Exploring Tasmania... Part 2 - Wilderness
Aaron Jennings, Cox & Kings’ Australasia Product Manager, recently visited Tasmania. Here is the second part of his blog on this trip.
19 National Parks combine to take up more than 20 per cent of the landmass in Tasmania. The largest of these Southwest National Park, is home to some of the world’s last tracts of virgin temperate rainforest. Within this wilderness are numerous rare species including the huon pine, a protected tree that can live for more than 3000 years and contains an oil that prevents it from rotting in water. There are no roads in Southwest National Park; the only way in is by foot, plane or boat. I chose to fly in, departing from Hobart in a small fixed wing plane, so I could soak in the spectacular views of Tasmania’s capital city, passing over salmon farms and rainforest before landing at the small airstrip at Melaleuca.
With a short runway, a bird hide and lodgings for national park volunteer staff, Melaleuca is a tiny settlement in the south of the national park and used primarily as a base for day visits or the starting point for the challenging South Coast Track walk. During my time there I spied on birds from the hide and took to the river on wilderness boat trip. The bird hide has been set up for monitoring the orange-bellied parrot, a native species with only around 40 individuals left in the world. Despite evading the sights of the hide, leaving the hide we saw one sat on a nearby branch, an extremely lucky spot of such an endangered species.
The next day I travelled from Hobart down to Port Arthur and joined the Tasman Island Cruise, a small boat excursion that travels around the Tasman Peninsula. Passing the former prison colony at Port Arthur Historic Site, we continued out into the Tasman Sea, passing rugged sea cliffs, seal colonies and albatross. The highlight of the trip came not from viewing the impressive Tasman Island, a large chunk of rock with sheer cliff walls and a former lighthouse and settlement on the flat top but from the wildlife we encountered along the way including a pod of around 20 dolphins which swam beside us for around 10 minutes.
Later on the trip I joined the Freycinet Experience, a 4-day / 3-night guided walking tour of the Freycinet Peninsula. Located on Tasmania’s east coast Freycinet has aboriginal history, abundant wildlife and one of Australia’s best beaches; Wineglass Bay. The 9 of us on the walking tour had two guides leading us across beaches, up a mountain and through the rugged wilderness all at a gentle pace with frequent stops to soak in the views and learn about the flora and fauna that littered the pathways. Each evening we returned to our lodge at Friendly Beaches for wholesome gourmet dining and a few stories from the guides and fellow walkers.
My experiences were just the tip of the iceberg in Tasmania though, with more lodge based guided walks like the Bay of Fires walk in the north east, the iconic Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park and the historic West Coast Railway journey, which crosses 40 bridges during the 35km journey between Strahan and Queenstown.
Cox & Kings offer luxury tailor-made holidays to Tasmania.