Journals #54 and #55: Tasmania
Cover Photo: “Onto the Next One”
Killer Animals Spotted: 0 (although if you saw how aggressively Wallabies cross the road, I may be able to convince you that they are quite lethal)
In today’s journal I’m going to try and do the impossible: Combine two very fully days into a single journey entry. Why did this happen you ask?
Well, basically I finished my day on Sunday (24th) at 8pm and then decided that the following day I wanted to drive to the North side of the Island and visit Cradle Mountain. Since this is a 9-hour roundtrip from Hobart- I ended up going to bed at 9pm, only to getup again at 4am to start the trip. So thus, no blog post yesterday ☹
Anyways- on Sunday I did a boat tour of the Tasman Peninsula in the morning and a tour of a Tasmanian Devil Sanctuary in the afternoon.
The boat tour of the Tasman Peninsula was awesome: the Peninsula is a large area south of Tasmania full of massive sea cliffs (the largest in the Southern Hemisphere according to our guide) and sea caves. Here’s a few pictures:
The one thing worth noting about this tour is that since there is no land between the Tasman Peninsula and Antarctica, the area is not only cold but also quite rough. The sea waves are massive and being on the little tiny motorboat is like being on a big rollercoaster (despite I must say the excellent efforts of our skipper, who was expertly guiding us between waves). I’ve never had any issues with sea sickness, but at the suggestion of the first mate, I took some ginger pills before we left the dock and boy was I glad: at least 8 people on our 23 person boat threw up at one point or another- including two people who were just permanently camped out over a bucket.
So that was the super fun (at least for some of us) morning- in the afternoon, I headed over to a Tasmanian Devil Sanctuary on the Southern Peninsula. Currently Tasmanian Devils are nearly extinct due to a cancer epidemic that’s spread quite rapidly over the last 10 years. Essentially, it appears in the genes of certain Devils and then is transmitted through biting (Tas Devils often eat together, so biting is quite common).
What they’ve done to combat the cancer is to quarantine and breed Devil’s that do not have the cancer, while the infected devils are left in the wild to die out. This Sanctuary is one location where the healthy devils are being kept- here’s one of them:
In addition to the Devil’s, the Sanctuary was also taking care of a couple other animals. I realized I’ve never posted a photo of a Kangaroo (I saw a bunch of them in the outback but never up close) so here’s one I spotted there:
Finally- they had quite a few birds at the Sanctuary. Here’s a beautiful Tasmanian bird called the “Eastern Rosella”:
So that was Sunday. Monday (today) as I mentioned, I got up early to drive out to Cradle Mountain on the North side of the Island. To put this drive in perspective, here’s the distance I covered:
The reason I felt I needed to drive this far is because of the sheer number of people who told me to visit Cradle Mountain, which won me over.
Cradle Mountain is actually a large National Park and holds several of the largest Mountains in Tasmania. It’s actually a very well run park- I parked at the visitor’s center and then caught a free shuttle that took me right to the trail I wanted to do (there are four main trailheads, which then have multiple sub-trails you can take).
As you readers no doubt know from my previous blogs, I like to climb mountains, so I chose the a mountain track that would give me a great view of both Dove Lake (the famous lake in the area) and the actual “Cradle Mountain.”
I’m not sure what the mountain I climbed was called (I can’t find the track on the website), but I would guess it was roughly 4500 feet, as it was quite difficult and only slightly lower than Cradle Mountain (which is 5000 feet).
The track was initially a paved trail, but quickly changed into straight rock and became extremely windy: I was actually knocked over 3 times on the way up and twice on the way down (despite using my tripod as an improvised walking stick)!
All that said- it was an awesome climb at just over 2 hours from bottom to summit, and it marks (more than likely) my last real hike of this trip. Normally I don’t put myself in the photos, but to celebrate I took today’s selfie cover photo from the top of this nameless mountain (that’s Cradle Mountain the background with Dove Lake below it)! After that I did the most famous track in the park-which is called the “Dove Lake Circuit” and takes roughly two hours. It’s a cool track- I didn’t find it particularly interesting, but it was nice to not have to fight against wind and shifting rocks for bit ☺!
After that, I packed up and headed back to Hobart. In all, I did just shy of 6 hours of hiking with roughly 8 hours of driving- not terrible, but also not ideal. Next time I visit Taz (or “Tazzy” as the locals call it), I will likely stay in the Northern city of Launceston, since it is closer to some of the more scenic areas of Tasmania.
Tomorrow begins the winding down of the trip: I head back to Sydney for 2 nights, before heading back to Auckland for a few days. I’ve got a few fun things planned in both cities and also some things I want to wrap-up, so stay tuned for the final few blog posts!