Wednesday, October 30th, 2019 – Glenferrie, VIC – to The Old Colony Inn, New Norfolk, TAS
Distance travelled 22 km – Total Mileage by Harley 11,161 km
Distance in Tasmania, by SUV 58 km
We all know how it goes. You look at the possibilities, you choose the options and you make a plan. Then, as soon as you try and put that plan into practice, it rolls over onto its back and, for the sake of family readers, it goes belly up. So, you can almost imagine our mutual surprise that our plan for the morning ran like an expensive watch from Switzerland. Absolutely everything went just as planned.
We ate our breakfast at the bagel shop next door and then packed our bags. Lucie carefully separated our stuff into the twin bags so that everything we did not need was in one and what we did need, limited to a maximum of 7 kg, was in the other. With a twinge of sadness, we threw away the brochure from the hotel in Perth that had protected our luggage from the edge of the number plate for all those kilometres. As I dropped it in the bin, I noticed that, far from throwing away the first brochure, from of the aircraft museum in Temora, when it began to fall apart, Lucie had wrapped the second one around it. I felt it was like dispatching two old and trusty friends to the dustbin of history.
Then we rode our final 22 kilometres on the Harley to Ringwood, in the north-east of the city to return the bike to Eagle Riders. As we had already travelled that route with Hana, we found it easily despite the surprisingly heavy early morning traffic. We only had to wait a few moments while Steve, the cheery proprietor, sent another lucky guy on his way on a brand new, Milwaukee 8 engined Heritage Softail 107. Steve gave our returning bike a once over. There was no damage, but I noted that the rear tyre, brand new in Sydney only a month before was very low on tread indeed. We had driven a total of 11,161 km. The hand back procedure was a matter of yet another electronic signature and that was that.
We had planned to either walk back to the MYKI station or to let Hana whistle us up an Uber, but neither of those proved to be necessary. Steve was waiting for a call, but offered to drive us to the station once it came in. We chatted for a while, he was a mine of information. Lucie and I had loved the Heritage and I discussed the relative merits of the newest incarnation. Steve was a true Harley man and presented a balanced argument. Ours was good he said, but the new one was even better.
Enough said, we now own a Heritage Softail 114 !
Steve dropped us at the station and, after checking the train would be stopping at Glenferrie, we took the by now familiar Belgrave line back to the hotel. Our visit was brief. We popped our jackets and helmets into storage, picked up our two little packs of hand luggage and were back on the Belgrave line and heading into the centre within 15 minutes.
Buses to the airport run from the Southern Cross Station, a transfer hub in the centre of the city. Our plan was going so well that we were way ahead of schedule. So, with a spare hour, I was able to slip in a visit to the local Harley-Davidson dealership. We had missed the Harley shop in Perth, arriving after it closed (inexplicably at lunchtime….) on a Saturday and leaving again before it reopened on the Monday morning. Thanks to the internet, I found out, whilst still on the train, that the Melbourne shop was only a short walk from the bus station. We made that short walk. It was an impressive and quite swanky place, but Lucie could not find anything she liked. Needless to say I bought a T-shirt with kangaroos on it. We ambled back to the station, enjoyed a coffee outside in the sunshine and then boarded the Sky bus to the airport.
At check-in, they discovered our bag weighed 7.18 kg, which was Lucie maintained was due either to the weight of my T-shirt, or to the tripod. She had wanted to leave the tripod in Glenferrie but I had figured that we needed to take more than the (then) two pictures with it to make dragging it around for over 30,000 kilometres worthwhile. The boarding attendant was typically cool and just waved us through anyway. Compared to the security procedures on an international flight, the domestic equivalent was minimal and we were soon on board. Let us hope Al-Qaeda never finds that out !
We took off promptly and, on such a clear day, we got a good view of the entire Melbourne skyline with a giant ferris wheel we had seen from the bus.
We flew over the Mornington Peninsula where we had been the day before, Phillip Island, where the Motorcycle GP had been held the previous weekend and where the track could be seen clearly and out over the Bass Straight. Despite its unremitting blue colour, the strait was flecked with the white crests of large waves. I hate the sea and, at the sight of those rollers, a lot of my regret at not wheeling the Harley onto the ferry seemed to evaporate. The flight was a short one and after less than an hour we landed in Hobart, the capital of Tasmania, which is in the far south of the island.
The largely ad-hoc nature of a lot of our travels has made us devotees of Booking.com. It rarely fails to come up with something workable. We had booked our local accommodation through it. Car hire is also offered and we had previously used it successfully on a non-motorcycling trip to Israel and Jordan. The information offered for Hobart had been unusually scanty and, in the end, we had decided not to book the car in advance. Because of the sort of stuff we are prone to do, I wanted a 4WD, just in case. After the surprisingly informal arrival procedures, you just walk off the plane and out into the streets, we went to the car hire desks. The first three, Europcar (which we have used many times), Bargain and Budget had absolutely nothing left. I confess to a nervous twinge at this point. Hertz and Avis were next. The first is good, but never very cheap and the second, due to an ongoing dispute, I avoid unless all else is lost. There was an agent leaning on the National counter, we walked over and, before we could even ask he told us that he was totally out of small, Group A and B cars, but that he would rent us an SUV for the price of a Group A. I believe the word is “Done !” So we secured a Holden Captiva, which is its Chevrolet namesake in everything but its badge. Conscious of the Looney’s descriptions of some Tasmanian roads, I paid full excess and it was still very cheap. This last move turned out to be very fortuitous.
We set off in our little Jeep. It was an automatic, so it did take a little bit of getting used to, but it was comfortable with the high-up driving position, which we like. The airport was to the south west of Hobart and our accommodation was to the north, so we needed to drive through the city. Hobart straddles a river, the Derwent, at what is practically its estuary and suffers that problem of all river cities (which is most of them) in having too few bridges. The traffic, light at first, steadily accumulated as we approached the “choke point” of the Tasman Bridge which is, effectively, the only way over without a long, circular detour. Actually crossing the bridge took several minutes, but as soon as we got over everything opened out again. The town centre had a very “colonial” look and a slight “edge of the world” feel which I supposed was geographically accurate on all counts.
We soon located the Route 1 and headed north-west following the west bank of the Derwent. At Granton, Route 1 turned north over a low bridge resembling a pontoon. We took the other choice, the A10 which was designated “The Lyell Highway” and continued to track the steadily narrowing Derwent. The road itself was fringed firstly on the landward side and, as it moved slightly away from the river, on both sides, with little houses, mostly of an obvious vintage. After a few kilometres, we came to the small town of New Norfolk and easily found the inn that was our destination for the next three nights. We checked in and it was very pleasant but all rather surreal.
So far to the south, night was coming on a little quickly. We were directed to a small restaurant at the Bush Inn, which was almost next door. We ate a nice meal overlooking the slope down to the Derwent. Lucie adores scallops and received a substantial Tasmanian portion.