Adventure Tasmania – The Westcoast

5 – 15 December, 2013 – While we packed up our things in Hobart the bright sunshine lit up the house and a clear blue sky made us looking forward to a nice and sunny ride. At the same time our host told us that heavy rains and even snow is expected in the mountains for today. We looked at him doubtfully thinking he was joking. He wasn’t. We were hardly out of town and a huge storm brought lots of rain. Once more we put on our rain suits and our heads down and pedaled on along a winding river. We arrived wet and tired at Mount Field National Park, put up our tent in the rain, cooked and went to bed. In the middle of the night I woke up as Johan was making strange noises next to me. It started with some shooshing and continued with barking, wild gesturing and smacking the tent. A possum was sitting on our kitchen bag between the outer and inner tent trying to get to our food! It wasn’t scared at all and only when Johan smacked it, the beast would run away. The next morning we discovered that animals were even sitting on our bikes, the frames and saddles were covered with dirt from their paws. This by the way would now happen more often, one beast even tried to eat Johan’s saddle. His saddle now has a nice natural teeth engraving.

After the storm

After the storm

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Despite the continuing rain we still wanted to hike Mt. Field as we had taken the effort to get here. A nice woman gave us a lift up the mountain and we hiked for about five hours in the pouring rain. As we were above 1000m the board walks were covered in ice and very slippery. We walked through button grass covered moorland. We walked around a few lakes we could hardly see. We walked through bushland with huge eucalypt trees having brightly colored barks. We saw lots of wombat poo – it is very distinctive as wombats poo in squares, this is not a joke, they only have four muscles, hence the different shape. There wasn’t more to see that day and we didn’t really enjoy the walk, but also didn’t want to turn around as we hoped for better weather. Tony would give us a lift down again and we couldn’t wait to take a hot shower and go to bed.

Hoping for the rain to stop

Hoping for the rain to stop

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Over the coming days we would experience many rainy days followed by a nice day in between to finally be able to notice the changing landscape. More rugged mountains and rougher scenery with crooked trees unable to withhold the heavy winds, breath-taking scenery on sunny days, lonely roads with only a few passing cars per day, no signs of civilization in between towns. The hills would become tougher as well, long and steep climbs followed by short and steep descents.

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Undressing once more

Undressing once more

Cycling past beautiful houses

Cycling past beautiful houses

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Moorland covered by button grass

Moorland covered by button grass

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In Derwent Bridge we stayed at the free campsite of the National Park and as it was raining we could cook at the nearby picnic hut where Johan lit a warm campfire. The next morning it was freezing cold – less than four degrees Celsius – and we couldn’t wait to get back to the hut and lit another fire before leaving for another beautiful day.

Cooking in the picnic hut

Cooking in the picnic hut

"I am soooo cold!"

“I am soooo cold!”

Morning mood at the lake next to our campsite

Morning mood at Lake St. Clair next to our campsite

Finally we can dry our clothes ;-)

Finally we can dry our clothes😉

This day would become the most scenic of all Tassie days with more rugged mountains, more extraordinary fauna and flora, more lakes and more diverse landscapes. A long cycling day ended with a long and steep climb and a long and ice-cold descent into Queenstown, a historic mining town. The surrounding mountains weren’t covered in forest anymore as more than 100 years ago the wood was used for mining purposes and the sulfates resulting from the mining fires wouldn’t allow any plants to grow anymore on these mountains. The town itself is very surreal, almost like a Hollywood setting.

Lake St. Clair at Mt. Craddle National Park

Lake St. Clair at Mt. Cradle National Park

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Lunch break at the top of a hill, it's chilly.

Lunch break at the top of a hill, it’s chilly.

..and it's not getting warmer!

..and it’s not getting warmer!

Watch for echidnas and cyclists!

Watch for echidnas and cyclists!

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Tough cycling

Tough cycling

P1100054Getting closer to the last climb
Getting closer to the last climb

Still enjoying the ride

Still enjoying the ride

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We made it

We made it

And now the fun part starts: downhill in the cold.

And now the fun part starts: downhill in the cold.

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Downhill at 120km/h!

Downhill at 120km/h!

Queenstown

Queenstown

The weather was getting worse over the coming days with day-long downpours and chilly winds. Despite our expensive Goretex rain suits we would become wet from the inside almost as much as from the outside. Our gear certainly is neither waterproof nor breathable. This is also true for our expensive walking boots from Timberland. Within an hour we have a swimming pool in our boots. Very disappointing. As we got so wet and cold and there wasn’t an end to the rain we started renting cabins on campsites to ensure we could warm up and dry our clothes. In Rosebery the owner of a takeaway place felt so sorry for us that he offered us a ride over the next tough mountain. At the crossing where he wanted to drop us he continued as the weather was still dreadful. In the end he dropped us at Cradle Mountain and saved us cycling for more than a day in the worst weather ever. I am sure we would not have been able to cover the whole distance by bike in one day and there wasn’t anything in between where we could have stayed dry and sheltered. We were very grateful for so much generosity!

On our way to Rosebery

On our way to Rosebery

Another lunch break next to the road

Another lunch break next to the road

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Our nice 'chauffeur'

Our nice ‘chauffeur’

As we had gained a full day we once again walked around a lake in the rain, but this time for about two hours only and without any snow. We stayed a few more days at this incredible park, saw nice pademelons (mini kangaroos) and wombats and finally left on a beautiful day again. The sun was back! We spent two more pleasant cycling days and arrived tired in Devonport for another night sail back to Melbourne.

Shuttle bus at Cradle Mountain National Park with a view

Shuttle bus at Cradle Mountain National Park with a view

Rainforest

Rainforest – where are the hobbits?

A walk in the rain

A walk in the rain

Boardwalk in the rain forest

Boardwalk in hobbit land

A Pademelon

A Pademelon

A beautiful wombat

A beautiful wombat

We finally see Cradle mountain in the background

We finally see Cradle mountain in the background

Wombat poo

Wombat poo

Sad roadkill

Sad roadkill

Leaving Cradle Mountain

Leaving Cradle Mountain

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Still alive...

Still alive…

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Last day on Tassie

Last day on Tassie

Bye bye Tassie!

Bye bye Tassie!

Tassie was fantastic, at least if it comes to its landscape. Always beautiful and often dramatic. Certainly a place to love. We spent 26 days on the island, it rained twelve full days, the strong wind blew into our faces for 24 days and we cycled more than 1200km. If you’d ask us if we would cycle there again? I don’t really think so, at least not with the luggage we’ve been carrying. For the first time during our trip we were jealous when we saw people stepping into their cars or campervans. They could just turn on the heating and get warm and dry again. The climate is certainly not cycling friendly, the weather is unpredictable, often cold, wet and stormy. However, in terms of nature the island was one of the highlights so far and certainly is a hiker’s paradise.

Tassie, thank you for a great experience!

4 thoughts on “Adventure Tasmania – The Westcoast

  1. Fabulous scenery and it looked so clean and fresh…Pity about the weather but as you’ve probably read the weather is so unpredictable no matter where you are in the world. Happy New 2014 ventures.

    • Hello from a cold wet Tasmania, Today the weather has finally changed, from a local the weather is not normally like what you have experienced, the seasons this year have been crazy.
      You are right, cycling with the load you are carrying is certainly not easy in our rugged landscape, glad you liked the state, I am sorry I was so out of sync with your travels, as I could have shown you around a few of the sites that people normally don’t get to see du to the nature of my work.
      OH Well, keep peddling and enjoy Australia, I hope you don’t have to suffer some of the 40Deg weather to much, on the mainland as we Tasmanian’s call it, 40Deg is a lot more comfortable than 40Deg in Tasmania, so again, I wish you both the very best of luck.

  2. Such great photographs, and beautiful scenery. It all sounds pretty gruelling though. I’d have been one of those people in a car🙂
    Happy adventuring
    Alison

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