As it turned out, riding in the drizzle for a few hours ends up getting you very wet while on a bike. We were into the full wet weather gear before we were even out of town. Rain pants, waterproof jackets and socks managed to keep most of it out and we were doing less than 20k/hr so we didn’t warm up too much.
We backtracked in the rain to Chudleigh and up a rather large hill. A couple of huge trucks came past and didn’t have much room to go around and covered us in a huge gust of spray. For a moment it felt like we were water skiing and we were glad we had put the waterproof layers on.
After 10k we took a nice quiet side road north to Red Hills. It was great to be on the back roads and on queue the rain lightened off then stopped. Before the next town we mangaed to fit in a couple of stops for low hanging wild fruit (apples and blackberry) and a chat with a nice local who had obviously seen a few cycle tourists come through that way.
There were a few very nice hobby farm properties with done up weatherboards or barn conversions with little dams and well looked after gardens. One was even set up as a truffle farm. A couple were for sale and we both discussed our dream retirement to the country in something similar. All these were probably out of our price range as some previous real estate perusing had confirmed 800k + !!!! From what we had seen almost half of tassie seemed to be for sale. Real estate signs on everything including farms, houses, shops, businesses and even hundreds of vacant bush blocks not for from Cradle Mountain park. It appears the local economy is not going so well or the locals are trying to take advantage of outsiders looking for a tree change.
The side road we were on finished in a large English style hedge row and terminated onto the A1 freeway that is the main freeway that runs north to south. By freeway I mean a single lane each way at 110klm. Luckily there was a bike lane sized shoulder.
We started along this because there was basically nothing else that would take us back north.
We stopped for brunch at a place called ETC or the Elizabeth Town Cafe which was a massive bakery right on the highway. Without going into boring detail it was great for something on the side of a highway.
We stayed on the A1 for about 20km which was very busy with massive vans and trucks. Everyone went right out of their way to give us room which was appreciated as some of the trucks passing us almost blew us off the road. No close calls so we could recommend the route for cyclists if they were desperate to avoid the hills and in a hurry to get from a to b. There’s actually a section between Elizabeth Town and Sassfras where there’s no other choice but to take the main A1 hwy.
Our next turn off was down a dirt road which was one of the first we had ridden on the whole trip. Even then it was in very good condition without many potholes. All the Tasmanian roads seemed to be in very good condition which is good for us cyclists as we tend to feel every bump and a broken spoke or puncture can be a roadblock.
The rolling countryside started to become even more rolling as we progressed. We passed carrots, potatos, an organic apple farm and a corn crop that was in the process of being harvested. The corn harvesting machine was so interesting we stopped for a few minutes to watch it tear the plants to pieces and spit out the corn cobs.
We also noted some leaved vegetables in a paddock cohabiting with a flock of sheep. The sheep appeared to be keeping whatever plant it was in check however these sheep were dirty and brown from living amongst the turned orange soil. When compared to the other sheep we had seen these guys needed a good wash and looked rather comical amongst the plants.
Not long after this we could smell the ocean and after cresting a large hill we could see it across another couple of valleys. This was our next destination so we had to make a decision about exactly where our camp would be.
Either the seaside township of Port Sorrel or the Narawntapu national park at Bakers Beach. They face one another over the bay however bakers is further from our boat trip back to Melbourne the next day and has no shops or town as such.
It was early afternoon and we were still wary of town camping so decided to head to the further destination and hope we had enough in the legs and the pantry for another 20k ride and another night camping.
We rolled out towards bakers beach on the south side of the bay which started to lead us into the scrub. The sky was darkening with rain behind us however the sun and blue sky was looking promising ahead. It looked like we had got lucky with the weather again.
The road we initially needed to take was a truck route (marked as B routes on the maps) so was fairly busy and had no shoulder.
We turned off this major road onto Bakers Beach road which ran parallel to the tidal flats and cattle grazing fields. To our right was plantation timber and mountains.
This continued on for another 10km by which time we were well over being on the bikes. The bums were numb and we had already covered 70km. Thankfully we finally rolled into the national park and into the camp site.
This was a well setup national park camping area and there were a number of camping places in the park including a number with beach frontage. All with toilets, however we chose to stay a couple of k inland from the beach near the rangers station as there were showers, drinking water and power.
We setup our tent in the sun and since it was so warm I nagged Row to come to the beach with me. She was dying to eat and get washed so I said if she came with me I’d jump in the cold ocean for a swim. The idea of seeing me freeze or the possibility of more wombat hunting got her to jump onto her bike with me and we rode down to the beach.
It was a good couple of k down to the beach without any wombats in site. It was still nice and warm at the beach so I decided I would go for a swim. The tide was out so it was a bit of a hike to get to the water and was a very slow drop off. More like port philip bay at home than a real ocean beach. I walked out to my waist and then jumped right under.
As expected it was freezing. I lasted about 30 seconds and then went back to the sand where row had my dry clothes. I quickly put these back on and with the sun now full and low in sky I was warm again.
We wandered over to the main beach which was 20 or so kilometers long. The huge stretch of flat hard sand beckoned us and we could see a horse rider in the background. We figured if she could ride so could we and grabbed the bikes.
We jumped on and rode down the highway of sand which was nice and firm and didn’t even flick up into our running gear. We went down the a beach for 5 k and did some circles taking in the sunset. After a few photos we head back over to the road and started back to camp.
A few minutes in we were stopped as we saw a wombat crossing the road. He didn’t even look up at all as he plodded slowly across. No wonder they get hit by cars so often.
We were excited by one wombat however as we got closer to camp there was a huge grassy flood plain on either side of the camp and as we stopped to take a look at the sun setting we could see multitudes of kangaroos and wombats dotting the landscape munching grass. We counted at least 6 wombats and 7 roos in the setting sun.
As we wandered to the ranger station to hunt shower tokens we almost tripped over a pair of wombats on the grass. A mother and a football sized baby. We snapped a couple of photos until they saw us and raced off into the bushes at brakeneck speed. We could feel the ground vibrating as they ran off to find somewhere more peaceful to dine.
It was then back to camp for a basic cous cous dinner with wallabies looking on or mowing the grass near us.
Being cloudless it was about 3 degrees and damp by 7pm. We snuggled deep into our bag and fell asleep to the sounds of the distant surf and frogs… and the bizarrely out-of-place audio of the royal wedding playing loudly from the neighbours fuzzy caravan tv.
You can see our route via the following link (click Metric in the top right hand corner to see all the distances in the universally accepted format);