Three of Tassie's best motorcycle routes
From Orford to Launceston
The Great Eastern Drive clings to Tasmania’s colourful east coast to create the state’s very own Great Ocean Road, but the fun begins long before you hit the beaches. Travelling from Hobart towards Orford (where the ride officially starts) the Tasman Highway winds through hills with evocative names such as “Bust-Me-Gall”, giving a hint of the exhilaration to come.
At Orford, the ride opens up as the highway turns north along the coast. Swooping down from Rocky Hills, the road clings to the coast, as beach follows beach to Swansea. The lovely open road past the Freycinet Peninsula and Bicheno provides a chance to chase the horizon as the highway straightens.
Detour into the Bay of Fires from St Helens, the last stop on the ride, to discover a place of white sand, oversized boulders and clear blue seas, before turning inland, where the highway provides a snaking ride through rainforest and hills into Launceston.
From Hobart to Devonport
Tasmania’s west coast is motorcycle heaven, with the often empty highways wriggling between World Heritage-listed mountains in seemingly endless sweeps.
From Hobart, the Lyell Highway climbs through some wonderfully open rural country and then thick forest to Derwent Bridge, about 175 km away.
Here you enter the heart of Tasmania’s mountain country. As the highway continues west, it crosses the mystical Franklin River, while the daunting summit of Frenchmans Cap – one of the state’s most striking mountains – appears to the south. The twisting descent into Queenstown, along the so-called 99 Bend Road, is among the finest sections of riding in Tasmania.
Duck down to the coast at Strahan then head north to Zeehan to reach the gloriously empty Murchison Highway. Take the turn to Cradle Mountain and rise up over the stark Black Bluff Range, before leaving the high plateau to follow quiet country roads through some of the state’s most fertile farmland towards Devonport on the north coast.
From Hobart to Cockle Creek
South of Hobart, roads flow like the rivers they run beside, creating a glorious ride to the southern-most end of Australia’s road network.
Take the Channel Highway out of Hobart to enjoy the sweeping bends over Bonnet Hill and then detour down the curling C626 that cuts between Oyster Cove and Cygnet – it’s freedom on tarmac.
Past Cygnet, the ride joins up with the Huon Highway at Huonville before running tight along the banks of the Huon River through Franklin. If you’ve set out in the early morning, it’s likely the river will be mirror-still.
Past Geeveston, take the turning towards Surveyors Bay to continue along the coast, rejoining the highway in the bayside town of Dover.
Swing off the highway again soon after Southport to take an underground tour at Hastings Caves, or a swim at the caves’ thermal pools, before the road switches to gravel, clinging to the edge of spectacular Recherche Bay to its end at Cockle Creek. The only way to get any further south than this in Australia is to walk.
Whatever journey you decide to take, plan ahead, be prepared, be aware of changing road conditions, and stick to the speed limit. Ride carefully and enjoy your Tasmanian road trip.
For riding safety tips and further information: www.tasmanianmotorcyclecouncil.org.au