The plane that took us from Sydney was about to land, when the flight attendant suddenly announced: “Welcome to the beautiful state: Tasmania!”
Tasmania, our destination that evening, is indeed well known for its beautiful nature. Located in the southeast part of Australia, Tassie, that is how the locals call it, is the only state in Australia that is located outside the mainland.
Geographically, this island is divided into five major regions: Hobart and surrounds; East Coast; Launceston, Tamar and North; North West Coast; and Western Wilderness.
On our last winter trip, we only had chance to visit two regions: Hobart and surrounds and the Western Wilderness. However, these experiences were more than just enough to know that the landscapes and the views in Tasmania are just amazing.
Ranging from ports, museums, markets, to mountains and national parks, Tasmania is just too beautiful to be missed.
Get it start with Hobart
Most people who come to Tasmania will start their journey from Hobart, since this is the capital city of the state. Actually, there are other “gates” to get to this island.
There is an airport in Launceston, around 2 hours and half drive from Hobart that has some interstate flights like Hobart Airport. Another option is by taking the famous cruise Spirit of Tasmania from Melbourne to Devonport, around 3 hours and half drive from Hobart.
Some people tend to consider this state as “too far” since they need to cross the Bass Strait to get there. In fact, Tassie is only around 1 hour flight from Melbourne, and 2 hours from Sydney.
There are many places to visit in Tasmania. In Hobart and surrounds, for instance, the highlighted ones are the Museum of Old and New Arts (MONA), Port Arthur, Battery Point, Salamanca Market and Mount Wellington.
As our flight was landed at night, we did not explore anything on the night of arrival. But our motel, The Edinburgh Gallery Bed&Breakfast, was still offering some things to enjoy: its classical interior design and furniture.
This motel is not only beautiful, but also close to the city and very accessible. It is just around 10 minutes walk to the heart of Hobart city, or if you prefer to take public transportation, there is a bus stop in front of the motel.
We woke up in a chill morning on the next day. The temperature was just 1 degree Celsius. We had a breakfast to warm up then strolled away to city with a friend who lives in Tassie. Our first destination that morning was MONA, a private and distinctive museum in Tasmania.
We took a ferry, which was departed from the MONA Brooke St ferry terminal, then spent almost 2 hours to enjoy the collections in the museum. The collections were awesome; unfortunately we need to rush to the University of Tasmania (UTas) to join a group of international students who would go to Mount Wellington that afternoon.
Mount Wellington is a mountain, which is quite close from Hobart, only half an hour drive. It can be clearly seen from the city, even from our motel window.
By around 1 pm we arrived in the peak of it. It was cold, windy and snowy. We were so excited to play around, and touch the snow without gloves on. There is a lookout building where we could find some information about the mountain and also enjoy the beautiful scenery of Hobart from above.
Too bad the wind was really strong we were barely able to stand. So we just spent around one hour in Mount Wellington then decided to move to the lower place, like a rest area, to warm ourselves with hot chocolates and marshmallows.
Time does fly when we have fun. The sun was nearly set when we arrived in the city. We spent our last night in Hobart by having tasty fish&chips, a bucket of potato chips (fries) and fried fish for dinner. On the next day, an early bus would take us to explore another part of Tasmania: the Western Wilderness.
Wild Encounter in Western Wilderness
The Tasmanians call it Western Wilderness with a reason. This area is literally wild. Even our accommodation, the Discovery Holiday Park in Cradle Mountain, is located deep in the forest with natural surroundings and wildlife.
Cradle Mountain is the main tract in Western Wilderness. It is the home of some Australian native plants and native animals, which can only be found in the zoo or wildlife park in the cities, such as Tasmanian Devil, Wombat, Wallaby (small Kangaroo), Possum, Platypus, and native birds.
Here, in Cradle Mountain, we stayed in the habitat of these animals. At first, we were so surprised to be followed by wombats or possums when we walked around, but in the end we even looked for such encounter.
Almost 37% of Tasmania lies in reserves, national parks and World Heritage Sites. Cradle Mountain itself is a part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. The accommodations in this area have been built by considering the sustainability of environment, so the natures and the wildlife remain unspoiled.
To go to Cradle Mountain, the easiest and cheapest way is to rent a car. However, if you don’t really like driving, taking a bus can be another option. There are several services to Cradle Mountain from Hobart as well as from Launceston such as Tassielink, Redline Coaches, McDermott’s Coaches and some more. Just make sure you pay attention on their schedule since most of the service providers only have 3-5 services a week.
Cradle Mountain is also the starting point for the world-famous Overland Track, the 6 days bushwalk or better known as tracking/hiking in Indonesia. Indeed, the main attractions in Cradle Mountain are tracks or walks.
There are several tracks with five grades: from level 1 to 5. Each level has different requirements and difficulties. The first two levels are the easiest ones. They do not need bushwalking experiences, which means everyone can do it even children and people with disabilities.
Since we went to Tasmania with our two years old daughter, we only tried four short walks in level 1 and level 2: Boatshed in Dove Lake, Lake Lilla Walk, Pencil Pine Falls and Rainforest Walk, and Enchanted Walk.
It was drizzling when we started the walks. We went to the Dove Lake by shuttle bus from the visitor center, which was just a stroll away from our cabin.
Once we arrived in the Dove Lake, we registered our walks first for safety reason in the drop off point. It was basically just writing the destinations and time of departure, so if something bad happened, the rescue team would know where and how to find us.
That morning, The Dove Lake was covered with mists and the summit of Cradle Mountain even covered with snows. It was really cold. We were still shivering though we already wore coats and gloves. Luckily, the rain was stopped for few hours and the sun shined quite brightly though in the next hour it started to rain again.
The weather in Cradle Mountain is indeed unpredictable. It is changing almost every minute. Even our local guide, James Smith, said that Cradle Mountain has what he called as “10 minutes climate.”
“It is better to be prepared for all kinds of weather here, it is changing quite often,” he said in smile.
But the weather issue was nothing compare to what we experienced there. Everything was just so beautiful. The lake was somehow hypnotizing. So were the fall and the river. The air was so fresh. The wallabies (small kangaroos) and possums were wandering around. We even spotted a platypus that was floating on a pond. Those experiences were definitely something that kept us warm.
Another good thing about Tasmania is the warm welcome from the people. The locals are very welcome and helpful. They are more than just happy to talk about their state and share stories.
Besides, Tasmania is the only Australian state that accepts interstate or even international concession (a discount fare for student and pensioner) for public transportation, which makes the cost for transport is cheaper.
Some people may argue that Tassie is the farthest part of the Down Under, since it is separated from the mainland. However, Tasmania is actually not that far, it’s really worth the journey, just like the tagline of this state: A World Apart, Not A World Away.
- Book the ticket and accommodation earlier. The earlier you book, the better deal you get.
- Prepare all the gears you need. Make sure you know what you are going to do in Tasmania. If you want to have some walks, make sure you wear trekking shoes, otherwise, you will just spend the day struggling with your footwear.
- Since the weather is changing at all seasons, better to always prepare warm clothes, gloves, beanie (hat), and raincoat.
(The shorter version of this article was published in The Jakarta Post on August 22, 2012)