WHEN Pedro asked me if I was interested in a four-day ride with the boys to Tasmania, I put work on the back burner and packed my bags.
DAY ONE: It was a good run down the Hume from Albury to Melbourne. I took the freeway right through Melbourne and headed further south to Rosebud to catch up with mum in her retirement. Even though it was mid-morning, the traffic was heavy, and together with a minor accident and cops blocking the road, the result was bumper to bumper for miles. The only thing going for Melbourne is that you can park your bike on the footpath, otherwise I don’t know how the people put up with the congestion.
The plan was to catch up with the guys at Moorabin before 6 pm and then a quick mob ride to the Tasmanian ferry at Port Melbourne at 7 pm. Turns out this was a popular ride as we had 18 bikes front up. There were even a couple of guys from Sydney and another from Queensland.
Aah! Heading along Beach Road within sight of the ferry my old reliable Softail decides to spit a belt. F#*ck! Wayne pulls up with me and it is alternate scenarios on overdrive. The guys are phoned and we decide to catch up with them in Tassie a day late. Ferry tickets are rebooked; thanks Richard. There is a house of a friend close by so we push the Softail to its new home for the night.
Wayne has offered me his Electra Glide that he uses for hire work so it’s back to his place for the night and a couple or three cans of Bundy to block out the disappointment—but hey, I could have been stranded anywhere and this hadn’t worked out too bad.
DAY TWO: The next morning it is raining. The Electra has a chair fitted so it’s out with the spanners and off with the chair; and while Wayne’s away, why not remove the top box as well. “There, that’s a bit more sporty!” A new front tyre and a service, strap my gear on and all’s well.
No problems getting to the boat this time and we find ourselves queued up with nearly 100 other bikes. It seems that the winding roads of Tasmania are no secret. They’re doing security checks now before getting on the boat, checking through vehicle luggage; but for bikes it’s only answering ‘no’ to everything and we ride on.
A cabin berth we share with a guy who’s just come back from Afghanistan so we spend a while having a look at the slides on his laptop. “It’s a real shit fight. We don’t pay our blokes over there enough!”
DAY THREE: Off the ferry at 7 am, a quick breakfast at a local early opener and it’s off to catch the rest of the crew. Wayne knows the way and leads on the Triumph Rocket and I play catch up as we head south and then east.
Good roads, a bit of swervery and no dramas apart from the Glide clearing its throat after all the low speed daily work it’s used to. 300 klicks before 10 am as we head to St Helens where the boys have had been a big night and are struggling to assemble.
Smiling faces and back slapping greet us as we tell our side of the dramas. We are soon off for the little windy detour away from the coast road back to St Mary’s Pub for a beer and then down Elephant’s Pass to Coles Bay for—you guessed it—another refreshing ale.
Stopped for lunch at Sorell and then onto our digs in Hobart. A fair day travelling at just over 600 km on the clock. We were staying at The Lenna Hotel on Salamanca Place. Pretty flash joint; so flash that you had to pay on booking, or maybe that’s because we ride bikes. An old mansion apparently and the central lift-well had glass sides so you could check out all the well-to-do’s on your way up.
The evening’s entertainment centred on Salamanca Place and its various bars, eateries and an abundance of local fillies.
DAY FOUR: The bleary-eyed pack assembles and we head out for a run south to the Cygnet Pub for a quick one. Lovely views along the D’entrecastraux Channel. On to Huonville and then to Dover Hotel for lunch where the oysters have a reputation. Unfortunately, we are told that because of the season, they are a bit on the small side. Never mind, a couple of pints of local draught and all is forgiven.
Another short ride to Southport, a seaside town that should be on postcards; also, importantly, ‘the most southern bitumen road in Australia!’
Rumours of a police breathalyzer roadblocks on the way north and the guys count their drinks. We head out cautiously only to find that they’d packed up.
Back to Hobart and a group dinner at a local steakhouse, and on to several local hostelleries with shots of Sambucca between rounds. A few ended up at the casino in the wee small hours. I, on the other hand, never drinking to excess and going to bed at a reasonable hour, was just fine the next day! I wish.
DAY FIVE: Next day early, a few of the fitter riders in the group head up Mt Wellington to check out the views. It seems like half of Hobart has the same idea and traffic is all over the place, as well as a couple of idiots who think it’s a good idea to pull over suddenly when they see bikes in the rear view mirror! A clear day and you can see for miles as the saying goes.
Today we have to be on the ferry in Devonport by 7 pm. We head north to Ross for lunch and sample the local scallop pies—delicious!
Time is on our side and group consensus elects to deviate via the East Tamar towards George Town and cross over the river on the suspension bridge to Exeter. What a debacle—half the group steams straight on at the turn off—“You’ll have to get your glasses prescription checked, Pedro!”—and the rest misses the shortcut to Exeter.
Gary and I wait up ahead at the turnoff to Devenport and give the guys heaps when they roll up. All in good fun as we continue on to a—well what else would it be—a pub—in Devenport near the ferry wharf to wait for boarding.
DAY SIX: A smooth trip back across with the boat and a train trip back to Albury. My son had already picked up my bike for me.
Thanks to Wayne for the loan of the bike and also to the guys on the run; it was always a laugh-a-minute and even better that no one got off. Thanks, importantly, to Richard for organising the whole show. The guys chipped in and presented him with a couple of bottles of premium Bundy. Richard looked like he was a bit embarrassed and stuck for words, which is not like him.
words & pics by Stewie of Aubury