May 6, 2016
The final section of our Australian adventure is here: six days driving on the left (wrong) side of the road on rugged Tasmania. Our road trip started in Hobart and we took a strange zig-zag drive all over the island, which, we were told, was not normally how people explore the area. We spent our first day roaming the giant ground of Port Arthur on the peninsula, then headed up to Mount Wellington and out to Western Tasmania, the most rural part of the island. We clipped the northern part of Franklin Gordon Wild Rivers National Park, which aside from the few short trails on its outer edges, can only be explored by backpacking in, charter plane or river cruise. The wilderness continued into Cradle Mountain National Park where mist left us in an ethereal hiking journey to Dove Lake, Lake Lila and Wombat Pool (we actually saw a wombat in the wild!). Most of Cradle Mountain's famous features (including its namesake peak) were obscured by fog, but the rocky terrain and grassland were still a beautiful sight.
We kept on heading north to Stanley to climb the brief but extremely steep trail up The Nut, a jutting plateau/peninsula sticking out of the side of the town. The Mole Creek caves were next on our list so we hit the road again, this time heading south to the more central part of the island. Mole Creek is the only cave system in Australia open to the public where visitors can see glow worms--as well as venomous cave spiders and cave crickets, which we encountered and freaked out about (somewhat related: I stepped on a huntsman spider in our hotel room and came very close to sleeping in the car).
Keeping on track with our zig-zag, we ventured into Freycinet National Park to see the famous Wineglass bay, though overcast skies kept the picturesque blue waters a dull gray. Friendly Beaches was an area I did not intend to spend hours exploring, but its lichen-covered boulders and soothing white-sand beaches lured me into a trance while husband napped in the car (it's OK, he did most of the driving). Speaking of lichen, Bay of Fires also provided hours of boulder-hopping fun and sights of vibrantly blue water (none of these photos have been enhanced for saturation. Both the digital frames and the various types of film I brought captured the colors amazingly).
We ended our road trip in Launceston, spending half a day relaxing in a pub before our flight back to Sydney. All in all, Tassie was much more than I expected it to be. Each section of this tiny island (it's one-quarter the size of Utah, has eight national parks and nearly a third is Unesco protected) is an entirely different ecosystem. We came across dense wilderness; rolling green hills; dry, Napa-esque valleys; barren rocky terrain; grassland; jagged cliffs and sandy beaches. I'm surprised that more people don't get out to Tasmania. Though the sights of the mainland are amazing, spending the bulk of our time on this little southern island was well worth it.
Dog shows are weird.
Photos from the Pink Lady Food Photography Awards will make you drool.
This risque woodsman is now a symbol for self confidence.