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31/1/2017 to 13/2/2017

FindMeSpot - Gen 3 - tracking positions during the trip.

Lead-up to the Ride

In October 2015 Matthew had wanted to include the Western Explorer Road in his trip from his home at Midway Point to Queenstown and Marrawah, then back home. However, he injured a knee while he was riding to Queenstown and had to abandon his ride and return home by bus from Queenstown.

When he asked me if I would be interested in riding from my home in Lauderdale to Smithton, via the Western Explorer (south to north) I was a bit hesitant. The reason was that I had previously ridden the Western Explorer twice, from north to south, and did not have particularly pleasant memories of either of the two experiences. I said to him: "Who would ever ride that road three times by pushbike?" His answer was: "Who would ever paddle a sea kayak around Tasmania by themselves three times?" I had no smart answer for that, so agreed it would be quite a ride. He also mentioned that it would be interesting to first ride to Maydena, then take the Florentine Road to Wayatinah, so bypassing Hamilton and Ouse on the Lyell Highway, on a little-used Forestry road.

About two weeks prior to our planned departure Matthew learned that the bridge over the Florentine River, about 7kms south of Wayatinah, had been destroyed by vandals in June 2016 and was no longer there.

Florentine River Bridge BurningFlorentine RiverFlorentine RiverFlorentine River

We decided to do a recce by car to see if it might be possible to wade across the river, bearing in mind when we had our bikes we would need to carry everything in a number of crossings.

When we arrived at the Wayatinah village we rode our bikes along to the river and changed our footwear from bike shoes to sneakers/sandals. Although the river level was low, it seemed to me that it was flowing fairly fast, with an area of shallower rapids a bit downstream from the bridge site. We clambered down the bank. I managed to find a pole as I felt I needed some support mid-stream. The riverbed was slippery, with large rounded stones. We both got across and back OK but I wondered how I would cope with bike, four pannier bags, tent, sleeping bag and handlebar bag when we were on our ride. Matthew reassured me by saying he would be able to help out on the day.

During the following week we closely monitored the river level using the Bureau of Meteorology's website information and were pleased that the level varied only between 580mm and 620mm.

We thought about how we might get back from Smithton, assuming we made it that far. The first alternative was to use the bus service. However, when we thought seriously about it there were several complications: we would need accommodation/campsite for the finishing day; the bus fares would be about $100 each; we would need to change buses at Burnie; the bus might not take our bikes plus all our gear; it would leave us in Hobart, 20kms from home.

As a result we decided to drive both our cars to Smithton the day before our trip and leave Matthew's car with a friend he knew there. Although it was an 800kms round trip we felt it was the best solution.

Our Ride Stages

Day No Date From To Distance (kms) Total Time Moving Time Av Moving Speed (kms/hr) Max Speed (kms/hr)
1 31/01/17 Lauderdale New Norfolk 56.3 5h 29m 4h 17m 13.1 42.6
2 01/02/17 New Norfolk Maydena 46.4 5h 17m 3h 22m 13.7 51.7
3 02/02/17 Maydena Florentine River Camp 43.6 5h 26m 3h 57m 11.0 42.2
4 03/02/17 Florentine River Camp Wayatinah 21.4 4h 29m 2h 13m 9.6 43.8
5 04/02/17 Wayatinah Derwent Bridge Camp 53.0 7h 05m 5h 03m 10.5 52.7
6 05/02/17 Derwent Bridge Camp Lake Burbury Camp 67.8 7h 23m 4h 30m 15.0 58.1
7 06/02/17 Lake Burbury Camp Queenstown 22.0 1h 47m 1h 29m 14.7 45.5
8 07/02/17 Rest Day at Queenstown - - - - -
9 08/02/17 Queenstown Strahan 41.3 3h 17m 2h 27m 16.8 55.7
10 09/02/17 Strahan Zeehan 45.5 4h 01m 2h 53m 15.7 55.1
11 10/02/17 Zeehan Corinna 49.1 4h 02m 3h 19m 14.8 63.7
12 11/02/17 Corinna Lindsay River Camp 56.8 7h 22m 5h 23m 10.5 58.6
13 12/02/17 Lindsay River Camp Arthur River 53.5 5h 26m 4h 02m 13.2 43.9
14 13/02/17 Arthur River Smithton 62.6 4h 03m 3h 17m 19.0 60.3
Total       619.3        

The average distance travelled each riding day was 47.6kms.

Day 1 - Tuesday 31/1/17 - Lauderdale to New Norfolk (56.3kms)

Map - Day 01

Elevation Day 01

Tony & Matthew at Start

The weather forecast was for westerly winds, so we were at least mentally prepared for what was to come as we made our way from Lauderdale at 9.00am to New Norfolk.

Progress was slow but steady until we reached the Bowen Bridge. The footpath was too narrow for us with fully laden bikes so we rode along the roadway, trying to stay as far left as possible. After about 300m the wind gusts were so strong that it became dangerous for me to continue riding. As a result I walked the remaining 500m, with some difficulty, while Matthew persevered and rode all the way across.

At the Montrose Bay Picnic Area we stopped for a snack and a rest then at Claremont we enjoyed a sandwich and a drink. We knew that when we reached Granton we would be faced with unrelenting westerly head winds for the 16kms to New Norfolk. For me at least it was the lowest gear range for the entire 16kms and it was a tremendous relief when we eventually reached New Norfolk at 2.30pm.

Matthew had previously booked us into the Junction Motel - a just reward for a very tough first day of riding.

Another tough day on Wednesday awaited us, in a generally uphill direction to Maydena.

Day 2 - Wednesday 1/2/17 - New Norfolk to Maydena (46.4kms)

Map Day 02









Elevation Day 02

We were pleased that the room price at the motel included a light breakfast (unlike on our previous visit in November 2015). This meant that we might be able to "borrow" a couple of single-serve jams etc for our camping nights.

At 8.40am we were packed and on our way, pleasantly surprised that there was virtually no wind, just slightly overcast.

Rest Stop at Bushy Park

We enjoyed a good run for the first 20kms to Bushy Park, where we stopped for a toasted sandwich and a drink before continuing to our next stop at Westerway. There were several challenging hilly sections to cope with, but no need to get off our bikes to push them. We both knew there would be ample opportunities to test our walking legs in the days to come.

The undulations continued until we reached Mt Field National Park. We stopped there for 30mins or so before we tackled the remaining 12kms in a mainly uphill direction to Maydena.

We reached Maydena at about 1.55pm, having previously booked accommodation at the Giants' Table cottages. To our surprise this was half a house - somewhat dated on the outside but very comfortable inside. The manager/owner made us some chicken sandwiches for lunch and delivered a homemade lasagne with salad for our evening meal. All very nice and civilised.

Half a House at Maydena

The ride on Thursday was expected to be very hard, on the Florentine Road, to a bush campsite on the way to Wayatinah.

Day 3 - Thursday 2/2/17 - Maydena to Florentine River Camp (43.6kms)

Map Day 03

Elevation Day 03

We spent a very comfortable night at the Giants' Table in a cottage with two bedrooms, lounge, kitchen and bathroom. It was in a group of houses arranged in a circle, in a quiet side road off the main road.

It was raining lightly as we prepared to leave so we delayed our departure until 9.45am, just after the drizzle had stopped. The hill out of Maydena was a bit of a challenge. We soon turned off Gordon Road onto the gravel Florentine Road. After a short descent we needed to push our bikes for a considerable distance uphill, with frequent rest stops as we went. Eventually we reached Florentine Gap and we were able to enjoy a fast, but controlled, descent through the forest.

After several kilometres we found ourselves confronted with a 'Road Closed' sign and another sign that warned of 'Shot Chain Operations'.

Chain Shot Operations

We didn't quite know what to make of this situation but, with nobody in sight to ask, we cautiously continued on our way, with no obvious impediment to our progress. There were sounds of logging machinery away to our right but after about 400m we left the area, with signs giving the same warnings from the other direction.

Through occasional gaps in the tree cover we were able to see part of the massive bulk of Mt Field West, but not clearly enough to obtain good photos. We found a clearing off to the side of the road where we enjoyed cheese and Vegemite sandwiches we had made back in Maydena.

Following a fast descent, we reached the turn-off to Tiger Road, where Matthew had made camp on a previous bike trip.

Florentine River Bridge Tiger RoadTrack to Florentine River CampFlorentine River Campsite

We crossed a rickety, broken wooden bridge and followed a short bush track to a very nice grassy campsite. Years ago it would have been a very pleasant picnic spot, with a large fireplace and a huge picnic table. There were several sheets of roofing iron strewn about the bush nearby. [Matthew later discovered that this campsite was the location of an impressive pagoda, built by Australian Newsprint Mills. It was used to entertain visitors, in particular the King and Queen of Thailand on their Royal Visit to Tasmania in 1962. It was subsequently destroyed by fire.]

As we were preparing our evening meal of beans for Matthew and spaghetti for me we saw a jellybean sized "animal" on the ground that was moving very slowly. We didn't know what it was then but Matthew later discovered it was a fully-engorged tick that must have been attached to an animal and dropped off when full of blood.

Engorged Tick

I got into my tent at about 7.00pm while Matthew went exploring along an old bush track parallel to the river for an hour or so.

It rained steadily through the night but by 7.00am the rain had stopped.

Day 4 - Friday 3/2/17 - Florentine River Camp to Wayatinah (21.4kms)

Map Day 04

Elevation Day 04

As this was to be only a short distance in riding terms we packed slowly under Matthew's overhead tarp before heading back across the broken bridge to continue our journey at about 8.50am.

We knew from previous experience that whenever we leave a river (well, normally) we need to negotiate a hill and this was no exception. We pushed our bikes uphill for about 4kms before the road levelled out. There was then a long, steep downhill run that needed constant care, due to the road surface being slippery from the overnight rain.

No Bridge Florentine RiverAcross Florentine River

The sight of the Florentine River and the non-existent bridge caused me some anxiety as I knew there would be multiple trips to carry all the gear across the river. While I was still unpacking my bike and changing my bike riding shoes for Teva sandals Matthew had finished his unpacking and found some long sticks that would help us with some stability in the river. I slung two packs over opposite shoulders and unsteadily made my way across while Matthew made two trips to my one. In the end he made six double crossings, including taking my bike across as well. Thank you Matthew for making this as easy as possible for me.

The remaining 7kms to Wayatinah were a combination of pushing our bikes, with some opportunities to ride the easier parts. It was a great relief to reach Wayatinah, where we would have liked to buy snacks and a drink, but the shop was closed until 3.30pm. We continued the short distance to the caravan park, where we were able to set up our tents on a grassy patch, close to toilets, laundry and the camp kitchen - a bit run down but still very welcome to bike riders.

When preparing for my shower I put my watch in one of my riding shoes - something I had never done before. It was then covered by my two socks. Later in the day I became convinced that I had lost the watch because I did not hear any of the hourly beeps from it. I made a late night trip to the toilet block in the futile hope the watch was lying on the shower changing area floor. It wasn't until 6.00am the next day when the alarm sounded (obviously louder) that I finally "found" it.

After the washing had been dried we walked to the shop for some supplies, then on to the tavern at 4.00pm, where we relaxed and at 6.00pm had a flathead and chips meal, with a cold beer to wash it all down.

Day 5 - Saturday 4/2/17 - Wayatinah to Derwent Bridge (53.0kms)

Map Day 05

Elevation Day 05

Our stay at Wayatinah was marred throughout the late evening by the incessant, drunken bickering of a father, daughter combination outside their caravan, with her two young children in easy earshot, in their caravan. We both wondered whatever possessed them to bother to go on a holiday together if they hated each other so passionately.

The morning weather was kind so we packed outside the tents, on our tarps, and were on the road by 8.10am. We headed out of the village, then on to the Lyell Highway to begin our bike-walk up towards the Fourteen Mile Road junction.

There were many rest stops on the way up the hill, but there were also some opportunities to ride on the false flats and when we neared the junction.

At Top of Wayatinah-Tarraleah Hill

At the picnic area at the top of the hill we stopped for a few minutes and had a Mars bar, snakes and a drink before continuing. There were no log trucks to cause any problems for us but a few cars and vans travelling in each direction on the narrow road. We needed to walk our bikes up one hill a few kilometres from the Lyell Highway, but nothing else to worry us too much.

When we reached the highway we stopped to re-inflate the bike tyres to 50psi, from the 30psi that we had reduced them to on Fourteen Mile Road. From there it was a series of large and small undulations before we finally reached the Derwent Bridge shop for a drink and a snack.

Here we met an English bike tourist who was travelling round the State, in the opposite direction. We stopped to have a chat. He was surprised to learn that march flies bite, as he did not seem to be overly bothered about them landing on him. I suppose he brushed them away before they bit.

When we rode along to the hotel we were amazed to discover that there was no accommodation - not even in the dog boxes or camping spaces - because the Cradle Mountain/Lake St Clair run was taking place at the time. We decided to ride on a short distance to Lake King William, where we found a bush camp, complete with a plethora of march flies, mozzies and leeches.

Bush Camp Near Derwent Bridge

Here we set up our tents and Matthew changed his bike tyres for road tyres. We then wandered along to the pub for a very pleasant chicken parmigiana meal and a couple of beers. Meanwhile I took the opportunity to recharge my Fly12 and Fly6 bike cameras and the Garmin Edge 800 bike computer at one of the pub's power outlets.

Next day's ride either to Lake Burbury camping ground or to Queenstown, depending on how we felt. During the past two days I experienced strong bladder spasms and pain under my body at the perineum, where my prostate used to be. I was hoping it would not continue.

Day 6 - Sunday 5/2/17 - Derwent Bridge Camp to Lake Burbury Camp (67.8kms)

Map Day 06

Elevation Day 06

During the night my sleep was interrupted by the need to charge my Fly12, Fly6 and GPS. I was using my power packs to complete the process that had been partly completed at the pub earlier in the evening. Eventually all were charged, with the result that the Power Monkey was left completely discharged.

Breakfast consisted of two rather stale bread rolls from the pub, made a bit more palatable with butter and Vegemite/strawberry jam. However, I could only manage to eat half of one. I kept the rest to eat on the ride. Water to drink.

I needed to make several bush toilet trips from about 5.45am, in the rain and was rewarded by having five leeches attach themselves to my legs. They were removed with RID insect spray.

We packed up our gear inside the tents and, when all was done, rode along to the shop at 9.10am to get a few supplies for the evening meal and to catch up with the English bike rider who was, we discovered, using a hire bike. By the time he had reached Derwent Bridge he had enough time to get used to it.

It was actually about 9.45am by the time we left the shop. The rain started again. We were both surprised by the number of camper vans and caravans, utes and cars that passed us in both directions. Summer tourists, I supposed.

From the time we left Derwent Bridge I was experiencing pain as I sat on the saddle; also while I wasn't even on the bike. I hadn't passed much urine but I assumed the fluids were being absorbed by my body and were not available as waste. This pain continued and I became unable to empty my bladder via the catheter and flip-flo valve I have. By the time we were partly down Mt Arrowsmith I realised that the suprapubic catheter was completely blocked. No urine could pass.

It reached the stage where I was barely able to concentrate on riding. Matthew reminded me that there was an information shelter at the Franklin River bridge but I did not think I would be able to make it that far. I thought my trip was over.

When we did eventually reach the shelter I was in a state of great distress and hardly able to think straight. Fortunately, I had with me an emergency pack with a new catheter, syringe, sterile water tube and a flip-flo valve. I sat on one of the bench seats in the shelter while Matthew quickly got my supplies from a rear pannier bag and my Leatherman knife to cut the side tube that allowed the internal balloon to release its water and deflate.

When Matthew had unwrapped the new catheter I pulled the old catheter out of my abdomen and a large gush of urine and blood poured out. There was instant relief from the pain of an over-full bladder.

I quickly inserted the new catheter into the hole through to my bladder. When I noticed urine flowing out of the open end I injected sterile water into the side tube to inflate the balloon that retained the catheter inside my bladder. I then attached the flip-flo valve to the open end of the catheter. After wiping the mess away I put a clean dressing around the catheter site. Meanwhile, Matthew had begun to clean up the ground area with water from a water bottle. The emergency over, we were soon able to continue our ride to the Lake Burbury Camping Ground. This image shows my intense relief.

Relief After Catheter Change

My thanks to Matthew for helping me out of a very difficult situation.

After paying the camping fee we found a very comfortable camp site near toilets and a camp kitchen. We spent an interesting evening in the camp kitchen, cooking our dinner and chatting with a group of people from camper vans before getting into our tents around 8.30pm.

Lake Burbury Campsite

Day 7 - Monday 6/2/17 - Lake Burbury Camp to Queenstown (22.0kms)

Map Day 07

Elevation Day 07

This was only a short riding day so we took our time packing and were on our way by 10.05am. It was a fairly easy ride for the first 15kms until we reached Linda, where we needed to push our bikes from time to time up the steeper sections of road.

It was a relief to reach the top of the hill looking down into Queenstown, where we put on our jackets to guard against the wind on the winding descent. Then followed an exhilarating 4kms ride down the sweeping bends; Matthew powered on ahead while I took a more cautious approach.

At Top of Hill Above Queenstown

We bought a snack at a takeaway shop then I called in to the Queenstown Hospital. The reason for this was that, before we left Hobart, I had made arrangements to have a normal four-weekly catheter change at Queenstown and I needed to let the nursing staff know what had occurred the previous day. I also needed to replenish my emergency supplies.

We then did a bit of shopping and waited until we could book into the Empire Hotel for two nights. This second night was needed because we had been offered a too-good-to-refuse trip with King River Rafting (an all day trip) by Paul Steane while we were eating our snack at an outdoor table.

Our room at the hotel was basic but there was a comfortable guests' lounge that we made use of. We ate our dinners of salad and pasta here, followed by cheese and biscuits during the evening, with cups of tea.

Day 8 - Tuesday 7/2/17 - Rest Day at Queenstown

This was a most unusual day.

At 8.00am at the Railway Station Matthew and I, with seven other people, prepared for the rafting adventure and went through the briefing procedure prior to being fitted for bootees and wetsuit.

The cost to us was only $100 each, mainly to cover the levy that had been imposed by Hydro for the release of water down the King River.

As soon as I put on the wetsuit I realised that I would not be able to cope if I needed to use a toilet urgently. [I had earlier assumed that the wetsuit was optional and I could wear bathing trunks, which would have made me more comfortable.] The other problem, that I had not previously considered, was that there would be no access to a riverbank for up to three hours at a time.

I reluctantly decided I would not be able to participate and advised Paul and Michelle, the tour operators. They understood my predicament and offered a refund of my money.

Having deprived them of a paying customer, I did not want to take a refund but Michelle insisted on repaying half to me.

Michelle offered to drive me with the other rafters down to the launch site, so I would be able to see them leave on their adventure. Paul offered me a lift to Strahan in the afternoon, where the rafters would finish their trip down the King River.

While they were away I filled in the time by visiting the museum, buying some supplies and "exploring" the streets of Queenstown. I had a sandwich/coffee lunch in the Railway Café. Very pleasant.

At 2.30pm Paul drove us to Strahan to collect the rafters and their gear before returning to Queenstown. Matthew and I later walked the 3kms to Paul's house to buy a couple of King River Rafting caps as mementos of the day. Matthew confirmed for me that it might have been very difficult for me on the river if I needed to use the toilet over the three hours they were in mid-stream.

During the evening we enjoyed dinner at the Empire Hotel, where we were staying, then spent a relaxing couple of hours in the guests' lounge.

Day 9 - Wednesday 8/2/17 - Queenstown to Strahan (41.3kms)

Map Day 09

Elevation Day 09

The journey was only 41.3kms but it felt much further. Sometimes the wind was behind us, making for pleasant riding, but when it blew from the side it made life very difficult.

Adding to our discomfort was the road itself - many, many twists and turns - I had previously heard there were 99 but I didn't count them. Also, the downhill sections were finished too soon to be adequately enjoyed before the next uphill slog was upon us. OK, that's enough wingeing for now!

It was a relief to reach the fast downhill run into Strahan. We had no accommodation booked but Matthew saw a YHA backpackers sign so we booked into a 2-person (very small) room with two bunk beds (at $35 each + $4 for towels) for the night. After having a welcome shower we wandered along to the town centre to buy a few supplies and later a fish and chips meal that we ate in the camp kitchen.

On the site map we noticed that a guests' lounge was available but when we asked where it was we were told it was locked because it caused too much trouble cleaning it. We were shocked by this "Basil Fawlty" attitude to customer service and it wasn't until we asked a second time that we were eventually given access to the room. We won't be going back.

The forecast for Thursday was for windy, rainy conditions with the possibility of thunderstorms.

Day 10 - Thursday 9/2/17 - Strahan to Zeehan (45.5kms)

Map Day 10

Elevation Day 10

We woke to the sound of rain on the roof. Matthew checked the radar pattern for Western Tasmania's rain and it showed we were at the edge of a rain band that was moving SE. We decided to wait a couple of hours in the hope the rain might have passed in the intervening time. We packed slowly in the confined space of the room and by 9.55am, when the rain had stopped, we rode along to the local takeaway shop for some supplies for the trip.

The first 20kms were in dry weather, just slightly uphill. It then began to rain/drizzle as we made our way up a series of hills - some were walked - before continuing in an uphill direction towards Zeehan. In total this trip took us about 4hrs. We called in at the local shop for a drink and a snack before riding up through Zeehan to the caravan park. We expected we might have a cabin, as we have on our previous visits, but all that was available was an old, but comfortable caravan. It was cosy and there was a camp kitchen with lounge chairs, washing up and cooking facilities.

Here we met a bike rider, Paul Davenport, an Englishman who had ridden extensively in many parts of the World and who was now touring Tasmania. The previous day he had ridden from Arthur River to Corinna, a distance of about 105kms - an awesome feat in one day. When he described his bike riding history we could quite understand how he managed to do this, at 75 years of age. What a legend! I have since arranged to buy one of his books "A Pom Cyclist in Australasia - Part 2 - Australia". Apparently, he spends about five months each year riding his bike in different parts of the World. It made me feel like a bit of a pretender.

We rode our unpacked bikes down to the supermarket to get some supplies, then called in at the takeaway to get our dinner. We then spent a pleasant evening in the caravan sorting out our gear.

Day 11 - Friday 10/2/17 - Zeehan to Corinna (49.1kms)

Map Day 11

Elevation Day 11

A perfect start to the day - calm and sunny - when we left at 8.55am. However, we were soon pushing our bikes up a steep hill; that took away some of the pleasure. The road continued undulating and passed the side road to Granville Harbour.

Junction - Road to Corinna

At 36kms from Zeehan we turned left off the bitumen road towards Corinna. The road surface was very smooth gravel, good to ride on but there were many short, steep uphill sections to negotiate, with some good, fast down runs in between.

For the last few kilometres the road surface was once again bitumen, with the final 4kms a very fast run down towards the Pieman River and the Fatman Barge across it. Matthew must have absolutely flown down the hill as he said he had been waiting for a few minutes for me to arrive. The ferry soon came over to us and we were taken across the Pieman River, at a cost of $12.50 each.

Fatman Barge - Pieman River

We were lucky that we were able to occupy our room soon after we arrived at 12.55pm but we first needed a cold drink, which we drank while seated outside the front of the hotel. Although the cost was high ($220) we had a large unit/small house with twin beds, large lounge with couch and armchair and a kitchen. At book-in we were handed a bag with three types of Ashgrove cheeses and a pack of savoury biscuits. These we intended to ration over the following two days as well as while we were at Corinna.

Corinna RoomCorinna RoomCorinna Room

Matthew treated us to a very nice dinner - curry for him and a pork fillet with chips and salad for me. We relaxed during the evening, listening to episodes of Basil Fawlty.

Day 12 - Saturday 11/2/17 - Corinna to Lindsay River Bridge (56.8kms)

Map Day 12

Elevation Day 12

After a very peaceful stay at Corinna we started this day's ride at about 8.35am. As with most rivers we crossed, it was not long before we were walking our bikes up the hill after having left the Pieman River. We soon turned off the road to Savage River and headed across the Savage River bridge.

Junction - Western Explorer

There were many occasions when we needed to get off our bikes to push them up hills that were simply too steep for us to ride up. Even with having to walk up some hills, the first 28kms were reasonable going. We stopped at the Donaldson River bridge, where Matthew clambered down the 10m descent to refill our water bottles. From the bridge there was a very slow process of walking up hills and riding fast, barely-controlled descents that were always over too soon.

This continued for the following 12kms, along very exposed plains, with strong side winds and driving rain. This riding was a most unpleasant ordeal. The road then, fortunately for us, descended into the fire-ravaged forest area, where there was clear evidence of life returning to the blackened trees. We finally arrived at the Lindsay River bridge, 7hrs 20mins after setting out that morning, where we intended to make camp for the night. We had previously camped at this spot, which was the site of a car park, close to the river. We used rocks to hold our tent guy ropes in position and set up Matthew's overhead tarp to provide some shelter against more expected rain.

At Lindsay River Camp

We started with a cup of tea and had dinner soon after - curry for Matthew and pasta with salmon and peanuts for me. Later we enjoyed some of the Ashgrove cheese and biscuits, followed by a cup of hot chocolate. All very satisfying after a day of monster riding/walking.

It rained during the night.

Day 13 - Sunday 12/2/17 - Lindsay River Bridge to Arthur River (53.5kms)

Map Day 13

Elevation Day 13

We packed quickly inside our tents because the intermittent rain would have made outside packing too unpleasant. No breakfast for us but we expected to have a couple of Mars bars and Gatorade drinks as we went. We left our campsite at 8.25am and almost immediately I felt an uncomfortable pain at the perineum area that lasted nearly to the finish of the day's ride. I didn't know why it occurred, so I didn't know what I could do to avoid it, short of not riding my bike. Obviously, that was not an option just then.

The actual riding was on a better gravel road but the strong cross-wind and driving rain made riding difficult. The rain had turned the otherwise smooth gravel into a soft mush for the top 50mm or so. On the positive side, we needed to walk our bikes up only a couple of hills on this leg of the trip.

As we went, we mentally marked off landmarks as we passed them: the Balfour Track; Mt Balfour; the T-junction of the Couta Rocks/Smithton Road; the right turn (north) to Arthur River.

At about 300m from the Couta Rocks junction, while I was enjoying the wonderful coast views, despite the head wind, an intense band of rain confronted us, driven by a gale-force westerly head wind.

At Couta Rocks Junction

I initially thought it was a hailstorm but I suppose the wind caused the rain to sting my face. Fortunately, there was an information shelter at the junction so we sheltered there for about 15 minutes until the rain had passed and the sun returned.

From this point to Arthur River the wind was a great help as we made our way along the undulating road. After crossing the bridge over the Arthur River I needed to push my bike up the winding hill, before a quick descent to the shop. While I found a much-needed toilet Matthew rang the caravan park and managed to get the last cabin for us for the night. This gave us the opportunity to clean ourselves up, wash some clothes and dry out our still wet tents.

Later, Matthew rode back down to the shop to get our evening meal of beef burgers and chips. Matthew changed his tyres back to road tyres and I pumped mine back up to 50psi for the remaining bitumen roads.

Day 14 - Monday 13/2/17 - Arthur River to Smithton (62.6kms)

Map Day 14

Elevation Day 14

WOW - what a day this was! The SW wind continued for the entire duration of the 62+kms to Smithton. As a first on this trip we both found we were able to pedal up some of the more challenging hills using the high range of gears. What a luxury.

We had left at 9.15am, without having had breakfast, because we were looking forward to having a mid-morning snack and a drink at the Redpa shop.

Part of our original plan was to ride to the Montagu Camping Ground for the night. However, because we spent an extra day in Queenstown we decided not to include Montagu but instead stay on the Bass Highway. At Marrawah we avoided a visit to the local shop, as it would have added an extra 2kms each way from the Bass Highway junction.

We continued on to the Redpa shop, where we had a toasted sandwich and a drink. Matthew bought me some sandwiches and a chocolate slice for himself for the remainder of the ride - he later said it tasted awful and threw it away. From there we set off with a tail wind for most of the time, pushing us along.

It occurred to both of us that it was a pity we needed to wait until the very last day of our trip to have the benefit of a tail wind. It was a just reward for the previous hard days. The ride continued uneventfully until we reached Smithton. On my bike trips I always looked forward to seeing first the 80kms/hr sign and then the 60kms/hrs sign at a town. This was no exception.

In the centre of Smithton we both needed to walk our bikes up a steep hill past the swimming pool before turning left to a "big dipper" on Massey Street. From there our destination was just off Nutview Court.

Matthew's car was still in one piece, safe in his friend's back yard. We chatted, changed into non-riding clothes and loaded all our gear into the car. From there it was a leisurely trip back to Lauderdale, stopping as we needed to for rests and snacks on the way.

So ended a challenging and most rewarding two weeks bike trip.

Now all that remains is to return to Smithton and continue the circuit of Tasmania via the north and east coasts.

My heartfelt thanks to Matthew for his patience with my slow progress and somewhat confronting medical issues that he helped me with. A great son and a considerate riding companion. 


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