After 10 days of exploring Tasmania we were reluctant to leave and determined to return soon – and for longer. Our trip found us trekking mountains and exploring caves, and we were fortunate to encounter a lot of wildlife, including kangaroos, wallabies, dolphins, a humpback whale feeding her calf in the spectacular Bay of Fires, and a rare fairy tern in Freycinet National Park - sadly one of only about 100 pairs left in the world. Before departing for this trip, we bought a copy of 100 Walks in Tasmania and mapped out a rough itinerary. The book, authored by Tyrone Thomas and Andrew Close, and published by Explore Australia in 2008, proved a valuable resource for us, providing some thoroughly researched guides for great day walks. I will blog some of our more interesting stops in more detail in the coming weeks. In the meantime, here are some highlights:
We spent two days at the Cradle Mountain National Park and found it both beautiful and extraordinarily well managed and maintained. Marion’s Lookout (pictured above and below) was spectacular, and the final rock ascent was dramatic, with a snowy blizzard buffeting us as we pulled ourselves up – by chains – along the very steep and unstable rock near the top. The Marion’s Lookout walk is highly recommended for strong hikers with a sense of adventure.
We climbed down the opposite side of Marion’s Lookout, towards Dove Lake and walked the spectacular circuit of the lake. It is very popular, and there was a fair bit of traffic in some places. The Marion’s Lookout hike combined with the Dove Lake circuit took us just over 3 hours. Note: A helpful shuttle comes every 15 minutes to transfer hikers between the main car parks and stops, so you can depart on your hike from one car park and arrive at another.
Check out the fascinating history of Cradle Mountain and Waldheim Chalet, and learn how it was largely the vision and dedication of Austrian-born Gustav and Kate Weindorfer that led the creation of this important national park.
There is a helpful list of popular Cradle Mountain walks here.
Bicheno is a beautiful place with a chequered history. It was sad to see the Whaler’s Tree and read the descriptions of the area at the time, with the giant corpses of slaughtered whales steaming on the shore. As ExploreAustralia explains, ‘[Bicheno] was set up as a whaling and sealing centre in 1803, predating the official settlement of Van Diemen’s Land by a few months. It became a magnet for men with violent tendencies, which often found expression in the abuse of local Aboriginal women. One of these, Waubedebar, became a heroine after saving two white men from drowning in a storm. Landmarks in town bear her name, and her grave can be seen in Lions Park.’
Swansea is charming little town with some worthwhile historical sites. 100 Walks in Tasmania lists an easy, scenic walk along Loontitetermairrelehoiner Track, around the headland and past several old cemeteries.
We enjoyed a 14km Wineglass Bay and Hazards Beach circuit, adding a walk of the full length of Wineglass Bay beach (pictured below), where we spotted a rare fairy tern, one of only 100 pairs left. The walk, which took us about 5 hours in total, took us up a steep but very popular ascent to the spectacular Wineglass Bay Lookout, then down to Wineglass Bay. Once you depart the popular lookout, traffic drops off, and you are unlikely to encounter more than a handful of other hikers throughout the rest of the long circuit. The terrain is varied and beautiful, taking you over rocky outcrops, along sandy beaches and through bush.
* Geeky details for hikers *
As usual I wore my Scarpa hiking boots and Ospery women’s day pack, which is wonderfully shaped to keep the weight off the back and distributed across the hips. On most walks I wore my excellent Quagmire canvas gaiters to protect my lower legs from sharp brush, heavy rain and potential snake hazards. I also wore 100% merino layers, a MacPac shell and hiking skirts on this trip, as is my preference for all bush walks. These included my MacPac wool hiking skirt and a handy A-line nylon hiking skirt from Kathmandu fixed with cargo pockets, both of which offer unrestricted movement and comfort. I also wore my handy and virtually indestructible T4 Tilley hat, making use of the chin straps for the windy conditions. It offered great sun protection and the brim kept pouring rain out of my eyes on stormy Hazards Beach.
Our 19 month old daughter Sapphira was carried by Berndt throughout the trip in her Deuter Kids Comfort III backpack, which she has already travelled through Spain, Canada and New Zealand in. We highly recommended structured carries like this one for toddlers over age 1. They are excellent for long day walks.
(PS I have listed my gear because I find similar information helpful on other blogs. This post is not sponsored.)