Cycling Tasmania – Day 30
Low Head to Bridport
79km, 820m elevation
Only three days left in my Tasmania cycle tour! A complete loop around the island I won’t quite finish, though. I decided to spend more time exploring the remote West Coast and northwest, knowing that I’d come up short on time to make it all the way back to St Helens where I started. That’s ok. I really enjoyed the remoteness and beauty of the west.
So, this morning I packed the bike into the car and went from Stanley all the way to Low Head. This cuts out a few hundred km of mostly unavoidable busy roads. Unfortunately, if you want to cycle along Tasmania’s north coast, there are many places where you’ll have no alternative but to take the highway. There is often no shoulder, visibility around corners is poor, and there is heavy truck traffic. It’s dangerous and just not fun. But every cloud has its silver lining and in this case it’s a group who are working hard to have disused rail lines converted into cycle paths. They’re making good progress but it’s a long way from complete. Once it is finished, you’ll be able to cycle the north coast in safety and away from noisy roads and you’ll have fantastic views of the sea.
Right away when I arrived in Low Head I felt like I was back on the East Coast. The lighthouse is a must-visit. It was only the third lighthouse ever to be built in Australia (the second is also in Tasmania, giving you an idea of how treacherous her waters are) and it once burnt whale blubber to power its lights. Despite being around since 1833, ships continue to run aground on the dangerous reef hidden just under the surface of the water – even as recently as 1995!
After spending so much time on the quiet roads of the West Coast, I felt a little reluctant to return to the busy roads of the east. I decided to try a less-travelled alternative and followed a quiet road past the airport (really just a strip of pavement). It turns to gravel after a short while but it’s in the best condition of all the gravel roads I’ve cycled in Tasmania so far. The peaceful rural scenery was well worth the slower, longer road.
I passed through the little village of Beechford that felt a bit like a ghost town. There’s just no one around at all. I stopped to enjoy the silence. It’s odd places like this that I think really distinguish the cycle tourist from a motorist. In a car, you’d never take the road that leads here and never stop at such an unremarkable spot. Yet, as a cyclist, you look for the road less travelled and you’re happy to stop for a break in the most unusual of places. If you asked anyone from Hobart where Beechford is, they’d probably say they’d never hear of it. As someone who travels by bicycle, you don’t just get to see such unique places, such glimpses of life, they almost call to you.
Taking that back road saved me a good bit of time on the highway. I needn’t have worried, though. There wasn’t really that much traffic. After the big hills of the West Coast, the cycling felt easy and I arrived in Bridport sooner than expected. Some bushfire smoke seemed to settle in during the day and after dinner I noticed that it produced a particularly red sunset. A nice way to finish another good day of exploring the remote corners of Tasmania.
Up next, I discover hidden gravestones of Chinese miners from the 1800s.
If you’re planning your own cycling trip in Tasmania, you can see today’s track and download the gpx from strava.