We’re back in Gulargambone. It’s been 30 days since we left, in which time we’ve driven 5500km, walked over 150km on 6 seperate hikes, slept in our tent 24 times, and had 7 showers. Okay, so we smelt a little funny (even allowing for the occasional river wash), but we had a fantastic time. Let’s pick up where left off in the last post.
After spending a couple of recovery days driving around the Lyell Highway and the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park, we spent a rather rainy day travelling towards Lake Pedder in the South-West National Park. Our next aim was to summit the apparently beautiful Mt Anne, and we found a nearby campground to sleep in the night before. We started our ascent mid-morning, and immediately started gaining altitude at an uncomfortably rapid rate. The steepness of the track was made bearable only by the increasingly stunning panoramic views we were getting each time we had to stop to catch our breath.
The blankets of cloud further up the mountain meant that we couldn’t see where we would end up. We slogged our way up to High Mountain Hut, where we lunched and left our packs, carrying on with only water and jackets. After slowly boulder hopping our way up Mt Eliza, we reached the plateau on top and right on queue the cloud cover moved away and we had a 360 degree view of the high mountain tarns and the never ending mountain ranges of southern Tasmania.
We could also see Mt Anne, still a few kilometres away across the plateau and some more boulder fields. Michael and I set off to see if we could make it to the summit, which we’d been told culminated in a treacherous climb along narrow ledges. We eventually reached the base of this section, and after watching Michael try the first 15 metres and decide not to attempt a particularly scary section, I didn’t even bother trying. We instead watched a large family, including 3 boys of around 10, come down from the top. We walked back to the hut feeling suitably put in our place, and camped in a beautiful (and windy) spot on the side of the ridge.
After walking down the next day we spent a day in Mt Field national park campground eating and resting. The following day we travelled into Hobart, where we wandered around the city, looked in some camping stores, and ate Japanese. In the afternoon we met up with our friend Kate, our very own local Hobart tour guide. After making wallaby burgers and doing some slack lining in a nice park, we went up to sleep in a secret spot on the side of the imposing Mt Wellington. After a nice brekky at a cafe in the morning, we said our goodbyes and went off to check out a couple of other recommended spots, including the free showers at a nearby sailing club. We briefly visited the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, and then drove north to spend a night with a friend of Michaels. This was our first night sleeping indoors for almost 3 weeks, and we all got a solid 9 or 10 hours.
We had one day left before Michael flew home. After a lazy morning, we thought we might drive down to the Tasman Peninsula for the afternoon. We did that, but a lack of research meant that we didn’t really end up having time to do anything, so we drove back to Hobart to spend a few hours partaking in whatever Friday night activities took our fancy. For Tanya and Michael that meant a dance event and some night markets, for me it was a super cheap pub feed while I watched the cricket. The next morning we dropped Michael at the airport.
We now had to decide how to spend our remaining week in Tasmania. I was especially keen to fit in some more hiking, and after some quick research we decided to go back to the Tasman Peninsula. We spent two days there, completing a 30km hike to the stunning Cape Pillar with it’s views of Tasman Island. For a lot of our walk we were walking on the tracks built for the Three Capes Track, as well as past the luxury huts, but we thankfully didn’t need to pay the $500 per person for that experience.
The next two days we spent doing another 30km hike around Freycinet Peninsula. The views are apparently stunning, but as it was overcast and drizzling for most of the time we didn’t really get to enjoy many of them. We emerged having hiked 60km in four days and with most of our gear thoroughly wet, covered in sand, and generally smelly. Thankfully we had organised to stay with some family friends an hour further north in Scamander, so we drove up there via a cafe, and prepared for a much needed rest.
We ended up staying with Jo and Ted for two days, enjoying a thorough hosting experience including guided tours of the area, an incredible wealth of knowledge on the local environment (in particular the birdlife), lots of good food, and perhaps most impressively getting to sit in on a rehearsal session for Jo’s very talented band. We left on Friday feeling rested and clean, and drove to Devonport via Launceston ready for the boat back to the mainland (or as Tasmanians call it, Australia).
Over the last few days we caught the ferry, camped just north of Melbourne in a state forest, stayed with family in Cootamundra, and finally arrived in Gulargambone today. Highlights included me locking the keys in the car and having to pay $90 for them to be retrieved, witnessing a minor car accident while waiting for our Thai food in Melbourne, and the joys of playing with my 4 little cousins, all boys, who are constantly engaged in some kind of competition or mischief.
We’ll be going back to Tasmania someday. There is just too much to do down there. For now we have a couple of days in Gulargambone, possibly the last time I’ll see my family before we go to Scandinavia for the next 6 months. In a couple of days we’ll drive back to Newcastle, where we’ll be spending most of the remaining 3 weeks before we fly to Finland. It promises to be a busy few weeks making final preparations, enjoying our last little bit of Newcastle living, and attending various events.
After that, we can’t wait to get back on the bikes. Going on a road trip has been a great experience, and it allowed us to do a lot more hiking than usual. In the end though , it has definitely provided confirmation that cycle touring is the mode of travel for us. Not long now…
T & T