Celebrating Australia Day in the Great Outdoors

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January 28th 2014
Published: January 31st 2014
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I came back from this trip on a real high - who wouldn't after four days with perfect weather, stunning scenery and fabulous company? However I have to say it didn't start this way.

A friend of mine who has recently become an Australian citizen asked the internet via his Facebook page how he should celebrate Australia Day (26 January) now that he is a citizen. Many of the respondents suggested he should get drunk and punch someone, which sadly if you were to believe the newspapers is a regular Aussie pastime. However I've been here long enough to know that there was another option - celebrate the "Great Outdoors"!.

Last year my mother and I had a wonderful 10-day holiday driving around parts of Tasmania, and my favourite spot was the Bay of Fires, so I signed myself up for a four day trek, starting in the very remote Mt William National Park.

I have to confess, the idea of a "by foot" four day trek was a little worrying. The trek itself was expensive and non-refundable, so my earlier foot infection caused me much angst. It had been taking a really long time to heal, so following multiple visits to the doctor, I was preparing for the trek with daily ice baths and all-day elevation at work to reduce the swelling. The doctor also suggested an X-ray to rule out any bone infection. Interestingly while the good news was that there was no bone infection, the X-ray did reveal a recent bone fracture in my big toe and osteo-arthritis in my ankle. This was hilarious, as I had no pain whatsoever in these areas! But following advice from the doctor, I started the trek with a strapped big toe, a compression bandage, daily applications of voltarin gel, brand new shoes, and not a word to my guides.

To get there required the flight, and the only option was to fly with possibly the world's least favourite airline. I hate this airline so passionately that I seriously considered flying to Hobart, hiring a car, and driving for nearly 3 hours to avoid having to fly them. Obviously even I could see that this was completely irrational and impractical so common sense prevailed, but the flight was true to form, arriving 30 minutes late. I had recently read an article, "The Ten Worst Things People Do On A Plane", and the man behind me had obviously read the same article and was methodically ticking them off and thinking up new ones too.

So I arrived in Launceston tired, cranky, with a sore foot that I was a worried about, and a little bit wound up from a busy week back at work. What better antidote than four days in the beautiful surrounds of the Mt William National Park and a digital detox.

Day one, first up we met the other walkers. I had struck gold, because it was a really great bunch of people. It's always a little worrying when you're travelling on your own that you could be stuck with a bunch of duds for several days, so it was a relief to discover that not only were my fellow travellers a really interesting and friendly bunch, but people I would happily choose to spend time with if I had the choice and opportunity. We were a range of ages and circumstances, united by a genuine zest for life, and love of adventure and travel and I was truly sad to say goodbye when we parted four days later.

But to the walk. Wow. Wow, Wow Wow, Wow. We were blessed with amazing weather, although I would've been happy whatever happened because the scenery was truly stunning. Gorgeous white sand beaches, clear turquoise water, rocks covered in a rich orange fungi, fringed with rich green bush. The colours were gorgeous, breathtaking, and what better antidote for a grumpy office-bound worker.

Our first night was at the semi-permanent campsite, Camp Forrester. I took to "glamping" immediately. We didn't need to pitch a tent, and soon after arrival our fabulous guides conjured a delicious cheese platter , and we learned about the daily "allowance". Apparently we are allowed 1 beer, and half a bottle of wine, every day! I can work with that.

It is amazing what our guides created in that campsite, for example we had a beautiful meal of grilled Tasmanian salmon with a soba noodle salad. Yum yum yum. Did I mention the chocolate mousse for desert? My highlight for that day however was the open air shower, on top of the hill, looking over a spectacular view, and knowing we were truly in the middle of nowhere, but feeling perfectly happy.

Day two was Australia Day. It turned out to be one of my all time favourite days...ever! Our lunchtime break was just below the Eddystone Point lighthouse, on a beautiful long white sand beach. Someone pulled out a six-pack (legends! trekking with that extra weight) so although I'm not a beer drinker normally, I though it would be un-Australian to refuse. We had our pre-packed lunches, then we played beach cricket, teaching our American friend the rules. I haven't played in about 30 years, and it quickly became evident that I'm a batter, not a bowler. It was so much fun.

After a hot sweaty walk up to the lighthouse, I decided I needed to truly appreciate the surrounds, so I ventured into the clear turquoise water. Anyone who knows me is now in shock. I never swim, let alone in the ice cold Tasmanian waters. But something came over me - it was Australia Day; I'd had a beer; the scenery and surrounds were perfect; the water was crystal clear and the sea was a colour you dream of. Plus, I had been reminded by a fellow walker of the Aussie saying, "Harden up". So in I went. And you know what? Everyone says that this kind of swim is "refreshing" - they are right! I felt amazing.

But packs were soon back on and then it was the trek to the Lodge. I feel like I'm repeating myself - wow, wow, wow. The scenery was amazing! We walked up the big wide white beaches, through beautiful shell beaches, ducking offshore through brilliant green offshore bush. We finally arrived at our Lodge and who could possibly be disappointed. Our guides welcomed us with a footbath - hot water, epsom salts and essential oils - before getting onto the cheese platter, and our three course meal. Can I marry them?

The third day was an optional kayaking day. I couldn't imagine declining this, and obviously neither could anyone else, so joined the rest in the walk through the forest and short drive to the start of the kayak. We had the wind at our backs, which frankly was extremely fortunate as my kayaking partner and I trailed the pack. Let's call it admiring the scenery, which like everything else we'd come across, was beautiful.

On my final day, prior to the trek out, I had booked a facial at the newly created spa. Beforehand I snuck down for an outdoor shower at the spa. The views stretched as far as the eye could see. If only I could start every day this way. Like the rest of the experience, the whole spa experience was pretty much perfect.

I feel like I've been gushing, but seriously, I couldn't think of how I could improve those four days. Did I mention we finished at a winery with a private tour of how to make champagne? Obviously there were some tastings....

Leaving "Tassie", sitting in the "Launnie" airport (I'm adopting the Aussie shortening slang), with a glass of wine, I thought back to my arrival. I had been wound up and cranky and quite grumpy.

I left relaxed, happy and walking on air. Can I do this every weekend?

Additional photos below
Photos: 67, Displayed: 27


31st January 2014

Lunch with a view
Smart not to tell the guides your ailments unless you had to. What a lovely view for lunch. All the foods you ate sound perfect. We love Tasmania and wish we had spent more time there. We all know it can takes weeks to teach the rules of Cricket!
31st January 2014

It was fun teaching cricket....the rules are quite ridiculous, and we didn't even get on to the fielding positions, eg "silly mid-on"!
31st January 2014
Lunch with a view!

As an ex-backpacker, I must say this sounds infinitely more attractive! Facials and wine tasting, set-up cabanas and 3-course meals sound so much better than ramen noodles and carrying a tent. What a fantastic experience and a life-style to aspire to. You work full time--you deserved this!
31st January 2014
Lunch with a view!

I am definitely converted! It would be hard to revert now...although in my defence I did carry my own pack!
31st January 2014

Bay of Fires
This walk looks truly amazing - although the tiger snake was probably a bit close for comfit - you didn't make any mention of it except for the photo. Tasmania is certainly worth while a visit
31st January 2014

He didn't want to hang around! I got very good at stomping my feet to warn snakes away.
1st February 2014

The secret
Oz's best kept secret...Tasmania...stunning one day...and everyday. Mt William NP to Bay of Fires...those that have been there agree with your superlatives. Another RJT winning sojourn.
1st February 2014

You were lucky to have so long down there...I'm looking forward to reading your blogs and seeing the photos. It's a truly magic spot.
1st February 2014

Just beautiful
So glad your leg held up for the four days. The walk and post-walk pampering sounds amazing, I think you've 'convinced' me to do it :)
1st February 2014

It was stunning...now I want to do one of the other walks down there!
1st February 2014

Wow is right!
I lived in Tassie for seven years, yet didn't make it to Mt William NP. Clearly I need to go back sometime.... great photos, and nice touches of humour.
1st February 2014

Apparently it's the least visited national park in Tasmania....so not a lot of tourists. But spectacular, so definitely worth the visit!

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