The moment I saw the great cushion plant images from Verena Popp-Hackner www.popphackner.com I really wanted to visit this place in Tasmania. It was not easy to find out where this place exactly is, since everybody tries to cover this information to protect the delicate nature of this area. I will follow this tradition and just tell you it’s somewhere in the huge SW national park of Tasmania.
As written in my blog post Christmas in Tasmania I got the crucial clue from an old retired ranger on my last trip to Tasmania. After knowing the exact location it was pretty clear that it was not possible to reach this place together with my family and instead of a spontaneous visit a thorough preparation was necessary. Therefore I decided last year that I will return to Tasmania and try to reach this mysterious place.
On this second trip to Tasmania my father decided to join me. He is an experienced hiker and still in good physical condition. But he is 78 now and I work mostly at an office without doing much physical training in my spare time. It was clear that it won’t be an easy task for both of us to reach this place. We started directly after Christmas and travelled from Munich via Dubai and Sydney to Hobart where we picked up our rental car and drove to the SW national park. Due to some other planned trips and commitments in my main job we had only 12 days in Tasmania.
Two different tracks lead to this place. One is easier to find and probably less exhausting but has some slightly dangerous rock climbing sections. The other one is completely overgrown, muddy and difficult to find.
Since we both felt not very comfortable doing rock climbing with 25 kg backpacks we decided to try the second track. Since there is absolutely no infrastructure in this area we had to carry our complete camping and photography equipment, a camping stove and food for at least one week.
The track reminded me of my trip through the Rwenzori Mountains in Uganda. We often had to wade through knee-deep mud and climb over and under fallen trees. In addition the weather was not ideal with very strong wind and lots of rain.
After two days of hiking we just reached about half way of the trail. Knowing that the second half would be even more difficult and that my father already had some serious problems with the muddy conditions we realized that we are too slow to reach the cushion plants area and be back at the car within the planned schedule. I thought shortly about continuing alone. But if either my father or I would get into trouble when we are separated it could easily get dangerous because there was no cellphone connection in this area (after this trip I finally bought a satellite phone for this kind of situations). In addition I will probably not do many trips like this in the future together with my father. Therefore I rather wanted to spent the remaining time together with him instead of doing something alone.
We therefore decided to give up our plan to reach this wonderful place and return to our rental car. I was feeling a bit sad but I think it was the right decision. My respect for Verena Popp-Hackner is now even higher than before, because she did this same track carrying her heavy large format photography equipment. There is a very interesting article about her experience on this track in the German print magazine NaturFoto (8/2012, p. 24-33).
Last year the ranger showed me another place in the Mt Field area where you can find cushion plants, not as good as the one in the SW national park but nevertheless worth a visit. We therefore went to the Lake Dobson area next, where I did the long Rodway Range – Tarn Shelf Circuit via K Col and Newdegate Pass as a day hike. My father joined me on the first part but the climbing along the rocky Lions Den was too much for him.
At the Newdegate Pass I finally managed to find some cushions plants.
With many photography stops the tour took nearly 12 hours but was very beautiful.
For the remaining days in Tasmania my plan was to visit all the places I missed on my last trip either due to the bushfires or lack of time.
From the SW national park we went to Corinna where we did the long kayak trip to the lovely Lucy Creek. Then we went to the Dismal Swamp Sinkhole and Arthur River where we did a boat trip and visited the Edge of the World beach.
Afterwards we drove via Launceston and Low Head to the Freycinet national park and the Tasman Peninsula which were both closed due to bushfires last year. I’ve added 50 new landscape images from these places in my Tasmania gallery.
In addition I was trying some wildlife shooting of wallabies, penguins, eagles and peacocks.
My longest lens at the moment is 50mm which is not ideal for wildlife. But it was fun and I will probably get a longer lens to do some more serious wildlife photography in the future.
Altogether I really enjoyed my second visit to Tasmania despite not having reached the main goal of this trip. I also enjoyed the intense talks with my father on this trip about some topics we had never talked before. I will for sure return to Australia, but next time I will probably explore some of the interesting areas of the mainland.
We spent the last day of our trip in Hobart exploring the MONA museum. But this experience is definitely worth a separate blog post.