Blog 213 TT Circuit Tassie style 14th – 16th March


Kerry and Paul have an interesting bike collection and their latest addition is a WW2 Zundapp outfit. They flew over to Germany to buy it and did a trip around that part of the world on it while they were there. It hasn’t long arrived back in Tasmania as they flew home and put the bike on a container ship. It then had to be fully imported in to Australia which was a battle in itself and part of the reason it took so long to get here.

Paul had just been giving it a bit of a fettle and offered me a ride in the chair while he took it for a test run. I jumped at the chance, what a hoot !

We stopped off at the local pub for a beer on the way back and the whole bar emptied when we walked in, not because of anything we said but because they wanted a look at the bike. Paul and Kerry are one of the few people who cause as much of a stir as us when they pull up somewhere.

When we got back Kerry got the army helmets and the camera out. The last picture of Karen is probably going to get us into lots of trouble.  Don’t mention ze war !

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That afternoon we remained indoors to catch up with our paperwork, Kerry let us turn her kitchen counter into a makeshift office and we set to. We had an option for Karen to fly back from Tasmania as lots of people said it could be cheaper than the ferry. She looked into it but by the time we factored in the time differences in flying and sailing and collection from the airport it just wasn’t worth the agro so she booked our return sailing for the end on the month.Luckily some one had warned us to book early as you are stranded if you can’t get on that ferry and it was getting full already.

Over the course of the Steamfest weekend I had filled every single memory card we possessed so I had to upload them to the computer and burn copies to DVD before I could start taking photos again. We were also looking into shipping options to South America our next destination, we had a choice of Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane this end it was going to depend on who could give us the best deal. We emailed lots of companies for quotes and were both glued to computers all day, but by days end we had achieved a fair bit and were ready to go out and play again.

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The canine (and feline) company deserves a mention, the first picture below is Wesley Paul & Kerry’s dog. He was a grand old gentlemen of advancing years and was lovely. Next is Paul & Kerry’s cat getting comfy and the other two dogs (Mister and Chase) belong to their neighbour, Kerry was looking after them while they were away. They were all good company. Kerry quite often looks after injured or orphaned animals so it’s not unusual to have possums or kangaroos around the place. We used to have dogs in our lives in the UK so any chance to make a fuss of pets is always something we enjoy.

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We were all concious of trying to pack as much in as we could before Paul had to go back to the ship so next day Kerry organised a lap around what she affectionately called their TT circuit. It’s official name is the channel and runs from Margate to Huonville but if you look on a map it looks remarkably like the Isle of Man circuit.

We had an impressive turn out considering it was a week day. Here is the lineup at the start, from left to right there is the two of us obviously then John, Dan, Cam, Paul,  Andrew and another John.

As you can see in the fourth picture most of the riders in this classic TT went for fairly tried and trusted sporting machinery: Moto Guzzi Le Mans, Laverda Jota, Moto Guzzi Mille GT whilst team overland have stuck with their wildcard design Battlestar Madmaxius. It was a thoroughly enjoyable ride we stopped twice, once to say hello to some fellow guzzi riders en route who were too busy making sails to come out and play and once at Pina’s (John’s wife) excellent cafe in Cygnet for half time refreshments.

Kerry and Karen formed a good bond and were always larking around in the photos, tying to get them to behave was like trying to tame two naughty children….

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At lunchtime and our journeys end we said our farewells and parted company as we intended to explore some more. Unfortunately the weather which had looked threatening all day finally caught up with us. Fortunately we were sat at a picnic table with a roof when it started raining hard so we had lunch. We ended up having a very social afternoon when first to stop was an old boy with a motorised 50cc bicycle whilst I was chatting to him Karen was talking to a couple we met at the Flinders ranges. An hour or so later we had barely cleared the lunch things when Greg just happened to be riding past on a Guzzi saw ours and stopped. We then spent another entertaining hour talking Guzzi’s, travelling and life in general before the rain eased and we rode home. Nice to meet you Greg. He even showed us an alternative way “home” as by now it was too late to head anywhere else. The route led down a scenic dirt track that joined up with a great twisty bitumen road through Pelverata where we had to cope with rush hour traffic Tasmanian style as seen in the last photo.

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Paul had to spend the day on the Aurora next day as she was undertaking  trials and refuelling in the Derwent river. It gave us a great chance to watch her steaming under the Tasman bridge and get some good pictures. One of the engineers on board was welding a couple of brackets on my exhaust pipes for me and once the Aurora was clear of the bridge and harbour they opened up the taps and she took off like a dose of salts towards Antarctica prompting me to say “I hope they are coming back with my pipes” which made Kerry laugh.

We went down to the base of the bridge too and it was here we discovered that the bridge was the scene of a terrible tragedy. In 1975 a bulk ore ship hit several pylons of the bridge and bought 127 metres of the bridge deck crashing down into the river and onto the ship itself. Sadly twelve people lost their lives It was a dark and foggy night and although no one was on the collapsed section at the time four cars containing five people dropped into the gap oblivious to what had happened. Two other cars narrowly avoided going over the edge stopping with their front wheels just hanging over the 45m (150 foot) drop. Not only that the ship sank very quickly and seven crew perished, many more were saved by quick thinking local residents who risked their lives in their own boats to pull the men out of water. There is a plaque on the bridge marking the lives lost on that fateful night. It took three years to rebuild the bridge and caused massive problems, 30% of Hobart lived on the Eastern shore and suddenly found that their 10 minute journey into the city was now a 2 hour diversion.

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On the way back we had a quick look at Hobart’s waterfront and promised ourselves we would go back for another look when we had more time. It was so photogenic. The last picture is a statue of Louis Bernacchi who was the first Australian to over winter in Antarctica. He was a scientist, photographer and writer and left with the Borchgrevink expedition in 1898, their vessel the Southern Cross departed from the point where the memorial stands. Louis later joined Scott’s 1901-1904 Discovery expedition as chief scientist taking with him his favourite husky Joe who had also been on the earlier expedition and is also depicted. The protracted time scale of this expedition was caused by the ship Discovery being trapped in the ice, she was supposed to set sail for the return voyage in 1903 but had to sit that winter out before being eventually freed in 1904 and returning to England. They were hard men ! The ship behind Bernacchi’s statue is the Bob Barker which belongs to seashepherd.org, you might have seen them on the news trying to hinder whaling ships.

Hobart has many historical ties with the Antarctic expeditions and is still the home of the Australian Antarctic Division which is serviced by the icebreaker Aurora Australis, the ship that Paul is chief engineer on.  

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Coming up

More from the Aurora Australis

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