Category Archives: Photos

Twenty Dismembered Men

Yesterday, I received in the mail twenty dismembered men. This may sound horrific to you, but I was pleased. They’d only cost me $4 on eBay. What a bargain!

I opened the package and here is what I found.

The packageWhat could all these little men be for?

My first mission was clearly to re-member these men.  I mean, to assemble them. After just five minutes, things were starting to come together. Literally.

The men assemble

But then I ran into a problem. The Wizard, Gandalf, had clearly been involved in some seriously wonky magic, because he had two right legs. And Vincent’s hand kept falling off. Vincent was an artist.

Gandalf and Vincent

As I assembled each man, the others, already able-bodied, assisted me.

The men assist in assembly

Sven was very clever, and assembled himself.

The self assembling man

Finally, I had a team. I waited while they talked amongst themselves.

The men gather around

The men are in discussion

Then I asked them to gather. The men had a mission.

The men are ready for their mission

The test lab at my office has many devices. But it also has a mess of cables, held in place with Blu-Tack. That gets a bit yucky and sticky. The mission of these men was to resolve this cable situation.

The mission

This is not an unusual mission for men of this calibre. But the stalwart men readily accepted their mission in all its orthodoxy.

The stalwart men listen

Thus I led them to the situation. They put their heads together and figured out a game plan.

The men examine the situation grimly

Shortly thereafter, the cable tidy was complete. Well done men!

Jake and Albert with cable number 1 Jimmy tells Alphonse how to hold the cable while Cam watches for danger Gandalf and Vincent are just hangers-on, along with Clint and Bob The Nokia cable required both Sven and Michael, but Ivan was able to handle the Samsung cable on his own A fight nearly broke out between Robert and his mate George Tim and Tom worked together well, as Peter leaned on the cable Matt just listened as Dave gave instructions on the right way to hold the cable Fred didn't care. He was happy to have a job at last

Gandalf was pretty unhappy about his leg.

Gandalf is not very happy about his leg situation

The men complete their mission


Camping at Freycinet

On Sunday, I finally took Hannah camping, as I had promised quite some time ago.  The weather was great and off we went, a Dad and Daughter camping trip!  We ate fish and chips in Swansea, had a coffee and cake (dad had coffee, daughter had cake!) at Tombolo’s in Coles Bay, and then started walking over the Wineglass Bay Lookout, and down to Wineglass Bay.  Wineglass Bay Beach seemed to last forever, but we eventually arrived at our camp spot, at the far end of the beach, which was warm, and still, and deserted.  It was beautiful, as we ate our pasta for dinner and then explored after dinner, finding amazing views, and shells and bones.  Wallabies were interested, and none too shy, of us and our packs and things.

Camping overnight went well, and the following morning, we walked back out, and back over the Wineglass Bay Lookout.  To pass the time as we climbed, Hannah gave me a Five Things Story to tell.  This is a little tradition we have, where one of us gives the other five random things, and we have to construct a story out of it.  Here’s the story for the climb:

Five Things: Little girl, man, spy agency, secret spy lamp, magical talking hairbrush

Daniel Higginbottom was, to all appearances, a very ordinary man.  He drove a boring brown car, ate boring breakfast cereal, and worked as an accountant in the Department of the Treasury in the Kingdom.  But as we shall see, things aren’t always quite what they seem.  Not even to Daniel.

One morning, Daniel arose, got dressed, ate his breakfast, and drove his ordinary brown car down to his office, where he parked in his usual spot under the building, and took the lift up to his office.  And here’s where we discover the first thing.  For while Daniel appeared to work in the Department of the Treasury, in actual fact, his job was definitely interesting.  Because Daniel was a spy!

On this fine morning, Daniel walked into the Spy Master’s office, to which he had been summoned the instant he arrived in the building.

“Daniel, my man, I have a new mission for you!  Do you wish to accept it?”

“What?  How can I decide if I will accept it unless I know what it is?”

“Well, I could tell you, but then if you didn’t accept, I’d have to kill you,” his boss replied.

“Uh, well, in that case, I accept!” said Daniel.

“Good man!  I knew I could count on you!” cried the Spy Master.  “Now, in the neighbouring kingdom, there is a princess who has a priceless magical talking hairbrush.  We require you to obtain this hairbrush and return it to our kingdom.  Any questions?”

“None so far,” said Daniel, who as you can probably tell by now was a very confident fellow.

“Very well.  We have prepared your usual Spy Gadgets, and one new one: this tube of toothpaste which I am passing you now appears to be completely normal, until you press it just so” – and the Spy Master pressed it, just so – “and then it turns into a Secret Spy Lamp.”  And so it did.

“Excellent!” said Daniel enthusiastically.  He turned and walked out of the office, collecting his Spy Kit on the way, and made his way back down to the car park.  I should mention at this point that he was now known as Fred Smith, Agent Extraordinaire.  And there was no way that Fred Smith, Agent Extraordinaire could possibly drive a boring brown car.  No, he drove a bright red sports car.

And so “Fred” drove his bright red sports car all the way to the neighbouring kingdom.  He had no trouble making his way to the capital, and as soon as he arrived, he saw the posters announcing that there was to be a Ball at the King’s Castle-Palace the following evening, to celebrate the eighth birthday of the princess.  “Excellent!” thought our intrepid agent.  Now he just needed to get an invitation.

He drove around the beautiful little city that surrounded the palace-castle up on the mount, until he found a couturier, where a steady stream of young ladies entered and exited, getting last minute changes made to their ball gowns.  He watched and waited for a bit until he spotted a young lady that he decided would be his target.

He approached her and introduced himself.  Then he asked about all the people going into the milliners’ store, and she explained about the Ball.

“Oh wow!” said Fred-Daniel.  “I’ve always wanted to go to a Ball!”

“That’s amazing!” exclaimed the young lady. “It just so happens I have a spare invitation.  Would you like it?”

“Would I ever?” responded Fred, enthusiastically as ever.  “Boy,” he thought to himself, “this mission is a walk in the park.  Twenty minutes in and I’ve already got a way into the Palace!”  And then he tried his next card: “would you like a lift home in my bright red sports car?”

“That would be lovely,” said the young lady.  (And here, may I add, if an enthusiastic young man ever offers *you* a lift home, especially if he is driving in a bright red sports car, I would highly recommend you *don’t* accept!)

A few minutes later, the young lady said, “please drop me at this corner.”  They stopped, and she continued, “I’d really like to introduce you at the Ball – would you like to pick me up from this corner tomorrow evening, at 5pm?”

“Certainly!” said Daniel-Fred.  “How much easier could this mission get?” he thought.

So Agent Fred made his way to his hotel, where he slept and then breakfasted somewhat in the manner of his alter ego, that is, boringly, and prepared for the Ball that evening.  Near 5 o’clock, all dressed up in his finest clothes, he made his way to the corner, where sure enough, the young lady was waiting!

They drove together up the hill to the castle, a windy road clinging to the edge of the cliff, passing every now and then houses perched on the very edge of the precipice.  Finally, they arrived at the palace gates, and the young lady leaned over and said, “Madelina Brompton, and guest.”  (So now we finally know her name.)  The palace guard seemed to think this was just fine, and opened the gate, and in they drove.

They followed the line of cars carrying guests to the Ball, until Madelina told Fred to park in her own parking spot, before they reached the front door.  As soon as the car pulled to a stop, four men leaped out of a door and surrounded the car!  Daniel-Fred looked at Madelina with astonishment, as she now sat there holding a gun, pointing at him.  “Out of the car, please, Mr Smith, or should I say Mr Higginbottom!” she asked.

Daniel certainly felt confused.  How had she cracked his secret identity?  But he didn’t have much time to think about that, as he was hustled down the stairs and into a dark cell.  As the door slammed, he started to feel a bit sorry for himself, until he remembered his toothpaste tube.  They hadn’t taken that from him, at least.  He could have clean teeth … no, wait, he could see!  He pressed the toothpaste tube just so, and it lit up, just so.  He explored his cell carefully, and finally found down in one corner, some writing scratched on the wall: “the way lies beneath.”

This seemed too good to be true, but Daniel was enthusiastic and confident, even despite this minor setback in his plans, so he set to testing all the flagstones until he found one that lifted up.  And indeed there was a passage out from his cell from this flagstone.  Without hesitation, he dived down the passage, and shortly thereafter found himself in the sewer tunnel under the Palace.

A few minutes later, he found himself outside the Palace walls, the Palace high above him on the cliff face.  But Daniel was on familiar ground again: he knew how he could get into the Palace, and instantly started to climb his way up the cliff face to the windows shining out into the night, high above him.  Surely there would be an open window somewhere, and he wouldn’t have to climb all the way to the roof!

And there was, above and to the right, an open window.  Carefully but smoothly he climbed up the wall, swinging himself from handhold to handhold, just like any secret agent would.  He reached the window very quickly indeed, considering how high the cliff was, and how high the walls reached above the cliff, and swung himself inside, behind the curtain, and caught his breath.

He felt like gasping for breath, and his heart hammered in his chest, but he could hear someone talking in the room, on the phone it sounded like, so he worked hard to make no noise at all.  The person’s voice sounded somewhat familiar, and he listened as she spoke: “… yes … no problem at all … he did seem rather the confident sort … oh no, I’m sure he has escaped from that cell now … any moment now I’m sure he’ll be climbing in my window and I’ll be ready …”

Daniel froze.  But only for a second, and then he dove back out the window, and clung grimly to the wall, waiting and straining to hear the rest of the conversation.

“ … just a second …” and, yes, it was Madelina Brompton who pulled the curtains back and looked around while Daniel pushed himself against the wall and tried his hardest to keep out of sight in the shadows.  She let the curtains swing open and went back to the telephone “ … no, no sign of him … he mustn’t be as good as we thought …” and here Daniel grinned to himself in grim glee – at least here he had outwitted her!  Madelina finished her conversation and Daniel heard the door close.  He waited a minute, and then hauled himself back into the room.

Daniel pondered.  What was going on?  How did Madelina know about him?  Did she know about his mission?  Had someone given him away?

But the room was now deserted, and Daniel quickly cracked the door open and looked down the hallway.  It shouldn’t be hard from here to make his way to the Princess’s suite, he thought.  And it wasn’t.  The hallways seemed to be deserted, although he could hear in the distance the sounds of a Grand Ball.

Daniel looked at his clothes regretfully.  They certainly weren’t spick and span now, ready for a Ball, after having clambered through a secret passage, slithered down a sewer, and climbed up a wall.  Despite that, they were surprisingly clean!

Without a lot of trouble, and without being spotted, he found the Princess’s suite, and eased his way in the door.  And there, sitting on a dressing table, visible through the open door of the dressing room, was a hairbrush.  No doubt, the very hairbrush he had been tasked to collect!

He quickly strode across the room, walked into the dressing room, reached for the hairbrush, and felt someone looking at him.  He turned, and there sitting in the corner of the dressing room, was Madelina Brompton!

“Welcome, Daniel!” she said.  Daniel swung around to leave, but someone was now standing in the doorway.  His Spy Master was standing in the doorway.  Daniel’s world was falling.  What was going on?  Now, the young princess arrived in the doorway too!

The Spy Master looked at him.  “Daniel,” he said, “you’ve been too over-confident recently, and we wanted to teach you a little lesson.  You fell for the basic trick of trusting a stranger!  And see where it got you!”

“What I think is funny,” said the princess, “is that you just believed that my hairbrush was magical and could talk!  That’s just crazy!”

“But I can talk!” said her hairbrush.


After the lookout, we made our way to the carpark, deposited our big packs, and immediately started the climb of Mt Amos. We knew we had only 3 hours to get to the top and back, and it certainly was a challenging climb! But we made it! And got back to the car park, only 2 hours and 50 minutes later.

We took lots of photos. Here are some of the best holiday photos (the scenery photos are later):

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Hannah and Dad Trip – Holiday Photos, a set on Flickr.

Then we drove back, stopping in Swansea for fish and chips, and a quick sorbet at Kate’s Berry Farm, before driving all the way back to Hobart, to the telling of another Five Things Story.

Five Things: king, queen, ballerina, diamond, boy
Once upon a time, in the far-off Kingdom of Knott, there lived a kindly King and Queen. They loved their Kingdom, and looked after it, and the pride of their hearts and in fact the pride of the entire Kingdom was the stupendous diamond that was on display in the most important ballroom in their palace!

This diamond sat on a velvet cushion in a glass display case in the ballroom. The King would sometimes lie awake at night, worrying that the diamond might be stolen, but he had protected the diamond as best as he knew how, with the Palace Guards, a secret camera, and even the glass case itself was bulletproof! All would come from far around to gaze upon the magnificence of the diamond. The King and Queen would often stop, on their way to bed, just to admire it!

Now, the Kingdom of Knott (not the Kingdom of Not, nor even of Nott, or Knot, but Knott) was going to have a magnificent celebration. And the highlight of the celebration would be the solo ballet performance by none other than the most famous star of ballet, Madame Tutu! The whole Kingdom waited for the day to arrive.

All but one, that is. Young Jack was not really looking forward to the day to arrive. Jack worked as a servant in the Palace, in the kitchens, and he was the least important person in the whole palace. His usual job was to peel the potatoes for the all the meals and banquets, and to be bossed around by everyone else from the Head Cook on down to the Scullery Maids.

But Jack was also a nice boy and didn’t complain or really even mind that much! All the same, the Grand Banquet on the day of celebration would involve a lot of potatoes so he was dreading that a bit! Of course, the king and queen had no idea that he even existed, because they would never go into the kitchens.

The day before the celebration finally arrived. Madame Tutu arrived, in pomp and state, dressed in resplendent gown and trailing feathers and jewels. She was immediately taken to see the diamond, and it was hard to tell which outshone the other – the ballet dancer, or the jewel! After mutual admiration (if a diamond can admire…) Madame Tutu retired to her suite to prepare for the big day.

Downstairs, Jack peeled potatoes. Lots and lots and lots of potatoes! In fact the pile looked so large, it didn’t seem like he’d ever finish it. But finally, after midnight, he finished peeling the last potato, placing it on the huge pile next to him, ready for cooking, and climbed wearily into his bed, between the scullery door and the potato bin, pulling the old sacks that he used for blankets over his shoulders and instantly falling asleep.

Back upstairs, Madame Tutu’s bed didn’t have any sacks for blankets. No sir! In fact, she had silk, and cushions, and duvets, and a mattress ever so soft and large. But surprisingly enough, Madame Tutu was not in the bed. She was sitting at a table, looking at a large piece of paper. Paper that looked surprisingly like a floor plan. And in fact, it was a floor plan of the palace! What on earth was she up to? And then she picked up an instruction manual for a security camera. Why would she be interested in that?

With a satisfied smile, she placed the manual down on the table, and started to get changed. But not into pyjamas. She put on black tights, black top, and even small black shoes. She put on a black belt with little compartments on it, and a thin black rope looped up on it. She pulled black gloves over her hands, and finally pulled a black mask over her head! What was going on?

Madame Tutu opened her door, and stealthily crept down the stairs, into the servants’ wing, where she slipped past the sleeping boy Jack, and opened the scullery door. A chill breeze blew in and down Jack’s neck, and he woke up and opened one eye lazily. He saw a lady all dressed in black clothes quietly closing the door, and creeping back up the stairs.
Now Jack was curious, so he slipped out of bed and quietly followed her. And saw her stop just outside the grand ballroom, and unhook her rope and toss it over a beam far overhead. Then she quickly climbed up the rope and swung through a window up near the ceiling, into the ballroom itself! Jack could just see her, putting something on top of the security camera in the ballroom, before she swung back down into the ballroom and out of sight.

Jack quickly crept into the ballroom. This lady in black was certainly up to no good! He watched her pull out a diamond saw from her belt and cut a hole in the magnificent diamond’s display case. It may have been bulletproof, but it wasn’t sawproof! She pulled the cut piece of glass away with a sucker, and pulled a small rock out of her belt (her belt had a lot of useful things in it!) The lady (who we know as Madame Tutu) hefted the rock in her hand before gently, ever so gently, passing it through the hole in the display case, and smoothly, but quickly, replacing the diamond with the rock!

She placed the diamond in her belt and then Jack acted. He jumped out, grabbed her rope, and tripped her over with it! All of a sudden, the graceful, lithe lady in black didn’t seem so graceful as she fell over with a thud and uttered a whole lot of very unladylike words! She tried to fight but Jack had surprised her and managed to tie her up. Then he raised the alarm. How did he do that? Well, he just pulled the rock off the diamond’s cushion, and the diamond alarm system went off immediately!
The palace guard came charging in. He knew Jack, of course, and in fact Jack was his nephew. Then he saw the lady in black. Jack told him to look in her belt compartment, so he did, and discovered the diamond! The king and queen came running in, the king in his dressing gown, and with a night cap on, not looking at all like a king, and the queen in her dressing gown and hair rollers, not looking at all like a queen! They stared as the palace guard took off the lady’s mask, and all gasped as they realised it was none other than Madame Tutu! The palace guard told the king and queen that Jack had uncovered the plot, and the king was astonished, and asked Jack what he would like as a reward.

Jack was embarrassed. “Oh I don’t need anything,” he said, “I was just happy to save the diamond!”

“In that case,” replied the king, “I think I will give you a knighthood! But for now, off to bed!”

And with that Jack went back down to his bed, between the scullery door and the potato bin, pulling his sacks over his shoulders and eventually falling asleep again. Madame Tutu was taken down to a cell, where a much more uncomfortable bed than she had been expecting awaited her!

The next morning, Jack told the other servants what had happened, but they laughed at him and told him to go and clean the big pile of dishes. Only moments later, though, a huge stir went through the servants’ hall, as none other than the king made his way down the stairs and asked for Jack! Could it possibly be true? And it was, as the king took him upstairs, where servants fussed over him, and cut his hair, and his fingernails, and scrubbed him until he was pink, and generally pushed and pulled until Jack thought he might prefer scrubbing potatoes! They dressed him in clothes so fine that Jack didn’t know what to say, and was afraid to even look in case he tore or stained them.

Jack was led into the grand ballroom, where all the nobles of the kingdom waited for the ceremony to start. The royal herald stood and announced, “please welcome Madame Tutu, here for her solo ballet performance!” The king leaned over and whispered in his ear. “Um,” said the royal herald, at a loss for words, for once in his life, before he recovered, and said, “Due to unforseen circumstances, we shall be cancelling Madame Tutu’s performance and shall instead have a knighthood ceremony!”

The nobles all looked at each other and started whispering. What could be going on? The king called Jack forward, and in an official and pompous voice, explained: “Last night, Madame Tutu was caught red handed, attempting to steal our most precious and beloved jewel, the Royal Diamond of Knott! Caught red handed, that is, by none other than young Jack here, as he went far above and beyond his duties …” Here he paused and looked at Jack, and whispered, “Ah, what are your normal duties, Jack?”

“Peeling potatoes, Sire,” Jack whispered back.

“Oh… ah,” continued the king, and then decided to leave Jack’s duties unmentioned, “ … and he raised the alarm and rescued our kingdom from certain ignomy and disaster!” As you can tell, the king liked to use big and official sounding words in his speeches. “Thus we have ascertained that we must offer Jack no less than a knighthood for his services to the Kingdom!”

The nobles stood and applauded! Jack stood first on one leg, and then the other, and wished he could disappear into his shoes. But the king took out his sword, and laid it first on one shoulder, and then the other, and proclaimed, “I hereby name you Sir Jack, Most Honourable Knight of Knott!” (Does that sound complicated?)

From that day on, Jack’s life was never the same. In fact, it was much more complicated, even if he did sleep in a more comfortable bed, and occasionally he would think back to his simple life peeling potatoes. But of course, Jack grew up and served the Kingdom as a Knight, and finally ended up marrying the princess. But he never really did like eating potatoes all that much!


Do you want to know what happened to Madame Tutu? Well as I said, the king and queen were kindly, so they decided that her punishment should just be to peel potatoes, for the rest of her life!

I won’t try to relate Hannah’s Five Things stories, as I’d be sure to make mistakes. So perhaps I’ll ask her to write them up and add them to the story!

Scenery photos!

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Hannah and Dad Trip – Scenery, a set on Flickr.

(Edited, 11 Mar, a milliner is a hatmaker, duh)

Rainforest Walk

Once upon a time, there lived a child and a daddy. The child’s name was Hannah.

Daddy said to her, “let’s go to Myrtle Forest”.

“Yes,” said Hannah.  Hannah’s sister Bethany came too.

Daddy saw a ruin.  Hannah wanted to go in the trail to the ruin, but it had a gate in front of it, which meant that you couldn’t go in it.

They saw heaps of ferns and waterfalls.

 They started exploring the waterfalls and ferns.

They saw an old fern stump, and it had little green things growing on top of it, and it was mossy all over!

There was a pretty waterfall on one side of a bridge, and on the other side there was a creek which went under the bridge.

They saw some snow trees, which are trees that are kind of aqua, and if you are far away, they look like they are covered with snow.  Hannah had a small sprig off a snow tree.  She made a wish.  She wished that she could fly.  The wish hasn’t come true yet.

Hannah and Bethany hid in some hiding places.

There were beautiful views and lots of trees and creeks.

Here is a photo of the creek hidden behind the fronds of the ferns.

— The End —

Discovering Old Farm Road

Old Farm Road

Yesterday I discovered a beautiful road climb within a few minutes of the city centre.  I’m amazed I’ve never ridden it before.  Tucked away behind Cascade Brewery is a little road called Old Farm Road that follows Guy Fawkes Rivulet (does anyone know how it got its name?) straight towards the base of Mount Wellington.

The entrance to the climb is unprepossessing, passing the industrial complex of Cascade Brewery.  But tucked away to the left of the complex, Old Farm Rd beckons, first of all gentle rising as it passes a grassy park, ducking through some trees with Mt Wellington glowering above, and then tucking around and over the little rivulet before starting to climb in earnest.

This little road is just one lane wide, and you could be way out in the bush — there’s no sign of the city.  After the bridge over the rivulet, you ride past a few houses before a couple of fantastic hairpin bends that lead into a steep ramp.  Watch it on the descent — you’ll smoke your brakes coming into those corners!

Old Farm Road is also an access road for mountain bikers heading towards some of Hobart’s best tracks.  But this blog post is for skinny tire bikes!

It’s a steep little climb, 1.8km at 9.0%, making it a Category 3 climb in Strava’s estimation.  It has steep ramps, hairpins, a bridge, and is just one lane wide.  I love it!

Old Farm Road
Distance 1.8km
Category 3
Elevation 162m
Gradient 9.0%
Maximum Gradient 22%
Time from city 5 minutes
Traffic low

How to get to the climb: Take Macquarie St, and turn right after Cascade Brewery.

There’s Old Farm Road, off to the left.  Ignore the trucks…

Mt Wellington in the distance as the road narrows to a single lane

A gentle gradient here, but enjoying the scenery too much to smash the climb!

Crossing Guy Fawkes Rivulet!

Now we start climbing.  If it wasn’t for the gum trees, we could be in Europe somewhere.

Steep hairpin bends

22% here we come!

Is that the Old Farm ahead?

Mt Wellington towers over the climb

Just for fun!

This post has been written in the style of my Top Ten Climbs Around Hobart series. Here are some other cycling climbs around Hobart:

Exploring Ridgeway Dam – a story by Bethany, Hannah and Marc

It was a beautiful sunny summer morning as we started off walking down the road and then onto a fire trail.  Bethany and Hannah were rather worried about snakes!  There were quite a few intersections on the bush walk, and at one intersection we took a trail that led us down a really steep hill.  Hannah was very tired.  But then we saw the dam wall looming over us and so we walked closer.

Bethany felt very scared, like the dam was going to fall on top of her at any moment!  

Bethany washed her hands in a trickle running down the dam wall, a trickle coming from a leak from high up on the wall. 

Hannah thought that it was very hot, but we had lots of water with us.

Daddy just took photos.  He didn’t seem scared.  (But was he?)

After spending some time looking at the dam wall, we climbed up a very steep and slippery path beside the dam wall, all the way to the top! 

All of a sudden, we could see the water in the dam and Bethany longed to dive in.

Unfortunately, a big tall fence stopped us, so we walked right around the dam, back up the hill and stopped at Ridgeway Corner for a picnic lunch.  Bethany was very hungry, so she ate her lunch in a matter of seconds.  Hannah had an olive, salami and cucumber roll.  Yum!

Three days of riding fun

After Christmas we took a family holiday up to Launceston and I brought my bike. Unfortunately I slept quite poorly each night but this meant I was up soon after 5am each morning, with beautiful still warm weather beckoning. So I went riding until my family arose from bed 🙂

Day 1 was a solo ride up along Bridgenorth Rd, pushing a little on the hills but not overly much. Took Notley Hills Rd which turned rather unexpectedly into dirt just at the start of the descent! Another rider caught me between Legana and Launceston, and that encouraged me to ride that little bit faster.

Day 2 saw me turning up at a church car park in central Launceston where a group ride was supposed to depart from at 6am. Six other riders turned up and it was, for me, a tough ride: 3 of the riders pulled away from me on the key climb of the road, and I could not take all my turns in the paceline towards the end of the ride. To finish off, I was dropped at a roundabout where I paused a little too long and I was unable to get back into the group. Still, the ride finished soon after that, with the biggest cup of coffee I’ve had in my life.

With a poor night’s sleep again bringing me out of bed at 5am, I decided on the third day to do another, longer solo ride, this time east towards The Sideling, a mountain pass about 40km from Launceston. Again, a beautiful morning, uneventful and empty roads, and a very enjoyable climb up to a lookout on The Sideling, and thence back to Launceston, somewhat faster than on the way out (downhill…) For some silly reason, I finished off by riding up the crazily steep David St, and rolled down to Stillwater for coffee with my family.

Launceston, very early

Start of The Sideling climb

At the lookout on The Sideling, my turning point

Strava: Bridgenorth   6am bunch   The Sideling

Hobart’s Top 10 Climbs, #1: Mt Wellington (Fern Tree – Summit)

Mt Wellington — this view from Mt Rumney.

This is the final post of a series on some of the great road cycling climbs around Hobart. I’ll be posting a recap shortly but this is the final climb I’m planning to write about.  I hope you’ve been enjoying the descriptions and have felt motivated to go and ride all the lesser climbs so far…

Earlier in the series:

When I wrote the first draft of this post, I was sitting down at Salamanca Place enjoying a coffee as the sun burned off the early morning fog. I had the day off work and was going to watch Stage 1 of the Tour of Tasmania, a rather unique Team Time Trial up Mount Wellington. I planned to watch from three quarters of the way up the mountain at the Chalet, 1000m above sea level, at the end of the steepest section of this climb. I was keen to see how many of the teams were still together at this point. Read the full story of the TTT.

It’s pretty much a given that Wellington would be the top climb in my list.  It’s by far the biggest climb and the mountain dominates Hobart.  You really can’t call yourself a mad cyclist in Hobart until you’ve conquered the mountain.

However, no one should ever describe the Wellington climb as easy. Living as I do in the foothills, I’ve ridden up many times, and I still find myself wondering what on earth I’m doing when I’m half way up the steep sections of the climb. In this blog I’ve opted to describe the section between Fern Tree and the summit of Mt Wellington, as there are multiple approaches to Fern Tree that all converge on this 11 kilometre brutal slog.

As with all my longer climbs, I like to break Wellington down into sections; hence the Wellington climb can be split up at the Springs at 720m and the Chalet at 1000m. Each section has a markedly different feel.

The first section is a little deceptive, marked as “only” 6.8% on average. One might wonder then it is so hard to get a tempo rhythm up on this section of the climb. This is because the gradient on this section is actually mostly above 8%, with just the last kilometre at about 4% (which feels flat in comparison). It is characterised by tall forests and cool fern-shaded bends. It finishes at The Springs, a popular picnic area where there also used to be a hotel, before it was destroyed in the 1967 bushfires.

And now is where the pain really starts. The next section is steep with a constant average of about 9% and has a rough road surface which saps your energy with every turn of the pedals. The view to your right is often amazing but it is pretty hard to take it in! This steep stretch of road seems to go on forever, and at each corner you peer hopefully ahead for a glimpse of the Chalet at 1000m, but it’s always a corner or two more than you expect. I take heart when I pass a parking bay – it’s only 1km from there to the Chalet!

After the Chalet, the gradient eases off a bit, and a couple hundred metres later the road surface becomes slightly smoother, a welcome relief. You are now onto the final section of the climb, and having passed the Organ Pipes the road curves onto the plateau, with the summit clearly in view on your left. It’s a beautiful ride across the plateau, but the road is still deceptively steep in places. When I can see the summit, I get a boost in confidence and energy, and find myself going a little faster! Then the last kilometre just hurts: the summit is just there, but it’s such a long kilometre…

Once you make it, hot and sweating, you’ll pause for a minute. Congratulate yourself, it’s a tough climb! I can rarely stay long on the summit: there’s usually a brisk wind and the temperature is cold… The descent is long and cold – put on your full finger gloves and a wind jacket!

You should combine this climb with Longley to Neika, or Strickland Ave, or if you are a masochist, Waterworks Rd, for the full experience! Although you can approach this climb from the city via Huon Rd, this is not a particularly pleasant route due to traffic and I would recommend Strickland Ave over Huon Rd.

Your challenge: ride the mountain 3 times in one day. Nope, I haven’t done it; Cameron Wurf has.

And that’s the end of the series.  Next up will be a recap and summary, just for good measure…

Mt Wellington
Distance 11.2km
Category HC
Elevation 827m
Gradient 7.2%
Maximum Gradient 15%
Time from city 25 minutes
Traffic medium

How to get to the climb: Take the Strickland Ave climb, or the Commando Route to Longley. Turn onto Pillinger Drive in Fern Tree as signposted.

Beautiful morning for a climb up the mountain with Rob

A study in motion on the “easy” part of the climb

Pausing at the lookout just before the Springs

Take in the early morning view South at the Springs

The grind: 9-10% on a rough surface.  Just plug away until you get through it

The road seems to go on forever…

and ever…

Plenty of opportunities for fantastic views and scenery, here from near The Chalet

Onto the plateau.

On the plateau, the summit is in sight, but still nearly 4km away!

Glancing over the edge down to Hobart

Yes, that’s me, at the summit.  Looking altogether too pleased with myself…

Cold, foggy summit.  That’s probably more typical.  Didn’t hang around!

Another day. Bethany conquers the mountain … well, the last 2km anyway!  Still a massive effort!

Hannah and I followed her up

A grand day, Bethany takes in the view with a well earned break

Don’t forget to put the bike down for a moment to climb to the top of the rocks…

Yet another day; Barry descending on Big Bend

Fun bit of road for descending… if it’s dry!

Other posts in this series:

Hobart’s Top 10 Climbs, #2: Waterworks

The dreaded Waterworks climb

This is the ninth post of a series on some of the great road cycling climbs around Hobart. You can be notified of new posts in the series by following me on Twitter.  Until now the climbs have been reasonable, but now it all changes.

Earlier in the series:

I still remember the first time I rode up Waterworks. I forced myself to finish the last few hundred metres without stopping, crawling up in my 40×28 bottom gear on my old steel frame Superlite, and finally saw the road levelling out and the crest of the hill just ahead. The last 50 metres were just torture – surely the climb should be easier now: it’s levelling out. I reached the very top of the climb, with its view over the Ridgeway Reservoir, and collapsed over the handlebars, panting and nearly dead. And then I realised that wasn’t the top – there was still more to come.

Waterworks still rates for me as the hardest climb in Hobart. It is a shorter challenge than Mount Wellington, but so much steeper. The full Waterworks climb is still a 350m ascent over 4.4km. That may not sound too bad until you realise that nearly half of that distance is made up of a level plateau traversing around Ridgeway Reservoir. The maximum gradient is somewhere in the order of 25%, about half way up the first section of the climb, and the road surface is rough, uneven and lumpy, so you have no hope of riding to a tempo. It’s just a tough, tough grind, all the way up.

I now live at the top of Waterworks in Ridgeway, and this means that every night on my way home the climb taunts me – when am I going to try it again? Usually I chicken out and ride up Strickland Ave.  But eventually I forget how just hard the climb is and turn up Waterworks Rd… Now remember that the climb starts at 150m above sea level – the same altitude as the summit of Bonnet Hill. All that ascending before you get to the start of the climb? That’s just a warm up. It’s on nice, smooth tarmac and I’m sure you’ll be thinking, how hard will this climb really be? Then you turn the corner that marks the end of Dynnyrne and the climb, ridiculously steep, opens up before you. I find myself climbing the first straight, in a couple of gears above my bottom gear, and still thinking this isn’t too bad… But the road just keeps getting steeper, and rougher, sucking up all my energy in bumps and ripples. All of a sudden I’m in bottom gear, and frantically pushing that gear lever to find another gear, as the road curves around its two steepest corners. From there to Ridgeway Reservoir is an exercise in mind over agony. Just slog away until you get there. Forget cadence, forget heart rate, they’ll both be silly. Just turn those pedals over and over again.

But once you reach Ridgeway Reservoir, don’t stop: push along on the flat, get your speed back up to and over 30km/h and push around to the next ramp. This is steep but much, much shorter – just slightly too long, with that first climb in your legs, to sprint up…

And now you reach the crunch point: the climb doesn’t finish here, but you could pretend that it does (I do, with the powerful excuse that I’m going home…). But I know you’ll want to conquer the whole climb, and ride to the very top of Chimney Pot Hill. So, turn right, ride a couple hundred metres on the level road (oh blessed relief!), and then turn left up the service road that leads to the Telstra tower at the top. You may have to hop off your bike to negotiate the gate at the base.

This bit of road is enough to make seasoned riders cry. It averages over 10% for another one and a half kilometres.  The surface on this road is pretty broken up, but given that you’ll be slogging along in bottom gear, it probably won’t be a problem for you! The most demoralising moment of this climb is no doubt about 500m from the finish, when the road straightens up for what at that point looks like an impossibly long 400m straight. Just remember, when you get to the end of that straight, you are nearly there!

Again, there are some great views at the top. Not that you’ll be able to see them, as you’ll be too busy wiping sweat out of your eyes and trying to keep yourself from falling over.

The descent of Waterworks would be one of the most technical in Hobart. It is very steep, with badly cambered corners, ripples, potholes, and a rough road surface. Great on a mountain bike but be careful on your road bike! Also beware of gusts on windy days – I’ve been literally blown off the road when I encountered a sudden strong cross wind on the descent. I’ve also overcooked it coming into the first of the two steep bends – the ripples make it very hard to slow down if you get too much speed up! I was lucky – I just explored a ditch for a few moments before somehow, miraculously rolling back onto the road!

If that descent doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, turn left at the bottom of the service road, and follow Chimney Pot Hill Rd to Huon Rd, the gateway to Mt Wellington.

Edit: I forgot the challenge. Just do it. Without stopping.

You have probably already figured which climb the next and final post will be about…

Waterworks and Chimney Pot Hill
Distance 4.4km
Category 2
Elevation 350m
Gradient 7.7%
Maximum Gradient 25%
Time from city 10 minutes
Traffic low

How to get to the climb: From Sandy Bay Rd, turn right on King St, follow it up to Lynton Ave, then turn left onto Waterworks Rd. The climb starts 1km up this road.

It all looks so easy from here, the start of the climb

Rough surface, and the road just gets steeper and steeper

The gradient is deceptive, it doesn’t look as bad as it feels!

You can see Mt Wellington in the distance, near the top of the first half of the climb

The top of the first steep pinch is within your grasp!

Level road, a relief, time for a breather

The road tilts up again, a bit too long to sprint

Turn right here to continue the climb

And turn left up this little sweet road

Your guarantee of a car-free climb

Oof, that’s steep.

Holes in the road give you an excuse to weave!

Another view you won’t be seeing

Does the climb ever end?

The debilitating final straight

Round the corner, another view

Yes, it’s a steep corner

And here’s what you were aiming for!

Other posts in this series:

Hobart’s Top 10 Climbs, #3: Bonnet Hill

Iain climbs Bonnet on casual coffee run Friday

This is the eighth post of a series on some of the great road cycling climbs around Hobart. You can be notified of new posts in the series by following me on Twitter.  What am I doing sitting at the computer when I could be out on one of these climbs?

Earlier in the series:

There is little doubt in my mind that Bonnet Hill is the most popular climb in Hobart. Bonnet Hill lies on the Channel Highway between Hobart and Kingston, just south of Taroona, and is the usual commuting route for most riders from Kingston. It is also very popular in bunch rides. In this blog, I’ll look at both the Northern and the Southern approaches.

Bonnet Hill is not a difficult climb, although the Southern approach is somewhat steeper and longer than the Northern side.

The defining landmark of the Northern approach is the 150 year old Shot Tower, for a time the tallest building in the southern hemisphere. The builder of the Shot Tower practiced by making a small tower on his house first, before constructing the full tower — all without any formal learning on how to do it. The Shot Tower slides into view shortly after leaving the last houses of Taroona behind. There is some dissension on where the climb “officially” starts for competitive purposes, but most riders I know mark the start when they pass the southern end of the Taroona Hotel.

The road winds about before reaching the Shot Tower — this is the “hardest” bit of the climb, and still not hard. Soon after passing the Shot Tower you’ll come across a neglected bike lane — it’s fine on a mountain bike but if you are on thin road tyres you’ll probably prefer to stick to the car lane. From there it’s an easy climb to the summit. Unless you are trying to do it at 30 km/h!

The Southern approach starts with a steep 14% pinch called “Golf Course Corner”. It doesn’t last long, but it does take the wind out of your sails! From there, the climb continues at a much more reasonable gradient, with some great views over Storm Bay on your right. It is a little harder than the Northern approach, but it’s still not a huge climb.

I find that both sides of the climb can be done without much difficulty in the big ring, with an average gradient of less than 5% in both cases. Being a popular climb, there are lots of riders competing for KOM honours; check the Strava links below to see if the medal is within your reach!

The only issue with this climb is that there can be a fair amount of traffic at some times of day. There are no overtaking zones on either side of the hill, and the road is quite narrow. However, as the speed limit is 60 km/h, and there are plenty of places with enough visibility to safely pass, this does not typically pose a big problem; a little courtesy and awareness go a long way.  There have been noises about constructing proper bike lanes on the hill, but no traction so far.

Your challenge for this climb: I’ll give you two achievable options: ride both sides in the big ring, or ride the Taroona side no hands.

Next up, my bête noire

Bonnet Hill (North)
Distance 2.4km
Category 4
Elevation 100m
Gradient 4.2%
Maximum Gradient 7%
Time from city 20 minutes
Traffic medium-high

How to get to the climb: Follow Sandy Bay Road south through Taroona.

Bonnet Hill (South)
Distance 3.1km
Category 4
Elevation 153m
Gradient 4.9%
Maximum Gradient 15%
Time from city 35 minutes
Traffic medium-high

How to get to the climb: Ride the Northern approach, then down the Southern side…

The lower slopes of Bonnet hill are worth smiling about

Just before the Shot Tower

I counted something like 12 bicycle warning signs on Bonnet Hill

The shot tower comes into view

Beware of buses and cars towing boats

Ancient culverts and retaining walls

The bike lane on Bonnet hill

Lots of cyclists on Bonnet Hill

Getting near the top

The top is in sight

Many stop at the top to ‘discuss’ their exploits

Descending on the Kingston side

The 15% Golf Course Corner is the start of the Kingston approach

Golf Course Corner

Rob on Bonnet Hill (Kingston side)

Bonnet Hill

More riders out on the climb

The final ‘straight’ has its own segment on Strava

Other posts in this series: