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Oceania » Australia » Tasmania » West Coast
January 27th 1997
Published: August 10th 2007
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Tasman peninsula coastTasman peninsula coastTasman peninsula coast

Spectacular coastal views on the road to Port Arthur
There is stunning natural scenery covering the length and breadth of Tasmania, in this magical tourist island below the east coast of Australia. We drove our cars onto the ferry for the journey across the Bass Strait, with a plan to rendezvous with another brother after he flew direct into Hobart. Tasmania was a first time travel destination for all of us, and my eldest brother hatched the plan to visit the Apple Isle when he was posted in Melbourne temporarily for work. The ferry trip from Melbourne was a relatively calm overnighter and we were lucky considering the reputation of the Bass Strait for wild seas. When we arrived in Devonport we disembarked the ferry in our cars, and hit the road to commence our Tasmanian adventure.

We headed south in convoy, dear reader, for our first stop in Launceston. This beautiful city features plenty of pubs and bars, yet still has a small town feel compared to the hustle and bustle of Sydney or Melbourne. From Launceston it's a short drive to Cataract Gorge, where the locals often head for a nature fix and a quick swim. The Gorge features stunning natural scenery, and definitely adds to the
My nephew, The HazardsMy nephew, The HazardsMy nephew, The Hazards

Strolling along the beach at Coles Bay wearing his Australian cricket shirt.
allure of visiting Launceston. Tasmania is also home to my favourite beers and the bars have Cascade and James Boag on tap, which for us mainlanders felt like we were in heaven!

From Launceston we headed to the east coast and the beautiful Freycinet National Park. I quickly realised the Tassie locals really have their act together when it comes to tourism. The Island is blessed with stunning natural beauty, but the icing on the cake is the consistently high standard of accommodation and service throughout the state. Tasmania offers all this beauty amidst a relaxing lifestyle, and is the complete tourist package! We went on stunning walks through the National Park, and took the famous climb up to the lookout for postcard perfect views of Wineglass Bay. The first evening at the lookout was overcast which was a shame, so we climbed to the lookout again next morning for breathtaking views on a cloudless day. We also walked along the beach at beautiful Coles Bay which features The Hazards, and enjoyed strolling around this scenic little town.

Then we headed further south to the big smoke, and the capital city of Hobart. I've always believed Sydney is
Wine Glass Bay lookoutWine Glass Bay lookoutWine Glass Bay lookout

My brothers at the spectacular lookout on a glorious morning.
the most beautiful capital city in Australia, but Hobart is just as gorgeous. The city is defined by ocean, river and mountain and is situated in truly spectacular natural surroundings. The views across the harbour and along the Derwent River are superb, and Mount Wellington at 1270 metres provides a spectacular backdrop that Sydney certainly can't match. The Tasman Bridge links the east and west shores of Hobart and the city overall is as pretty as a picture. We drove up the steep 22 kilometre road to the summit of Mount Wellington for mind boggling views of the city. The wind was howling and the vegetation very sparse in this tough environment, but there are sheltered lookouts that provide unforgettable views of Hobart and further out to the horizon.

We then drove 75 kilometres west from Hobart to Mount Field National Park, a favourite destination for residents of Hobart and one of the best national parks in Tasmania. We enjoyed a spectacular day walk amidst the enormous fern forests which feature some of the tallest trees in the world, and also paid a visit to the famous Russell Falls. From there we drove along the Tasman peninsula to the
Freycinet national parkFreycinet national parkFreycinet national park

Preparing for a walk with my brothers and nephews in inclement weather.
historical convict town of Port Arthur. This day trip provided us with an incredible insight into the brutal realities of life in the former penal colony. I believe the Australian ethos of mateship and a fair go were forged in part due to the privations of these poor prisoners, who suffered years of incredible hardship for what were often trivial offences back in the mother country. The convicts were worked like dogs under inhuman conditions, yet at the same time they played a part in laying the foundations for the wonderful lifestyle we currently enjoy in Australia. The buildings of Port Arthur are in ruins, including the infamous modern day cafe that was the scene of the recent mass murder that horrified the world. Port Arthur is a poignant place, and visiting the cells where the convicts were locked up is a humbling experience.

We headed on to Cradle Mountain National Park to walk the Overland Track, a world famous bushwalk which I cover extensively in the previous journal. We finished our walk exhausted but exhilarated, and still there's so much to see in beautiful Tassie. Then we headed west through the bizarre moonscape in the former mining town
Russell Falls, Mt Field National ParkRussell Falls, Mt Field National ParkRussell Falls, Mt Field National Park

My brothers snapped again at the spectacular waterfall.
of Queenstown, where the ravages of earlier mining will continue to blot the landscape around the town into the next century. We pushed on to the small town of Strahan on the rugged west coast. The town is situated on Macquarie Harbour which is a staggering natural asset ten times the volume of Sydney Harbour. However despite it's potential the west coast of Tassie is sparsely populated. We enjoyed a day cruise on the pristine Gordon river which included spectacular walking trails in this world heritage listed area, featuring magnificent Huon pine trees that are up to 2,000 years old. The boat cruise then headed out to Hell's Gates, the narrow and treacherous entrance to Macquarie Harbour that caused many shipwrecks amongst the early mariners. We also visited Sarah Island, where the convicts were worked to death building ships from the massive huon pines that are a feature of the region.

We then meandered up the spectacular west coast in the car on the way north to Devonport, so we could catch the ferry back to the Australian mainland. Tasmania is a one of a kind destination, and every crest and hill along the coast provides views that are so staggering it's hard to keep your eyes on the road. The Apple Isle is an astoundingly beautiful travel destination where, basically all of you should be here now!


I split this rock, I felled this tree. This land is because of me." Convict inscription, Port Arthur


It's home time so until next time, I'm signing off for now

Tom

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