Devenport to Dover – Fully Loaded
Distance: 41.2 kilometres
Had to do a massive detour along the highway due to the forestry felling on the designated track as per the guide. The forestry track was dirt, the highway sealed, with limited shoulder for riding in places, which made it a bit hairy when logging trucks passed by. Uphill from Railton to Sheffield was made extra difficult thanks to a head wind. Sheffield is known as the Town of Murals, with the local buildings depicting the history of the town on their walls. The campsite is up the road, but Sheffield has heaps of accommodation so it is not completely necessary to camp.
Stage 3: Sheffield to Red Hill
Distance: 43.7 kilometres
Challenging ride, lots of steep hills.
This leg of the trip has some really steep gravel roads which make it hard to grip when you are pushing your bike. It is rolling hills for most of the way through the gravel forestry tracks and minor bitumen roads. These are quite steep in some sections as well. After leaving Sheffield, the sky threatens to rain. Sam obtained two punctures within half an hour of each other. He removed the offending piece of glass and that was the only puncture for the rest of the trip. We also had our first encounter with a farm dog, lucky for us it just came over for a pat! We decided to pass the designated camp spot by Mersey River to head towards Deloraine and stock up on supplies, as we were unsure of which route we were going to take. This is a another slight detour of the trip but there are plenty of places to camp and stay in the area. Three Willows Vineyard was a splurge and you can’t go past Phillip’s eggs benedict, a great breakfast for a hungry cyclist… (we enjoyed the change from our usual breakfast of porridge and milk powder!)
Distance: 27 kilometres
A short day, with mostly gravel roads through farmland. Mostly down hill with great views through the Golden Valley and plenty of shady places to stop and have a rest. The last part of the day was up hill but well worth the effort. At the top the myrtle, sassafras and leatherwood rainforest clears and you have spectacular views of the great Western Tiers Mountain Range. In 1989, Liffey Falls State Reserve was included in the World Heritage Area – an acknowledgement to the worldwide significant value of the area.
Stage 5: Liffey Falls to Miena (The Great Lake)
Distance: 51 kilometres
The longest day so far and the one that we had been dreading. We had decided to vary the route around the lake instead of going through Poatina, we head via Liffey and straight up through the Western Tiers Range. Gravel roads through the forest, with a few steep inclines to start the day off. Once we hit the highway (A5), it was up hill all the way on bitumen till we reached the summit at 1210 metres above sea level. I have to admit there was a lot of waking involved at this point. The only good thing about hills is that you have to go down at some time. This part of the summit is called the central plateau, so fortunately the rest of it is mostly down and on the flat. Along the road by the great Lake there are no shops or stores, the area is populated with holiday shacks. Although it is December, it is bitterly cold with the wind sweeping across the lake. Not many trees seem to grow here, so for our lunch break we found a ditch where we could stop and light up our cooker before heading off to Miena. The Highway is part gravel and part bitumen but is a good road to ride. Once again I had an eye open for logging trucks so I could dive off the narrow parts of the road into the scrub, this usually followed with a shower of dust as the truck passed. Ninety-nine percent of the truck drivers were great and thanked us with a horn toot or a wave for riding single file and stopping for them. Merely a couple of the locals sped up to shower us with gravel, only to see them later when having a beer at the Great Lake Hotel.
Stage 6: Miena (The Great Lake) to Bronte Park
Distance: 28 kilometres
This stage is a nice easy ride enabling you to give your legs a well earned rest from the day before. Follow the Marlborough Highway (B11) which is a good gravel road mostly down hill. You still have to be careful of logging trucks. Apart from a little bit of a shower we have been really lucky with the weather. Bronte Park is the next stop. There is a variety of accommodation available ranging from tent sites, cabins, or the Lodge. Hot meals, pub and a corner store is available there as well.
Stage 7: Bronte Park to Ouse
Distance: 54 kilometres
The Central Plateau boasts some of the freshest air in the world. Still on gravel road, most of the ride is downhill past lakes, forestry and farmland. The cold air licked at my face as I navigated around potholes and trying not to let the bike skid out from under me. After the hard work from the past few days it was great to glide downhill at a sometimes reckless speed. We were making great time so we passed by the campsite in Victoria Valley and continued to travel along the minor roads through Osterley. We were hoping for a shop but the tiny town now practically deserted, apart from a couple of houses, was once home to a lot of people. It is still tidy, although it has quite a few deserted buildings. Osterley (originally called Native Tier) is situated between Ouse and Dee Lagoon. Past more farmland, we hit bitumen road and then arrived at Ouse which has plenty of accommodation. There are a few B&B’s to choose from – the Lachlan Hotel (Ouse Pub), or free camping at the Ouse recreation ground.
Stage 8: Ouse to New Norfolk
Distance: 60 kilometres
The road is bitumen all the way. There are a couple of hill climbs, especially once you leave Ouse. There are a few logging trucks, but heaps of Britz campervans that you have to look out for as they definitely aren’t looking out for you (too busy looking at the scenery)! Stopped at Ellendale at the corner store for the best lunch so far and yes, they do cappuccino!! Passed through Bushy Park and Glenora, making really good time so headed further onto New Norfolk where we spent the night. There isn’t much of a shoulder on the road to ride on coming into New Norfolk, but breath taking views of the Derwent River and Valley make it worth while. New Norfolk was settled by Europeans in 1807 and boasts to have some of the oldest homes and buildings in the nation.
Stage 9: New Norfolk to Huonville
Distance: 40 kilometres
A coffee at Lachlan to put off the inevitable, then we hit the road to Huonville. This is the most challenging so far with dirt roads, massive port holes and steep inclines. We took Jeffreys Track which is a 4wd track and isn’t suitable for pushbikes let alone touring bikes loaded up with gear. After slipping and sliding our way to the top, I had my second bike stack (the first one didn’t really count as I was stationary at the time). Lucky for me, the pothole was so big I didn’t have far to fall, and came out unscathed. We were told it was all down hill. However true that was, the track was unrideable as it was the equivalent to riding down a dry riverbed, plus having the extra task of avoiding 4w drivers. The last thing they expected to see were two bike riders loaded up with gear attempting to cycle down the trail. Originally we were going to take the track to Judbury and follow the Tasmanian Trail, but due to the condition of the path, we opted to head along the minor roads down to Huonville. After what seemed an eternity rather than a lousy 17k’s, we reached gravelled road that wound down the mountain through Ranelagh to Huonville. There is so much accommodation to choose from in Huonville, we decided after a day in mud we were entitled to a treat. Instead of camping, we stayed at the Walton House B&B and enjoyed the wonderful hospitality from Di and Mark.
Stage 10: Huonville to Dover
Distance: 52 kilometres
After riding along the majority of minor roads we really noticed the traffic on the highway. We hugged the coastline in an attempt to get off the main road but that was unavoidable on the stretch through Waterloo. Along the coastal area the road is bitumen with gravelled areas on the shoulder to get off for trucks. We stopped at Port Huon for lunch, then travelled the rest of the way into the seaside town of Dover – following the coastline past white sandy bays, rocky cliff tops and cattle, apple and salmon farms. Once again we were spoilt for choice on where to stay as there are B&B’s and camping grounds at the Dover Hotel. We camped up at the Dover Beachside Caravan Park, then headed to the Dover Hotel to have a celebratory drink and meal while overlooking the ocean.
Best Part of the Trip: Riding down hill! Phil’s eggs benedict at Three Willows, and Di’s coffee at Walton House B&B.
Hated: Busy roads and passing logging trucks.
Over: Hills, cheese and crackers.
Didn’t Use: Wet weather gear or swimmers.
Glad Brought with us: Scarfs for riding, head lamp (although daggy), velcore (has many useful applications), cycling gloves, Sam (he can fix anything).