It has been such a long time since my last post that I almost forgot that I have a blog. Seriously, between mid-December and the whole month of January so many activities of all kinds were crammed into a relatively short time-frame that it took me some time to get back my lost equilibrium.
Luckily, 2 weeks of holidays in Tasmania that we took over the Christmas and New Year break were exactly what the doctor ordered. Now, I am back, rested and re-charged and ready to take 2017 head on.
Neither of us had ever been to this part of Australia which is a small island in itself about 2 hours flight from Sydney and renowned for its natural beauty. A few of our friends went there and absolutely loved it, so we decided to give it a go.
Our first stop was the city of Launceston where we arrived on Christmas Day. I never imagined that there would be so many people travelling on that day, the airport lounge was absolutely packed with travelers. Anyway, we landed in 37 C degree heat, picked up our rental car and headed straight to Peppers Hotel. During the short drive, we didn’t see a single soul anywhere, the city was totally deserted and looked rather eerie in comparison with Sydney where lots of shops and cafes were open, people milling around and the beach was full of sunbathers.
It was lunch time when we checked in and the lady at reception informed us that we would not be able to find anywhere to eat including their own restaurant. She did, however, suggest that we should take a short drive to Cataract Gorge, one of the many of Tasmania’s natural wonders.
We still had to find food so I suggested a petrol station. There we were advised that McDonald's was open and went straight there. I have to admit, I hadn’t been to Macca's (it is unique Australian way to refer to McDonald's) for more than 13 years but I was quite impressed by the changes. We opted to create our own burger which turned out to be delicious. It was served on a small wooden board with the chips placed in a small wire basket – exactly the way all the gourmet burger joints do, but for a fraction of the price.
After lunch we went to explore Cataract Gorge which I would have enjoyed much more had it not been so unusually scorching hot.
Exploring Cataract Gorge
Cataract GorgeWe left Launceston the next day and set our course to Strahan. It is a very small settlement situated at the bottom of George River and it's main attraction being an array of water activities including boat cruises which we took the next day. The day was warm, the air was cooled down by a slight gentle breeze and we spent most of the time sitting on the top deck basking under the sun, watching the world go by while sipping chilled white wine of the region. Despite the size of the place, they had a couple of good restaurants with lovely waterfront views and excellent food and we had a lovely dinner at one of them called Risby Cove.
Sunset over George river
Dinner at Risby Cove restaurant
We spent a night in Strahan and the following morning were on the road again. I really enjoyed the pace that we had set for ourselves. Since the major attractions of Tasmania lie in its natural beauties and fresh produce, there was no reason for us to rush anywhere in particular, just drive around stopping at occasional cheese factory or a winery for a wine and cheese tasting.
A collection of cows outside Ashgrove Farm Cheese shop
At Ashgrove Farm Cheese shopFor people like us, who live in big cities with all the consequences that come with it, the change of pace came initially as shock but over time we came to appreciate the lack of cars and traffic on the roads, the streets almost devoid of people, the absence of shopping centres and malls, how all the activities died down as soon as the sun disappeared over the horizon. We enjoyed the fresh air, the green rolling hills, the mountain and the lakes and our lungs welcomed the clean, fresh and unpolluted air. The only thing that we found quite difficult to adapt to was the lack of mobile coverage to a point that we couldn’t even follow the Google maps and had to rely on the road signs for directions. Luckily for us, there is only one major highway that criss-crosses the island and it is almost impossible to get lost there.
A field of white poppies
The distances between the places that we planned to visit were no longer than 2 hours drive which is just about enough for me to endure and soon we arrived at our next stop – Cradle Mountain that forms the north end of the National park in the Central Highlands region of Tasmania and is one of the most popular natural areas in Tasmania. It is quite a remote area isolated from everything including the mobile network so the only thing was left to do is explore it, which was quite ok with me except that the weather turned its back on us and sent us quite a bit of rain but despite it we were determined not to let it ruin our holiday and dampen our spirits, so after we checked in into our lodge at Peppers, we unpacked our rain ponchos, laced up our hiking boots and set off for a long walk into the woods. After being in a car for quite some time, the walk was really enjoyable. This kind of environment is totally different to the one can find around Sydney and we were fascinated by the flora and fauna of the forest.
Outside our lodge at Peppers
Walking in the woods
Walking in the woods
Walking in the woods
Walking in the woods
Around Dove Lake
The next day we continued to explore the area and following the advice of friends, we took a short drive to nearby Dove Lake and take a closer look at Cradle Mountain, its jagged contours, streaming creeks and its alpine flora. Sadly, the rain continued and the view of the nearest mountains was partially obscure by mist. The temperature dropped and I was relieved that the time came to say goodbye to the wilderness and return to civilisation.
Walking in the rain could be fun
Dove Lake on a rainy day
The next morning we packed our bags, got in the car and following the route which we had prudently mapped the night before with the help of the hotel staff, sped off towards Hobart where we were going to spend New Year celebrations. But I will save this story for the next post,