Cycle Tasmania, Road Ride, Tamar River Loop
A popular training ride for Launceston roadies, looping out north from the city and mixing highways with quiet riverside roads as it follows the Tamar River to Batman Bridge, before rolling through low hills on its return to the city.
A flat run along the western banks of the Tamar River followed by a hillier return on the eastern side, set back from the river. The sealed roads are generally in good condition.
Expect to be among cars most of the day. Traffic can be busy on the West and East Tamar Highways, though the roads are wide, while the B73 across Batman Bridge sees a lot of truck traffic.
The ride starts and ends at the edge of Launceston’s city centre. To reach the start, simply follow York Street a few hundred metres out from the centre. To reach the city from Seaport, turn into St John Street, opposite the complex, and follow this into town.
Food and Drink
The Tamar’s west bank has the better eating options. A one-kilometre detour at the Gravelly Beach Road turning brings you to the Exeter Bakery, one of the best bakehouses in northern Tasmania. By the river in Gravelly Beach, Koukla’s Cafe has Mediterranean food and coffee. On the return leg, there’s the licensed Windermere Corner Store.
Entering Legana, pay a visit to the cellar door at Velo Wines, where the owner and winemaker is two-time Tour de France cyclist Michael Wilson.
Tamar West Bank
The ride heads out of town on the West Tamar Highway (which generally has a wide verge), crossing the South Esk River, where there’s a view deep into the rocky teeth of Cataract Gorge. As you leave the suburbs, at around the eight-kilometre mark, the clump of trees in the middle of the river is the wetlands of Tamar Island - the wetlands interpretation centre is right beside the highway. The ride rolls on north through the burgeoning town of Legana, the traffic thinning with each kilometre.
At the bottom of the hill outside Legana, turn off the highway and get more personal with the river by turning onto Rosevears Drive, which runs hard against the river’s edge, pinched between wineries and water. Along the way there’s a monument marking the site where the cutter Rebecca was built - this was the boat in which John Batman sailed across Bass Strait in 1835 to found Melbourne. The return to the highway is mercifully short before Gravelly Beach Road makes a rapid-fire descent back to the river - Gravelly Beach itself has neither gravel nor a beach. The road meanders quietly through strung-out Deviot (where there is a tiny beach) and up onto Batman Bridge.
Tamar East Bank
Across the bridge the ride immediately changes flavour, entering rural lands and heading inland, away from the river. Expect trucks and grazing cattle for company to the East Tamar Highway, where the road widens. This highway is very much the business end of the ride: less scenic, more hills, more direct. With luck there’ll be a northerly blowing at your back. For sustenance there are fruit farms - strawberries, cherries, apples - near the road through Hillwood and Mt Direction. At Dilston the road briefly touches down beside the Tamar, though the road offers no more than a glimpse.
Past George Town Road the highway swoops back down onto the Tamar floodplain, following the river upstream into the city, though it’s worth turning off onto the University Trail bike path for a quieter finish. The ride ends at Seaport, on the south bank of the North Esk River, where there’s a selection of cafes and restaurants to help celebrate the end of the ride.
74.009 km / 45.987 mi
727 m / 2,387 ft
733 m / 2,406 ft
152 m / 497 ft