Arthur River to Strahan
So far I had been very lucky with the weather. It did rain occasionally, but only during the night, or only for very short periods.
There was some rain overnight, so my tent was again wet when I packed up. Since I was only one of three campers on the entire campground, I moved all my luggage into the camp kitchen so I could take my time with packing up while cooking breakfast.
My original plan was to possibly ride to Mt Field, but after a chat with the Parks & Wildlife officer the previous day it seemed rather unrealistic and I instead aimed at spending the night in Strahan.
Shortly after Arthur River the road was still sealed and I rode past many road signs indicating the presence of Tasmanian devils in the area. However I didn’t encounter any, which may have been because the whole area got badly burnt by the recent bushfires only a few months earlier. It looked really devastating at times.
A few kilometres after Couta Rocks there was a turnoff after which the gravel road began. There was also a viewing platform with some information boards, so I stopped for a few pictures. From now on the road would be nearly 90km of gravel road through one of the most remote areas in Tasmania. There would be no mobile reception and hardly any other vehicles. The road wasn’t marked as a four-wheel-drive road, so given that it was apparently possible to get through in a normal car, I assumed I should be able to handle it on the Hyperstrada.
During the first half hour I saw two other cars on the road, but after that I was totally on my own until Corinna. The road quality could change after every corner, sometimes it was easy gravel, sometimes it was slippery mud — sometimes it was a very wide road, sometimes only one lane. At times progress was very slow and I had to tip-toe around corners with deep gravel, at other times I could ride 60-70km/h. A few short sections were even sealed, usually at very steep ascends that would otherwise be impossible to master except for four-wheel-drives.
Two or three times I nearly dropped the bike when I drifted too far to the edge of the road and then had no grip on the front wheel. Often the road was slightly falling off at the edges, so when getting too far out to the edge where there was deep gravel and then leaning towards the middle of the road to get back on track I risked low-siding the bike. The Pirelli Scorpion tyres did offer some grip on the gravel road, but whenever there was a muddy section or deep gravel I could feel the bike becoming unstable.
Progress was much slower than expected and a lot of things were going through my head. I was pretty sure I had enough fuel, but the road conditions could become better or worse behind every corner. My biggest worry was to get to a section I wouldn’t be able to traverse, but then not having enough fuel to turn around. I also found riding on gravel for so long is very tiring mentally, because it requires so much concentration.
Some sections again went through areas that looked like a disaster area, where nearly all the vegetation had been burnt by bushfires earlier in the year.
Finally I arrived in Corinna, which must be one of the most remote and isolated settlements in Tasmania. The only way to continue on to Zeehan is by taking a small ferry across the beautiful Pieman river, which can carry two vehicles at a time. Before taking the ferry I walked around the area for a bit. If I had known there is actually a store and a campground in Corinna I would have planned to spend a night there, it was a beautifully tranquil place, and I regretted spending only a few minutes there.
The ferry ride was $12.50 for a motorcycle, and it offered some stunning views over the river, definitely a highlight. Rivers in Tasmania have a deep dark tea-colour, caused by tannin from button grass in the area. At the West coast it seemed even darker, and combined with the slow flow of the water it looked magnificent.
From the other side of the river the road was sealed and after a short ride I was in Zeehan. Running on reserve fuel by then I checked out both petrol stations, which were both unmanned and both had only 91 octane fuel. I decided to first have a late lunch stop at the Pitstop Café, where I had quite possibly the best hot chocolate, slice of quiche and toasted sandwich in a long time. Well worth a stop.
After a clunky experience filling up petrol at the unmanned station down the road, and a short ride later I soon arrived in Strahan. A remarkably beautiful town with a surprising amount of things to do, from river cruises to steam trains. I parked near the town centre and walked around the waterfront for a while, taking photos. After Corinna this was definitely another place where I want to spend more time on future trips to Tasmania.
I checked in at a commercial campground and got a tent site only metres from the beach. After setting up camp and having a shower, I cooked dinner in the camp kitchen and met a girl from Italy, who had been travelling around the world for 8 years already. We had a long conversation well into the night and it was interesting to hear her experiences. However I also noticed how much travelling had become routine for her, and how exhausted she felt. When you travel for too long and it starts to become routine, you can't enjoy it anymore and then you should stop. It can be a mental burden seeing all these great places, but always be on the move and not having a place where you feel at home, maybe because you’re spoilt for choice, can't decide where to stay permanently, and don’t want to return to your country where you grew up either. Making the decision to stay in one place and start a new life is a difficult one.