Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Port Arthur Ride…….Make That Dunalley

by Brendon on May 19, 2009

We hadn’t visited the penal colony of Port Arthur on our trip, so with this being our last day with the bikes (May 9, 2009) we decided to head down for the tour.

Port Arthur is a 90 minute ride from Hobart and we set out in overcast conditions – the clouds would obviously disappear because, aside from a couple of hours of drizzle on the West Coast, the weather had been perfect.

Our first hitch for the day was heading past the Hobart Airport on our way to the Causeway at Sorell.

A huge backlog of traffic at a standstill indicated an accident ahead – sure enough, a boat being towed hadn’t been secured and it flew off and hit a car.

After a 10 minute wait we were on our way.

brendon-bhYes ladies, it’s GK – Isn’t he beautiful!

Then the 2nd hitch occurred – those clouds didn’t play according to the script and the rain came.  Quite heavy it came, too.

We didn’t like that!

We made it as far as Dunalley, a small fishing village built around a man-made canal.

As we headed over the bridge the Dunalley pub called out to us: “In here lads – there’s a fire, beers and great food!”

We didn’t need to be told twice and pointed the bikes into the carpark – into the pub for a few beers and a counter meal waiting for the rain to let up.

It didn’t.

port-arthurPort Arthur ruins we didn’t get to see

We’d organised with Ian to drop the bikes back at 4.30 pm but with our new plan of not heading down to Port Arthur we hoped to ride straight from Dunalley back to Hobart and drop them off at 3 pm.

Now look, I pride myself on being a loud mouth, don’t care about your feelings, obnoxious Australian idiot.

Riley Starts having An Influence

But bloody Riley has started having a positive influence on me………and I don’t like it one little bit!

Riley is calm.  I’m not.

He’s charming.  I’m not.

He’s kind.  I’m kind of a dickhead.

Everyone loves Riley – he’s absolutely charming, stylish, can fix anything, knows everything, you can even have a lovely conversation with the guy if you want.

Riley’s 2 Fatal Flaws

But he has 2 fatal flaws.

# 1 is very obvious in the photo below – yep, that’s right: He’s bloody ugly!

# 2 is even worse than the first – you see, he’s English!

riley-pbRiley atop a BMW

Anyway, back to the story about Riley’s unwanted influence…..

Here’s what happened.

“…..Terribly Inconvenient…..”

I called Ian up to see if we could drop the bikes back early and, believe it or not, I heard myself say this:

“Hello Ian, I was wondering if it would be terribly inconvenient……….”

Yep, that’s right.  I said “…..terribly inconvenient….”

Methinks a little less time needs to be spent with Riley or I’ll start showing some manners and start being considerate – and that’s just not me!

Ian assured me it wouldn’t be “terribly inconvenient” and to come on up.  So the lads saddled up and back to Hobart we rode.

bikes-ianDropped The Bikes Off

After dropping the bikes off to Ian and having a bit of a yarn with his lovely partner Helen (and thank you Helen for saying I was the funniest one of the group.  As you said to me quietly that day, “The others don’t seem that smart……”), Ian was good enough to drop the 6 of us back at our hotel in his van.

Like I say here, fantastic service from a great bloke.

Once the lads had a shower and shave, we headed off for dinner at Annapurna, an Indian restaurant in the groovy section of North Hobart.  The food was plentiful and beautiful.

From there we headed to the Republic Bar (this used to be called the Empire Hotel when I was a kid growing up in nearby Wignall St – it got its fame from being the place ex-Test cricketer and author Max Walker grew up in).

After that it was a whirlwind of booze, bars and broads for the lads……….oh wait, that was just me!

Most of the lads, and I won’t be naming names, were tucked up in bed by 11 pm whilst a couple of the lads staggered back to The Quest in the wee hours.

And that was the Tassie Bike Tour of ’09.

But wait, we haven’t left yet and getting to the airport on time presented its own challenges!

Stay tuned for the wrap up.

Cheers

Golden Knob

Heading From Strahan To Hobart

by Brendon on May 19, 2009

After a great meal and a nice sleep we set out from the Regatta Hotel and headed 42 km away to the old copper mining town of Queenstown at the foot of bare mountains.

Riding in was a bit of a blur as we had typical West Coast drizzle and low cloud.  There was a lot to see, but we couldn’t actually see it.

We stopped at Queenstown and had a break for breakfast of toasted sandwiches and coffees.

It was back onto our trusty steeds for the ride out of Queenstown – 99 bends out of that town into the (mostly) bare hills.

poss-queenstown-fog

We were headed for the hotel at Derwent Bridge, about 90 kms away through a misty rain and low cloud.

It was our worst day for weather, but it made a change from the blue skies.

We settled in for the cold, hard ride to Derwent Bridge and I managed to grab a few snaps of the guys along the way.

johnny-derwent-bridge-tws

birdman-riley

riley-birdman

The pub at Derwent Bridge was a welcome relief – even more so when we discover it was a beautiful pub with an open fire and hot coffees!

We settled in to warm up and plan the rest of the day’s movements – we were thinking Lake St Clair, visit ‘The Wall’ (a carving exhibition) and then the country town of Ouse and onto Hobart.

brendon-poss-derwent-bridge-twsGolden Knob & Poss cuddle up

dave-kev-derwent-bridge-twsThe brother-in-laws keeping it in the family

After a few hot cups of coffee we headed out into clearer skies for nearby Lake St Clair (the source of the Derwent River) – a lovely wilderness centre overlooks the lake and offers a ton of information and walks.

lake-st-clair

‘The Wall’ was next on our list to see – about 6 kms out of Lake St Clair on the highway.

This is essentially an art gallery of a sculptor who works in wood.  He’s carving a massive 100 metre long work in Huon pine using strong Tasmanian foresty and Hydro Electric history for his inspiration.

There’s a $7.50 charge to enter which I didn’t quite get.  Much of the art work is for sale and ‘The Wall’ still has plenty of work to be completed.

Seemed like a bit of posturing to me and pretty words for not much value.

Heading For Strathgordon

From ‘The Wall’ it was decided that all the lads, except Golden Knob, would head for Strathgordon – the dam site of Lake Pedder.  Golden Knob was meeting some friends for dinner back in Hobart and solemnly handed on the ‘Captain’ title to his 2IC – Flyboy.

As the lads headed for the power station town of Tarreleah, Golden Knob pulled up to get the lads together again (as a good leader does!).

BMW Brake Safety System Kicked In

It turned out that Flyboy’s BMW had stopped due to a brake fault.

We sent Poss back for him, along with Riley.  After a bit of toing and froing it was found that Flyboy’s BMW had shut down because of the brake fault (turns out, in a million to 1 chance, that a tiny rock had lodged itself between a brake component making the back brake inoperable).

BMW Road Assist were on their way, along with Ian from Moto Adventure to co-ordinate things (the instant we had this issue Ian dealt with it and immediately left Hobart to help us out).

Lads Settled Into The Ouse Pub

The lads settled in for a while for a bite to eat and a few beers at the Ouse Pub before confirming Flyboy was A OK.  Then we headed for Hobart.

The ride between the little country town of Ouse and New Norfolk was fantastic, with rolling hills of many colours.

As we headed into Hobart we decided to stay down near the docks and pulled up at the old Telegraph Hotel.

The Quest on the Waterfront

The helpful bouncer there pointed us across the road to ‘The Quest’ – a modern, clean apartment style hotel that had family rooms that slept 3 for just $150 per night.

view-brooke-st-hobartThe Aurora Australis is docked directly opposite

Before you knew it the bikes were garaged, the lads were showered and shaved and sitting in the Telegraph Hotel Bar sending Flyboy, stuck on a mountain road 200 kms away, the following text message:

“We never leave a soldier behind……..usually.   Use your SAS training to find us in Hobart!”

(Flyboy tracked us down almost immediately – he made a phone call and then followed the smell of beer.)

Golden Knob went off for dinner with friends – to ‘Flathead’ in South Hobart – whilst the rest enjoyed the beers and pub food of the Telegraph.

Starting To Wind Down

It was now Friday night and the lads were starting to wind down after an amazing journey around the state.

Tomorrow the plan was to tackle Port Arthur.

Cheers

Golden Knob

Gordon River Cruise Strahan…& Restaurant

by Brendon on May 19, 2009

After a nice sleep at the Regatta Hotel in Strahan (it’s the hotel/motel just out of town – the only other hotel aside from the main one on the wharf I think) we woke early for the Gordon River Cruise.

Because the hotel is about 1.5 kms out of the middle of Strahan we rode the bikes down.

The thing about Strahan is it was the only town we found that was set up to get the tourist for as much as they possibly could.

I guess it’s because if you visit Strahan you’re a tourist and you don’t have a lot of options once you’re there – you’re a long, long drive away from anywhere so are essentially stuck with what’s there.

That’s why – in this tiny, tiny town – we had no choice but to park the bikes in a carpark that charged $4 for the park.

Then we headed over to the cruise boat.

We’d booked this one because it wasn’t the one owned by Federal Hotels (the same mega company that owns Wrest Point Casino, as well as the main hotel, bakery, railway, etc in Strahan) – it’s owned and run by a family that’s been doing it for years.

(One of the things we tried to do on the trip was buy from the small businessperson rather than big companies.)

The cruise was, from memory $85 and worth every cent.

johnny-poss-dave-strahan-tws

Birdman, Poss & Riley cuddle up on deck

The boat was great, the lunch (included in the price) fantastic and the crew friendly.  The river itself and the views are simply amazing.

gordon-river-wilderness

Included was a tour of the infamous Sarah Island – the Tour Guide made it sound like a holiday camp for mischievous little boys (!) – it’s an amazing part of Tasmania’s convict history and was once a one very effective and efficient ship-building yard.

riley-sarahRiley reads up on Sarah Island….on Sarah Island

You have to do this cruise if you hit Strahan.

Captain Grumpy Ass

The guy who pilots the boat was a sour bugger though and numerous passengers commented on what a grumpy ass he was.  His commentary was very thorough with tons of detail.

An interesting bit old Captain Grumpy Ass did tell us was about the Salmon and Ocean Trout farming done in Macquarie Harbour.

These fish farms in the harbour are basically just nets 20 metres deep.

The fish grow and grow and by the time they’re ready to be pulled up, they’re swimming nose to tail – basically they’re just battery fish!

salmonDidn’t stop the guys from ordering it next time they saw
Salmon on the menu

At the end of the tour we pulled out the Lonely Planet book to find ourselves a decent restaurant for the night.

Riley and I found Risby Cove Restaurant.

“One of the finest restaurants in Strahan” They Claim.

“Bullshit” I Say

Risby’s claims to be “One of the finest restaurants in Strahan”.

Bullshit!  I say.

If they think that they’re kidding themselves!

Risby’s is one of the finest restaurants in Australia, if not the world.

Don’t worry about just little old Strahan!waitress

Amazing Food

Absolutely amazing is the only way to describe the food.  Without doubt the best food I’ve ever had (I had the Striped Trumpeter).

Everything was fresh and delicious.

Here’s the full menu.

We were constantly astounded with each course – we had breads and then 3 courses, coffees and cheese, wines and beers.

The service was very friendly and cheeky, which is what you need when you’ve got 6 boisterous blokes at the table.

An Absolute Bargain

The bill was, from memory, $621 for 6 of us.  $103 each for the feast we had was an absolute bargain.

After that feast we, naturally enough, headed back to the Regatta Hotel for a nightcap or 3.

Vicki ended up sending us on our way with a roadie…..even though it was just a 40 metre walk to our rooms!

She’s got style that woman!

In the morning we headed out…….more coming soon