Friday, April 12, 2013

Tasmania: heaven for bicycle tourers

I toured Tasmania from Devenport south to Hobart, then up the East coast back to Devenport. It was so easy just to roll my bike onto the ferry.

But what makes touring Tasmania so great?


Of course. You don't want to be riding along a multi-lane highway with cars zooming past. Tasmania has great scenery. From the plateau and the wonder of the great lakes in the middle, to the wildness of the west coast. There is lots of it.


Where I live, in Victoria, they have spent a lot on "no camping" signs. Almost every spot you might think to stop for the night has one.  Even in National Parks: they make sure they don't clear the bush and leave a spot where you can put the tent. Lots of parks have no camping at all.

 In Tasmania there are more free camping spots than you can throw a rock at. You might pass four or five in a day. Even better, quite a few towns have free camping in the middle of town. How incredibly civilised.

Road Signs

In the age of GPS, why do road signs matter? Well I don't like pulling out the phone and searching for a signal. I like just to know where I'm going. Almost every road intersection in Tasmania has a sign. It's almost impossible to get lost. It's a small thing, but it matters.


In general, the less traffic the better. On a bike we will take the longer route with less traffic. Through the middle of Tasmania I could ride for hours without seeing a single car. Incredible. On the East coast, for most of the way past Freycinet there was very light traffic.


In winter it is cold. In summer it can be quite hot. But in the autumn and the spring, you can get long stretches of mild weather. I had one day with rain. No real days with heavy wind. Yes, amazing.

Lots of compelling reasons. But they are not the most important reason. It's the people. In my home state it's rare to go a day without at least one incident involving an impatient or abusive motorist. Nothing too lethal, but annoying. You know: the tooting, the passing too close.  Just a subtle reminder that you are in the way. "Go somewhere else", is the message.

In Tasmania I found the locals to be really careful about cyclists on the road. Everywhere. It was not unusual to be riding up a hill, with a car following you at a distance. Waiting for a safe place to pass.

The most compelling reason? They want you to come.

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