Monday, 23 July 2018

Cockle Creek: Adventure to the South Coast

The greatest thing about Tasmania is how much of it is untouched by civilisation. It's one of the few places where you can drive an hour from the state capital and feel like you are in the middle of nowhere. It's no wonder people spin yarns about Tasmanian tiger sightings. I mean, there are plenty of places for the carnivorous marsupials to hide in this state!

My craving to go places had me wanting to visit the south coast of Tassie. As you'd expect, the roads don't go that far! Southport is the final town—when defining a town as a place with a pub—and Cockle Creek is the end of the road. There's also a nifty sign, labelled: End of the Road, which sees a certain breed of tourist driving out, taking a snap, then turning back around. While there's nothing wrong with that, we're not that kind of traveller. End of the Road? Right, I'll take a snap then keep going forward!

There is a hike from Cockle Creek that takes you to the south coast. For those who want to explore more of the area, there's a multi-day hike around the peninsulas. We opted for the day hike, but she's a bit of a long one, 10kms each way!

The walk itself is quite an easy one; well maintained, and follows a straight, relatively flat track. I was quite amazed to see many other people travelling this path; the craving to see the southern coast runs through many sets of veins! And why not? The rewards for the walk are absolutely worth it!

I was shocked to see the cliffs we hiked to were devoid of colour, grey, like some kind of moonscape. The place would make a magnificent setting for a sci-fi flick! Still, even with the bone-chilling wind, it's one of the nicest places I've just sat and relaxed, drinking in the area's natural beauty.

There's something about antartic waters. I've gazed into it along various sections of the mainland's south coast, but here, it was far more intense. The water's colour holds an epic deepness, sprouting electric-blue streaks with each crash of the waves. Of all the beaches, islands, cliffs, and coastal views I've experienced, nothing compared to this. Maybe it was something about the weather? Perhaps the contrast alongside all the grey? I don't know, but it was ridiculously gorgeous. I really wish photos could convey the slightest justice of what our eyes devoured. You'll just have to come visit yourself!

After soaking in the beauty, and making the return trip to the troopy, we headed north for Southport. It's critically important to stay hydrated while engaging in days of hiking. Hence, the pub was our immediate destination. Southport's pub offers reasonably priced food, camping spots, and of course, beer! They consider themselves the top pub in Australia, sporting the logo of Australia with Southport's location marked, only the country is flipped upside-down! To go with the theme, and despite the XXXX logo on show in the photo below, we hooked into a few Great Northerns!

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Tasman: a Remarkable Peninsula


In the last post, Jeni shared her thoughts on the old penal colony of Port Arthur. Now, that place is really cool, but the Tasman Peninsula has much more to take in for those who want to explore a little more.

The Tasman Peninsula has some absolutely stunning shoreline. A part of this shore includes the tallest sea cliffs in the southern hemisphere. These monstrous walls rise up 300m from the ocean ceiling.

Some well-noted sections of this coastline, which everyone should make an attempt to check out, are the Devils Kitchen, Tasman's Arch, and Remarkable Cave. Much of these formations are the results of the wild waves of time pounding away at the dolerite landscape. Dolerite is pretty strong and doesn't break down or collapse all that easy.

Of the peninsula's coastline we explored, Remarkable Cave was easily our favourite. For lack of a better word, it was remarkable. It's a short walk down fabricated stairs to get to the looking platform. This view alone is stunning. Inside, however, is remarkable!

Remarkable Cave is like a beach tunnel that forks out into the ocean. The inside is gorgeous, amplifying the sounds of the roiling ocean. Waves do come through, and can be a little strong and sudden, so keep an eye on the sets.

On the way out of the peninsula is Pirate's Bay. I mean, with a name like that, how could you not check it out! We went for a stroll along the beach, but failed to bump into any pirates or uncover any hidden treasure. Afterwards, on the way out, we cruised up a mountain lookout and witnessed a great view and bumblebees attacking thistle flowers.

The Tasman Peninsula is only 75kms from Hobart, making it an easy day trip for locals or anyone visiting the city. For anyone visiting Port Arthur, you would be crazy not to explore a little more of this remarkable peninsula.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Port Arthur Historic Site

Australia was initially a penal settlement. Prisoners were sent here because the gaols were too full in England. Port Arthur was set up as a secondary punishment; for those prisoners who continued to misbehave. It was isolated, like an island, with only a narrow section joining the Tasman Peninsular to the rest of Tasmania, Eaglehawk Neck. Prisoners wouldn't be able to escape, as most couldn't swim. If they did try to swim, they would be picked up by boats in the port. At the narrow join of Tasman Peninsular to Tasmania a line of vicious dogs kept on chains were there to make noise of any approaching escapees.

Life at Port Arthur couldn't be more different for free settlers, and convicts. Kept completely separate, the views of settlers, was a romantic, waterside village, with a church, beautiful gardens, and lovely places for family picnics. For the convicts it was hell on earth. Essentially slavery. Punishment was corporal, cat-o-nine-tails, irons or sensory deprivation in solitary confinement. We went into sensory deprivation room. Completely dark, and noiseless. Thick concrete walls prevent any light or sound to enter. Complete torture.

Timber, sandstone, and dolerite were harvested, and used for the buildings. Many of the original buildings are just a shell of what they once were. When the colony shut down, many buildings were sold, some have burnt down and others pillaged for parts for new buildings, parts such as bricks, hard wood posts, sandstone. The site is now a historic site and all buildings have been bought back.

I didn't realise how big this place was. I thought we would go in, spend an hour or so, then be on our way. I was wrong! Tickets are valid for two days. It includes an introductory 45 minute tour, and a 20 minute boat ride around the port. There are so many buildings to go in and see, wander the gardens, stroll around. There are golf buggies available for those less mobile to get to and from the buildings, that staff happily drive guests around. We got there at 9 and got a park right out front. There is much parking, but if you want to be closer, get there early. You'll be doing plenty of walking in the day. No need to walk extra distance to the car! I may sound lazy, but we had just spent nearly every second day hiking up mountains over two weeks by the time we came here. I thought it would be a relaxing day.

Happy Travels
- Jeni



Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Mount Amos: Freycinet's Postcard Lookout

Freycinet is Tasmania's most popular coastal national park. It's not hard to see why; Wineglass Bay is absolutely stunning, and from atop Mount Amos, you score the perfect postcard view! Freycinet is also quite close to Hobart.

Tassie has some oddly pronounced locations. You may have read Freycinet in your head as frey-ki-net. Hey, I don't blame you; it is how it's spelt. However, it's actually pronounced fray-shay-nay. The park, and peninsula, were named after  Louis de Freycinet, a French navigator.

There are camping opportunities around Freycinet, as well as top-end resorts catering for those who seek quality comfort. We didn't spend too long here; climbing Mount Amos was our goal.

The walk up Mount Amos isn't all that long, taking a bit over an hour each way. That said, it is quite a tricky climb. From the carpark, the walk kicks off as a simple trail. After about a kilometre, you'll start scaling the mountain, much of which involves boulder-climbing and steep scrambles. Definitely not a walk for a rainy day! A decent level of fitness is recommended.

This hike can be quite tiring, but after each steep incline, you'll be rewarded with even more amazing views of this stunning national park. Taking a break, catching your breath, then losing it as you gaze in awe at the surrounding beauty, is half the fun of this climb!

After enjoying the beauty of Mount Amos, we took a quick cruise around to the lighthouse. Here you can take a short stroll around the cliffs that surround the lighthouse, all while scoring a fantastic view back at Mount Amos and the body of water that enters Wineglass Bay.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Bay of Fires

Northeast of Hobart, between Binalong Bay to Eddystone Point, lies a section of coastline known as the Bay of Fires. Unlike the section of coast further northCape Portland, which I recently posted aboutBay of Fires is extremely popular with tourists. The beautiful beaches, clear water, easy accessibility, and proximity to Hobart are good reasons for that.

This coast is covered in granite boulders that are covered in red lichen. This gives them a scorched appearance. It's rather picturesque and adds flavour to the name of the place: Bay of Fires.

There's plenty of places to camp, swim, bush-walk, and enjoy the beauty of Tasmanian coastal national parks. At the same time, civilisation is never too far away.

Despite the skies clouding up, and the cold weather rolling over during our time here, we enjoyed checking out the local sights and doing a few coastal walks. We even got close and personal with some of the local wildlife!

We ended up staying at Lagoon Beach Campsite. This place is free to camp, and as such, can be quite crowded. It has amenities in the form of drop dunnies. The camp spots are well spread out, offering a short walk to the nearby beach.
The Bay of Fires is an amazing place to check out and enjoy!

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Cape Portland

I recently blogged about how delightful the north coast of Tasmania can be in nice weather. Well, our experience in Cape Portland was astounding. The weather couldn't have been better, the water was possibly the clearest I had ever seen, and the sand was white and squeeky underfoot. I can't wait to revisit this pristine section of coast.

The cape juts out into Bass Strait and is home to a bunch of wind turbines. I've heard all sorts of arguments for and against these energy-generating devices, but if everywhere that housed them was as stunning as Cape Portland, I'd say chuck them in everywhere! Alright, I know that's not how they work, but this place was the best!

Our first stop was Lemons Beach. Words and photos could never convey such perfection. I have never snorkelled in such clear water. At times, it almost felt as though I was swimming in a giant aquarium. Everything was just so perfect! There was plenty of sea-life going about their day. I made friends. I made anemones. Yeah, I went there.

We didn't camp out near Lemons beach, however, there are camping spots not too far away. When I next visit Tassie, I'll definitely plan a few nights here! The place isn't as quiet as Waterhouse, but, if I haven't made it clear enough already, this is possibly one of the best places to snorkel off the Tassie shore. I mean, look at these pics!

After spending an age exploring this slice of heaven, we continued further up the cape, only to find an absolutely picturesque beach at the tip. Cape Portland is possibly one of my favourite places in all of Australia. If you're into snorkelling, diving, spearfishing, fishing, or just relaxing on a beautiful beach and in the water, you should definitely put this place on your bucket list!

I can't wait to return to Cape Portland!