A lap of Tassie... al­most!

It was early in the plan­ning for 2016 that I re­alised that the plan­ets were lin­ing up over Tas­ma­nia.

Old Bike Australasia - - SUITABLE PARTNERS TASSIE SPECIAL - Re­port Jim Scaysbrook Pho­tos Sue Scaysbrook

His­toric Road Rac­ing Cham­pi­onships were sched­uled for Sym­mons Plains, and the ever-pop­u­lar Ross Rally (ac­tu­ally an out­door dis­play at Ross Show­ground, mid-way be­tween Launce­s­ton and Ho­bart) were on con­sec­u­tive week­ends in Novem­ber. The wheels be­gan turn­ing. Con­ve­niently, both dates fell well away from our om­nipresent and al­ways fran­tic pub­li­ca­tion dead­lines, so there ac­tu­ally ex­isted an op­por­tu­nity for a few days sight­see­ing be­tween the events, and what bet­ter way to see Tassie but on a mo­tor­cy­cle. One phone call to BMW in Melbourne pro­duced a favourable re­sponse; we could pick up an S 1000 XR from South­bank BMW in Melbourne, catch the ferry across to Devon­port, take in the His­toric ti­tles and then em­bark on a round-Tassie trip cul­mi­nat­ing in the Ross Rally. “Far out”, as Mrs Ed­i­tor is fond of say­ing. The XR is be­com­ing a fond friend, as I had tested one in is­sue 56 and had the use of an­other while in Los An­gles in June 2016. Mind you, there is no greater con­trast than the in­ter­minable traf­fic and myr­iad free­ways of LA, and the com­par­a­tively un­in­hab­ited wilds of our is­land state, so it would be an ideal chance to sam­ple the XR’s ver­sa­til­ity. At Sym­mons Plains, we had been in­tend­ing to cheer on Bob Rosen­thal who now owns and races the Match­less G50 I built a few years ago, but an un­for­tu­nate ac­ci­dent two weeks prior at Broad­ford ruled him out of the meet­ing. How­ever, he was fit enough to strad­dle his own BMW R 1200 GS, and wife Lynne was dead keen to ride her GS 650, so our group be­came a trio of BMWs – a four, a twin and a sin­gle. Alight­ing at Devon­port at 6.30am on Sun­day 20th Novem­ber, we hit the road for Sym­mons Plains where we caught up with Bob and Lynne, and im­me­di­ately be­gan mak­ing plans for the Tassie Tour over the next week. We had de­cided upon an anti- ‚

clock­wise lap, or as much of a lap as we could squeeze into the avail­able time, so bright and early on Mon­day we lit out north west of Launce­s­ton, stop­ping by to say hello to for­mer Aus­tralian GP win­ner Peter Jones and his wife Lynne, who now live near Ex­eter in the up­per Ta­mar Val­ley. It was part of the plan to use as many back roads as pos­si­ble, and even though some of these routes are fairly re­mote, the roads are gen­er­ally in ex­cel­lent con­di­tion, es­pe­cially com­pared to the pot-holed goat tracks that pass for roads in New South Wales. Some glo­ri­ous windy stuff brought us back to Devon­port, from where it was high­way stuff as we headed to our ac­com­mo­da­tion in Stan­ley, one of the north­ern­most points of the is­land, and an in­cred­i­bly beau­ti­ful his­toric set­tle­ment, dat­ing back to 1826. Over­look­ing the town is The Nut, a great clump of vol­canic rock that rises to 143 me­tres and of­fers a spec­tac­u­lar view of the sur­round­ing coun­try­side. We used Stan­ley as a base to ex­plore fur­ther west, em­bark­ing on a day ride that took up to the west­ern­most point, aptly named West Point, fol­lowed by a loop that went south over the Arthur River be­fore turn­ing north again back to Stan­ley via Roger River and Ir­ish­town. This is where the real rid­ing started; fab­u­lous flow­ing roads winding through con­ser­va­tion ar­eas and across small bridges. In my ex­pe­ri­ence of vis­it­ing Tas­ma­nia, the coun­try­side has never looked bet­ter fol­low­ing a very wet win­ter which filled dams to ca­pac­ity and hills car­peted in thick, vivid green grass with fat cat­tle ev­ery­where. To­wards the end of this loop things be­gan to get de­cid­edly over­cast, and about 45 min­utes from Stan­ley we copped a ma­jor down­pour that hit be­fore we could stop and put on our wet weather gear. Still, this was to be the only such del­uge we were to en­counter on the whole trip. The long­est leg, a day where we put around 650 km un­der the wheels, took us back to­wards Wyn­yard on Bass Straight be­fore turn­ing off and head­ing south to Yolla where we joined the Murchi­son High­way, which, although des­ig­nated as a ma­jor road, is still a great piece of rid­ing tar­mac. We made the port of Stra­han in time for a late lunch, then it was an east­erly run through the hills of the Franklin-Gor­don Wild Rivers National Park to Der­went Bridge. Here ex­ists a fas­ci­nat­ing gallery called The Wall, con­tain­ing the work of Greg Dun­can, who has cre­ated 100 hand-sculpted tim­ber pan­els, each one me­tre wide and three me­tres high, de­pict­ing episodes of pi­o­neer­ing life in the re­gion. Back in the sad­dle, we made Ho­bart by night­fall, and our digs for the next four days.

Although the of­fi­cial pop­u­la­tion of Ho­bart is just over 200,000, it

seemed all of the in­hab­i­tants were on the road into the city as we ar­rived – a traf­fic jam after the tran­quil­lity of the pre­vi­ous four days. From our base in Sandy Bay, where we had rented a house, there was plenty of ex­plor­ing to be done, in­clud­ing the manda­tory visit to the Mu­seum of Old and New Art (MONA) and the bustling Sala­manca Mar­kets. Hav­ing cov­ered the north­ern and western ex­tremes of the is­land we felt it com­pul­sory to in­clude the south­ern ex­treme of South­port, which is as far as the sealed roads reach, and the site of Aus­tralia’s south­ern­most pub. A di­vided mo­tor­way takes you from Ho­bart to Kingston, but from there the roads get nar­rower and twistier un­til they cease al­to­gether and be­come gravel un­til Cockle Creek. We didn’t at­tempt this last stretch as we had an early start on our fi­nal day to take in the an­nual Ross Mo­tor­cy­cle Show in the beau­ti­ful his­toric town­ship mid­way be­tween Ho­bart and Launce­s­ton. And that was about it, as Bob and Lynne headed for Devon­port to catch the ferry back to Melbourne, while we de­liv­ered the S 1000 XR to BMW in Ho­bart and flew back to Sydney. It wasn’t quite a com­plete lap as we ran out of time to get to the eastern coast and north east re­gion, but we cov­ered a fair amount of ground in just over a week and came away with a new ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the Ap­ple Isle – a mo­tor­cy­cling par­adise, to be sure.

About the bike

I have no idea what the all-up weight of our ve­hi­cle amounted to, with two pan­niers, a rear carry bag and a tank­top bag all chock-a-block with gear, plus rider and pas­sen­ger, but it made not a whit of dif­fer­ence to the S 1000 XR. What an en­gine. I guess this is what hap­pens when cut­ting edge en­gine man­age­ment teleme­try meets out­stand­ing en­gi­neer­ing, but I am con­tin­u­ally amazed at how such flex­i­bil­ity hap­pily co­hab­i­tates with per­for­mance that is so mind blow­ing. Fully laden, this bike will pull – lustily – up any de­cent hill, from 2,500 rpm in top gear and ac­cel­er­ate all the way to the red line, should you choose to do so. In re­verse, this also means that should you find your­self en­ter­ing a cor­ner a lit­tle too briskly, there’s no need to fran­ti­cally scrab­ble through the gear­box; you sim­ply ap­ply pro­gres­sive ten­sion to the awe­some brakes and leave it in top gear un­til there’s time to sort it all out. I be­lieve we had this model in its ab­so­lute el­e­ment; winding, well sur­faced roads where con­stant changes of di­rec­tion are achieved with­out up­set­ting the bal­ance of the ship or jostling the pas­sen­ger. The only thing I could wish for is a slightly larger ca­pac­ity fuel tank to give a bet­ter range be­tween stops, and this is some­thing you need to keep an eye on while travers­ing the paths less trod­den. BMW cat­e­gorises this model as ‘Ad­ven­ture/Sport’; a more apt de­scrip­tion would be dif­fi­cult to imag­ine.

Lynne, Bob and The Ed­i­tor on dis­play at Devon­port.

ABOVE The Nut, the dis­tinc­tive land­mark at Stan­ley. BE­LOW LEFT De­part­ing the Spirit of Tas­ma­nia in Devon­port. BE­LOW Heaven on a stick. More, please.

The Viaduct, all that’s left of the Long­ford public roads race track which hosted mo­tor­cy­cle rac­ing from 1953 to 1966.

MAIN Part of the mo­tor­cy­cle col­lec­tion within the National Au­to­mo­bile Mu­seum of Tas­ma­nia at Cim­i­tiere Street, Launce­s­ton. IN­SET BE­LOW The his­toric Woolmers Es­tate near Long­ford, south of Launce­s­ton is home to the National Rose Gar­den.

TOP LEFT A man and his chisel. Sculp­tor Greg Dun­can has with his work at The Wall at Der­went Bridge. TOP RIGHT Sleepy Stra­han, on Mac­quarie Har­bour, mid East Coast. LEFT Ev­ery­thing is fight­ing for sur­vival as roads meet forests. ABOVE Stan­ley’s main street; a time warp.

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