There are two options for me when I disembark the ferry and enter Melbourne at 7:15 in the morning. Should I take a good look at the Great Ocean Road and the Otways National Park, spend another night on the road, and get back home tomorrow? Or ignore the Otways for now and do the GOR and get back to Adelaide in one go? I decide to pick the latter. No doubt that the Otways are spectacularly beautiful, but from what I know, these rainforests look a lot like Tasmania’s; and besides, I really could use a calm day off at home before going back to work on Monday.
The morning is quite sunny, but by the time I get to the Freycinet National Park the sky is overcast again. Erratic Tassie weather doesn’t work in my favour this time. Luckily, there’s no rain, and nothing stops me from taking a hike towards the Wineglass Bay lookout. It doesn’t look impressive at this weather, but what can you do?
Having deflated the tyres in the morning just for good measure, I retrace my steps back across that nameless 4WD track; and, of course, take two is a lot less scary than take one. Valuable lessons learned, though (never trust Google!), and some four-wheel driving skills gained, and not even a single busted tyre for it. Could be worse. Could be much worse.
The area around Lake Pedder is quite elevated, and as a result the night is quite chilly: 8°C by the time I wake up. Should have brought an extra blanket, even though it's way more comfortable and warmer to sleep in a car rather than a tent. Anyway. Time to head back to the highway and further east thenceforth.
Time to move much deeper inland now, away from the west coast into the mountainous and very forested central regions. A few glaciers beat me to it, though. From the Iron Blow lookout just outside Queenstown, a short hike takes me to the Horsetail Falls. This is my first reminder that visiting Tasmanian waterfalls at summer is probably not such a good idea. Slightly damp rocks is all I get this time around.
At 7:15 the journey resumes, taking me southwards along the Tasmania's west coast. An hour later I get to the place called Bluff Hill Point: a lovely-looking lighthouse towering above the terse coastal scenery. Saltbush, rugged rocks and a very blue ocean without a single person around.
The boat arrives to Devonport right on time: 6:30 a.m. Of course, I’m fully awake by then and quite eager to explore the uncharted lands. The said lands are quiet and very peaceful at this early hour. The air is cool and moist and very clean. Picturesque hills are covered with fields and pastures and stretch around as far as the eye can see.
Come to think of it, Tasmania may be the only place in Australia where you can travel outdoors extensively during summer. Everything else at this time of year is either too hot or too wet. Unless that’s what you’re looking for, of course. With that in mind, and also using this week off to test some new camping gear, I’m taking off at eight-ish in the morning of the Australia Day, beginning my way towards Melbourne. Another road never travelled before. Some places are quite familiar yet, though.
Contrary to my expectations, and despite the sheep bleating constantly at the cattle station nearby, I sleep quite well. Off at 6:50 in the morning. The country is brown, plain and dull at first, but graduately becomes more mild and undulating, with patches of muted green here and there. Lots and lots of kangaroos: I almost hit three of them myself within an hour. Plenty of roadkill, too.