November 2012

November 2 – Beauty Point to Green Beach return 42.76 klms, Avg speed 18.6 kph, Cycling time 2.17 hrs; Total kms 30,851

The rain did come, it fell yesterday and poured down until early afternoon, our little tent kept us dry thanks to Greg giving it another coat of waterproofing stuff whilst at Somerset.  Our plan to ride to Greens Beach via Clarence Point was shelved so we stayed an extra day & rode there today in the sunshine, worth the wait & worth the ride to visit these pretty coastal villages.

November 3 – Beauty Point to Low Head 47.72 klms, Avg speed 15.2 kph, Cycling time 3.08 hrs; Total kms 30,899

For the last 3 mornings the birds have worken us at 5.30am, singing away as the light appeared, no complaints from us though, couldn’t think of a better way to be woken.  We spotted loads of birds around the park-Black Cockatoos, Superb Fairy Wrens, Blackbirds, Galahs, Seagulls, a Mum & Dad Plover being overly protective of their cute babies & many more singing away but couldn’t see.  There was nothing amazing about today’s ride except that we both found the going tough initially, bit of an uphill to start, bit of a head wind, it was going to be a long ride to Low Head.  After Beaconsfield we started to get into a rhythm, lucky as we tackled quite a few long inclines, great joy though to wizz down the other side.  No other choice for us but to ride on the East Tamar Hwy, encountered a few log trucks & long weekend traffic too but with a pretty good shoulder it wasn’t too bad, we’ve ridden on worse roads.  Trotted into town for dinner and had a meal at the local Chinese restaurant, it was exceptional some of the best chinese food we’ve encountered, even had fresh asparagus in some dishes.

November 4 – Low Head

Low Head  (pop 474) is a small hamlet on a peninsular by the same name 5 klms NW of George Town (pop 6700 approx).  The latter’s not attractive but Low Head is in a different world.    On the mouth of the Tamar River it is known for its diving off Low Heads Pilot Station, the town also has a lighthouse, a beach & a penguin colony.  With such beautiful scenery it would be chockers in the summer months.

November 5 – Low Head to Bridport 61.63 klms, Avg speed 14.1 kph, Cycling time 4.20 hrs; Total kms 30,961

It’s finally getting warm, yippee!  For the first time in months I set out in short sleeves & ‘Ol Alberto reduced to 1 layer after we climbed a very, very long hill.  Pretty tough 4 hours of cycling as we rode up & down hills battling a nasty headwind, brought back awful memories of riding in WA.  Plenty of traffic on the roads but they were all heading the other way, back to Launceston after the long weekend, hehe.  The caravan park at Bridport was a scene of packing up by Mum & Dad while the kids sit in the car, why do they let that happen!!  The park overlooks Anderson Bay, it’s in a great spot & we can see & hear the water from our site & tonight it’s practically deserted again.  I’m tapping this out in the camp kitchen, the water about 50 metres away & the Furneaux group of islands in the distance.  Chef Greg is busy at the BBQ overflowing with steaks, sausages, onions & zucchini to be accompanied with salad, peas & corn yum yum.

November 6 – Bridport (pop 1350)

It’s a pretty coastal town with wildflower, history, river & forest walks plus safe secluded swimming beaches.  Not that we’ll see much today because today is Melbourne Cup, the race that stops a nation including us, we’re stopping for it too and no doubt lose a dollar or two in the process!

November 7 – Bridport to Scottsdale 25.00 klms, Avg speed 14.3 kph, Cycling time 1.44 hrs; Total kms 30,986

Undulating, scenic, horses, cows, other things, nice coffee at the Gallery Cafe, no wind, free camping at Northeast Park where we were entertained by a platypus, it was all very noice.  The Park was pretty full with caravans taking advantage of the free camping, having no powered sites, camp kitchen or laundry isn’t an issue for them as most vans can be self sufficient with solar panels & gas fridges etc.  Usually we find a power point in a camp kitchen or laundry to recharge our mobiles, laptop etc but in this Park the only power point was in the ladies wash room, desperation took over in the end & I sat outside it for an hour as our mobiles limped back to life.  We stayed in Scottsdale for 2 days, it’s in the heart of NE Tasmania’s rich agricultural, dairying & forest region, we had magnificent views of the surrounding countryside as we peddled up hill & down dale approached the town, boy was a hilly place!

November 9 – Scottsdale to Branxholm 25.46 klms, Avg speed 13.1 kph, Cycling time 1.56 hrs; Total kms 31,011

2 big hills, slow, steep, scenic, savoury scone at the local cafe.  Great camping at Branxholm Centennial Park, cheap at $7.00 for unpowered or $14 for power, we chose the former as we sat in the laundry all afternoon keeping warm but also bringing all our electrics back to life, mobiles, laptop, camera batteries, this park had lots of power points!!  We were the only ones staying at this park & came to the conclusion the absence of water available to the caravans.  Perhaps that’s why Northeast Park was more popular plus it’s free except for the $3.00 fee per shower, funny what’s important to each traveller, we liked them both. 

November 10 – Branxholm to Weldborough 30.00 klms, Avg speed 12.7 kph, Cycling time 2.21 hrs; Total kms 31,041

Arriving at The Weldborough Hotel ‘Ol Alberto declared “I really enjoyed that ride”.  “Why?” I asked always happy to hear his version of the ride, “Well, there were open dairy farms, forests & what looked like rainforest, we crossed 2 rivers, the Ringarooma & the Cascade & we stopped to have a cuppa at Derby, a pretty, historic tin mine town”.  I agreed, despite one very long winding 6 klm uphill ride which we’ve now decided to rate out of 10, that was a 7.  There were a group of bikies outside the hotel & one said there’s a steeper hill for us to climb tomorrow, gee thanks mate, that’ll get us bounding out of bed.  Weldborough’s pretty isolated except for a scattering of houses & the hotel which offers camping facilities out the back, pretty spot too.  We were going to pitch the tent when Mark, the manager, offered us a cabin for $24.00 including heating.  When he told us there had been a frost that morning we jumped at the chance.  After a refreshing shower we quenched our thirst with a cider & beer & sat in the beer garden.  With its Silver Birch trees, lush grass, flower garden & the sound of blackbirds chirping away you could have been sitting in an English pub.  What a great spot and with Mark & Felicity’s welcome and delicious home cooked meals it’s a place to definitely recommend.

November 11 – Weldborough to St. Helens 51.56 klms, Avg speed 16.0 kph, Cycling time 3.13 hrs; Total kms 31,093

No frosty morning but we left clad in a few layers of cycling gear which quickly came off as we started to climb that steep hill.  We rated it 8, steeper than the ones yesterday but a much shorter climb.  At the top we headed to a lookout & met Geoff, a Pomme, touring around Tassie & South Australia on his own, always nice to meet & chat to other tourers.  The tiny township of Pyengana was a dot in the valley below and that’s where we zoomed down for 8 long winding klms, even I reached 52 kph but as for ‘Ol Alberto he reached an incredible 68 kph, even a car couldn’t keep up with him!!  24 klms further one we descended into the fishing village of St. Helens, a great base to explore the scenically-beautiful region including the beaches & coastlines of the Bay of Fires.  We’re staying for 4 days as the local caravan park gives you the 4th one for free and it has the most fantastic camp kitchen.  It’s also a good time to catch up on admin stuff as we’re way, way behind with all that stuff.  Must mention a great meal we had at St. Helens at the Blue Shed Restaurant, excellent food, service & views to die for.

November 15 – St. Helens to Scamander 19.23 klms, Avg speed 17.2 kph, Cycling time 1.07 hrs; Total kms 31,112

We shall remember our stay at Scamander not because of the nice location of the caravan park or the long, long deserted beach but because we were caught in a hail storm!  Luckily we had shelter, of sorts, in the camp kitchen as we watched the dark storm clouds approach then pelt the roof with hail.  Greg raced to the tent with a plate on his head to see if our poor tent was destroyed, luckily it survived with not a drop of water inside.  Because we couldn’t see what was happening to the tent we were expecting the worse & I was going into contingency mode if it was destroyed—stay in a cabin in the park, ride back to St. Helens the next day & pick up a cheap, replacement tent & continue on.  Luckily we didn’t have to activate my plan.

November 16 – Scamander to Bicheno 60.00 klms, Avg speed 15.3 kph, Cycling time 3.54 hrs; Total kms 31,172

There have been many times over the past 4.5 years where we’ve missed hundreds of festivals,  our arrival has either been too early or too late.  But not this time, the day after our arrival was the Bicheno Food & Wine Festival, the acclaimed gourmet festival of the year now attracting larger crowds every year.  The sun shone, the band played, the wine flowed, the food delicious and everybody seemed to be having a great time, including us.  We ended the day having dinner at Cyranos a French restaurant.  It got good reviews with a warning, the owner is the chef and the only chef so be prepared to wait.  Our 7pm booking was good timing, not too busy & the delightful waitress did indeed tell us that the mains took about 50 mins so the suggestion was to have an entree, great advice.  Unfortunately you could feel the frustration of the delays from a larger table that came later.  But the waitress remained calm and so did the chef who was working quietly away in the kitchen. 

What luck it was that the festival was held on the Saturday, on the Sunday the rain poured down and it was cold too, a really miserable day so we took ourselves off to the pub for lunch. 

We’d been to Bicheno many years ago, could remember the beautiful rocks, foreshore path & fishing fleet bobbing on the water.  It’s a favourite place for holiday makers but it’s changed quite a lot with more development and on the downside no decent place to have a coffee.  Our ride there on the Friday started out very chilly with blustery winds but the coastal views & quiet road soon made up for it.

November 19 – Bicheno to Coles Bay 38.47 klms, Avg speed 21.00 kph, Cycling time 1.49 hrs; Total kms 31,210

Coles Bay, gateway  to the Freycinet National Park, great place to base yourself lots of walking, kayaking, whale spotting or just sitting on a rock & gazing down at Wineglass Bay with its clear blue waters & long sandy beach.  Fast ride today on a quiet road with a tail wind pushing us along.  We’re staying for 4 days, we’ve got another of those deals where the last night is free.  There’s only one caravan park here so they charge like wounded bulls, the campers (us) are shoved right back up the park out of sight & the camp kitchen leaves a lot to be desired, they even charge to use the BBQ too!  To heck with that we’ll use the free one in the park.  Still our tent is pitched in a nice spot and the sun is out, it’s actually warm so we intend to spent little time at the camp & lots of time exploring the beautiful region.

November 23 – Coles Bay to Swansea 59.76 klms, Avg speed 16.7 kph, Cycling time 3.33 hrs; Total kms 31,270

Touch & go whether we’d leave this morning, twisted my ankle scrambling Mount Amos yesterday but after a quick ride on the bike declared it was easier to ride than walk on it, also we’d been at Coles Bay for 4 days so wanted to move on.  More beautiful riding past walnut groves, vineyards spectacular views down over Moulting Lagoon.  Climbed the one & only hill on our route (rating 4/10) and Celeste & Rick, who we’d met at Coles Bay, stopped their car for a chat, you do meet some really nice folk when travelling.  Had a cuppa at The Bark Mill Tavern arriving into Swansea and the chef, Humphrey aka “H” chatted away to us, happy fella he was too.  We stayed at Swansea for a couple of days, such a pretty spot being on Great Oyster Bay with views to the mountains on the Freycinet Peninsula.  Its population of 550 would swell greatly during the summer tourist season, we saw it at its best.

November 25 – Swansea to Triabunna 51.48 klms, Avg speed 15.7 kph, Cycling time 3.16 hrs; Total kms 31,321

Set off with some anticipation today as the weather forecast predicted head winds but again they got it wrong, turned out to be more side/tail winds, yippee!  Some animal spotting today, stopped to watch a sheep dog working like crazy, also saw horses & foals & unfortunately saw an Echidna who’d lost a battle with a vehicle, how sad.  Such scenic riding along the coast, Tassie is just breathtakingly beautiful.  How lucky that we still have no time limit on this cycle trip so we have the flexibility of staying more than 1 night in each town, as you can obviously tell, so we’re staying in Triabunna (pop 930) for 3 days.  It’s a working port that started life as a garrison town for the penal colony on Maria Island & today the town is supported largely by the woodchip mill at Point Home, the local fishing industry and sheep farms.  It’s also the departure point for Maria Island with its World Heritage listed convict settlement, walks & wildlife so we’re hopping over there on Wed.

November 28 – Triabunna to Dunalley 64.99 klms, Avg speed 13 kph, Cycling time 4.57 hrs; Total kms 31,386

The birthday girl had visions of a lazy day gazing out to Maria Island from a waterfront motel at Orford, not doing much really except a bit of crochet, catching up on news, a few celebratory drinks etc etc.  But Ol ‘Alberto had other plans, hold the birthday bash at the Dunalley Pub, 65 klms away where there’s no accommodation, showers or water but where you can pitch the tent at the back of the pub, have a shower at the Community Centre & by all accounts a fairly decent meal at the pub.  Oh and by the way most of today’s ride with be on gravel via Nugent & Copping.  After turning off at Buckland we climbed up one very long gravel hill (8.5/10 rating that one), skidded half way so Ol ‘Alberto had to give me a push whilst muttering I should have mastered the art of doing hill starts by now!!  Heatwave conditions too so we stopped at the top of the ridge for a cuppa, peanut butter sandwich & banana, fought off beastly march flies but then the day got better, a hilly, scenic downward ride passing orchards, forests, farms, a pig & cat, on a road with hardly any cars and with the sun shining too.  Don’t know what happened to the forecast tail wind, ended up being a side wind, they got it wrong again.   After 5 hours of dusty cycling I declared it a tough day so headed to the Community Centre for my shower only to be told they don’t let the public use the showers anymore, great!  As we cycled to the Dunalley Pub dolphins frolicked in the blue waters, just watching them made you feel good after a tiring day.  After a “top & tail” wash in the tent, we put on our party gear & headed to the pub for a well deserved cleansing ale & feasted on garlic prawns & Chicken Parmigiana, no need to guess who had what!  We both slept well, me dreaming of those Maria Island views.

November 29 – Dunalley to Port Arthur 39.71 klms, Avg speed 14 kph, Cycling time 2.49 hrs; Total kms 31,426

Only a short ride today but boy the first 20 klms took a long time, could have been the after effects of last night or we’re still getting used to these Tassie hills.  Rode a huge downhill into Eaglehawk Neck, bit of a worry as we have to climb on our return from Port Arthur.  We were desperate for a coffee as missed out yesterday so our spirits lifted when the Blue Seal Cafe came into view.  Amazing the restorative powers of a coffee & cake as we sprinted along to Port Arthur.  The only reason you’d come to Port Arthur is to visit the Historic Site, which we did on our last visit to Tassie.  I did wonder why we cycled here as we’re not visiting the site again and there’s really not much else here plus we have to cycle out again and up that darn hill!  Saying that, the Caravan Park is fantastic, it’s huge, spacious, surrounded by gorgeous gum trees, full of bird life and for once, the camp kitchen is great.  With so many vacant camp sites you wonder why 2 other touring cyclists camped virtually on top of us and played music until midnight grrrrrr so no rest for me.  As we’ve been told “if you want peace and quiet, don’t stay in a caravan park, how true.