November 21st-30th, 2001
Flatter terrain made for an easier ride today. Five log trucks passed in the first six km to Triabunna. Maria Island was visible across the bay. This island was a prison for a while, but abandoned when convicts kept swimming ashore. Triabunna was a small fishing town, still asleep in early morning. There was a fishermans memorial in shape of a boat with plaques afixed. Had brekky at north end of Triabunna, just prior to passing the wood chip plant. No more log trucks after that.
Gently rolling hills for most of the ride with pasture lands and sheep. A few cattle, a few vineyardsand walnut farms north of Swansea. At 50 km I stopped at the Spiky Bridge. This bridge was built by convict labor with narrow rocks sticking up as spikes (reason for the spikes has been lost, decorative or function?). At 56 km was larger town of Swansea. Saw a tour bus here with bikes on the back.
After Swansea a slight downhill and flat to 72 km at Cranbrook with some vineyards. From here a climb over a hill and then beautiful views south to Great Oyster Bay. Across the bay is Freycinet Penisula with a national park and beautiful Wineglass Bay.
Bicheno was originally named Old Fishery but was named in honor of James
Bicheno who was Colonial Secretary from 1843 to 1851. It was a coal mining
and port town, but the mines all closed. Today it is a holiday resort
Happy Thanksgiving! Not celebrated here, though my guess is more Australians know about Thanksgiving than Americans know about an Australian holiday such as Anzac day...
An easy ride along pretty coastline today. Flattest terrain in a while with more pastures and forests. Several times I heard a "twang" of an animal through a fence, but didn't see what it was.
Yesterday afternoon Brendan and Wendy came into Bicheno. It was fun to catch up with them, particularly given that we've come through some of the same areas. Since we left Eucla, they've seen more of Tasmania and I had my side trip to Alice Springs.
Last night was also a penguin tour. Small fairy penguins mate and raise their chicks on shores of Tasmania. Each evening, hundreds of penguins come ashore near Bicheno after a day spent fishing. They seem to gather in bunches until there is a group and one starts walking with the rest following. They were surprisingly used to tourists allowing us to observe them walking, fighting, courting and even look inside a nest box. Flash photography damages their eyes, but the guides used lower power flashlights to point them out.
A slightly later start this morning. Nice quiet road with a few settlements but not much in the way of towns. An occasional gentle rise to climb over but mostly flat. I met a cycle tourist from Korea riding around Tasmania and also saw several riders out for a day ride. The Korean cyclist warned me of steep hills after St Helens.
Took the turnoff to Falmouth at 50 km, but didn't find any commercial establishments. Scamander at 59 km did have a few shops and a nice beach. There is a bridge built in 1991 over the Scamander River. Apparently the eighth bridge after seven previous ones have washed away. Scamander was start of an area with more tourist cottages and retreats. Outside town were some conservation areas beforecoming to St Helens.
St Helens is a tourist town whose population jumps from 2,000 to 12,000 in season. This area started with a tin mining boom and also was an important fishing town. Still has a nice harbor and busy main street. There was a fitness promotion going on downtown. I watched that for a while before checking out the internet cafe and visiting the local history room.
Looks like the weather and terrain will change in the next few days.
Tomorrow is expected to start with drizzle and turn to heavy rain.
A hilly ride through the northeast of Tasmania. Yesterday talked with several locals in St Helens. One suggested I "wake up early, go to post office and catch a ride with the mail truck over the hills...". However in the next breath, he was suggesting extra side trips, "Columbia Falls only 11 km away...".
I rode out early. During the morning it alternated between light rain and dry...averaging out meeting the "drizzle" forecast. A few rolling hills during the first 27 km to Pyengana. Pasture lands some with giant rolls of hay wrapped in plastic.
I stopped at the roadhouse in Pyengana and talked with the owner. It was a "Ma and Pa" operation with "Ma" still in the shower, so no brekky yet. Same folks had been there two years ago, but they were now trying to sell the place. He explained one big issue was the GST (goods and services tax, a recently introduced value added tax). Administering the GST was complex since it applied only to some items. For example, frozen chicken is GST-free, but cooked chicken is subject to GST. Suntan lotion is exempt, which surprised the proprietor. He had to keep track of GST...unlike US sales taxes, prices can only be quoted inclusive of GST. Despite his GST grumbles, he had supported John Howard's Liberal Party that introduced change to the tax system.
It was flat for 4 km past Pyengana. At 31 km, a long 7 km hill began to top of Weldborough Pass. I don't know the elevation of the pass, but guess it would be close to 1000m. At top of the pass a nice descent down to Weldborough at 44 km.
Weldborough was site of the "Worst Pub". I stopped for a coke and chance to look around the pub. Many cute jokes, drawings and pictures on the walls. From there, a slight rise to Weld Hill (373m) and then another descent. Some more rolling hills brought me to Derby at 66 km.
Derby was site of several tin mines. The largest mine was open from 1876 to 1955. Peak population of Derby was 3000 with much less now. I stopped at the Tin Mine Museum and looked a bit more at Derby history. Had lunch of a "pastie", a former miner sandwich.
From Derby a few more hills into Braxholm. More of a farming area. Also an increase in log trucks passing and going to a mill outside Scottsdale. Also in this area I saw hop farms.
Scottsdale is located on top of a small hill. It is a
regional city with main streets arranged in "T" pattern with
shops. It stayed mostly dry this afternoon with heavy rain forecast
overnight and tomorrow morning.
A rest day today given four days and less than 200 km to Devonport. Last night a storm front came through with 11 mm of rain and strong winds. Even though I slept in, still menacing looking clouds in the morning. Decided I'd take an easy day.
Route to Bridport had rolling hills but was mostly downhill. Passed a few poppy fields with "Danger" signs posted. Otherwise mostly forest with some fields.
Bridport was a quiet tourist town with a nice beach. It had started as port town for the tin mining. Saw a few fishing vessels, one with large lights to attract the fish. Some 40,000 tourists visit each year, though only 8,200 overnight stays. As I entered Bridport, it rained lightly and then heavily. I ducked under an awning to wait out worst of the storm.
brekky in a cafe while reading the Weekend Australian newspaper. Decided
I'd take an easy day here. Walked around town and past the wharf.
Small mud crabs scurried in their holes when threatened. Otherwise a quiet
afternoon. Skies cleared up with white puffy clouds and breezes from the
An easy Sunday ride this morning. Terrain along this north coast is gently rolling hills with mostly forests. Every few km the road would descend, cross a river and climb the other side. I passed a few more poppy fields and the latter half of the ride was marked as a wine route. Direction signs pointed out five vineyards. One of these, Pipers Brook, has been in news lately due to a European takeover bit and is otherwise well known.
Several of the streams were named Piper including: Little Piper River, Pipers Brook and Pipers River. At 33 km I stopped at the only store in a settlement named Pipers River. Calm winds this morning with gusty winds after I arrived.
At 52 km I turned north and along the East Tamer Highway, a larger and busier route. Made it to Georgetown by 10 am. During peak summer months, Georgetown is ending point for the fast (5 hour) Devil Cat catamaran ferry from Melbourne. Today it was a very quiet town almost all shops closed. I walked along the harbor and through town. A few folks fishing off the pier.
Georgetown was founded in 1804 and claims to be "oldest town in
Australia". This claim is based on a technicality, though. Both
Hobart and Sydney were founded earlier but are cities and not towns.
One lap completed in Tasmania with my return to Devonport. Some rain, wind and hills to keep things interesting today. Georgetown seemed to have an overabundance of idle youths, parking and cruising downtown on a Sunday.
Left Georgetown early and started down the East Timor Highway for 19 km towards Launceston. A few rolling hills. Traffic was busy and fast with several overtaking lanes on the hills.
At 19 km I turned west on smaller road and at 25 km I crossed the Tamar River on the stylish Batman Bridge. At 29 km another turn south and to Exeter. A few orchards but many less than I would have expected for the "apple isle". Apparently with introduction of better cold storage techniques, Europe now can use its own apples year round. Incentives were offered for Tasmanians to remove unproductive orchards. Seems like vineyards must have proportionally increased as I passed a few again today.
Exeter had a nice "Country Kitchen" cafe for brekky and newspaper. After Exeter more rolling hills. At 49 km Glengary had signs for a maze, but I passed on it.
After 53 km signs indicated road work and I found myself stopped shortly thereafter for 15 minutes in queue with cars. As I was waiting the sun was replaced by ominous black clouds. Just as we started it rained, lightly at first and then more heavily. I was squishing wet as I entered general store in Franklin at top of the hill at 60 km. Franklin store is also post office for 30 households. The storekeeper told me more cyclists would be around in a month or so after the universities went on break. However, less cycle tourists now than fifteen years ago.
Franklin was top of the hill and was start of a nice rolling descent. Farms were replaced by forests, with some clearcutting in the area. Had two or three more rain showers as clouds came through. More hills to climb as well.
At 84 km more open farming areas and also stronger headwinds across the open areas. My speed slowed with increase in winds. This area is known as "Australia's market garden" with 40% of Tasmania's vegetable crop including onions, potatoes, peas, carrots and beans.
At 101 km I rejoined the busy highway one and then
over the bridge and into downtown Devonport. This completed my loop around
Tassie, hooray! Found a place downtown and then walked through the
downtown pedestrian mall. Tomorrow I'll look further in Devonport before
taking the ferry from here back to Melbourne.
An easy day to look around Devonport, population 25,000. I followed bike paths around the Don River and back. Like many bike paths, tree roots and settling asphalt made for a bumpy ride, but I wasn't in a hurry. The Don River railway is small tourist railway just around the bend from Devonport. A nice collection of old trains, though price was a bit steep even to look around the station. On the way, met Brendan and Wendy cycling to meet the same ferry.
Downtown Devonport has nice pedestrian mall and shops. I dropped another set of photos in the mail and checked things at the internet cafe. My further travel bookings were affected by September 11th events, the travel agency making the bookings went bankrupt. I'll need to sort it out further in Melbourne, but as far as I can tell, I need to start over again with bookings.
easy afternoon riding back over bridge to East Devonport to the ferry terminal
and then back to Spirit of Tasmania for return trip to Melbourne.
Kea will have to wait...a revision of plans means I'll miss Hawaii on this trip. No seeing the new nephew (and Tom, Koren, Sidney) and no cycle/climb to top of the volcano. At start of September, I had made travel arrangements indirectly via TicketPlanet travel agency. I thought they were final, but it was not the case and TicketPlanet went bankrupt in aftermath of September 11th events. Nicole at Jetset Travel in Melbourne/Toorak went through a whole sequence of investigations and was quite skilled with airlines, immigration, travel clinics, etc. The resultant travel plans have me go from Sydney to New Zealand on 12/21, to India on 1/18 and back to SFO on 2/26.
Last night I took the Spirit of Tasmania back from Devonport to Melbourne. Had dinner with Brendan and Wendy and chance to catch up on our around Australian cycling. A good sleep in the four person shared accommodation berth.
was a day of errands. First stop was camera repair in Richmond.
Hooray, the original digital camera is fixed. Next stop was Jetset Travel
where I spent rest of the morning. I had to wait until after 4 pm to pick
up tickets, so found a motel close to the botanic gardens and walked through the
gardens around Toorak. City cycling is always a fun challenge but I'm
looking forward to riding around this last segment to Sydney.
Out of the big city and into the little hills. I first followed route 29 to seaside town of St Kilda and then along Port Phillip Bay all the way to Frankston. This was a nice ride, mostly flat and reasonable traffic (given Melbourne's population). I saw at least 100 cyclists in jerseys and passed half a dozen bike shops. Almost enough that I wondered if a special event was happening, but suspect this is just a popular route. The occasional stop lights were obnoxious, just as I'd get up speed it was time to stop.
Some of these little towns of Brighton, Mentone, Mordialloc, Edithvale and Chelsea had a small town center. At 33 km I stopped for brekky in Chelsea. Also along this way was a commuter rail track. At 44 km, I briefly got lost in town of Frankston before finding my route inland. I stopped briefly here at Monash University.
From Frankston a few gentle hill along the back roads via Baxter, Pearcedale and to Tooradin. After beach communities this now had farms and country estates. A few km before Tooradin, I joined M420, the South Gippsland Highway. The highway was two lanes each way with peek-a-boo shoulders. A bit disappointing ride after better roads earlier in the day.
At 68 km, Tooradin was along the bay and had a few small lunch places, post office and shops. I had lunch at Pelican Cafe, though it was seagulls not pelicans outside.
After lunch back onto busy road for another 24 km. Along the way was a small roadside area with fruit vendors. This was site of large drainage works that drained 60,000 hectares (250 square miles) of peat bogs making it very fertile farmland. Also here was an observation tower one could climb to look over the swamp. A few kms past the swamp tower, I came past a cyclist leaning against his overloaded trailer on side of the busy freeway. He was riding from Melbourne to Sydney. He certainly didn't pick a pleasant place to stop, so I moved on fairly quickly. Stopped briefly again at a rest area where Victoria Roads department had signs with two different spellings in close proximity.
At 93 km the road split with Phillip Island straight ahead and the South Gippsland Highway to the left. After this point, I started getting more hills. The road would sometimes be located along tops of the hills and sometimes in valleys. A brief stop in historic town of Loch before ending the day at Korumburra. I saw an echidna on this road as well.
had nice main street with several nice murals. Climbed up the hill and
down to motel on the far side. It is nice to be riding anti-clockwise
around Australia again.
A relaxed ride through Victoria countryside. Several small towns along the way, a few hills and lots of green fields. If there were originally trees here, they've been mostly cleared. It started with a mostly downhill ride from Korumburra to Leongatha at 13 km where I had brekky. Population was listed as 5250, but I was through town surprisingly quickly. Here I also got the first of several rain showers with some light drizzle.
Meeniyan was at 29 km with a wide main street. In middle were a sequence of war memorials. I stopped for a bit and finished reading a novel from last night on benches in middle of the town. Also at Meeniyan was a turnoff to Wilsons Promontory National Park. My guides indicated this popular park had lots of hiking, wildlife and hills. Decided I would pass for now. Also in this area was a "rail trail", former railway converted for mountain bike, walking and equestrian use.
Around 40 km the largest hills started with a good climb up the Strzelecki Range. Despite overcast skies and light rain, I could still see good views from top to coast and Wilsons Prom below. Had a fast descent to the town of Foster at 51 km. Foster was busy with folks out and looking at shops along main street. This town was site of a gold rush in 1870 when alluvial gold was found.
After Foster a few very gentle hills and then the road flattened out. Giant rolls of hay sat in the fields wrapped in plastic. There were a few small towns but mostly farmlands. Rain mostly stopped and a tailwind helped me along.
Reached Yarram by mid-afternoon despite longer stops in Meeniyan and Foster. Yarram had wide split main street with shops on both sides. Several interesting looking old buildings. Decided to stay here for the night and walked through main street. The sun even came out in the afternoon.
Unless otherwise specified, this page © Copyright 2001-2002, Mike Vermeulen