Tour of Tasmania

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The Tour of Tasmania started out with Anthony, Leigh, Chuck, Pete and myself boarding the Spirit of Tasmania on the morning of the 28th of February. We arrived in Devonport that evening, met up with Bec and camped in Devonport for the night. The six of us rode along the north west coast until we arrived at at the Frankland river near the Arthur river where Chuck left the group to return to Melbourne. The remaining five of us then continued down the Western Explorer through Corinna and Zeehan to Strahan. In Strahan Bec and Leigh spent a couple of days there until they also returned to Melbourne (some people work on Mondays!). Pete continued on his own trip to Strathgordon whilst Anthony and I rode through the centre through Queenstown to Hobart. Anthony then left for Melbourne and I met up with Caff, Scott and AJ at the Hobart Airport and we rode up the east coast to St Helens and then towards Scottsdale and to Launceston. We met up with the bike fun crew in Launceston and 14 of us camped in Vicky and Malcolm’s backyard for a couple of days until we rode to Evandale to attend the penny farthing races which were part of the annual Evandale Village Fair. I then rode to Deloraine where I ran into Nik and Ned. Finally I continued alone through Railton and back to Devonport where I boarded the boat back to Melbourne!

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Chuck, Pete and Anthony on the Spirit of Tasmania

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Breakfast, coffee and route planning

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Climbing the ‘Nut’ in Stanley

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Overlooking the bay from the Nut in Stanley

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Bec and Leigh pull up during one of our drink stops between Stanley and Marrawah.

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As we left Smithton, we were confronted by clouds of smoke looming overhead due to a bush fire up on the road ahead.

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We decided to take an alternate route just in case

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As it was ‘snowing’ ashes

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The atmosphere was very surreal, with the smoke from the bush fire diffusing the sunlight giving it an eerie reddish brown ambiance.

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We got back on our bikes and back-tracked the way we came and took a detour until we arrived at this intersection where half the sky was red and the other blue!

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We arrived into Marrawah just as it was getting dark

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Our campsite in Marrawah

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‘The Edge of the World’

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From left to right: Anthony, Pete, Leigh, Chuck and Bec

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This is a great example showing how we were graced with great weather during our travels on the west coast.

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Discussing camp options at an intersection at the end of a long day of riding.

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We found a great little camp site on the banks of the Frankland River. The water in the river is brown due to the tanin from trees along the banks. It took me a while to get my head around the idea that this water was clean, but after tasting the water I was convinced. It tastes like tea!

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Bec taking in the views duing a rest stop on the Western Explorer.

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The first casualty on the trip was Leigh’s Specialized Armadillo rear tyre. The tread began separating from the casing of the tyre. Whilst the Western Explorer’s roads are unsealed and rough, this is unacceptable for a tyre from such a reputable manufacturer!

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We decided to do a repair job using glue from inner-tube patch kits.

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One of many steep decents down the unpaved roads into (what felt like) even steeper climbs on the Western Explorer. It was very difficult to find a smooth line through the rocks on the road and to maintain traction on the rear wheel as we climbed.

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We camped at the Donaldson river which also had brown water from the tanin.

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During the trip I got really used to bathing in the refreshing ice cold water!

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Some sections of road on the Western Explorer were sealed; especially on extremely steep hills.

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I remember this section being an especially hard climb and was grateful for the smooth grippy surface of the road!

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A breath taking view after climbing a hill

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On average five RV’s or cars would pass us during a ‘peak hour’ in the mornings on the western explorer but for the rest of the day, the road was ours!

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One of the many creeks that we came across during our breaks from riding

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The water in this creek was particularly cold, the perfect reward after a day of riding in the heat.

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Bathing in a river near Corinna

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Anthony vs the river

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Relaxing after a day of riding

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The Pieman river in Corinna. We ended up camping at the Corinna camp ground where the unfriendly owners sent us up to an awful spot on top of a rock where we couldn’t even get our pegs into the ground.

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Crossing the Pieman river

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The second casualty on was my front rack, which snapped at the connection point at the fork end.

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We used one of Bec’s tent pegs and a handful of zip ties, which did the trick.

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When we finally reached the sealed roads outside of Corinna, Leigh’s tyre was almost completely bare. Thankfully he didn’t wear through to the inner tube as the kevlar belt between the casing and the inner tube lived up to its name. Leigh had brought along a spare slick tyre (only for use on sealed roads), which he installed and didn’t have any more problems for the rest of the trip.

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After arriving in Zeehan we met a very nice guy called Chris who helped us find a great camp site just out of town near an old iron mining site. To get to the site Chris guided us through the rain down really narrow unsealed paths along the outside of a golf course and through a tunnel. Once at the site he helped us set up a tarp, built a fire and left us with a bunch of beer! We owe you one Chris!

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Rusty water and rocks near the iron mine in Zeehan

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The ‘Spray Tunnel’, which was used to transport miners to the site using a special vehicle.

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Looking out from the tunnel

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Dinner in Strahan. This was the last stop for Bec and Leigh, who boarded a bus back to Devonport after spending a couple of days there. Pete stayed for an extra day and went on his own adventure whilst Anthony and I kept riding towards Hobart.

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The main street in Strahan

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The main street in Queenstown; note the mountains in the distance!

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Looking back into town during the climb out of Queenstown

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More hills to climb

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A waterfall in a rain forest between Queenstown and Lake St Claire

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The Franklin river

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On one of the climbs Anthony reached the top where he had a conversation with an elderly couple for New Norfolk who were touring Tasmania in their RV. I eventually arrived and they offered us beers which we happily accepted. It is amazing how the quality of a beer can be greatly improved based on the context.

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Running out of daylight on our way to the Bronte Lagoon

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Sunset at the Bronte Lagoon

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Bronte Lagoon

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There were many logging trucks on the road between Queenstown and New Norfolk, which was very intimidating. It’d start off with a distant whistling until it turned into the deep roar of a large engine, followed by the truck passing us with less than two meters of a gap between and a huge gust of wind threatening to push us over. Whilst some drivers gave us plenty of room, others would barely move over so we often adopted the method of riding off the road completely onto the gravel (as pictured above) until they passed us.

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After arriving in Hobart, Anthony returned to Melbourne and I met up with Caff, Scott and AJ at the airport. From the airport we rode to Orford and then camped at Spring Beach.

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If you’re ever in Tasmania and want a refreshing beverage, I highly recommend Gillespie’s Ginger Beer!

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On our way to Coles Bay we decided to take a shortcut, which was to ride along the Nine Mile Beach and get a guy who specialized in transporting bicycles by boat to take us across. The service requires that passengers wear life vests, shoes and socks are to be removed along with the front panniers on our bikes. Two bikes are then loaded at the nose of the boat and two passengers are ferried across.

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At the Coles Bay national park we hiked around the Wineglass Bay.

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AJ at the Wineglass Bay

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Caff, Scott and AJ cooking dinner at our campsite in Falmouth

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The beach at Falmouth

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Binalong Bay

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Seagulls hanging around after our barbecue in St Helens

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Moo Brew Pale Ale

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Riding inland from the East Coast (St Helens) towards Scotsdale

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Ringwood Hop Farm; no longer in operation

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Cataract Gorge in Launceston

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The gorge is a popular spot for local kids who like to jump off rocks into the water

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10 meter jump!

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Smokey hanging out on the rocks after a swim in the gorge

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Dinner!

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I mounted an Australian flag on my bike that I found on the side of the road which I assume fell off someone’s car after the Australia Day celebrations. Later on the boat ride back to Tasmania I met Mark and Denise Arundel who have been cycling around Australia for the last eleven months who said they recognized me and my bike (with the flag) from Launceston!

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I really enjoyed touring Tasmania and will be looking into other touring opportunities in Australia and overseas in the near future. The total distance I covered was around 1500 km, detailed map to follow.

11 Comments

  1. Tammy

    Mission accomplished!
    This makes me really want to go to Tasmania right now.
    Moo Brew Pale Ale looks soooo good, I want a taste of that.
    Love it, well done!

  2. Wow, Chris! Looks like a fantastic trip, beautiful sights! Can’t wait to catch up and hear all the stories over a few beers! x

  3. Malcolm and Vicky

    Hi Chris

    looks fantastic! Great trip, must go there sometime!
    cheers M and V

  4. Christopher James

    Hi Malcolm and Vicky,

    Thank you so much for the hospitality, next time you’re in Melbourne I’ll be taking you out for some local ales!

  5. I like the way you have told your story with pictures. As fellow cyclists travelling around the ‘little island’ at the same time you did it is very interesting to see the different perspective.

  6. Kelly

    What a tale!
    Feels like you’ve been on a true road trip. Inspiring.

  7. Malcolm and Vicky

    Hi Chris Will be over on 23 march so look forward to catching up with the crew
    cheers Malcolm

  8. Chuck

    You had the nerve to call yourself a nerd whenever you pulled out your camera during the trip. By the look of these images you’d be one if you hadn’t. Here’s to you and your perceptive eyes, Chris. :)

    xo

  9. melissa Ketchell

    What a cool trip
    What sort of bikes were you riding? I can’t make them out in the pics
    cheers

  10. Christopher James

    For the first part of the trip (Devonport to Strahan), all our bikes were equipped with front and rear racks and panniers whilst for the second leg (Hobart to Devonport) Caff, Scott and AJ had rear racks and panniers only.

    I think most of us ran triple cranks, drop bars with bar-end shifters, and a mixture of 26″ and 700c wheels.

    In terms of our frames:

    Beck and Chuck: Surly Long Haul Truckers (steel)
    Anthony: Mongoose – model unknown (aluminium)
    AJ: Kona – model unknown
    Scott: unknown frame
    Pete: Self-built bicycle and racks! (steel)
    Leigh: Miyata 1000 (lugged steel)
    Caff: Nishiki (from memory, could be wrong) Mixte (lugged steel)
    I rode my Ricardo (lugged steel)

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