Thursday, March 29, 2018

Tasmania 2018 - Day 10

DAY 10

Tasmania Day 5

I was up fairly early this morning around 6ish and was hungry so I made my way to breakfast. The other guys slowly arrived. We packed the bikes and headed back to Westerway for fuel. We were going to do some riding around the bottom of the great lakes but looking at the forecast they were predicting rain in Queenstown from 2pm-5pm so we changed the plans and headed straight for Queenstown so that once there we could decide on riding options with whatever the weather was doing at the time.

We headed back up the way we came the yesterday and crossed the Derwent River again and got back onto the Lyell Highway heading toward Derwent Bridge. The Derwent River was so still this morning it was a mirror lake, stunningly beautiful and I only took 1 photo.

We passed some bicycle riders on the steep winding hill at Tarraleah where the power station is right beside the highway. I thought of my brother struggling up those steep hills, whilst I gently rolled on the gas and shot up the hill like a rat up a drain pipe. Man invented engines for a reason, thank you Yamaha for that sweet sounding crossplane engine.

We stopped in Derwent Bridge at the Hungry Wombat cafe for coffees. The two young girls serving us were both backpackers, one from France and the other from Nepal. I wonder how they met up and how they ended up here in the middle of nowhere?

The Lyell highway from Derwent Bridge onwards to Queenstown is fantastic for the whole way. Its 86 kms of twisty tarmac and when its not twisty there are sweeping bends galore, with so many elevation changes and beautiful scenery. I really was enjoying this part of the ride so a good flowing road with lots of twisty bits and the scenery is magic, thick forests, big lakes and large mountains. What's not to like really.

R1 on the Lyell Highway

Along this section of road we saw a lot of bikes heading in the opposite direction, sportsbikes, touring bikes and a few harleys at the back. All the local riders must be out for a saturday ride. There must have been about 30 bikes in all. It's easy to see why this section of the Lyell highway is fantastic, the surface is mostly good with the occasional rough patch but on the whole the road is very good.

The road bursts out of thick forest and onto the bridge at Lake Burbury just before Queenstown. The scenery here is beautiful. The view from the bridge over the water towards vistas in the distance is sublime. I noticed that even though it was saturday there wasn't a single boat out on the water. Surely these waters are full of trout, where are all the fisherman and recreational boats?

As I'd stopped a couple of times for photo's the other guys had gotten ahead of me. So I took my time now and cruised along at whatever pace I felt comfortable. Climbing up the hill from the lake I came upon the guys, they were heading up to Iron Blow Lookout.

Iron Blow lookout is a lookout over the surrounding mountains but with a difference. It also looks out over the Iron Blow open cut mine. The whole of the Queenstown area is a large mining area. The slopes of the mountains here are mostly bereft of tree's and vegetation due to acid rain from the smelting and mining dating back to the  late 1800's.

Pulling into the carpark we walked out onto the cantilever bridge and lookout over the surrounding scenery to the east back to Lake Burbury. Beautiful in it's own unique way. Looking down was an amazing view over the old copper mine. The water was an amazing emerald green colour. The water gets it colour due to all the minerals and ore that is in the water.

Iron Blow Carpark

Iron Blow Copper Mine
We stopped in briefly at the look out over Queenstown and took a couple of quick pictures. I also put the gopro on to grab some footage of this magic road. I think it would be much better riding the road up hill rather than down hill the way we went, but still it was good fun. I was in first gear the whole way down the hill it was that tight.

Bushpig riding the Queenstown bends

Welcome to Queenstown

Road down to Queenstwon

Another short video this time of the 99 Bends into Queenstown. Skip if you don't like videos. Thanks Bro it's no spielberg effort.


By the time I got to the bottom of the hill and into town the boys were already at the pub. Our accommodation for the night was the Empire Hotel. Funny enough it's the same place Flyboy and I stayed at 15 years ago, but I couldn't remember much about the place.

Again we unloaded our luggage from the bikes so we could ride them without the extra load but we took our wet weather gear just in case. The clouds were starting to roll overhead now getting darker and the clear blue sky's of this morning were gone. It was quarter to 1 and we decided to head over to Strahan as it was a great ride and we would grab some lunch when we arrive.

Empire Hotel

The pub was built back in the 1800's and it had this big majestic staircase that went up the centre of the building and turned around and went up to the next level and to the accommodation.

Awesome stuff that you don't see much these days. I love coming to these little country town pubs, it's amazing sometimes what you see.

It probably stems back to when I used to live in a small country town in central western NSW. Most of them were built in the 1800's and had intricate detailing on the ceilings and the mason work is just not done these days.


Queenstown Train Station

Bikes overshadowed by Mt Lyell
I lead us out the Zeehan Highway to the Strahan turn off and out past Queenstown airport. It looks like a very small airport. Just as I was about to er, ahem start the spirited riding a police car passed us going the other way. That was a bit of a surprise. Then we came into the twisties and I put the hammer down. Yeah I was having fun here. So much fun I didn't take any photo's, but the road into strahan is not a road that you can photograph as you would only see one bend anyway.

We parked out the front of the pub in the main street, prime parking spot. There were not a lot of people about for a saturday afternoon in such a beautiful tourist location, strange really. Oh well better for us then. I really hate busy places. Makes me wonder why I live in Sydney sometimes, it doesn't get much busier than that.

There wasn't much in town to eat at so we found Banjo's bakery and got some lunch there. The great bakery tour continues. Sitting out the front of the bakery watching the world go by, I was enjoying the serenity. It was so peaceful and quiet in Strahan.

Strahan Village

Strahan Harbour

The weather was still ok by the time we finished lunch in Strahan so we made our way towards Zeehan. We could see darker clouds approaching but it was still good riding weather so we pressed on. The road out to Zeehan from Strahan has a lot of big straights on it but also has some twisting hilly terrain with great views to mountains in the distance.

We turned off on the outskirts of Zeehan and headed back towards Queenstown. The road was a little straight for a while but then soon got very hilly and twisty. I loved this section of road it was fantastic fun and we didn't really come across any traffic on it at all. The road surface was great and it was so twisty, up hill down dale sort of stuff. The boys were having a great time.

Zeehan Highway
The closer to Queenstown the road got the windier the road became as it gently descended down into Queenstown. Such a great piece of road with fantastic views in the distance of large mountains. The weather was still closing in and was starting to look like rain but lucky for us we were very close to town now.

Zeehan Highway

Main Street Queenstown

I got back last again due to taking photo's and looked up the main street there was nobody about. You could have fired a shotgun up the main street and not hit anyone. It was eerily empty. The mountain was now covered in cloud, you could smell the rain about now. Looks like we just beat it in and had a fantastic day out riding as well.

We had a couple of quick beers in the Empire then went and tried out the Railway Hotel, we may as well spread the wealth around. Just as we were having a beer in the Railway the heavens opened up, the rain was really heavy so much so you could no longer see the mountain. In fact there was that much rain the roof in the bistro in the Empire collapsed due to a massive water leak.

The rain in the video below was just after it started, we went back inside and it got 3 times as heavy as in the video but I was too lazy to come back out and video it again, haha.

The railway hotel had a rock band that had come out from Hobart so we spent the night drinking  and having a great time. Disco Stu was busting some moves.

Tomorrow was to be our last day in Tassie before we get back on the boat to the mainland.

Today's Map Reference


  1. You guys managed to stay ahead of that rain. Nicely done. The scenery in the video reminds me of Eastern Oregon with the hillside being so brown.

    I like that so many of the pubs have lodging above them. I wonder if they did this more in the USA if there would be less drinking and driving?

    1. We did pretty good avoiding the rain for pretty much the whole trip Brandy.
      Do bars in the US not have any accommodation options available at all? It's been standard here in Oz and NZ for ever. I suppose drunks will just drive anyway however as you never make smart decisions whilst under the influence.

  2. That first pic is a cracker. Looks like I might enjoy that 99 bend road too. Great looking country - funny how it's in Oz though...

    1. Yeah I like that one too, pity I only took one photo.
      You'd love Tassie it's much like New Zealand in some ways

  3. Damn straight, you're no of you getting dressed? WTF?
    I remember meeting those Melbourne guys at the Empire Hotel and having a huuuge night. We ended up riding with them until the end of the trip in 2003 and had a great time. Remember McGeoff? Every group needs a Geoff!
    Brandy, pretty much all Public Houses (Pubs) have rooms above or out the back. They were the motels of their day and now they are generally cheap accommodation - the cheapest you can get usually.

  4. Some terrific scenery there, I have put tassi further up my future ride list.

    1. I'm surprised you have never ridden Tassie Warren.