Destination: Tasmania


The Far From Simple Island

Of course Tasmania is Australia’s prime motorcycle destination. But if you just do the once-around trip you risk missing out on a lot.

Here’s a rough transcript of a conversation with one of my regular touring buddies.
“Tassie’s simple,” he said. “There’s the west coast, that’s wet; the east coast, that’s warm; and the centre, that’s kind of dry.”

I raised one eyebrow in my near-perfect Roger Moore imitation. It would be perfect if I was cool and suave, or even marginally good-looking.

“Well,” he said, unnerved by my resemblance to such a great actor, “okay, there’s the north coast as well, of course with all the cows and spuds … and the part south of Hobart, with the caves and stuff. Oh, and the Derwent, that’s different again, and historical stuff like Port Arthur … hmm, and of course it snows in the middle there. And the pubs… “Gee, I dunno how you’re going to write about Tasmania. It’s really complicated.”

It isn’t really, of course.

Tasmania is hilly where most of Australia is flat. Because of that, and because of its location in a major global air stream, it has microclimates in its microclimates; on any day you can probably find almost every kind of weather somewhere in the island. The road network is pretty good, too, so a lot of the time you can actually pick your weather Tassie’s own tourism website sums it up very neatly.

“Tasmania’s scenic and varied road network makes for challenging and enjoyable motorcycle touring – and at the end of the day there’s a wide choice of accommodation, whether you prefer a tent pitched in a beachside campground, a friendly country pub or a self-contained cabin.

“Our roads are more winding and hilly than on mainland Australia, especially on the east and west coasts. Allow extra travel time so you can stop at locations of interest along the way.

“All ‘A’ and ‘B’ roads are sealed – there are few places where you’d have to ride on unsealed surfaces. Our weather can change fast – come prepared for all-season riding, and check local conditions, especially on exposed and elevated roads, where frost, ice and snow can occur.”

But the main thing I’d like you to take away from this little feature is the idea that Tasmania is not just a single destination; there are a dozen or more different regions, and different attractions, and different reasons for visiting. Scenery, roads, wine, food, fishing, beaches, mountains… Make your plans and enjoy; but don’t think you have to do it all in one go. It’ll still be there next year, and an in-depth look will make you want to go back more than ever!

Having said that, let me add a small warning. Partly because the island is such a holiday paradise, the Taswegians can get a little, well, arrogant. We’ve only seen a little of this but it does happen – the reaction we got from one bike shop when we suggested they promote themselves to visiting riders was “once they’re here they have to deal with us – they have no choice”.

If you do strike this, just remind them you don’t have to go to Tassie next year or the year after – there are plenty of other destinations. We’ll be telling you about them in future issues, too!

Anyway, there’s no reason to raise negative spirits. As always, we have a couple of related stories to follow, with more detail. And talking about spirits: what a shame that the story about the Spirit III harks back to the past – not forward to the future, but we’ve gone through the Sydney ferry service cancellation before. Let’s hope it doesn’t take quite so long to reverse the decision this time.

More information from: