This is part two of my Tasmanian road trip. Click here to read part one.
Maria or bust
When I woke up New Year’s Day, I went for a walk down to the beach and spotted a baby wallaby along the way. We did our dishes using ocean water before heading towards the heart of Freycinet National Park to Wineglass Bay, an iconic symbol of Tasmania. We spent the day hiking to the lookout and down to Wineglass Beach.
We couldn’t be fussed to cook that night, so we stopped for dinner at a fish n chips shop and pinched their wifi. We made a last minute decision to head to Maria (pronounced Mariah) Island the following day, and miraculously managed to get a spot on the ferry the next day. Did I mention we were traveling in peak season? We drove down to Triabunna and camped in a lot next to where the ferry left from.
Tassie Devil Huntin’
Maria Island is eco-friendly and simple. By that I mean there is not a single shop to be found nor trashcan: what you bring on you must bring off. When we arrived at the visitor’s centre to register for a camp site, the ranger excited us by telling us we’d be sure to spot a Tasmanian devil once the sun set. In the mean time we set up camp, whipped up another mean salad and set off for a walk to the Painted Cliffs. The beautifully exposed rock formation was formed by water oozing through the sandstone, staining the rock. The result is spectacular waving patterns of various colored rock. Painted Cliffs
We then set off on the Fossil Cliffs walk, and saw lots of wildlife: wombats, wallabies, kangaroos. Essentially everything except a Tasmanian devil. The campground had hot showers, but a $1 coin only bought you 4 minutes. And I only had one $1 coin so… But any hot shower felt nice since we hadn’t had a proper one since the second night. We deviated from our usual 5-course pasta meal and decided to grill burgers and vegetable kebabs. Except the bbq was pretty meager, so we bit into extremely strong onions. The solution was to pour salt all over them. It worked somewhat. Once the sun had set and night had fallen we set off in search of the Tassie devil, only to find… more wombats, wallabies, kangaroos, oh and don’t forget the pademelons. Using our lights (iPhone only), we scampered after dark shapes we thought might be the mysterious animal we were searching for only to find a wombat, or a lump of grass. We started to head back but decided to take a quick detour and along the path FINALLY saw one! Although Whitney and I were the only ones who saw it. I was in front of the others so I got the closest look and there was no mistake of his cute little body, white strip and scared eyes. When I got too close with my light he zoomed off faster than Speedy Gonzales. So no picture, but I saw him dammit!Do you wombat?
Bustling city of Port Arthur
In the morning we packed up and took the ferry back over to the mainland. Well, the main island. I liked to say that we were on an island (Maria) off of an island (Tasmania) off of an island (Australia, because it’s essentially one giant island). We headed down to the Tasman Peninsula, stopping for lunch at a little roadside van before heading to the beach. Ricardo and Carolina were pretty antsy to surf, although they were met with tumultuous waves and a strong current. Whitney had her go but soon returned exhausted from trying to get over the break. We continued on to Port Arthur, a place we had all heard was worth a visit and wanted to go. I think we all assumed it was a charming sea-side town and rocked up to find out it was not a town at all, but a historic convict site with a handful of hotels and exactly two restaurants. It was 6 pm at that point and the grounds closed at 730. We all decided we didn’t think it was worth the entry fee to see it so late, but signed up to come back for a ghost tour at 945 pm. We tried in vain to find a supermarket. Then we tried one of the two restaurants only to be turned away and directed to the other one. It was overpriced but at that point we were just desperate for food and we enjoyed the twinkly lights on the outdoor patio as the sky turned from pink to lavender. We returned to Port Arthur for the ghost tour and were all feeling a bit let down. No one really thought it was that scary and I was disappointed that there was hardly any historical information given about the grounds. The tour was clearly meant to be done in addition to a regular day visit. The tour ended at midnight and we wanted to get over to Kettering, where the ferry left for Bruny Island, so we could be on the first crossing. This meant driving until 2 am and a very uncomfortable night spent in the car as we couldn’t find anywhere suitable to camp. Port Arthur at night
Bruny Island: sandwich heaven
After arriving on the island, we headed north to try to find food, only to find out the one café didn’t open until 10 am. It was 830. We headed down the island towards the larger ‘towns’ and on the way stopped at a game reserve in hopes of spotting an albino wallaby. We didn’t see one. Everyone was pretty irritable after a horrible night’s sleep and empty stomachs, some in need of caffeine. We drove in silence until we spotted the first sign for a café. And it didn’t disappoint. It was called HotHouse Café, if you’re ever on Bruny Island go there! It was the cutest little mismatched place I’ve ever seen, with the order counter and kitchen housed in what I can only describe as an oversized industrial garden shed with natural light pouring through. There were flowers everywhere and picnic benches were shaded under wooden overhangs with purple flowers snaking through. The benches looked directly out over the water and we all decided we never wanted to leave. I ordered a simple ham cheese & tomato toastie, looking forward to eating but not having high expectations. WELL, that was the best gosh darn sandwich I’ve ever eaten. There was melted cheese in all the right places and the toast was thin and crisped to perfection. Ricardo, who had also had one, and I decided they were so orgasmic we ordered another one to share. Errmeghaahd. Check out that view.. And dat sandwich
Bruny Island… what do we do here?
After lunch, we drove to get gas and groceries, but then were a bit lost at what to actually do. We headed south to a beach our waiter had recommended for surf, but when we arrived the waves didn’t look great and the wind was so strong no one wanted to get out of the car, even to walk around. We saw other SUVs drive down on to the beach and decided to do the same. As we drove, we sat on the window hanging onto the roof and it was so exhilarating with the wind whipping through my air and blocking up your ears you could hardly hear the screams of delight. After that, we still weren’t really sure what to do so we just went to the beach. Bruny Island is very beautiful and popular with tourists, but most of them come on day tours that focus heavily on ‘tasting’ Bruny (they’re known for their oysters) or boat charters around the southern tip. And we were on a budget so we did neither. But if I return it is something I would like to do. Just Bruny
After trying a campsite that was completely booked out, we found one right down the road that had running water which was perfect because we had water to boil for dinner and I could wash my hair. While we cooked, we made a little friend who was camping next to us with his parents. His name was Harry and he zipped by continuously on his bike. He saw our ukelele and declared he knew how to play the guitar and played us a ‘song.’ He came back about every 5 minutes, taking the ukelele out of our hands to play us the ‘song’ which he entitled ‘Tasmanian Devil run.’ We asked him if he had seen one. Nope. He also shouted at us from across the camp each time wanting us to watch him ride his bike without his hands. We had a quite night, meaning we didn’t drink any goon and just sat and talked and watched Friends on Shin’s computer. I awoke to my alarm at 4:37 in the morning. I almost didn’t get up but then I heard Ricardo jumping. After hearing our giggles, Shin joined us too. I’m talking about the gravitational shift people! We wanted to see if we could feel a difference when we jumped. I tried flinging my water bottle at first because I didn’t want to get out of my sleeping bag. But I’m glad I did because I COULD feel a difference, albeit a very slight one. It felt like a slight dragging upwards and it took about half a second longer to touch back down on the ground. It only lasted 5 minutes and you could immediately tell when it stopped. Such a cool sensation.
Hobart is culture
Only an hour later, we woke back up to catch the first ferry back to the main island since we had to drop the car off at 10 am. We said our goodbyes on the side of the road in Hobart as Whitney drove to car back to the airport and the rest of us headed to hostels. I stayed in the same one with Ricardo and Carolina and we headed over to the MONA (Museum of Old and New Art). These people have really got it nailed down. Since the museum lies on a stretch of river out of walking distance, they overcharge you for a bus or ferry ride over. The ride is cool though; you get nice views of Hobart and Mt. Wellington looming behind it and there’s a bar! The museum was definitely interesting. One of the exhibits produced poo. Anyway if you’re ever in Hobart the museum is worth as visit; it ranks among the world’s best. There are outdoor gardens with live music and oversized beanbags were you can enjoy a beer or take a nap (we did the latter). Inside MONA
The next day I walked around Salamanca Square, Kelly’s steps up to Battery Point, down along the docks and got takeaway calamari and then hit the Tasmania Museum before parting ways with Carolina and Ricardo and heading off to the airport. For how wild the rest of Tasmania is, and the fact it’s on an island, you wouldn’t expect Hobart to be as packed with culture as it is. I found there was more there than in Sydney though: streets littered with cafés, buildings retaining their original stone structures, a world-class art museum and tons of art galleries. I would definitely go back. Hobart’s waterfront
Tasmania is AWESOME.
The best way to see the island is by doing a road trip. Even if sometimes you feel your driver may run off the road.
Be spontaneous; not planning ahead can lead to great experiences.
To anyone thinking of visiting Tasmania, GO!