I woke up with the alarm clock, hit the snooze button then remembered I’m meeting Allan at 8am and jumped out of bed. We agreed to get on the bikes early then stop for breakfast later. The hotel I was staying at offered only a basket breakfast delivered to your room, no bacon or eggs so I didn’t feel it worth my money.
The sound of the motorcycle roared past my room at 7.40 am. He was early! Luckily, I was pretty much done and after I mounted the panniers back on the bike and checked out we set off. Allan said he’ll take me to the Pine Lake then point me in the right direction for me to carry on towards Strahan which was that night’s accommodation for me.
The morning started sunny and fairly warm but luckily I kept my layers on as it soon turned chilly. Allan slowed down on the way or stopped on occasion to point out things I would have missed otherwise. We rode past a field with big trees full of white birds. Allan pointed to them and I realised they are Cockatoos. I wasn’t really thinking about what they were, they looked like white doves from a distance but close by I could see the yellow crest on top of their head. I didn’t take any photos but here is the one I took a week earlier while I was cycling through the Centennial Park in Sydney.
Allan also pointed to a field with Emus, we had an ant eater or Echidna wanting to cross the road in front of us. We stopped just past it hoping for a photo opportunity but it turned around and scurried back to where it came from.
It’s been an educational morning as Allan explained that large fields of white flowers were opium poppies. I have seen them the previous day and thought the flowers looked very poppy-like. I wasn’t wrong but had no idea what they were for. These are grown for medicinal opiates such as morphine and codeine.
I also learnt a new word. Allan pulled left at the crossroads and stopped dead. I pulled next to him and he took a photo of me laughing.
“Do you know what the word bogan means?”
“No idea, never hear of it.”
“It’s like a mix of a gypsy and a redneck”
Ok, I can subscribe to the gypsy bit, I certainly seem to have itchy feet but I hope I don’t fall into the redneck category.
We carried on towards Pine Lake and the road was beautiful. As everywhere else, smooth, bendy and going uphill. A couple of very tight switchbacks but the road signs suggesting a speed of 15 or 25 km/h just before kind of give you the clue it’ll be a tight turn.
I didn’t bring my own helmet and I regretted that on the day as the fog was thick and the rain was falling. The visibility was so low I could just about make up Allan’s back of the bike but without the pin lock on the borrowed helmet I was steaming up on the inside an therefore the visibility was practically non existent. I lifted the visor but then nearly got frostbite on my face. It felt really cold.
We got to the lake which, I was told, is stunningly beautiful but unfortunately I had to just do with taking Allan’s word for it as we couldn’t see anything. Still, I took a few pics anyway but I could definitely smell the pines in the air.
There was no reason to hang around for much longer so we headed back the same way. The fog was starting to clear a little but and I was enjoying the same road again, it really was a treat!
Our next stop was in a town of Deloraine where Allan took me to a quirky diner for a fry-up. He had a quick coffee and had to leave but I stopped for a while to take it all in.
After breakfast I was pleased that the sun came out to warm me up again. The road took me to Mole Creek and through the Mole Creek Karst National Park which had stunning scenery and as everywhere, awesome roads and no traffic. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t cooperating and it was wet and cold. I spotted the Cradle Mountain in the distance with its snow covered peaks and headed in that direction.
My naive thinking was to ride to the foot of the mountain and see how far up I can get but of course, it’s a national park so the road ended up at the visitor centre where you could buy a bus ticket that took you inside the park where you can stop and do hikes or camp overnight. I asked if there’s a cafe at the end for lunch and the cashier looked at me as if I’ve fallen from the moon. “No, it’s a national park. You can take your food with you.”
Ehm, ok then. A 20 min bus ride there and the same back plus a bit of walking, I’m going to lose an hour and not even get lunch. I decided not to get back on the bike and carry on to my next destination of Waratha.
Majority of the road was through the national park and it was spectacular, I even rode up a gravel path and climbed to a view point in pissing rain and then I couldn’t see anything but the fun ride made up for it.
I had to sit on an A road for a while which is as close to what I’d say a British dual carriageway but even that wasn’t boring. The sections that were straight made up for it with the scenery around it. And again, no traffic. At one point I actually thought an apocalypse happened and I didn’t get the memo!
The town of Waratah was small and quiet, no one around. I found a cafe where I stopped for a bowl of soup. It was another quirky place I loved for their design, service and fungi information.
The cafe closed at 3.00 pm and was situated opposite the waterfalls which I have completely missed on the way in. Stop for photos, of course. What I hadn’t realised was the road sloped to the left a bit too much and I struggled getting the bike off the stand. I winced as I pulled my back but I wasn’t going to be defeated. We carried on.
A few miles back on the A10 road the fuel light came on. Wait! What? I read that, especially on the west coast, petrol stations are not aplenty. I’ve forgotten that despite Phil telling me each day would be done on a full tank no problem, I’ve added several detours to my route. I nursed the bike to Rosebery where I knew there was a petrol station. Phew!
By now I have done quite a few miles and was starting to get tired. My plan was to reach Strahan by 6pm and the route was taking me via Zeehan. I wanted to avoid Queenstown as that was the next day’s plan.
Zeehan again, was a beautiful town, an old mining town. I rode around it and have taken in as much as I could have but really wanted to press on. The road to Strahan was stunning, crossing rivers and passing mountains. A couple of black and green parrot like birds crossed my path at a leisurely pace so I touched my brakes as I thought I was getting too close. Beautiful to observe.
By the time I’ve reached Strahan I was cold, wet and tired. The accommodation was amazing, I had a massive living area with a kitchenette, huge bathroom and a large bedroom. And most importantly, complimentary port on the counter. Definitely my kind of place.
They also had a restaurant downstairs which was perfect as I didn’t fancy walking around searching for somewhere to eat. The food was delicious, the atmosphere inviting with the views over the marina and I enjoyed a couple of glasses of Pinot Noir which I am starting to develop quite a taste for!