Heading out through Mole Creek and the charmingly named Chudleigh we rode to Deloraine and Perth (the other Tassie Perth) eventually joining the Midland Highway. This is something we would normally avoid doing but we had already ridden down the great lake road which was the other option. The country was much more barren and noticeably drier in the Midlands and we were told it was a real contrast to the two coasts, we still had yet to experience the East coast.
It wasn’t the most interesting road we have ridden but equally there were many things to see if you stopped to look. On the way we passed a couple of historic villages and stopped at one called Oatlands.They are all bypassed by the main road now but they were worth turning off and having a look at.
Tasmania has some fantastic old buildings, not because anyone went out of their way to preserve them but because their isolation, small population (500’000) and lack of money prevented them being modernised. A lot of the buildings and infrastructure date back to the early 1800′s when Tasmania or Van Diemans land as it was known then was predominantly a penal colony. It was first sighted by Abel Tasman in 1642, he named it Anthony Van Diemens land after his sponsor the governor of the Dutch East Indies. The name was later shortened to Van Diemens land by the British when they settled the island and renamed Tasmania in 1856 in honour of Tasman.
Here are some pictures of some Tassies Georgian architecture at Oatlands
The reason for our abnormal haste was that we had arranged to visit Paul & Kerry in Hobart. Several Melbourne Guzzisti told us we must go and visit them while we were in Tassie and someone ( I forget who now) put us in touch via email. Kerry asked if we could be there by the 12th or 13th as Paul works on the Australian antartic expedition ship and was keen to meet us before he had to go back on the ship for its next voyage.
It was instantly obvious we were going to get on. Kerry said you can stay as long as you like but the maximum is six weeks. They both have a great sense of humour and have travelled a lot, you will definitely hear more about the two of them over the next blog or two. Paul was only at home for a few more days so we made the most of it, the next morning dawned fine and calm so we rode out to Strathgordon. It is a long dead end road and looking at it on a map you could easily have thought it wasn’t worth the effort, but you would be very, very wrong. Paul and Kerry are both Guzzi and Ducati people, Paul rode his Guzzi 750 Special and Kerry who normally rides on the back bought the car that day as the ride in and out to Strathgordon is a long and demanding one. Kerry was badly injured in a bike accident four years ago but more of that later.
Here are some pictures of the first section down to Ted’s beach where Kerry and Paul surprised us with a barbeque lunch. There was a campsite there with a great picnic area right next to the lake, the ride in was amazing with sweeping bends and scenery galore. The last picture explains why Ted’s beach is so named, good on yer Ted.
After a yummy lunch we headed on to the end of the road and the Gordon dam itself. Standing at the top and looking down into the void it made my head spin. I have never suffered from vertigo but my brain just could not work out what was level, there were so many confusing angles. It was a truly impressive sight to behold and is listed as one of Australias engineering marvels. The Gordon Dam is 192m (630ft) long and 140m (459ft) high its main purpose is to act as the reservoir (Lake Gordon) for a hydroelectric power station. The water drops 183m (600ft) to the turbines and provides almost 13% of Tasmania’s electricity. The road we were riding in on only exists because of the dam.
Of course we then had to turn around and ride all those lovely bends all over again on the way back out. To give you some idea it took all day to ride in and out again.
Kerry also wanted to show us Russell Falls on the way out. They are part of Mount Field National Park and were accessed via a twenty minute walk through a beautiful, mossy cool temperate rainforest of swampgums and sassafras. For those not familiar with these, swampgums are one of the largest eucalyptus trees and sassafras is an evergreen tree which is much prized for woodworking, its foliage has a sarsaprilla scent. The carving in the picture is a huge wooden possum, one of Australia’s most sucessful arboreal marsupials.
The next picture is not a possum but a Pademelon which is a small member of the kangaroo and wallaby family, there were lots of them in the park partly because it was just coming up to dusk when they become most active. We surprised these two, one of which was a big baby who was just out of the pouch. He made us laugh because when he saw us and sensed danger he ran over to his mum and stuffed his head back in her pouch but only that part would fit in. Out of sight, out of mind.
The falls were beautiful and well worth the diversion although it meant we had to ride the last few miles in the dark dodging Pademelon’s. Ho Hum.
Much more from Hobart