Hotel curio shops are like convenience stores. They offer what you need most, but at a hefty charge. After the bone chilling cold we experienced on our first afternoon in exploring Tasmania, we weren’t going to think twice about stocking up on warmer woollens.
It was April and was the first day of a road trip through the remote and wild island of Tasmania, off the Australian mainland. We arrived at Launceston, a large town in the north of the state, having caught a low cost airline flight from Sydney earlier that morning. In an effort to save dollars (to get to see more of Australia during my work assignment there last year), we opted for hand luggage only. A cold front had swept across the island and with the little warm clothes we were able to squeeze on board, we had to get warmer gear to avoid being stuck indoors. Tasmania was created for exploring after all.
Our first major stop was the spectacular Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. Trying to ignore the numbing icy air on that first afternoon, we couldn’t resist walking on the boardwalks and across mountain streams. Wombats didn’t seem to mind our presence and continued grazing on the lush alpine grass. A few splashes in a stream caught our attention revealing a platypus. It too eyed us curiously from beneath crystal waters and continued to swim along.
The setting sun took away what little warmth there was and signalled us to head back to the fire place at Cradle Mountain Hotel, outside the park’s boundary. At the Grey Gum Restaurant, alongside a crackling a fire, we dined on a melt in your mouth ocean trout, served with a watermelon and creamy local feta and a tomato gazpacho.
The next morning, we head back to the park, armed with warmer clothing, and tackled some longer walking trails and watched Tasmania’s remoteness and beauty reveal itself. We walked across alpine grasslands, through moss covered forests, past cascading waterfalls and on to the glacial lakes. From Crater Lake we continued to a view point of the famous mountain, the fifth tallest in Tasmania. We descended to Wombat Pool for a snack and then on to Dove Lake with the Cradle Mountain as the backdrop. Along the circuit walk, we stopped at a pebble beach and then traced the lake’s shores through a forest canopy. Mist passed over the peaks of the mountain, creating a dreamy 3D effect.
We woke up to sleet raining down on the landscape – the white snow droplets standing out against the moss covered forest stumps while a wallaby bounced about. I was so enthralled by Cradle Mountain and the many waterfalls that we encountered on the next day that the cold did not seem to matter anymore. The road trip in Tasmania was turning out to be one of my best experiences while in Australia.
We continued our Tasmanian journey to the rugged west coast and stayed at the sleepy village of Strahan. Our journey continued back to the central highlands to Lake St Clair for a leisurely stroll alongside Australia’s deepest lake. Along the way, we got our shoes dirty at some of the forest trails leading to waterfalls. And then onward to Hobart, the state capital. Despite being a small and pleasant city, it was the wild side of Tasmania that captured me. I never got to explore the east coast. It’s one of those places that I’ve earmarked to return to. Just not in winter.