Wild and Free in Tassie
Nicola Hill is a guest of the Urban Rajah
Nicola Hill is a travel writer and travel reportage photographer, spending time across the Australasian sub-continent her stories and photographs capture the spirit of the moment willing you to jump in and discover the less discovered! Here's her account of Tasmania.
Sipping a cold Prosecco and listening to waves hit the deserted beach as the sun slides slowly below the horizon, you could be forgiven for thinking this was the Caribbean. Except for two salient things: the two-man tent at my back and the significant chill in the air. Oh and the barren wilderness. This was like nowhere I had sat before. This, my friends, was The Bay of Fires, Tasmania, and what a place of delightful contradictions Tasmania turned out to be.
Bay of Fires. Just the name sets the hairs on my arms on edge. Miles and miles of empty beaches with huge boulders strewn flippantly across the landscape. Ominous dunes behind. Not a soul around. Not a store, not a bar, not a house. This was a place to escape. This was a place you could FEEL wild. This was freedom. And the cold Prosecco? Oh, well we purchased that at the bottle shop half an hour before. The first contradiction: in Tasmania, nothing is very far away. It just feels it.
For those like me who only had a vague concept of Tasmania (embarrasingly informed primarily by Loony Toons), Tassie is a lesser known state of Australia, an island nestled off the south east coast of the mainland. For adventurers and explorers, it offers the promise of a low-populated wilderness with activities should you need them, and is a camping haven, with basic rural campsites at every turn.
The first thing that strikes you upon leaving the capital Hobart is how quiet everywhere is – there is virtually no traffic on the roads as you wind your way up the coastal paths, no people and very few towns. The second thing that hits you; (only about a second after the first thing), is how freakishly beautiful this island is. It’s ridiculous. Yet more contradictions that mess with your head, as the ocean almost lapping at the side of your car, whilst you are actually driving through undulating hills and glorious meadows. The island uashamedly un-touristy and as such incredibly resfreshing. It’s a cliché but the air feels cleaner and you just feel – I don’t know – outdoorsy.
We were drawn to Freycinet National Park on the East coast of the island, as it boasts some walk-in campsites. This sounded like an exciting prospect, so we abandoned the rental car at the National Park entrance, loaded our packs and set off walking. Freycinet is renowned for Wine Glass Bay, a white sand, azure water bay full of dolphins. The walk in was fabulous – great views and a varied landscape, including a nice smattering of wallabies. As it was quiet, we astoundingly got Wine Glass Bay to ourselves for the night. How refreshing to be able to set up camp with no-one else around and using only what you are carrying. Granted, we had no “facilities” but hey, a quick swim gives you a wash at least.
It was interesting to discover that our visit coincided with the Targa rally. Some of our routes were blocked whilst the rally cars hammered by. This certainly changed the pace of the island a little and again contradicted the otherwise quiet isolation the island is known for, but it made things interesting watching a few of the crazy SOBs belting around those quiet country roads. The Targa is an old tradition in Australia, culminating in Targa Tasmania in April.
There are some other “must sees” in Tasmania that I didn’t get around to – there is the convict town of Port Arthur and if you are a big hiker/walker, you must climb the imposing Cradle Mountain in the centre of the island.
As a place to recharge and get back to nature, Tassie is second to none. If you are heading to Oz, be sure not to overlook it as will give you a completely different taste of Aussie lifestyle to all the other states. And take me with you, please?
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