Cycle Tasmania, Road Ride, Pirates Bay
A feature-packed short ride around and above the dramatic Pirates Bay coastline, branching out from both ends of the Eaglehawk Neck isthmus. The route can be broken into a pair of shorter rides if you fancy a couple of lazy days in the saddle.
Good sealed roads with steady climbs (and descents) either side of the flat Eaglehawk Neck isthmus.
Holiday and weekend traffic on the Arthur Highway can be thick, though time spent on the highway is short...and quick, thanks to the tearaway downhill. The side roads that make up the bulk of the ride see an un- troubling amount of tourist traffic.
Eaglehawk Neck is around 75 kilometres from Hobart along the Tasman and Arthur Highways. Tassielink’s Hobart-Port Arthur bus service stops at Eaglehawk Neck.
Food and Drink
At the southern end of the Eaglehawk Neck isthmus, a couple of hundred metres from the ride, Eaglehawk Neck Café and Guesthouse has lingering breakfasts, decent game burgers at lunch and fantastic iced chocolates.
In Doo Town, continue straight ahead instead of turning towards Tasmans Arch and it’s a 600-metre ride out to the Blowhole, which fires into action in high seas
North of the Isthmus
The ride begins at the Officers Quarters, a military station set up on the Eaglehawk Neck isthmus to prevent prisoners escaping from Port Arthur; all that remains today on the grassy reserve are a few wooden buildings. It’s a gentle climb out from the Officers’ Quarters to the Lufra Hotel and the car park for the curious Tessellated Pavement, a rock shelf cut into unnaturally perfect squares - if you’ve brought a bike lock it’s about a 10-minute walk to the pavement.
Past the hotel the road dips through a couple of gullies then begins a sustained climb to the Tasman National Park Lookout - the climb isn’t steep but it is constant for about 2.5 kilometres. The lookout offers a heady view over the treetops to Pirates Bay and Cape Hauy, with its sea stacks lined up like matrioshka dolls - tucked around the corner is the famous Totem Pole, scene of so many epic rock-climbing photos.
The rocky headland you can see at the southern tip of Pirates Bay is your next destination. Just beyond the lookout, Pirates Bay Drive meets the Arthur Highway. Turn left, where it’s a freefall back to Eaglehawk Neck, the thread of sand that was once one of the world’s most effective prison ‘walls’. The statue of a guard dog at its centre marks the point where 18 dogs stood in a line across the 30-metre-wide isthmus to prevent convicts escaping the peninsula.
South of the Isthmus
Cross the isthmus and turn immediately left onto Blowhole Road. At Penzance, little penguins shuffle ashore each night, and if it seems quirky to have a place named Penzance on Pirates Bay, wait until you hit Doo Town.
In this shack-filled village, almost every home is named to a theme: Doo Mee, Love-Me-Doo, Doo-N-Time. The ride’s steepest climb is reserved for the end as the road nips shortly and sharply up to Tasmans Arch, a collapsed sea cave with a high and wide opening to the sea. There’s a short walk out to a similar feature at Devil’s Kitchen. Return through Doo Town and along the bay, recrossing the isthmus to the Officers’ Quarters.
16.133 km / 10.024 mi
407 m / 1,337 ft
408 m / 1,339 ft
195 m / 641 ft