With both of us celebrating our birthdays in Australia for the first time towards the end of 2017, we decided to celebrate getting another year older with a long weekend in Tasmania.
After several months of working since we arrived in Sydney, we thought it would be a great chance to get back on the road, and we decided to hire another campervan. Although we again chose a Toyota HiAce, unfortunately this one was nothing compared to the beloved van from our previous travels. With over 200,000km on the clock (and it showed), we were glad to only have this one for 5 days rather than 8 weeks!
Arriving into Hobart, we decided to start by exploring the island’s capital. Situated on the River Derwant, and with the towering Mount Wellington as a backdrop, the city is surrounded by beautiful scenery. With a population of just 220,000, even though it was rush hour it felt relaxing and peaceful, especially compared to Sydney.
After a quick coffee from Atlas Espresso, we started with a walk along the waterfront, where the wharves have been redeveloped into cafes and seafood restaurants. We continued to the historic Salamanca Place and wandered around the cobblestone square, browsing in the art galleries and small shops before stopping for a much needed brunch at Machine Laundry Cafe. As the name would suggest, this unusual cafe manages to combine the services of a laundrette while also offering great food.
Unfortunately, due to our usual tight schedule our visit to city was short-lived, and we were soon back in the van, slowing chugging our way up the steep and winding road to the summit of Mount Wellington. Although we thought the van was struggling, it was soon put into perspective as we overtook some very tired looking cyclists.
Once we made it to the summit, we wandered around the boardwalks enjoying the panoramic views down to Hobart and beyond. With the exposed summit being rather cooler than we’re used to, we were thankful for the indoor Pinnacle observation shelter.
Following this, we left Hobart behind and started our journey up the islands east coast, towards Freycinet National Park. We were surprised by just how rural and remote it seemed, passing through only a few small towns in several hours and having the roads almost to ourselves.
After reaching the Park, we quickly stopped at the Visitor Centre, acquiring a map and a camping pitch for the night. We were then ready to start exploring, driving further into the Park, where our first stop was at the famous Wineglass Bay.
We started by making the short climb from the car park up to the viewpoint of the Bay. Unfortunately we timed our visit with several coach tours, and it was very crowded at the top, with lots of jostling for the best photo opportunites (mostly by me). However this took nothing away from the incredible views, with beautiful crystal clear water and white sand below us.
Feeling energetic after several hours driving, we decided to lose the crowds by making the much longer walk down onto the beach itself. The sand seemed even whiter up close, and it was almost dazzling in the bright sunshine. We made the most of the deserted beach, taking a relaxing stroll along the water’s edge. While the descent didn’t feel very steep, as always the journey back was far more challenging, with seemingly never-ending steps back to the car park.
Our next stop in the National Park was at Cape Tourville lighthouse, where we completed the gentle 20 minute circular walk along the clifftop boardwalk. Yet again the views were mesmerising, with the rugged coastline stretching far in the distance.
After a very long day we were glad to enjoy a relaxing Dinner at the Iluka Tavern, which was clearly very popular with the locals. Although this may have something to do with it being the only pub in town! Finally arriving at our campsite, we were pleasantly surprised to find it located right on the beach, and we enjoyed one more quick walk, before a much needed sleep.
The next morning we were up early (as always), and ready for another action packed day. Unfortunately the bright blue sky of the previous day had disappeared, with thick grey cloud taking its place. We continued our journey along the coast, making a quick stop at St Helens for a much needed coffee, before reaching Binnalong Bay. The small coastal town is at the southern end of the Bay of Fires, which stretches 50km to the north and is a popular four day hike.
We walked along the vast beach, with the soft sand making our progress slow. By this point, the sun had begun to break through, and the bright turquoise water starting to glisten. As we reached the end of the beach, we climbed over some of the huge orange lichen covered boulders that give this stretch of coastline its name.
Both very impressed with what we had found on the east coast, after yet another great walk, we then began our journey inland towards Launceston, the islands second largest city.