Or. A ride to Huntsman Lake, Meander, Tasmania.
I have written before about the hill up to Huntsman Lake. It’s around 14% for quite a stretch and known locally as “The Grunter”. It had been a while since Colin and I tackled the Meander Valley route and, as the weather has perked up a bit, we decided to give it a go. From the map of the route you can see Ride with GPS has decided it was 11.5% but I’ll go with the 14% !
Colin brought his trike to ours and we loaded both trikes into my trailer then drove to Deloraine. We parked by the river. A couple of months ago this simple act would have been impossible as the river was in flood to a height way over our currently positioned heads. We parked opposite one of the houses that bore the brunt. Its sheds were washed away and water came close to the roof of the two storey dwelling. Today there are two large vans parked outside from a Flood Damage Repair company. The repairers were inside and various bits of water damaged house were being chipped/prised/hammered off to be thrown out of the upper storey windows. I remembered seeing the house on the TV News recently after remediation work had started but then vandals broke in to loot and create more damage. Insult to injury.
We decided to use the shared path that runs through a linear park alongside the Meander River (now back in its usual channel) and wend our way down to the caravan park. There was not much obvious damage left to repair on this side but the open air swimming pool remains out of action. A pity because the day, which had looked a little grey during the drive, was now fining up nicely – lots of blue sky and woolly white clouds and temps in the mid 20s. Looking good.
From the Caravan Park we climbed to Emu Bay Road which we would take to get out of town when we turn off for Mole Creek. The traffic was quite heavy along EBR and even after we had turned towards Mole Creek. I guess that, like Longford has got busier in the 12 years we have lived there, so has Deloraine. There are many people moving to Tassie which means growing, bustling towns with more cars but no new roads.
Along the stretch to the Montana Road turnoff we had to hit the verge too many times to allow agricultural vehicles, log trucks, gravel trucks (plus trailers) and speeding utes to get on their way.
It was a relief to turn onto Montana Road and start the best bit of the ride. The sun stayed out, birds were calling and hardly any traffic. The road winds through some farm land, climbs a steep little hill and then descends into forested country. Really nice in there. Native cherry and magnificent eucalypt trees abound. The warm “no wind” day also allowed delightful bushy smells to gather and surround us. After a few kilometres we were nearing 41° South – a salmon and ginseng farm with a Cafe – Georgies Cafe. Named after George, the large and rather regal dog who used to welcome people at the gate.
Just before we turned into the long, narrow, tree lined, gravel based, pot-holed and steep driveway, a car appeared exiting the cafe. Then another and another and another………. Probably at least 20 cars, all VWs and most with mainland rego plates. Yes, it was an organised VW tour of Tassie. Big purring multi-cylinder SUVs and large cars with not an old one amongst them and certainly no EVs. Probably not one with the V10 motor but a few V6s and maybe one V8. They passed too quickly to identify as they swiftly accelerated away.
We had obviously arrived at an opportune time – we missed being squeezed on the driveway and were able to have a quiet coffee at the Cafe without listening to VW talk.
It was peaceful in the garden but soon time to get back to it.
We rode across a bridge soon after the Cafe stop. It had been damaged during the floods and still had a gravel surface where tarmac has not yet been replaced. A little further along we met a rider coming the other way. Glen. I used to ride with Glen on Fridays but that group never reformed after the covid lockdowns. We caught up on news then got going again.
The post with the number 10 on it relates to the documented Great Gourmet Ride – podcast 10. If listened to here it contains information about the area the rider is currently looking at.
As an example of the concept I tried to upload the .mp3 file providing the audio into my media collection for this blog post but it would not upload. (This is a test – So : click : https://archive.org/details/great-gourmet-ride/10+Cheshunt.mp3 on this link to hear the “podcast”.).
NB: if this doesn’t work I will remove this test but I have to publish the post to see what happen – my Preview no longer works.
Not much further along we arrived at the Meander Bridge Cafe to find it has been totally reworked since our last visit. New owners have upgraded the cafe, finishing the work in August 2022 only to see water creeping ever nearer during the Meander River flood. Sandbagging and luck kept the water out and it’s now looking good – a credit to their perseverance.
After a coffee (rated 8 out of 10) we headed off towards Grunter. Several things are noticeable about Meander.
Lots of new houses have been / are being built. Newly landscaped blocks tuck in next to original peeling weatherboard houses with gardens full of gorse, stacked firewood, rusting ag equipment and collections of old cars. An interesting mix.
There are two, possibly three new dairies and many milking cows in the paddocks which were being watered to keep the grass coming.
A huge bumper crop of hay means there are countless bales of silage and hay stored in and beside many sheds. An embarrassment of riches. In the Norfolk Plains farmers had to remove last years stock of both to fit in the new. I suspect the same has occurred in the Meander Valley.
Soon we were out of the town and climbing the hill away from all that hay. All went well until I lost sight of Colin in the rear view mirror for a while. I was anticipating a bit of a wait at the top but suddenly he caught up. His riding program is paying dividends and legs must be strengthening the way he powered along to catch up.
We rode to the picnic area on the banks of the lake.
There is a sign explaining about the area. Apparently it used to be a farm – which might explain the various well established non-native trees in the day use area. The farm supported 10 children and they all had their chores. Amongst other things the farm supplied milk to the local butter factory.
There was also a sawmill with a small train pulling the wood to the mill.
The site of the mill is now under water somewhere near the middle of the lake. Today the lake is a fishing lake which also somewhat mitigates the flood levels downstream – except not this year. There must be irrigation feeding off it too via the Meander River as there are plenty of pivot irrigators in the valley and the lake level has obviously dropped since its flood high.
We checked the place out for a stay. Officially no camping but it looks like there are a couple of spots where a tent or two could hide. The shoreline looks clear as the water level is down from the peak. This means shore fishing should be easy enough – I might return and give it a go one day soon .
After a very pleasant lunch stop we returned to the trikes and headed off down Grunter. Always a good experience as, because the trike is so low, the scenery dashes past very fast at 60 kph. After Meander it seemed like we had a headwind but not one that slowed us down much. Sometimes that happens on the recumbent trike.
Too soon we were at the junction with the main road up to Great Lake and so, once more, into traffic. I had an interesting experience when a 4WD towing a large trailer overtook, close and slow. There was a ute coming the other way and it was brought to almost a stop by the 4WD sitting out there in its lane. Things got sorted without a fight and then the 4WD + trailer turned right into a driveway. As I approached the reversing lights came on and movement happened. Was he going to back out in front of me? Was I on his death list? Thinking better of it the 4WD stopped. Waiting to get Colin? No, we all survived.
As soon as possible I took to the shared paths alongside the Meander river in Deloraine. We cycled the opposite side of the river to that used in the morning. Here signs of damage from the floods was more apparent.
I was not sure of the condition of the suspension bridge which had been undermined by the water so I crossed on the footpath at the road bridge. I could see a number of young persons walking along the railway track. As I cycled down to the car a train was passing and tooting its horn rather more than usual. Probably to get the people off the track I thought.
On my way out I saw the kids were walking the track to the point where it goes over the river and then jumping off into the river. The town had better get its swimming pool sorted out.
Colin decided to camp in Deloraine and ride home the next day – his riding muscles MUST be getting there.
’til next time ……………………………
2 thoughts on “Grunting in the Meander Valley”
Great to see all the sun in your beautiful pics. Looks like a great trip and glad Colin had a good ride, too. It’s a shame when the really nice ride has to be bookended by crappy traffic though. I hope there are a few more good rides to be had in the stable autumn weather before winter returns.
The E Gippsland Rail Trail report goes like this: 1st 6 kms out of Bairnsdale that used to be very deteriorated chip is now fresh asphalt. Between that bit and a bit beyond Nicholson is old chipseal that is a bit bumpy with tree roots. The white metal between Nicholson and Bruthen is all in great shape. There’s a couple bits of asphalt near Bruthen too. Bruthen to Nowa Nowa has a fairly new sandy surface. When I did it in 2017 that section was very rocky two-track. It is now all covered with the sandier surface, so it’s faster than it used to be but can be a bit boggy here and there with sand. Nowa Nowa to about 4 kms west of Waygara is brand new white metal and in great shape. But 4kms from Waygara, that runs out and it is the original gravelly/rocky double track from there on. I turned off on Osters Gap Road at Waygara, so don’t what it is like from Waygara to Orbost.
Thanks Emily and thanks for the trail report. Riding it on the Brompton is a “cloud idea” at the moment but it could happen!