Cradle Mountain to Arthur River
The night was freezing cold, but I had good sleep, which is unusual for me when I sleep in my tent. I like to think it was the new sleeping mattress that made all the difference, but possibly also that I was wearing ear plugs to not wake up from wallabies sneaking around my tent.
It took me very long to get all packed up and have breakfast, and by the time I left the campground it was nearly 9.30am — three hours after getting up. I was hoping this would improve after a few days on the road.
My outer tent was completely wet from the cold, damp and rainy weather. No chance of it drying up, so I had to pack it up the way it was. The Hyperstrada was also wet and dirty, but since it’s my touring and camping bike, I don’t mind if it gets dirty. Just as long as it starts without a hitch, which it did.
When I hit the road my bike display showed an air temperature of only 5 degrees. Combined with a wet road his had me slightly worried about black ice in some corners and deep valleys, so I had to take extra care in corners.
After only a few minutes riding I stopped at a lookout point and walked the short track to the top to take one last picture of Cradle Mountain — or at least the tip of it, because everything else was covered in clouds.
Once I left the Cradle Mountain area and reached the road towards Somerset, I could tell from the change in scenery I was getting closer to civilisation again. Wonderful old growth forest soon made way to endless kilometres of depressing tree plantations. Forestry is still one of he biggest headaches in Tasmania.
Slowly the air temperature increased the further I rode North towards the coast. When I was in Somerset for refuelling, it was well above ten degrees. But until then it had been a fairly chilly ride. I made a brief spontaneous stop at Guide Falls. I had never heard of it until I saw the road sign, but on this trip around Tasmania I wanted to take the time to explore side trips and places I never visited before.
After another one or two photo stops I arrived in Stanley around 2pm, for lunch break. I always wanted to check out the large unusual hill they call The Nut. But because I was there later than planned, I didn’t have time to actually climb to the top and instead only stayed at a seafood restaurant for a great lunch meal and refreshing drink. Given it would get dark from 5.30pm I aimed to be at my destination no later than 4pm, in order to have enough time to get set up.
I filled up petrol in Smithton and then rode towards Arthur River. The next petrol station would be some 200km away in Zeehan, so I needed a full tank.
On the road to Arthur River I saw what was possibly my favourite road sign ever: a large eagle symbol with the warning ‘eagles feeding on the road’. I missed the chance to take a photo and unfortunately it would remain the only sign of its kind for the rest of the journey.
I rode past a forest area known as the Tarkine, possibly one of the most pristine, beautiful and also most embattled regions in Tasmania. Road signs and forestry roads indicated logging activities in the area and it’s simply a sad fact and casts a shadow on Tasmania’s reputation as a nature paradise that logging of old-growth forest is still a reality here.
For some reason I had assumed there were only one or two commercial cabin parks in Arthur River, but as it turns out there are also a number of cheap and simple bush campgrounds operated by Parks & Wildlife. I stopped at the Parks office and met a very friendly and helpful young officer who was happy to inform me about the camping options and everything else I needed to know.
In the end I decided to check in at the cabin park a little up the road outside Arthur River. The manager was very friendly and there were only two other campers, so it was a quiet place to stay, albeit not very scenic. Surprisingly, there was also great 4G reception on the Optus network.
I moved my bike around trying to park it properly on the wet ground, but then I slipped off the centre stand and it fell over. D’oh! Fortunately the panniers were still on so it basically landed on the pannier bag. It also helped that I had replaced the hand guards with sturdier metal ones. Other than that, the rear brake lever just got stuck in the dirt — luckily the ground was soft so nothing got damaged. With the help of another camper I managed to lift the bike up again and went on to set up my camp.
After a shower and cooking dinner I sat outside and watched several pademelons hop around my table while I was eating. There was no shelter to sit down, so I retreated to my tent and enjoyed the warmth of my down sleeping bag while writing down notes for the day. Rain kept coming and going, but it only ever lasted a few minutes. Another quiet night, and good sleep.