After arriving back on campus yesterday, I can officially say I have visited Tasmania. It was a great Easter break, full of nature hikes, wildlife, and oceanic beaches. Our tour took us around the east coast, and we had lots of time to explore and experience a good portion of what the island has to offer.
On Friday at 6:45am we were up and ready to go at the Sherwood Park train stop at the entrance to campus. We caught the 7:15am train into Melbourne where we would be able to transfer to the airport.
The train ride was about 3 hours and 30 minutes and relatively crowded because of the Easter holiday. I didn’t get a picture, but on the way there we sped past a mob of kangaroos! It was the first time I had seen them in the wild which was pretty neat.
Once we arrived at the train station, we were able to catch a bus to the Melbourne Airport where we had to wait for our 4:35pm flight to Launceston, Tasmania. It was a brief flight, about 1 hour, and we landed in Launceston around 5:20pm and found a tram to take us to Launceston Backpackers, the hostile where we would be spending the first two nights of our tour.
The hostile itself was nicer than I expected it to be. (It’s the brick building in the background.) I was originally placed in a room with all guys, probably because whoever was doing the booking assumed Devin was a guy’s name. They kindly changed it though so I would be with other women on the Tassie Highlights tour. I was in a room with two bunk beds, so there were four of us total. The hostile provided sheets and a blanket to use for the night. There was a male and female bathroom down the hall with a few showers and stalls for those spending the night. The bedrooms were all upstairs and they had a common kitchen, dining area, and living room downstairs. The kitchen was fully stocked with knives, utensils, cutting boards, pots and pans, etc., which was nice as it helped cut down on food expenses since we didn’t have to dine out. There was also a cabinet of non-perishable items that others had left behind after their stay. We walked to the grocery store after we got all settled in and purchased our meals for the night. On the way back, we saw a kookaburra sitting in a tree!
I didn’t know they even had kookaburra on Tasmania until one was right in front of us! I kinda wish I had a mouse to feed it…
Our first night was scheduled as free time to settle in and relax, so that’s pretty much what we did. After dinner, however, we were looking at our touring schedule, and I realized that our tour would be going a day longer than we would be staying in Tasmania. When we had called the tour agency before booking our flights, we were informed that the tour would be finished on April 1st around 5:30pm in Hobart, so we had booked our flight for 10:40pm that night. Our tour schedule, however, went until 5:30 pm on April 2nd! Not cool! We spoke with our tour guide, Matt, who was also staying at the hostile that night, and he suggested that we call the tour agency and speak with them about possible reimbursement for the last night. The good news was that our tour would be in Hobart the day we needed to leave, we would just be missing a bit of the tour. From Matt’s description, it seemed the last day of the tour was a bit blasé anyways, consisting mainly of old convict buildings and convict history. Would I have liked to do that portion of the tour if we were there? Yes, probably, but I was glad we were able to do all the nature hikes and the wildlife portion of the trip. When we were able to get ahold of Under Down Under Tours, they were very helpful and kindly reimbursed us for the last night and day of our tour, and everything worked out wonderfully in the end! I might call twice for a confirmation on the ending date next time though!
For the first day of touring (second day of our vacation), we boarded our van with the other tour participants at 8:00am to begin traveling to Cradle Mountain. On our way there, we stopped in Elizabethtown at a little bakery for breakfast.
On the drive in to Cradle Mountain, I saw a wallaby! I didn’t get a picture here, but I have lots of pictures from later wallaby sightings. Once we arrived we were given a choice of hikes to go on around Cradle Mountain. We decided to do the Dove Lake Circuit Walk, which was 5.7 km around the lake.
We had met another girl on the tour who was traveling from France, and she spent quite a bit of time with us this trip. It was nice to be with a tour group, because we were able to meet people from other walks of life. The two girls I was traveling with and I quickly became known to our tour guide as “Team America,” since we were the only Americans in our group. There was also a couple from Switzerland, another woman also from Switzerland, a guy from Ireland, a lady from Sydney, a woman from Korea, two other Asian women, and I believe a girl from India. It was interesting to listen to their traveling stories and hear where they’ve been.
As far as the walk around Dove Lake, it took us about 2 hours and was absolutely beautiful. The weather kept going back and forth from mist to rain, but that almost added to the splendour, making everything green and fresh. We also saw quite a few rainbows as we walked.
It was so nice to see everything so green! In Warrnambool, it’s very dry, and a lot of the grass has a golden, yellowish color to it. The forested areas smelled so fresh with the rain, and the boardwalk was pretty nice. There were some areas that were a bit more rough, but you always knew where the pathway was.
I think one of the highlights that day was the wombat that wandered into our trail. They just look like big teddy bears. I’m pretty sure I froze in the middle of the pathway and half whispered, “Oh my god! It’s a wombat!” while frantically trying to get my camera out… It doesn’t take much to excite me apparently.
He (or she) wandered around for a bit before climbing back up the mountainside and we continued on our way. When we finished the Dove Lake Circuit, I was ready to climb Marion’s Lookout. The other members of my group decided not to make the trek to the top, so I climbed solo. It was amazing! At an elevation of 1250 meters you could see for quite a distance. The walk was a bit more difficult than I expected, and there were areas where I wasn’t quite sure where the path was supposed to go, but I loved every minute of it. As you can imagine, it was extremely breezy at the top, and I literally widened my stance while I was taking pictures to keep from tipping over in the breeze, but it was great!
On the way up I saw another wombat. It gave me a heart attack because I didn’t know it was there until it started running away from the path. When I made it to the top and started my climb back down, I found myself clinging to the chain to keep from sliding down the mountain. It was a bit challenging and lots of fun! I don’t know how I managed to do it without falling (given my general level of clumsiness), but I did! I would love to have had more time to explore Cradle Mountain. We had a limited amount of time because we were with a tour group, but you have the option to do other hikes that take several days and camp in the mountains, which sounds like a lot of fun!
When I got back to the tour van it was about 3:30pm and we were supposed to meet at 4:00pm at the Visitor Center. I wasn’t sore from walking, but the blisters that had appeared on my toes were telling me it was time to sit for a bit, so I waited with our tour guide at the van and hitched a ride with him to the Visitor Center to see if everyone had managed to make it back. Once we were all together again, we drove back to Launceston Backpackers, arriving at about 6:00pm for an afternoon of relaxation. Apparently there was an echidna on the side of the road as we drove back, but I was on the other side of the vehicle and didn’t see it. There was also a vehicle behind us, so we couldn’t stop. That’s the one animal I had on my to-see list that I didn’t see, but oh well… someday… When we got back to Launceston, we walked to Coles to purchase our meals for the evening and chattered with other tour group members that night, getting ready for our next day of Tassie Highlights.