A Divergent Italian: Day 20 to 22 – East Coast of Tasmania

Motorcycling is an inherently dangerous activity. Think of it as wrapping yourself in leather and plastics, mounting yourself onto a rocket on wheels, and hoping that nothing would interrupt your momentum. It sounds like fun, and that’s possibly one way of describing what riding is. Yet, we also do so with such diligence in a way that places the utmost consideration towards our safety. In a normal riding day, we utilise 100% of our senses to adapt to the urban jungle to ride defensively, anticipating unexpected behaviour from other motorists and ensuring that we are able to make it to our destination without any issues. Yet, riding on the open road exhibits other dangers of which many of us might not be familiar.

One major aspect that I was concerned about in my whole trip were the possibility of stray and wild animals jumping into my path. The variety of animals that I had to actively avoid include emus, cattle, goats, kangaroos, koalas and domestic cats. At one point, I even think I had injured a Tasmanian Devil near Port Arthur, or something fluffy and black, but had to continue riding due to road conditions. The bottom line, if an animal was hit, is that I can possibly be severely injured or killed, and this was always in the back of my mind at all times as I rode through bushy and desolate areas.

The weather served as a danger that always bugged me whenever it was the most inconvenient to me. Rain is the most obvious culprit that converts the road to slick-like surfaces, and was especially bad when I did not have operable front brakes as I was approaching the rainy Adelaide basin. Black ice was the biggest threat to me when encountering the snowy western region of Tasmania, as frost on the road is likely to be indistinguishable from the unaffected. The unpredictable nature of black ice can mean anything between life or death, or being helplessly stuck in the middle of the wilderness with no way out.

Fatigue, however, is a threat that would affect us all in a multi-day motorcycle trip, regardless of where you are or what you ride. It doesn’t matter if the weather is good or terrible, or if you’ve had a perceived good night’s sleep, drowsiness will hit you at some point in the day, and this means that our senses are operating at less than favourable levels. A question that one may ask is at which point would fatigue hit you in a way that would be dangerous, but this is up to the rider themselves to determine when and how they are to manage fatigue.

Self-management is crucial, and you must take the initiative and the full responsibility to know when is the best time to take a break or call it a day. An adventure trip is one where you enjoy the scenery and have a great time, so there should not be an overt pressure to meet deadlines. Feel free to amend your trip schedule on the way because, as I’ve found countless times in this trip as well as past travels, you will never follow your time schedule!

Day 20 – Bruny Island, then return to Hobart

Ambient Temperature: 6°C to 12°C

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Figuring that I was running out of time to thoroughly explore the many fantastic places in Tasmania, I had to cross out some prime riding roads from my bucket list. My final choice was the Bruny Island. Amongst other nearby locations around Hobart, Bruny Island stood out as a destination that I just had to visit for a day trip, no matter what. Ultimately, my decision meant that I had to miss out on the very European-esque scenery of Strathgordon, the rest of the bay-hugging circuit of Channel Highway and the vast hilly twisties of the Huon Highway

For those thinking of embarking on a motorcycle trip around Bruny Island, you must have a motorcycle that is capable of handling loose gravel surfaces unless you don’t mind trashing your bike. In my case, as mentioned numerous times in previous reviews, the Pirelli Scorpion Trail tyres helped my Panigale in not only the ability to hold its line on unsealed surfaces, but also allowed it to be very resistant against punctures. In fact, I had not experienced a single puncture in my whole trip with these tyres, and I believe that speaks volumes considering the crappy roads and trails that they had to endure.

There is much more to Bruny Island than is mentioned in my review. It is a place that requires one to spend at least a few days to gain a decent experience out of it. Seafood, beaches, hiking, helicopter ride, or even just simply relaxing and letting time fly by (which I had none of), all come up in mind; a highly recommended destination.

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Along the Sandy Bay coastline, where a very wretched-looking pier stood precariously.
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Riding on the Channel Highway towards the Kettering ferry terminal, when I approach a steam train in Margate which has been converted to several boutique stores, which range from book and candy stores, to restaurants.

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At Kettering, waiting in front of the queue to board the ferry across Great Bay to Bruny Island. Return motorcycle ticket for ferry costed a very reasonable $5.00 vs the cost of a car ticket at $30.00.
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Bruny Island, which extends from north to south, occupies a length of around 100kms and is sparsely populated.

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Whilst the ferry is in motion, passengers are free to move around the floorplan of the ferry, and are also allowed to view the scenery from up the top deck.

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Reached Dennes Point, near the northernmost point of the island. A beach devoid of a soul only means one thing: ride on sand!
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Dennes Point, the prime holiday village on the island, is almost a ghost town during the winter month, with a population of approx 200 permanent residents.

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Southern Tasmania, a haven of river inlets, picturesque bays, a vast blue ocean, interrupted by lush forestry and farms on rolling hills, all underneath tall reaching skies.
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The majority of the roads within Bruny Island are of the unsealed type, so be prepared to take on twisty gravel trails at 80km/h.
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Almost-all Italian colours: Red, green and a white (a blue-tinged white)

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The Neck Lookout, where North meets South via a long narrow strip of sandy area.

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Looking out towards Cape Bruny, near the southernmost point of the island. Whilst other parts of Bruny Island host logging activities, the majority of southern South Bruny is preserved as a national park region.

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Bike hygiene check. A state of cleanliness that is more suited to a beaten-up chook-chaser than a modern superbike.
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Rain clouds now forming around South Bruny, I take my last opportunity to appreciate the scenery of South Bruny.
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…but it is a cold place, and for that, you might not be so forgiving if it weren’t for its scenery.
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Travelling back towards the ferry terminal, when I approach a pile of bark and branches that abruptly burst into flames at the sight of 195 wholesome Italian brake horsepower on two wheels.

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Back across to Kettering. Lacking in wet weather gear, I anticipate a quick ride back to Hobart to avoid as much of the potential rain that would be arriving soon.

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A hostel with the most inconvenient maze of walkways to reach my room.

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Still a few more hallways to go…

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Finally made it back to my room. It’s cliche, I know, but nothing beats a good hot shower. Calling it a day within the warmth of the indoors.

Day 21 – Hobart to Coles Bay via Port Arthur

Ambient Temperature: 3°C to 17°C

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This day marked itself as a simple, easy-going day as a tourist. Port Arthur was initially not in my rough itinerary, however I felt that it would have been a shame to have missed out on a very significant place of Australia. As you may see in the below images, it is a beautiful place for a walk around the manicured landscaped gardens, and also opens your eyes into the convict history that Australia holds.

By the time I finished fawning at the beauty of the Port Arthur site, it was already quite late in the afternoon. What was planned as an easy day had just come back to bite me from behind. Going up and past Sorell, where I stocked up on supplies, I rode through a vast length of highway that was very suitable for an invigorating and enthusiastic ride. In fact, this part of the Tasman Highway is aptly signposted as a motorcycling road.

The ride was great while it lasted, until night struck by the time I reached Swansea. With temperatures dipping to just 3°C, the coldness was becoming tiresome, and the thought of simply being outside was something that I became sick of. The sight of a car in front of me was met with great relief; the headlights on the Panigale did not disperse as much light as I needed, so the car’s lighting helped considerably as we travelled the 50kms to Coles Bay, where the driver was also coincidently staying at the same holiday park as I was booked. With considerable rancour, I finally reach my accommodation in Coles Bay. Blissfully, I hurriedly go for the bathroom to hit the hot showers. Relaxing in front of the woodfire, I call it a night.

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Eaglehawk Neck
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Tasman Arch. A cave’s roof collapses to form a great big stone arch; a bridged chasm.
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Devil’s Kitchen, looking towards the ocean
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Devil’s Kitchen: A humble cave to a great gulch.
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Spending my day as a run-of-the-mill tourist at Port Arthur..

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The Penitentiary Building, which was built as a flour mill and granary in 1842, and then converted into convict accommodation in 1857, until it was burned down in 1877. It was burned down twenty years later by vandals.
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Due to its beauty, Port Arthur is ranked as the top Australian tourist destination by many sources. Full of history, there is no other place in Australia where you would be able to find another convict-era settlement as intact as this heritage-listed venue.

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Almost totally gutted in the fires a century ago, many sections of exterior walls have been restored to replicate the original framework of the buildings.
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Conservation of the Port Arthur site is a continuing project as its symbol as Australia’s top example of convict history attracts wear and tear thanks to the vast number of visitors.
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Contributing to the erosion of brickwork.
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An example of the interior of convict-era buildings.

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The Penitentiary Building is affected also by the occasional harsh weather due to the exposure of interior walls.
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The most recent restoration project took 8 months which required the site to be closed off to visitors. Steel beams were incorporated to the walls to ensure structural integrity.
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Archaeologists and engineers worked together so that aspects of Port Arthur can be displayed in the utmost historical accuracy.
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The 8-month restoration project costed approx $7 million.
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Upon completion of the recent restoration project, the site reopened to visitors in January 2015.

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The cheapest ticket, at $35.00 a head, will provide you with site access for the day as well as a harbour cruise around Port Arthur with onboard commentary.

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Pathways and bridges that enable you to view parts of the Penitentiary Building from different angles.

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Even if the history of Port Arthur does not interest you, the vastness of manicured gardens would ensure a simple relaxing day.
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As dusk falls, I take a brief break just off the Tasman Highway, anticipating yet another unplanned ride through the darkness of the night.

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Escaped from the freezing cold air outside, calling it a night in front of a fireplace…

Day 22 – Coles Bay to Devonport via St Marys

Ambient Temperature: 5°C to 15°C

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The last day in Tasmania; the last opportunity to explore on foreign roads before I head back to the familiarity of Melbourne and Sydney.

Freycinet National Park was visited, as well as the Wi-fi handy town of Bicheno. I headed back to Devonport where I got to meet up with the same adventure riders that I had boarded together the week before back up in Port Melbourne, and got to share our little crazy motorcycle stories of our time in Tasmania.

One thing that I regret most about my visit in Tasmania, as I boarded the ship in Devonport, was that I did not get the chance to lavish my palate on fresh local seafood, or even any other good local produce or foods for that matter and, for that, I felt like kicking myself in the shins.

Despite my gastronomic lamentations, I felt blessed to have been allowed the opportunity to capture just a glimpse of the boundless variety of landscapes over the past few days in Tasmania. I will remember it for its incredible appeal for hikers, adventurers, photographers, holidaymakers, motorcycle riders, international tourists, and even the most cynical Australian citizen. Tasmania: A top destination to visit over any other tourist traps in Australia. A splendid place for a break.

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Heading to Freycinet National Park, greeted by towering rocky formations.

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Cape Tourville lighthouse, walking long the granite coastline of the Freycinet.
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The south of the Freycinet Peninsula.

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North of the Freycinet Peninsula, Bicheno up in the horizon approx 30km away.
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Underneath the ocean east of the Freycinet Peninsula are a huge network of underwater mountains and sand dunes supporting vital marine life.

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Among other things, the Freycinet National Park is also renown for its white-as-snow sandy beaches that remind me of the pure unadulterated coastlines of Vanuatu.
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Anybody’s got any swimmers?
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..ah, forget it. It’s damn cold. Bitter bitter damning bitter winter coldness.

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Freezing my butt off at Bicheno, where strong winds blew torrents of cold air from the Pacific. Forget about a balmy summery seafood lunch beside the water.
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Can’t believe that this is a 100km/h zone. With lanes the width of only a small sedan, running parallel along the edge of cliffs, it’s not for the faint-hearted.
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Near St Marys, where other vehicles are scarcely seen.
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Quick break at Fingal before sailing the tail wind towards Devonport.
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At Devonport ferry terminal, waiting in line to board the ship.
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Hey… you look familiar, Yamaha and BMW riders from last week!
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It was great to know that the two adventure riders have returned safely from the wilderness, wrestling with knee-deep snow, riding around the savagely rugged west and north-western corner of Tasmania.
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Waiting as temperatures drop to ballsack-shrinking levels…
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… and it was in this moment that my trusty little drop bear did not completely make it through the whole trip! All that remained of him were several strands of fur hanging on a thread to the keyring. Rest in peace, buddy…
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No matter the hardships, troubles and discomfort that motorcycle adventures would throw at us, riding makes us happy. As said by Kevin Ask, 2011: “There are moments on bikes when you’re concentrating so intently on the moment, the rest of the world, life, worries, memories are all pushed out of your mind as you focus on the now. There’s no such thing as perfect happiness, but on two wheels, these can get close”. – Kevin Ash, 2011
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Getting our bikes strapped down and ready for the voyage across the Bass Strait, once again…
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A familiar sight. Up the stairways of the Spirit of Tasmania.
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One last look back at Devonport… Good night Tasmania you’ve been both harsh and beautiful… but I hope to see you again!

To be continued…

Map - Day 20 to 22 - East Coast of Tasmania

4 comments

  1. Hi Dave,
    Love your updates but unfortunately you missed some great roads in Tas and did it at the wrong time of the year. Head back in Feb. We have a DOCV trip then and you are more than welcome to join. It’s an 8 dater of 3,000 km 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know… it’s quite a shame! Haha. Would be lovely to experience the good roads in summer if I still have any leave remaining by that time. Still enjoyed it though, and I love that I had visited at such a wrong time of the year.. it’s what my Panigale is all about, doing the slightly unconventional 😜

      Like

  2. Hi Dave, if you ever get you way back to Vic, we’ll organise a social ride with about 50 Ducati’s around the hills of the Dandenongs etc. Will also sort you out for accom.. we also have a ride to Tas in Summer (warm to hot) and you are welcome. Regards, President Ducati Owners Club of Vic

    Liked by 1 person

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