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NE Rail Trail from Scottsdale to Tullendeena


For some time, both Matthew, my son, and I have had knee problems. Matthew's whilst he recovered from knee surgery and mine as a result of over-exertion on a ride/bushwalk on the Tasman Peninsula in August 2016.

We felt we would be able to cope with a day ride in an area without serious hills and so I suggested the NE Rail Trail that used the abandoned rail corridor, starting at Scottsdale and finishing 26kms away at Tullendeena, near the top of Billycock Hill.

This particular stretch of the old railway line has been developed by the Scottsdale Rotary Club, with assistance from the State Government and the Dorset Council, and is part of what might eventually start at Launceston and finish at Legerwood, a total distance of about 96kms.

As Matthew had two days off we decided to stay overnight and maybe do another ride or a walk on the second day. A couple of days before our trip I booked a twin room with bathroom at the YHA Hostel in Bridport for the Sunday night.

Day 1 - Sunday 11 September 2016

I was up early but, despite my best efforts, it was still only just before 6.00am by the time I drove to Matthew's home at Midway Point to transfer my bike and other gear to his car for the trip North. At Campbell Town we stopped for a breakfast snack at Banjo's and arrived at the start of the ride in Scottsdale at about While in Scottsdale we bought salad rolls and drinks at a local cake shop for our lunch .

It was overcast, with an occasional light shower at the start of the ride. Not really unpleasant, but a spot of sunshine would have been nice. We got our bikes off Matthew's car and changed into our riding gear. Matthew saw some boards with explanatory notes so we wandered over to see what might lie ahead of us. The boards described the development of the Trail and gave details about the history of the railway.

By 10.42am we were ready to leave. As we moved off I asked Matthew if he had locked the car. He said that he now had to go back to check. Presumably, it was locked.

The first 10kms were reasonably flat as the Trail wound its way through open countryside and what was left of the pine milling industry in the area. There were several road crossings, including the Tasman Highway, where we needed to take extra care. No problems winding through the partial barriers at the sides of the roads.

Farm Track CrossingCrossing the Tasman HighwayApproaching Pine MillDamaged Trail Section

At one point along this section the track narrowed because it had been partially washed away on each side. This will obviously get progressively narrower over time and could lead to the Trail being closed until and while repairs are carried out. At about 9kms from the start we crossed an attractive narrow bridge that had a non-slip surface and side barriers for safety.

We reached Tonganah at the 10kms point and this is where the gradual upward incline commenced its 16kms climb to the end of the Trail at Tullendeena (Billycock Hill).

Heading up through ForestForest InclineForest FernsTullendeena "Station"At Tullendeena (Billycock Hill)


The route passed through some delightful forest with large ferns in the sheltered cuttings. An information board informed us that the maximum gradient for the railway was 1 in 40 (2.5%). Hardly a Tour de France category climb but still going up! So, although it seemed almost level by bike riding standards, it still took it out of us, being unaccustomed to riding as we were. I managed to stay in the second chainring range of gears, without needing the granny range.

Over the 26kms there were two intermediate shelters and a shelter at the end of the Trail, where we enjoyed our salad rolls, having arrived there at 1.00pm. Apparently, the Trail does continue, but over rough and steep ground, to Legerwood. However, we did not have this in mind at Tullendeena, so we retraced out route after a break of about 25mins.

By this time Matthew was feeling the unwanted effects of a hard saddle on his bike. It was a new bike and he hadn't had an opportunity to buy a touring saddle that was more suited to the type of riding we were doing. This meant that he needed regular rest stops on the return trip, at about every 1km during the last 6kms.

Even though we were travelling downhill for the first 16kms - and this was a pleasant ride - it wasn't steep enough to enable us to freewheel. A modestly strong headwind also impeded our progress somewhat.

The intermittent rain, whilst never heavy, was a bit of a nuisance for me and caused my fingers and toes to become uncomfortably cold.

We arrived back at the site of the Scottsdale Station at 3.20pm, having taken 2hrs 20mins out and 1hr 54mins return (including stops each way).

After changing out of our riding clothes and putting the bikes back on the car we called in at the local supermarket for some breakfast supplies and headed up the road to Bridport to our accommodation for the night.

At the YHA Hostel we discovered that, apart from one other guest, we were the only people staying. After making ourselves comfortable in our room we went along to the local takeaway shop for a fish and chip dinner that we enjoyed while watching TV in the common room before turning in for an early night.

Day 2 - Monday 12 September 2016

Our plan for this day was to have been another ride in the Bridport area but we were both feeling the effects of the previous day's ride. Matthew suggested an easy walk around the local Wildflower Park, a distance of between 2kms and 14kms, depending on where we started. I thought the shorter route sounded quite reasonable. However, despite reading about the various flowers we might expect to see, there was really no great display for us to enjoy. Perhaps we were there too early in the flower season. The walk itself was refreshing and we really appreciated the wonderful sea views, especially the coast at Granite Point. We estimated the temperature during the day here at about 15o or 16oC, very pleasant.

On the way back to the car we saw an echidna wandering across the road about 20 metres ahead of us. As we cautiously approached it headed towards a drainpipe at a driveway and started to go into it. The echidna probably thought it was safe as it wasn't able to see us but its rear end was protruding from the pipe. We didn't go close to it, for fear of startling it. The pipe seemed a bit too small for it to easily fit into the end. I suppose it knew what it was doing.

When we returned to the town centre for a drink we noticed a lot of police activity at the local IGA supermarket. We later learned that there had been a robbery at around midnight the previous night and cigarettes with an approximate value of $10,000 had been stolen.

The car journey back to Southern Tasmania was uneventful, arriving at around 4pm to a temperature hovering near the 10oC level.

Thanks Matthew for being a great companion and a considerate son.

Medical Issues

I knew from past experience that my suprapubic catheter (necessary following prostate cancer radiation treatment in 2004) was going to be a nuisance, as it has been on other bike rides. The problem has been that the end of the catheter that sits inside my bladder causes some irritation as my legs move. Consequently, when I needed to empty my bladder there was blood in my urine. I just accept that's the way it is. The urine eventually clears, as it has done on previous bike rides, but it is still a bit disconcerting when it happens. Apart from that, no other issues to worry about. For anybody who is interested, my prostate cancer experiences are detailed at Trip Down the Prostate Cancer Highway.


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