(December 30 2020 – written by Dave)
Today was a long day today coming back out of Cradle Mountain. We ended up having a lot of climbing to go with the Ks. In fact, even though we rode from nearly 1,000 metres down to sea level, we had more climbing than the day we rode into Cradle Mountain. It really came down to our desire to reach Wynyard and not camp at a roadside rest stop. We looked at the profile and saw lots of downhill, and there was, but there was also a good deal of climbing on a lumpy day. Oh well, mission accomplished and we made it to Wynyard.
The day started bright with big blue skies up at Cradle Mountain. Too bad we were off by a day on our hikes – not to worry, we’ll just have to come back and hang out at the Highland cottages another time. Our cabin was great and the hosts super nice. We enjoyed the gas woodstove and used it way more than we thought we would in the middle of summer. That’s Tassie at altitude I guess.
As much as we missed hiking in the sunshine, you won’t hear us complaining about a day without rain and getting to spend a day riding in bright sunshine. We still had to rug up leaving the lodge but only kept our raincoats on for a short while – we gave them up for good on the climb up to Black Bluff Lookout where we had nice views back towards Cradle Mountain. Yup, Cradle Mountain was still clear, several hours after we had left – funny. Nancy announced that we had 50k of downhill from the lookout to the bottom of Hellyer Gorge. Well, that was funny. Every time we hit a little uphill for the rest of the morning, and there were quite a few, I commented how much I enjoyed the gorge. It was a lumpy downhill.
At about 30k we turned right on the A10, off the C132. The “A” roads are supposed to be the biggest and busiest. There was a lot more traffic on the A10 and no shoulder but it was not too bad. After 16k the A10 did a slight dogleg and the B18 carried on down towards the coast, we stayed on the A10. From this point over the next hour, on the A10 we were passed by one car and one motorcycle. The A10 had no fog lines and was barely wide enough for two cars. All the traffic took the B18. Over the last few days, we spent hours staring at our maps, trying to figure out how we avoid the busy A10 – worry time wasted clearly. I guess the Tassie transport folks don’t follow the A, B and C road designations.
The narrow A10 was one giant tree farm for the next 20k – new gum trees, old gum trees, radiate pine and some fresh clear-cuts. We saw a few birds but no animals and it was pretty hot. Then we reached the entry to the gorge and a normal forest. It was moist, much cooler and there was some shade. The gorge was fun to ride down with about 6k of shallow decent – the forest smells were great. We pulled up for lunch at the bottom at the Hellyer Gorge Day-use area. We had originally planned on spending the night there and it would have been fine once it quieted down – lots of people were stopped to enjoy the river and forest walks. We were there before noon though, so onward and upwards for us.
The climb back up out of the gorge was very gentle. It was dappled with shade but the mid-day sun had us heating up. Thankfully we took off our legwarmers at the bottom. Once at the top we had more down than up, but also some good short climbs to remind us how it felt. Our legs were getting tired. We stopped for a snack at the Yolla General Store, just missing their grill cut-off time and settling for sausage rolls. I mailed my Tassie license plate back to Sydney from the post office in the general store. Nancy says I can’t find any more or if I do, I have to leave them.
It was a further lumpy 18k down to the coast at Wynyard. We had some nice views out over the Bass Strait but they were earned with a couple steep climbs. The wind was coming off the shore at this point making the downhill slower. We had two caravan parks picked out and ended up at the Beach Retreat Tourist Park. The folks running it are nice and gave us the full rundown on tourist impacts due to Covid – they have been worse than we’d hard so far in Tassie. Our campsite is metres from high tide on the Bass Strait – hope the waves don’t keep us awake – no chance today!
Once we got cleaned up and the tent set up, we strolled up the boardwalk into town and the local fish and chips shop on the waterfront. We had salmon and blue travella – must be that the blue travella is in season as everyone is featuring it. We headed across the street to a pub for a cleansing ale after dinner but they only served lagers on tap. We were both looking for an IPA, or nothing. I think we were too tired to have a beer anyway so we’ll save up for tomorrow.
The wind was strong this arvo, coming from the direction we ride tomorrow. The forecast for tomorrow is for a 180 degree change in direction. Because we rode extra today, we have a short day, only 60k tomorrow. We are heading for Stanley and know for sure, we’ll have tailwinds – for sure 🙂