Did you know that Anna Creek Station, the largest of its kind in Australia, is bigger than Israel? Just think about it. An area of land as big as a country, just for your cows. You have probably never even seen a lot of your own property in person. Hell, there are probably places that no one has ever seen so far, except for your cows. And maybe not even them. That's Australian outback for you.
It was quite interesting to see how this particular piece of Australia can be so different from the mainland, and I’m not talking just about scenery and wildlife. Small things here and there stand out and create a very unique experience. For example, I’ve never seen poplar trees lining the roads anywhere in Australia before. Or so many timber forest reserves, for that matter. They also love the “JCN” abbreviation on the road signs there (meaning “junction”). They don’t however, like to put up too many speed limit signs, and as you return to the main road you have no idea whether it’s a 80 or a 100 zone. An extra $12 for the vehicle in national parks wasn’t a particularly great surprise either.
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.