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Journeys : Feb March 2012
In Tasmania today E ver feel like getting beyond the local neighbourhood or bike path to ride, but don’t want to spend all day pedalling ? Tasmania offers many quiet and stunningly scenic roads for motorists and cyclists alike, so why not combine two pleasures for a rela xing change of perspective? Throw your bike into the boot or onto the bike carrier and go exploring beyond your local haunt. On the North West Coast, a spectacular yet easy ride can be found along Penguin Road, the old road between Ulverstone and Burnie. I talk a cycling mate into tagging along with me for the day – a chance to catch up and blow out the cobwebs. A little unfamiliar with Ulverstone, we discover that Tobruk Park on the Western Shore of the Leven River makes the ideal stepping-off point, a welcoming green pocket linked to the town centre by a network of new cycle paths. There is plenty of nearby parking, a barbeque and sheltered gazebo for a post-ride sausage sizzle, and public toilets in which to change. Rolling gently from Hobbs Parade, we swing r ight at the lights into Queen Street, following our nose toward the tang of salt spray, the rail line, and the promise of sweeping coastal views. Penguin Road hugs a ser ies of inlets, revealing vistas along the island’s north-west fringe in slow motion at the brow of each gently rising headland. On a bike there is ample time to free-wheel and drink in the view. On a wild day, I can imagine that a sea wind could make this jour ney hard work, though perhaps darkly dramatic. Today the sun is bright, knees are bare, and the slight north-westerly in our face promises an effortless saunter back to our starting point. Penguin marks a lively diversion, roughly half-way along the route. Hardy seaside daisies flag a cheerful entry into town along Main Road from the east. Stop for a vanilla slice or a bag of hot chips if you are allowed, or try one of the many fine coffee spots and you won’t be disappointed. We decide to continue on – the rise out of town above Preservation Bay is gentle, the Drive and ride road verge is smooth and generous, and the sweeping momentum of the descent into Sulphur Creek is rewarding. You can continue on into Burnie along the verge of the Bass Highway, but for us, grumbling stomachs and an earlier promise of a coffee mean a swift U-turn and gentle climb back up to the headland overlooking Penguin. The tail wind is appreciated at this point, and the few kilometres roll swiftly under our wheels. It is crisp salad rolls for us today, before setting off for the car again. Moving a little more quickly with the wind, the curving rise and fall of the road reveals a succession of rocky outcrops and tightly curving private beaches set down from the road edge. A short uphill pinch passes by a little timber shed perched just above the road – it’s my favour ite section, a moment that memorably frames beach and water views beyond the tree-lined hill-crest. We pause br ief ly at the Three Sisters lookout point at the roadside, breathing deep lungfuls of salty air, env iously remarking on the sea-ranch homes perched just above breaking waves. And all too soon it is over, cr uising gently back through West Ulverstone to the car. Out to the Sulphur Creek junction with the Bass Highway the return distance is a gentle 30 kilometres. You can decide how much or little of this you do depending on conditions and leg muscles. Pick a fine day and try it. The friendly Penguin locals w ill make your visit a pleasant one, or a hot lunch in Latrobe after an early jaunt might make for a memorable day out on the road. We’ll feature more of Scott’s ‘drive and ride’ suggestions in future issues of Journeys. Paris-Brest-Paris competitor Scott Dickson reports on a much less challenging outing February / March 2012 45
Apr May 2012