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.
No wind at night = excellent sleep. At least while I'm still travelling with a tent, anyway. I'm off at 7:15, ready to explore my way down south. Coincidentally, this is where the sealed road ends for me as well. I stop to deflate the tyres next to the hotel's amenities block and suddenly discover that they have free showers there (unless you feel like making a gold coin donation at the hotel desk). Well, plenty of time for hygiene later.
Windy night did not make for a good night's sleep indeed, but it's not like I came here for comfort, is it? It's still windy and chilly when I pack up my camp and head out at 7 a.m., but the sun is out and the skies are clear: going to be a hot one today. The landscape becomes more and more flat and featureless as I drive on amidst the quickly shortening shadows.
There's no better day to leave home than Friday the 13th. Especially if it's a four-day trip across the Australian outback. Especially if you're entirely on your own, with very rudimentary car repair skills, miles (hundreds of miles, sometimes) away from any help. What can possibly go wrong?
Alright, so what I can say in the end? In the end, the trip was excellent. I have visited every place that I wanted to visit, and I've seen everything that I wanted to see. Even despite all that dirt driving, the car is still in one piece (except for that bloody mud guard and those lights): kudos to the Japanese automotive industry.
The night is surprisingly warm: must be because the Bight is so close. No rain either: also a plus. I hesitate and think about whether I should make it a two-day or a one-day trip back home. I'm not on a schedule, but if I choose two days, what exactly am I supposed to see here? I've been to this area before, so it's not exactly terra incognita. I could go to the Eyre Peninsula, of course, and explore its southern part… but the weather isn't too grand, so it probably won't be too enjoyable. One day it is, then. A thousand kays in one go: tough, but doable. And I won't have to pitch the tent at the end of it, anyway.