Just when you think Tasmania doesn’t get any better…
The Midlands of Tasmania is home to several historic towns and villages with lots of old architecture and interesting relics of bygone times for visitors to get immersed in. It also marks the western end of one of Tassie’s favourite roads for local sportsbike riders. That is a big call considering the high standard of riding roads on the Apple Isle, but when a local resident described the run as “59kms of pure racetrack”, we had no reason to dispute his claim after having tested it for ourselves. While it is not quite as scenic as some of the routes we have covered in the southern most Australian state, it certainly rated highly on the fun factor scale.
The western end of this route begins at Campbell Town on the Midlands Highway and runs pretty much due east for 59kms to the Tasman Highway on the coast.
The fun starts straight away with a nice set of corners heading uphill as you put the highway behind you. The excellent bitumen surface continues as you wind your way down the other side of the hill via a series of sweeping bends through the trees and scrub which offer a different type of scenery to some of the other rides we have done over on the west coast . A turn off on the left is well signposted for Lake Leake and runs all the way up to the lake’s edge. Although the access road to the lake is unsealed, it is well maintained dirt for its short 3.4km length and easily managed on any type of roadbike. The Lake Leake Inn located near the end of the road is a classic looking old building with over 100 years of history and it is a good place to wet your whistle while you take a break.
Beyond Lake Leake the road keeps heading east with more brilliant corners on the same smooth tar surface as it tracks towards the coast, winding its way through the Wye River State Reserve and offering more of the pleasant soft tree lined landscape that continues across to the Douglas-Apsley National Park in the north-east. The striking sight of a brilliant blue ocean eventually appears on the horizon above the Freycinet Peninsula as you finally intersect the Tasman Highway, marking the end of this particular route but not necessarily the fun. A left turn here takes you up the highway to Bicheno, while a right leads you 10kms down the road to Swansea, which has plenty of services on offer for a comfort stop or refuel.
There are many good riding roads in Tasmania and plenty have more tight and twisty cornering sections than the Lake Leake Road, but for open sweeping turns with great visibility on an almost racetrack-quality surface, you can’t go past this awesome route between the Midlands and the east coast of Tasmania.
There are plenty of fuel outlets in both Campbell Town and Swansea.
The Barkmill Bakery in Swansea has good budget food options for breakfast and lunch, and also has a tavern and museum under the same roof. The tavern is licensed and serves wood-fired pizza if you like something a bit more substantial for lunch.
If you prefer to stay on the coast the Bicheno East Coast Holiday Park offer camping and reasonably priced cabins, and is central to food outlets and other attractions in town.
The Bicheno Motorcycle Museum has a reasonably well stocked workshop and should be your first stop if you are in mechanical trouble. Andrew, who runs the museum, is very generous and always ready to help fellow riders out. Call Andrew on (03) 6375 1485 or 0419 883 736.
Lake Leake Inn – 320 Lake Leake Road, Lake Leake. (03) 6381 1329
Camping at Lake Leake – small fee payable and supplies available at the hotel
Caltex servo – 85 High Street, Campbell Town. (03) 6381 1066
Swansea Service Centre<b> – 36 Franklin Street, Swansea (03) 6257 8104
Red Bridge Café & Providores – 137 High Street, Campbell Town
Barkmill Baker – 96 Tasman Highway, Swansea. (03) 6257 8094
Lake Leake Inn – 320 Lake Road, Lake Leake Road (03) 6381 1329 or lakeleakeinn.com.au
Things to do
Campbell Town itself has some interesting places to visit. From the Red Bridge Café you can take a short stroll around the small lake to see the historic bridge, and several intricate wooden carvings.
Lake Leake is popular for fishing and also has a picnic area with toilets if you just need a comfort stop. Camping is available on the shores of the lake while the hotel just up the road offers comfortable rooms, great meals, and a welcoming bar. The hotel also provides fishing gear for hire and basic camping supplies.
The Barkmill Bakery at Swansea has a museum attached that features 19th century Australian artifacts, as well as a working steam-driven engine.
Just to the east of Lake Leake you will find dirt roads heading off to the south and north. These roads are well maintained dirt and gravel roads suitable for adventure bikes. McKays Road heads north past the lake and out towards the Old Coach Road from where you can access the eastern part of Douglas-Apsley National Park. There are some great tracks and scenery throughout this area with plenty of options for camping within the park. The Old Coach Road is a great detour to just get off the Tasman Hwy for a while and enjoy a bit of bush solitude that doesn’t take you too far out of your way.
Words & Photography Tim Munro