Australia is as big as the whole of the European continent, and visiting it entirely is impossible for the traveler in a hurry. We cross this island which is home to unique natural wonders. Australia’s deadly wildlife Tasmania, the island at the end of the world
Australians like to attack their fellow Tasmanians by saying their people evolved alongside the rest of humanity and were born with two heads. The joke goes back to when this island in the southeast of the southern mainland was a remote place, virtually inaccessible and populated by sullen shepherds. Today, Tasmania is less than a two-hour flight from Sydney or Melbourne and is at the forefront of Australia in environmental conservation, arts, tourism, and well-being.
As with the rest of Australia, a caravan is one of the best ways to get around Tasmania. Wild camping is permitted in certain areas within nature parks, so it is possible (and recommended) to enjoy lonely nights under the stars and in the company of opossums, wombats, and kangaroos.
From Hobart to Freycinet
The chronicles from the time tell that prisoners at the first penal colony at Port Arthur could not sleep because of the noise of hundreds of whales frolicking in the waters of the bay near Hobart, the capital of Tasmania.
Since the early 19th century, indiscriminate whaling has decimated the region’s marine mammal population, which is only beginning to recover today. The old prison is almost intact, and it is recommended to visit it to understand the dire conditions in which the first Australian settlers lived.
Further north and along the coast through the gigantic Baie de l’Oyster, the traveler will arrive at the Parc Naturel de Freycinet. There are several walking routes from this peninsula covered with lush vegetation and dotted with nooks, crannies, and virgin coves. The shortest, just two miles, reaches Wineglass Bay Viewpoint, named after the wineglass-shaped oval that outlines the sea on the sand. The longest combines all the routes in an excursion of about thirty kilometers that can be covered in two days.
The Central Plain and Launceston
In Australia, driving is synonymous with monotony. The road between Freycinet and Launceston is a feast for the eyes. The road winds between fenced hills where cows and sheep graze. Surrounded by orchards of fruit trees, villages dot the course and are renowned for their salmon and cheese. A late-night drive across the central plain allows you to enjoy the scenic landscape bathed in the golden evening light and watch the sun set behind the Jerusalem Range of Walls, home to some of the highest peaks.
Launceston is a sleepy town on the banks of the Tamar River. Less than a fifteen-minute walk from the center is the George Falls Nature Reserve. A narrow but easy-to-follow trail borders a gorge under which the Tamar flows. A suspension bridge crosses the river and leads to the old Old Duck Reach power station, where a series of posters illustrate how water power was harnessed to generate electricity in colonial times.
The county road from Launceston to Greens Beach runs along the River Tamar and provides a taste of what is known as the ‘Australian way of life.’ Houses with gardens reign, public barbecues next to the pristine river, and families who appreciate the tranquility of the place.
By road to Stanley
It is worth leaving the tranquility of the Tamar River to enjoy the spectacle of the waves crashing against the cliffs to the north of the island. The road to the town of Stanley has so many viewpoints and picnic areas that it is impossible not to stop several times to take in the scenery. From these places, the Aborigines of Tasmania saw the arrival of the first Europeans, the Dutch whalers, who named the island after their “discoverer,” Van Diemen.
Stanley and The Nut are two of Tasmania’s secrets. This summer city rooted in the 80s – a mix of The Goonies and Blue Summer in its Australian version – is located next to two symmetrical bays interrupted by a peninsula that ends in an unusual protuberance: The Nut. This rocky plateau rises 95 meters above sea level. Visitors can choose between a comfortable chairlift and a small steep path that only locals climb without losing their breath.
Driving south leads to Cradle Mountain National Park and Lake Saint Clair. The traveler plunges into the humid mist covering this wooded region of central Tasmania. Cradle Mountain, one of the most famous sights on the island, is temperamental and only appears one day in ten, and the rest of the time, it is cloudy.
Weather permitting, climbing the rocks is undoubtedly the best excursion on the island. For the most enduring, the Overland Track is a six-day course around the mountain. If the sky is overcast, the best option is to opt for the walk around Lake Saint Clair and soak up the romantic melancholy of the landscape.
Hobart, the “hipster” capital of Australia
A former ramshackle fishing town, Hobart was a sleepy capital until a millionaire forgot to pay his taxes. It’s been Australia’s most hipster, alternative and artsy city ever since.
In 2001, the Australian Treasury caught Tasmanian millionaire David Walsh evading taxes. An avid art collector, Walsh offered to return what he owed to state coffers by opening his vast collection to the public, and the Australian government agreed. Thus was born the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), Australia’s finest museum and one of the world’s most irreverent collections of contemporary art.
The museum, which houses works by great artists like Anselm Kiefer, also organizes music festivals, makes its wine, and has revolutionized tourism in Hobart. The once listless city is now a hive of artists, trendy shops, great music, and better coffee.