Monday, April 25, 2022

Tasmania 2022 Day#7 - Saving Tassie one pub at a time tour

I was up early today so went out and Flyboy and Craig were about so we wandered up main street looking for a coffee. We found a reasonably average coffee at the train station where all the crowds were today, it was busy as the train was about to leave. I've done this Western Explorer train ride down to Strahan with my wife and 1st Daughter about 10 years ago. It was actually a lot of fun and would recommend it to anyone. It has some really steep climbs and has this abt rack and pinion system to get the train up the hills, apparently the only one in the southern hemisphere.

Today's ride was going to be another different ride. As we have 2 days left in Tassie and I wanted to do the Western Explorer which is dirt, it would be better to do it today rather than the day we have to be boarding the boat for the north island because if anything went wrong out there we would be stuck. So the other guys took to the tarred roads with a few loop rides and Flyboy and I took to the gravel roads up the Western Explorer route. I can see this is going to be a big day looking at the map.

We got underway just after 9:30, running about half hour later than I would have liked, we took the twisty Zeehan Highway which is a great ride to Zeehan, plenty of twisty bends. Riding north out of Zeehan it was just after 10am, the sun was flicking inbetween the tree's making it difficult to see, with the constant flicker of bright light and dark shadows of the tree's. Suddenly I see a kangaroo about 1 meter in front and to the right of me heading towards me. "FUCK" I thought and then, a big thump through the bars/bike followed by some weaving. I then slow/pull on the brakes but have to setup to enter the next turn. After the turn I come to a quick halt. Flyboy pulls up alongside from following behind. We both exchange a few more "Fuck" words, then turn around and go back around the corner to have a look and inspect the damage. 

I hit this Wallaby at about 110kmh on the gas as I couldn't see him and had no reaction time whatsoever. Probably turned out to be a good thing being on the gas at the time and we were only 2 km's out of Zeehan. Sphincter is definitely puckered.....

Africa Twin 1, Skippy 0

Inspecting the bike there was no damage at all, smacked the critter fair on the front tyre I reckon. How lucky that was I can't describe. The next 30 minutes had me riding along at 90-100kmh, I'm sure Flyboy was getting annoyed at my slow speed but something like this does things to your mind. 

As we popped out of the tree lined forests we could see the ocean in the distance, coming down the hill below there was a massive wind farm up ahead. Probably a great place to have one here on the west coast. We stopped for a few photos' before proceeding onwards to the Corinna turnoff.

Turning down the Corinna road towards the ferry, I stopped for a quick pic. The road is super narrow here and is all dirt on google maps, but found about half of it was tarred now. The dirt was good compacted gravel and easy to ride. 

We arrived at the pieman river and stop as we can't go further. There is a button to press to call the Fatman Barge across. The barge is big enough to put about 2 cars on or 1 car and 2 motorcycles. Corinna is on the other side of the river. 

The Barge came across picked us up, a couple of minutes later we were in Corinna. We stopped at the Tarkine Hotel to pay for the barge journey. 13 beer coupons for the ride one way. We stopped also for a coffee and sat out the front. Geoff would of been on his second beer by now I reckon.

Everytime someone would press the buzzer the guy would have to come out of the hotel and go to the ferry and ride it across. He must get sick of that everyday, quite an inconvenience. 

It was now 11:30am and time to get going. Taking off down the road from here was all gravel, turning onto the Western Explorer about 3kms from Corinna, continuing straight would have taken us to Waratah.

The landscape change drastically going along the western explorer, we started in thick forest with winding road then it opened out into vast hills with views as far as the eye could see over hilly bush terrain. We couldn't have asked for a better day to do this trip, sunny and about 20°C. The surface on the southern end was a little slippery in places but rather good otherwise.

We came to Donaldson river lookout on the western side of the road. The views from here had big hills on one side and forests on the other, with the river running through the middle somewhere down below.

Donaldson River Lookout

One minute we would be riding up and down hills through forest then next we would be riding out on open plains over the hills where you could see what was coming over the hills in the distance. Made for spotting oncoming vehicles easy as you could see there dust kicking up. But we probably only saw 3 cars going either way, that's how remote this road is.

Every now and again we came to a really steep section, and they had tarred that little bit, it helped getting up and down them, would be narly in the rain if it wasn't tarred. In all there were about 4 little sections like this which last for maybe 1km or less.

The last 10 kms of the road opens up into a very wide road and the surface is super grippy and easy riding. I was doing 110kmh along this last section until it came to the T intersection at Tarkine Drive. I waited for Flyboy to catch up as he was staying out of my dust trail.

Good to see Tasmania is full of responsible shooters. 

It was now 1pm and we were a little hungry, so we made for Arthurs River. To our disappointment it was even smaller than I'd read about, there was only one shop and it was this tiny little cafe below, as we entered the girl behind the counter said they have no power an electrician is coming so she can't cook anything. So ham cheese and tomato sammiches it was for us then. I asked about fuel as I wasn't going to make it back to Zeehan. She said no fuel here you need to go to Marrawah about 15 kms north. We sat in the shade and discussed options on the return route whilst munching down our lunches.  

We saw two signs about the ferry hours, one sign said 7pm, the other 5pm closing and the alternate route to Zeehan was through Waratah, which would be 150 kms out of the way with no fuel as they were closed due to covid from a few days earlier. This could be bad if we got to the ferry and it was closed. We also discuss riding around and down through Hellyer gorge to Queenstown, except that was going to be 292kms and about 4 hrs. The sign also said 2 hours from Tarkine Drive to Corinna. We were a little unsure how we would go, minimal photos stops from this point was in order.

We blasted up to Marrawah and filled the bikes with 91, that's all they have then came back to Arthurs river, it was now 2.25pm by the time I stopped at the bridge and took these photos.

The first 10kms of dirt we rode side by side to minimise one rider being so far behind because of the dust, until we started hitting the hilly twisty section then went single file again. There is one really interesting section that rises up over a pass that has these really tall gums trees that rise up really high. I didn't stop to take any photos of that maybe next time but was spectacular.

I actually think the road rides better from North to South and the scenery is more spectacular in this direction and the riding is also better. I had to stop at this hill top for a photo, only 1 of 2 spots on the way back I stopped for a photo, we didn't want to miss the ferry.

We arrived back at Corrina just before 4:30pm, the publican confirmed the ferry was running until 7pm today. Flyboy said let's have a beer, I'm good with that but I said let's jump on the ferry as its about to go and we will have the beers on the other side then we don't have to wait on the ferry to come back. 

Happy boy with 2 beers in his tankbag

Fatman barge driver looking bored 

Riding off the barge we parked up on the other side. Opened the cans of beer high fived each other and said cheers. A well earned beer today I must say. There was a small path here that lead into the woods we went for a quick walk. It lead up into the hills to a grave site of early settlers.

The beers went down a treat and now it was time to get going as it was getting late in the afternoon and I really didn't want to encounter any more skippys today. It was 86kms from here to Queenstown through some twisty roads and still a bit of dirt. Getting into Zeehan both petrol stations were closed, so lucky I didn't risk trying to make it here. I would have run out by about 1.5 litres and had to syphon Flyboy dry then we would both probably got stuck here. Lucky there were no Tuono's on this leg otherwise they'd still be out there.

We got back into Queenstown about 5:40pm and the other boys were sitting up having drinks. We retired to the bar for drinks and dinner. The boys were amazed at me hitting the wallaby and not coming off. The pub closed early tonight about 9pm, but the barmaids allowed us to buy take aways and sit in the bistro area. After the wallaby incident and about 180kms of gravel roads today I really needed a few more drinks.

Pubs Saved Counter:              10                
Bakery's Saved Counter:        5

Day 7 Map Reference


  1. Now that looks like a good day out. Plenty of great looking gravel!

    Only seen dead wallabies on the road over here but a chap I know collected one on a Tracer and it bent his engine crash bars back.

    1. Yeah it was a great day, and the gravel was mint slice.
      Best not to hit any skippys if you can help it, I was very lucky here...

  2. Very lucky with that wallaby!!
    Another excellent update of the tour.

    1. Yeah don't I know it too. Probably why we sat up until midnight having a good old drink.