Devonport to Cradle Mountain
6.30am I got off the ferry in Devonport. While waiting on the cold parking deck for the cars in front of me to disembark, I enjoyed the popularity that comes with riding a Ducati, when about half a dozen people walked by and started asking me about my bike, what's it called, how much power does the engine have etc. Just the mere presence of a Ducati is a conversation starter everywhere.
I stopped in Devonport to have breakfast, get petrol and adjust my luggage so that my backpack wouldn't push so much against the large bag. I also had to realise — after only a few hundred metres riding on wet road — that although my tidy tail number plate holder looks great, it doesn't offer any protection against the water spray from the rear wheel. Fortunately I pretty much expected that and made sure my luggage bag was tough and waterproof.
I didn't follow the signs to Cradle Mountain but instead chose a slightly different route. On my handlebar I had a waterproof case for my phone so I could use it as GPS while riding.
The road to Cradle Mountain was just wonderful. The quality of roads in Tasmania generally feels better than in Victoria (less pot holes and road bumps) and the scenery quickly changed to hills, lush green paddocks and forest.
Early in the morning it had rained so the road was wet, but at least the rain had stopped shortly before I left the ferry. Riding on the wet road felt comfortable with the Hyperstrada, but at some point I noticed more and more wet patches and leaves on the road, so I switched from 'Touring' to 'Urban' riding mode, which tunes down the engine power a little, and increases traction control. Seeing the traction control light flash on the dashboard in nearly every corner I quickly realised this was a good decision.
The riding modes are something I like about the Hyperstrada - most modern bikes have different riding modes for different conditions. Before leaving home I slightly tweaked the modes with my own preferences: I set 'Urban' mode to have maximum traction control and least engine power so I could use it as the setting for wet conditions. I didn't actually notice much difference in power, only when accelerating aggressively.
I stopped at a beautiful lookout point to Mt Roland where I could try out my new wide lens and tripod. The sun came out and it started to look like a really nice day, just very cold. The closer I got to Cradle Mountain the colder it became — obviously because it's a fair bit above sea level. Air temperature was only 9 degrees when I arrived at the visitor centre.
After I purchased a National Parks pass I checked in at the commercial campground across the road. I set up my camp, quickly cooked some instant noodles and then prepared to spend the rest of the day bushwalking around Dove Lake. I had planned to take the free Cradle Mountain shuttle bus from the visitor centre, but the campground staff suggested I should take my bike, because the last return shuttle would leave at half past four already.
Just when I arrived at Dove Lake car park the weather turned. It became cold, miserable, windy with drizzle and rain, and Cradle Mountain was soon covered in clouds. It was my birthday and I had been looking forward to a day of bushwalking and photography, and now it looked like neither was going to happen.
The rain was just coming and going so it was hard to predict anything. I climbed up to Hansons Peak and got almost blown off the mountain, so at Twisted Lakes I had to turn back, even before the summit. No point really in climbing to the top if the wind is so strong I can't even hold my camera steady, all while rain blows in my face.
I started cursing Tasmania and saw all my usual presumptions about Tasmania and its weather confirmed once again. However, having lived in Tasmania for several years, I also knew the most important rule about the weather: if the weather is shit, just wait a short while and it could be totally different. And so I went on to continue the Dove Lake circuit instead of going back to the campground, ignoring the rain. As predicted, half an hour later the rain, the clouds, the wind all went away indeed and it turned into a magnificent sunny afternoon which I thoroughly enjoyed in the end.
Back at the campground I grabbed some fresh clothes and went to have a hot shower, the benefit of a commercial campground. Afterwards I cooked dinner in the camp kitchen and dried my towel and my damp hiking clothes at one of the fire places while writing down my notes for the day. I pretty much spent the rest of the evening sitting by the fire which was a nice ending to my birthday.