Our final day in Tasmania took us back to Devonport via mountains and a Great Lake.
With a big day ahead, we left just after 8am, a sunny yet chilly day, warm gloves on and hand grips turned up high. I haven’t really mentioned the weather much to now but we have been really lucky. April, being Autumn in southern Australia, can be changeable, from early snow to torrential rain to warm days. Tasmania has given us its best April weather and I am grateful for it because riding in rain is just tedious.
However, autumn is coming and a serious change is forecast, thankfully over night just as we sail out, but not before the wind picked up.
And this brought a cool change as we rode up onto the range to cross towards Launceston. Still, we were treated to some great views and dry roads, which was fortunate as this winding mountain road is the main artery between the northern city and the coast.
Also fortunate was that our early start and another public holiday (Anzac Day) meant that we missed encountering the larger of the trucks that use these roads because some of the turns are very tight – navigating a 15km hairpin in a b-double in mainland Australia is actively discouraged but here, they have no choice.
So, this road between St Helens and Launceston via Scottsdale (the A3) is a cracker! Very well maintained while carving through forests, over mountains and through valleys: motorbiking heaven. Undoubtedly one of the best biking roads in Australia.
We stopped just before Derby to check out this guy…a fish formed out of a rock formation, why? Who knows?
Stopping for coffee at Derby, we discovered a tiny mountain town making its name as a mountain biking destination with every facility available to the visitors from bike washing facilities to shuttle buses to stands along the main street. Who knows who came up with the idea but it seems to be working: Derby was packed with mountain bikers.
The road became slightly wider after Derby but there were still moments where we wondered what would happen if we met a large long truck.
We skirted Launceston to the south, stopping for fuel and snacks and then traversed the Tamar River valley towards the Great Lake.
This lake, south of Launceston, is partly natural and partly manmade and sits more than 1,000 metres above sea level. To get there, we climbed the mountain in this pic…
To be provided with this view…
Having climbed about 1,000 metres, the temperature dropped considerably and, although sunny, the wind picked up so it could only be described as ‘bloody freezing’!
Once again, the road (the B51) was amazing, wide with a terrific surface and it climbs very quickly with many delicious hairpins, which can be enjoyed alongside the amazing views.
Through the forest at the top of the mountain, we caught glimpses of the lake in the distance until reaching Miena and beyond where we saw it in all its glory.
A road with long straights between nice curves (the A5) allowed us to traverse the windswept landscape quite quickly although the crosswinds made it quite interesting and we were glad to reach the trees. It was difficult to get a good photo of the lake so a conveniently placed look-out was very welcome.
There was a quick climb before we then snaked our way back down off the plateau in another stunning ribbon of tarmac with more fantastic views and fun hairpins. We were rewarded with the glorious sight of a food truck selling hot soup next to a cider brewery in Deloraine.
It was now around 3pm and, having left so early and not needing to be at the boat wharf until at least 5.30pm, my navigator consulted one of his favourite sources of motorbiking inspiration, Motorcycle Paradise, and selected a longer way to Devonport back via Sheffield.
This route took us through farmland flanked by rocky mountain outcrops and just the hint of rain in the distance.
Riding through Sheffield completed the lap for us in Tasmania so we just had the final stretch back to Devonport.
Our final task for the day was to get ourselves onto the boat, find our cabin and get some sleep because, although we’re done with Tasmania this time, we still have the ride home to look forward to!