Q. What's the terrain like between Hobart and Devonport?
and particularly the difference between the A5 and the main highway via Oatlands etc. The A5 looks a bit shorter, but there seem to be few if any towns that way. Are there shops etc that way?
A. The A5 versus Highway 1, the Midlands Highway. The A5 is the shortest route to Devonport. It has less traffic and is relatively quiet, but does have more ascents.
It does climb relatively high, at its high point I guess about 1200m above sea level. There may be some gravel at the top, although there have been recent roadworks. The climb is progressive when heading north, and then a steeper sealed downhill descent at the northern end. This route has fewer towns with facilities. Bothwell is a small farming town but has most things including a bakery. There is nothing then until Miena which has a pub, I think there may be a shop and servo near the A5 and B11 junction. Then nothing much till you descend to Deloraine to the north, and which has everything. Just before the descent you pass Pine Lake and this is really alpine country with stands of local native Pencil Pines, stunted rain forest and rock scree slopes, very scenic.
An alternative is to turn off the A5 onto the B51 Poatina road which is sealed the whole way. It has a big descent of perhaps 1000m off the Western Tiers down to Poatina village, and fantastic views east out over the Midlands valley. From there you are into the "northern Midlands" with lots of small towns. C515 then C516 or C517, C513 through Bracknell, C505 to C501 to Deloraine. This is a scenic back road route. Then via Highway 1 to Devonport, or better turn off at Elizabeth Town onto the old road B13.
If you have time and energy to burn you could go from Deloraine on B12 to Mole Creek then C138 via Paradise and Sheffield, or C138 with much more climbing via Cethana and Gowrie Park to Sheffield, and then down a choice of back roads to Devonport. Great views of the Great Western Tiers, then further on Mount Roland can be spectacular.
The A5 is high altitude by Tasmanian standards and so more exposed to the weather, or to bad weather. April is Autumn so could be mild and quiet, could be first overnight frosts, or it could get some bad weather with wind, rain or even sleet. The B51 to Poatina is also relatively high and exposed in places. If you are feeling strong and travelling well you can easily do the 110km from Bothwell to Poatina or on to Cressy in one day.
Alternatively, if you want to camp out then the A5 or B51 offer far more opportunities than Highway 1.
Highway 1 (the Midlands Highway) is the main road between the south and north and can have plenty of fast moving traffic. The highest point on the Midlands Highway is about 400 or 500m above sea level. Plenty of towns and shops up to Kempton, then nothing till Oatlands, Ross and Campbell Town. Once you are past St Peters Pass north of Oatlands the road becomes very straight and level and relatively monotonous riding through farming country.
An alternative start from Hobart is to go to Richmond along the busy B31, but then continue up the quieter B31 through the small towns of Colebrook and Campania to join Highway 1 near Jericho. It climbs a bit near the end but ends up at the same elevation as the Midlands Highway.
If you choose the Midlands route I would suggest turning off Highway 1 near Ross onto the Macquarie Valley route, if you don't mind about 5 to 10km of gravel to connect to the C522, or turn off at Campbell Town onto C522 which joins up the same route, then through to Cressy and then by back roads as already described above.
In general Highway 1, the Midlands Highway and then the Bass Highway are big and busy and boring and I would avoid them.
This alternative route was selected for the 2017 East Coast E-bike Ride from Hobart to Devonport. It was chosen to minimise hills, minimise highways with fastmoving traffic, and to maximise scenery and classic Tasmanian countryside.
Q. What's the best way to get from Hobart airport to Hobart by bike?
A. We think this is the best way.
Q. Can I pick up a bike box at the airport as I am leaving?
A. This info was current as at 22 Sep 2017.
Info for Hobart:
- Jetstar $15
- Qantas $15
- Virgin $25
Tiger is the only airline that does not provide them, however people could just go to one of the other airline counters to purchase a box.
Info for Launceston:
Q. We have commuter bikes with roadbike tyres. We would like to do a circular trip around the whole of Tasmania. Are these all sealed roads and suitable for roadbikes?
A. Yes, you can get around Tasmania all on sealed roads and suitable for road bikes. The GIRO route is all sealed roads.
Note: most cycle tourers will diverge from this route and will come across unsealed roads, potholes and occasionally broken glass on the side of the road. A durable tyre is recommended, such as Schwalbe Marathon (there is a lightweight version that is also good) or Continental Country Plus. Check out this comparison.
Q. What information sources (websites, books, contacts of people, etc) can you recommend for me?
A. See our Maps and Routes page. After that, in no particular order:
Q. What's a good route around Tasmania?
A. The GIRO ride is around Tasmania, or the GIRO II is a shorter 2-week version. These are quite typical routes around Tasmania that people follow. In general the Tasmanian east coast is warm and dry (about 500mm or less annual average rainfall), and our west coast is wetter (up to 3000mm at the wettest point annual average rainfall). Both have hills. The west coast has temperate rain forest, is less populated and has a wilder coast line. Our predominant wind is from the west. Our capital city Hobart is actually the second driest capital city within Australia, so there's a fact you can impress people with!
For me the must-see would include the east coast and Freycinet Peninsula (pronounced the French way, "Fray cen ay"), the north-east from Weldborough Pass to Scottsdale and Lilydale, the north from Deloraine to Mole Creek, Sheffield and through to Cradle Mountain National Park (hilly), then the west coast from Tullah, Zeehan (great mining museum), Strahan, Queenstown and the Lyell Highway through the edge of the south-west wilderness area.
Q. What's the weather like in Tasmania?
A. We think it's great ... and the air's clean too! But if you want numbers, go to this site: http://www.bom.gov.au/tas/forecasts/hobart.shtml
Q. How do we best avoid logging trucks, trucks in general? Are the logging trucks everywhere in Tasmania?
A. There are some log trucks, but typically not as many as you might fear. Even more so as a result of the depressed timber and logging industry. Even if there are not logging trucks there are other trucks everywhere. I have had more close calls from big campervans, driven by tourists who have never been out of the city before and never driven anything wider than a mini.
It is difficult to avoid all log trucks if doing the Giro but generally they are only an occasional annoyance. Always good to have a mirror.
Q. Is there a good route from Hobart airport by bicycle to Marion Bay where the Falls festival is held?
A. There is no choice but to follow the Tasman Highway A3. From the airport turn off east across the causeways to Sorell. But there is a wide verge and bike/walk path along this route. Your best bet for a choice of shops and a supermarket is in Sorell.
The shortest distance is along the Arthur Highway A9 through Forcett to Copping, then turn off to Bream Creek on C337 and downhill to the Falls site. But this road has no bike path and in plenty of places no edge verge, and it is twisty and hilly, and a popular tourist road, so busy with traffic.
Alternatively, if you have a bit more time, and if you don't mind riding on a bit of good quality gravel road, then:
- turn off after Sorell but before Forcett, right to Lewisham and Dodges Ferry, C330 or C334. Then along past Carlton Beach
- or, turn right after Forcett on the Primrose Sands road, C349
- either way, they both connect, and continue around the coast of Frederick Henry Bay to Dunalley, route C334
- From Dunalley head back up the Arthur Highway for about 2km then turn right onto C337 which skirts along the shoreline of Blackman Bay and ends up at the Falls site.
RideWithGPS is great for finding other people's routes, plotting routes & checking the elevations.
Q. Do you know where I can hire racks and panniers for two road bikes?
A. If in Hobart, try this place: www.hobartbikehire.com.au
You could also try: http://www.longhaultasmania.com.au/
Of course, fitting racks to road bikes can be fraught with problems least of which is that many don't have any rack attachment points.Check out our list of Local Bike Shops and hire places.
Q. Can you ride from Swansea to Coles Bay via the water crossing? Are there any bike hire places in Swansea?
A. I assume you mean the crossing heading east from the end of Dolphin Sands across to Swanwick. No, there is no way across unless you know somebody with a boat. It is the mouth of the Swan River and Moulting Lagoon and has a fast tidal current in and out. The real problem is that in the river and also for a long way westwards it is all sand, no good foundations. So to bridge it would require a huge bridge.
Unfortunately references keep cropping up (such as in Lonely Planet) to an on-call ferry for cyclists at Swanwick. A phone number is often given. That service ran for a while but stopped in about 2011 and nobody presently provides such a service [as of mid 2014].
From Swansea, as you can probably see from a map, you need to travel towards Bicheno, but you only go about 2/3 of the way, and across a low range of coastal hills. But from the turnoff down to Coles Bay the road is wider and relatively flat.
Check out our list of bike shops and bike hire businesses.