Tasmania – Port Arthur, Cape Huay and sinking boats

Last week my partner and I had the pleasure of visiting the lovely verdant Tasmania. Now all of you fellow Aussie out there are probably thinking why on oath would go to Tassie in the middle of bloody winter*. I could tell you that it is because of our love all things winter, or that we wanted to experience what cold actually is, or even that we really wanted to see the Cadbury factory, but in truth we went because we were luck enough to win flights from the Tassie Government “Cheeky Seats Giveaway“. This awesome campaign, with an equally awesome logo, gave us return flights to the Hobart on the proviso that we spent our tourist dollars in the relatively cash poor economy**.

Well what could we do by comply. I won’t bore you with the details of the trip except to say that you should ALL go to MONA and watch the video of two men puttering around a Loch in Scotland in a wood fired steam boat, using the boat itself as fuel!

*******  Not Details of the Trip – Start *******

Actually I will give you some details because otherwise the photos below won’t make much sense.

After spending our first day in Tassie relaxing, the second day was spent at MONA looking at some really amazing art, much of which I don’t even pretend to understand. I was impressed by the amount of interested (ready nerdy engineering) art that was there including the afore-mentioned boat, a great video of a remote control helicopter in a box, and an amazing whole of room projection showing lots of data about the galaxy as exported from somewhere that is home to smart people.  I don’t know if I can explain it in any useful way, it is quite amazing to walk around a room that strongly resembles the matrix.

Following my enlightenment at MONA we went out to Port Arthur to get some history and nature into our trip as well. Port Arthur itself is home to some amazing elements of Australian history, from early whaling and convict settlements right through the modern times with bush fires and the massacre. What really made the visit though was doing the ghost tour after dark. The passion and story-telling of the guide made it a night to remember, I don’t think I have ever jumped as much when a door slammed on queue!

From here it was off to Cape Huay and the tallest sea cliffs in the world. Growing up in Sydney, and having spent a fair bit of time on the various head lands and cliffs that bless the east coast generally I thought I was pretty well on top of how tall cliffs along the ocean could be. These sea cliffs are something else entirely!

Formed from dolomite the cliffs are sheer, angular and incredibly tall making for dramatic scenery unlike anything I’d ever seen before. To see the best of the best, and in the hope of seeing the famous Totem Pole we made our way to Fortescue Bay in the Tasman National Park and went for a stroll for a few hours our to Cape Huay. The well-formed track  took about 2.5 hours of walking to reach the cape and passed through some beautiful eucalypt forest as well as Tasmanian coastal heath zones.

Once we were the we were greeted with spectacular views, massive cliffs, tea and rainbows.

*******  Not Details of the Trip – End *******

Hope you enjoyed the photos, and not being given details of the trip!


* The British among your are probably thinking 8 degrees, is positively balmy still!

** The Tassie economy possibly being weak because they export delicious products like cheese, salmon, apples and seaweed instead of coal.

Flashback: Walls of Jerusalem and Overland Track

In late 2009 a few friends and I went down to Tasmania to do a walk through the Walls of Jerusalem and Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Parks. The walk linked up the ever popular overnight walk into the Walls of Jerusalem and the Overland Track by passing across the less popular tracks in between.

I was joined on the walk by friends from my scouting days, uni and travelling, so the six of us were an eclectic assortment of generally lovely people.

Tasmania Hike 2009 497

The walking crosses a vast range of landscapes and geological features including alpine mountains, glacial moraine, perched lakes, and grass fields.

The plan before leaving was something along the lines of:

Est Time
Walls of Jerusalem Car Park
Wild Dog Creek
Wild Dog Creek
Lake Adelaide
Lake Adelaide
Lake Meston
Lake Meston
Pine Hut Plain
Pine Hut Plain
New Pellion Hut
New Pellion Hut
Kia Ora (& Mt Ossa)
Kia Ora (& Mt Ossa)
Pine Valley
Pine Valley
Cynthia Bay

As with any walk the plans didn’t pan out exactly as intended. We shifted around campsites based on the very very wet weather, and changing levels of fitness as the walk progressed.

Some of my favourite photos from the trip are:

Keeping Track of Adventures

Hi Everyone,

I’ve decided that blogs frustrate me because you can never find a page you want when you want it. For that reason I have created a new page called my Adventure Directory, where I intend to keep links to all the cool adventures friends and I have had over the years. I may even include some posts from my favourite blogs, like twobreakfasts,  Tandem Travellers and Northern Walker.

I will also try to add some old adventures to my collection of posts because I’m fairly certain I can put up a reasonable collection of posts for each state and territory.

If anyone wants to do a guest post feel free to let me know because the bigger the directory  the better really.

Tassie Cycle Tour- Days 7- 9 – Across the top!

This post follows on from my previous posts about Tasmania and it may be worth reading those posts first, alternatively enjoy!

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.

This ancient myrtle is a species remanent from Gondwanna forests that once covered Australia.

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 Chinese Miners Heritage Trail was a beautiful outdoor museum to the lives of Chinese miners in northern Tasmania

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.

The carved trees of the Legerwood War Memorial.

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.

Tassie Cycle Tour: Day 4 to Day 6

This is a continuation of our report on cycle touring around Tasmania in December 2011. For an over view of the whole trip see our Trip Overview, and it might be best to read Days 1- 3 first, but that is up to you…

Tassie Cycle Tour Days 4-6

Day Four: Rest Day at Swanwick and Freycinet

Having struggled through day 3 we’d spent the night in a nice holiday house with Clare’s sisters and awoke fresh and ready for the day ahead. Freycinet is probably on the most beautiful bits of coast in Tasmania and is certainly up there with all the parts of Australia’s coast that I’ve seen so far.

We walked out to Wineglass Bay which is pretty amazing, the white quartz sand, orange lichen covered rocks and crashing waves made for an impressive display of natures beauty and power. After a quick snack we got walking again heading over land to the other side of the peninsula. Halfway along the track we came across a side track that lead to a large shallow lake surrounded by trees and reeds. The rest of the walk was beautiful and punctuated by rain squalls.

That night we went out the a fancy restaurant in Coles Bay called Madge Molloy’s, If you are ever in the area go there because it was fantastic!

Day 5: Scamander (93km)

This was our first really long day, but luckily we had the wind behind us as we headed north along the coast. The road was relatively flat along the coast and we made good time, except for some larger than desired hills when there we nowhere for the road to go but over the headland. At around lunch time we made it the Chain of Lagoons which was a beautiful series of beaches and lagoons along the coast, with lots of shorebirds running around. The chill breezed kept us from dwelling for too long so we reluctantly got back on our bikes and headed for Scamander.

We spent the night at Scamander Caravan park which is at the northern end of town. The facilities were a little old (the camp kitchen was not enclosed for example), but a walk along the beach and around the river mouth cheered us up. For anyone planning on stopping in Scamander get there early because there seems to be one IGA in town which was closing up at about 6pm when we were there.These windblown dunes were filled with shells, driftwood and other debris, Continue reading

Tassie Cycle Tour: Day 1 to Day 3

So after a large delay I’ve found our journal from or cycling trip around Tasmania (it was hidden on the bookshelf) and I have decided to start loadings some of the highlights and key lessons into a series of posts over the next few weeks. So here goes…

Day 1: Hobart Airport to Sandspit Forest Reserve (Wielangta Forest Drive) 49km

After delays at Hobart Airport I found Clare, assembled my bike very slowly and we got on our way. Today was only ever going to be a short day as we knew that we’d need to do some shopping, adjust our bikes and make sure we knew how to steer such heavily loaded bikes. From the airport we headed straight for Sorell, which was a fast flat ride but the traffic was pretty terrible so not that enjoyable. After stocking up on food and matches we turned east and headed towards the town of Copping for lunch. Copping is a fairly small town that seems to be almost entirely for sale, but we met some nice people who told us about a picnic area we could camp at that night. Continue reading

Tasmanian National Parks

So, cleaning out my room before I move to Brissie I came across our National Park Passport from the tassie trip. I am fairly certain the the passport is designed for kids but we got into collecting stamps in a fairly serious way. We knew we were never going to get every stamp, but I would say we did a fairly good job!

Image   Image

We made it to:

  • Mt Field
  • Freycinet
  • Tasman
  • Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers
  • Mole Creek Karst
  • Cradle Mountain
  • Lake St Clair

Cycling Tasmania – Amazing ride around the whole state!

In December 2011 my partner and I set out on an adventure, to cycle tour around Tasmania from Hobart to Hobart the long way. Before setting out I had never really ridden on overnight cycle tours and you’d think that this should have led to some trepidation, but no, this was to be our big adventure and that is exactly how we treated it. Plus Tasmania is an island with lots of people living on it and plenty of places to get food and water so how hard could it be?

Before reading too much you might like to have a look at the map of where we rode, and the vertical profile showing some of the hills we encountered on the way. The map can be reached by clicking on the link below.

The Graceful Cyclists Tasmania Cycle Touring Map

The route we cycled anticlockwise around Tasmania. The vertical profile is shown on the right.

The route we cycled anticlockwise around Tasmania. The vertical profile is shown on the right.

Our itinerary was as follows:
Day 1: Hobart Airport to Cape Bernier Nature Reserve
Day 2: Swansea
Day 3: Swanwick (Coles Bay)
Day 4: Rest Day at Freycinet National park
Day 5: Scamander
Day 6: Binalong Bay and Cosy Corner Campsite (The Gardens)
Day 7: Weldborough Pub – Really worth staying at!
Day 8: Scottsdale
Day 9: Launceston

Day 10: Rest Day in Launceston and walking in Cataract Gorge
Day 11: Mole Creek
Day 12: Side Trip to Mole Creek Caves then Gowrie park
Day 14: Cradle Mountain – otherwise known as UP!
Day 15: Rest Day exploring Cradle Mountain National Park
Day 16: Roseberry
Day 17: Strahan
Day 18: Rest Day and river cruise on the Franklin
Day 19: Collingwood River via Queenstown
Day 20: Lake St Clair
Day 21: Rest Day: Exploring the national park and Mt Rufus – the day of snakes!
Day 22: Lake Meadowbank via the 14 mile road
Day 23: Mt Field
Day 24: Rest Day at Mt Field with riding and coffee drinking
Day 25: Hobart

Cycling Tasmania is an amazing way to see what is an amazing island. Each day we rose at a positively respectable time and set out on our bikes not really knowing what we would encounter before the campsite we had selected for that night. Despite this lack of planning we were never wanting for interesting landmarks to break up the ride as everywhere you go there are beaches, valleys, mountains, cafes, museums, creeks, rivers (proper ones) and more cafes.

Most of the time it was the small things which made out trip as enjoyable as it was. On one occasion as we rolled down cruised across the north of Tasmania we came across a sign for a Chinese mining exhibit of to the left. Having time to spare, and inclination to explore we followed the signs and found ourselves in the front year of a strangers following signs to the exhibit. At the top of the hill we found an excellent little display and walk that explored the cuttings and water works created by miners prospecting for tin and gold in the area.

Trip Details:

Days 1-3

Days 4-6

Days 7-9

In terms of notes we made that everyone cycling around Tasmania should know there are very few and are as follows.

1) The ferry between Swansea and Coles Bay doesn’t seem to run any more. We were quite disappointed when we found out we’d have to ride an extra 30km around the bay.

2) The Weldborough pub is excellent with hot showers and nice camping. Even better the pub has a great range of local beer and soft drinks which are worth stopping for.

3) The steepest hill we found was riding from Moles Creek towards Paradise on the Union Bridge Road.

4) Lake St Clair to Lake Meadowbank is a really long way (96km) but the 14mile road bypass of Tarraleah makes the ride manageable. Also there isn’t any water at the Lake Meadowbank campsites any more.

To see our photos go to our Tasmania Cycling Adventures photo album.