Tasmania, Australia (Part I)

Sunday, June 26, 2022


After more than two years of not venturing outside of Singapore, the past few months of travelling sure feels like a fever dream. While I wouldn’t consider myself a travel junkie by any standards, and in fact I was perfectly happy exploring parts of Singapore whenever I could, I didn’t realise how much I had missed travelling till I did it again. 

It was the little things - searching up a destination and packing for weather that wasn’t a constant humid summer, once again being awed by the efficiency of my home airport (despite the current manpower crunch), and being confronted by the fact that people live such vastly different lives in other parts of the world. Always humbling, and somewhat mind-boggling.  

And perhaps I could’ve eased my way into travelling again with a less intense, shorter trip, but excitement got the better of me (‘go big or go home’, aye?) and I decided to embark on a 18 day trip in Australia in April, starting with road tripping around Tasmania and a couple days in Melbourne, both with friends, followed by Sydney on my own. This would be my fourth trip Down Under, but my first time in Tassie so I didn’t fully know what to expect, especially being a self-proclaimed city chick. 

Everything was picturesque, so I will let the photographs do majority of the talking in these blog posts.  But to start us off, we took a flight from Singapore to Melbourne, and then to Hobart directly on 9 April, collected our roomy SUV and kickstarted our road trip around Tasmania! 

Tarraleah (Day 1-2)

Our first stop was Tarraleah, a pretty rural and historic town that was built to house workers of one of Australia’s first hydroelectric schemes. It isn’t considered one of the main tourist attractions in Tassie, but we absolutely loved this place. Quaint and scenic, it was just what we needed following a long day of flights. We spent the night stargazing and lighting our first fireplace, before waking up the next morning for a stroll around the town. 

A gang of ducks emerged out of nowhere, much to my absolute delight. 

The ducks followed us around! Honestly the best thing to wake up to. 

We had also done a grocery run the night before - which may I add, turns out to be the most loved activity throughout the trip - and got ourselves some amazing fresh avocadoes that made for the best spread atop toasted, buttered bread. 

A generous sprinkling of black pepper.

With our bellies and hearts content, we loaded up the car with our luggages and hit the road again. Shout out to our two designated drivers for bringing us to our destinations safely throughout the trip. It was incredibly tiring for me, just being a passenger, with all the moving we were doing - I can only imagine what they must’ve been feeling. 

Lake St Clair National Park (Day 2)

Hiking and immersing yourself in nature is basically a must-do when you’re in Tassie, which is 100% a step out of my comfort zone for me, so we eased ourselves into the lifestyle with our first hike which was a short walk at Lake St Clair National Park. Though we covered so much ground throughout the trip, I will only share certain highlights as many of the hikes started feeling very similar as time went on. This one, in particular, was an easy walk with beautiful sights. 

The only place that sold food nearby was the Lake St Clair lodge, so we stopped for some pizza and burgers before we continued on our trip.

Decent, considering it was the only option.

Straight out of a car commercial.

It started pouring on our way to our accoms for the night in Queenstown.

I am that gaudy pop of colour in a sea of black.

The rain really affected visibility, and it also always got dark really early. Can’t quite remember where this place was, but it felt like a scene straight out of an apocalypse. 

Queenstown - Horsetail falls (Day 3) 

Several plans from the day before got thrown out due to the rain, but we decided to revisit one in the morning before heading to Strahan, which was the Horsetail falls. 

Not sure if you can see it but it’s the waterfall at the bottom left of the picture, hidden in some shadows unfortunately.

These folks scrambled up the rocks to get a better view of Queenstown, but I passed on that.

Strahan (Day 3) 

Stahan easily became one of my favourite towns in Tasmania. It’s a harbourside village that I felt was a little less dead than the other towns we had visited. Some might find it slightly more touristy, but I felt like they did enough to showcase its whimsical charm, yet did not go overboard and make it overly-commercialised. 

We started off with the Hogarth Falls hike, which is a very gentle and short walk that I enjoyed. 

There are a lot more food options in this town, and we opted for Tracks on Point cafe, which definitely got its name from the train tracks right beside it. 

One of the best burgers we had on the trip, I reckon.

You vs the guy she told you not to worry about. 

Ocean Beach (Day 3) 

Following our little exploration around Strahan, we made our way to Ocean Beach, which required a bit of a hike to get to. The views were so worth it though, in fact I’d say, with the benefit of hindsight, that this definitely made the top three sights of the trip. Perhaps it was the perfect weather that made the sun rays appear so angelic, but if I were religious, I’d probably imagine this to be what heaven looks like. 

Pristine, fine white sand, with a backdrop of the most stunning rays. 

We’d have stayed here longer, if not for the setting sun and the desire to check out our next stop - which was also well worth our time. 

Henty Dunes (Day 3) 

Quickly, we made our way to the Henty Dunes, which required a bit of a steep climb to get to the top. Being the most physically unfit in our group, I struggled a little trying to lift my body weight up but with a bit of determination, I made it. Coming down definitely a lot more fun, if you manage to ignore all the sand that was going into your shoes. 

They attempted to slide down the sand dunes with a piece of cardboard from a previous group, and had a bunch of strangers cheer them on. And that capped day three, where we were blessed with pretty spectacular sights, and I especially loved how there was so much variety - from the wet, rainforest greenery in the morning to dry, sandy plains in the evening. 

Montezuma Falls (Day 4) 

Another day, another hike to a waterfall. This time, it was Montezuma Falls, which I daresay was my favouite waterfall out of all the ones we visited in this trip. No surprise, considering it’s the tallest waterfall in Tasmania. The journey there was made even more memorable by these adorable painted rocks left along the route by a local scout group. 

“Life is better with friends?”

“Hey buds”; “Sup playa”

I adopted this mantra for the rest of the trip, “Say yes to new adventures”. 

By far my favourite - an eaten blue M&M! I loved the details, especially the bottom where they painted his insides brown. 

The two guys taking the road less travelled to the waterfall.

Tullah (Day 4) 

Accommodation over the next two days was in the quaint little town of Tullah, which has a population of only 160. There were only three eateries and no nearby supermarkets, so we of course became customers to all of them. 

“The best coffee in town” at the Tullah Cottage Cafe - hard to beat when you’re the only one serving up coffee. 

It had quite the attraction though - an alpaca named Cleveland, who seemed very inclined to respond to my snort-like laughter. 

Got a couple of pies and sausage rolls for a mid-day snack.

Decent beef pie.

And just down the road from the cottage cafe, there was a small shop called ‘Lyn’s Teddy Bears’, where a kind lady (Lyn, I assume) displayed a bunch of teddies for sales. Some of them were handmade and some appeared to come from larger toy factories. She shared that she had been doing this for the past 26 years - true dedication to her craft. 

Straight out of an Enid Blyton story.

Hope they find homes soon, but living at Lyn’s probably isn’t too bad too.

Strolled along the Wee Georgie Wood Railway, before we headed back to our airbnb for a hearty dinner.

One of our better home-cooked dinners. 

Cradle Mountain (Day 5) 

Finally, it was the day that most of the folks on the trip were waiting for. We were to ascend Cradle Mountain. Truth be told, I was both mentally, physically and logistically unprepared for this. I completely underestimated the endurance of my travel buds prior to this trip, and didn’t think that we were going to do anything this intense. I had no proper hiking boots, equipment, and gear - it was just me and a pair of running shoes that I barely even used in Singapore. 

Heading to the start of the trail was such an unnerving experience. Everyone around us seemed so prepared, and were decked out in full winter wear while we were at best, in a sturdy windbreaker. It turns out that Cradle Mountain rains 300 days in a year, and when that happens the temperatures drop rapidly, particularly in the period that we were there. Thankfully, we had the luxury of sunny weather throughout our hike - I don’t think I would’ve made it otherwise because it would’ve been a lot more wet and slippery than it already was. That said, seeing everyone suited up prompted me to purchase a pair of overpriced $30 gloves at the souvenir store, and they turned out to be the best investment for the hike. 

Off we went! 

Crater lake was breathtaking, but we didn’t stop for long - needed to continue on.

The scenery kept changing, which made for a pretty enjoyable and exciting hike.

By lunchtime, I was already starting to regret my decision to come on to the hike, but it was already too late. The wraps that we prepared in the morning tasted exceptional when we were exhausted and hungry, despite being cold. 

Spam, rocket, bacon, eggs and a bunch of sauces (sauces courtesy of our well-stocked airbnb pantry) bundled up in a tortilla wrap.

Following lunch, our group decided to split up as I felt like I was holding some of the more physically fit folks back. Really appreciated that I had company that stayed by my side and hiked at my pace, making sure that I was OK. 

Friend of 10 years that made this entire trip possible: you’ve truly seen me through it all and I cannot be more thankful for you. Thanks also for several of the photos in this post that I’ve stolen - the ones taken by her are those not in the 9:16 or 16:9 aspect ratio (basically the better photography).

Smiling but I’m close to tears, though if I didn’t have those gloves I probably would’ve literally cried. Genuinely, this was one of the toughest things I’ve had to do and by this time I couldn’t even feel my legs anymore, it was just my brain willing them to trudge along. 

Some parts of the hike were awfully physically demanding, where I had to grab onto rocks or rusty metal chains to climb up. There was one part where I couldn’t seem to carry myself up, but a kind stranger helped to lift my leg up and position it on a rock. For context, I am someone who isn’t even able to climb higher than my own height whenever I go rock-climbing, which is not often.

Views were breathtaking though. 

Near the tail-end of our trail, we were truly racing against the clock and my physical endurance. The last shuttle bus that would take us from the foot of Cradle Mountain to wherever we had our car parked was due to leave at 5pm sharp, but we were still somewhere in the mountains at 4pm+ and the time estimates on the various signages we saw didn’t seem the most accurate, which added to our anxiety. We sped through the hike down as fast as we could, and luckily, eventually made it to the bus. 

Was going through this experience worth it? Yes, considering I survived and I’m hella proud of myself for making it through. But I would probably never do something like that again, at least not unless I’ve properly prepared and trained myself for it. Attempting this without any prior training or hiking boots was admittedly extremely dangerous, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone else. 

Accommodation for the night was at the Tullah Lakeside Lodge, where I got myself a platter of fried calamari and sweet potato fries. Not the healthiest by far, but I think I deserved it for whatever I had put my body through earlier in the day. The food was mediocre, not surprising since it’s literally the only bar grub/ dinner location in town. Why was it difficult to think of ‘monopoly’ examples when studying economics back in junior college, when so many exist in little towns in Tasmania?   

We wound down for the night with some crisp Tassie cider. 

And with that, the first half of my journey in Tasmania can be summarised by: a whole lot of nature and pushing myself to my physical limits. This would end up becoming a running theme for the rest of our leg in the Australia island state, but I must say that these first five days were exceptionally exhausting.

Honestly, by this time I was starting to wonder if I had unknowingly signed up for an endurance bootcamp. Apart from the hikes we were doing (many of which I’ve not even captured in this post), we were also cooking meals every night - and for that to happen, it entails going grocery shopping, preparing, cooking, washing up. We were also doing laundry and moving to a new airbnb or hostel almost everyday, which meant a new environment to acclimatise to all the time.  

Don’t get me wrong, I’m in no way complaining. I had willingly signed up for a taste of a different lifestyle with a bunch of diverse people, which was so welcomed especially after two years trapped in the same routine and environment. I couldn’t ignore the fatigue though, but fortunately the rest of the Tassie trip afforded us a bit more of a balance between leisure and being active, which I will get into in my next post. 

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