Ash and I have just returned from Tasmania where we spent two weeks exploring the forests, coastlines, mountains and history this special little island has to offer. I’m not going to try to describe Tasmania to you in poetic terms. My writing and vocabulary (or lack thereof) just wouldn’t do it justice. What I will say though is this was possibly the best holiday we have ever had. It easily topped my time in Costa Rica and Panama and the best thing is, Tasmania is right in our (Australia’s) own backyard. If you have a passion for history, wildlife, forests, mountains, coastlines, waterfalls, food, wine, camping or hiking Tasmania is the place to go. Here’s a little taste of what, for me, made our holiday so unforgettable.
Coming from Brisbane I’m pretty much used to wait staff staring at me blankly when I mention the word ‘vegan’ and chefs shaking their heads saying “sorry we don’t do that kind of food here”. Brisbane, you should be ashamed of yourself! Tasmania is totally kicking your butt on the food front.
In Hobart we ate lunch at a cute little cafe along Salamanca Place (forgive me as I didn’t write down the name). Before taking a seat I asked at the counter if they could do anything vegan at which the waiter nodded politely firstly apologising for not having anything specific on the menu and then continuing to list off 5 (FIVE!) of the items on the menu that they would happily convert to vegan for me! Ash ordered a seafood platter and I chose the mushroom risotto – both were delicious and the service was impeccable. This was an experience to be repeated each time we ate out.
Towards the end of our first week we headed to the remote little town of Corinna on the far West keen to paddle the Pieman River and hike through the beautiful rainforests of the Tarkine. After getting our campsite settled Mother Nature decided it would be a good time to rain (the only rain we experienced on the whole trip!). Luckily for us, the beautiful homestead style wide verandah of the Tarkine Hotel provided us with a dry spot to sit all afternoon while we drank a drop (or two) of Tasmanian red and chatted to the various travelers as they passed through. Late afternoon, our rumbling tummies had us lining up for lunch. The kind chef, on hearing that I was vegan as he passed through to the kitchen, happily offered to cook me something special and then rustled up one of the most delicious vegan dishes I’ve ever eaten.
Our final few days took us through the city of Launceston – a place I could really see myself living. On a tip from Peppermint we headed to the Blue Cafe Bar where they cook with locally grown, organic produce. The wait staff and chefs were happy to cater to my dietary needs offering several vegan options of which I chose a fresh and flavour-some noodle, watercress and peanut salad. As we headed out of lovely little Launceston we made one last stop at Fresh on Charles, a vegetarian hippy cafe, so I could purchase a yummy raspberry muffin for dessert (vegan of course).
Throughout the whole trip we stopped at several fruit stalls peppered along the highways. For a couple bucks you can help yourself to raspberries, cherries, apples and more. Many of the roadsides are lined with wild blackberry bushes and on more than one occasion I made Ash pull over so I could stuff my face full of sweet berry goodness.
Tasmania is truly a food heaven for vegans, vegetarians and omnivores alike!
A Britz campervan was our mode of transport, kitchen, bedroom and home for the entire two weeks. Tasmania is a camper’s paradise providing plenty of inexpensive camp sites with great amenities – you just need to know how to find them. Cue the “Camping Guide to Tasmania“. For $25 this book became our camping Bible; without it we probably would have missed some of Tasmania’s most beautiful offerings. There were 4 camp sites which were absolute winners for me – for the scenery, the wildlife, the service and the amenities:
- Mount Field National Park – We scored a powered site for $20, camping amongst tall eucalypt trees with a small creek trickling past where sightings of platypus are very common. Make sure you pop into the visitors centre – the park rangers are always happy to share their wealth of knowledge about the wildlife and activities in the area.
- Port Arthur Holiday Park – We tried to stay away from caravan parks but this one definitely deserves a mention. For $29 (cheap for a caravan park – some of the Big 4′s charge $40!) they hooked us up with a very private powered site nestled amongst native trees. You can even have your own campfire which comes in very handy once the sun goes down.
- Corinna - Unpowered sites at the Corinna campground were around the $20 mark. There are some gorgeous sites set along the Pieman River and some of them have platforms so that tent goers can easily pitch their tents without having to nail pegs into the ground. Don’t let the apparent remoteness of Corinna stop you from visiting – the unsealed road is kept in good condition and, if you’re coming from the South, don’t miss the opportunity to catch a lift across the river on the Fatman Barge.
- Dago Point Camping Area, Lake Sorell - It’s almost like nobody knows about this place! Free to camp and, besides one other campervan, we were the only ones around. There are loads of large, secluded sites to choose from and you are perched right on the edge of the lake. In the evening we sat outside our campervan, switched off all the lights and watched as bats flew around our heads and possums, pademelons and quolls ran about our feet.
Tasmania has this amazing way of being set up so perfectly for tourists yet doesn’t appear to be touristy at all. The roads are clearly signed and if you happen to get in trouble the locals will happily pull over and give you directions. Most of the towns are ‘RV friendly’ and there is just so much to see and do. My favourite times were spent walking or sitting quietly in National Parks trying to spot birds and wildlife hiding amongst the trees. The majority of the time you never cross paths with anyone else and often it feels like you have the whole forest to yourself. It’s hard to pick the highlights of the trip because every day we saw something amazing but I’ve given it my best shot:
Russell Falls, Horseshoe Falls, Tall Trees Circuit and Lady Barron Falls walk, Mount Field National Park
The tall swamp gums towering 70-80 metres above your head, the wildlife and the sheer beauty of the forest made this walk so enjoyable. I loved peering up at the tall, tall trees and watching the leaves fall to the ground. There were a few moments where the beauty of this place brought tears to my eyes (corny but true). We were lucky enough to see an echidna going about his business on the side of the track. Not even phased by our presence, he walked within centimetres of Ash’s feet to get to the other side of the track. To top it all off, we headed back into the forest once the sun went down to spot the glow worms doing their thing.
- West Coast Wilderness Railway, Strahan
I’m not normally one for tourist attractions or guided tours but the train ride from Strahan to Queenstown was, for me, one of the most enjoyable days of the whole trip. The train took us along rivers, through rainforests and up mountains all the while our talented guide, Joel, shared the history of the railway and the surrounding towns.
- Paddle the Pieman River, Corinna
If you like to Kayak, Corinna is the perfect place for you. We hired a kayak for 4 hours for about $40 from the Tarkine Hotel and paddled our way up (down?) the Pieman River and along the Savage River. The remoteness of Corinna means that you pretty much have the river all to yourself.
- Wildlife watching, Narawntapu National Park
Narawntapu National Park is renowned for its wildlife spotting. The bird watching hut set out over the lake is the best location for spying on local bird life. At dusk wombats, kangaroos, wallabies and pademelons venture out onto the open fields to graze. If you’re quiet you can sneak up quite close to get a good look. Ash and I sat for at least an hour watching the wombats grazing and the kangaroos boxing and fighting over the ladies.
Love Alana xx