Tassie Tiger Tour

Introduction and Day 1 in Tasmania the 6th March, by Bill Garner 

Tassie Tiger Tours came to fruition during a meal and some considerable firewaterCradle-Mt-in-the-bground at a hotel in Ballarat during a Springtime Bask. As result the following, all members from CMCV were the lucky ones to participate on this tour:
Graham & Lynn Boulter, John & Vicki Best, Richard & Dot Somerville, Burger Drake, Bill Garner, Ian Snadden, Robert Van Lohuizen, Keith Mc Cracken.
The bookings re the Spirit of Tasmania and our accommodation were coordinated by Graham which proved to be a brilliant and hassle free exercise.

D Day arrived on Wednesday the 5th of March and the plan was to meet in the car park of the Port Melbourne yacht club at 6PM to travel in convoy to Station pier and load.  I arrived at the rendezvous at precisely 5.29 PM only to be met with gestures of derision, people furiously donning helmets and gloves with engines being started and a stern demand was made of me “why don’t you answer your (expletive) phone you were supposed to be here at 5PM.”

I am rendered speechless and say meekly in my defence that I find it somewhat difficult to answer my phone whilst travelling over the last 3 plus hours indicating my mode of travel was in fact a motor cycle similar to theirs and not some other type of conveyance where one might happen to hear the phone either emit sound and or vibrate!
This plea gathered no sympathy whatsoever other than to be directed, “do not get off the bike, go up there and do a U turn and see if you can follow ” and I  am wondering whether I am going to collect $200 or suffer the other fate!  Me thinks “I am away to a bloody good start here”!

However we were the first bikes on and secured to the deck, possessions for overnight stowed in the cabins and gather at the bar to partake of the occasional beverage thankfully rendering my previous antagonists mellow and forgiving. Drinks and meals completed and we retire but at around 3AM this here ship feels that it is heading terse over arcky, thumping and wallowing and my cabin mate  also wakened is threatening to never leave Ballarat again. Finally we are either used to these shenanigans or the strait flattens somewhat when we are rudely again wakened once more by a cabin speaker at 5.50 AM, instructed to vacate the cabin and eventually make our way to the lower deck where we unharness our bikes await the engine start procedures and ride off into Devonport. A quick breakfast at a nearby bakery and today’s lead rider is Ian , back on home soil guiding us out of Devonport on our first day on the Apple Isle.

The weather is fine albeit somewhat cool and we pass through quaint villages of Barrington, Sheffield and Moina into undulating grazing and or orchard country as we head for Cradle Mountain national park. We are now in hilly and mountainous terrain with negligible other traffic as we arrive at our destination within the national park. This area is similar to say Kiandra , open like tundra conditions and we ride down and visit Lake Dove and return to the visitor centre for our morning break.

Repleted, and on leaving the mountain we head north and west picking up the A10 highway which runs from Burnie to the north and Queenstown to the south and go left towards Tullah turning west once more onto the Reece Dam road where we rest up on the wall taking in the magnificent views of Lake Piemont which is another Hydro installation of which Tassie is renowned for. Off again we then head south into what appears to be a type of limestone open country but still right up here in the clouds never the less. We have Granville harbour on our right now which we don’t see and we eventually pull into the old mining town of Zeehan where we lunch at the Pit stop cafe and admire the motor cycle memorabilia within. A bike header pipe was anchored to the wall to assist patrons alighting from the throne and I was taken with a cissy bar back rest that was affixed to the afore mentioned throne, brilliant.

View near Strahan

Whilst dining we inquired from our hosts how far now to Strahan our destination for the day. The answer being 35 minutes. Had she said 50 kms we would deduce no problems it’s half an hour away, right!!  But NO , you see that the roads about 3kms from the ferry terminal are not straight and or flat and basically our route on this fine day is 9/10ths similar to Harrietville to Hotham and that folks is what we traversed all day. There is a map within my book that depicts the Isle and all the major routes across to and fro which are marked in Hrs/Mins because of the terrain!

Leaving Zeehan we head south to Strahan ( a sea port ) on the extreme west coast and where this stretch of highway flattened out and with seemingly less bends the 35 minute rule did not apply. We are now in our caravan park and cabins and happy hour has commenced and during the respite we are interrogated by our travelling psychiatric resident fellow nurse where we bare our souls and discuss the rigours  of the day and so pressures released and a sense of exhilaration fills us with a relaxed inner self that another drinky poo or three was the order of the evening. Not really sure here whether the members of the College of Psychiatric Disorders would approve but it worked for us.

Dinner this evening was at a magic restaurant overlooking the harbour of this picturesque town overseen by Bumpy our host for the evening who delighted as all with his good humour and banter. Bumpy was sort of bearded , rings and or studs adorning both ears, an eloquent  speaker and his general demeanour  was clearly different some how. However it was categorically decided within the first quarter of an hour that he was in fact married and had no less than six children back at the ranch!  This revelation was the result of one of our contingent not  OUTING himself but more INNING as he emphatically declared to the whole dining room that “I’M NOT GAY”!!!!!!
Reader’s, the night deteriorated from here…..
More instalments about this tour to follow.

Day 6, Hobart by Lynne Boulter
It was fitting that this day’s diary entry be made by one of the pillion riders because it was essentially a “bike free day!”  Graham and Burger (the only two to mount a bike that day) headed off early to pick up the minibus.  Graham was our initial chauffeur and Ian, the man with the local knowledge, our navigator.  First stop was the historic town of Richmond.  It was here where one of several education lessons began.  We learnt that the bridge at Richmond was Australia’s oldest bridge.  One of our learned Tassie Tiger Tourers went on to tell us that although the Catholic Church was Australia’s oldest Catholic Church it was not Richmond’s oldest church.  This honour went to Richmond’s Anglican Church – one of Australia’s oldest Anglican churches but not the oldest!!!!  Thank goodness it was 10 o’clock in the morning or we all would have really been confused.

From Richmond, it was on to the World Heritage Port Arthur.  The senior’s card was swiped numerous times to ensure everyone received an appropriate discount.  The entry fee included a short harbour cruise, an informative walking tour and time to explore historic buildings and the Separate Prison.   Port Arthur certainly provided the venue for much contemplation of convict days and life as a convict.  The memorial garden also provided time to remember with sadness, those who died at the hands of Martin Bryant.
After brief stops at the Devil’s Kitchen, the Tasman Arch and the Blowhole, the minibus keys were handed to Burger. Following an enjoyable dinner at the Republic Bar Hotel in Hobart (one of Ian’s nephew’s recommendations), it was time for Burger to return us to our homes in Glenorchy and tuck us into bed.
Good food, good company and good fun!!! Thank you everyone!!!

Day 7, Wednesday 12th March, Hobart to Bicheno, by Vicki Best
After four good days in Hobart we repacked and left in cool fine weather, riding east across the bridge, past the airport and then across Pitt Water. Quickly clear of residential areas, we were soon in lightly forested countryside, and later riding through a rocky gorge alongside the Prosser River to Triabunna for our morning tea break. Most of us took the short walk to the jetty area where the Maria Island ferry docks. There had been recent bushfires south of Triabunna, possibly caused by a burnt out 4WD at the roadside. Tree stumps nearby were still smouldering.

Bill Rob Keith Graham Bicheno MCMus

Bill Rob Keith Graham Bicheno MCMus

After morning tea we rode north through Swansea with spectacular beach views to our right (more easily enjoyed by us pillion riders!). After Swansea, the road led through a drier inland area with occasional nut and fruit trees and the odd flock of sheep, before heading back east to Bicheno and the coast. Here we walked up to Whaler’s Lookout and then lunched before visiting the small but, it was generally agreed, excellent motorcycle museum. After settling in to our accommodation and chatting over a drink in the garden, we set off to the local pub for a pleasant evening of good food and good company. The night ended with a walk home in the moonlight by the sea.

Day 8, Bicheno to Launceston
Well day 8 begins with an 8.00am start. We leave Bicheno under perfectly clear morning skies. As we ride down the road which of course is corner after corner we have a beautiful view of the ocean on our right. The destination is Elephant Pass and the famous Mt Elephant pancakes for breakfast. As we pull into the car park I notice the sign say’s closed. My disappointment is soon replaced with joy as the fellow inside the restaurant quickly swaps the sign for open. I can taste the pancakes already. I was not disappointed either. I had the bacon, egg and cheese pancake which turned out to be a popular choice and was delicious.

With bellies full we left for St Mary’s and onto St Helen’s and a fuel stop for Bill. Whilst it was a little windy it was lovely scenery and a fantastic ride to our lunch destination at Scottsdale. We all scattered to different parts of the town for lunch and a bit of a look around.
The group meet and departed for the last leg of the journey for the day. We made a slight detour to pick up an errant camera which had found itself left on the bus we drove to Port Arthur. Camera rescued it was full steam ahead to our accommodation at Legana. Legana is a suburb of Launceston and our digs were three cabins at a local caravan park. After some shopping for supplies it was time to sit down and have a beer and reflect on yet another day’s fabulous riding.

Day 9, Launceston, by Keith McCracken
We left the Legana Caravan Park, Launceston at 9.30am to go to the Cataract Gorge (only 15 minutes ride away). Arriving there, we met Ian Snadden’s daughter Melissa and granddaughter. We all walked through the park and were amazed at the rock formations and beauty of the place. Then only a short distance to the National Automobile Museum where there was a large display of classic cars and bikes. This was followed by a walk across the road to the Botanical Gardens where we had lunch at the café. We then went on to the QVMAC Museum, only 300 mts walk. There we saw a great display of artefacts, prehistoric dinosaur skeletons and photographic images. Also there was a rudder from the Sydney Cove (the Australian built ship) which sank in 1796.
Ian in his younger days was a diver and underwater photographer. He and some friends raised the rudder which is on display today in the museum. At the end of the day, we had an enjoyable meal with Ian’s brother Andrew and wife Gloria and their friends Ken and Carol.
It was a wonderful full day.

Day 10, Launceston, by Burger
Saturday was our second last day and it was a beauty, Ian’s brother Andrew and Wife Gloria met us at our cabins, after a short briefing of what they had planned for the day we were on our way.
As per usual in Tassie a straight stretch of road is a rarity and this day was another one of magnificent scenery and twisty winding roads, morning tea was at Westbury before we headed up to Precipitous Bluff, it is the highest sealed road in Tasmania.
After that we rode to their residence at Travellers Retreat where their Daughter Samantha had prepared a magnificent spread for our lunch, it was outside and the food was excellent in a relaxing environment, the surrounding scenery and views were picturesque, just another unforgettable day enjoyed by all.

Day 11, Sun 16th, Launceston to Devonport and Melb. by Graham Boulter
After heavy overnight rain we awoke to a fine and sunny morning. After a final pack up, and with my bike groaning with all the accumulated weight, we headed off to Pearns Steam World at Westbury via Exeter and Glengarry, again being led by Andrew and Ken. The steam world was very interesting and after morning tea at Andy’s Cafe again, we headed off to Sheffield for lunch via Deloraine, Mole Creek and Paradise. A nice run this with (of course), more hills and twisty bits.
At Sheffield we come across 30 or so postie bikes and their riders on their first leg of an around Tassie journey raising money for prostate cancer. There is also dozens of murals painted on the front, back or sides of shops and buildings depicting the town’s heritage, amongst them Ian’s Uncle Harry.  Some of us had a nice but inexpensive lunch at the RSL. A little rain at this time had us donning the waterproofs, but the rain was only very light. We headed SW to Cethana and then headed north to Devonport with great views of Lake Barrington on our right. Andrew and Gloria together with Ken and Carol peeled off for Launceston and Ian led us onto Devonport and the Spirit of Tasmania.
In the evening as we relaxed with a drink or three in the ship’s bar, the tour social secretary (aka our psychiatric nurse) insisted on a double whammy “round the table” i.e. self reflection on today’s events and that of the whole week. Of course I am unable to divulge any confessions here because what happens in Tassie stays in Tassie. Shortly after we said our goodbyes and retired to our cabins knowing that it would be an early and chaotic morning.
The return journey across Bass Strait was again a little rough with the ship rocking and rolling all night, sleep was again elusive. The wakeup call at 5.50am announces our car deck will be first to disembark. The holiday is over.
My total kms for the trip was 2214.