesting. It was an old mining town. Some parts were therefore rustic, rundown and not eye candy. However it was a busy place and the famous west coast wilderness railway was here. We were staying at the Railway Hotel. Basic but conveniently located.

    A memorial for the 42 men killed in the 1912 mining disaster. RIP.

    We had some time before dinner. So we went pub crawling. Yeah.

    I could tell that tomorrow would be another rainy day.

    No camera lens distortion. The iron fascia was really not straight.

    That evening, we dined at a Thai restaurant. And Sir had an overpriced vegan curry.
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  3. Benji13

    Benji13 Been here awhile

    Sep 5, 2017
    Day 6 - 336km

    I did not know flexi working hours apply to shops in Queenstown so literally. 16 hours work week. Brilliant!

    The weather this morning was horrendous. And we were going to tackle the Lyell Highway's 99 bends.

    Before the ride, we went to the West Coast Wilderness Railway for a look and breakfast. Train fanatics should pay a visit here.

    I would definitely be aware of trains at the crossings, or anywhere.

    The 99 bends Lyell Highway A10 east of Queenstown towards Derwent Bridge was even better than the west end of the Highway. It started immediately outside the town with climbing up the rugged mountains and had an abundance of hairpin corners. Great on a fine day.

    However, it was wet and foggy this morning. And the fog mixed with low hanging clouds. Visibility was down to less than 10m. I led carefully making reference to the wired barrier on the right, and anticipating the corners in front based on the pink strip on the Garmin 660. And we survived.

    When we reached Derwent Bridge, we turned left to go to the Lake St Clair for coffee break. Tassie has some of the best hiking trails. Many were around the great outdoor here in the west. And the Lake side restaurant and accommodation would be an ideal base for the hikes
    Next we went to The Wall. I had not heard of it before. Doc led us there. Its main theme was a huge long wall of beautifully carved wood art. Ambitious but wonderfully finished with a Central Highland feel. You should come visit in person and be touched.

    I had booked the oldest beer maker Cascade Brewery tour for this afternoon in Hobart. So we continued on the Lyell Hwy passing Hamilton, New Norfolk, and approached the lovely Tasman Bridge on the left near Hobart.

    We went straight to the Cascade beer factory. No rush. Even the traffic in downtown Hobart was a bit heavy. The tour was good. At the end of the tour , we were given 3 tokens each to have 3 small glasses of different beesr. As the tour guide said, only the Cascade beer in Tassie used the Tassie water, not for the Cascade beers made and sold on the mainland. We were happy to taste the better cascades after walking up and down the factory stairs.
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    We even had a bottle of our choice as souvenir to bring back.

    And we were staying for two nights at the Prince of Wales Hotel in Hobart. It was small but the location was great, in the beautiful high ground of Battery Point, within easy walking distance to the pubs and restaurants and night life in Salamanca. The lad at the bar could not find my booking. He was not sure of what to do. So we were upgraded to the owner's suite with a balcony looking up the Mount Wellington.


    Attached Files:

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  4. Benji13

    Benji13 Been here awhile

    Sep 5, 2017
    Day 7 - 579km

    We woke up in Hobart to good weather compared to the last 2 days in the wet northwest wilderness. A thick cloud was still hanging around the Mount Wellington. So we could not go up there.

    First ride this morning was to ride the Gordon River Road to the Gordon Dam. This was a 136km dead end road. Sounds dreadful? However touring Tassie without riding out to the Gordon Dam is like going to Disney and not having your photo with Donald Duck. We got out of Hobart downtown, the traffic became thin after New Norfolk. Then we stopped at the Russell Falls to see the ferns and the water falls.

    The Russell water fall was quite nice and not too far away from the car/bike park.

    Rode on, heading west, we stopped at the Lake Pedder for some photos. Both amigos wanted their own shot. No problem. The GSA's looked handsomely sporty without the panniers.
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    I was worrying about the fuel range. There was no longer any fuel station at Strathgordon. Luckily the Chalet receptionist sold me some petrol which was reserved for the staying guests.

    From Strathgordon to the Gordon Dam was only a short 13km. There was nobody on the road. Even better the road was still in remarkably good condition, and we were lucky it stayed dry for us.

    When we arrived at the dam, we had the whole place to ourselves. The dam was a tall concrete structure. We walked down and it was nice compared to the jam packed tourist spot of Hoover Dam when I visited LA the last time.
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    Back in Hobart. It was the biggest city of Tassie. Saw some antiques on the road.
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    Coffee at the Hamilton Inn on the east portion of the Lyell Hwy towards Hobart on the previous day.
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  5. Benji13

    Benji13 Been here awhile

    Sep 5, 2017
    Day 7 continued.

    More photo of just the amigos on the dam.

    On the way down from the dam, you could enjoy the wonderful southwest ruggedness surrounding your views.

    I always changed tyres before it was bad. I planned to get new tyres after this Tassie trip. So I was always aware of the limit of the traction especially during the rain in this whole trip. The Metzler Tourance Next proved to be good even at the last part of its dignified life.

    And soon we were enjoying the corners passing the Russell Falls Creek on the downhill stretch.

    That afternoon, Dr and Sir rode the Arve Forest Drive from Geeveston out to see the Tahune Air Walk. The road was for logging of the famous huon pine in that area. So the road was narrow but good and shady. They were lucky. A year after their visit, a huge bush fire destroyed the whole place and the Air walk facility. It would take a long time for them to bring back the glorious look.

    I took my family there in a rental car not long before that. So I instead rode the 100km Channel Hwy loop through Huonville, Cygnet, Flowerpot, Snug, Kingston, Taroona. The Channel Highway was a lovely road all corners of just about every radius with good tar and generally good sightlines. Then I went back to the hotel in mid afternoon and enjoyed the nice café and surrounding at the Battery Point. If I had to live somewhere in Tassie, this would be high on the list.

    That night the amigos went pub crawling in Salamanca.

    Saw a carriage with 2 hp's.

    Dinner was at the establishment at the waterfront called Mures famous for their seafood and seafood chowder. Yum!
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  6. Benji13

    Benji13 Been here awhile

    Sep 5, 2017
    Day 8 - 437km

    This morning, we were leaving Hobart to go east. The Mount Wellington was still covered by cloud. So we would have to come back another time to ride up this mountain. I drove up there in a rental car in the previous family trip. From there it was a nice view of the Derwent River and the Tasman Bridge which collapsed in 1975 when hit by a ship and killed 12 people. Most of whom were car passengers when the cars went down with the bridge. Sometimes it is safer to ride than drive.

    Panniers were back on the beasts. We rode the East Derwent Hwy and Sugarloaf Road to Richmond for 29km. We crossed the Tasman Bridge and then turned north. Not far from the Grass Tree Hill. Some nice corners. Followed by nice coffee at Richmond town main street. Of course we paid a visit to another famous bridge, Richmond Bridge.


    The local residents were out with the kids for a stroll.

    This bridge was built by convicts in 1825. Hadn't been hit by a ship so far.

    Next we continued southeast to the Port Arthur on the Tasman peninsular. It was a huge convict settlement and now a popular tourist attraction. I did the tour before. So I happily sipped coffee and watched NBA on my new in 2018 iPhone X, while the amigos joined the tour.

    Can you spot the amigos in the group?

    While I was watching NBA, I had time for reflections, mainly two.

    One, this place was a notoriously harsh convict settlement. In that sense, the Brits found the right place. The whole peninsula was like a natural prison. It was bottlenecked at Eaglehawk Nest which is a narrow bar of dirt. They did not need to put up a high wall or electric fence. They only needed a guard, a chair, some tea and a guard dog at the Eaglehawk Nest. And I had not heard of real success story of convicts swam to freedom.

    Two, a suicidal lunatic came here with an AR15 in 1996 and killed 30+ people, all innocent victims. Then the beginning of a fundamental gun control in this country. Enough said.

    When the tour was finished, the Amigos regrouped and we rode the Tasman Hwy northeast to the Wine Glass Bay on the Freycinet Peninsular. We parked the bikes and started walking. The scenery was fantastic. The Bay really looked like a wine glass with sandy beaches on both sides.

    The whole peninsula was a huge national park. And the residents were used to the curious visitors. We met some of them on the hike.
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    We saw some chalets there. It could be a good idea to stay here next time and spent more time exploring the national park and go for dip.

    Talking about time, we ran out of time and had give Bicheno a miss this time. Instead we rode the Lake Leake Road 71km from Taman Hwy west to our destination for the night, Campbell Town. This road was very well surfaced, had lots of good corners especially on the eastern part. Some bikers called it "Tassie's Oxley Highway". That touched me because I am addicted to the real Oxley Highway near Walcha.

    We stayed at the basic Campbell Town Hotel Motel that night. Perfect bike parking right outside our room doors.

    Tassie was colder than Sydney by quite a lot. So we enjoyed some wonderful fire places on this trip.
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  7. Benji13

    Benji13 Been here awhile

    Sep 5, 2017
    Day 9 - 413km

    This was our last day in Tassie. There was a vast space to cover on the East coast. Instead of rushing through the itinerary, we felt the need to slow down and enjoyed the ride and the top few interesting places. Cos we will be back in a few years' time. Tassie is that good.

    Campbell Town were a good place with great motorbike roads in many directions. We would be tackling the Esk Highway northeast to St Mary this morning. Before that, we rode 11km back south to Ross to taste the famous Ross scallop pies.

    OK personally I did not really like it. I would stick to my favourite steak and kidney pie in future.

    The town of Ross was indeed pleasant.

    The Esk Hwy was not too technical. It was flat and we did not climb up any mountain. However its many smooth fast corners were still a delight this morning with a blue sky above and the ever nice views to the north.

    Next we rode the rather interesting Elephant Pass. It was interesting because of a few things. 1, it was just 17km short and narrow and winding! 2, the road surface was crap! 3, the famous establishment Elephant Pass Pancake House was average... all three amigos ordered pancakes and did not give higher than 6 out of 10 (and we were generous). 4, the pass really divided opinion. Doc was not impressed. Sir was not sure. So I led them to ride the pass again. Doc was still not impressed. Sir was still not sure. I got it: we had been spoilt by the great roads in Tassie and became snobbish without realising. Well whose fault?

    The compulsory photo at the Pancake House.

    After the calm discussion about the Pass, the amigos needed a drink. So we sped to the pub. Pub in the Paddock in Pyengana. But first we went south on the A4 to hit the coast at the Chain of Lagoons. Turned north and hugged the coast on A3 all the way to St Helens. Next was the great ride on the Northern Tasman Highway west toward Pyengana. The town did not have much for us. However the Pub in the Paddock was terrific. It was exactly a pub all by itself in the middle of a pub. It had never seen such thing even from my pub crawling days in the Greater Manchester.

    It was great water break.

    After a few beers, Sir decided to take a nap right outside the pub. Beautiful scene not found anywhere else.

    It was a popular water hole for all bikers. Some of them were with a Tassie bike tour company. The tour guide talked to me and was keen to know my opinion when comparing the cost and benefit of our ferry our own bikes from mainland and his flight and hire/group bike tour. I gave him my 2 cents worth and wished him good business. Unfortunately to him, we will ferry our own bikes nextime again.

    When Sir woke up, we continued the Tasman Hwy up and over the Weldborough Pass, through some forest. It was lovely and the bike felt lighter after a few beer.

    We left the Tasman Hwy at Scottsdale. Because Doc had a mission. Mrs Doc wanted some bubbles. So he led us to a gravel road to find Jansz. The most famous sparking wines of Tassie. I liked the tasting and paid for a case of 12 bottles. They shipped it to my house. Thanks Mrs Doc for the great suggestion.

    After the wine tasting and shopping fun, we rode the gravel back out and bummed into a bridal party. Girls just want to have fun before the wedding. Noice.

    We were going back to Devonport to catch the evening ferry. Before that, we still had to conquer a few famous motorcycle roads. From Bridport to Exeter was great roads even when we hit the River Tamar.

    From Exeter, we travelled the B71 to Port Sorell. Lovely. We did not visit Launceston. That could be a base next time like Hobart this time to explore the north east Tassie.

    From Port Sorell it was 1/2 hr ride to Devonport. We had an early last supper there before joining the queue of bikers for the ferry.

    The amigos were happy to swap stories and jokes with the biker comrades while the sun began to set and the lights on the ferry became mesmerising like reminding us to come back soon.


    BTW, I am packing the bike to go to the Cameron Corner on Saturday. Hope the Queensland border is still open when I cross.
  8. Manifold

    Manifold Long timer

    Mar 15, 2017
    Me too, Whalley Range and then Hulme in the 80's. tough times. Do OK since mind. Leeds fan too. Enjoying the tale.
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  9. Benji13

    Benji13 Been here awhile

    Sep 5, 2017
    Victoria state is in deep covid shit. Queensland state premier is a smart lady and banned sydneysiders like me from entering her sunshine state. So I explored the outback NSW. It’s magical.




    Silverton hotel

    Mad max

    mundi mundi

    Living desert

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  10. Benji13

    Benji13 Been here awhile

    Sep 5, 2017
    White cliffs

    Broken hill


    My plan was continuing exploring until Saturday. The weather has been brilliant so far. However the rain and cold front is coming from the Southeast. Many places like Ballarat in Victoria has been snowing. Where I am staying was -2c this morning. I am going home now. My TKC80 is worn and it wouldn’t mix well with the wet roads. Also my Tech7 Mx boots are not waterproof. Indeed you don’t want to wear wet Mx boots and I know it first hand. So the decision making is easy.