Stick or Twist?

We have a mutiny on our saddles.

True … it’s not quite on the scale of Fletcher Christians Mutiny-on-the-Bounty, but it is a mutiny just the same.

After months of researching the route from Melbourne to Sydney, of downloading vast numbers of maps from ViewRanger, of checking how many climbs, how many kilometres each day … Clare has suggested we might cycle 1200km (750 miles) around Tasmania instead.

And we’ve even cycled towards Sydney for a couple of days!

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Credit: Discovery Holiday Parks

Like many people before her, Clare was inspired by a boat. It was the sight of The Spirit of Tasmania ferry chugging out of Melbourne harbour that got her thinking …

  1. It’s a bloody long way to Sydney … and she’s not training for an Ironman.
  2. People telling us that Tasmania is their favourite part of Australia.
  3. Andy’s near miss with a ‘road-train’ truck.

The road-train incident was genuinely scary. On a narrow country road, one of these massive beasts passed within a few inches of Andy at extremely high speed, causing him to wobble dangerously in it’s wake. 

Had the driver bothered to look at the angry cyclist in his rear view mirror, it’s fair to say he would have had no doubt about how Andy felt.

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A ‘Double’ Road Train.  Credit: Scott Bourne

Cycling in Australia seems to be more challenging than other countries we’ve toured through. 

Cities are brilliant with loads of dedicated cycling lanes. But outside the cities there’s often only one busy main road between distant towns. There isn’t the network of quiet country roads that cyclists love.

On our travels, we’ve found the Irish to be the most patient drivers with cyclists. So far I’m afraid we’ve found Australians to be amongst the least tolerant, often seeing no need to slow down or deviate even slightly. 

This is particularly true of truck drivers … they ‘own the road’ and they know it. To be fair, they don’t pass many foolhardy touring cyclists on their long, dull journeys. 

But it seems that snakes and spiders are not our biggest danger after all.

It’s the truck drivers!

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Riding out of Melbourne was beautiful, gliding around Port Phillip Bay on a lovely coastal cycle path. It was easily the hottest day we’ve ever experienced on a bike, peaking at over 40°C (104°F). We both drank more than 6 litres of water but still didn’t need to pee for 24 hours. When we stopped for lunch we just wanted to rub ourselves down with towels and ice cubes.

After 70km of sweaty peddling, we were very happy to board the small, local ferry across to Phillip Island and cool down in the gentle sea breeze.

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On the ferry to Phillip Island

Phillip Island is home to the nightly Penguin Parade. Hundreds of Little Penguins, just one foot tall, commute back to their burrows at dusk after a busy day fishing. It was delightful to see these cute little creatures tumbling out of the sea and waddling back to their mates.

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Little Penguins   Credit: Phillip Island Nature Parks

As we rode along the coast the next day, we began to appreciate how big and  dry Australia is. We noticed a huge cloud forming inland. It turned out this was caused by a number of bushfires merging together. They are often started by lightening strikes from the dry storms (no rain) that build up in the intense heat.

It’s an increasing and dangerous problem across Australia.

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Credit: The Guardian

One such lightening strike had hit Wilson’s Promontory National Park, one of the most spectacular parts of the Victorian coastline and a highly anticipated highlight on our ride to Sydney. 

The resulting bushfire meant that 300 campers had to be evacuated. It’s serious enough to keep the park closed for two weeks but we’re glad to say that the fire looks like it will be controlled before it causes to much damage to this pristine wilderness.

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Sunset across the estuary at Inverloch

Instead, we stayed an extra night at a lovely campsite in Inverloch, just metres from a beautiful, empty beach that led out to a wide estuary.

The camping has been great. The equipment is working well and we’re relishing the outdoor life that we miss when we only stay in hotels or B&B’s.

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Camping just behind the sand dunes

Because of the bushfire, we’re now no longer going to Wilsons Promontory. But where are we going? Sydney or Tasmania?

Here are Clare’s arguments for a tour around Tasmania:

  • It’s one of the great cycling destinations … lots of people cycle around Tasmania and very few cycle from Melbourne to Sydney (there must be a reason for that!)
  • The scenery is stunning
  • We’ve never been there
  • We’ll have two trips on an iconic ferry
  • It’s great for camping
  • It won’t be as hot and sweaty for cycling
  • There are less long, dull roads
  • There are less big trucks
  • There are less snakes and spiders
  • The bushfire on Wilsons Promontory was a bad omen

And here are Andy’s arguments for cycling to Sydney:

  • It’s the original plan
  • It’s a proper journey (not a circle)
  • It might be a bit cold in Tasmania

What do you think we should do? Should we stick or twist?

Clare and Andy

35 thoughts on “Stick or Twist?”

  1. Get on that ferry you two!
    Many years ago, as a student I took a bus trip all the way from Perth to Darwin. Your latest post has reminded me of those seemingly endless dull roads and those terrifying monsters, the road trains.
    For the sake of your loyal readers, please listen to Clare’s wise words. We eagerly await Tales from Tasmania!
    Love to you both. Xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello Andy & Clare,

    Thank you for your second Pothole edition. Australian trucks sound very scary and for me, personally, that would put me off continuing with your original plan. I had a similar incident on the Pan American Highway in Costa Rica and we very quickly got off the main road and never returned.

    Jane also has a habit of changing our plans, sometimes as early as the outbound plane trip so I can relate to your frustration. I think the reasons for change however do stack up against continuing and what is wrong with double digit English summer temperatures which currently we can only dream of. On a positive note also, a circular route can be adjusted, I assume, to be a larger or smaller circle if required? Finally, if you do start and finish in the same place it gives you the opportunity to jettison any surplus kit, to be picked up on return.

    Looking forward to the decision, (I think you’ve already made it), and the next edition.

    Steve

    Get Outlook for Android

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Andrew and Claire,

    I’m loving your blog – I haven’t been to Australia yet and you are painting a wonderful picture …. Haven’t been to Tazmania either, and can’t wait to hear all about it!!!
    Sounds like it would be a wonderful adventure…
    Take care you two
    Deana x

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Morning Campers!

    An interesting dilemma.

    If it helps, I had a wonderful experience of cycling around Tasmania in 1991.
    I started and finished in Launceston and went anti-clockwise- this takes in the mountainous west coast first with the near flat east coast towards the end.
    Highlights included:
    – Cradle Mountain- they say it snows more than 330 days a year (or something like that)- and it didn’t disappoint when I passed by. My recollection was that it was a tough climb- but then, as you both know, I’ve done much tougher ones since- and I did have two heavy panniers and an equally heavy rented touring bike lug up the hill in addition to my own bulk.

    – A near death experience cycling up to Cradle Mountain Lodge in a white out, with not a soul in sight, realising I was in the middle of nowhere, suffering from the early stages of hypothermia and still 10 miles from my destination.
    -Meeting up with and cycling with a guy named John McCarthy and turning on the telly that night to learn that Terry Waite (his fellow captive) had been freed that day!

    – Stopping to photograph at close quarters a curled up Tiger snake in the middle of the road not thinking that it might not actually be dead and a single strike from it would have signalled my own demise.

    – Having my rear tyre explode 40 miles outside of Hobart to be greeted by a passing motorist who offered the choice of either taking his bike from the roof of his car while he took mine and repaired it and I cycled in to Hobart, or jumping in the car for a ride into town……….I wimped out and took the latter option!!!

    – Going on a fishing and tall tree trip with a British brother and sister couple of youngsters I met in Hobart to witness some of the tallest and most extraordinary trees in the world AND to drift around in a little boat in the most idyllic, remote and still waters I have ever witnessed.

    – Experiencing the sheer beauty of Freycinet National Park and, in particular Wineglass Bay- a must!!

    – And, then the piece de resistance was further up the coast at Bicheno where I stayed on the beach at the Youth Hostel. At dusk we all trooped off to the beach to witness the daily dance of the fairy penguins as they sheepishly (penguinly?) emerged from the surf only to scurry back into the waves, repeating this nervous, iterative dance until they had the courage to leg it for the dunes and their evening resting place- a magical and mesmeric experience I’ve treasured ever since.

    – And then finally, having had the wind in my face at every twist and turn around the Island, the final day was one of complete exhilaration as the wind literally blew me along at top speed back to my starting point.

    So, for me, it’s a no brainer- the Sydney option clearly wins hands down!!!!!

    Best wishes to you both and see you soon (Andy, sounds like we missed a cracker of a Bath v Quins game last weekend- well, from a Quins fan perspective that is).

    Dave (id) xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Twist, defo! That beach at Inverloch looks familiar. Stayed there for Heathcliffe’s son’s wedding at Fish Creek a couple of years ago. Not camping, though!! Have fun whatever you decide to do! Peter

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Andy and Clare.
    What a great experience.Without a doubt take the ferry.We used it to come back from Tasmania and really enjoyed it.
    Tasmania oh so much better for cycling than the main roads in Aus.Long/hot and boring!
    Get down to the Tasmin Peninsula and Port Arthur if you can make.If you won’t to be shocked go to the MONA art gallery near Hobart.Fish and chips on the front at Hobart itself..West coast fairly wild and rugged but take a lodge up in Cradle Mountain.You won’t regret it.We used Cradle Mountain Highlanders.
    Now your making it a real adventure.
    Love to you both,
    Rich and Sue

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Your day on the bikes should be enjoyable , tiring but not nerve wracking. Being on the main roads wobbling in the tailwind of train-trucks sounds extremely dangerous. Twist away , I would say, if that seems the more practical choice. Do in Roma as Romans do, stick to cycling routes please.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The road to Sydney sounds a bit tedious and not great with those trucks steaming past so I would say TWIST!!! or do both……..Good luck with the decision making. Xx

    Liked by 1 person

  9. You do not need any more direction but for the record it a def twist. Everyone I meet here raves about Tasmania and it sounds 3 million times better than fighting with big trucks and long straight roads. GO go go! Loving you blog!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Twist. Who cares about original plan anyway?!! Do what is going to be most fun & enjoyable (and safe). Tasmania is BEAUTiful! I did the East coast with son Tom in a little motorhome & loved it (wished we had more time to do the entire island). Empty. Perfect for camping. Great treks. Wild camping too. Freycinet National Park & hike up the mountain was the highlight for me….go for it. Susan

    Liked by 1 person

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