Cycling Tasmania in winter, a good idea? I didn’t really know but wanted to try it. From Melbourne to Devonport by ferry and from there further by bicycle. That was the plan. However, sometimes plans don’t work out. Nevertheless it was well worth it…
Melbourne – Devonport TAS by ferry
You could of course fly to Tasmania. However, it’s always a bit of a hazel with a bike and I anyway fly already more than enough. Therefore I decided to take the ferry which sails straight from the Harbor of Melbourne to Devonport in Tasmania. And this only during the night at winter times. I was pretty early at the harbor because I didn’t want to cycle across Melbourne in the darkness. That meant that I had to wait till Check-in started and to wait again to finally be allowed on board of the Spirit of Tasmania. The cabin was to expensive and I therefore took only a seat, the so called Ocean Recliners. I was thinking about putting my mattress and sleeping bag down somewhere but there were signs all over which didn’t allow this. And I also didn’t see anybody which did it. Somehow I survived the night and we finally arrived in Tasmania. It was pitch dark. Winter, I guess.
Devonport – Cradle Mountain, or not?
You are not allowed to bring fresh food to Tasmania and my first stop was the supermarket therefore. I was probably one of the first customers that day. Daylight finally arrived and I started cycling. My first destination was Gowrie Park. I was told that Tasmania (or Tassie how the locals call it) is similar to New Zealand. And yes, it was definitively hilly. I was glad when I finally reached the town of Sheffield and had a coffee and some sweets there. When I passed people on the way, a lot of them shook their head and I couldn’t really figure out if that was their way to say hi or their disbelieve about me cycling here in winter… I anyway continued to Gowrie Park. My original idea was to camp but my cold got back in the mean time and I therefor opted for a backpacker bed at the Gowrie Park Wilderness Village and went to bed pretty early.
One of the must sees of Tasmania was situated close by: Cradle Mountain National Park. However, it would be still around 90km return and the road wouldn’t be flat at all. I therefor decided to leave my luggage in Gowrie Park and to cycle there light. It was really hilly and mostly uphill. After around 15km, I was already pretty tired. The cold was too strong and I therefore too weak. It was a though call but I finally decided to return. Maybe it would work out another time.
Lucy and Lloyd of the Gowrie Park Wilderness Village also operate their own restaurant. It was closed that evening because they invited family and friends to a BBQ. Spontaneously they invited me as well and I was therefore lucky to enjoy another Aussie BBQ and this even in winter. It was definitively cold but there was at least no snow yet. I wouldn’t mind if it would stay that way for a while..
Gowrie Park – Deloraine: Hillier than thought
After a wonderful sunrise, I continued cycling. This time with luggage and in the opposite direction. Lucy recommended to cycle through the village of Paradise because it should be less hilly. That was probably true but it was still hilly enough for me and I wasn’t cycling very fast therefore. However, it also gave me the chance to see an Echidna next to the road which was searching for food with it’s combined nose and mouth thing. A pretty funny creature. After reaching the top of the hill a very steep downhill part followed and I was very glad that I didn’t have to cycle up there… I wanted to get a coffee in Mole Creek but the cafe was closed and I continued to Deloraine to get one there including a vegetarian pie (yes, they are available but very hard to find…). My intention was to continue to the next town but when I saw that there was a hostel in Deloraine, I decided for this one instead. However, the first impression wasn’t that great. There was all kind of rubbish around the house and it was also pretty messy inside. Nevertheless, an older couple welcomed me friendly and I decided to stay. Later I figured out that they were the parents of the owner. He was less talkative but gave me some cough drops which was nice. However, I was happy that another (local) guest arrived later and we had a pretty good evening together.
Deloraine – Launceston – Hobart: I’m glad there was a bus
My cold didn’t really improve and it didn’t make much sense to continue cycling therefor. However, what would the other options be? I checked about renting a car but I didn’t really want to. I finally decided to continue by bike to Launceston and to take the bus there down to Hobart. This way I would win some time and at least make it to Hobart. However, I wouldn’t cycle the east coast. You can’t get it all. It wasn’t easy to stick to this plan because the cycling to Launceston was pretty nice but the cold just didn’t allow to continue.
After a night in a hostel in Launceston, I took the bus to Hobart the next morning. And there it felt even colder. Maybe because there was no sun and a steady wind. I checked in at the hostel and decided spontaneously to do a guided tour to the east coast the next day. If not by bike, at least by bus.
Ostküste: Definitively worth a visit
It should be a long day but also a very interesting one. We started already at 7.10 in the morning. Together with 8 other tourists and the driver and guide Rob, we crossed the Tasman Bridge (which is famous for its collapse in 1975) and continued towards east. We stopped at several places and Rob kept us informed and entertained. Shortly after lunch time, we finally reached Coles Bay on the Freycinet peninsula. We continued a bit further before we finally could also move our body by hiking up to a viewpoint to see the Wineglass Bay and other parts of the peninsula. It would have been well worth to spend more time in this area but my time in Tasmania was too short for this. After a few more stops, we finally were on our way back to Hobart. Rob is doing this trip around 200 times a year. That wouldn’t be something for me…
In the evening, Julian from Melbourne arrived in Hobart as well and we would discover the city together during the next few days. More about this in the next blog entry. This one is getting too long otherwise :-).
All the best from Australia,
PS: Pictures of Tasmania can be found in the Gallery.