Touring Tassie: The Highlands
Days 5 - 7: The north east
On day 5 of our Tassie Tour we bid farewell to the coast and turned inland, heading across the north east towards Launceston. As soon as we left St Helens in the north, the headwind kicked in and the road seemed to go up...and up...and up...and whoop 100m of down...and up. It continued like this for the next 3 days.
One of our toughest days was between St Helens and Scottsdale. We had a strong headwind the entire day (actually it turned to a side wind for a while which is even worse in my opinion) and the road was relentless – hill after hill. We climbed 6kms up the Weldborough Pass that towers over the plains below to find that the lookout was blocked by tall trees! So sad, I love a good lookout.
We had a chuckle when a motorist asked us if we’d cycled up. I think it was fairly obvious we had as I have no idea how we would get 2 bikes fully packed with panniers up otherwise! Ok, I should probably give the guy a break…I think he was just trying to make conversation. I was tired and cranky. Particularly about the lack of view.
We arrived arrived at our BnB in Scottsdale to a fabulous welcome from our hosts who were suitably impressed that we had ridden. They told us about a couple who had flown in from Melbourne, jumped on their bikes and ridden to the BnB from Launceston. They were so buggered by the time they arrived that they called a cab to take them the 110kms to St Helen’s the next day – bikes sticking out the back of the boot. If I’d known how tough that day was going to be I probably would have considered that as an option too!
Despite the pain, it was beautiful countryside, and probably our most scenic day to date. Rolling hills and pastures that were so green they hardly looked real. We were avoiding the highway at this point, so the roads were quiet and really pleasant to ride.
I enjoyed this part of the trip the most. There is so much to see between St Helens and Cradle Mountain. They call this area the Food Corridor and we were constantly coming across wineries and breweries and berry farms and cheese shops and hazelnut farms. This was the Tasmania from my imagination.
Randomly on one day we passed a herd of dairy cows in a paddock & they saw us and decided it would be fun to run alongside us (fence in between obviously). I’ve never seen cows do that before! Maybe it was because Phil was mooing at them - but seriously they ran with us for around 100m! Cows are cool.
There were some really quirky towns in this area too. It seems a lot of towns in Tassie are competing by having “their thing” that will bring the tourists in. Railton is the topiary town, seriously it is a town filled with topiary, and Sheffield the town of murals, murals everywhere.
We met a random old fella in Sheffield that sits outside the local pub with his alpaca charging people for photos. It was $3 for 3 photos. We got a bargain and paid $4 for 4!
For some reason the fella made me kneel down to take the photo with the alpaca, which really just pointed out to me how tight my hamstrings were.
I may look a little silly, but I think the girl who came after me took top prize. In a state of histeria started yelling to her friends across the road “Oh my god, come and pat the Camel!”
One of the highlights of our trip was staying in an amazing house called The Container just out of Lilydale, about 30km north east of Launceston. Take a look at my full review of the Container here, and seriously if you are ever thinking about visiting the area make sure you book into this place, it is special.
The only downfall is that it is 3.5kms up a seriously steep dirt road. I was cursing the fact that I’d bought a bottle of wine and can of Guinness at the bottom (particularly when I found out they had an entire wine cellar & local Tassie beers in the fridge at the house). This was the one and only time I had to get off and push. By push I mean Phil pushed my bike while I took photos.
Happy wife happy life?
Day 8 - 12: The Highlands
The ride up to Cradle Mountain was epic.
We noticed on strava that there was a climb in the middle of the ride, but as most segments weren’t marked we didn’t really know what we were in for. Phil told me he thought it was 6kms averaging 10%. To my horror when we started the climb I found that there was a downhill section which meant the average was more like 12-16%. That hurt. That hurt a lot.
It made me feel better to find that a few other of our local cycling club members had done that climb in the Tassie 3 Peaks Challenge the year before and we did around the same time as they did on their road bikes - legs must be getting stronger after all these miles! I found out later that Phil was still carrying the Guinness and a can of baked beans, plus various other “essentials” in his panniers on the way up. “Weight training Phil? Sure you don’t want to carry my panniers too?”
Image: Phil's "essentials".
The last 20kms to Cradle Mountain is bleak and moonscape-ish. But it had a wild ruggedness to it that was quite beautiful. We spotted wombats and echidnas along the way – no Tassie Devils though (except a dead one on the side of the road :-( )
We had a few days of walking around Cradle Mountain which is absolutely incredible – if cycling is not your thing, or you have a partner that doesn’t cycle but is a keen walker then try and fit in a trip to Cradle Mountain as the local day trails are great. We did the Marion Lookout Circuit from Ronny Creek, the Hanson’s Peak Track + Dove Lake Circuit.
Day 12 - 14: Homeward bound
Upon leaving Cradle Mountain it was all smooth sailing back to Launceston. We had a tailwind for the next 2 days, and there seemed to be more downhill than up which really topped off an already fantastic trip.
We were lucky enough to only have 1 day of rain on our entire trip, so maybe I am a little biased as I hear the weather can be horrendous. But don’t let that stop you. Tassie is a fantastic little state with what I think is some of the best riding in Australia - wet or dry.
As a cherry on top - after 2 weeks of riding around on a 25+kg bike, my road bike feels amazing!
Just tuned in? Check out Part One of our Tassie Tour here.
Tour of Tassie full route: