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A Week in Tasmania

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Distance covered: 480.1 km. The gap is where I forgot to switch my GPS tracker back on in time.

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.

Tasmanian farmlands.

Tasmanian morning, cloudy but sunny.

The road across the farmlands finally takes me to Sheffield, where I stop to buy some food – which obviously includes some famous Tasmanian apples. I pick a few Golden Delicious ones, and they’re quite delicious indeed, as the subsequent tasting shows.

Cool-looking mountain ranges began to appear.

Even more impressive as you look closer.

At 9 a.m. I reach my first major destination for today: Cradle Mountain National Park. The scenery is quite interesting, but the tops of the mountain ranges are covered in thick clouds. The vegetation is markedly different from anything I’ve seen in Australia before; tall white trunks, completely bare, is what draws the eye the most. It’s quite chilly, too: 15°C or so. No wonder they call this environment alpine.

The alpine-looking gums.

The park itself appears to be quite popular: costs me $16.50 just to get there. A big visitor centre, a restaurant, a souvenir shop – the whole shebang. Sadly, the eponymous mountain is hopelessly wrapped in clouds, so I have to take pictures of whatever is available and then retreat to the nearby Ronny Creek for a quick meal.

Lake Dove.

Lake Lilla.

The Glacier Rock.

At the Ronny Creek.

In the meantime, however, the clouds suddenly dissipate, and I promptly return to the Lake Dove. Yup! Here it is, the Cradle Mountain itself, very imposing and striking. If you think that it looks nothing like a baby crib, you would be right, because it’s another kind of cradle: the one that gold miners used to wash up the precious metal at the creeks. Never seen a tool like this up close, so I can only hope it does bear some resemblance to the mountain itself.

The Cradle Mountain.

Leaving the park at last, I resume my driving through the innumerable hills, where the road is constantly winding left and right and bouncing up and down. That’s Tasmanian driving for you, all right! Forget about cruise control: too many twists and turns on the road to relax. Takes me two full hours to reach my next destination: the Leven Canyon.

The Leven Canyon from the Cruikshank Lookout.

Same, from the Edge Lookout.

A majestic place, indeed. An enormous basalt mountain towers above the narrow gorge with a river winding down below. I take quite an easy walk to get there, and a slightly more challenging one to another lookout, which involves a bit more steps and climbing. On the way back, I'm treated with numerous tree ferns that I instantly fall in love with.

Tree ferns.

Not even sure why I like them so much. There’s just something very ancient and prehistoric about their shape that immediately catches the eye. You can almost sense dinosaurs or other primordial creatures watching you cautiously from behind them, waiting for you to go away and disappear in your modern world.

Fern forest.

Prehistoric fronds.

A couple more hours of driving, and I turn up at the Guide Falls: the first Tassie waterfall I see. Not the most striking of them, and there’s a few leisure seekers splashing around in the pool, but one waterfall is still better than zero waterfalls.

Guide Falls.

The next point of interest on the map is Hellyer Gorge. Not too scenic either, but you do get a closer look at those temperate woodlands and stony creeks that Tasmania is full of.

Hellyer Gorge.

It’s about 6 p.m. already when I reach the Dip Falls. First, however, I have an opportunity to witness the so-called Big Tree. The tree is quite big indeed (62 m height, 16 m circumference), and obviously my picture doesn’t do it justice. The walk there and back is quite short and lovely though, and there’s no people around at all.

The Big Tree.

I do, however, meet some at the Falls. They’re relaxing at the water pool below, but they’re considerate and polite enough to retreat and let me take a few pictures. Thanks, guys.

The Dip Falls from above.

The Dip Falls from below.

Some impressive rock formations.

Time to wrap it up for today, though. I stop by the caravan park in Stanley, but they refuse to let me in for a quick shower. Now that’s a first! They’re quite apologetic about it, saying that they used to let people shower for $12, but due to so many patrons in the park the waiting times were just too long. Okay. Whatever.

Slightly further away, in Smithton, I do find my shower and also a camping spot: a large grass-covered area next to the Tall Timbers resort. Camping is free, but showering is not: costs me 7 bucks to get a key to the amenities block that turns out to be open anyway. The day was quite hot and humid by Tasmanian standards, so the shower is quite welcome even at this price.
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