Tasmania has been on the pages of my mind for some time before this trip, so when I had yet another flight back to New Zealand to see my boyfriend I decided we should go together and experience a new place.
I will be honest, in the coming days before this trip I had my doubts. With Christmas around the corner and only being back in New Zealand a week I was actually dreading traveling again this year. After last month with over fourteen flights I was rather looking forward to staying put awhile. But with tickets non-refundable we decided to just run away and do it.
We rented a tiny economy car for the ten days because we are on a small budget and we figured camping around would work out fine. We landed early in the morning and started our day exploring Hobart, a really nice little city. Geoff and I love visiting museums and trying some local food spots so we spent the day doing that. We also wanted to plan our week out because we were very unprepared with no plans.
Unfortunately Tasmania has a brutal history with it’s first aboriginals so we were disappointed to see that nothing had it’s original aboriginal name as an apology. When the europeans landed on the island they mass slaughtered all the aboriginals, many having a bounty attached to them. The ones that did survive were casted to an island when starvation was the final result of their demise. A cruel and embarrassing history.
The Tasmanian Tiger has also been among the extinct with the last one dying in captivity some eighty years ago. Over hunting was a result along with farmers blaming sheep killings on this marsupial. It is a huge loss for this planet, it was an incredible little animal.
We spent our first night on Mt. Wellington, and we were treated to the most insane sunset and the most incredible sunrise. Being close to dead with exhaustion we slept in the tiny car which actually was surprisingly comfortable (or maybe we were too tired to care!). This is where I saw my first Wallaby and I was so excited! Little did I know I would see about a thousand more in the coming week.
We headed to the mountains soon after arriving, the city isn’t really our thing. We really wanted to plan out a proper multi-day hike and got some fantastic recommendations from a local outdoor shop. From photography books we saw in the shops the first day there was a range I really wanted to visit, little did we know it wasn’t as easy as a little overnight hike…
Out of the entire month of drought we arrived on the only week of straight rain. I wasn’t too bothered, we found some local forests to explore wildlife and waterfalls. Mount Field National Park was a nice spot. Some beautiful falls along with the Styx protected Gum forest kept us busy in the rain. The Styx was a bit sad however because it showed the intensive logging industry destruction and what it could have been. Maybe a few dozen old growth trees remained and they were incredible, over 80m tall and 400 years old. Such a treat to have any of these exquisite old hardwoods left at all.
Soon after we went to tackle a mountain range in the South West. We drove out to the trail-head lightly unprepared, not knowing the distance to the lake or how many days to prepare for. The drive out was also two hours on gravel roads which also was unexpected and I worried about the rental car. We had all the proper equipment just a little bit blind on the difficulty of the hike. As we left for the track we met a trail guide and he said ‘It’s about a two days walk into that Range.’ Okay wow. We brushed off that information thinking we could do it in less, but had enough food for four nights just in case. The first 11km was rain and mud and bog. Not just a little mud on the soles, full mud up to the thighs in places. I really wish I could have taken some photos to prove my point but it was too much effort in the rain. We had gators on, but it was pointless as water from the stream crossings and mud had easily invaded into our boots. Geoff had five friendly leaches feeding on him that left him the most swollen bites. Luckily I was wearing pants and had no visitors.
As the day drew on we continued in the rain up the first mountain. We were very cold and exhausted as we kept climbing trying as best we could to make it to camp. Finally we arrived and set up camp as the rain really started to pour down on us, just in time.
The morning brought clear skies and we slept in for some time. When we finally packed up it was almost noon. We started climbing again, painfully aware of the long day ahead. We didn’t have to battle with the bog but we did have a monstrous amount of elevation to take on. The Arthur Ridge is no so much a ridge but a serious of mountains to climb up and down. As the day drew near to an end I was beginning to lose hope that we would never find the spot we were after. One final push of effort and we came to a beautiful lake, not the lake we wanted but I was ready to settle for this gem. Almost dead at this point and really starting to fret at the thought of not succeeding our goal I made it to the top of yet another ridge to find the unexpected.
The amount of life in these mountains was astonishing. I was actually feeling so relieved this place was a mission to find because that will protect the unique flora and fauna from being tramped over by heavy foot traffic. So many frogs, lizards bugs and plants made their home here and each plant was the most delicate thing you ever did see. If you were to step on it, it would be gone for years before establishing again.
Peering over the ridge was the picture in our heads. The one the locals told us we could find here. We had succeeded! We decided to shoot sunset before gaining camp. We had the most incredible sunset and sunrise by incredible luck. Later we discovered how rare that was, usually its raining for weeks in the Arthur Ranges.
Our final day out was a mega push. Geoff was getting sore knees from the weight on is back and my legs were turning to Jelly. It was a hot day too as the Australian sun claimed our noses. Finally we made it out through the bog, feeling like an endless path. Sore, wet and exhausted we drove away from that magical wild place, one of the only places I've been (with the exception of places in Canada) where the landscape was almost completely untouched.
We headed to Cradle Mountain next as our friend Rachel Stewart was arriving form New Zealand to join us. We booked a little campsite that night and I have to say I really love holiday parks! They have showers and a kitchen and you don’t have to sleep in a tiny car but an actual tent site. I like cooking dinner with all sorts of other travelers around and swapping stories.
Cradle Mountain was so stunning! We really wanted to do the Overland track however it was completely booked out. I have heard incredible things about that hike and have no doubt it would have been as fun as our South-West hike. Cradle Mountain also has so many hikes and easy access which makes it a bit less daunting. There is also massive amount of wildlife.
We climbed the small mountain for sunrise and unfortunately got clouded out. We waited for the sun to break through for a semi-good shot. It was too bad the sunrise was a flop because the view from here is incredibel, and a short hour walk up.
We spend our final days at Freycinet National park to hopefully climb to wineglass bay lookout. We had a great couple days chilling at little beaches and meeting a few locals and when it came time to climb up to the lookout at 4am I actually couldn’t do it. Failed myself as a photographer! It turns out the sky was grey all morning and I didn’t miss anything amazing which meant the sleep-in was guilt free.
As headed home I thought about how I was hesitant to travel and felt a bit doleful. My job has made travel work to me and it has lost some of it’s luster. This trip was a personal one and it brought back the joy and reason why I travel in the first place. It was so nice not having any pressures as we explored this new exciting place discovering all the reasons why it was different from home. It is a truly unique and brilliant place to visit with animals and plants found no where else in the world.