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TASSIE RIDE #1 – Scottsdale to Bicheno


Gentleman, start your engine. The road at Scottsdale is downhill…for the first few hundred metres anyway.

I’m the guinea-pig, apparently. I’m certainly not the first to ride a bike along Tasmania’s East Coast, but I am the pioneer on Tasmania Expeditions self-guided version of the adventure.

All up it will be six days in the saddle, with a little time off to rest the rear end by doing some hiking in the national parks.

Tasmania is not yet well-developed as a cycling destination. That day may be coming, eventually. That the island has more than its fair share of spectacular scenery is a given.

The drawback, at least for a nervous rider like me, is that the roads are not yet all as cycle-friendly as they could be. I’d hesitate to embark on this ride alone, but I’m reassured when reputable local travel company plots out the route, books my accommodation and provides me with a sturdy bike. This will probably be ok.


A few kilometres out of Scottsdale I’m called on to save the life of this echidna, setting out to waddle over the highway. Doesn’t he know about logging trucks?


Weldborough Forest

The road narrows, but the traffic mercifully thins out once I’m past the former tin-mining town of Derby. There’s a stiff climb into the forest at Weldborough. A lovely route, however.

Pyenegana Valley

From an overnight stop at the historic Weldborough Hotel, it’s downhill most of the way to the Pyengana Valley.

Pyengana Dairy

A stop for coffee, cake and cheese tasting at the Holy Cow Cafe, Pyengana.

St Columba Falls

St Columba’s Falls, near Pyengana…well, 12kms from Pyengana, and uphill (of course!)

Lonely road and the sky

The Tasman Highway reaches the coast at St Helens…and flattens out a lot. Note the nice shoulder on the road too.

Red rocks of Bicheno

My favourite coastal town is Bicheno – nice cafes, a couple of art galleries, and these red rocks adding appeal to the wild beaches. 

So far, so good.

The wind has been disconcertingly strong and gusty, causing me some nervous moments, trying to keep the bike steady with motor traffic approaching. Most drivers have been considerate, though, giving me plenty of room.

Fortunately the weather forecast is for moderating conditions. More soon…

The writer was the guest of Tourism Tasmania and Tasmanian Expeditions.


Filed under Cycle touring, Cycling, Uncategorized

THE ROAD AHEAD – on Tassie’s East Coast


This is supposed to be me next week – something to look forward to!

I’ve been quiet on the blog for a while, sitting at home in suburban Sydney, but as of tomorrow I’ll be on the road again, cycling lovely Tasmania from Scottsdale to Maria Island.

There doesn’t appear to be a lot of WIFI along the route, but stay tuned – I’ll post about it all as soon as I can.

I’m the guest of Tasmanian Expeditions. Thanks!


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James Lee as Edward Scooperhands, the ice-cream dispensing robot.

James Lee as Edward Scooperhands, the ice-cream dispensing robot.

Apologies for my absence from cyberspace during the past weeks. I’ve been busy with matters theatrical.

The epic national tour of The 26-Storey Treehouse ends today, in Wagga Wagga*.

I want to use this post to pay tribute to the fabulous work of the cast and crew. Continue reading

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COMPUTER PROBLEMS? – dial a Dutch genius

We often feel much like the monk in the above, rightly-famous Norwegian comedy sketch, summoning the mediaeval help desk. (If you haven’t watched it before, do so now.)

The source of all IT wisdom in the family is our son, but he’s inconveniently living in LA at the moment.

So it’s wonderful that, having not long ago acquired a Smart TV that’s far smarter than we are, we’ve discovered Student Aan Huis (‘Student at Home’) Continue reading


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TREKKING MOROCCO – drama and a little danger

Click on this photo and look carefully, and you may be able to see the mules coming to our rescue.

Click on this photo and look carefully, and you may be able to see the mules coming to our rescue.

The little log and stick bridge is supported by sandbags at each end. It has sagged onto the surface of the muddy river, its waters swollen by melting snow from the surrounding peaks. It has no handrail.

Local children skip over its 15-metre span. Village women stoically struggle across, carrying absurdly large bundles of animal fodder on their backs.

Nobody seems to have any trouble. Until it’s our turn – six Dutch hiking friends, one Australian and our Berber guide Khalid, two hours into our five-day trek through the foothills of Morocco’s High Atlas range. Continue reading


Filed under Hiking, Uncategorized

TRAVELLER ZOO – Hagglius shamelis


A hagglius is never happier than when getting 47 cents off the price of a bamboo flute. And never more miserable than when forced to pay $3.28 for a tuktuk ride he tried to get for under $2.
Identifying call: ‘They expect you to bargain. It’s part of their culture.’

* During 2015, illustrator Simon Letch and I have been contributing a weekly cartoon to the Traveller section of the Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne Age, introducing some of the curious species we meet on the road. Time to release some of them into the wilds of cyberspace…


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If they say they're Irish, they're Irish.

If they say they’re Irish, they’re Irish. Don’t argue with the sousaphone player!

My path along Auckland’s Queen St was blocked today by a lot of people wearing green.

Not all of them looked Irish, but I gave them the benefit of the doubt. The craic was foin! Continue reading


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