Photo link: http://community.webshots.com/myphotos?action=viewAllPhotos&albumID=548049811&security=VHgjrI 17/02/06 I got invited to go with a group to Tasmania for a four day tour three weeks prior and couldn't help but say yes. Thing was I didn't have any luggage for the trip or any wet weather gear which could be carried easily so I started to search the net and managed to find a cordura bag made by Andy Strapz in Frankston. I couldn't get the soft panniers that come with the Griso but all in all I was happy with what I bought. For the wet weather I got an Axiom over all, this suit goes over the leathers and can get hot but worked a treat in the west of Tasmania. Plan was to go clock wise from Devonport to Hobart and stay there two nights at the Casino Hotel. Then head up to Strahan and stay there one night before heading back to Devenport for the trip home. Buying the tickets for the fairy is simple enough but can get very expensive thats if you travel on peek times Weekend. On the week days the price is reduced dramatically, the bike cost $80 dollars one way all I payed $460 dollars with a midweek return. As I was all set to go the worst thing happened and I got two rear punctures in one week and the tyre techs were not able to put a mushroom patch over the other patch so I had to buy a new tyre Metzeler sport tec for $290, that dug into the budget a bit as the other tyre had only 2500Km on it. Time finally came to put words to action and get the bike to the fairy, got there early to group and get acquainted with others, I only knew one or two and twenty one in all were going. On the fairy a total of 135 bikes were making the crossing. I got myself a four berth bunk room and I couldn't believe how small they were claustrophobic no windows and a small bathroom on the side, four men and bike gear made for very cramped conditions, lucky for the alcohol and sea sickness tablets, these tend to knock you out but with the swells and waves banging on the hull I struggled to sleep, I got two hours in all and we had a 600km ride through back roads the next day. 6.15am came the call to get out of bed, I struggled to get out but eventually got dressed and proceeded to view the world on the outside deck. We were heading into Devonport and the sun was just rising very inspirational. 18/02/06 Got off the fairy easily enough and proceeded to head to a cafe to have breakfast bacon and egg roll with juice, the weather looked promising but soon turned a little nasty as we headed to Launceston via the main highway. I was soon to realise the pace we were about to set for the tour but decided on self preservation and slowed down to a more respectable speed. For what I saw of Launceston it was a lovely place full of old architecture, cobblestone buildings quaint shops and little traffic. From the map I noticed the J.Boag brewery tour I didn't get to partake of it but I drank enough of its brews to know it must be a fine place. The Automobile museum would of interested me as well. Out of Launceston we head to Scottsdale via B81 nice sweepers and lovely scenery abound the lavender form is on this stretch of road, past Scottsdale the road starts to tighten up as you ride through he mountains, tight hair pins and plenty of switch backs to keep you entertained. I wasn't use to this kind of riding with the Griso and 240kg is a lot of weight to throw around but the big Guzzi handled it well enough. Keeping to my left was a challenge with large dips and gravel mid corner made for an exciting time I even managed to scrap the Griso's side stand as i sunk into a road depression bottoming out my suspension and sending me to the right hand lane, a quick correction and I was back on track. From Derby to St Helen's the roads and scenery were much the same roads tightening as we cut through mountains. It was this part of the road that we had our first off. Robert on an old K series BMW got spooked by a wallaby that had been startled by kids on dirt bikes. Robert went bush for a bit and almost kissed a couple of trees but buy Gods grace came out unhurt. Little damage was done brake master cylinder was leaking one pannier was damaged and an indicator was damaged. The old beamer managed to ride on a testament to its solid construction. Daniel, Roberts brother went back for him as the group were wandering what happened. The group headed off to St Helen's for lunch and awaited the return of Danny and Rob. needless to say we didn't meet to later that day in Hobart as we took different roads. St Helen's is a small town not unlike many country towns but St Helen's is sea side town. We fueled here and headed off towards St Marys. Must be a lot of catholics in Tasmania. Past St Helen's is 60Km of bends, sweepers that are so predictable, constant left then right left then right I couldn't help but open the Griso up, constantly being stalked by Bradley on his Gixer 1000, fun times. We didn't stop at St Marys but a small town not far from there. Not much there but a souvenir shop one of the BMW's had a puncture and got it repaired here while we all got more fuel. The souvenir shop had a lovely back yard overlooking the ocean. I was starting to feel the strain of lack of sleep so got myself a sugar fix and a diet coke, helps to balanced out the calories. Once the puncture was repaired we kept heading down the coast road the road opened up more and I was able at times to sea the coast and the pace had become slightly more sedate which made riding a little more pleasant. There was a lovely stretch of road from Triabunna to Buckland were the road travels along one of the many rivers on the right and shear rock faces on the left. The group had all bunched up at this time and it looked lovely as 16 riders snaking there way through this road. We all soon cut back to the hwy and were heading into Hobart all were relieved as we were starting to feel exhausted from the hard days ride. From Sorell we crossed the pit waters then over the bridge into Hobart. We all arrived at the Casino at about seven seven thirty,parked the bikes in secure spot and got allocated a room for two nights. I was to share with Ashelle. Plans were made to go to a stake house for dinner then to Joe's bar for the live band and drinks. Most were so tired they just wanted to sleep myself included bet all made the effort and met at the Casino Bar called the Bird cage, strange name we took taxi's as we had no intention of touching the bikes. Dinner was pricey and the band at Joe's bar was very good but Ashelle and myself were so stuffed we had our drinks and headed to our room. As soon as our heads touched the pillows we were out leaving the television on. 19/02/06 Got up at about 8am had a shower and got dressed decided to have breakfast at the casino with some of the others. For 21 dollars you can eat all the breakfast you want. Eggs cooked in various ways. Bacon, sausages tomatoes and mushrooms fried ,hash browns as the Yanks call them. Pancakes some made with strawberry's any kind of cereal and all the coffee or tea you can drink. Both mornings this was our ritual. As we ate to excess there was no need for lunch so for me 21 dollars was good value. Even better was the morning conversation we were certainly the loudest table, talking about our days ride and joking about past rides from the years before. We started to bond and after a hearty breakfast were ready to do a scenic ride. Some decided to totally rest others decided to co to bars and have a better look at Hobart. A triathlon was in progress which was of some interest to the group, especially the scantly clad athletic women. Ashelle Brad Tony Elizabeth and myself decided to ride to the Air walk, a tree top walk over the Huon River, then to head up Mt Wellington overlooking the city of Hobart. We followed the cost road south to Margate some stopped for cigarettes I to take photo's of the North West Bay and of the bikes with the Bay in the background. Morning rain was setting in we cut off the bay road and took C626 road, the C denotes crappy single lane wet slippery and potholed back road. We finnaly got off this road back onto B68 to Huonvillle. Lovely little town were you can have a ride of the Huon jet boat, we used it as a toilet brake,also the rain had subsided. From Huonville we took the A6 hwy to Geeveston. This is the last town before the climb up the mountain to the Air Walk C631 on the map. I enjoyed this road is it was in good condition wide and drivers kept to the left only a smattering of loose gravel. Ashelle was giving me a good run on his Firblade. Once at the top we proceeded to the cafeteria to purchase or tickets we found the 17 dollar asking price a little steep but paied our moneys and the had ourselves a coffee before the walk to the cantilever at the end of the Air walk. Walking in heavy leathers I soon found out how badly in shape I was, time for the gym. The view over the Huon River on the cantilever is spectacular but I have to admit the walk was a little short for the asking price. I have been on one of these tree top walks before at Lorne in Victoria not far from the Great Ocean Road and found it to be a lot longer, with an extended twenty meter climb which makes for a great view and tests your vertigo. It wasn't long and we were all heading back down a women in a small car took offense to our riding style and derided to cut us of from passing as we tried to make the bend, we just backed off until the opportunity arrived where we could pass safely much to her dismay. We continued bake to Hobart on the A6 and couldn't believe even the Hwy had lovely bends and sweepers, we concluded that the roads in Tasmania were built by a drunk or a keen motorcyclist. Mount Wellington was our destination the lower half is residential but as you climb housing would become very hard. It was interesting to note the temperature change as we climbed the Griso dash was reading 20deg but on top of Mount Wellington it was 9deg. Yes it was cold and as it was such a short time between temperature extremes we all felt it. The view on Wellington's lofty top was breathtaking overlooking all of Hobart and beyond. Photos of poses on rocks were taken with aerial backdrops. Headed back to the Casino content with the 300 plus kilometer ride. Parked the bikes showered changed and again we all met at the Bird Gage bar to find out our destination for dinner. Some were heading to see a movie I and some others decided to head to Mures seafood restaurant. The place was full so we stayed at the bar an till seats became available. Three late comers arrived as well today three brothers Alex, Mark and I forgot the third brother, there reputations proceeded them racing backgrounds I was told or warned of the prowess on the road .I took a shine to Alex 45 years of age but so full of life fast talking, answer for everything even though some of his reasoning was strange,hard drinking smoking womanising speed demon. The man looked so unassuming, plain non fashionable leathers filthy old Fireblade. Alex's reputation as a rider was not undeserved in this area the man had great ability, seemingly rubbing our noses in it by puffing away on funny cigarettes at every stop. All had a fun night at Mures being the last to leave because of our consistent banter. Brad hoping to get himself a lobster diner and raving about this all day missed out as all were sold on the night , we had to laugh. It was time to head back to the casino for drinks and sleep ready for the next days ride to Strahan, where we were to stay for our last night. 20/02/06 usual start to the morning shower dress have breakfast then get the bags packed for the ride. We left at about 11am weather was dry a good thing. We all got fuel at the petrol station just on the outskirts of Hobart 21 bikes fueling is a funny sight. We headed off via the A10 then took the B62 turn off at New Norfolk, then the C608 at Westerway. I soon meet up with Brad and Danny fighting it out up these roads and Danny decided to play with our limited ability, the Griso was maxed out constantly at 7-8 thousand revs the tank was at reserve at 160Km and I was hoping to find a fuel stop soon. A fuel stop was found just before you head into Franklin and Gorden national park. Thank God for small mercies. All decided to have lunch here before we headed to Queenstown. Stuart Brad and Ashelle decided to give us a stunt display before we headed of and like an omen a local in his thirties missing some teeth gave use a somber warning to take it easy as the bends are tight and not marked. We all laughed this off as the bends are what we wanted but I wasn't one to take a local as a fool so heeded the warning. As we crossed the Derwent bridge I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the surrounding area. I lost my will to ride as fast as I could and slowed to take in the natural vistas, occasionally stopping to take photo's of mountains ahead. A mist had settled in but for me it only added to the experience. Soon after the locals prophecy had come true and two riders came down on newly sealed road . The R1 was only slightly damaged but the ZX9 was damaged more severely. The fairings, light and one of the pegs were damaged tape and cable ties were used to enable the big Kawasaki to limp home the engine was only running on two cylinders as well so it must have been an experience, especially on the tight bends past Queenstown. Some riders decided to proceed and as I crossed the bridge at Lake Burbury I again had to get of the bike and take photographs. Ashelle on his fireblade was passing me at this stage and a tranquil moment was broken by the roar of a fireblade in full song. I could hear Ashelle's bike for ages as he cut through the valleys and hills. I got back on the Griso and headed to Queenstown stopping at the top to photo and view the contrast of the lush green national park to the barren and stripped mining town of Queenstown. Riding down into Queenstown is an experience the road is full of hair pins and in some spots the road seams to turn in on its self but the Griso handled it with aplomb considering its demographic. Some turned off and waited for the others but I didn't realise this and headed strait for Strahan. This was one very tight road full of switch bakes and tight hairpins buy the time I got to Strahan I was worn out and out of fuel. When i was at Strahan I soon found out the others were still at Queenstown and caught in a downpour that I happened to miss. Strahan is a lovely sea side town on the mostly wet West Coast and it charges like so, Strahan isn't a place for bargains. Again the views are inspiring, the hotel lounge overlooks all the town and inlet from its elevated view. About an hour later all the others arrived and we got allocated our rooms, we were five to a room and the cost was divided by 21 persons making it quite cheap. Getting out of our leathers we headed to the only pub for a meal and to our dismay had to wait in the bar till called for a seat. About two hours later we were called in and as I was going into the lounge a voice called my name out. It was Chris Sears a bloke I new when I was doing my apprenticeship. Chris had now interest in bikes bake then Rotory cars were his thing but Chris, with his brothers and friends were doing the run around Tasmania in the anti clock wise direction. I wished him well and told him to take care. Small world. Being our last night we decided to party up and enjoy the night after our womanising eating and drinking we decided to continue at the room with a bottle of Jack. By 2.30am we managed to get to bed, I was going to feel this stupidity in the morning. 21/02/06 The shower I took didn't make me feel any better. Headed to the lounge to find out were others were going for breakfast and some that were up decided to head to the local bakery as they served a hot meal and copious amounts of life saving coffee. I ordered extra breakfast and a double shot off coffee. I was still feeling down but hoping to improve through the day. It was drizzling when we were all paid up and ready to head off. Danny at this time wanted to try my bike and I was willing. I think he liked it but didn't give much comment, maybe he didn't want to hurt my feelings. The roads were slippery and there was a lot of diesel on the road which didn't make life easy for us .The route we were to follow had to be changed for safety reasons but it wasn't until we passed Cradle mountain that the roads dried up. Passed Zeehan then to Rosebery and then stopped for fuel at Tullah, we had lunch here and I got to ride Danny's BMW GS adventurer. All the suspension had been upgraded and the gearbox was a close ratio one engine had been remaped as well so it spun up very well. It was a little daunting being up so high but with a little time I could get use to it. Danny seemed relieved when I handed the bike back. After lunch we headed to Sheffield via C132 on a twisty mountain pass I got passed by an R1 and I did my best to keep with him I did alright and managed to stop spearing off the road and into a large tree. At Sheffield you can sea the Mountain ranges and I decided with Brad to take photo's of ourselves with the Ranges as our backdrop. As we were parked at the Sheffield petrol station a local police man was prowling and decided to have a chat to me as I was on my own at the time. Apparently a local had taken offense at some in our group ding 250 plus kph through Sheffield. I had to agree but didn't mention it. Mister plod then preceded to explain that he didn't care what we did outside town but to take it easy in town. I shook his hand and thanked him for his leniency and proceeded to talk to the two culprits. I was shocked at how laid back Tasmania is as in Victoria they would of went through us like laxatives. From Sheffield we continued on to Devenport were we stayed at the gate an till we could get our boarding pass and key card then we had to wait for all the cars first to be loaded so we took the opportunity to get a group shot. I was glad to get on board and have a shower, I again had the top bunk, bummer. I met the others at the bar had a few beers and then went to have dinner on board, all you can fit on a plate for $16 dollars. Others ate at the fancy restaurant so some of us proceeded to comment on there upper class attitude just for fun of cause. When your on board there isn't much to do but drink, we tried to see a movie but the screens were to small so some headed back to the bar and continued to drink to we felt significantly drunk to be able to sleep the night. At about one in the morning I decided to try and sleep, forget it I was up all night, Brads snoring didn't help. Again all got up at 6.15 and i headed out to the deck to take in some fresh air, it was about sunrise and you could still see the lights of Melbourne, I was glad to be home. When the bike's were packed we said our goodbyes and exchanged phone numbers making oaths that we would return next year. I was meant to go to work this morning but decided to forgo until Thursday, I slept very well at home but was still feeling the affects of the tour to Friday. Would I do it again? Hell yes! I would hope to see more things next time over though. Would I recommend it to others? Most certainly. Tasmania is a lovely place lots to see and do just a little slower.