Blog 216 Huon FM and exploring the central highlands. 20th – 23rd March 2012

We were due at Huon FM radio station in Geeveston to do the interview Chris had organised it yesterday and it was one of the most interesting radio interviews we have done. Chris and Pam are both motorcyclists and it just so happened their current steed was a Guzzi, previous to this they had a trike. We told some of the story of our trip and had a good chat about bikes, trike’s (of which I also have some experience) and sidecars explaining as we did so the reasons for our choices of bike and layout.

Most commercial radio interviews only run for about 5 to 10 mins max and you barely have time to cover what you want to say but this was far more relaxed and we were talking for a good 20 to 25 minutes. The other similarly good interview we did was with Curtin FM in Perth which we are going to try to get up on the media section of our website soon along with the Huon FM one.


While we were down that way we rode into the Southern Forests for a look. Karen suddenly shouted stop as we were rounding a corner, she had just spotted an Echidna on the side of the road. We turned around and parked up the bike to have a look. He looked a bit apprehensive as we got closer but once he was satisfied we weren’t going to eat him he got back to what he was doing which was digging up an ant’s nest and eating them with aid of his long nose. We saw an Echidna in a zoo in Sydney but this was the first one we had seen in the wild. They are slightly larger than an English hedgehog and the quills are longer.


A bit further down the road we stopped to go for a walk in some of the southern forests. These look very much like the cool temperate rainforest that we saw previously but they are actually a mixed forest with some rainforest species growing under tall eucalypts. The main difference between the two habitats is fire, this area doesn’t get so much rain and experiences the occasional bushfire. In a strange juxtaposition the road in here that allows you to experience its beauty only exists because of logging but some areas are now protected as national parks.


The first picture below is a stringy bark tree (a kind of Eucalyptus), the bark is like tinder for a reason. Stringybarks need fire to reproduce, they are full of an oil and incredibly flammable. From the lookout we could see down into the valley below and see the giant manferns from above for once, they are a vivid green display. The last picture is a swamp gum or at least part of it because no matter how far I stood back I could not get it all in. This old lady is quite special as she survived the 1914,1934,and 1967 bushfires which swept through here. She is not the tallest swamp gum recorded but she is estimated to be the heaviest at approximately 405 tonnes, swamp gums are also the tallest flowering plant on the planet.


On the way back to Hobart we stopped at Franklin again to have a look at the tiny lockup gaol/jail and get some more pictures of the town. Have a closer look at the lollipop tree outside the old church which is now a house. The last picture is an apple warehouse, Tasmania is sometimes referred to as the apple isle as its climate is ideal for growing fruit, we saw lots of orchards on the sides of the roads especially in this area.



Skip this next section if you are not interested in bikes. Lots more afterward !

Of course we couldn’t stay anywhere for two weeks without me fiddling with something. We had been carrying a new cush drive plate around for a couple of weeks and I knew ours was on its last legs. The teeth were just worn out and getting too thin and it was an easy job to change it. I took the precaution of running a wide bead of mig weld between the cog and the plate to strengthen it before fitting it. We have sheared the cog off on a couple of occasions but managed to repair it by welding it back on so hopefully this might prevent it failing in the first place.

The other pics are me boring the carbs out, inspired by my chat to Phil up in northern Tassie. After stripping all the guts from the carb I decided to give it a go using his method of wrapping emery cloth around a slotted shaft and powering it with a drill. I had to repeat the process about four times making the emery cloth slightly longer each time so that it was a tight fit in the body but it worked well giving a nice even finish. I opened it out from 30mm to 32mm and cut a small slot in the emulsion tube so that it looked like a horseshoe with its open end facing the engine (much like many Japanese carbs)

After an initial reluctance to start solved by jetting and a slightly different technique, I could definitely feel the difference, even more so when loaded up. it pulled stronger up hill and had more midrange urge. Spadas are notoriously undercarburated being a 950 but having the same 30mm carbs as many of the 750′s.  Many people convert to 36mm carbs and Le Mans heads which definitely makes them breathe better but I didn’t want the extra compression ratio this brings or the more complicated 36mm carbs so this was a nice compromise especially as all it cost me was an afternoons work. The last 2 pics are me using a dremel to open out the inlet manifolds slightly to match the carbs. (This isn’t meant as a “how to” article and some care is needed to avoid wrecking a perfectly good pair of carbs).



During this time as well as keeping up with the blogs Karen was making enquiries into where we would go when we shipped the bike off to South America as it would take 60 days for the bike to arrive. We could just fly straight to Chile but we would have to live without the bike and apparently the cost of living is relatively high in Chile at the moment.

After loads of potential destinations had been discarded for various reasons I had the idea of flying to Thailand and hiring some cheap dirt bikes to travel through Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. We have not been to South East Asia and we knew it would be a cheap place to eat and stay so we wouldn’t need much kit. In a bizarre twist Karen found it was cheaper still to fly from Melbourne to Thailand then from Vietnam to London and London to Santiago than it would be to go the geographically much shorter route from Australia straight to South America. The other good thing was this meant we could stagger our London flights by a couple of weeks and pop home and say hi to our families for a while and pick up a couple of things from home.

England here we come albeit only for two weeks.


Thanks to Kerry we also did an interview and pictures for the Mercury newspaper (Tasmania’s largest) a few days previous. Happily the reporter was a biker himself and did a nice job we think. We even got a banner on the front page !


This made us smile, Gretna Green for those of you who don’t know is on the border of England and Scotland and was famous in the UK as the place young couples ran away to get married when your parents wouldn’t give their permission as Scottish marriage rules were different to English. There was some quite dramatic scenery in this area as the next picture shows.


There was another nod to their Scottish ancestry at Bothwell with Tartan street signs. The other pics are of the sundial war memorial, this is said to be one of the most unusual sundials in Australia and the largest vertical one. There were some instructions on how to read it but I must admit by the time I got to the latitude to six decimal points and declination angle it began to go over my head.

Bothwell was also the home (in later years) of Grote Reber the father of the radio telescope. He is no longer with us but sounded like an interesting guy, he single handedly built the first radio telescope dish in his back yard in the USA and proved to the world that you could see space in another wavelength and spectrum. A lot of what we now know of the universe is down to him.


Our original plan was to head up to the central highlands to visit an old powerstation museum at Waddamana but the weather had other ideas. To be fair it wasn’t the best day to try to get there, a southerly cold front was just coming through. We had a run of pretty good weather but this cold front dropped the temperature by about 15 degrees. It was cold enough that morning that we had our heated jacket liners on and plugged in but as we got off the bitumen and onto the dirt road it started to snow !  We carried on for a while but it was getting worse the further we went up so in the end we thought better of it, backtracked and rode down to Richmond instead.


This is the old Richmond Gaol/Jail (there is also a new one on the edge of town). We had a wander around and treated ourselves to lunch in the bakery principally to get in the warm for a while. Then we wandered down the river to have a look at Australia’s oldest bridge, built by convicts in 1823 and opened two years later.

It was also the scene of a murder when George Grover fell asleep on the bridge while drunk. George worked as a gaoler and his duties included flogging the prisoners, evidently he was a bit over enthusiastic in this duty and extremely unpopular as a result. It was thought someone with a grudge tipped him over the edge but no one was ever convicted.


Our last destination in Richmond was the model village, this is a 1/16th scale model of Hobart as it was in the 1820′s. It is made of cement, plaster, stone and wood using original plans and drawings from the archives. The trees are even Tasmanian myrtyles which are normally a large rainforest species, these have been clipped and trained using bonsai techniques. The village is built with amazing attention to detail and a great sense of humour.



Next up Salamanca market.


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