Sitting at my Melbourne desk whilst drowning in essays, I remember escaping to google images to find release in my prospective travels. But, alas, beyond the utopian beaches upon my screen I was forced to confront the constraints of Real Life.
Without the time or money to travel around Western Australia or Northern Territory, I finally narrowed down my options to holiday-favourite Queensland, or the somewhat underdog destination that is Tasmania. The tropical weather, endless beaches, and wild parties of the former seemed to make the decision a no-brainer. Yet amongst my Tasmanian housemates, I heard whispers of amazing hikes, haunted penitentiaries, and hyper-contemporary art museums. It was too tempting to pass up. I could not help but wonder if I would regret taking the less mainstream option, if Tasmania would prove far less fascinating than it did in my mind.
Yet looking back, aside from a spell of terrible weather, spending two weeks in Tasmania was the best decision I could have made. It was a sanctuary of wildlife and beauty, so much so that before I knew it, I had jumped on the Instagram bandwagon, never to look back.
In terms of travel, the flight from Melbourne to Launceston was perhaps the shortest I´ve ever taken. In no time at all I was on a Scottish-lookalike landscape, with clouds of all colour and character. Upon landing, my Tasmanian friend guided me in a ten-minute walk from the city into the lush Launceston gorge that was not only gorgeous but featured the longest chairlift in the world, a very old-timey bridge, and swarms of peacocks in heat (peacocks cocky enough to block our path in favour of some bird-on-bird action!). There was also a surprising amount of things to do in Launceston, ranging from swimming (of both pool and gorge variety), to back in the city where there were quaint Victorian parks which housed surprising chimps in small zoos, and quiet, unassuming fountains.
In and around the capital, Hobart, more impressive but perhaps less quirky surprises were in store. A short bus ride from the city left me on Mt Wellington, the mistiest, piniest mountain this side of Oz. My hiking trail (courtesy of Lonely Planet Walks) was definitely more complex than the described medium-to-easy five hour walk, because (surprise!) it was entirely uphill and a bit of a slippery nightmare. I recommend, perhaps obviously, proper soles and layers to wear at the top, to ease what was a somewhat painful hike. However, the views of Hobart Bay from the top are spectacular. Blisters come and go but the memory of the waters shining under a sea of clouds is here to stay.
A ten minute drive from Hobart to the sleepy town of Kettering takes one to a ferry that is FREE for walkers and bikers to the overlooked Bruny Island. My Hobart friend and I chose to take a car as our time was scarce, and so we joked about doing ‘Blockies’ on Bruny, a trashy Tassie custom of driving around city blocks for fun. Amidst such gaiety we managed to do some easy hiking and came across a multitude of wallabies, only to reach the ocean and find the floor littered with a thousand starfish. “Surprise!” yelled Nature, once again.
An hour and a half drive from Hobart took us to Tahune ‘Treetop Airwalk’ in which we walked two-hundred feet above the ground in a canopy of redwood look-alikes. The view from the top certainly rewarded us for putting up with all the brats jumping around the fragile structure. Indeed, Hobart is a city of amusing juxtapositions: one can breathe the cleanest air in the world and live next to a Chinese takeaway, all in one. It seems to me that the uniqueness of Hobart is the way that such natural marvels exist within arms’ reach of the city.
Having explored Hobart and its surroundings, my plan was to make my way up into the seemingly postcard-perfect Wineglass Bay, some 200 kilometers away. Without a driving license, I relied on buses, but they proved scarcely reliable (*spoilers ahead*) leaving one to be likely stranded. Triabunna was the first stop, in order to take the miniature ferry to Maria Island. Named after the wife of Van Diemen, it once hosted a short-lived colony and is now a nature reserve, ripe with wild geese in heat (birds in heat, everywhere).
The walks are easy enough, and clearly delineated to hike without maps or guides, and the island can be seen in a day. As is the nature of such islands, upon my return to Triabunna, I found that the bus would not come for two days. Thus I was left alone in this small wasteland, my own Tassie Groundhog Day. On the upside, I hitchhiked my way to the nearby Orford beach. It was spectacular, empty, and quiet, with views over Maria, and so my Queensland craving for beach was satisfied. So despite missing the Wineglass Bay, having pretty terrible weather for most of the trip, and getting stranded in godforsaken Triabunna, I feel my itinerary gave me a well-rounded experience of the diverse nature so present and particular to Tasmania.