Note: I’ve added the last of my Tasmania pictures to the album, “Australia: Tastes of Tasmania” and am working on captioning all the pictures there.
- Thursday, 24 Feb: Up at 8am; cooked breakfast and got out of the camping area by 10:30am; Joan did Mt. Amos walk while Jordi and I lazed at the van; drove to east coast to see a lighthouse; drove up to Apsley State Park and did a walk to the gorge, swimming in fresh, cold water; drove to St. Helen’s in the rainy dusk, passing the town and finding a campsite to hunker down at, heating up instant soups for dinner.
- Friday, 25 Feb: Up at 7:30am and fed and clothed and leaving by 9:30am; headed for the Bay of Fires and started the day with a beautiful meander around the Gardens lookout, which sported powder-white sand and gorgeous cerulean waters, boulders and orange algae; next stop was Cozy Corner campsite, which we’d heard mentioned several times; this led us to the beach area there, where we spent over an hour each wandering our own ways; I clambered over rocks, waded in crystal clear waters and daydreamed; then drove to another hiking point, but I only did a short walk before reading and taking a nap; took free hot showers in St. Helen’s; drove to Columba Falls, short twenty minute walk through rainforest; drove to Scotsdale and parked in free campervan lot; loud party nearby, shrieking karaoke.
- Saturday, 26 Feb: Drove to Launceston, found info center and library; internet for an hour (bought Melb-Syd ticket!) and then back to van to find a parking ticket (we hadn’t paid the meter); went to Cataract Gorge and hiked around; Jordie went swimmning, Joan and I had a cafe snack and wandered around; paid parking ticket, went grocery shopping, headed for Cradle Mountain; once there, did three quick hikes: Pencil Pine and Knyvet Falls, King Billy Walk and Enchanged Walk; parked near the tavern; had a drink and played trivia; eventually drove to visitor’s center and parked there for the night.
- Sunday, 27 Feb: Got up, fed ourselves, made lunches and took off for the free Cradle Mountain shuttle; condescending lady ranger advised against doing the summit hike; Jordie got off one stop early, which Joan and I discovered when we got off at the Dove Lake stop; decided to hike to Marion’s Lookout since clouds ringed Cradle summit; from there, hiked to summit and back; then did part of Face Track, skinny-dipped in Lake Willis; and did part of the Dove Lake walk back to the car park; met Jordie back at the van; decided to drive to Queenstown, where we parked in front of a church, cooked dinner and slept.
- Monday, 28 Feb: Drove to Lake St. Claire, stopping at Nelson Falls and the Gordon River suspension bridge on the way; hiked with Joan along the Larmairremener tabelti, an Aboriginal culture walk, as well as Platypus Bay (didn’t see any) before stopping to sun, read and eat lunch on a small beach; walked back to van to relax.
- Tuesday, 1 Mar: Drizzling when we woke up; drove to Wild Things Wildlife Sanctuary but it was closed; then to Hobart; went up to the top of Mt. Wellington, where it was snowing; halfway down, some gorgeous views; cleaned the campervan, dropped everyone off at their hostels and drove up to Sorrel to return it; went to library, internetted, got a ride to the airport; easy flight to Sydney; met Maya at the airport and stayed at her place.
For the past eight days, I’ve been motoring around Tasmania and taking in its landscapes, critters and beaches. It’s been an amazing time! The most awe-inspiring place for me was the Bay of Fires, where the beach behind Cozy Corner campsite made my jaw drop and my eyes tear up: Pure white sand beach with crystal clear waters crashing upon it in energy-filled waves. Huge smoothed boulders covered with fiery orange algae provided a place to scramble and seat oneself to better take in the paradise-blue waters. The sky was blue and the air was cool but not cold. And all around was silent save the wind, the waves and the birds. It was all so close, so accessible, that you couldn’t help but feel that you were in a dream. Seriously, it made my heart skip a few beats.
Cradle Mountain was pretty incredible as well, and while the ascent to its summit was slightly terrifying, since there was no path except for the occasionally placed pole as you clambered up the tumbledown boulders wedged one against the other, the three hundred sixty degree views at the top were well worth the fear and effort. Especially pleasing, for me, was Dove Lake, which glistened in the sun invitingly. Even so, it was Willis Lake that I swam in, and with no bathing suit in my bag it meant going in as nature intended. Luckily, no other hikers were about, so I enjoyed the freezing waters in all my glory. Nothing quite so refreshing and revitalizing after a hard day’s treck!
A few things really struck me as I traveled the highways from place to place. First, the amount of road kill was astounding. Now and then we’d see a wombat waddling across the road or into the bushes, or spot a wallaby or near-cousin bouncing along, but for the most part, the animals we saw were dead on the roadside. It was incredibly sad. While Tasmania exudes a wild and untouched feel, this display of human destruction is fairly saddening.
Second, the landscapes as you drive really do exude that wild Australian feel. Before I got to Tasmania, I could not have told you what I expected; however, driving through the mountains and along scrub-lined highways, I felt that it was exactly as I’d thought. It just felt rough and untamed and the landscape was full of dry trees, scrub bushes, fern-like shrubs and wind-blown grasses. Every time I took in the scenery going by, I felt satisfied and fulfilled with the Tasmanian aura. Yes, I actually thought to myself, This is feels Tasmanian, exactly how anyone who’s never seen it would expect.
Third, it’s a real pleasure to travel via campervan, although difficult when everyone is from a different country, has been traveling on their own for a long time and is fiercely independent. Jordie, Joan and I managed to get along, although on our last day, Jordie wouldn’t speak to either of us for a long while, for reasons we couldn’t quite fathom. Perhaps it was just a bad day, but I took his stubborn silence to be displeasure at me insisting upon visiting a wildlife sanctuary that he wasn’t interested in seeing. It was closed, to my disappointment, meaning that I didn’t see a Tasmanian Devil, something I really hoped to see while I was here. In any case, the three of us continued to clash in small ways during the entire eight days, although for the most part we remained on speaking and joking terms. I suppose you can’t be bosom buddies with everyone you meet and travel with, but I wish that we’d all been able to communicate a bit better and make the trip a little easier. I do hope to try campervan travel again during my travels, or perhaps once I’m back in the United States. It’s nice to feel self-contained and sufficient, to be able to sleep or cook anywhere you can drive. And it sure did wonders for the budget! I figure that for my time in Tasmania, including two nights in a hostel in Hobart, I spent about $40 AUD per day, which includes absolutely everything: food, lodging, transportation (rental and gas), activities, internet time and drinks.
My small Taste of Tasmania tour was, ultimately, a success. I really got a feel for the island and could certainly see coming back. If that does happen, I can guarantee that I’ll be renting a campervan again!