Downhill into the Huon Valley

Aha.  I seem to have a theme going – downhill!!

Bullock Hill to the Huon 1 Small

Mrs C dropped me off at the highest point between Kingston and Huonville and then drove off.  I got the bike together and had a look around.  A fantastic day.  A not too busy Huon Highway.  A descent to Mountain River and then on to the Huon River was planned.

Bullock Hill to the Huon 2 small

This is the start of the way down.  Hard shoulder – yes.  A white line, inside that yellow reflectors and inside that about 10cms of space before shitty gravel drops away from the road.  Traffic travelling at the prescribed 100kph – at least.  OK, better be careful.

I set off and found most drivers were helpful.  Thanks to you all.  I cycled on the white line except where things are a bit dodgy and then I cycled in the middle of the lane to stop people thinking of passing.  Mostly white line work though.  Speed up in the 30s but I didn’t try and take a video on the phone after learning my lesson a day or two back.  Down to the Dip Road turnoff I thought I would roll up to 50kph but only made it to 49.6 before braking and turning off.  Disappointing and Bugger.

Bullock Hill to the Huon 4 small

Dip Road.  And does it ever!  Here we go down to Mountain River using this rather steep gravel road – see the remains of the dust flung up by the last car driving past?  Rear braking and wheel skidding I slipped down the steep parts and on to the corrugated lower sections.  The views were amazing.  I rate the Huon Valley as one of my favourite places in the world and I was lucky enough to live in the valley for 10-12 years back in the mid 80s-90s.

The hill range in the distance is the Kunanyi / Mount Wellington range and so lets acknowledge the traditional and original owners of this land, the muwinina [mou wee nee nar] people.

Bullock Hill to the Huon 5 small

As I get lower, “Sleeping Beauty” becomes visible.  This view of the range is special to the Huon Valley and under today’s morning light, it seems just an outline.  Going back to Howden this evening the face was totally in the late sun and all her “wrinkles” clearly stood out.  One day in the long-ago past, I walked to the top of her nose – a peak called Collin’s Cap.  I started in shorts and tee shirt but by the time I got to the top I had every piece of clothing in my backpack on – it was really cold up there.

Today the road took me on down to Mountain River Road and tarmac.  I rode along through an area of small acreage farms and other houses with small gardens really well looked after.  The scents coming at a cyclist were many and varying from a rather pongy farmyard smells to flowers blossoming by the roadside back to dead things in the ditch.  Very rural.

At the end of MRR I had to rejoin the Huon Highway for another 2 or 3 kilometers until the turn off the Ranelagh was reached.  I took this and proceeded to Huonville via this backroad wending it’s way through apple orchards.  Back in the 1970’s the Huon Valley produced many, many boxes of apples which were sent off to Great Britain for sale during their off season.  Then GB joined the EU and the market shut almost overnight.  Orchards in the Huon were given government money to pull out their trees and start over with something new.  When we moved here in the mid 80s orchardists were experimenting with new apple varieties and export methods aiming at the USofA.  Then Asian markets came into focus and because Tasmania doesn’t have FruitFly we were able to get product in.  The orchards have expanded once more and different apple varieties were grafted onto existing rootstocks and a good trade to South Korea, China and Malaysia amongst others was built up.  Not just apples either – cherries, nectarines and so on.  BUT this year FruitFly has been found in Tasmania and things are looking a little problematic again.

Bullock Hill to the Huon 6 small

As I cycled towards Ranelagh I saw apple trees that have already been picked.  There are some high fruits remaining but most look like the above – no apples left.

Bullock Hill to the Huon 7 small

This above is a sign of the times.  Grapes are getting into the valley.  Well, they have been here for some time and the cool climate varieties for Pino Noir and Sav. Blancs have been grown and producing well respected wines for many a year now.  However, climate change is resulting in cool climate grapes no longer growing in South Australia or even Victoria.  They can be grown still but the climatic conditions there mean they don’t hit the ultimate qualities demanded by the consumer willing to pay top dollar.  So the businesses are moving their cool climate grape production to Tasmania.  At this stage we don’t yet know what will happen with the FruitFly – have we stopped it in it’s tracks? will they spread from their northern toe-hold?  BUT it looks like an expansion of the grape/wine industry may provide another avenue for work and earnings.

I cycled on and around to Huonville.  While there we had lunch with friends and I had a ride on Ken’s Bike E recumbent.  It looks OK in the picture but it was really weird trying to push off and then get the second foot onto the pedals before momentum ceased.  Especially as I found it was in 3rd gear~!  I did get going and rode along some of the local footpaths – the streets being extremely busy with drivers trying to live up the Huonville’s nickname of Hoonville.  After some time I was able to get going quite well but the steering was incredibly light and, well, odd – um.. not to say twitchy.  I think it would take a day or two to really feel at home on this machine because I found I was using a lot of arm pressure where I should be using very little.  I assume this is due to riding “normal” bikes and is something that would be sorted with more riding.

Bullock Hill to the Huon 8 small

OK.   No movement on the Challenge as yet.  That will start tomorrow when I will take another descent – this time into Hobart and a Coffee Shop!!!

Author: antc1946

Born in 1946 I learnt to cycle about 10 years later. On a bike with rods connecting brake levers to the brakes - anyone remember those? I emigrated to Australia (from the UK) in 1974 and moved to Tasmania in 1984. Bicycles were in my life for most of that time although sometimes they were replaced by motorised two wheels for a bit more excitement. On reaching 70 I decided to stick to pedal power but in 2019 an electric recumbent made an appearance. it's now 2023 and I have 3 bikes. 2 e-recumbents and the Brompton.

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