Tasmania: The Wild West II

Leaving Queenstown behind us, we continue moving north east towards Davenport. On the way to Mole Creek there are a couple small towns each hosting a small cafe and some incredible waterfalls but oddly no gas stations. It is impossible to see it all but this is when it is best to have spontaneous plans.

Tasmania had given us the most beautiful weather over these 5 days. But the mainland of Australia was being wrecked by rainstorms. We knew it was heading our way and considering we were driving a motorcycle we kept crossing our fingers we would keep our good weather until our ferry out. Driving up towards Davenport around Cradle Mountain we planned to stop near Sheffield. The attraction on the way was 3 different caves located around the mountain.

Marakoopa Caves

Google estimated 160kms taking 2 hours. We came to learn in the west coast that time was almost double the expectation as each road was windy and required speeds to be 20kmph or slower. With only 1/3 tank of petrol left and after driving for almost 3 hours we arrived spent and late. But I was not missing this tour after we put so much effort into getting there. With no service you cannot even call these tour providers to say you are close.

While Felipe sorted out the bike I sprinted down the beautiful path through the forest towards the cave entrance. There was no one there. Just a little hut with a swing gate leading towards a menacing metal door. Only one option here, I start knocking or banging on this metal door feeling as I was awakening the entire underworld. A kind woman named Rebecca opens the door unfazed by my panic knocking. She sweetly allows us to join the tour late and off we go to explore.

The three tours were back to back but we were told they were close enough this wasn’t a concern. When the first tour ended we jumped on the bike and drove the short 10 minutes towards the next cave and were literally running up the path with our tickets for the next tour as it started. Luckily, the third was a different part of the same cave so no need to run again. The caves had incredible ceilings filled with every variety of formation you could find. I was marveling in the fact that water, something so soft and light, could have such an impact rock, so compact and strong. These caves hosted glow worms, I will never forget the feeling of standing in complete silence except the patter of water drops and complete darkness with only their light above us.

All of this concludes at 2pm. We have been rushing since 6am and have barely eaten. Naturally, this is the cue for the rain to start. Driving a motorcycle on windy roads in the pouring rain is not an option so we wait it out. Since this is a rain forest these come and go quickly and we are not waiting for long. Before we knew it we were off to Mole Creek for petrol and a picnic.

When traveling through unknown territories dubbed “wild” having food with you all the time is crucial. Most towns do not have much variety or are open during small windows and I was not going to spend 5 days eating burgers in every small town at $25 a piece. This also means you can eat whenever and wherever you stop. We found some picnic tables near a field and dug in before making our way onward.

Sheffield

This tiny town is the place to stop on the way to Cradle Mountain. It is called the city of murals and to their credit they actually have a few. Most of the buildings and most of the alleys have murals covering the walls. We stopped there to explore a bit, have a beer, and grab some food before our last day in Tassie.

We were staying on a farm nearby. Again we were greeted with gravel roads, no service, and a great sense of confusion and mindless hope that we were going in the right direction. Eventually, we found the house and were allowed to eat from the fruit trees and play with the chickens. Literally learning what free range on the egg box means.

The road to Davenport

You know those pamphlets that are in the windows in towns saying “go here!” “see this!”? I always used to think what a waste of money and paper. But I now laugh as I come back from the bottle shop with a pamphlet advertising the Tasmanian Arboretum. We head there first, driving through the back roads with farms and no service. Somehow after a week this kind of traveling has become normal. We spent a couple hours walking through the tree zoo seeing all the different types. The highlight for sure is the pond in the middle because it is home to platypus! Finally, on my last day in Tasmania, we found the beautiful animal I had been looking for. They swim with such ease, peaking their little heads out of the water to breathe and then diving down to play. Mesmerizing.

Wine and Cider

The next idea was to check out some wineries and lunch before making our way to the evening “red eye” ferry. I called the 8 or so in the area, some were closed due to COVID, some not open on a Tuesday, others had stopped selling onsite. We had one success with La Villa Wines, they are normally closed but she was onsite and happy to have us for a private tasting. Sounds lux to me. When we drove up the building was created in the style of an Italian villa, rows and rows of grapes leading us towards the entrance. After a delicious tasting, we stuffed bottles of sparkling Nebbiolo rose into the already too full side cases. This is definitely the struggle of traveling on a motorcycle, not much space for souvenirs.

From there the last stop was at Spreyton Cider Co. We grabbed a paddle as the rain started in earnest. Enjoying our ciders in the orchard while the rain fell was such a peaceful way to finish this incredible trip.

The Spirit of Tasmania

As we cued for the ferry the rain fell lightly around us. We were in line with about 100 other motorcycles. Everyone was friendly, asking about the drives, different bikes, and everyone’s lives. Compared to the silent cars with everyone starring at their phones surrounding us I could really see why this community is so attractive.

The ferry is 11 hours long and this is the only way and company to get your car over from Melbourne. The inside is updated, modern, and has infinite places for people to sit and take in the views from the large windows. Taking the red eye is always the best to save time but always the worst when it comes to general comfort. We paid $250 a piece for recliner chairs which seems a bit outrageous but this meant the “car was free”. These recliners differed little from the coach seats on an airplane, just with a little more cushion. We went to the buffet, grabbed some surprisingly good food, and sat in the section with TVs playing music videos.

With the sun gone, outside was only blackness and the sound of crashing waves. The boat rising and falling constantly and more dramatically than I expected. I could feel the sea sickness starting to come. Since Felipe had ridden this on the way in he knew the secrets and tricks. We tried to distract ourselves with video games and MTV’s guilty pleasure music video countdown but the sickness took me. The trick to sleeping, was to make a bed on the floor, with COVID measures in place the boat was at 50% capacity, meaning we had our whole row. I laid out the thin blankets provided and made a little bed, lulling myself to sleep with the rise and fall of the waves beneath me.

By the time we arrived the sun still had not risen. We rubbed the sleep out of our eyes, geared up and joined the motorcycle gang to exit. The city of Melbourne glittered in the darkness before us as millions of people made their way to start their day.

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