B: Since we sold the car easily and made our money back, we decided to take one last trip down to the rugged terrain of Tasmania. We originally thought to take Maggie across on the ferry, and then come back to Melbourne to sell her, but it actually turned out to be cheaper to fly and rent a vehicle. We hired a campervan for 11 days (since we secretly had van-envy while driving around in our station wagon) complete with sink, fridge, bed, and stove.
The adventure started in Launceston where we visited the beautiful Cataract Gorge and strolled around the quaint city center. The next day was filled with short drives and quick stops to gourmet food producers. We indulged in raspberries and strawberries of all form (jam, sauce, muffin, wine), freshly-made cheese from a dairy farm, sustainably-farmed salmon and ginseng, and honey straight from the hive.
In the afternoon, we stopped by Trowunna Wildlife Park for the 3pm feeding of the Tasmanian Devils. We couldn’t come to Tassie without seeing the Devil and this place delivered! There were dozens of Devils scattered across different enclosures. They’re a bit bigger than I imagined and their bite sure can pack a punch. They apply the same pressure per square inch as a saltwater crocodile! The trainer brought over fresh meat and held onto the leg of it so we could see more Devils come out to feed, otherwise the first one would just grab it and drag it back into his hole. They’re quite solitary animals and it’s virtually impossible to see one in the wild because they’re so elusive. At this park, they also had wombats, kangaroos, and echidnas (another animal we’d yet to see). One wombat was feeling particularly social and we got to hold it. The stocky creature is closely related to a koala and feels like holding a real-life teddy bear! There were also bird enclosures for those healing from injuries. I couldn’t get enough of watching the funny little Devil though!
G: Our next stop was to Cradle Mountain, one of the most famous hikes in Tasmania because of its sharp, craggy peaks. The weather was perfect (a rarity in Tassie) as we hiked up to Marion’s Lookout over Dove Lake. This is also where the famous Overland Track begins, which takes 6 days to complete. Afterwards, we drove up to Ulverstone on the central north coast for the night.
The next day, we enjoyed the rocky coastal scenery along the northern edge of Tassie while driving through the towns of Penguin, Burnie, and Wynyard. Blake spoiled himself with a whiskey tasting in Burnie at Hellyers Road since I was driving.
B: The slightly-peated blend has a deliciously smoky finish! 😉
G: The distances were so short that we decided to press onwards to Arthur River on the west coast. There’s a point called the “Edge of the World” where wind whips through across the cold expanse of ocean moving north from Antarctica. While gazing westward, one becomes intrigued with the thought that there is nothing but ocean from here to South America. We camped on the west coast after watching brave wind-surfers in the frigid water.
B: Moving back east, we stopped in Stanley to tackle The Nut. This huge boulder-like plateau rises above the sea on a peninsula that offers wonderful 360˚ views on a clear day. The rest of the day was spent driving southeast across the island, but fortunately through beautiful scenery and World Heritage listed forests. We rolled into Lake St. Clair with just enough time to do a short walk up the lake to platypus point, but unfortunately didn’t spot any platypuses (platypi?).
The next morning we rolled over to Mt. Field National Park to check out Russell Falls and few other waterfalls on a beautiful day-hike. Being only a couple hours to Hobart, we headed over to the capital city and drove up to Mt. Wellington in the late afternoon. The view from the top was stunning as the weather was clear and sunny. We thought about doing another walk around to the Organ Pipes, but it was getting late and we were feeling tired.
G: The main attraction in Hobart is the MONA (Museum of Old and New Art), which showcases a collection of antiquities, modern and contemporary art of Tasmania’s millionaire David Walsh. Rows of grape vines lined the drive way in, and a short walk to the top opened up to cafe, as well as the local Moorilla Winery and Moo Brew Brewery on site. As you walk up to the entrance, sculptures and installations invite you to walk around and take in the surrounding landscape of the peninsula. Inside, the building itself is like an interactive installation with an endless winding staircase three flights down to a cave-like labyrinth, amidst dim lighting. It was easy to feel lost or to wonder what was waiting for you around the corner. Nevertheless, it was spectacular. At the bottom, the very classy Void Bar sits against a gorgeous slab of earthen wall. In the hallway, guests sit on art deco inspired furniture while sipping spirits – absinthe was suggested as a way to start the tour. 😉 Welcome to MONA!
There were no labels on the wall like in typical museum. Instead, we had iPods with GPS to detect which art piece you were near, which you could then click on to find out more about the artist or artwork, including videos and/or audio interviews. The exhibitions were brilliant, from Wim Delvoye’s Cloaca Professional, a machine which turns food into excrement, Zhang Huan’s “Berlin Buddha” consisting of 8 tons of incense ash collected from temples around Shanghai, as well as Balint Zasko’s small scale figurative water-color and ink paintings, which depict mythological and/or dream-like states of figures interacting with nature and technology. It was like a playground, weaving through sub-floors filled with television sets, or walking into a 40-foot upside-down boat set up to watch a film on two spheres. I LOVE ART! I love having the opportunity to question life and its meaning through creative means and esoteric experience!
In the afternoon, we drove into Hobart to explore the very European Salamanca Place full of art markets and cafes, as well as Battery Point, one of the first neighborhoods in Hobart.
B: When we left the next day, we headed south down the Port Arthur peninsula through Dunalley. The typical tourist stops were made at the Blowhole, Devil’s Kitchen, and Fossil Bay, but the highlight was the walk to Waterfall Bay. I’m not sure why it’s called this, since there aren’t any waterfalls along the way, but it sure was beautiful. We also passed through the hilarious Doo Town, where everyone had some “doo” iteration sign on their lawn.
Moving back north brought us to Freycinet National Park and Wineglass Bay. We had read that the eastern beaches are gorgeous and boy did they deliver! Perfect white sand lay between stoic rocky outcrops and beaming blue water. We camped for the night at Friendly Beach, which was aptly named for us. As we struggled to find a spot on the campgrounds, a friendly French couple offered to move their van over a bit so we could fit two. The next morning, as we walked along the rocks on the beach, we saw the French man fishing near the water. We chatted with him briefly and discovered he’d already caught three fish and was excited about how great the catch was here. As we were talking, he caught a fourth and offered it to us! He quickly reeled in the line, pulled the fish from the hook, snapped its neck in one quick motion, drained the blood, and handed it over to us. Freshly caught Tasmanian salmon! That night I learned how to clean and fillet a fish for our delicious Valentine’s Day dinner!
G: We spent the rest of the day driving through the hills and up to St. Marys, where, despite overcast and rainy weather on the coast, it was warm and sunny. We indulged in wholesome treats from the Purple Possum Wholefoods and Café while relaxing in their backyard garden.
Further up the east coast, we came to Binalong Bay. The beach was, again, gorgeous and we couldn’t get enough. A short drive up from there is the Bay of Fires, a scenic coastal drive with flaming red rocks. The red color is from a particular type of algae and is a stunning contrast to the white beaches and blue water. Despite this color though, that’s not why it’s called Bay of Fires. Apparently, early Europeans used to see many Aboriginal fires along the coast here, and that’s where it got its name.
B: Our last little hike took us to Columba Falls, the highest waterfall in the state. On the way back to Launceston we made a slight detour to Legerwood to see the wood carvings in the Memorial Park. I’ve never seen anything like it. Apparently, in 1918, nine trees were planted as a memorial to those who were killed in WWI from Legerwood. In 2001, the trees were declared to be dangerous due to their size. The locals were distraught to think that Memorial Ave would be destroyed, so instead they raised money to hire a chainsaw carver to create each stump into a likeness for whom each tree was planted. In 2006, the carvings were completed and a ceremony was held to unveil them. Truly remarkable!
All in all, Tasmania is a beautiful island. We packed in lots of activities and saw lots of amazing natural wonders. Living in a campervan was also lots of fun. It’s your entire house on wheels! You can never forget to bring anything because it’s always with you. Groceries get unloaded into the pantry from the parking lot of the store. If you’re hungry for lunch…pull over! Even though space was tight, the sink was small, and our kitchen/living room/bedroom/dining room was only about 40 sq ft, we loved every minute of it! It definitely gave us a taste of what we’d like to do when we retire. That is…if we ever get jobs! 😉