The alarm rang at 4.30 am but I was already awake. Excited to be flying to Hobart in a few hours’ time where I was picking up the bike. I opted for an Uber ride as I was still unfamiliar with the Sydney public transport and didn’t want to miss my flight.
Only a two hour internal flight from Sydney to Hobart passed uneventfully. Once I was checked in and stopped worrying that I had purchased flights from some dodgy website back in the UK I relaxed and bought a coffee. Going through the security they didn’t ask for liquids to be packed in a see through plastic bag and my bag went through the x-ray machine with a full bottle of water in the side pocket without anyone even raising an eyebrow. That was new to me.
On arrival to Hobart I was met by Phil, who runs the bike hire place and he took me to his where we finalised the paperwork. I got introduced to my ride for the next five days – a Triumph Tiger 800. It was either that or a BMW GS 1200 but my reasoning was, Tiger is easier to pick up should I drop it.
I later learnt that the Tiger was more than sufficient in terms of power. The only time I would have liked more power was when overtaking and that was a rare occurrence on the island.
I repacked my stuff from the suitcase I travelled with to the panniers and there was still plenty of room in them. The top box was empty and I only used it for waterproofs and to store the helmet in when I stopped. I kept my essentials such as passport, camera, sun cream and water in the tank bag.
Phil gave me a rough route and a GPS to use and he booked the accommodation for each night. All I had to do is get there each evening before the dusk to avoid any potential close calls with the nocturnal animals.
Having never used a Garmin before (I use my phone and Google maps) I wasn’t sure which colour to follow so immediately after leaving the drive I turned the wrong way. Good practice for the U-turn on the Tiger!
First port of call was a quaint little town of Richmond where I stopped for lunch. This was about half an hour’s ride away, just enough to get used to the bike and as I had an early start with no breakfast, I was starving!
First impressions of Tasmania were good, beautiful scenery from the word go but it felt as if I stepped back in time by about 50 years. In a good way I was just getting used to it. I rode up and down the main street of Richmond a few side ones then carried on north on the east coast.
The further north I was heading the less traffic there was. At one point I saw a few cars coming towards me on the road and decided to count them – 8 cars going in the same direction at the same time. It was the biggest traffic congestion I have seen all day.
My next stop was by a beach with the first proper view of the sea. A camper van I overtook not far from there pulled up, too. The guy jumped out and walked around it to open the passenger door. As he did it several items fell out and to the floor. I laughed out loud. He looked at me. “Sorry mate, I just imagined you screeching around corners in your camper van and all the things inside the van being thrown from one side to the other.” He laughed, said something funny back. Took some photos and we both continued on our way. I love this about travelling. You can just strike up a conversation or make a comment and it’s a lovely exchange between two people from different worlds that will never meet again but just created a small memory.
As I was heading north the smile was getting bigger and bigger. The roads were smooth, well maintained, wide and full of flowing bends. I’ve learnt the Tiger was rather good at corners and we started to bond. To the right of me was the sea and to the left of me amazing countryside scenery.
I stopped at a lay-by to take some photos. While the roads are incredibly well maintained, there is no hard shoulder. The tarmac just stops dead at the end of the lane and drops into gravel. Gravel is your friend, until it isn’t. It is everywhere so getting used to it quick is a good idea. I carefully brought the Tiger to a stop and parked her up with a view behind for photos. When we set off again I dropped her. A combination of not knowing the clutch grip yet, not realising the lip to get onto the tarmac from the gravel was quite high and a mix of excitement with the lack of sleep probably all contributed to not having enough speed when I decided to join the tarmac again and she went down.
Luckily the only damage I caused was a broken plastic cover at the front of the indicator. Phew.
As I stood there for a minute contemplating how to pick her up I realised no cars went past in the last 10 minutes or more and it was likely it would have gotten dark before I’d get some help. So I pulled my big girl pants on and lifted the bike back on its wheels.
With that done and dusted I felt much more confident on the Tiger. My next stop was Devil’s Corner which is an award producing winery and have a cafe with a lookout tower where I have stopped for a break. Guess what! It has a gravel car park. And to make things even more challenging, it’s on a slope. I parked, made sure the bike won’t fall over and went to the cafe. I decided to work out how to reverse the bike out and downhill on the gravel later on. The weather was still a bit sour but at least it wasn’t raining. A cappuccino was what I needed and I sat outside admiring the view and the quietness of the area. That was, until a bus full of American OAPs pulled up and half of them sat down next to me on the big table.
I didn’t mind them so much but they just wouldn’t shut up and the last straw was when someone sat at the table opposite me with their back turned to me blocking the view. I got up in a huff and moved to another table. I know I had an early start and I was getting naggy.
Before I returned to the bike I climbed the lookout tower which was full of starling nests and they kept flying in and out. It was beautiful to observe.
It took me a while but I got the bike out without an incident and rode back to the tarmac road much more confidently. If the island is full of gravel I better make friends with it.
A short detour after and I arrived at the Wineglass Bay. It was an obvious stop, not just because of the name although I was intrigued. The weather was getting colder and windier so I only stopped for a few photos then headed to my accommodation.
Bicheno was where I stopped for the first night and I took a short walk along the beach before finding somewhere to eat. It is a small town with not many options and between the two restaurants available I chose the wrong one.
Actually, it wasn’t a restaurant. It was a pub that did food and I felt I stepped back in time about 50 years. I ordered my food which arrived cold with the chicken so overcooked it tasted like eating sand. I sent it back and to be fair, they’ve made a new meal (with or without the chef’s special sauce) and this one was much better. But I wouldn’t eat there again.
I had an early night, the early morning finally catching up with me. It’s been a brilliant day, a busy one and with many sights and feelings to process and store into the memory bank. I slept like a baby and discovered the joy of having an electric blanket on a less than warm summer’s night.