This finally is my report of my one week travel around and through Tasmania. Lean back, grab some cookies, it could last a while.
After being more or less lost at Hobart, not knowing what exactly I should do, I met a guy on Facebook who wanted to rent a car and explore the island during the next days.Weorganized some things and started on Monday, 14.01.13.
After I equipped myself with a brand new sleeping bag – hey, I was new to OZ-camping that trip – and buying some basic food at Hobart’s Woolworths, we were ready to start.Our first Stop was New Norfolk, one of Tasmania’s first colonies. As I had been there before and Felix did not find anything interesting, we turned around quite quickly and took our way to Tasmania’s South-East. The next stop should be Port Arthur, if not this day, then in the morning of the second travel day. Luckily, all the bushfires in the Port Arthur area were already extinguished. On our way to the historical site, we passed by a lot of areas which had been totally burnt by the recent fires. It was strange to see all the burnt trees, road signs and even cars and houses, where only the chimneys were left. It smelled like fire everywhere – a bizarre scenario.
As we didn’t have that much of a strict timetable, we more or less strolled around and stopped here and there, where ever we wanted to. This way, we saw many places, you won’t find in your travel guides: lonely beaches with heaps of crabs running around, amazing coastal areas with parking spots next to the water and even an area to rest for the night next to the ocean – sundown and stars included. Do I have to mention that having breakfast with that view is really, really … good?!
The Micra did not only do a good job during the day, it provided good sleep as well and so we were able to start our day at Port Arthur fully recharged with heaps of energy. We bought the “bronze” entrance pass which allowed us to take place at the first tour of the day and afterwards a small cruise as well. The girl leading the tour was really enthusiastic about her job, explaining tourists more or less like us, what Port Arthur had been in the past and what happened there during its active days. She did a good job and after exploring the remaining parts of the area on our own, we were ready to continue our drive to the east coast.
The next point on our list should be the famous “Wineglass Bay” – one of the world’s ten best beaches – if you rely on some web pages. It’s located at the Freycinet National Park which we reached amongst others by driving a 60km gravel road. 60km of gravel in a Micra: The little man’s 4 wheel fun JBTW: Right hand driving is not as hard as you might think it could be. The Micra being an automatic car took some work from me and I got used to doing the things the other way around very fast. So don’t be afraid, just try! If you accidentally take the wrong side of the road, no worries, most certainly you will be alone there anyway J
Arriving at the National Park we first were gifted a free park ticked for the next 20 hours. Some visitors left after being there only a couple of hours – good for our small budget. Thank you again! Arriving at the parking space, we were welcomed by some wallabies which really were interested in our food. They seemed to be very used to humans and so we were able to take some nice pictures with those two handsome guys before got prepared for our walk to the Wineglass Bay lookout and from there to the beach as well. We had made the decision to have our dinner at the beach and thus packed some food and drinks and started walking. The lookout provided an amazing view over Wineglass Bay and made us want to go there even more.
Arriving at the beach, we recognized that we were absolutely alone – besides one Wallaby looking at us from a bit of distance and one being very curious of what we were doing. The curious one turned out to be really photogenic and so we could not only have our dinner at an amazing looking beach, we also could share it with one of those sweet and handsome animals. What a beautiful evening!
Just before sunset we went up to the lookout again and after taking some last views at the beach, we went back to the car park to find a place to sleep for the night. And we found – who would be surprised by that – an absolutely great one. Next to the ocean it allowed me to shoot the following picture. Could it be better?
The next morning we had to hurry a bit. We had some big plans made for the day: First we wanted to go to the bay of fires, afterwards take a road near the north coast to … and from there down to Launceston. As the next day’s aim was to take a longer walk at Cradle Mountain, we wanted to get there or at least next to the mountain as well and so we had some kilometres to go. But this shall not sound as if we did not have the chance to enjoy the beauty of the island again. The bay of fires – which is not called like that because of the red spotted stones, as I thought before – turned out as another amazing white beach area with kilometres of white sandy coastline and lots of rocks to “climb” over. For some reason we were more or less alone in this area and so we were able to enjoy the area in a more or less postcard-like way:
After passing by some smaller targets at Tasmania’s north coast, we arrived at Launceston in the early noon of Wednesday. Felix knew an area there, called “The Gorge” which should provide some nice walks along a river, a public pool and free showers as well (not that unimportant if you are living in a car…). And so it did. We had shopped some food earlier and decided to have a walk along the river up to an old power station before seating down to eat it – in the middle of the river. Not only did we like the area that much, we also thought that it is great to have a recreational area like that more or less in the middle of a city.
After recharging our body batteries, we got on our way in the direction of the Cradle Mountain. The first 100kms weren’t a big problem, as we had to get along the highway, but from there on – and we had to go for another 100kms at least – we faced a big problem, when you drive your car at night: Australian suicide animals. They – mostly Wallabies, but sometimes Wombats and other guys as well – sit next to the street and just before you are next to them, they jump right in front of your car. It’s not that they are standing there already when you come along, they jump straight into your way. I have no idea why – Australia is not that bad J – but they do, so you have to be extremely careful when driving especially after sunset. We continued our journey at around 50km/h and with full attention until we reached a lookout which should be our place for the night:
Thursday started very foggy, so when we arrived at the foot of the mountain, we prepared for a not that warm day: long pants, fleece, no sunscreen. One hour after leaving the parking place and taking our way up the mountain, we were happy having brought our swim pants: The fog disappeared and took most of the clouds with him. Problem: still no sunscreen. I got a bit lobsterish that day…
The first meters up to the mountain were more like a warm-up for what came later: only light ascends, well prepared way, nothing special. But the farer we went, the harder it got. We had to climb huge roots in the forest and rough rocks with only a securing chain. But we were rewarded with views like these:
Our way crossed the famous „Overland Track“and the way to Cradle Mountain’s summit at the “Kitchen Hut“. We met a sportsman who told us, that he made his way up and down again in 40 minutes. We decided to do things a bit slower and after a couple of minutes on a prepared walkway, we saw that this was a good decision. From there on to the summit, we had to climb – and climbing actually involved continuously using our arms – huge rocks. It was as fun as it was exhausting – the foggy day had turned into a more than 30 degrees hot day without any cloud. When we reached the top of the mountain, we were rewarded with the good feeling of having made it and this view. Amazing!
We continued our day with a cosy climb down again and a relaxing walk along the Overland Track back to the car park – of course not without dipping into one of (fricking cold) the lakes.
The next morning I dropped Felix of at Launceston’s airport and returned our Micra at the CBD. These 5 days honestly were the best of my whole Australia trip so far. I can only encourage you to do two things: The first one is to go to Tasmania (or Tassie as we pros say :D). It is a wonderful island with lots of different things to see and do. The second thing is to rent / buy / however get a car and explore as much on your own as you can. You will be so much more flexible and see so many more places than if you are on a bus or a planned tour. It’s absolutely worth it. And it’s not that expensive as well. We payed ~250$ each for the 5 days including everything (rent, gas, food, fees).