Cycle touring in Tasmania

By Scott Browning 5 December 2013
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Tasmania is a cyclist’s dream, with stunning national parks and few cars.

SITTING IN A GUTTER outside Launceston airport, surrounded by pieces of bicycle, I finally feel relief. Having never flown with a bicycle before I was expecting to be greeted at the baggage claim with an unrecognizable, bent and twisted lump of metal and a dismissive shrug. Amazingly, everything seems to be here. And it seems to be working. If I can get it all back together I might even be able to ride this bike all the way to Hobart.

Tourism Tasmania has been actively promoting Tasmania as a cycle-touring hotspot for years, and rightly so. The classic images of roads winding alongside the coast, quiet country towns, uncrowded sandy beaches and friendly, welcoming locals are exactly what Tassie has to offer. Finally, my opportunity had come to tick this classic journey off the bucket list.

Tasmania’s national parks on the intinerary

Research into the trip had led me to a seven-day itinerary, including stops in the three famous national parks: The Bay of Fires, Freycinet and Maria Island. Along the route I would also be passing through small towns such as Scottsdale, St Helens, Biceno and Richmond. Equipped with panniers, tent, helmet and a good raincoat, I headed east from Launceston towards the coast.

The Bay of Fires is as beautiful as it is famous. A 25km, 3hr side trip from St Helens, the white sands, orange granite boulders and secluded bays in this iconic bay is a photographer’s dream. Secluded off the main East Coast route, the area is perfect for camping, exploring and relaxing.

Stopping in for a quick scallop pie in St Helens, I head south past Scamander, along the Tasman Highway towards a free campsite at the Chain of Lagoons. Without water for the night I’m forced to detour 30km to the nearest supermarket in St Mary’s. With nowhere to buy water for the 60km between Scamander and Bicheno, I regret having not planned ahead.

Passing through Bicheno, into the Freycinet National Park, I am rewarded with the most breathtaking campsite of the trip. Nestled next to Richardsons Beach, the national park operates full-facility campsites for a bargain $13 a night. A day spent exploring Wineglass Bay is a must-do Tasmanian experience.

Maria Island: cyclist’s retreat

Maria Island National Park, a short ferry ride from Triabunna is my last, highly recommended stopover. Taking a break from the bike, I climb the 4hr Bishop and Clerk trail for breathtaking views back to the mainland. The night is spent watching wombats, wallabies and possums around the campsite. With no cars on the island, it’s a perfect retreat for any cycle tour itinerary.

Just 25km from Hobart, Richmond is a great final stop-off before entering Tasmania’s capital city. Richmond Bridge running through the centre of town was built by convicts in 1823 and is famously Australia’s oldest bridge still in operation. Rejoining the traffic chaos of Hobart, I take the opportunity to reflect on the highlights of the trip and the beauty of Tasmania. Perhaps it’s time to start planning my West Coast tour.

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