Australia

A Wild Corner That's Worth the Visit

A small triangular island south of Melbourne, Tasmania floats in the Southern Ocean with Antarctic winds bringing slightly chilly weather for most of the year. The island's shape has lead some Australians to cheekily refer to a part of the female anatomy as her “map of Tasmania”, but otherwise few people talk about this distant corner of the country. Rich in natural beauty and wrapped in a hint of wild, Tasmania is a must-see destination for all outdoor buffs, thanks to its range of with pristine national parks that can only be explored by foot. Dense rainforests with huge ferns as tall as trees will amaze you and make you think of the land time forgot! The weather can be a little off-putting for sun-seekers, particularly from May to December. While this may not be a part of Australia blessed with sunshine, though, the coastline is still one of the most beautiful in the country.

My tour of Tassie began in its capital, Hobart, a nice city set alongside a harbour. This is a major port for ships going to Antarctica, so it's nice to stroll around the harbour to see what ships are in - you might even see the famed Sea Shepherd while docked in between its whale saving missions. On Saturdays the Salamanca markets have a great assortment of crafts, clothing and produce, while there are a number of high quality restaurants that take advantage of the local food of the region to serve up tasty treats all week long. The Cascade Brewery also runs tours and offers beer tastings, which is an easy an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon. 

Wineglass Bay - One of the best

Outside of the city, plenty of stunning scenery awaits in all directions. Though the best way to get around this small island is to drive, there are a lot of twists and turns here and, unfortunately, there is a high rate of wildlife killed on its roads. It’s not really the nicest way to see your first wombat, so take care if you’re driving. On the plus side, there is a seemingly endless number of parks to visit, the most famous of which is Cradle Mountain-Lake St Claire National Park. There is a six-day overland track that is very popular with hikers, but there are many shorter day hikes as well. A particular highlight is to take a walk at night for some wildlife spotting; most animals are more active at night so it’s your best chance of seeing a Tasmanian Devil and other local creatures in their natural surroundings.

Another natural highlight is Freycinet National Park, home to the famous Wineglass Bay that is frequently voted one of Australia’s most beautiful beaches. It’s a pure white stretch of sand curving around in the shape of a wineglass. Camping is allowed in certain areas and it is as close to nature as you can get. Even the friendly wallabies will come and check out your campsite. The important thing to know when camping is to be self-sufficient as amenities - including fresh water - are not provided.

If you make your way all the way to Tassie, you might as well make the most of it and go visit the southernmost point in Australia which, in typical Tassie style, is isolated and wild. After driving as far south as possible you’ll come to the town of Cockle Creek and its booming a population of three people. There is a lovely wind-swept beach with a whale statue standing as a reminder of the town’s former days as a hub of whaling. There was obviously a lot more hustle and bustle there once with timber felling being another major industry in days gone by, but these days you won’t find many people to interrupt a quiet stroll along the coast. To get to the real southern most point you’ll have to walk along the beginning of the South Coast Track, a week long trek in total from Cockle Creek to Melaleuca, an even more isolated place that you can only fly, walk or sail out of. Along the track you can look out over the ocean and imagine Antarctica resting just over the horizon. We just walked for a few hours to get a glimpse of the ocean; real hikers will have to come seriously prepared for this extremely isolated and weather-beaten hike. Don't worry, though; not all nature spots in Tassie are just for the intrepid! There are plenty of easy strolls, including tree-top walks such as the Tahune Air Walk, which are scattered through the region and which allow for an easy stroll right in the thick of nature. 

Launceston, Tassie’s second largest city, is another nice place worth stopping in. There are lots of things to see and do, and the city offers an old-fashioned charm that is sure to stick in memory. Remember though: that old-fashioned charm comes complete with old-fashioned shop-closing times on the weekend so try not to run out of essentials on a Sunday. The lovely Cataract Gorge passes nearby once again proving that nature is never far from civilisation in Tassie. Launceston also has direct flights to Melbourne, so is a major entry-point onto the island.

The hilly countryside throughout Tassie is reminiscent of England. You’ll find nice B&B’s tucked away in cute little towns with plenty of tea and scones to replenish even the weariest of travellers. I suppose the similar climate to Britain has kept the British influence. It’s a unique mix of Australian flora and fauna but on a much lusher and greener scale than the rest of the country. It just shows what a bit of rain can do! 

Tasmania also produces a lot of its own tasty treats. Local seafood is fresh, wineries produce a range of grape varieties and apples and stone fruits grow easily in the milder climate. Organic produce is also exceedingly popular. Restaurants really celebrate the local produce so you’ll be able to have your fill of whatever you fancy. Those with a sweeter tooth will be happy to know that Tasmania is also home to Australia’s much loved Cadbury Chocolate Factory, which is open to visitors. Unfortunately you won’t have a Willy Wonka style tour as health and safety concerns prevent you from actually entering the factory, but you can enjoy an introductory tour where you can find out just how much chocolate is consumed in Australia (hint: it’s a lot!) and then purchase discounted chocolates direct from their factory. Perfect for stocking up on any snacks you might need for all that hiking. 

So with all the variety that Tassie has to offer both for your eyes and taste-buds, this wild corner of Australia is certainly worth a visit. 


About the Author

Megan tries to make travelling a part of life. She has lived in six different countries and hopes her job as an English teacher will take her on one long working holiday around the world. As a nature lover she tries to find natural beauty wherever she goes, but also enjoys experiencing the local culture of the people.



Related Articles

Add comment


Security code
Refresh

profileback2

 Full name: Commonwealth of Australia

 Population: 22.02 million (CIA, 2012)

 Capital: Canberra

 Largest city: Sydney (by population)

 Area: 7.741 million sq.km. (496,225 sq. mi.)

 Major languages: English, Chinese, Italian,  Greek, Other

 Major religions: Protestant, Catholic, Other  Christian, Muslim, Other

 Monetary unit: Australian Dollar

 GDP per capita: US $40,800

 Internet domain: .au

 International dialling code: +61

 Source: CIA World Factbook