Friday, 31 December 2010

Granville to Trial Harbour and onwards to the Edge of the World


I’m typing this in my tent at a campsite near Arthur River in The North-West, or Tarkine region, of Tasmania.  I've just watched the sun disappear behind crashing westerly seas at a little lookout called “The Edge of the World” whilst I said my goodbyes to 2010.

For some reason it feels right that I end 2010, perched on the edge of the earth, by myself, watching the sun go down on the year for the last time.








"Suddenly visiting that spot became my reason for going. I needed to go to The Ends of The Earth. I needed to step out to that metaphorical edge and just stand in Awe. With my mouth open perhaps."

Gary Marx


Goodbye 2010, you were the worst year of my life and maybe I'll write more on you later.  But this blog is just about my last day, not the whole year.  



Earlier today, after my brief foray out to Zeehan's Spray Tunnel,  I drove down towards Granville Harbour to ride along the 4WD Granville Harbour Road / Climes track trail from Granville Harbour to Trial Harbour.  This route follows an old 18km long 4WD track that used to connect the two shack towns, but which has now had so many bridges collapse it is only passable to those on foot, bike or those that are very, very determined in a vehicle, and the last is just my conjecture.  The signs definitely say it is closed.


I turned off onto this track just before Granville Harbour and drove along to just past a small beach at the mouth of the Tasman River where there are a few shacks.  This is where the road deteriorates into a track.

It had been described on the Wildside website as cycling heaven, and so I included it in my itinerary of Tasmania’s best MTB trails.  My initial impressions were very favourable as I scooted along mainly hard, dry trails, dodging down rocky granite pahs and charging back up rock strewn trails.  Unfortunately my feelings towards the trail gradually turned more negative as for nearly three hours I toiled up and down a continuous rollercoaster of a track and what had started out as being enjoyable challenges, just turned into pain.

In fact, by the time I reached Trial Harbour Road at the other end, I was pretty much ready to write this track off as a nightmare, and after a bite of lunch, and with a bit of a groan, I turned tail for what I expected would be an equally torturous return.  Instead I found that the track had a completely different personality travelling south to north.  The climbs were (or at least felt) less steep, the runs more obvious, and I found a grin returning to my face, and then I felt it spread.  In fact whilst it had taken me nearly 3 hours to get from A to B, it took only about 2 hours to retrace my path.  Wildside got this right ... It might not be eye popping scenery wise, but this is cross-country cycling nirvana, and I didn't see another person all day.

The occasional wash out.  This one got me on the way back.

Some soft sandy spots for a bit of play

broken bridges and rock strewn wash outs.

Cool streams made great riding.

It might be up, but granite sections were a hoot.

Granite Creek (bridge out).

Granite creek detour.  Magic place.  Waterfall crashing down into
the ocean.  Stopped here for afternoon tea and a swim.

This is a place to pitch the tent and enjoy.  Note bike above falls.

Swimming bliss on a hot day.

Fairly typical scenery on southern section.

Just above Trial Harbour looking down along Ocean Beach.
Strahan Lighthouse is visible in the far distance.

For me what made this ride so special was the discovery of Granite Creek.  This little creek is about seven kilometers from the northern end of the track (10km from the southern end).  The spot was tragic in that three locals had lost their lives there in 2006 trying to cross when the water levels were too high, but beyond this tragedy lay a small tannin stained creek, cascading in a small series of waterfalls directly down onto the rocks below where it was joined by crashing waves under a hot blue sky.  It was a photographers paradise, and a hot cyclists dream, and I for one readily stripped down to my nicks on my return journey to soak in the cool flowing waters as they crashed over the little waterfall onto the rocks below.

I admit that in the scheme of things this little place is no Grand Canyon or Iguassu Falls, but its perfection lay in the hot summer day that I found it, and because I didn’t expect it to be there, and also because it was mine, maybe just for the moment I was there, but more so in that it is still one of those very, very few places on this Earth that few people will now go to due to its remoteness.  It was mine.

I finished 2010 driving up to Corinna and crossing the river on the Fatman barge ($20).  Corinna had improved a lot since I was last there with Baldrick many years ago, and I was attracted to spend the night at the new Tarkine Hotel but unfortunately they had just given out their last rooms and campsites, so instead I set off on the long, windy, dusty, steep drive along the Western Explorer (Road to Nowhere) ending up where I started this blog in Arthur River.

It wasn't a bad way to end a year that I'm pretty happy to put behind me.  Bring on 2011.

Me at the end of 2010 at the edge of the world.

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