What do I know about Tasmania?
Not a damn thing.
The only thing I do know is that the island is the native home to the most feisty marsupial in the world: the Tasmanian devil. I would love to see some of those guys in the wild if at all possible.
Besides that, some Melburnians jokingly told me to check the necks of any Tassie I meet. They said I should find a huge scar from where their second head used to be attached. The running joke here is that the local Tassies are inbreeds since they’re all “stuck” more or less on a relatively small island. It’s kinda like how the northerners in the States poke fun at the people in the deep south; harmless and pure buffoonery.
The 26th largest island in the world, Tasmania is an island state part of the Australian Commonwealth. It’s located just south of the main big island. There currently as of today (2016) just a little over half a million people populating Tas (which is a popular shortening people may refer of the state). I was fortunate enough to cross paths with two very welcoming Tassies early on in my Quest to the Seven Continents.
While in Fiji, I met two volunteers who hailed from Tasmania. Their names are Denika and Karissa, two full-on Aussies, born and raised from Tasmanian scratch. They both invited me to visit them during my trip through Australia when I found the time. At first I was reluctant. It wasn’t on my mind and it’s kind of out of the way, but then I figured, “Why the hell not?”. If anything the timing was perfect, return flights to Tasmania were cheap, the weather for the weekend predicted desirable forecasts, and I knew two cool people who wanted to show me the true guts and bones of Tasmania.
Karissa on the left. Denika on the right. I think this photo accurately portrays how they are!
Just like that, I booked a flight to Launceston from Melbourne; an easy flight that took just under an hour.
Little Denika arrived and scooped me up from the airport and from there we made the two-hour drive to the northwest part of the island called Burnie. I briefly met her family before we headed to Boat Harbour Beach, one of Denika’s personal favorite spots.
Later that day, I met up with Karissa near the Parklands. She mentioned to me that she reserved us a table for tea later in the evening.
“Who makes a reservation for tea?” I thought to myself. But hey whatever, I was down for some tea! I’m more hungry than thirsty but I’m sure this tea place had to have some grub.
In the meantime she showed me a little more of the surrounding area. So far from what I’ve seen, the roadsides of Tasmania reminded me of New Zealand; a perfectly cut, grass ocean as far as the eye can see. Oh and lots of cows and crops with mountains and hills in the wayside.
We pulled up to an Italian restaurant, where we had the reservations for…tea?
“Wait, you guys call dinner, tea?” I asked Karissa. “I thought we were having actual tea.”
“Yeah that’s normal.” she responded laughing. “We are going for tea means food. How would you say it back in America?”
“Dinner!” I replied with a chuckle. “Supper, if you’re a weirdo.”
That’s not the only difference I noticed. I’ve been hearing Denika say the word “shivers” in substitution for what should be the word “f*ck”. Like for example, something would go wrong and then she would blurt “Oh, shivers!” in her little Aussie accent. I couldn’t help but to laugh whenever she did that.
Another pretty big thing I noticed is that, everyone knows freakin’ everybody on this island! There’s not a place we went to where Denika and Karissa didn’t know someone. The ice cream shop, the convenient store, the restaurants we ate in, the park, the parking lot, wherever! Living in Tasmania is equivalent to living in the world’s largest soap opera. Everyone is gonna know your business and there’s no hiding from it.
The next day, both girls took me on a short trail just above Sisters Beach. It was a linear hike that presented us with views of the aforementioned beach and of the Indian Ocean.
During the trail, I noticed strange flora that resembled figments of my childhood. A prickly, pine cone thing that would have been a Furby if it had the googly eyes and also this bush tree thing that resembles a little jungle tribe warrior man. I can’t unsee them.
Continuing on with my personalized tour of Tasmania, the girls took me to a waterfall in the Crown Reserve and through Stanley to the top of the Nut State Reserve. Amazing, amazing, amazing stuff!
That same evening, while Denika went to work, Karissa took me to one of the coolest local waterfalls in West Ridgley that people could spend their summer days to swim in. I would have but it wasn’t warm enough yet for it.
We also managed to find baby penguins back on the Parklands. Don’t shine your lights on them, it’s bad for their eyes. Instead, we were able to use lights with a red filter which don’t startle them. This may be a bit naive on my part but I wasn’t aware that Australia had native penguins. All I hear about are the kangaroos and koalas.
We had a big weekend planned so for the next day, Karissa baton passed me back to Denika. (They both have steady jobs and have been passing me back and forth to each other to make sure I was always occupied and exploring their great State. They’ve been doing a great job!) With Denika, she had plans to go along the east coast of Tasmania along with a few of her friends and spend the night over there. When she pulled up, I met her friend Jack who was coming along with us, and together we went grocery shopping for the long ride to the East coast. Two other friends of hers met us there and would join us.
The drive was almost exactly like a drive through the country of New Zealand, except it felt like Tasmania had a lot more trees. Along the way, we made a destination stop at Bicheno. A coast influenced by giant orange-colored boulders and a break between conveniently placed crevices of stones where water shoots up through it every few seconds, aptly called the Bicheno Blowhole. I’ve got blown on a couple of times when I wasn’t paying attention.
Our base was in an area called Swansea. Swansea is home to fascinating places like The Ugly Duckout takeaway restaurant and The Horny Cray takeaway restaurant.
Swansea is also home to Loontitetermairrelehoiner Track.
That’s a real thing folks! The reception lady said there was free ice cream for whoever could pronounce it correctly. The key words being FREE ICE CREAM. Believe me, I tried my hardest to figure out how to pronounce it. It was impossible, however.
Continuing on with our east coast trip, the focus was to visit as many beaches as we could. First up, Friendly Beaches!
Then this cool spot where we were the only ones there.
Later onto Freycinet, to a place called Honeymoon Beach. It’s here where the water is so calm and the wildlife so peculiar, that it’s become a popular spot to snorkel.
Freycinet also hold spectacular lookouts into the sea from various advantages along the coast.
And then finally, Coles Bay has a postcard worthy lighthouse that overlooks a couple of much smaller islands harbouring seals just a short distance away.
Did you see how amazing Tasmania actually looks?
Every single one of these locales were absolutely stunning and was the most “nature” I’ve gotten in Australia yet! The only bummer that it was not the right temperature to go for a dip in each of the beaches we visited. Regardless, it was still amazing to visit.
I had no idea Tasmania had such a diverse coastal line to explore. I had no idea about anything! It was literally one neat spot after another after another.
I gotta hand it to Denika and Karissa. They went way above and beyond to show me as much as they could in as little time as possible. A+ ladies 🙂
See ya back in Melbourne!