Thursday, July 4, 2013

Devonport Bicycle Path Picnic.

Last month Ginger and I decided it was high time we experienced both the Devonport cycleway and our new picnic blanket. So like the Middle-Middle classes to which we aspire, we bought some extra special treats from Burnie Farmers Market, packed up the basket and bikes and drove East to grab a perfect piece of the new Winter sunshine.

This is what a fortnightly Treat Buying Expedition looks like.
And also why I am fat.
Devonport (third largest population centre in Tasmania) has an almost fully formed cyclepath network, the council has a pretty decent transportation strategy and the vision to implement it, if not the funds to make it as smooth and continuous as Perth. The section we chose was the Don to Devonport trail, running from the middle of town out along the coast and finishing at the Don River Railway tourist attraction.

The middle of Devonport is not your standard town centre, it's also the arrival point for the Spirit of Tasmania ferries; luxury passenger liners sailing from Melbourne to Tasmania, transporting Grey Nomads and their caravans. You can even walk off the ferry and hire a bicycle or bring your own if you're up for some touring. One of them was in port when we arrived so we stared at it for a while. We also stared at the ugliest lighthouse I have ever seen.

Spirit of Tasmania, Pashley in Picnic Portage Mode™.
Be more quaint and less functional!
Sculptures on the Mersey River path.

We were both eager to have lunch sooner rather than later so I saved most of the route documentation for the journey back from Don. The path led us along the Mersey river through the heart of Devonport and out to the recently refreshed waterfront. There you'll find a burger bar, playground, toilets, beach showers and the bluffs. Also the attractive Mersey Bluff lighthouse if you divert a bit but we were hungry so we rode on.

The beach on the return trip.

The way there, where Devonport meets the sea and I photograph
shifty looking men exiting public toilets.
Briefly considered this beach picnic spot.

Once we left the beach, the path quickly became empty and wound through some rapidly changing landscapes. After the typical gum trees and shrubbery of the main beach we encountered these oddly manicured looking 'transitional' flora, still right next to the ocean though it was hidden from us by their dense canopy and the rise above sea level. (Even though we didn't seem to climb) They looked like they'd spent a lot of evolutionary energy adapting perfectly to the windy, salty bluffs. The first trip through was at high noon so they looked especially odd without shadows, I photographed them on the way home at about 4pm.

The rounded foliage gave way to an open view of the ocean and a brief flirtation with the suburbs before plunging us into some straight-up temperate rainforest. Here we started to descend. I wish I'd taken a picture of the zig-zag trail but the trees made it basically impossible and riding down it was far too much fun to stop. There were swoops and little wooden bridges all through it and I rode with a smile plastered on my stupid face even though the entire time I was dreading hauling the Pashley back up. This rainforest section of the path was quite narrow, unevenly surfaced due to tree roots and very busy with joggers and family strolls in some sections. I was pretty glad to have the weight of the Pashley rolling tank-style over bumps; although I discovered on the way back that a big enough bump will knock a hub brake right out of your front wheel. Fortunately the counter-discovery was that you can just pop it back in with your fingers.

Well after the zig-zag, a return to flat land.

Eventually the forest thinned out, the tree trunks became more spindly and we were expelled into the carpark of the Devonport Aquatic centre before returning to the trail. We were crossing train tracks still in use but there was plenty of signage on the official crossing points. Towards the end we could see we'd left the coast entirely and come up next to the Don river. On the way back I made Ginger hold the Pashley upright (fie on the included kick-stand!) while I took a picture of the afternoon view, wood smoke was sitting like mist in the valley as the sunshine waned.

"Hold my shit while I capture nature."


At last we reached the Don River Railway leisure ground, just in time to see a delightful display of steam (not a euphemism) before 'Getting our Picnic On' (totally a euphemism). Next to a car park. Oh, well. It's a Car, Car, Car, Car World after all. But we had the whole place to ourselves and the banks made it remarkably peaceful. It was very tempting to fall asleep in the sunshine and we were very full of Ribena and cakes so we had a nice rest.

Don River Railway. We've been on the train. It's worth it.
Not using the creepy picnic shelter.
The not quite distant enough tranquility of the Don River Railway car park.
Idiots doing Picnic in public.
The Tourism Tasmania version.
The winter sun combined with my wool tights for a toasty fat bottom.
Another Tourism-ready view.

Sadly, we could not tarry because I had to get the Pashley up the zig-zag and back to town. I actually managed to do it without once getting off to push, though I've never before spent so much time in first gear! We reached Devonport with enough light to spare for a quick spin on a breakwater to mark the setting sun.

As far as you're supposed to go.
There were fishermen/women climbing over the rails anyway.
Public art unimpeded by railings.
(No, I didn't climb over.)
Mersey Bluff sunset before the drive home.


  1. Hi, This is a great post. I am wondering whether you would be okay with me using one of your images for some publicity for a Bicycle Tasmania/Safer Roads for Cyclists event in Ulverstone on June 18th 2014? Looking for something for social media that has a coastal landscape, bike and will put some words on it. Thanks, Emma

  2. Oh dear, I only just saw this! Ironically after I complained on social media that I was unaware of the Ulverstone bicycle meeting last night. Apologies. I would have said yes and will in the future if you ever ask again!

  3. lovely post..thanks for sharing...

  4. Hello, Love this post! We have just launched Devonport Bike Hire and offer vintage bike and picnic hampers for hire! So you can imagine my excitement to see your post when looking for images to use.
    Where was the place you could hire bikes from near the spirit? It must have closed now. Would it be ok if I used some of your images?
    Feel free to email if easier
    Warm Regards,