Great Tasmania Bike Ride

After having  a fun time with Bicycle Victoria doing the Great Victoria Bike ride last year I jumped at the opportunity to do the Great Tasmania Bike Ride.  The ride started at Devonport and ended in Hobart travelling via the west coast. I really enjoyed this ride. It is very beautiful, relatively safe being almost devoid of cars. The roads are in good condition. There are a few tough climbs, but the long downhill runs make them worth every bit of the punishing exertion required for the ascent.
Overnight Stops:
  1. Sheffield
  2. Cradle Mountain
  3. Rosebery
  4. Strahan
  5. Queenstown
  6. Derwent Bridge
  7. Ouse
  8. Hobart
Here we all gathered, not as large a group as the Great Vic bike ride last year, but nether-the-less it was still quite substantial for an organised tour. The water stations, toilet trucks, baggage trucks, canteen, bike repair shops, medics  were all there ready for the daily exodus between towns from Devonport to Hobart via the west coast.
Mobile mission bus.

Rather than the Apollo 2 racing bike I bought in 1981  that I used last year, I decided that my Specialized Rockhopper mountain bike was a much better tool for the job required to ride the hills in Tassie.  I bought this bike in England in 1989 and used it to tour the west coast of Eire.


Our first destination, Sheffield is a pleasant town, its claim to fame being the town murals. The day was fine and everyone in a great spirits.

Mural on building.
Our warm up ride from Devonport was somewhat more than the 16km we had in Bairnsdale, Victoria. This ride is a bit more for the serious cyclist. Oops, I am a glutton for punishment. Training, what's that ? Anyway, I'm here now so suffer. The pub sure helped with recovery today.
Pub in Sheffield.
The country riding into and beyond Sheffield is sublime, especially on this sunny day. I fell in love with it and could easily live here, on a sunny day anyway.
Mt Roland.
The ride up to Cradle mountain was a real challenge. I note the difference between those who are cyclists and those who are not. I am one of the ones who are not !  Sheer determination got me up those hills, and it was an absolute hoot whizzing down them. One guy had a blowout descending into Cethana near the crossing over Lake Barrington. Lucky for him it was on the rear wheel and somehow he negotiated and accident free stop.
Bridge at Cethana.
The water system is very pretty around Lake Barrington and the lake has an international rowing course. Unfortunately we scooted on throught, so I've earmarked it for future visits. You can't do everything on a trip such as this.

There was no way I was going to walk up the steep hill out of Lake Barrington - hero. Heroes die young they say, I was a great deal of pain in one of my knees due to the amount of continual load. No training, no such thing as bike fit and correct gear choice, I am paying my dues. Lucky for me a volunteer nurse attended to my sore knee. Gave me some medicine containing ibprofen which did the trick to allevieate it - magic stuff.

Walking up hill.

I was able to recover sufficiently to then make an excursion to Dove Lake at the base of Cradle mountain. What a glorious place, I am in love with its rugged beauty on every visit.

Cradle Mountain.
At the end of a long bout of physical effort, it's nice to sit down and chill. There is a lodge near Cradle mountain that had sufficient supplies of that essential liquid to assist with our relaxation and conversation.
Relaxing after a hard ride.

Our campsite was crude, a simple bush setting. It was fitting for this place.

Camp site.
The next day was one big exhilarating, predominantly downhill ride to Rosebery. Clocked 80 kph on my trusty mountain bike woohoo !

I got a letter from my girlfriend Caroline: Stuart Kinnear Poste Restante, Rosebery. She got a postcard back.... Romance.

This town is an old mining settlement. Mining gold, zinc, copper and few other metals. There is a few relics around. In contrast to the mining it is set in a pretty landscape.  The highest waterfalls in Tassie are situated here - the Montezuma falls. Being a 3 hour walk, and being somewhat tired from yesterday I did not partake  in the excursion.
Museum mining.

We woke early for our next leg. Riding to Strahan via Zeehan. This time there were a few ups, but they were tempered with a good few long downshill runs. Son enough we reached our destination. Strahan is a pretty fishing and tourism village, we popped in to the historic hotel for a debrief on plans for the rest of the day. (I am not a drinker, by any means. One pot is enough for me, any more and I'm done especially after this kind of exertion.)
Hamer's Hotel.
I went on a plane trip over the Macquarie harbour and Franklin river area. This plane trip is highly recommended.
sea plane.

The flight is quite wide ranging, taking  you out to the famous penal settlement at Sarah Island near the mouth of the harbour mouth and over the valleys of the Gordon / Franklin rivers.

Sarah Island .

This area was famous for the mass protests over the damming of the Franklin river. I am glad the protestors won the fight to keep this wonderful area dam free. 

View of Gordon river valley.

Riding out of Strahan we pass streams and waterfalls. The water is so dark, almost black due to the he presence of tannin in the water which is leached out of the peat soils along path of the river's catchment.


Our next stop Queenstown, is famous for its lunar like landscape. It is bereft of trees because of the mining pollution. Unfortunately it is kept that way, despite nature's effort at recovery due to some weeding efforts to ensure tourists keep coming. Queenstown is a sad, yet somehow compelling place to visit. Queenstown has a lot to offer with museums, a heritage rail and township.

Open cut mine.

As with the mining, the tent site on the oval was rock solid.  I reckon the players would be wearing knee pads and other padding ensure protection. It took a lot of effort to get the tent pegs in and I bent a couple trying.

Queenstown tent site.

On the next day it was hard work getting up the hill out of Queenstown, seemingly non stop going for 6km.  This was the ongoing story line for a couple of other places till we got to Derwent Bridge. Situated near the usual termination place for walkers of the Cradle mountain overland walk.  There is a pub and a general store here, plus a big bunch of riders.

Day 7, getting close to our finale. This was great ride, mostly downhill and somewhat chilly passing the lakes through Tarraleah - stopping got lunch to Ouse.

Tarraleah is a hydro-electric town built for the workers.  There are some nice sandstone buildings in Ouse. It is famous for the convicts James Goodwin and Thomas Connolly who broke out of the south west wilderness after escaping from Sarah Island.

The termination of our journey was at New Norfolk.  A relatively short ride with one biggish up then long downhill runs. 

We camped at the Cenotaph, which is a delightful sight overlooking the City of Hobart with Mount Wellington in the background.  
 The group gathers for  our final night. A movie, some speeches and a great sunset. It's all over, the post trip blues are already starting. Back to work on Monday, let's not think about that now.
Final gatherng.
A celebratory drink and we say our goodbyes, one of my buddies was off for an extended tour with his wife. The rest of use were then bussed back to Devonport for the overnight ferry trip to Melbourne. 
Celebratory drink.
Goodbye Tassie, it has been a wonderful visit.
Sitting by the harbour.