Solo Around Tasmania and Victoria for 2 weeks

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by The Cone of Silence, Jan 9, 2019.

  1. The Cone of Silence

    The Cone of Silence Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2006
    Oddometer:
    213
    Location:
    Kurrajong, New South Wales, Australia
    I thought I’d write up a report of my recent trip to Tasmania on my 2018 BMW R1200 GS Adventure ‘Purdey’ so here goes…

    The basic plan was to camp solo some nights and stay in a friends’ fishing shack or a spare boat bunk on other nights but I packed to camp for the duration of the trip so first I’ll run through all the gear I took with me and how I packed it up.

    Luggage
    · Mosko Nomad Tank Bag – water bladder + Electrical + Personal items
    · Hydration backpack – 3L water bladder strapped to top box.
    · Panniers L&R – camping and shelter, cooking and campfire gear, tool roll, rope, starter battery
    · Top Box – First Aid, personal effects, food, wipes, towel, lantern, rain jacket, hoodie etc
    · Ortlieb Duffle – tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, tarp, fishing vest
    · Mosko 20l Dry sack – clothes in compression sacks.
    · Toolbox – compressor and puncture repair stuff, a rag and spare straps.
    · Additional drybags on top of panniers – food, clothes as required
    · 2l pouches on engine guards – water in alloy bottles
    · Small Soft Cooler Bag – for a few beers and ice should the day warrant such a reward

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  2. The Cone of Silence

    The Cone of Silence Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2006
    Oddometer:
    213
    Location:
    Kurrajong, New South Wales, Australia
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    Shelter and Sleeping


    Tent – Marmot Tungsten 2. I’m happy enough under a simple tarp but if I’m going to have a tent for really wet or cold conditions, it had to be freestanding and after years of sleeping in single person bivvy bags, it has to be a 2-person.
    I found no major differences between this tent and the BA Copper Spur or the MSA Hubba Hubba so I got this one as I like the colour and got a good deal. Haven’t used it enough yet to work out what could be better but I’m sure I’ll make a few tweaks as I go.

    Tarp – 3m x 3m lightweight. I find this invaluable and it’s the first thing I’ll put up if I think there’s a chance of rain. Perfect for sitting or sleeping under, keeping gear dry, making a shelter out of or a nice cosy garage for the bike. A perfect multi-use product.

    Rope – 25m of 5mm paracord. Useful for stringing up the tarp, hanging gear from, drying things or even recovering a bogged, bike with a couple of shackles/ pulleys which I keep in the toolkit.

    Sleeping mat – Exped 90 with inflating sack. I’m a side sleeper which is a curse to most who camp regularly so the mat is really important to me; I need it to be deep enough that my shoulder and hip won’t ‘touch’ the ground but also well-made enough that the depth of the mat doesn’t make it conduct the cold from the ground. I love the Exped 90 but I’m definitely giving some thought to one of the memory foam covers that go over the top, to make it even more comfy.

    Sleeping bag – I have a decent down bag that will easily handle -5C and packs down super small. I don’t need anything more serious than that in this country.

    Pillow – inflatable cheap number from a camping store. I can inflate to my desired size and firmness and augment size by stuffing its shock cord rear with a jacket or hoodie.

    Chair – I’m currently using a Wanderer small chair but I’m not yet 100% convinced as it doesn’t pack down very small. Considering the Helinox Safari which seems popular. Suggestions welcome!

    Cooking

    Jetboil Sumo – I bought this size because I want options, such as being able to cook for two or make tea for lots of people or to boil a lot of water to sanitise it and fill up my water bottles and hydration packs. As it easily carries the gas bottle and all necessary elements, the size is of no serious impact when packing. I also got the gas bottle stand and the adaptor to be able to use a normal pot or pan.

    GSI Outdoors Destination Kitchen Set – this stuff is the business. It packs down well, it’s sturdy, well-thought out and designed with the hiker in mind. I LOVE that the bag the pots and bowls come in is watertight for doing the washing up. For utensils, I removed some of the surplus cutlery items and the whisk from the Destination Kitchen Set and exchanged them for a pair of tongs and a scraper. I also store small bottles of oil, vinegar, sauces, spices and seasoning in this case.

    Non-stick frypan and spondonocle – if I’m using a fire to cook and I just want a bacon sanger or I want to fry up some onions and garlic to make dinner, I don’t want to use the Jetboil so I’ll use a small frying pan with separate handle allowing it all to be stowed away neatly.

    Welding Gloves - I never camp without them but when you don’t have a shovel for moving coals and burning logs about they’re even more of a necessity. Also useful for cooking.

    Wolfman Collapsible Grill – Saw it on Facebook a few months ago and thought ‘Nice idea’. Bought one and I love it although the welding gloves really make it easier.

    Entrenching Tool – bit of a bulky item but as it doubles as a pick-axe and makes a useful crowbar and hammer and is a weapon at digging holes for one’s morning ablutions, I’ll cope with the extra space it uses. Awesome for fire management too.

    Cleaning Wipes – Makes washing up easier and uses less water.

    Washing up Micro Towel – just for drying up items that can’t be hung up.


    Food and Drink

    I basically brought everything I need to give me options; eat out, cook a meal or just have a freeze-dried, including Zip-lock sandwich bags for leftovers, snacks, wet soap, marinade device, so many uses!
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  3. The Cone of Silence

    The Cone of Silence Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2006
    Oddometer:
    213
    Location:
    Kurrajong, New South Wales, Australia
    Personal Items

    So, everyone is different and everyone has different needs. On a longer trip my list of things would I’m sure be altered to suit terrain, local economy, climate and so on…but here are the basics and it’s all stowed away either in my top box, tank bag or on my person.

    · Wallet, Keys, iPhone
    · Lip balm
    · Sunnies
    · Pen and Paper
    · Headtorch
    · Leatherman
    · Toiletries (toothbrush and paste, deodorant, razor)
    · Baby Wipes
    · Hiking Towel
    · First Aid Kit incl painkillers
    · Snakebite Kit
    · Insect Repellent Spray
    · Fly Repellent Cream
    · Ear Plugs
    · Spare Keys

    Electrical

    Probably going to incite some feedback here but as described earlier, I like my creature comforts. Some if these items are only for long trips on my own.

    Goal Zero Venture 30 Battery Charger – not only a USB and mini-USB battery pack but also a torch. Can be charged while I’m riding via USB cable to the tank bag and it’s really handy for going on a long walk or being away from charge for a day or two or even some extra juice for the speakers if I’m rocking out round the fire or just listening to the radio.

    Goal Zero Rock Out 2 Solar Speakers – perfect for a little music after a long day if that’s your thing. Between the Venture 30 charger and the wee solar panel the speakers themselves come with, running out of juice shouldn’t be an issue. If it’s a sunny day and I have a couple of hours on the bike or more, I attach this to the top of the tank bag so it can charge in the sun.

    Goal Zero Lighthouse Mini Lantern – I can charge this during the day and run it at night or run it straight off the Venture 30. I find it’s a bit of a luxury item as it’s bulky but it means less reliance on my headtorch and it’s super handy for preparing a meal when it’s already dark. Being able to control the brightness means it’s perfect for inside the tent too and can be hung up easily.

    iPad with GPS – this is a luxury item if I’m going somewhere new. It’s from my 4WD as I have all of the Topo Maps for Australia on the device and all the waypoints, pins and details I’ve dropped over the last eight years, so sometimes I like to have this as a back up to my Nav VI and iPhone - the detail is superior and it’s got me out of a bind (being lost) on several occasions. I don’t take this everytime but while I’m getting used to the new Topo Maps I installed on the Nav VI, it’s handy for comparison of detail.

    SPOT GPS Thingy – for emergency use and for letting people know how I’m going. No brainer. I keep this in my jacket as I’d rather risk breaking a rib by landing on it that landing away from it and being unable to reach it to activate it. The bike also has an emergency call feature with it so when I’m flying solo I’m confident I can get the emergency services to me should I need them. Assuming I can still move my arms!

    Dual USB Charger – run from the bike’s cockpit charger
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  4. The Cone of Silence

    The Cone of Silence Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2006
    Oddometer:
    213
    Location:
    Kurrajong, New South Wales, Australia
    Tools

    There are loads of threads on ADVRider about tools so I’m not going to go into this in detail, suffice it to say that my one has been built up using a baseline of a bike-specific toolkit from Motohansa and I’ve added to it a few things I know will be helpful for bush fixes to keep me going and to help fix other gear too.

    I keep the compressor, some puncture repair stuff and some spare straps in the Givi side toolkit that I made a bracket for. The rest goes in the Mosko Moto Fatty Tool Roll within a pannier next to the NoCo starter motor which is in its own case with a few other bits and bobs I jammed in there.

    · Motohansa BMW Pro Toolkit for R1200 GSA LC
    · Noco GB20 Jump Starter
    · Puncture Repair Kit
    · AirMan Easy Rider Compressor with SAE connector*
    · Recovery shackles
    · Cable Ties
    · Silicone, Duct and Electrical Tape
    · WD40
    · Fuses
    · Rag and Microfibre cloth

    I’d love to take more things with me but if a Leatherman, some cable ties, duct tape and WD40 can’t get me to the nearest mechanic, I’ve got bigger problems to worry about.

    *I installed an SAE connector directly to the battery and the connector sits just under my seat on the right side so I can plug in the compressor quickly. Also useful for inflating peoples’ sleeping mats and earning legendary campfire status among my less-organised mates. If on a long enough cable away from the bike, they’re also superb for getting a fire going.
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  5. The Cone of Silence

    The Cone of Silence Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2006
    Oddometer:
    213
    Location:
    Kurrajong, New South Wales, Australia
    Clothing

    Anything I’m not wearing on the bike gets folded and put into a compression sack to help reduce bulk. I’m not worried about creases. For Tasmania in Summer:

    Riding Jacket – MotoDry Adventure
    Riding Pants – Dririder Explorer
    Riding boots – Forma Adventure
    Neck scarf
    Riding gloves
    Baseball cap
    Beanie
    T-shirts
    Hoodie
    Button-up shirts (in case I need to go somewhere smart)
    Jeans and belt
    Shorts
    Boardies
    Undies
    Socks
    Thongs (flip flops)
    RM Williams boots

    In hindsight, I think I’d like to have taken some footwear for doing a bit of wading i.e. some old workboots, but it was nice to throw the RMs on and go out in smart shoes.
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  6. The Cone of Silence

    The Cone of Silence Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2006
    Oddometer:
    213
    Location:
    Kurrajong, New South Wales, Australia
    Day 1 – Richmond NSW – Melbourne - Devonport

    Yeah so waking up on Boxing Day I had every intention of taking my time and stopping here and there but an 8.5 hour journey to catch the overnight ferry to Tasmania turns into a 10 hour journey easily on a bike and the temperatures were looking horrendous for almost the entire trip so I left pretty early. The heat was up to 34 by the time 11am came around then by noon I had a sore butt and it was 42 degrees C.

    Ridiculous riding conditions. Stopped for a coffee and some aircon at Gundagai, NSW but in general I didn’t hang about as I just wanted to get there and smash a cold beer while waiting to board the big red boat.

    This is me sweating. A LOT.
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    No major incidents, thankfully – everyone being remarkably well behaved as it was double demerits and the roads weren’t busy anyway. Check-in and boarding were easy, I was rooming with a nice young guy who was moving to Tassie to work on the fisheries so once I’d unpacked I had a quick shower then hit the Level 9 bar as we departed Melbourne. Despite having done 3 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Races and countless other ocean races in this part of the world, I get very seasick so if I have a few beers and then get to sleep by the time we hit the swells, I’m fine. Turned out the water was pretty flat all the way…not something I’m used to on that particularly awful stretch of ocean….but that’s another story for another time.

    The Spirit of Tasmania's Butt....sorry, STERN.

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  7. The Cone of Silence

    The Cone of Silence Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2006
    Oddometer:
    213
    Location:
    Kurrajong, New South Wales, Australia
    Day 2 – Devonport – Cradle Mountain – Mole Creek

    3 other bikes had arrived and been stored next to mine so it was nice to meet the owners, one with a super old Suzuki and another on an older GS – all with the same general idea for the next week. I suggested a ‘Le Mans Start’ and they were up for it, with all of us laughing as we tried to get boots on, jackets done up, gloves on, helmet straps, zips done up to be first off. I headed straight off to find a coffee but everything was shut except McDonalds so I sat in there and had a disgusting breakfast and a mediocre coffee, after which I cruised off in the direction of Cradle Mountain.

    Very impressive, you can see it from the coast and of course the shape that gives it its name. What I wasn’t expecting was the vast swathe of tourists up there – huge coaches full of Asian tour groups taking a million photos of one another standing in front of just about anything, and people in serious, brand new trekking gear buying a one day pass. There were some groups of people planning the multi-day walk which I was impressed with – even in Summer at that altitude it gets very chilly at night and the wind can howl at these latitudes and this close to the Southern Ocean. I considered going for a walk but the day was beautiful and I wanted to get to my mate’s farm in Mole Creek so I could break out the fishing rods and see about catching dinner.

    They wouldn’t let me ride my bike to the lake shore at Cradle Mountain, ‘shuttle bus only’ which was extortionately expensive so here’s a shot courtesy of Google.

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    Coming down the back roads from Cradle Mountain into Mole Creek was just about the most awesome experience I’ve ever had on a motorcycle. Breathtaking corners, high-quality road surfaces, grippy in the sunshine and hardly any traffic. The thing that really struck me was how well-cambered all the corners were, allowing a decent margin of error on entry; perhaps the wrong gear or slightly too much velocity – just drop farther down off the saddle and lean it around, bang in some more torque and stand the bike up. I had a smile on my face so wide by the time I got to Mole Creek.

    As my friend and his family were not at the farm for another couple of nights, I stopped in at the butcher on the way and picked up some eye fillet and a six pack of beers, some fresh veggies and a bottle of local Pinot Noir and ventured down to the fishing shack on the Mersey River, complete with bunks, pizza oven, fire pit, kitchen, bathroom and an interior style resembling a taxidermy shop.

    The Mole Creek Hotel
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    I fired up the beer keg smoker and set off to cast some flies at the rising trout, managing to bag one after an hour or so. I am a terrible, terrible fly fisherman….but hey, it’s called fishing, not catching.

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    I’d already dropped some meat into the smoker by this stage with a handful of hickory chips and frankly this little tacker was far too small to keep so I popped him back and retired to demolish my dinner and then settled in with a bottle of red to listen to the birds, watch the local platypus family out hunting and the sun set behind Cradle Mountain. I love coming back to this place every couple of years.
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  8. The Cone of Silence

    The Cone of Silence Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2006
    Oddometer:
    213
    Location:
    Kurrajong, New South Wales, Australia
    Messing about by the river with one of the 'locals' from the fishing shack. This used to be a big Tiger area and the farm has a cave in which they found Thylacine bones some years ago.

    Note: smug trout rising in the background, laughing at my pathetic attempts to foil them into taking my poorly presented fly. Bastards.

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  9. The Cone of Silence

    The Cone of Silence Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2006
    Oddometer:
    213
    Location:
    Kurrajong, New South Wales, Australia
    Day 3 – Mole Creek – Corinna – Zeehan - Strahan – Queenstown – Lake Burbury

    In no rush to get up, I packed up Purdey on a beautiful sunny morning and we headed west, tackling more twisty mountain roads with a stop at the Titanic for a coffee and at a mountain pass the name of which I'm afraid I can't recall, sorry, eventually picking up the white dusty track that leads down to Corinna, a cute little settlement on the banks of the Pieman River where you can spend days bushwalking one of the densest rainforests in Australia, kayaking up and down the river, where the birdlife is as abundant and wonderful as the locals’ hospitality.

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    I’d picked up four million bugs on my helmet coming into Corinna and the lady at the hotel where I stopped to cool down and have a spot of lunch before the ferry, immediately came outside to lend me her Windex and a couple of pieces of kitchen paper – what a sweetheart!

    As always I fielded a lot of questions about the bike and the route I was taking and talked to some 4x4 enthusiasts about their planned adventures as I’d been here before in my Land Rover on a similar trip two years prior.

    I had the Fatman Barge to myself as I crossed the river ($13 normally but the young lad said ‘just give me ten it’s fine mate’ WIN) and was on my way to Zeehan, where I planned to stop for fuel and a spot of lunch.

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    I made it to the former and filled up with 91 as there was unfortunately no 95 octane and as it was so hot (33C) I didn’t stop for lunch, I had a quick look around the place and high-tailed it to Strahan for some sea breeze. There didn’t seem to be much happening in Strahan (pronounced Straawn) but a bit of a rest was in order so I went to the awesome Information Centre to ask advice on a good campsite close to water and picked up a mascot for Purdey; Desi the Devil. I hadn’t seen one in the wild yet on this trip so I was hoping that now out on the West Coast, that would all change as they’re fairly common but shy by day.

    After refuelling myself with a quick light beer while looking at boats in the harbour, I bought a sixpack of Boag’s Draught and the gorgeous girl behind the bar filled a bag of ice for me to put in the little cooler I had so they’d still be icy when I got to my destination.

    A quick stop out at Macquarie Heads where I watched a game of beach cricket and took in the salty air before firing up Purdey and winding my way into Queenstown, for a mandatory look at the steam engines, to read the excellent information they have on public display about the town’s extraordinary mining history and a stop in the little IGA supermarket there for some snacks. I was in a snack mood following the absence of lunch. A quick chat with some other bikers and then back on to get some relief from the sun on what had been a surprisingly hot day on the West Coast.

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  10. The Cone of Silence

    The Cone of Silence Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2006
    Oddometer:
    213
    Location:
    Kurrajong, New South Wales, Australia
    It didn’t take long for me to get from there to the campsite on the shore of Lake Burbury and despite the forecast suggesting a morning shower, I was looking forward to a whole day of fly fishing in these highland lakes. I was exhausted after covering a lot of distance on different terrain; in particular the dusty off road corners had made me pretty nervous but I tried to remember the techniques learned at the off road adventure bike course and I stayed up right all day until I found my spot at the campsite and put my left foot down….on really surprisingly squishy moss that covered a decent sized depression….certainly enough for my short legs to tip the bike past the point of no return! I was too tired to try and save it so I let Purdey fall and thankfully nobody was watching. I took the gear out of the panniers and got her back up easily, finding a better spot to park her up and attach Desi with some cable ties to the front bumper.

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    Desi the Devil

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    I set up camp while demolishing snacks and ice cold beer, with my tarp stretched above my tent so I wouldn’t have to pack a wet tent away in the morning and settled in for a meal of freeze dried nasi goreng, a bottle of pinot and had a chat with the three other bikers who turned up. I saw they had very little so gave them the three remaining beers I had. I turned in pretty early as I was so tired.

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  11. The Cone of Silence

    The Cone of Silence Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2006
    Oddometer:
    213
    Location:
    Kurrajong, New South Wales, Australia
    Day 4 – Lake Burbury – Hobart

    I woke at 5am to the unmistakable sound of a cold front; the wind rapidly building, rain squalls and then wallop! 50 knots of wind coming in off the Southern Ocean. The pegs holding down my tarp in the mossy ground were blown out and consequently my tent got wet too, so it looked like I’d be packing up a fair bit of wet gear afterall.

    I sat up, qickly threw on my bike pants and a hoodie then ventured outside to inspect the damage – nothing serious, but I pulled out all the tent pegs and lifted the whole thing, with sleeping bag and mat still inside, into the covered, high-roofed eating area that they had at the site, rather like a barn without walls, if you will, and then proceeded to bring all my gear in there to dry out while I put on a cup of coffee. Being able to take one’s time in the morning when packing up camp is important so I rather enjoyed this once I was warm.

    After untwisting all the guy lines and drying the tarp and tent, packing them away and having a cuppa with some other campers who had the same idea, I decided to bring the bike around to get it all loaded in the lee of the shelter. On firing her up there was a lot of smoke from the exhaust and a rattling noise which immediately made me nervous, but it all went away and settled down after a couple of seconds. I figured that this was a combination of the 91 octane fuel, the fact that I’d done 2,000kms in 3 days immediately after the bike’s 1,000km service and the ambient air temperature and pressure dropping so quickly.

    The local campsite curator advised that the trout would be diving deep and fishing would be almost useless on a day like this so I decided to go and see my mates in Hobart as a few of them had just finished the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race….and the atmosphere at the finish line in beautiful old Hobart town is something to behold. The Taste of Tasmania food and wine festival was also on so I thought get down there and then I’d be able to stuff myself silly with some of the islands finest produce and sluice it all down with a few beers and rums with all the sailors, welcoming other boats in as they finish the gruelling race.

    As pure luck would have it, a former boss of mine from over a decade ago, shot me a FB message to say that she and her family were in Hobart on holiday and had booked a large AirBnB house just up the road from the Customs House Hotel (traditional end of race drinking venue for boat crews) in which I was welcome to stay. RESULT!!

    Now I HATE riding in the rain as it makes me so nervous so I took it super easy but as soon as I was out of the central highlands I found the weather improved – the front passed through and left me in sunshine once again and as the roads dried out my average speed went back to normal and Hobart appeared on the horizon before my bum got sore. After meeting my friend and her family, I had a quick scrub in the shower and after a catch up, cup of tea, they headed out for a boat cruise and early dinner and I headed to the Taste Festival with my friend Brad, who’d sailed the race. After gorging on pork and pinot, we met the other crews and partied on into the night, sharing tales of old races and adventures on the high seas. Wonderful stuff.

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  12. The Cone of Silence

    The Cone of Silence Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2006
    Oddometer:
    213
    Location:
    Kurrajong, New South Wales, Australia
    Day 5 – Hobart – Freycinet NP – Wineglass Bay – Coles Bay

    I don’t remember how I got back to the house the night before but I do remember waking up in a seriously comfortable bed but then almost falling out of it as it was a single. I suspect I didn’t make it to midnight as I felt good and rehydrated myself in the morning then had coffee and a hearty breakfast.

    Fishing plans put aside, I thought I’d venture out to the East Coast as it had been many, many years since I’d been out there and I’d never really explored it, I just went there once on a dirty weekend with a couple of nurses that my friend and I met in a Launceston pub one night when we were here on a previous holiday.

    Another day spent in glorious sunshine, riding around the beautiful farmland of Eastern Tasmania, stopping here and there to take in a view and breathe in deep lungfuls of sumptuous fresh country air.

    As I’d left Hobart a little later than planned (thanks to the crews of Koa and Frantic), I hadn’t organised anywhere to stay and it gets super busy here in the peak season so once I’d worked my way to Coles Bay and found a camping/ caravan park, I crossed my fingers, gave Desi a quick pat for luck and went to the reception to find that they had 2 camping spots left AND the pub was doing a special meal and a pint combo. Honestly my luck couldn’t have been much better!

    I set up camp, met my neighbours, some awesome French travellers here for the bushwalking and coast treks, practiced my French a little with them then headed to the pub for dinner where I met some locals who worked out on the bay and as I was pretty hungry, made a chicken schnitzel, chips and a side of veggies disappear in mere minutes. I didn’t stay at the pub long though….back to the tent to do some reading on the next day’s journey – up the might Ben Lomond and Jacob’s Ladder which I knew would involve some off-road activity and a bash out to the Walls of Jerusalem National Park which would be more of the same; hopefully good quality dirt roads without too many rutted tracks or potholes.

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  13. The Cone of Silence

    The Cone of Silence Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2006
    Oddometer:
    213
    Location:
    Kurrajong, New South Wales, Australia
    Day 6 (NYE)– Coles Bay – Bicheno – Elephant Pass – Ben Lomond – Walls of Jerusalem NP – Mole Creek

    Looking at the distances on the map there was no rush today at all so a leisurely pack-up on a beautiful morning on the East Coast and a quick ‘Au revioir et bon chance’ to my friends next door saw me heading north to the stunning little seaside town of Bicheno where I completely forgot to stop and see if the Motorcycle Museum was open. I didn’t even stop for coffee…I was enjoying the ride so much already I just wanted to get up to Elephant Pass for the pancakes so famous there.

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    It was just before the turn off to St Mary’s that I noticed something wrong and had to pull over at the side of the road; my Quad-lock phone holder had become very wobbly and I thought it might fall off any minute. Upon investigation I saw that the centre bolt had rattled itself loose. This is the only bolt on the entire bike that isn’t smothered in threadlocker so out came the tool roll and my shiny, new BMW Pro-Kit from Motohansa (nice plug there Bob) and the whole thing was fixed up in seconds. What was particularly nice was that both of the two cars that passed me during this pit stop slowed and asked if I was ok. Australian country folk at their finest.

    I arrived at the Mt Elephant Pancakes café shortly thereafter and found myself quite entirely alone; not a single other vehicle in the parking area. After a few issues with parking (due to all the weight on the bike, my low ride height for my short legs and the extender plate on the sidestand, I’d been finding it a little hard to park the bike on suitably angled ground as the bike often seemed to be worryingly vertical), I parked up and headed inside, immediately ordering a large coffee and perusing the menu, eventually settling on a savoury ham, cheese and pineapple option. Don’t judge me, it’s what I felt like at the time, I can’t explain it.

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  14. The Cone of Silence

    The Cone of Silence Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2006
    Oddometer:
    213
    Location:
    Kurrajong, New South Wales, Australia
    Day 6 - continued...

    Belly full and a short pit stop at the facilities at Mt Elephant, I bid my thanks and goodbyes and headed on to Ben Lomond via some fantastic winding roads that ran alongside a river and then onto dirt, whereupon I slotted Purdey into Enduro Pro mode and stood up on the pegs. I always find tackling dirt easier when I’m standing up as I can see obstacles earlier, balance better and give my butt a rest.

    Pretty soon I found myself climbing up the most stunning track that was lined with the most remarkable, beautiful purple sage flowers which shone in the sunshine and were a haven for local bees but as the track was narrowing and getting worse in quality, I started getting a little worried about my route selection and was considering turning round somewhere (with difficulty due to the gradient and lack of track width) but thankfully after persisting with this, the road widened out and I took a right turn on a logging track which was well graded. After a few more turns, I came across a large echidna so I stopped but by the time I’d got off the bike and grabbed my phone to take a picture, he’d disappeared. A Magical Disappearing Echidna. Hmmph.

    Sage flowers
    Sage flowers.jpg

    Back on the bike and within half an hour or so I suddenly realised that I was at the base of the famous Jacob’s Ladder and in the most glorious sunshine. The sign mentioned giving way to vehicles coming down the hill and within a few seconds I pulled over to let a car pass and continued, taking extreme caution at the hairpins which were pretty tight but it was the rather deep, loose gravel that concerned me more, so I was really focussing on covering the clutch, using my feet to steer the bike and counter-weight through the corner. These 1200GS Adventures are astonishing machines but they are absolute pigs when you're off balance if they go down it's like trying to pick up a rhinoceros.

    The next vehicle I passed was a campervan, also coming down what the driver must have thought was the Stelvio Pass because he was travelling way too fast and caused me to have to pull up to a sudden stop, on the hairpin and then once he’d gone through in a could of dust, I had to reverse the bike to get back on my line. What an idiot. He’ll meet his end wrapped around a telegraph pole somewhere if he keeps that up.

    Up at the top I met some guys who’d watched me ride up from the base and I took the obligatory photo. Such a terrific view from up at the top of the mountain and the information on the formation of the Jurassic dolerite massif and surrounding peaks. After a quick ride up to the skiing village at the top I then took on the ride back down the Ladder and thankfully didn’t meet any other vehicles so I thoroughly enjoyed a nice, slow descent, corners in first gear, straights in second, no rush, letting the weight of the bike and the gradient control the speed.

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    So, with a sizeable smile on my face it was off to the Walls of Jerusalem National Park for some more exploring on dirt roads which I was now starting to feel a little more comfortable on. My objective was really just to spend more time off-road so I found myself following random signs for tracks and had a thoroughly good time until the track got too small and narrow and I headed back to find another. Finally spotted an echnidna who stuck around, negotiated a quick photoshoot contract and he held up his end. Good lad.

    Quick fact about echidnas: They are one of only two monotremes in the world; egg-laying mammals (the other is the platypus, so chuffed that I saw both on this trip) and is not only found in Australia, I think they're in PNG too.

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    My stomach started making some interesting noises at around 12:30pm so I rejoined the blacktop and rode back to Mole Creek, stopping at the famous Mole Creek Hotel for a quick pint, a chat with some other bikers and a meat pie….then onto my mate’s farm where he was waiting for me with his wife, two boys and a cold beer.

    That evening I lit a fire in the pizza oven down at the fishing shack and we made pizzas with his kids, watched the platypus and then headed up to the main farmhouse to watch the Sydney New Year’s Eve fireworks on the TV with a rather splendid 1994 Tabhilk Shiraz. Delicious.
    #14
    yokesman and Critic like this.
  15. The Cone of Silence

    The Cone of Silence Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2006
    Oddometer:
    213
    Location:
    Kurrajong, New South Wales, Australia
    Day 7 – Mole Creek


    Fishing, adventure walk with the boys, playing Pooh-sticks, exploring the cave on the farm, a lovely lunch in Deloraine, a visit to the Honey Museum at Chudleigh, more fishing, a delicious dinner, a few beers and that was the first day of 2019. No riding or photography whatsoever so here's a "Map of Tassie' shot from a few days earlier.

    For the uninitiated, Australians refer to a a lady's undergrowth as her 'Map of Tassie' due to its shape so this caused plenty of Facebook and Instagram comments.
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    #15
    Critic likes this.
  16. The Cone of Silence

    The Cone of Silence Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2006
    Oddometer:
    213
    Location:
    Kurrajong, New South Wales, Australia
    Day 8 – Mole Creek – Burnie – Penguin – Devonport

    A whacking great cooked breakfast that would have fulfilled Montgomery himself started Day 8 and my last day on the island. I packed up Purdey, cleaned the fishing shack, said my goodbyes to Charlie the Rooster who had been an admirable alarm clock, my friends in the main house, The Mole Creek Hotel artwork and headed North to the seaside town of Burnie, which after a couple of hours of more extraordinary twisting mountain roads, I arrived at ravenous, which confused me somewhat but I sat down to freshly caught fish and chips and went for a walk around the town.

    Charlie the Rooster

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    Mole Creek Hotel Artwork

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    From there I started heading to Devonport and stopped at the amusingly-named town of Penguin, to see the Big Penguin. Australia has a rather delightful obsession with ‘Big’ things and visiting them has become something of a rite of passage. To name but a few examples, there’s The Big Lobster, The Big Banana, The Big Merino, The Big Guitar, The Big Oyster, The Big Bogan, The Big Mango….you get the idea.


    The Big Penguin at Penguin was one of the smallest ‘Big’ things I’ve seen but nevertheless it is now ticked off the list.

    Penguin.jpg

    I arrived at Devonport super early and parked in the shade under the ‘Motorcycle Parking Area’, meeting a couple of other early riders before joining the queue and boarding the ferry. A few beers and an incident free crossing, meeting an awesome Canadian guy who was on a Triumph and a Sydney to Hobart skipper with whom I stayed up until midnight drinking beers and talking about the race. Slept like a baby in my recliner chair despite the best efforts of the guy next to me who I think must have been in training for ‘Loudest Snore of 2019’.

    View from the Port Aft Quarter of the Spirit of Tasmania
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    #16
    Critic and Suncoaster like this.
  17. The Cone of Silence

    The Cone of Silence Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2006
    Oddometer:
    213
    Location:
    Kurrajong, New South Wales, Australia
    Day 9 – Melbourne – Frankston

    My mate Jim, an old buddy from England whom I used to volunteer with for a charity called Raleigh International, had moved to Melbourne some years ago and as I was planning on a night at his place with his family, he got his Harley Davidson out of the garage and met me at 06:30 so we could ride the hour back to Frankston together, which was fantastic.

    I hadn’t seen his kids for almost a year so my arrival was popular to say the least – you’ve gotta love it when they can’t wait to climb all over you and tell you absolutely everything they’ve done in the last few days without breathing. So funny.

    One of his kids trying my boots on
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    #17
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  18. The Cone of Silence

    The Cone of Silence Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2006
    Oddometer:
    213
    Location:
    Kurrajong, New South Wales, Australia
    Day 10-12 – Frankston – Coldstream (Yarra Valley)

    I play a bit of polo in my spare time and a couple of friends were holding their first tournament on their new field which attracted almost a dozen teams to come and enjoy the weekend in the gorgeous Yarra Valley wine region.

    It only took me an hour to get there and I was staying with three Argentinian grooms with whom I got along famously right from the get-go. Despite some rain on the Saturday, the weather was pretty good all weekend, we catered for all the players guests and families with an asado of two recently slaughtered sheep, there was live music, some really exciting polo and everyone had a ball. I had a bad fall from a huge foul, landed awkwardly on my hip and was hit on the head by a horse’s hoof but my helmet saved the day so I was able to carry on.

    Such a great weekend, I’m itching for the season to start back in Richmond in early March now.

    New pitch
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    Asado time with the boys
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    Picada time
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    Beer O'clock
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    #18
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  19. The Cone of Silence

    The Cone of Silence Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2006
    Oddometer:
    213
    Location:
    Kurrajong, New South Wales, Australia
    Day 13 – Coldstream – Richmond NSW

    The ride home. Ugh. Started at 6am, home by 3pm. No traffic, roads good, temperature fine…although cold through Bonnie Doon so the heated grips came into their own. One stop for breakfast and coffee, the next to see The Big Merino, get some fuel and a meat pie in Goulburn (I love the 500km range on these things) and within an hour of getting home I’d cleaned the bike, unpacked all my gear, put the washing on and sat down with a cold beer.

    What an awesome trip….I really do love Tasmania and I’ll certainly be back again as even after 9 visits I still don’t think I’ve scratched the surface of this extraordinary island.

    Big Merino.jpg
    #19
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  20. Markaso del Norte

    Markaso del Norte Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2012
    Oddometer:
    47
    Location:
    Victoria BC Canada
    Thanks for the great pictures, and trip report! Tasmania is on my list to ride.
    #20