Never in a million years would I have thought that we were going to visit Tasmania, but here we are and all I can say - Tasmania you are stunning. We departed Melbourne and flew straight to Hobart, which is the capitol of this island that lies only 1600 miles from Antarctica. The flight was quite short, only one hour and Mila, for the first time in her life, received her very own airplane ticket! Upon our arrival in Hobart, the boys went to get the the rental car while Mila and I were waiting outside with our luggage. Suddenly, I saw Leo running towards me with two bouquets of flowers. I though to myself, awww my husband is so sweet, he bought me these beautiful flowers for no reason, how romantic? I am so lucky! Here it turns out, Leo was throwing some rubbish and found these beautiful flowers right next to the trash bin. Naturally, Rick though they could not go to waste and would make a perfect gift for his wife…as they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure…especially for homeless gypsies like us, ha! I guess I will have to add some extra cayenne pepper to Rick’s soup as a payback : ) We booked two weeks in Tasmania and the first part of our adventure was spent on the northern part of the island. We rented an awesome house in an industrial port town called Burnie. It was located one block from the ocean, right next to a wonderful park. We arrived there late at night, around 10 pm but this short 3.5 hour road trip from Hobart gave us a good idea about this unique and beautiful island.
First of all, we absolutely love our AirBnB rental. There are two huge bedrooms, a perfect kitchen, original hardwood floors, a fenced in back years for the kids and ocean views! We all slept very well the first night and woke up ready to go. In the morning I went for a run along the ocean boardwalk. Later we met up in Burnie Park, right by our house, where we discovered an amazing playground for the kids. After dinner we headed to the beach to watch penguins emerge from the ocean. Unfortunately we only saw one lonely penguin sitting by the boardwalk and since it was getting dark and cold, we decided to call it a night. Leo was lucky enough to hold one little penguin during a short lecture led by local volunteers.
The next day, we packed our car and drove to the western most part of Tasmania, known as the Tarkine Region of the island. It was located about 2 hours from our house, but it was totally worth it. First, we stopped at what is effectively known as the Edge of the World. It derives its name because if you sailed due west from this point of the Southern Ocean, you wouldn't hit another land mass until you plough into the tip of Argentina, about 17,000 km away! Its also known as the Roaring Forties for its constant winds eclipsing 40 km/ hour. Such a unique place that gave all of us wind burn! Hahaha! It is the starting point for Arthur beach coastal walk to Church Rocks. We did a 5km walk along the beach and the views were stunning. On one side there was dark blue ocean with waves crashing into the beach full of rocks, boulders and logs, and to the right giant dunes, forests, and small creeks. We trekked along the beach admiring this wonderful coastline.
Once we got back to the car we ate lunch and decided to drive to the second largest temperate rainforest in the world. We picked a short trek through Lake Chisholm Forest Reserve, which is a flooded limestone sinkhole. The 30 min path led us through majestic old myrtle forest full of huge eucalyptus trees. It reminded us of a trip to Muir Woods in California with its giant redwoods. Leo and Mila absolutely loved this little adventure in the jungle, they kept running through the narrow valley, hiding behind the trees and exploring this amazing side of the world. When we finished this adventure it was close to 5 pm. Rick and I wanted to keep going but the kids were getting tired. Since we still had two hour drive ahead of us, we decided to head home and get ready for another day of exploration on this stunning island.
The next morning we chose to explore the coastal city of Stanley and climb the local mountain called The Nut. The town was located about an hour from our house so not too bad. You can see The Nut from the road and it looks like a big hill right at the edge of the ocean. It's not very high, only 430 meters but the ascent it pretty steep. There was a ski lift that took you all the way to the top, but why bother when your are young and healthy. We got to the summit in less than 20 minutes and admired 360 panoramic views of the ocean - quite unique experience. The top of this hill was very flat with a 2km loop trail which included several viewing points. It was quite windy but nothing compared to the Edge of the World. Once we got to the bottom, we drove to the city center and visited a local sea food place called Hursey Seafoods. It's a shop/restaurant where you can buy all of the locally caught sea food. We ordered a plate of fried gummy shark bites with French fries as well as scallops. We set up a small picnic outside on the lawn area and shared this delicious meal together. The kids has a taste for this yummy meal, they are both starting to try new cuisines more frequently. Mila has always been a great eater and Leo is slowly acquiring new tastes.
The next day took us to our most physically demanding hike yet. It was picture perfect out, 65 & sunny and we headed inland to Cradle Mountain National Park (1.5 hour drive from our house). This park is a home to the iconic Cradle Mountain, which is tucked in between ancient rainforest and alpine heaths. The scenery was stunning, very wild and completely different from anything we have seen before. At first we chose to do a loop trail around Dove Lake, but at the last minute, Rick decided it would be cool to climb the adjacent summit to Cradle Mountain at Marion’s Lookout along the Overlook Pass. It was an 8km, Grade 4 hike. The first part led us through mostly flat prairie and less challenging terrain where we were able to spot few local species, including wombat who was sitting on the side of the hill and eating grass. Leo was so funny, he brought his binoculars with him and used them the entire day : )
About an hour in, we started our ascent through the forest and along a couple of waterfalls and a creek. Once we exited the forest, we emerged right in front of Crater Lake and its beautiful surroundings. It was so cool because we were able to see snow on the top of some of the mountains. We continued our hike that slowly got more challenging and intense. After 15-20 minutes we got to our first base, where we were greeted with gorgeous views - one side of the mountain overlooking Crater Lake and down in the valley, Dove Lake. We stopped for a good 30 minutes, ate lunch, let the kids throw rocks over the cliffs, and admired this spectacular scenery. At this point we were about 1100 meters above the sea level and still had 400 more to climb. The last part of this hike was pretty crazy - it was no long a hike, but a climb. You climbed onto huge rocks while holding onto a chain railing. People gave us pretty wild looks after seeing Leo and Mila with us, since they were the only young kids there, but hey, this is how we Herman’s roll! Once again, Leo did a phenomenal job and got to the top like a pro. He even received several words of admiration from other hikers. After reaching the top of the mountain and Marion’s Lookout, you feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. It’s one of the best feelings in the world. We sat down on the rocks, relaxed for a bit while Leo and Mila created their own playground at the summit, telling us they were building a train, hahaha! This was quite a popular place, there must have been 30-40 other hikers up there with us (it was Saturday). We took in views of Cradle Mountain and all of its surroundings.
Going down was an interesting experience - we chose a different route, a quote/unquote shortcut taking you straight down the mountain versus a bit of zig/zag as you normally do to get to the bottom. It was much more steep than we both anticipated. At one point Leo slipped and fell, and from the sound of his cry I was afraid he sprained an ankle or knee, but thankfully, he only got a bruised knee. Nevertheless, we got to the bottom of the mountain and the rest of the pathway ran along Dove Lake. It definitely did save us time, we cut a good 45 minutes off of our decent. The picture perfect scenery made us forget about being tired or hurt, always a plus : ) Once we got home, kids went outside to the backyard and Rick and I prepared a delicious meal - scallops with linguini (kids ate pasta with homemade pesto sauce) and I can honestly admit it was one of the best meals ever. Paired with a glass of local Chardonnay it was a perfect pairing.
We readily admit we’ve been going at a rapid pace during our World journey. Each day has been filled with new adventures, discovery, hikes, and exploration. This rapid style of life has been slowly catching up with us. We kind of felt like we were hitting a bit of a wall a few weeks ago, but it definitely sunk in during our last 2 days in Burnie. We were both physically & mentally exhausted. Not only from all we’ve done but 24/7 around each other & the kids can also can have its effects. We still took the kids to the park, worked out, cooked, etc, but we also took afternoon siesta’s and did not drive anywhere. We had planned one more hike (going to a waterfall) but decided against it. Sometimes I wonder if we’re running at too fast of a pace and trying to do too much. Maybe we need to build in more down time? We get caught up in wanting to see it all, hike every mountain, visit every beach, and soak in every scenic shot. There is so much to see in this World, and we both feel a connection to Tasmania and its landscape. It is wild and exotic and boasts so much diversity. We’ve also eclipsed the half way point of our trip and both Rick & I have started to think about what may lie ahead for us. For now, we are just trying to enjoy every moment. We’ve got 1 more week left in Tassie and there is so much more to do here. So for now, the show must go on and we’re back in the fast lane!