Apples and oranges (that's a bad Tasmania pun...)

11/12/2015 07:16:00 pm

For a brief moment in time, we thought about moving to Tasmania. Mainly because there are penguins in Tasmania. But also the nature! The moderate climate! The apples! The house prices are so low! But.. the wages match the house prices...Well, it's a great place to visit, at any rate.

The Friendly Beaches were not so friendly as a storm whipped up the spray and the sand. There was a very friendly wallaby in the car park though!

Although the Antarctic breezes mean that a jacket is required year-round, the walking is great no matter what the season. You just need to pack accordingly and assume that on any given day, it will snow. 

As a side note, over the weekend I was with old friends and we were laughing about my discovery that the best way to keep Rob happy on holiday is to ensure an abundance of beer and outdoor activities. I remember being about 7 or 8 (I think) at the Warrumbungles with the same group of friends, and Deb MacPherson had to almost push me up the hill. I was like a donkey who'd had enough, except that 'enough' for me was the first step I took on the walk. Who would have thought, 20 years later, that I would go walking by choice, and actually enjoy it? (Answer: no one who has met me, ever.)

Times have changed... I think Jenny is wearing overalls. 
Poor, long suffering Toby....

Anyhoo, my first trip to Tasmania was only in 2008, when Jenny and I walked the Overland Track, from Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair. That was my introduction to multi-day walking as well, so I needed to slip my toes gently into the water. I freely admit that I don't function very well when I'm dirty, and I absolutely refuse to poop in a hole in the ground, so we paid a premium to do the walk with Cradle Mountain Huts. It was so, so worth the money to have a hot shower and a three course meal each night, whilst only carrying a 9kg pack.

It's substantially more expensive now than it was in 2008, but if you're keen on walking and can't stand being miserable and wet for 6 days straight (with 6 days' worth of supplies and emergency equipment on your back), just suck it up and pay. I did optional parts of the walk that I would have otherwise skipped (like the side track to an old abandoned mine which involved occasionally being thigh-deep in mud) because I knew there was a drying room and nice warm bed at the end of each day's walk.

The climb - Ducane Gap 1070m (actually I think the climb itself is only about 200m). That day we walked through sunshine, rain and snow. In October. 

You can see and read more about the walk here, if you like.

In the past few years we've made two more trips to the Apple Isle because it's not far (but it's far enough), and it's the same currency, and it's really, really beautiful. It's also great for a short break because the island itself is so compact, meaning you can visit lots of places, even with limited time.

I've given up on seeing any famous sights, anywhere in the world, on day with clear weather. Tasmania is no exception. At least in the mist and cloud Wineglass Bay was very moody and evocative, if not quite the sparkling blue dish I'd seen on postcards. 

Although it's feasible to do a whole-island tour in a little under a week, I like to focus on a smallish section each time, because the national parks are so extensive that you can stick to a single region and still do lots of walking. There is a great booklet/app produced by Tasmania Parks and Wildlife, 60 Great Short Walks. In four days, we did four of the east coast walks, and had the weather been better, or had we not gone kayaking, we could have done at least one more. 

Australian Traveller rates kayaking on Coles Bay as #54 on its list of 100 things to do before you die. I feel that might be overstating it a little, but it certainly is a nice paddle. 

The Wineglass Bay and Hazards Beach Circuit is the path less travelled that follows on from the famous viewpoint for Wineglass Bay. It's a decent day walk (4-5 hours - took us closer to 5 because of dicey weather) and the tour bus crowd don't seem to venture beyond the lookout. Past the lookout, the track drops quickly down on to the shores of the Bay itself and then continues on to Hazards Beach. They say that you can stop for a swim at Hazards Beach, but the day was so miserable that we found shelter in the trees instead, and broke out the Thermos. 

As light rain fell, and the water gently swooshed back and forth, the unmistakeable sound of an engine cut through our peace, and through the mist and low cloud emerged a sea plane.

I can barely tell where the sea ends and the sky begins. Definitely not a VFR day...

The path climbs back up, and continues around the saddle. Exposed completely to the elements, with the cliff face and the raging ocean on our left, the granite boulders that make the path slick with rain, I was reminded once more that Tasmanians and New Zealanders grade their walking difficulty very differently to the rest of the world. The system where you write your name in a little book at the start of a walk, with your anticipated finish time, so that the rangers can come and find you if it all goes pear-shaped, started to make a lot of sense.

The scale doesn't really come across in photos; these cliffs are majestic, and enormous!!
Coles Bay is such an impressive sight (more so when the clouds lift)!

And when the clouds do lift, you get a great view of the Hazards from the window of Tombolo Freycinet Cafe. 

Accommodation inside Freycinet National Park is either super expensive, or campsites (although I think there are a few options in Coles Bay). You can stay in Swansea or Bicheno instead; the National Park is about a 40 minute drive from either.

Swansea sits on the gentle shores of Great Oyster Bay and has a couple of great restaurants.

Great Oyster Bay
In Swansea, we stayed at Meredith Mews and I discovered the wonder of baked porridge. In my experience, you simply cannot go wrong with accommodation that has resident West Highland Terriers with their own series of commemorative post cards. The owners were talking about selling when we were there in 2014 though, so who knows if Dougal and his other white fluffy friend ,whose name I cannot recall, are still there.


Bicheno has penguins, a blowhole, orange lichen, and a good bakery. It's quite close to the Douglas-Apsley National Park, where there is another of the Great Short Walks. But really, go there for the penguins.

Beautiful Bicheno - with glassy blue sea and firey orange lichen. It is stunning. And there are penguins. I mentioned that, right?
The road from Swansea to Coles Bay passes Great Oyster Bay, and there's a little lookout with enough space for three cars or one set of Europeans driving a Maui van. I think we must've stopped there 3 times so I could take pictures, because it's so nice. 
Love, Bicheno style.

I'd like to walk the Three Capes Track next year, before it gets too popular. Perhaps if I don't get the chance though, one of you, dear readers, can go in my stead having been convinced that Tasmania is where you should go next?

We shall see.

You Might Also Like

0 comments on this post

Leave a know you want to...