Team rider Kelsey Boreham reports on a very special trip on two wheels into Tasmania’s World Heritage Area
As many of you know, I’ve spent the last couple of months in Hobart with my work. While this has kept me away from the ACT/NSW racing scene, I’ve still been spending plenty of time at Hobart club races and exploring Tasmania on the bike. Last weekend I teamed up with a group of local speedsters known as Tassie Torque for a unique trip to Strathgordon in the middle of Tasmania’s Wilderness World Heritage Area.
Like any good cycle tour, it began in the dark scrabbling around to find shoes, accessories and as many muesli bars as I could stuff into my jersey pockets. With the weather starting to turn for the worse down here I loaded up with as much warm kit as I could carry. The locals told me we were pushing our luck leaving it this late in the season for a trip into the mountains but we were determined to give the trip a crack nonetheless.
I rode from Kingston to Hobart in the dark and saw the sun rise over the Derwent River estuary as I travelled over the impressive Tasman Bridge. As a Canberran, sunrise over the ocean is a novelty which I savoured. The Tassie Torque crew were assembling on the Eastern Shore at the Currency Café which afforded me the opportunity for a sneaky espresso while people arrived and gear was stowed in the support vehicle. It was just the thing to keep those eyelids up and get the legs spinning before we truly set off.
The group set out with about 50 cyclists, massive by Hobart standards, with a significant vanguard of riders along to support the 14 brave souls that would ultimately head for Strathgordon. Thankfully, many of the vanguard were happy to sit on the front and swap turns meaning we steamed through the northern areas of Hobart and up the dry Derwent Valley at rapid pace. The weather in the valley was still and sunny but looking to the west (our next direction of travel) there was mist clinging to the sides of the valley and some ominous looking dark cloud sitting over the ranges.
Climbing amongst the ferns.
After about 90km of travel up the Derwent we stopped in Westerway near Mount Field National Park to fill bottles and refuel. Another coffee and some beautiful homemade carrot cake from the quirky Possum Shed Café kept spirits high as we said goodbye to the vanguard and turned our bikes westward into the mountains for Strathgordon. For those unfamiliar, Strathgordon is an isolated depot village built in the middle of Tasmania’s Wilderness World Heritage Area by Hydro Tasmania. It’s the site of the massive Gordon River Dam and the controversial but still spectacular Lake Pedder.
The craggy peaks of Tasmania’s wilderness areas.
Being a no-through-road and given the time of year, the narrow road was quiet and we encountered only about 5 cars in the next 100km. The climbing began at Maydena not far from our lunch spot and we rose steadily into the mountains through ancient forest with a dense undergrowth of leatherwood and myriad of ferns. Rising still higher the bunch broke apart into small groups of 2 and 3 riders and we reached the tree-line moving into alpine country. The road flattened out and we rode through undulating alpine terrain surrounded by jagged peaks which are uniquely Tasmanian. They’re so different from the round Snowy Mountains around my home town of Jindabyne. While the road was wet and the sky looked threatening, we only encountered a little drizzle now and then.
The sight of Lake Pedder and Lake Gordon let us know we were getting close to our destination. With renewed enthusiasm we reached Strathgordon and sped on past for a look at the massive structure of the Gordon River Dam and power station. The 140m high concrete arch dam is an imposing structure in the Gordon River Gorge and truly a wonder of engineering. After a sticky beak and walk across the dam we made our way back to the Lake Pedder Wilderness Lodge at Strathgordon for the evening. We arrived back at the lodge in time to meet the stragglers and after a hot shower the group kicked back and enjoyed a meal and a well-earned beer by the fire as the sun set over Lake Pedder outside. We shared stories of a tough but enjoyable day in the saddle, but after 200km with 3,500m of climbing we weren’t far away from bed.
The next day dawned dim and grey. I looked out my waterproof kit and began steeling myself mentally for a soggy slog home. However, after a quick breakfast the fog had lifted making for a mild and clear sunny day. The photo opportunities on the route home were too good to pass up and I stopped multiple times to snap shots of craggy peaks, forest and mountains mirrored in the still and quiet Lake Pedder.
The previous day I hadn’t realised quite how undulating the alpine country was and didn’t register the descents we’d enjoyed on the way in. This made for plenty of climbing on the way home and no free rides for tiring legs. Regardless, we made it to Westerway in good time and after more coffee and cake at the Possum Shed, made our way down valley towards Hobart. Keen to finish the final stretch as quickly as possible, and with work looming again on Monday, we charged down the Derwent Valley with heads down and swapping turns to keep the pace up. I’d emptied the tank on the way home and arrived exhausted but happy with a weekend lived to the full and memories of witnessing a spectacular and unique part of Tassie.