Tripping round Tasmania

Mark and I had a bit of business to attend to in Hobart so we planned a quick trip but decided to invite my friend Suzanne along given we had a car and accommodation. Although Suzanne had visited Hobart before, she had basically only seen Port Arthur, Salamanca Markets and a bit of Hobart town. As Mark is a native Tasmanian, he immediately donned his tour guide hat and planned some daily activities.  Be warned: this is a very long post!

When we arrived at Hobart airport I saw an advertisement for a tourist study being conducted by the University of Tasmania and immediately signed myself up. Basically my iPhone got tracked everywhere we went (a bit of an eek moment about this) and we finished up with a map of all the places we visited. How cool is this?


I also have a map of each day’s activities, but I won’t inflict 15 more maps on you! We covered more than 3,500km in a couple of weeks, and saw some gorgeous sights, and put a lot of squiggles on the map when I look at it closely.

Followers on IG will have seen a few photographs of this trip, but I want to take you off the beaten path a little bit.

If you look at the map above, that blue line that ends at the water on the left (under Geeveston) is an area known as Cockle Creek which is the most southerly point able to be reached by road in Australia.  This is a stupendous bit of coastline called Recherche Bay and it sits at the edge of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area


Suzanne and I adding a bit of glamour to the proceedings!


Just outside Hobart itself is the Shot Tower built in 1870 to produce shot for, um, shotguns… After climbing 316 steps the view from the top is magnificent – until a certain someone stuck his thumb in there!


We had many picnic lunches in all sorts of places, but the stop on the beach at Lions Park just outside Bicheno, proved to be rather fascinating. This is a memorial erected by the Master of the Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleets and commemorates Wauba Debar (1792-1832) who is described as a “legendary Aboriginal heroine of the sea who died at sea”. Several parts of Bicheno are named after her and she was “taken from her tribe at Great Oyster Bay into servitude of grief and sorrow… No greater admiration”. Wauba’s grave was a little way away and had been paid for by local white settlers, and is listed by the National Trust. This must have been some woman as the divide between Aboriginal and white people was never greater than at that time. Of course I had to google her and discovered that she rescued two whalers when their boat capsized. She later died at sea and was brought ashore at this spot and buried.


In my previous post I briefly mentioned the Tessellated Pavement at Lufra, Eaglehawk Neck, on the edge of Pirate’s Bay. This is known as a pan and loaf formation, where the rock is worn away, leaving behind “tiles” with what looks like grout in between.


I have a bit of a love of rocks and when I see this sort of thing I really wish I had studied geology so that I could understand the micro details.

If you want to know more, good old Wikipedia has a good article. Apart from the interesting rock formation, Pirate’s Bay is a really pretty place, and I have to admit I’m slightly seduced by the concept of pirates. IMG_3044

Wineglass Bay is a popular tourist spot and I wasn’t going to mention it, but then I thought I would. A little hike to the top of a hill reveals a magnificent panorama which is supposed to resemble a wineglass. Now, I’ve been here a couple of times and I always think the wineglass shape is a bit nebulous, but it’s still a wonderful spot to visit. The walk down to the beach takes about an hour and is lovely, but the best view is from the top.


Another spot which is nice to visit is the Tasman Arch, which has been naturally formed through the action of wind and waves. There are a number of these arches around the world but I always think that this is a rather pretty one.


In 1972 the Serpentine and Huon rivers were dammed by the Hydro Electric Commission of Tasmania for hydroelectric power generation. The result is the flooded Lake Pedder, which went from a small lake with white sand beaches, to a massive lake with a surface area of approximately 242 square kilometres which is the largest freshwater lake in Australia. The flooding of Lake Pedder brought together protesters who were unsuccessful in stopping the dam, but who formed the catalyst for the Tasmanian Greens who are now recognised as the world’s first green party. In spite of the environmental damage, I did find the lake rather beautiful. IMG_2892-2

Apart from my love of rocks, I also have a bit of a thing for nice waterfalls and Tasmania is full of them. We climbed hills and hiked along rocky paths to capture them for you, dear reader!

This little waterfall was spied on a little walk in Cradle Mountain.


and we hiked to this beauty in the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park.

IMG_3079We did quite a few walks and were rewarded with vistas such as this one, which is viewed from the Black Bluff Nature Recreation Area. It was a misty  day, but I love the colours and the clouds.


Whilst we were visiting Cradle Mountain we called in to the Tasmanian Devil Sanctuary. It’s almost impossible to see these little creatures in the wild if you are a tourist and I was determined to see one. These rather artificial environments aren’t my favourite but needs must, and the tourist dollar funds research into the terrible facial tumours that these cute critters are afflicted with.


Whilst there we also saw a variety of quolls, which have lovely spotted coats. I suspect that they have a nasty bite though when we saw what they were eating. Suffice it to say that they are not vegetarian!

This is a juvenile quoll and it was so friendly. There was a small child talking to it on the other side of the fence. Just delightful!


As we left we found this wombat strolling along eating its lunch. Wombats are almost blind which is probably why it wasn’t bothered by me stalking it, and also explains the number of dead ones on the side of the road. They are quite isolated creatures and very territorial. Fun fact: they are related to the koala both of which are marsupials. Also, koalas are not bears!


Suzanne and I paid a visit to Runnymede House which was just down the road from where we were staying. They had advertised a display of original clothing from the 19th century and I was keen to see it. Runnymede is now owned by the National Trust and we were given a really interesting tour with fascinating insights into the family and the way they lived.

I was drawn to this little display. The original owner was a whaler and this is whalebone. The cotton reel holder is carved and the screw clamp on the top right is scrimshaw. Have a look at the basket; quite stunning.


The dresses were lovely. Below is a wedding dress with a mourning gown in the background.IMG_2996

Such a beautifully embellished dress, with a closeup of the sleeve detail. The face guard hanging in front of the fire was magnificent. I sometimes think I need one of these when Mark revs up the fire!


The detail on this mourning dress is gorgeous, especially round the hem.


I always think that no road trip in Tasmania is complete without a trip to Strahan (pronounced Strawn). This was one of the areas where convicts were sent and the Marcus Clarke book “For the term of his natural life” is well worth reading if you want to understand what the convicts went through and how they were dealt with. It also covers the convict settlements at Port Arthur and Norfolk Island. The road into Queenstown on the way to Strahan is rather tortuous, and I remember my first visit when we rounded a hairpin bend and saw this view, I was staggered. It was like a moonscape as the whole area had been mined for copper and also logged. They have been re-afforesting the area and it’s made a huge difference.


This beautiful bit of scenery is part of what is now the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park. This is the area that had been earmarked for destruction in 1978 as part of another hydro-electric scheme, and caused a major protest campaign, which proved quite divisive in Tasmania. The Australian Constitution gives the federal parliament the power to make laws with respect to external affairs, and the Hawke government passed the World Heritage Act under this provision and in a landmark case which went all the way to  the High Court of Australia, the Tasmanian government and the Hydro Electric Company lost the right to dam the rivers and the area is now protected as a Unesco World Heritage Site. Thank goodness! Did I mention that I am also obsessed with moss and lichen?!IMG_3069

On a previous trip to Tasmania our family took a sea plane into the Gordon River where many of the protests had been held (in watercraft) and I can’t begin to describe the pristine nature of the area and the gorgeous waterfalls. Our family feels an emotional connection with the events that took place at this time as Mark was a young partner in a Hobart law practice and worked with the protest organisers as one of their legal representatives as they prepared the case to take the Tasmanian government to the High Court of Australia. It must have been such an exciting time, and the result is that tourism has generated far more revenue and jobs than the hydro-electric scheme ever would have.

During the 3,500 kms of driving I was not idle. These are the things I knitted on this trip. A double stranded cashmere sock beanie for Mark, made with wool that I bought at a street market in San Francisco. The fingerless gloves (my TNT pattern) are made from three strands of cashmere that I bought from Colourmart UK about eight years ago. The two tone socks are the same as these but I accidentally bought two different coloured skeins from Purl Soho in New York. I rather like them. The blue is a cardigan which I shall be blogging separately so I won’t go into that just now. I was rather pleased with my productivity.


Mark, looking bewhiskered, managed to insert himself into a photo wearing the sock beanie as a regular beanie. He claims that it’s super warm and he got a hot head!


A place that any tourist in Tasmania should visit is The Wall. I don’t have any photographs because they are forbidden, but it is a large shed at Derwent Bridge (in the middle of nowhere really, halfway between Hobart and Strahan) where an artist, Greg Duncan, is creating a sculpture from wooden panels called The Wall in the Wilderness. It is an historical piece that runs for more than 100 metres and begins with the indigenous people, the flora and fauna, the pastoralists, miners, timber harvesters and other workers. This is a major work of art, being completely self-funded by the artist and it is jaw dropping. Some photos of the detail in the work can be seen here.

Suzanne and I had caught the ferry to the MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) and noticed that they had a new restaurant with some art in a new building called Pharos and Suzanne decided to treat us to dinner (absolutely delicious food btw). The restaurant is called Faro Tapas, and houses a “perceptual cell” which looks like a giant orb (previously shown here). It’s designed by American artist James Turrell, who does experimental work with light. There are four works by him in the museum but two have to be paid for separately. This work is called “Unseen Seen” and is a hallucinatory artwork which plays with the mind. Everyone experiences it differently and it is designed for two people at a time.


After signing a lengthy waiver and panic buttons in hand, we walked up a spiral staircase and lay down on a mattress.

IMG_3224 We were close to the top of the orb. Then a light show began and for fifteen minutes we were held completely in thrall as we experienced a kaleidoscope of colours and some serious strobing.

After we emerged from this cell, we were led to another experience called “weight of darkness”, which was a completely blackened room that we had to feel our way into and find the chairs to sit in. Then we experienced the weight that a completely black space brings to the mind. Quite amazing really.

Getting back to the restaurant the ceiling had lit up like the sunset and the orb was glowing. This is right on the river and it can be seen from all sorts of vantage points along the shore.


All that can be seen from the grounds of the MONA is this little skylight because the restaurant is built into the cliff and is therefore below ground level.


Mark had a lovely time playing in the spaces and this is another James Turrell exhibit which changes colours constantly. In my previous post I showed this in a blue light.IMG_3237

I mentioned that we had some tasks to do in Hobart and we got them all done on our last full day there! Our regular holidays in Tasmania are probably coming to an end, so I took this rather nostalgic photo from the plane, to remind myself of this beautiful island state.  This is a view of the Central Highlands and we also paid them a visit by car. IMG_3249

A final comment: I was rather amused when we were at the top of Mt Wellington and were chatting to a couple from Denmark and they mentioned that they were travelling to Australia the next day. I did gently remind them that Tasmania was part of Australia and so they were already there!




17 thoughts on “Tripping round Tasmania

  1. I have a conference I’m hoping to attend in Adelaide in 2020, and I’m now hoping to tack on a vacation in Tasmania as well. I’m sure my husband will want to go north from Adelaide but we’ll have to find a way to wander south, too. Australia has so much to offer I’m not sure how we’ll ever choose. I have finally realized (after years of traveling) that most of my favorite tourist memories are of hikes in distant places, so I’m finally choosing to incorporate those into my plans as much as all the man-made tourist spots.

    1. Ah, what a decision to have to make! Really, no matter where you go you will have a mindblowing time. I love to hike or ramble wherever I go, so many unexpected things present themselves.

  2. Wow! This is all so beautiful, and I totally agree about lichen, moss, stones and waterfalls. Absolutely lovely. Thank you for sharing. So interesting to see how varied and beautiful Tasmania is. xx

  3. Such a fascinating post and so wonderfully written, Sue! It reads like a novel with beautiful descriptions of the grand nature, exotic fauna, art installations and all. I truly hope to visit Tasmania one day with you and Mark as a guide. His involvement alongside the environmentalists and the fact that he won their case makes me even more proud of this fine man.

    1. Oh, wouldn’t that be a wonderful trip! I am really proud of the work he did to help save this pristine wilderness, and it’s always wonderful to see the results.

  4. What a trip! I visited many of those places 30+ years ago and remembered them so well from your photos. The moonscape of Queenstown was even more bleak then so am pleased it is rebounding. The art exhibits look so intriguing. Thanks for sharing with all of us armchair travelers!

    1. Yes, I went to Queenstown for the first time around 30 years ago and remember the shock of seeing it well. The area is definitely improving but Queenstown itself is a dying town. The MONA is always worth a visit!

  5. Such a lovely post about my birthplace! The Mona experience looks fantastic and I can’t believe you drove so far. I bet you were the winner of all the tourists!

  6. Thank you from sharing your trip. I suspect I will only visit vicariously so it was good to have such a wonderful guide 😃.

  7. Tasmania is so fascinating and I have travelled there a few time but would love to go to Cradle Mountain with my husband. So sad to hear that Queenstown is a dying town.

    Thank you for bringing back some wonderful memories.

  8. Thank you so much for writing this! I arrived in Tasmania yesterday and needed some inspiration for things to see 👍🏽

    1. Yay! Did you get the tracker app? Have fun and I hope the weather is kind. Keep in mind that these were day trips, you can be more efficient if you stay in hotels etc.

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