Friday, 31 October 2014

Elvis is alive, and living in Tasmania!

25/10/14

Our rough plan today was Rex and I would go and visit a mate who lives south of Hobart. We'd be back in town and meet up with the others to do a tour of the Cascade Brewery, and have a few samples, then roll in to Salamanca Place for dinner. Sounds like a plan.


We did a quick main road run down to the Huon Valley and were on Jason's door step about an hour later. We were eagerly greeted by Elvis and Walt.


 Say hi to Elvis



And his mate Walt.

Justin is living the dream. He's living in a huge old house on eight acres, overlooking the estuary, with his dogs, goats, chooks, sheep, and more. Oh yeah, he also has his wife and son there as well. It really is a slice of heaven on earth.




A few of Justin's mates.

Justin whipped us up a huge breakfast which included some of his own fresh eggs. I just hope the bacon wasn't last week's pet. Then he showed us 'round the estate. Seriously, the property you can buy in Tasmania, for very little money, is staggering. I can see myself somewhere like this, with a heap of animals, including a bunch of stray dogs. Did I hear someone say retirement? Unfortunately our visit was all too short. I reckon about fifteen years would be about right.

When it was time to leave, Justin suggested an alternate, more interesting (read winding roads) route back to Hobart.

Rex and I did some calculations and worked out that if we listened to Justin's recommendations, we'd be back at 1 pm, our agreed time to meet up with the rest of the crew. Perfect.


Elvis gave us a goodbye smile.

Thanks Justin, the ride back was fun.

And the scenery was cool.

Last night's late night and shenanigans had taken their toll. Believe it or not, it is possible to nod off on a bike. Both Rex and I were struggling so a short rest stop was required. It was only five minutes but it made the world of difference.



Back into it.

We rolled into the hotel car park spot in one o'clock, just in time to grab a taxi to the Cascade Brewery. Our introduction to the tour was a beer pouring contest.


Mark did really well, only missing out on his heat win
by a whisker.

Uncle R pulled a perfect beer in his heat only to be beaten by a girl in the final. I personally think there was a bit of sexual bias in the judging. Uncle R's beer was definitely better.


Uncle R, and a perfect beer.

With the competition out of the way we were off on our tour. Our guide explained how Cascade make their beer (they don't use preservatives) and threw in a few bits of history along the way. It was educational and a bit of fun.

With the tour over we enjoyed our free tastings, then bought a few beers to drink, then bought a few more, then bought some beer to take home, and drank them. It was about this time we were asked to leave with the explanation that there was a wedding about to happen and if the bride saw us here she'll go nuts. So that's a first, I've now been thrown out of a brewery.

With our bellies full of beer, there was only one thing to do. Get something to eat. We grabbed another taxi down to the waterfront and as we couldn't find a kebab shop, we settled on a deluxe pizza bar to fulfil our food needs.. 





The Salamanca area of Hobart has a lot of history and has a lovely feeling about it. It's a great place to enjoy a gourmet pizza and a few drinks if you're ever in Hobart. The history in this area is really interesting even though some of it is a little sad.

With our huger sated, we had to earn a few beer credits for tomorrow, so we passed on a taxi ride home and decided to walk instead. We wobbled our way back to the hotel and about forty minutes later put the key in the door.

Luckily we're riding back to Dave and Jan's tomorrow to prepare for our return to the mainland. As much as i love Tasmania, I don't think my body could cope with much more holidaying here. It's hard work, and it's very tiring.

I guess I'll just have to struggle through. : )
Chillin' in Hobart.

24/10/14

I had a pretty easy day today. Some of the guys took a ride down to the historic prison settlement of Port Arthur to do the tourist thing, but as I'd visited there last time I was In Tasmania I decided to give it a miss and wander around Hobart instead.


After catching up on a bit of blogging I strolled into town. I had spied a really interesting antique shop last night and was keen to have a poke around in there, but it was closed. Disappointed!

As I made my way down the main drag I found some samples of the local urban art. I like it...





After looking around a few of the interesting local shops I found a cafe for breakfast where I despatched a plate of Eggs Benedict and a coffee before making my way back up the hill to our hotel. Lo and behold the antique shop was open.

I went in and the owner Scott explained that he was running on Tassie time, which meant he opens when he feels like it. I was looking at all the military goodies in one cabinet when I saw a Western Australian University Regiment badge. I asked the guy if I could have a look at it and he told me it was his old badge. WAUR is my old regiment so the chatting started. His name was Scott and he left the regiment about two years before I joined. It was like we were old mates, then a few of his real mates dropped in and the banter began. I told them it was exactly the same as sitting around with my mates as they were all talking the same bull**** that we do. We had a few laughs and It was a lot of fun. I left with my regimental badge, a nice little brooch for Suzanne, and a big smile on my face. They were a great bunch of guys. Thanks Scott.


My W.A.U.R. find.

I can't post a photo of Suzanne's brooch yet, not until she's seen it.

Dinner time was an opportunity to meet Clay and Anita, friends of Uncle G. They were a bad influence and we spent way too much time in a wine bar, then finished off in a pub across the road with some live music.

The band was called South of the Border and they were so much fun. They created a real party atmosphere, that I was happy to soak in. Keep your ears open, I might be getting them to Perth some time soon.

One thing I've noticed here is how cheap the drinks are. A round of six drinks, including two spirits is around $25. Cheap! Of course there is a down side this, and we all staggered home up the hill at around 1 am.

It might be a late start tomorrow.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Queenstown to Derwent Bridge.

The ultimate Tasmanian ride.

23/10/14

Well I don't know if this was the best day's riding I've ever had, but if it wasn't, it was bloody close.

We kicked off the day with in a very leisurely breakfast in the warm sunshine at Strahan, then we rode East across across to Queenstown.

Jan and Mark making the most of the free cake samples
before breakfast.

It was a very enjoyable ride and we all had a bit of fun, but it was nothing compared to what we were about to do. The road out of Queenstown snaked it's way up the side of the hills and provided a great warm up for the rest of the ride which was unbelievable good.

Dave and Jan on the way up...

...Uncle D not far behind...

...followed by Mark...

...and Rexy.


The road out of Queenstown.

Then the serious fun began. We blasted along eighty five kilometres of perfect road. It's tight turns twisted left and right time and time again.


Part of the road skirted the huge Lake Burbury. It's amazing how many large water ways there are in Tasmania. 

The best news is that even riding as hard as we were, we weren't breaking the speed limit because the limit is 100 kph. It's a novel experience being able to hard and not worry about flashing blue and red lights in the mirrors.

The impressive Pirelli Scorpions after 85 kilometres of fun.
No chicken strips, and balled up tyres. Grin!

After a quick fuel stop and lunch break at the Wombat Cafe at Derwent Bridge, we took a look at "The Wall". This is a stunning carved wooden sculpture by artist Greg Duncan to commemorate the people who helped make Tasmania what it is today. Sadly there are no photographs allowed of the exhibition. If you're ever near here The Wall is well worth a visit. You can read more about it here:

http://www.thewalltasmania.com/


The afternoon run was a bit more open and mostly made up of fast sweepers. There were some super good, tight bits along the river (the type where you see cars have taken out the railing beside the road) and it was fun, but nowhere near as much as the morning's race track road.

Rexy chasing me...

...while I chase Uncle D.

Funnily enough we made pretty good time along this stretch of road so our overnight stop was abandoned when we arrived early at Bridgewater. After a bit of discussion we decided we'd keep going at spend an extra night in Hobart instead. We rolled into Hobart with close to 300 ks under our wheels for the day, and they were 300 of the best ks I've ever ridden. I'm really liking Tasmania.

After we checked in to our hotel, we meandered down the main drag in North Hobart, and after stopping for a few drinks we settled on dinner at Taj Palace Indian restaurant. It was bloody terrific. The owner recommended the banquet, and the truck loads of food we devoured was tasty and very, very filling. We all ate too much, and did a pretty good job of clearing out his beer fridge as well.

This trip to Tasmania was planned around riding the great roads here, not the usual tourist attractions, and today we achieved this on a grand scale.

Can it get any better?

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Dave's guided tour of Tasmania's biking roads.

22/10/14

I woke up to the best alarm clock in the world this morning. A stunning sunrise accompanied by a chorus of Australian bush birds. What a wonderful start to the day.


Overlooking the Tomar River in Devoit
from Jan and Dave's balcony.

No one else was up so I sat quietly and took it all in. This would be a fantastic place to live.

This little Kookaburra dropped  in for a look,
but didn't give me a laugh at all.

There used to be a Kookaburra here that was obsessed with Jan. It used to fly around the outside of the house when Jan went from room to room, and stare at her through the windows. Jan did say it was a little unnerving when she was there alone.

Then I went for a little look around Jan's pride and joy, her garden.




After a discussion between the boys we all agreed, we would happily spend a week just sitting around here it's that nice.

To make the house perfect there's even a dog.
Meet Milly.

As much as we loved being at Jan and Dave's there were roads to explore and things to see, so we geared up and followed Dave on a run-down of Tasmania's best biking roads. Apart from a few patches of road works we had a real blast...oh, and there was some scenery along the way as well.




A quick stop at Port Sorell

Rare Australian bird life...a seagull.

We took a break in Moina for lunch, which consisted of a small portion of the mountain of food Jan prepared last night. Why do leftovers taste so good?

Our hosts and tour guides, Jan and Dave.

After lunch we had desert, more fast, sweeping roads through the Tassie forests.




We finished the day In Strahan with a BBQ lovingly prepared by Mark with more leftover salads from last night. This was of course washed down with a few beers, followed by some of Dave's home brew whiskey. A perfect finish to a brilliant day.

Mark tenderly caring for the BBQ.

So, to summarise the day, I saw a magnificent sunrise, rode my bike about 300 kilometres, on great roads, in perfect weather, with terrific company, eating good food, washed down with a few drinks. 

Does it get any better that this?

Friday, 24 October 2014

Our first taste of the Apple Isle, and it tastes good.

21/10/14

Grab a coffee and a seat, this could take a while.


I woke up to the sun rising behind the ferry as we sailed in into Devonport. The disembarkation was a lot faster than loading and we were on solid ground in no time. Uncle R was given a breakfast recommendation by another passenger so that was our destination. After a few detours, and about an hour’s riding, we found our breakfast venue wasn’t open. Just to finish things off Uncle R went inside to check, and set the alarm off. I hope this won’t be the standard for the rest of our Tassie trip.

We found finally a café and devoured breakfast while we waited for our Tassie tour guide Dave to arrive. Dave rolled up and had Uncle R's wife Sandy on the back of his BMW.

DISCLAIMER: OK, I was told this was a boy’s trip and I told my wife Suzanne the same thing. I’m probably in trouble now, but not as much trouble as Rex and Uncle G are when we get home because they were the ones who told me it was a boy’s trip.

After breakfast Dave took us for a little ride. Tasmania is an amazingly beautiful place. Everything is so green, and all the old buildings are in excellent condition and almost sparkle they are so clean. We wound our way along Tasmania’s serpentine roads, with huge smiles on our faces.

We rode through Sheffield, a little town known for it’s wall murals. Here are a few...



This is an extinct Tasmanian Tiger.
You can read more about them here:
http://australianmuseum.net.au/The-Thylacine


Sheffield also has an outdoor gallery following the same mural scheme featuring more local artists:




You can read about Sheffield's murals here - http://www.sheffieldmurals.com/

Ok, all the artwork was pretty cool, but the highlight of my day was meeting Ricco...


Ricco is an inside pet and actually enjoys a cuddle. His owner said Ricco doesn't sleep on the bed, but it gets bloody cold here in winter, so I'm not so sure.

With the Alpaca cuddling out of the way it was time to go and wearing out the edges of our tyres by visiting some scenic sites including a Hydro dam and Cradle Mountain. We took a quick hike around "The Enchanted Walk" at Cradle Mountain.


The water here is crystal clear.

This is one of the dams which make up a part of
Tasmania's hydro electric system.

Everywhere you look in Tasmania is an oil painting waiting to happen.



Another quick blast saw us park our bikes outside the Mole Creek Hotel. We just made the lunch cut off and to make it easy we all ordered the lamb pie with chips. If you're ever there, go a lamb pie. I can wholeheartedly recommend them.

 Sandy has added some glamour to the trip, and Dave has added some height.

A short stint had us on a dirt road with a planned stop at Alum Cliffs. 

A little bit of dirt road.
Uncle R on his Harley wasn't impressed.

A short 800 meter walk made me realise just how unfit I am now. I was puffing like steam train and sweating like a sinner in church by the time I'd finished our little walk. I will make the effort and address this when I get home. Luckily the view was worth it.


It was now time make tracks to our home for the night. We rode down the driveway into Dave and Jan’s house in Deviot, overlooking the Tamar River. Now I want to move to Tasmania. What a house, with a superb view.

The Tamar River from Jan and Dave's outdoor area.

Dave produced some nicely chilled home brew and our day was complete. Or so we thought...

We now met Jan, a go getter pocked dynamo, who is Dave's partner. Jan had prepared a huge meal for us all and it went over a treat, especially the salads. On the road we haven't enjoyed much in the way of salad or vegetables, so we tucked into like we'd never seen anything green before.

Dinner was accompanied by some very nice wine, and a lot of laughs. Dave and Jan are great people, even if Jan used to work in insurance. I think I can almost forgive her, as long as she feeds me again when we get back there on Sunday night. Dave then broke out his home brew whiskey. Now I don’t mind a wee dram now and then, and my favourite whiskey is Tallisker, but I've always found home brewed whiskey is pretty terrible. Until now. Dave has nailed it and has made the best whiskey I’ve ever tasted. I now have a new favourite. 

I found out over dinner that Dave and Jan are coming along on our Tassie tour and acting as our guides. How good is that? The put a roof over our heads, fill us with good food and wine, ply us with whiskey, and then act as tour guides for a week. Motorcyclists really are the best people.

Tomorrow we'll ride somewhere. Where? I don't know, and I don't really care because I know wherever we go, it's going to be brilliant. I'm living a charmed life right now and I'm having a ball.