Waking up at Friendly beaches on the east coast of Tasmania is a lovely experience. Before packing up we made an exciting breakfast of museli and wandered down to the beaches. As I have said before the coves at Friendly Beaches are amazing, and eating breakfast with clear water, white sand and red rocks can only lead to happiness! Eventually we got packed up (it was actually pretty early for us) and started riding for the day.
Day 7: Friendly Beaches to Weldborough – 65km
We started by tracking back into St Helens, travelling against the flow of recreational cyclists, and rode into town in time to pick up some fresh food from the markets. All stocked up we said our last good byes to the coast and rode up hill into the already strengthening headwind which would become our company for the rest of our trip. Fortunately the road levelled out and became a nice undulating road that followed ridge lines and valleys inland towards our penultimate destination for that day, Weldborough Pass, which would be he highest point on our east coast adventure. On the way we passed signs indicating that the pass would be one lane only road works were in progress but with the only option requiring many tens of kilometres more riding we kept going.
A lunch time we stopped at Halls Falls which are a series of small waterfalls which were previously redirected by in miners working this area around the turn of he centuary. Amazingly many of the diversions were still in place and we followed the man made water course along the side of the hill for almost a kilometre before it petered out.
From here we rode on towards our loft goal and the constant gradients, headwinds and warm temperature out of the wind took its toll. However we persevered and after nearly 20km of riding in granny-gear we reached the summit of Weldborough Pass (yes the Pass has a conveniently located summit) and took time to enjoy the knowledge we had climbed from sea level to 1680m that day, and that the ups and downs in the road probably added a lot more elevation change to that figure. To make matters even better Clare’s sisters had level a beer for her at the top so things were looking up!
The ride down the other side of the pass was fast and cold. A few minutes after starting out decent we stopped at a rainforest walk just off the side of the road and were immediately surrounded by ancient groves of Myrtle Beech and a rainforest community only found in Tasmania. The ancient trees are unlike anything else in Australia and their gnarled limbs are testament to how they have survived.
Riding on we stopped while an Echidna removed itself from the road and then finally made it to Weldborough Pub, the most welcome campsite and hot showers of the trip. For anyone going to Tasmania make sure you stop at the Weldborough Pub and make the most of the hospitality and the great selection of Tasmanian beverages including the Tasmanian Chilli Brewing Company (my favourite soft drinks in the world).
Day 8: Weldborough to Scottsdale – 59km
Something you need to know about riding across the top of Tasmania is that there are hills. Not long big hills, but those repetitive small hills that make riding a bike frustrating and tiring. Today started with the promise of lots of down hill, but once we reached the valley floor it would be a slow and windy day. To break up the day we took every opportunity we could to explore the side trips on offer. The first of these was the Moorina cemetery were we looked at the Buddhist funeral memorial and met some locals who told us about all the stops we would take that afternoon. Uphill and much frustration later we were riding along hills smothered with dairy pastures and opium farms.
We eventually arrived in Derby were we were welcomed by the Berri Cafe which sold dairy-free cake! Derby was a pretty town with lots of old buildings including the old school house and post office, but as far as we could tell its claim to fame was as a stop for motorcyclists who all waved at us as they rocketed past at high speed. Not far out of Derby we followed signs to the Chinese Miners Heritage Trail, which was a private museum/memorial to the lives of Chinese miners who has pioneered gold and tin mining in the region. The walk wound through the remanents of old mining leases and mining works where the earthworks of manual labour were still evident. There was also a hut filled with great information about the lives of miners in the region.
The final rest stop of the day was at Legerwood where we ate lunch under the shelter of the disused railway station and admired the war memorial, which consists of carved tree trunks. The carved trunks are those of the original memorial trees which were controversially cut down for safety reasons.
Our day ended at a free campsite in Scottsdale. We made lots of friends there including an Aussie who was riding to Hobart for a friends wedding and a Frenchman who had arrived in Australia and then bough everything for his trip in Kmart.
Day 9: Scottsdale to Launceston – 69km
This was the day we discovered what the last day of the leg of any cycle tour is inevitably like. Knowing that there will be nice food and a bed at the day has an amazing ability to make the day pass slowly and miserably and today was no exception with Clare and I taking turns to be grumpy. The ride into Launceston is really very nice with lots of pretty scenery, and Lilydale Falls to look forward to, but the sky was grey and the head wind was relentless so we passed on taking side trips to places that had always been on our itinerary and had the sole goal of getting to town.