Our first nights in Tasmania we stayed with a friend at beautiful Hawley Beach. Yellow-tailed black cockatoos predicted rain, said local folklore… But rain in one place in Tasmania means sun in another.
Our first destination is Cradle Mountain, a national park in the north of the island. Wriggling roads give us a taste of the road trip ahead. Wombats and wallabies await us! We go looking for them at night and during the day when they wander around green valleys with pineapple like trees. In the evening pademelons (wallaby-like creatures) hop around our campsite while possums try to steal our food and wombats are scurrying around.
We stay on the campsite right near the visitor centre so we can walk to the shuttle bus that goes up the mountain. At the last bus stop we are immediately rewarded with a spectacular view of the mountain and the lake. It is the end of the day and we scout the different walks. Regular cars can come up to this point, but we would recommend the shuttle – the road is pretty narrow and winding. Funny guys those bus drivers… Seeing a wombat on the way being petted and selfied by ignorant tourists: ‘what we don’t tell them is that there are leeches in the grass!’
The landscape of the highlands around Cradle Mountain is spectacular. We did several days of walking through rainforest, along mountain lakes and across mountains. The button grass here is unlike any other. The valleys are filled with otherworldly flora. Wombats really like these plains and we encounter them while walking the boardwalks. The walks here are great, well maintained and signposted.
Next day we choose to drive the western road of Tasmania. At Strahan, the end of the road, we are met by a friendly but quirky caretaker collecting the AUD 7 for a night of camping. We are right near the beach where locals come fishing, driving their 4wd to the shoreline. It almost feels like bush camping with no more than a drop toilet and a tap for drinking water. While we’re cooking our pasta, Bennett wallabies suddenly come out of the bush to graze under the magical tree ferns.
Following the road back inland we make a stop in Queenstown, a historic mining town where intense mining left the hills bare and yellow. We enjoy strolling through main street, wonder what the old theatre (‘now open’) would be showing and do some shopping at the local IGA supermarket.
The Lyell Highway is a spectacular road through rainforest. The rainforest is world heritage listed. We take short walks from the Lyell Highway to hidden waterfalls and scary suspension bridges (at the start of a longer 4 day hike if you like…).
We make a quick visit to Hobart, but a cruiseship has just offloaded thousands of passengers. And we decide to drive on towards the Tasman Peninsula. The coastline here is spectacular and we just have to get out of the car and explore before we head to the southernmost point of the peninsula. Near Port Arthur we find a campsite with abundant wildlife: pademelons again surround us, this time joined by cheeky parrots.
In the morning we visit Port Arthur before the crowds come in; this is one of the many convict sites on Tasmania. It’s a beautiful day and it is difficult to imagine the hardship. The place looks stunning in the morning light.
The Remarkable Caves are just a few minutes down the coast from Port Arthur. Did you ever climb over a fence to get to a beautiful spot? It’s a bit weird that the stairs down to the Remarkable Caves stop 2 meters above the sand. Surf dudes climb back up from the sand over the fence onto the staircase. We follow suit and climb over to jump on the sand and walk through the caves. At the end of the caves you get to the beach. We have a picknick grinding our teeth on the sand.
We’re also here to look for Tasmanian Devils! A few years back it would have been easy to search for them at nightfall. But sadly 90% of the devil population was eradicated by disease. So one of our best options is a wildlife park. We opt for the Unzoo where they help to save the species. And we finally get to see the Tassie Devils in real life! They are wild but still very cute. There is a great group of forrester kangaroos here as well!
The last part of our Tassie roadtrip follows the east coast northbound. At Triabunna we take a boat to Maria Island. It’s a hot day and we hike from Fossil Cliffs to Painted Cliffs. We see woolly wombats with cute babies, wallabies and kangaroos and sit on the edge of a cliff having lunch.
We choose to save our visit to the Painted Cliffs on Maria Island to the afternoon. We were warned: the tide was coming in. But that meant we had the place to ourselves. The beach was spectacular in its own right. We found some shade under a tree right next to the cliffs. So we lingered… again. The high tide forced us to scramble around the corners and over the sandstone rocks to get this picture. It was worth it!!! We came back wading through the knee deep water: a waterproof camera is a plus when the water is this high though… Maria Island is spectacular and it’s worth it to stay one or more nights camping or arranging a bed in the former penitentiary.
We head further north to Freycinet Peninsula and the Bay of Fires. The weather is playing tricks on us. So, overlooking Wineglass Bay there are moody clouds while at the Bay of Fires the sky breaks open to contrast the red rocks with blue skies.
On our way back to the Spirit of Tasmania we indulge in a huge cone with chocolate ice cream at the Chocolate Factory and we have a taste of Tasmanian cheese at the Cheese Factory.