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Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Two Tour Tassie, part 1

Tasmania is Australia's island state off the SE corner of the mainland (or the north island, as some Tassie residents call it). It has an area of some 68,000 sq km with approximately 512,000 permanent residents, so overcrowding isn't an issue!  We've travelled extensively on the Oz mainland and enjoyed every minute of it but as Tasmania has its own unique flora, fauna and landscape, Jennie in particular has wanted to visit for some time.  A number of people have said "It's just like NZ, why bother?".  Well it ain't!  Some parts loosely resemble the central north island high country but delighted to say that it has its own unique character and we absolutely loved the 2 weeks we've just had there.  It's also one heck of a good motorcycling destination, but more on that later.  Unfortunately, we were on 4 wheels and I whined and grizzled every time a bike came past but at least in the car we could wear light clothing and enjoy the warm weather!

HOBART TO STRAHAN

From sea level, over the mountains and back to sea level

The first day and a bit was spent in Hobart, the state capital, looking around and catching up with one of Jennie's relatives who she last saw in England multiple decades ago!  We also got to briefly meet a distant relative of mine for the first time (ex-convict stock - yayyyy!!!). Hobart came into being over 200 years ago as a penal colony for what might be termed the less desirable end of the population of the British Isles.  There are still lots of lovely old period buildings.  Our accommodation was a 180 year old colonial house, complete with period furniture.

Cool old mahogany bed

The proprietor, Graeme, was a Harley enthusiast and made us very welcome, even if I was a Triumph owner without tatoos and didn't have a beard. Must have been Jennie's positive influence as I'll admit to trying to bait Graeme!  He and his wife Lynette also kept a ready supply of home-made cake and decanters of port in the guest lounge which was a lovely, fitting touch.

The Tasman Bridge, Hobart - note burned trees in foreground

The smell of woodsmoke was pretty strong and there was a haze on account of a big bushfire to the north-west of Hobart. The photo above which was taken in the city shows the effect of a recent small bushfire in an urban park, an ever-present danger in much of Australia.  More on this later.

Lifting bridge to accommodate large vessels well up the Derwent river

Contrasting angry skies and parched fields in the eastern high country

Tasmanian power is principally from hydro-electric generation and there are large lakes in the high country where much of the rain falls. The penstock tubes at Tarraleah, originally installed over 50 years ago are pretty impressive!

A long way down!

On the western side of the mountains near Queenstown, we discovered a mining operation with a cantilevered lookout right over a huge disused copper ore pit.  The water which had gradually filled the pit was an incredible emerald green. No photo could really do it justice.

The Iron Blow ore pit

Descending back to sea level, we entered the World Heritage-listed wilderness area around Strahan.  We were booked into a gorgeous cottage right on the edge of Macquarie Harbour. Stunning views and within crawling distance of a pub/restaurant - what more could we want???

Our waterfront cottage in Strahan

View from front door - bikes from mainland Australia, a ferry trip of about 11 hours

Riding a bike in Tassie would be an absolute joy with its low population density, fantastic, twisty roads and breathtaking scenery. Second only to NZ's south island :-).  As with most countries however, we saw some stunning examples of incompetent driving of the 4-wheeled variety.  Crossing the centre line on bends seemed to be mandatory by law judging by the frequency drivers did it!  In Strahan itself, the driver of a 4x4 pulled out of a side turn right in front of us (thanks IAM for the situational awareness training!) then proceeded to turn in front of a vehicle coming the other way just a few hundred metres later!  Later that day, we saw the same vehicle parked in a no parking area obstructing both pedestrian and vehicle traffic.  There are some real pillocks on this planet!!!

Floatplane just across the road from our cottage - really choppy conditions

We based ourselves in Strahan for the next couple of days to take advantage of two activities which were truly world class - more on that in the next post and you can judge for yourselves......



18 comments:

  1. I carnt belive you was winding up a Harley rider....they have feelings to you know. (Did u get the better of him?)

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  2. Hey matey!
    You well know that Triumph riders are a model of courtesy ;-). Besides, I didn't want to be banned from the port decanter :-)

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  3. Wow Geoff you got to see some awsome stuff. I love the pic of the ore pit.

    Your accomodation in Strahan looks lovely, cant wait to find out what adventures you got up to there.

    Hope you weren't effected by the fires, they were pretty fierce apparently.

    Why do 4WD drivers always seem to be so unaware of their surroundings .. do they have special training to learn how to drive that badly ya think?

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  4. Gidday Brenda!

    As they say - you ain't seen nothing yet! We could see the smoke from the fires in the hills but the rain yesterday must have helped. We went through Dunalley at the weekend and were pretty distressed at the level of destruction - more in a later post.

    Yep, know what you mean, it's the same over here. Having said that, I drive a 4x4 (blush)but we have it for launching the boat and besides, I'm a biker first and foremost :-)!

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  5. G'day mate
    Fantastic stuff Geoff. Your pictures are amazing. I wish I was in tassie riding around. Isn't it a bikers paradise. I told you, you needed to take the bike or hire one. You'll be regreting that one hahahaha

    I bet when you saw all the bikes out the front of your lodging in Strahan you were wishing you had yours. Can't wait for the next posts.

    That drive from Hobart to Strahan is a cracker isn't it?

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    1. G'day Steve!

      Cheers mate - it was a blast but I was seething with envy all the way round knowing that you and Jules had both done it! Maybe a bit of negotiating is required :-).

      Yep, that road is indeed a cracker but I'd hate to be caught on it at night. I've never seen so much heavy duty roadkill anywhere else in the world. I reckon there were wallabies, pademelons and wombats every few hundred metres!

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    2. Thats the resaon I won't ride at night here in Oz, there's too much wild life out to get you.

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    3. Yeah, I wouldn't be doing 1000 miles in 24 hours in your neck of the woods, that's for sure!

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  6. When viewed on an atlas right beside Australia, Tasmania doesn't look that big. But I guess it's all relative. Looks like a great spot to visit though.

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    1. Canajun,
      Yep, Aussie is a huge place and it takes a lifetime to cover it! However, Tassie is relatively compact and you can enjoy a fair chunk of it in a relatively short period.

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  7. Great stuff Geoff. I am looking forward to more of your holiday pics. Every time you guys go on vacation it makes me want to travel more. Since you didn't have the bike did you hold the steering wheel different and lean inside the car when going around the corners. Brad may (or may not) do that sometimes when on a twisty road in the car and he is missing Lucy. Makes me chuckle.

    I was sad to see the McDonald's arches in your lifting bridge picture - is no Island sacred to commercialism?

    I have to say I think the angry skies pic was my favorite.

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    1. Cheers Brandy!
      Hahaha - I do the same as Brad, and also make throttle/gearchange noises but I was on good behaviour this time (more or less).

      Yeah, it's weird seeing the Golden Arches in that photo as it was only a tiny place. In the state capital, Hobart, which wasn't far from where I took the picture, nice quality cafes seemed to outweigh the franchises by a large margin.

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  8. Geoff:

    I also loved photo #5. I also chuckled when I saw all those bikes parked there. Too bad you weren't on one. I nearly got vertigo looking down at that Iron Ore Pit, especially since it was cantilevered out. You are so brave at times . . .

    everything looks so dry there

    bob
    Riding the Wet Coast

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    1. Thanks Bob!

      I don't know why it was called Iron Blow seeing it was copper! The reality of a little walkway hanging out over a sheer drop was pretty unsettling in reality too!

      Yes, the western side of Tasmania is really dry at present but that's a condition which has been affecting both Australia and NZ all summer.

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  9. Nic post Geoff
    and some great pics , I have done that same run but it was in a car, and ached like you have ,the Tamar valley is also very nice and the country around St Helens .
    Cheers Steve Kelly

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  10. Hi Steve!
    We went wine tasting in the Tamar Valley - lovely spot! We were tight on time to go through St Helens but cut across on the A4 through St Mary - that was a wonderful road too.

    Just working on part 2 - hard figuring what photos to leave out!

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  11. I keep getting the feeling you are teasing us with something...for future post. Hmmm....

    Ya know...we don't call them the Golden Arches out here. They are the Great T!ts of America. And yes, I was very disheartened to see it so prominently in that photo. :(

    On to read the next one!

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    1. Lori,

      Well, I hope you can share in our delight with the things we did or discovered in each post. Not really teasing, just trying not to bore people rigid!

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