View Full Version : Tassie Thrills 'n Spills pt.2

22-03-2006, 12:48 PM

Tassie...the Western Explorer.

Similar to the Cape-Tribulation-Bloomfield Road in North Queensland, it's been dozed through parliament first, and then dozed through the bush after… despite heavy opposition, in both instances.

It's a remote road through an incredibly beautiful part of Tassie, no Maccas, no mobile phones, no Roadhouses…




It finishes at Corinna on the Pieman River, where a small barge takes vehicles across for the last 12km of dirt, then another 35km to Zeehan.


Let the pics do the talking:






In a few words: If you ever have the chance and the weather conditions...DO IT.




It's a magic piece of the world.The guy on the barge is into Dukes and the talk was distracting from the great scenery, the water like oil, the bush thick and lush.


Even the short ride out the other side to the blacktop was special.
I don't want to keep on raving, there's more to come.

Buoyed by the experience, we took the bitumen towards Zeehan, turning off a short stretch later towards the coast at Granville Harbour. While down at the beach, Garry asked around the locals for the track south to Trial Harbour, along the coast, that showed on the map: Yeaaah, mate, no worries, you'll be right…

Off we went then, and things turned from bad to worse very quickly.



It's a rough 4WD track, the colour of the ground changing every 20 meters, boghole after boghole, not really the terrain for our style of heavily loaded trailies.




We kept going for some klicks, then it turned really rough and Ingo and I started to get a bit nervous.

That creek crossing finally got things undone, Garry barreled through it with some artistic body-moves and made it up the other side. His heavy luggage was flopping around like a gas filled balloon, I was fearing for our homemade racks.


I was more cautious, trying to avoid a fall, stalled in the creek, tried to get going again a few times, finally climbed out, just to come down like a sack-of-shit on the next ledge. A big rock stopped the fall with a thump, the left shoulder went numb instantly.
With plenty of help I got out from under the bike, it was curtains for me.


Also no way to get the Peg through this without major damage, Ingo and I turned back, Garry went on for more of the same (and worse), but made it to Zeehan without damage or injury.
On the way back Ingo dumped the heavy Peg on a rough uphiller, adding more battle-scars to the bike along the right-hand side. Back from Granville Harbour we made our ways along the sealed roads south to Zeehan, stopping for a drink, just as Garry pulled into town.
We decided to call it quits and found a unit out the back of the pub.
The girl behind the counter proved to be the daughter of the local welder, handy, since the rack on the XT had crumbled and needed urgent repairs. Some shopping also procured a tube of Deep Heat.
Tonight I got the double bed :), but it was a sleepless night, each ripple over the last 40km had sent sharp stabs of pain through the shoulder and chest.

More sunshine the next morning, off to the welders for me; an hour later the rack was fixed at a cost of $10 while I made the coffee during proceedings…
Ingo and Garry were itching for more dirt roads, south to Strahan we went, those 2 taking the turnoff to Braddon Point, I pulled into Strahan, not up for any dirt or even riding at all.


The Café proved to be the place to be, the sun belting down hard and places in the shade at a premium.
An elderly couple sitting at one of the tables finally had mercy and invited me over into the shade.
After some talking they proved to be a couple of medics (Surgeon and Physio) and checked out the shoulder right there and then: looks heavily bruised, nothing broken...the prodding made me drown in silent tears.

Another muggacino and the Dommi and Peg rolled into town...ready for the way to Queenstown, since beds for hire were scarce in Strahan. What a ripper of a road...and the views to boot.



After making quarters in Queenstown and dumping the gear, Ingo and Garry went out for a ride south to Lake Burburry, I stayed in town, did some shopping, tried to get the contents of the flash-cards transferred to CD (no luck) and checked out the eateries.
The walking seemed to do the shoulder some good.
Ingo and Garry came back raving about the ride and what they'd seen. Their plans were for a road-ride the next day, via Tullah and Reece Dam and once more to Trial Harbour. Too much for me, so I decided to give their afternoon-delights a try and go south the next day.



Checking out roads?? NEVER QUIT !!


Another bright and clear morning made me leave early, leaving the other 2 to their slumber. Up the
Mountain towards Derwent Bridge, overlooking the valley with it's early morning fog still settled low and
looking like cotton wool framed by the rugged mountain backdrop.




Then down into town again, veering
south, the road climbing to Mt. Huxley and some breathtaking views.




Some nice long sweepers on smooth asphalt down to the shores of Lake Burbury, some talk with the people camping there and a walk across the dam-wall and back set the mood for the day.
Onto some good dirt which narrowed after some kilometers, finishing in a single-lane timber bridge next to the signage "World Heritage Area". Another 10km and the road forked left, up Mt. McCall, another great viewpoint.
Then back to the last fork and onto the "4WD only" track, as marked on the map.
It proved to be an easy one, very damp and slippery, underneath a dark and cool rainforest-canopy.




The road ended after 5km in a small car park, from here it was an 11km return walk, following an old railway terrace.
Around the late 1800s, a second mining company had sprung up in Queenstown and built a railway from the Kelly Basin on Macquarie Harbour to Queenstown. It had it's own brick-kilns close to the beach and even a small township.
Apparently it was a worthwhile enterprise for some 50 years, then it folded.
The track follows the old terrace which parallels the river for some time, before it veers off towards the small bay.



The 800ft long jetty has long gone, National Parks has built a new one to service the remote campground at the site of the old township.
All sorts of remnants are dotted along the way, the old brick-kilns, ruins of the bakery, water tanks, boilers, rolls of thick steel-cable, an overgrown Pullman carriage, footings, bridges…what a great place to poke around for a while and keep finding bits and pieces of yesteryear.




What started as a short snoop-around finished up a 6 hour return trip, partially due to a chance meeting with a ranger who took me across the bay to the old Sarah-Island penal settlement, another historic site of some gruesome ruins.
Along the way back I followed the advice and went water-sliding down the small rapids and a for swim in the rock pool.
What a day ! The ride home was slooow, there was too much to chew-over, the late afternoon mercifully growing cooler.


Saturday night and Queenstown was swinging, well...the bar, at least, the Hawaiian-Party was packed by the 16-20yo crowd, time to get to bed.
The shoulder got better during the day, the longish walk seemed to have done more good.

More sunshine the next morning, we're off to meet up with Tim in Wayatinah, the day's target of the Hobart Ulysses crowd (of 20 or so). Along the A10 towards Hobart, the meet-up proves perfect, right on time and target. I'm on the Peg now, the higher bars and reduced drag on the shoulders by the fairing make it more comfortable to ride.

After some "Hello's" we're off again, now Tim's leading the way. He's showing us some awesome backroads, zig-zagging our way to his place south of Hobart for the night. Dirt, sealed, dirt, sealed, dirt again, it never seems to stop.

With 200m to go on the last dirt bit, there's a lefthander coming up. I can see the others already stopped at the next T-junction, waiting for me.
Onto the left "slope" of the road to hook-in, tap the rear brake, a little slip at the back, then the front, foot down...I'm drifting across the humped centre of the road at the apex, slowly sliding towards the grassy shoulder on the right as I go, both wheels hook in solidly, I'm still up...I made it...BANG, SCRAPE, F*$#CK. Front wheel washout as I tried to climb back out of the berm onto the hardpack, and right onto the same shoulder again, shiiiite.

This time the Peg got trowelled on the left, damage only scratches on the fairing and the tip of the gearlever is missing.
The others help me with getting back upright again, damn it, the left foot copped something as well.
We're off to Tim's place for a great bbq, some drinks and plenty of talk. The shoulder is giving me hell, the ankle blows up during the night.

Chateau Tim:



Sorry guys, but that's the end for me, time to re-arrange the ferry bookings.
I leave for Devonport the next morning, Ingo and Garry are off to Bruny Island for more fun.
The ride north is a mongrel, the strong headwind, then a dust storm followed by the only hour of rain this far don't make it easy. We drilled a hole through the remains of the gearlever and fixed a longish bolt to it, at least changing gears is better than on the previous afternoon.
The bakery in Ross is still worth a Cappuccino and late breakfast, great stuff.
Hanging around Devonport is not much fun, at least the mountains are shrouded by low clouds and don't beckon with all those twisties.

I'll be back, there's more great stuff in them thar hills.
What an incredible run of weather, exceptional, never had anything like it, particularly the prolonged stint of sunshine in the west.
If you've never been over there, GO! NOW!!
The one that sums it up:

Hmmm, someone told me about this road, that…(mumble, scratch head...where's that north-west corner map?)

23-03-2006, 11:08 AM
Great report Pete, I'm going to have to get one of those chook chasers very soon. ::)

23-03-2006, 11:10 AM

what a little rain and gravity can do


23-03-2006, 11:12 AM
Great report Pete, I'm going to have to get one of those chook chasers very soon. ::)

A real barrel of fun, those things ;D ;D
The best compromise out of the 3 bikes involved would've been the Dominator, quite heavy but a 21" front.
The Peg was best on the road, the XT6 best on the dirt roads (and with it's 21liter aftermarket Ascerbis tank, good for 500 road-kms). Also the most robust, aircooled 30-something HP (34? 37? who cares) only but with some coaxing still nearly runs the ton, fully packed and as aerodynamic as a dunny-door).

23-03-2006, 11:16 AM
Great report Pete, I'm going to have to get one of those chook chasers very soon. ::)

A real barrel of fun, those things ;D ;D
The best compromise out of the 3 bikes involved would've been the Dominator, quite heavy but a 21" front.
The Peg was best on the road, the XT6 best on the dirt roads (and with it's 21liter aftermarket Ascerbis tank, good for 500 road-kms). Also the most robust, air cooled 30-something HP (34? 37? who cares) only but with some coaxing still nearly runs the ton, fully packed and as aerodynamic as a dunny-door).

Yeah tell me about it! I ran that one without the luggage (but my gut must have weighed the same) co I struggled to get past 140 chasing you out the back of Cann River some place ;D ;D

That was the trip of "Blue Sky Mining on Bikes" Pete. Here is the bit you missed as you nursed your weary Peg and shoulder back to life in Melb.

To finish it off after Gary and Ingo had toured Bruny Is for an overnighter and scoffed down most of the deliciously sweet oysters and Burgers from the guy at Alonnah (west side Southern Island) they arrived back in Hobart hungry (well not for food) but some more dirt.

I quickly hatched a mixed combo ride to quench that thirst. Up early we headed off with the vinyl moisture cheaters holding back a crisp late Summer morning in SE Tas.

Off on the Arthur Hwy (A9) toward Port Arthur we planned not to stay on that heavily trafficked tar for long dropping off just before Copping to go dirt via Kellevie/Rheban via the beautiful and lush Wielangta rain forest.

This one is a gem, literally. A fine example (a bit of an oxymoron) of a remnant rain forest. Cut off by climate change and some other factors such as bush fires it survives in an enclave of damp easterly air and SE facing slopes.


After a stunning run through this Eucalyptus forest we hit the open grazing plains of the coast and the next jewel box opens before you with the ominous and towering features of Mt Maria and Bishop & Clerk (c. 709 and 620m) soaring like some sea to air missiles out of Maria Is in Mercury Passage.

Developed by ex-pat Italian Brunacci the island was determined to be a Mediterranean style "health spa resort island"- get this...in 1880!!

Sadly it was not to be..Brunacci was 100 yrs ahead of himself. All was not lost as with all the scratching around some fossils were spotted...with fossils come limestone..and...limestone is used to coke lime...and lime is used to make mortar.

Much of the early brickwork in Tassie was held together with lime from this island.

Anyway back to the tour. A quit squirt up to the summit of The Thumbs tested the skills of all 3 (1 Peg, 1 Domi and the Now infamous XT6). Ingo by this stage is slobbering with glee....Shizers...Shizers that was great...Uhhh...I think he liked it??

Amazing view from the trig point on the summit which stands at 549m with views N to Freycinet Pens and SW to Mt Wellington - 360 degs!

Down the rutted and rocky tracks to a welcome coffee stop at the rather rustic setting of Orford. The weather is so kind and mild, blue sky still (yep Pete you did not take it with you) and we still had lunch to come. On the steeds we headed W along the most excellent A3 Tasman Hwy to Buckland.

The C318 beckoned with a tar start and then long gravel sections to follow before we re-joined the tar at Woodsdale. This area is has the roads less traveled. Looking like a series of farm dells the road twists and turns like a black python as it lures you West.

Stopping only to catch a breath and corner marks we eat this and crave for more as we swoop S short of Rhyndaston to arrive in Colebrook right on schedule for a strong drive on the B31 hitting Richmond - yep I know it's quaint but the Grass tree is calling us and lunch on the dock in Hobart.

So up and over Grass tree we climb. This one is the Sunday arvo fave (bit like a mini Reefton but without quite as many markers :-[. It is a late Targa Tas stage in a long day down the East coats and has some lovely smooth banked corners, tight switch backs and gravel - so watch it! It dumps you on the W side near the prison..pulse going if you have tried to tame this licorice teaser.. so if you are really conscientious and you did exceed the speed you just park it there and walk in??? Nah...we pushed on to Constitution Dock.

Ahh the salt air, lunchtime, oysters and Ingo has a gelatinous dribble that a Orang would be proud of. No sooner had we placed our orders than Ingo is into the De lingo. Turns out the guy next to us in the line for these "shucked orgasms on ice" is from the home land. We lounge back and eat a dozen each and then dive into a Boxed seafood lunch in the rollicking Mako fish punt. It's a clever stunt to cunningly stuff a fork 'o fish with the punt a rokin...so they say ;)

Well that was the AM warm up...we still had c 350-400 kms to go this arvo. Are you up to it boys??? Did not need to ask twice. Garry and Ingo have the helmets on and we are headed outta Hobart N to Brighton to pick up the C185 to Broadmarsh as more uphill dirt is a calling.

Broadmarsh is a rich cropping/grazing valley that ends in a box type canyon climb up to a rampant of dry Schlerophyll forest and plantations. Along the way (if you can glance) you will see examples of some fine late Georgian stone homesteads. It was likely to be the major route to the city of Hobart but as things happened it didn't evolve that way and the major route took a line further E. So this valley goes...no place really..at least not that many tourists know about...so that's the way we go!

Up the rampant climb onto the plateau via Pelham and Hollow Tree. each climb/decent/dirt snare/soft edge builds confidence in Ingo on the XT6 and it shows in his times...not far off the cracking pace set by Garry and YT on the Domi and Peg.
We pick up the B110 N to Bothwell and at that time this was still a bit of gravel then tar.

More fuel and a slurp of something cool (it must be about 26 degs) and we push on through more gravel and the most amazing "fingers of trees" all black and twisted from fires early that month. That framed a swirling cloak of gold talc tossed up by the traffic that (rarely) passes this point. Its usually a trusty ute for the farm that you see and friendly nod or wave does not go astray and most of these guys road chookies before they could walk.

After the surreal cloak of darkness we arrive at a spot that Ingo was gobbed by, not so much the beauty but the name "Interlaken "- a name borrowed from Switzerland. I think he said it literally translates to "between lakes". So named as it "does a Moses" to Lake Sorell splitting it in two.

A savage drag emerges between the Peg and the Domi at this point. It was bike against bike..rocks flying like sparky meteors showering poor Ingo who accepted his fate and position as the "rear guard". The two combatants fought for about 700m of plush dirt..the winner claiming the scalp of the first LH corner onto a rapid decent toward the switchback that would deliver us all to Oatlands on the Hwy 1.

A nice and challenging all dirt run from almost Bothwell has really lifted our talents (bearing in mind we have covered well over 100-150kms of various dirt surfaces already today) we arrive at Oatlands ready for a fill of both plastic and gut.

By this stage the guys are starting to wonder if I will actually get home at all as they are planning to be on the east coast to go N the next day. No problem I had planned to hook into the coast below Swansea on the A3 and a comfy B&B awaited. That's not the end of this journey we exit Oatlands having crossed the only major hwy in Tas at right angles (I plan to do this at ANY time in preference to ever suffering the displeasure of having to actually use it >:(

So not far outta town on the C312 we hang L to Andover. It's all tar by this stage but more dirt is coaxing us ever eastwards toward Pawtella and R on the C307 we bundle our bikes bouncin and bulging on buckets of balls of loose stones and rumbling gravel.

it's getting long in the day, we are starting to drop some savage lower bowel rumbles as the faint whiff of Eau de Ostriculture slides outta of the leathers and into the helmets - it jolts me back to life as yet another off camber RH down hill gravel bend sneers up at the Peg -I swear I heard it say - you are gonna slide off you are gonna kiss my sweet gravelly ass, you are...sheet! I am starting to hallucinate- it must be tiredness? oyster fever? heatstroke?...nah just nuts I guess? Bang!...we arrive at the Toombs lake t/off...phew that was close almost missed it in the need to stay long range focused in this area as a truck can appear at a bend and this is barely 1.25 lanes.

We swing true E and run up and then on to the intersection above Little Swanport - yep this is the A3 and the boys have a smooth finish of c.25 kms of East coast tar and sea views with the superior loeer lat. twilight coaxing and goading them along N.

Some riders just come to Tassie for this bit of road and Garry and Ingo have by-passed it all day! We shake hands - "dirty day brothers" and Ingo promises to fly back one day, yes he says he will....not to catch up.....not to ride the wild back roads of Tassie...not to stay...but to eat another dozen oysters from the fish punt and say...Were shall we ride now guys?

Well that's how we parted...bloody (yep that's an official tourism term these days downunder) knackered and yet as I faced c.100kms of tar S to arrive home by about 9pm with the sun now so low you see the moon punching it out...it was day...a damn fine day in the sadldle...Hey I'll do it again - this time you might be along eh Poite??

Total trip c.500km - one day in Feb 2002, Tasmania Aus, Lat 42.7S Long 147.5E...well thereabouts for most of the day ;D ;D ;D

23-03-2006, 11:17 AM
Great Stuff Tim !!
Thanks for the addition...what a read :) :)

Inserted a few relevant pics that I still had on the CD. :)


23-03-2006, 11:18 AM
Great Stuff Tim !!
Thanks for the addition...what a read :) :)

Inserted a few relevant pics that I still had on the CD. :)

Thanks Pete
Yeah It was such a full on day we hardly got any pics but I knew Gary had a few (not sure if Ingo got any) and thanks for adding those in as it was very wordy with out them I can get some snaps from a few of those spots for a later post:D

23-03-2006, 11:20 AM
I can get some snaps from a few of those spots for a later post:D

That'd mean another ride for you, eh?
Couldn't put you through that sort of trouble, no way ;D ;D ;D

30-04-2006, 01:59 PM
I can get some snaps from a few of those spots for a later post:D

That'd mean another ride for you, eh?
Couldn't put you through that sort of trouble, no way ;D ;D ;D

Been back and snapped a few pics! Well that's not quite true :oops:
I raided the "pics bag". Some of these were taken on island, a short ferry trip that ought to be taken if visiting Triabunna/Orford and take enough gear to do an overnighter (if you can arrange safe strorage of the bikes in town/motel where the ferry departs from). I have climbed Bishop and Clerk twice, the cliffs are on the E side facing NZ and take your breath away. :) Enjoy the update!

30-04-2006, 04:14 PM
I<snip> Some of these were taken on island, <snippety> (if you can arrange safe strorage of the bikes in town/motel where the ferry departs from).

Poor lad meant to say "MARIA Island", not "on island"... :roll: We're already on a bleedin' island aren't we :D

If you do want secure bike storage, give me a yell, I'll try to organise something via the Forestry Tas depot in Try-a-banana.. err, I mean Triabunna.

16-05-2006, 12:42 AM
I lived and rode in Tassie for a year in 1999.

Loved it, best road and off road riding in Oz.

This story and photos brought back some nice memories, thanks.