We left Sydney for Tasmania at the end of December and arrived on January 6th. This was when the bushfire season in NSW and Victoria was at its worst which meant that we were forced to back-track a bit and change our plans. We travelled down in our beloved camper Toots, so we were able to be flexible with our plans. We caught the ferry from Melbourne to Devonport on January 6th and so our Tasmanian adventure began!
January 6th - (Ferry from Melbourne-Devonport) Devonport - LaTrobe (9kms, 1 night)
January 7th - LaTrobe - Gowrie Park (39kms, 1 night)
January 8th - Gowrie Park - Strahan via Queenstown (184kms, 1 night)
January 9th - Strahan - Waratah via Montezuma Falls (154km, 1 night)
January 10th - Waratah - Smithton via Stanley (158kms, 1 night)
January 11th - Smithton - Liffey Falls via Trowutta Arch and Penguin (269kms, 1 night)
January 12th - Liffey Falls - Launceston (54kms)
January 13th - Launceston - Cradle Mountain National Park (Overland Track - 6 days / 5 nights)
January 19th - Launceston - LaTrobe via Grindelwald, Longford and Westbury (150 kms, 1 night)
January 20th - LaTrobe - Devonport (9kms) (Ferry from Devonport-Melbourne)
We’d planned to do several lengthy walks before the start of our Overland Track hike to maintain our ‘match fitness’. For our first full day in Tasmania we drove out the back of Deloraine to a car park next to the start of the trail to Quamby Bluff, the 55th highest mountain in Tasmania. The start of the trail was fairly unremarkable until we came to a clearing and saw this -
... a massive pile of boulders!
I thought it looked fun but mrshill wasn’t so keen. Over lunch we discussed at length whether or not we should carry on or go back. Eventually we decided to carry on. mrshill decided that if she was going to scramble up the boulders she would leave her bag (sans camera) so she carefully selected a rock to hide it under. We folded our walking poles and put them in my bag and set off on the climb. Just before we got to the top of the bouldered section we passed some walkers going the other way. They didn’t seem like they were enjoying themselves and decided not to go all the way to the top. Regardless, we carried on. There was a path to the side of the boulders leading into forest-like vegetation and the next hour was a fairly steep descent to the final climb (more boulders!). We passed a few more walkers along these sections and they said it was worth the effort which was encouraging. It was with great relief when we reached the flat peak of Quamby Bluff. From there it was a five-minute walk to the marking of the summit, which offered reasonable views (on account of the air quality as a result of the mainland bushfires) of the surrounding area.
Summiting Quamby Bluff - more difficult than we’d expected!
Taking time to admire the views
Queenstown railway station
We detoured through Queenstown on the drive from Gowrie Park (near Sheffield) to Strahan. I don’t remember why we chose to go that way - certainly I wasn’t expecting much and first impressions walking through town weren’t that positive. However we decided to try Tracks Cafe for lunch, which is - as the name suggests - a cafe at the railway station. The railway station is one of two main stops along the West Coast Wilderness Railway, an old route between Queenstown and Strahan that was resurrected a few years ago to attract tourists to the region. The cafe offers outdoor seating along the platform which looked like lots of fun so of course we took that option! Whilst we were having our lunch the steam train pulled in and everyone hopped out. When we first heard the toot-tooting of the steam train approaching. mrshill and I looked at each other with puzzled looks then, sure enough, the train rolled in. We were in the box seat to get a look at it.
We had a bit of time to kill on the drive between Waratah and Stanley so we stopped at Fossil Beach near Wynyard for some lunch. This beach was super fascinating. There were rocks in almost every colour you could imagine and the cliff edges around the beach all had tiny fossilised shells set into them. We spent ages exploring in the rain and took a few carefully selected rocks away with us (you’re not supposed to do this so we felt a bit guilty).
Rainy day at Fossil Beach
We absolutely loved Stanley. It was cold, windy and wet when we arrived but that didn’t stop us walking up the famous ‘The Nut’. Although getting whipped in the face with rain wasn’t that fun, we got a laugh out of how steep the walk up to the top was! It’s a short walk because of the steepness of the incline. We needed to be careful in parts by holding on to the hand rails (also wet) as the path was slippery. At the top there’s a nice circuit walk with lookouts along the way and a special canopied section where the pademelons love to hang out.
Views of Stanley from The Nut
The inspiration for our visit to Stanley first came after seeing this Tasmanian tourism video on TV. Since it was raining, we were able to stage a reasonably accurate reenactment of this video. We ate takeaway in our Kombi on the beach next to The Nut. My recollection of the ad was that the couple were eating fish n chips (not scallop pie) so we went to Hursey seafoods (best fish n chips in town) to get some FnC. Fortunately we also got a scallop pie to share. The whole thing was absolutely delicious!
After a makeshift overnight stay in Smithton, we stopped off at Trowutta Arch on the way to Penguin where we visited my brother. Trowutta Arch is a spectacular sink-hole formed from the collapsing of a cave. Located at the end of an easy short walking track through pristine rainforest, this is not what it first seems.
SPOILER ALERT - It looks like a grassy field but is actually a very large pool of water covered with green algae (or tiny green leaves, not sure?)!
From the inside looking out
We went to Liffey falls for the walk, but the campsite was so nice! We arrived late on Saturday afternoon, set up and enjoyed the rest of the daylight hours. Set right next to a creek and the start of the walk to the falls, this free campsite even has a flushing toilet (just one though and in a busy campsite this means you often have to wait a while)! I wished we could have stayed longer but we had to be in Launceston the next day. We prepped our breakfast and lunch for Sunday before going to bed and set off early-ish for the falls walk. We blitzed it in just over half the suggested time so we had plenty of time to eat lunch before leaving.
Made it to the falls by 9:30am
Thanks so much for reading. I hope readers don’t think I’m milking this Tasmania trip too much. It was such an awesome trip that I thought it was best to break it up in to sections, zooming out from day-trips along the Overland to Overland highlights and finally to Tasmania highlights.