Road tripping in Tasmania

One sports car, two weeks and three race tracks.

For as long as I can remember, Tasmania has been referred to as Australia’s driving Mecca. Amazing roads complimented by incredible scenery – a literal heaven for any car or motorcycle enthusiast.

I had previously joked to my friend Pat, a Hobart resident, how I could simply “pop down for a visit” after a motorsport competition in Goulburn. Jokes soon turned to reality when I investigated the tickets for the Spirit of Tasmania (a cruise ship which can also transport vehicles) and discovered it was relatively well priced. After an hour of deliberation, I went ahead and booked the trip.

I’ve owned my Toyota MR2 for nearly six years, restoring it from a bare shell. I have, of course, installed several upgrades over the years such as a supercharged V6 from a TRD Aurion, bigger brakes and competition suspension. On a road trip of this proportion preparation was key, so I made sure to pack a wide array of hand tools, electrical equipment, fluids and spare parts. With the car packed and a set of slicks strapped to the roof, I made my way to Goulburn.

After competing at Wakefield Park, I made my way to Melbourne where I boarded the Spirit of Tasmania. Driving down the loading ramps into the bottom of the hull, the crew played Tetris with cars to maximise space. Once parked, it was a flurry of activity as everyone grabs their belongings – once the boat sets sail, access to the cars is restricted. Onboard there was no shortage of entertainment. Activities include games rooms, live music, a bar and a movie theatre! I was also delighted to see a huge buffet dinner following my circa 10-hour drive from Goulburn.

Arriving in Devonport, I made my way to Hobart where Pat and I started our drive up the east coast. Great scenery greeted us at every turn and there was plenty of wineries, restaurants and fantastic accommodation along the way. I simply found that three days driving the coast weren’t enough!

Being a car lover, ‘the sideling’ from Targa Tasmania was a must drive. It was a truly incredible driving road complimented by stunning scenery. Emerging from the rainforest I witnessed just a small portion of Tasmania’s incredible mountain ranges. We made sure to fuel up along the way as some of the service stations weren’t open late and didn’t stock premium fuels such as 98 octane or E85.

There were simply too many great driving roads to choose, every T junction gave us two options for our next adventure, with each choice more difficult than the last. Being a keen racer, I was dying to tackle some of the race tracks for a small fee. My day at Symmons Plains cost only $80 in entry fees and I was the only car on the track. After 200km’s and a few hours on the track I was exhausted. I had only stopped to refuel and allow a family of ducks to cross the track.

I finished off my trip with some laps of Baskerville Speedway before returning to the Spirit of Tasmania. My time in Tasmania simply wasn’t long enough, there is so much to see and do that six days didn’t cover it. On the upside I had a few thousand kilometres to get home and plan my next adventure.

To summarise; Is driving a fully loaded sports car the best vehicle for a road trip? Probably not. The ride was a little harsh, fuel economy was average, and a fixed back race seat isn’t ideal. Despite these points I had an awesome time covering some 7,000kms. No matter your drive or ride, the trip is what you make it. 

Photos and story by Eric Manderson

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