When we saw that the Lonely Planet Guide introduced Tasmania with ‘wine, wilderness and wonderful food’, we knew immediately that it was our sort of place.
We started with the ‘Discover Tasmania Coast to Coast’ route, which was a recommended 14-21 days self-drive itinerary but the recommended 1500km soon became nearly 3000km for us. We loved getting off the highways and taking the C-class roads, exploring what we found.
For us, the wilderness was breath-taking, providing such a contrast to the over-regulated world in most western countries. We hiked most days, either on an isolated beach or working our way through the ‘60 Best Short Walks in Tasmania’ – we notched up ten without too much effort. But of course, January is peak holiday season in Australia and many Australians were escaping the summer heat in Tasmania too but we found plenty of wilderness.
Tasmania is famous for its food and wine and of course we sampled it in abundance. But we also travelled lightly and simply, often lunching on a banana and cereal bar. We declined the stodgy, high-carbohydrate diet that many Australians crave.
After four lovely days in Strahan, heart of the Western Wilderness, we travelled 300km back east to Hobart in about five hours. The first part of the journey to Lake St Clair was stunningly spectacular, through World Heritage Area in the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park. We explored the Franklin River Nature Trail, a short, easy walk along the banks of the Franklin through cool temperate rain forest, highlighting the natural beauty in the heart of this wild river wilderness. Next, we stopped for coffee at Lake St Clair, Australia’s deepest natural water lake, stretching more than 17km through World Heritage Area. As we drove from Lake St Clair to New Norfolk, we marvelled at the contrasts on this amazing island – we were back in rich farming country, with rolling hills and beef cattle in abundance everywhere. We stopped for tea in a quaint village and were rewarded with a pot of real tea, such a delight. New Norfolk was a bit over-hyped as to its historic buildings but it was pretty. Soon we were back in Hobart, where we returned the hire car, spending the night at an airport hotel with an early flight back to Melbourne.
We arrived at Melbourne Airport at 1000AM, checking in to our airport hotel for one night then took the shuttle into the city for the day. It was Sunday and we joined locals on the Southbank and had a leisurely lunch, did some shopping, and returned to our airport hotel ahead of our 6.30am flight to New Zealand.
We had both long wanted to explore Tasmania and we shall now treasure our memories, with a wonderful week in Melbourne being an added-bonus. New Zealand’s North Island promises to be another adventure, with our story to be continued in the next blog.