Every so often Australia manages to have some public holidays conveniently close together. This year, Easter fell right next to the week of Anzac Day meaning 3 days of leave from work meant 10 days of holidays, the joy! Therefore we decided to head to Tasmania.
Leaving work on Thursday evening, we raced down the motorway to Goulburn (220kms), continuing our journey to Melbourne on Friday (682 kms!).
The Spirit of Tasmania takes a leisurely 9.5 hours to cruise from Melbourne to Devonport, in northern Tasmania. We opted for the overnight option, sleeping soundly while we made our way across Bass Strait, our bikes safely strapped down for the voyage.
Arriving in Devonport we headed south, past Maidstone and into Kentish. Our first stop after maybe 45 minutes was for a coffee in Sheffield (I know, which country are we in again?).
An older gentleman, upon seeing our motorcycles, struck up conversation with us. He was keen to share a lot of useful advice on how to deal with Tasmanian roads. Which roads to ride, beware that the advisory speed signs for bends are intermittent so be ready for “surprise bends”, watch for gravel on the corners. It became clear he was very knowledgeable and not just a blowhard. He confirmed this by casually dropping that he used to write bike reviews for magazines and he maintains two registered bikes, one for himself (a KTM 1290 SuperDuke) and one for visitors (a 2004 R6).
With all the useful tips noted, we geared up and got back on the road. We made a quick stop just after Sheffield to get a picture with a Titanic mock-up bus…
Then on to Cradle Mountain. We arrived at the Visitors’ Centre to learn that the Mountain was only accessible by a shuttle bus and the cloud was low so so it couldn’t be seen. Reluctantly, we decided to skip that but the ride through the mountains, flanked by huge ferns was stunning.
Onward to Helyer Gorge, which is a fun windy road through temperate rainforest. It is a special stage in the Targa Tasmania, the annual 6-day tarmac car rally involving lunatics in Supercars blasting through at hair curling speeds, only two weeks from now.
We passed through the gorge and then doubled back towards Queenstown.
We considered swinging by Strahan (probably a 2 hour deviation) but sense prevailed when the previous days’ riding was starting to impact our fatigue levels.
Queenstown has a long history of mining, being a major source of minerals including gold, silver and copper and the landscape reflects this. We climbed to Spion Kopf lookout (as avid followers know, Australian towns love a good lookout!) and surveyed the landscape scarred by many years of mining – here’s a helpful plaque to explain it all, with the scarred landscape in the background.
Despite this, there was something beautiful about the town of 1,700 people and the large number of sleeping and eating options (relatively!) supported this.
Tomorrow… The Huon Valley.