Cycle Tasmania, Sightseeing Ride, Pancakes & Passes
A beautiful coastal ride becomes more challenging as it climbs through tall forest to Elephant Pass and returns to the granite-rimmed coast beyond easier St Marys Pass. It’s a good training ride, or simply an excuse for a well-earned pancake.
Good sealed roads with small climbs along the coast leading to a 400-metre ascent to Elephant Pass.
Surprisingly quiet (outside of holiday times) given that this coast is one of Tasmania’s major tourist runs. The coastal highway is busier, but also wider, than the twisting, narrow roads over the two passes.
The lookout at Four Mile Creek is around 45 kilometres north of Bicheno, and 30 kilometres south of St Helens, on the Tasman Highway. If coming by bus, start the ride in St Mary’s, where Calows Coaches stops on its St Helens services to/from Launceston and Hobart.
Food and Drink
Mt Elephant Pancake Barn has savoury and sweet pancakes, coffee and an obsession with elephants (right down to a selection of elephant-themed children’s books).
If there’s been recent rain, allow a few minutes at St Marys Pass to wander out to Gray Mares Tail, a waterfall that seeps out of the forest and down a narrow chute of rock.
Highway The beauty of this slice of coast is apparent immediately as you leave the lookout car park, with the white beach at Four Mile Creek ending in lichen-coated lines of granite. The road skirts behind the holiday settlement at Four Mile Creek and crosses Ironhouse Point. On the point is the IronHouse Brewery; its ales and lagers can be sampled at the attached, White Sands Resort restaurant, though the climb back out to the highway may have you questioning the wisdom of a beer stop.
It’s a gentle rollercoaster run south, with the open Tasman Sea laid out below you on a road that saves its best for last - at the 12 kilometre mark the highway rises to a small spur with a wonderful view along Lagoons Beach, before swooping in behind the sandy strip - there’s beach access through the camping area at the base of the descent.
The inland A4 coils through the hills, starting as a steady climb then ramping up rudely at around the 20 kilometre mark - after climbing 150 metres in the first four kilometres, the road suddenly lurches up 90 metres in a kilometre. The gradient soon eases again as the How the other half live at Four Mile Creek road cuts through pasture towards the pass - the sound of your hard breathing here might be replaced by the chatter of parrots. The final sting in the climb should be soothed by the presence of the Mt Elephant Pancake Barn atop the 410-metre pass. If you’re wondering about the name, Mt Elephant to the north takes on the vague outline of a pachyderm when viewed from the Fingal Valley on the approach to St Marys.
St Marys Pass
There’s little chance ahead to work off any pancakes, with the road beginning its lovely, flowing descent to St Marys just over a kilometre past the restaurant. The climb back out of St Marys to its namesake pass is a gentle one, rising just 50 metres across 3.4 kilometres. From St Marys Pass you can just about put your feet up, leaving the rest of the work to your braking hands as the road unravels its way back down to the coast, offering glimpses of the sandy shores to the north as it goes.
47.165 km / 29.307 mi
890 m / 2,918 ft
891 m / 2,922 ft
414 m / 1,360 ft