A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: jonshapiro

Strahan, Franklin Wild River, and back to Hobart

Continuing on our round the island journey, we stopped at Strahan on the west coast of Tasmania. Now a tourist town, it was the site of one of the strictest and remote penal colonies in all of Australia. Most things happen around the dock, including the cruise up the Gordon River. The day we had considered going was overcast and rainy, and in the end we decided not to take the expensive ride.

We were on the lookout for lobsters however, but unfortunately the lobster boat had just unloaded its catch and we were about an hour too late. We did however find a great camping spot in a forest a few miles out of town.

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After a day of hanging, we went on to Franklin Rivers National Park, a huge and lightly visited place of wild rivers and mountains. Our camping spot was near one of the rivers and it was just a pull off the main road. Interesting mushrooms there.

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Later that day we found a place to hike.

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It was overcast, but still some beautiful flowers.

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About an hour out of Hobart we camped in Mt. Field National Park. A nice spot, but more crowded than we were used to. Next morning we discovered a flat tire which took up some of our valuable time that we planned to spend in Mona, an unusual art museum in Hobart. We had about an hour and a half there, not nearly enough, before dropping our van off near the airport for the flight back to Melbourne.

One of the more unusual pieces.
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All in all, I enjoyed our two weeks in Tasmania a great deal. It was much less crowded than New Zealand despite its proximity to mainland Australia.
Very few foreign tourists seems to get there, and while the scenery is somewhat less spectacular, the lack of crowds and wildness of the place more than makes up for it.

Posted by jonshapiro 11:13 Archived in Australia Tagged landscapes trees postcards Comments (1)

Cradle Mountain National Park

From Walls of Jerusalem we went on to its sister park, Cradle Mountain, which adjoins it. Cradle Mountain is home to the famous Overland Track. Similar in fame to the Milford Track, it is longer and harder. We opted not to do it because it required reservations made almost a year in advance. Instead we took what is probably my favorite day hike of the entire trip. For lack of a better description I'll call it the Crade Lake Traverse.

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Most day trippers stopped here on a rock outcropping with a nice view of the lake.

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Others, mostly "the young ones," decided to try the climb up Cradle Mountain.

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I actually considered it, but it would have been a long day with lot of vert. Instead Bill and I opted to walk around Cradle Lake along the top of a big plateau above tree line.

Bill with Cradle Mountain in background
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Top of the plateau
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Other small lakes visible on the plateau
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Another view of Cradle Lake from above
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Parakeets above the lake
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The great thing about this hike, aside from the expansive views, was that there was practically no one there. I think we saw one other couple the entire day. It took about 5 hours with plenty of stops on a picture perfect day, unusual in these parts.

Posted by jonshapiro 08:20 Archived in Australia Tagged landscapes mountains postcards foot Comments (0)

Walls of Jerusalem National Park

From the Bay of Fires we made the rather long drive to the edge of Walls of Jerusalem. Continuing on to Lake Rowallan, we drove down a remote dirt track following a river until the road ended at the edge of the lake. There we found a secluded camping spot with only one other set of campers a hundred yards or more away.

The lake had a ghostly feel to it because of the hundreds of tree trunks that stuck up above the water line, presumably because the lake was damned at some point flooding the area.

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The sunset was beautiful.

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The next day we found the marked track that led up to trappers cabin and then to Herod's Gate and Dixon's Kingdom. It was a long slog up to the alpine wilderness.

Forest view on the way up
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One of many alpine lakes.
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On the way to Herod's Gate
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Passing into Dixon's Kingdom
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Another shot of Dixon's
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Unfortunately I didn't quite make it all the way to the Wall of Jerusalem. It was a long way back and it was getting late. I was however, rewarded with the softest moss you can imagine, and hung out there eating a bit of lunch.

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With these views:
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We spent another night at Lake Rowalllan, but unfortunately someone had seen fit to take our camping chairs and our previous spot. The new folks claimed they had seen nothing and perhaps someone else had come along and assumed we had left for good. At least, that is the most positive spin. At any rate we found another decent place to camp and luckily we hadn't left much of value other than the chairs.

Next day we looked for another place to hike. As there were no other marked trails we headed up a steep logging road which eventually petered out. We continued bushwhacking higher and then came upon another road, very steep which appeared to lead somewhere. Eventuallly we got to the top of something, and to a cell tower. Looking down we could see the river that we had followed on the way to Lake Rowallan.

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We decided to take advantage of the tower and make calls to our respective wives after being incommunicado for several days. Ironic that we had just wandered up there by accident to a tower in the middle of the wilderness.

Posted by jonshapiro 10:48 Archived in Australia Tagged landscapes mountains postcards foot Comments (2)

Bay of Fires

From Freycinet we continued driving up the coast to Binalong Bay and the the Bay of Fires. Looking like the rocky coast of Maine with small beaches and coves, many of the rocks are covered with a bright orange lichen. This may be an explanation for the name, although aboriginal fires were also seen there by European ships off the coast in the 1700's.

We found an idlyllic spot to camp just in front of this beach.

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We had the place to ourselves and spent the better part of the afternoon hanging out a having a few cold ones.

Out in the water there was a very phallic looking rock.

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Other rocks beckoned though and we couldn't resist clamoring on top of them.

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And on sandy spots like this.

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It was hard to resist not shooting the vegetation as well

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All in all, a very relaxing place.

Posted by jonshapiro 11:14 Archived in Australia Comments (3)

Melbourne to Tasmania

Following our adventure on the Milford Trek, we flew to Melbourne for a few days, staying with Bill's friends and work collegues. Quite an adventurous couple themselves, they have traveled in many parts of the world with their three young children. Melbourne is an attractive city, though with prices that rival that of New York. We managed to have dinner with Jeannette and her family, the inspiration for our trip to Tasmania so many years ago when we met in Torres del Peine. They lived in Tasmania at the time, but are now in Melbourne.

One of the older buildings downtown
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Thousands of fruit bats in a park near friends house
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Beach area
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After taking in a few museums and walking the neighborhoods, we took the short flight to Hobart, Tasmania. There we rented our third camper van. Though not exactly luxurious, it was a vast improvement over Wicked. Fairly similar to our north island van, there was a decent place to cook inside and a larger bed as well. I had a small speaker that I brought with me, and when placed on top of a shelf the van felt like a concert hall. Bill and I made a habit of falling asleep to various jazz and classical tunes. Bedtime, as you might imagine, began shortly after 8 when it started to get dark.

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We left Hobart after stocking up with food, and took off for the east coast which was supposed to have the best weather in Tasmania. Our first stop was Freycinet National Park. A few hours of easy hiking brought us to crescent beach. Way too cold to swim, it was a nice spot to walk along the sand.

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On the trail we saw some interesting animals, most likely wallabys. We didn't see any larger kangaroos nor Tasmanian devils. Devils are becoming very scarce because of a virus.

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Surprisingly there were not that many people. This was our experience in general while in Tasmania. Virtually the only tourists we saw were Aussies from the mainland, in contrast to New Zealand where folks seem to come from all over, including the states. For that reason, Tassie seemed more unspoiled, and in many respects we enjoyed our time here more than New Zealand. The scenery may be a tad less dramatic, but the lack of crowds more than makes up for it. Much of the island is still relatively pristine wilderness and the population is small.

Posted by jonshapiro 10:48 Archived in Australia Tagged landscapes cities_postcards Comments (2)

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