The Tassie Top 5
From snow to bushfires and everything in between, our guest blogger Sofia spent five weeks over summer exploring and falling in love with the Apple Isle. Read about five of her favourite regions and discover why you need to put Tassie on your travel list for 2013.
Much more than a stunning backdrop, Tasmania is a place for complete immersion. If you have been, you know the allure for another trip is all too real and if you haven’t yet made the hop across the ocean, don’t wait any longer…
1. Hobart is just the beginning
From the traditional landscapes to the striking contemporary art at MONA, Hobart is a compact city with many attractions to suit any traveller. I always like to begin with a quick stroll around a city centre to get a feel for the place and I am immediately impressed with Hobart.
I make my way to Constitution dock which looks out over the Derwent River. The restaurants along this stretch offer some of the finest seafood you can have in this country and with a glass of chilled local wine to accompany it, you’re set.
Believe everything you’ve heard about the gourmet side… Hobart is foodie heaven with fresh produce and attention to detail wherever you go. You will just want to find any excuse to stop and eat!
There is a great walk not too far from the Franklin Wharf which takes you back in time. Heading along the water, you will arrive at Salamanca. Try and aim to be here on a Saturday for the famous markets. The atmosphere is great with a similar feel to the Rocks in Sydney but with less people.
|Hot tip: Take the stairs up to Battery Hill, which overlooks the city. There is an old bakery near an equally impressive Milk Bar on Hampton Road which offers great coffee and many mouth-watering desserts to suit any taste bud.|
If you are still captivated by the water, a trip on the ferry out to MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) is a great way to view the coves and small suburbs hugging the banks, dwarfed by the expanse of Mt. Wellington.
MONA has something for everyone and is sure to get you talking about some of the pieces – trust me on that! They also make award winning wine and beer which you can sample at their bar or restaurant. If you arrive in the afternoon, head outside and pull up a beanbag or chair on the grass with some of the outdoor exhibits and take in the fresh air. Take your time and spend the night at the onsite Mona Pavilions.
For the more adventurous souls, a climb up Mt Wellington is well worth the effort (or if you’d prefer an easier option, you can drive all the way up to the top too).
There are excellent views over the islands and bays within and beyond Hobart. A big warning: this place is FREEZING! Even is summer. We saw snowflakes! Don’t be put off by the cold or cloud cover, the latter will always come and go and you may just get your own rainbow shot.
Launceston, or Lonnie as it is known by the locals, feels like a big town. The giveaway signs of its city status are the great shops and fancy restaurants within the centre.
This is a great place to stock up before travelling to the famous Cradle Mountain area. The cuisine here is surprisingly excellent for a small place and you can’t go wrong with booking a table at any restaurant in the city centre.
The connection to nature however, is never far away wherever you are in Tasmania and this is definitely true of Launceston. The Cataract Gorge surrounds the city and you can’t help but drive up the hills to see it. There are great walks around this area and the views are amazing (including the gorgeous Tamar River). Yep, Tassie just knows how to keep you captivated with your camera at the ready.
3. Wild nature
Hobart and Launceston are amazing but on a trip to Tassie be sure to delve into the diverse natural beauty of Tasmania’s breathtaking North-West region.
The Tarkine wilderness area makes up a large chunk of this area and it is vast, remote and captivating. There are fantastic little towns to draw you away from the forest before being enchanted back to the area soon enough.
A must stop is Stanley. Overshadowed by what is left of an ancient volcano known as The Nut, this pretty fishing village seems to combine colonial history with a modern appeal from the fresh agriculture, timber and abundant marine life for artisans and chefs.
If you are a bit of a thrill-seeker, the Tarkine also offers a 110m slide to a sink hole (believed to be the only one in the world). My partner Paul is unfortunately one of those odd thrill seeking kinds while I on the other hand hate roller coasters. To please Paul (and guarantee plenty of market viewing time ahead) I have to do this… and proceed to scream for the entire 12 seconds to the bottom. Eeek.
A kayaking adventure is much more my style. You definitely need to hire a kayak when you are in Tasmania: the rivers are so still and wide, reflecting the forest and sky back at you as you paddle along. Going in any direction will undoubtedly lead you to further rivers and creeks making their way down from the mountains to the wild coastline. It is the perfect way to explore the large footprint of the cold and remote Tarkine rainforest.
4. Bay of Fires
The Bay of Fires, a conservation area on Tasmania’s East Coast, is a palette of natural colour – pure white sand, grey green heathlands bright with wild flower, rocks splashed with orange lichen and the most amazing shades of blue water. It is the perfect place to relax and enjoy long walks on the beach.
This place is simply breathtaking. No wonder UK travel magazine Conde Nast Traveller named it the second most beautiful beach in the world! And what is really amazing is there are no crowds at all. You have to see it to believe it.
5. Experience the unforgettable – Bruny Island
At the Bruny Island Hotel, a woman from Victoria says to a local that she thinks people are starting to hear about this place. He looks around at locals and tourists alike, smiles and says, “Yeah, I think the secret’s out!” I am not helping matters, but when (not if) you come to Tasmania, you HAVE to plan a visit here.
Another must-do is the Pennicott Wilderness Expedition.
Mick Souter (our friendly skipper) kindly provides ginger tablets to everyone on board. And I’m glad he did it because it didn’t take long to realise that the rocking sea and powerful engine were potential for a wild, rolling couple of hours… “It’s not meant to be easy!” said Mick.
Buckle up your seat belt and head to the mesmerising and breathtaking cliffs, caves and abundant sea wildlife for a trip you won’t forget. Pods of dolphins follow us along the way, and the crystal clear water makes it easy to see them racing effortlessly in the water. Magic.
We travel on, speeding around and in between cliffs and small rock islands! We can stop the skipper at any time along the way, or leave him to decide. The crew easily describe interesting details about rock formations, plant life, fish and anything else along the coast succinctly. It was amazing to look back to shore and see nothing but nature and then nothing but life under the water.
The highlight is heading round the cape where you instantly realise there is nothing from here until Antarctica.
We slow down when we near a small island and WOW! I can hardly believe my eyes. There are so many seals! Some swimming, floating, playing in the cold water, others are lounging with miraculous grace on large rocks just taking in the day and our tour boat. I can’t stop taking photos and staring at these creatures.
So there you have it, my little taste of Tassie. Five weeks wasn’t enough! My love affair with the Apple Isle will ensure I return sooner rather than later.