In 2019 I traveled twice to Tasmania, one of my favorite places in the world. In January I went alone to do some longer hikes and in August I did my first winter trip to Tasmania together with Kerstin and Linnéa.
Part 1 – Tasmania in Summer
After a long and uneventful flight with Emirates via Dubai I arrived in Hobart and picked up my rental car. My first stop was the Anaconda outdoor store close to the airport where I bought some gas cartridges for my camping stove as well as some freeze-dried expedition food.
I spent the first night close to Hobart and explored the Hobart harbor at sunset.
The next morning I drove to the Lake St Clair, the starting point for my first hike. My plan was to explore the Pine Valley, one of the most beautiful sidetracks of the famous Overland Track.
After some short day hikes close to the visitor center and a night at the Lake St Clair campground, I took the ferry to Narcissus Hut on the other side of Lake St Clair.
The hike from Narcissus Hut to Pine Valley Hut is neither difficult nor very long. But my backpack was far too heavy (about 25kg) due to lots of photography equipment (plus a tent, warm sleeping bag, food, cooking equipment, etc.). Therefore it took me the rest of the day to reach the Pine Valley Hut (with many photography-breaks in-between) and I was really exhausted when I arrived there. But the landscape along the trails is really beautiful with fields of colorful flowers, mosses, and pandanis.
On the next day, I explored the area around the Pine Valley Hut.
Besides a really lovely rainforest, you can find the Cephissus Falls not far from the hut.
One of my highlights on this trip was that I was able to watch a Platypus for about half an hour at a very close distance at the Cephissus Falls. It was multiple times climbing up the falls and then sliding down, like in a water-park. Sadly I only took wide-angle lenses on this hike since my main focus was landscapes. Therefore the following image was the best one I got of the Platypus. Can you spot it?
After a relaxing day close to the Pine Valley Hut I started another demanding hike. My goal for this day was the Acropolis. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to reach it, because the trail is known to be difficult and in bad weather also very dangerous. A couple of years ago a woman got lost on this trail and was never found. But the weather forecast looked promising therefore I decided to give it a try.
I left my camping equipment at the hut but still took my large backpack to carry my tripod, cameras, lenses, some food, and water as well as some warm and waterproof clothes. The weight of the backpack was now probably around 15 kg. Still a lot for such a difficult trail.
The first part of the trail leads through a lovely rainforest. In some sections, the trail is very steep and you have to climb over fallen trees and big roots. Then it reaches a plateau and gets much easier. The vegetation changes again and you will find many pandanis there.
Finally, you get the first view of the Acropolis, a really spectacular rock formation.
Now the worst part of the trail begins. First, you have to cross a huge boulder field. Then you will arrive at the crux of this trail. A vertical wall of about 2m height (marked by an arrow). It looks easy on the following image, but it wasn’t that easy. You definitely have to pull your body over the edge by using your arms. But as long as you are not too short it’s manageable. But in bad weather, it’s better to turn around here.
From this steep section, it’s a very short hike to the top. The view from there and especially the unique rock columns are spectacular and definitely worth the effort. I would have loved to shoot from there at sunset or during the night. But going back alone in darkness would have been too dangerous.
I spent about one hour at the top and then finally returned to the Pine Valley Hut where I arrived safely at sunset. It was a beautiful but quite long hike. It took me about 11 hours to reach the top and get back to the camp (including many photography stops).
On the next day, I hiked back to the Narcissus Hut at Lake St Clair. The way back felt a lot easier. After a couple of days, you typically get used to a heavy backpack. The first days are always the worst.
After another night at the Lake St Clair campground, I drove to Triabunna and took the ferry to Maria Island.
The ferry arrives in Darlington, a small village with interesting historic buildings. Maria Islands is a World Heritage Australian Convict Site. There are longer and shorter hiking trails all over the islands as well as some lovely campground.
Maria Island is also famous for its abundant wildlife, especially the countless wombats, kangaroos, and birds.
But my main reason to visit Maria Island were the famous Painted Cliffs, eroded sandstones with spectacular colors, especially at sunset.
Most guide-books tell you that it’s only possible to reach the Painted Cliffs at low tide. But that’s not true. You can easily climb down from above at certain places of the cliffs. Just be careful.
After a couple of days on Maria Island, I took the ferry back to Triabunna.
My next destination was the Tasman Peninsula. I spent a night at Eaglehawk Neck to shoot the interesting Tessellated Pavement at sunset and sunrise. It’s a natural rock formation that looks like a huge man-made checkerboard.
Then I continued to Fortescue Bay, where I parked my rental car and started the hike to Cape Hauy. Since I had planned to spend the night there to shoot both sunset and sunrise at the cape, my backpack was quite heavy again with lots of photo equipment and warm clothes, food, and water.
But the trail was easy to walk and I reached the cape in less than two hours. Luckily the weather was good at night with just a few drops of rain.
Being completely alone at this spectacular cape at sunset and sunrise was a great experience. It was definitely the right decision to spend the night there.
After returning to my car I drove to the Snug Falls, close to Hobart. It was an easy 45 minutes hike to reach the falls from the car park. Even though there wasn’t much water at the falls it was still a nice place and worth the visit.
From the Snug Falls, I continued to the Mt Field NP, which I had already visited several times in the past. But it’s one of my favorite places in Tasmania and always worth another visit. Two lovely waterfalls in the park are the Russel Falls and the Horseshoe Falls.
My favorite area in the Mt Field NP is the road to Lake Dobson.
On my last two days in Tasmania, I was trying to catch some of the spectacular Bioluminescence effects in the sea with my camera (during the day I visited the MONA museum, see Part 3 of this trip report). One of the best places in Tasmania for watching Bioluminescence are the beaches in South Arm. They are located close to Hobart, there is not much light pollution, and the effect can often be seen there.
Sadly after two weeks, I had to leave Tasmania and return to Germany. But knowing that I would be back in Tasmania in a couple of months was making the farewell a bit easier.
Part 2 – Melbourne
In August we went on our next trip to Tasmania. Again flying with Emirates via Dubai. But this time Kerstin und Linnéa joined me. On our last trips to Tasmania we always just changed the planes in Melbourne without seeing anything of the city. Therefore we decided this time to make a stopover in Melbourne for five days and explore the city.
We stayed at the Mercure Welcome Melbourne Hotel in Little Bourke Street. From there we were able to reach most of the main attractions easily by foot, like the Yarra River, the Flinders Street Station, the Federation Square and the National Gallery of Victoria.
But public transportation is also very well organized in Melbourne. We used it to get to the nice Prahan Market and to visit St Kilda with its historic pier and Luna Park.
Some of our favorite places in Melbourne were the historic shopping arcades Royal Arcade and Block Arcade, which were both located very close to our hotel. We went there nearly every day for breakfast. The most unique shop was definitely the Spellbox witchcraft shop in the Royal Arcade.
The building with the most spectacular architecture in Melbourne is the State Library of Victoria.
Melbourne is also one of the best places in the world for Graffiti art. The art scene is very active and some of the artwork changed completely after just a couple of days. Some of the best places for Graffiti art are the Hosier Lane and the Artist Lane behind Chapel Street.
When you visit the Artist Lane you should definitely also go to the Chapel Street Bazaar with its cool retro-style design-objects. Linnéa loved this shop and could easily spend a whole day there.
Altogether we loved the relaxed atmosphere of Melbourne and it’s many great Asian and Mediterranean restaurants (the Supernormal in the Flinders Lane was our favorite restaurant, but sadly it was quite expensive). And we really enjoyed the visit to the Queen Victoria Market and especially the Winter Night Market.
After five days in Melbourne, we continued our trip to Tasmania by taking a Qantas flight to Hobart.
Part 3 – Tasmania in Winter
Approaching the Hobart Airport you have a spectacular view of the Seven Mile Beach.
In Hobart, we picked up our rental car and went directly to the city center. We spent the first night at the Customs House Hotel which is located perfectly close to both the harbor and the Salamanca Square. On all our past trips to Tasmania, we slept mostly in our tent, but since this was our first winter trip to Tasmania we decided to stay in hotels this time.
The next morning we explored the Salamanca Market, one of Australia’s largest and most vibrant outdoor markets.
Afterward, we drove the Mt Field NP, as written above one of my favorite places in Tasmania. We stayed there at the Platypus Playground Riverside Cottage, which is located directly at the Tyenna River and very close to the park entrance. It’s a lovely small wooden house, but its main heating system is a wood-fired oven, which needed some continuous attention to keep it burning.
Especially around sunset and during the night there is abundant wildlife to watch in the Mt Field NP.
We explored again the Russel Falls and Horshoe Falls.
And drove to the Alpine Region at Lake Dobson. Contrary to my previous summer visits, this time we had some fresh snow on the rocks.
While we hiked the Pandani Grove trail and the Urquhart Track it started snowing again. Seeing this lovely mountain rainforest with its pandani plants snow-covered was a great experience and very different compared to our summer visits.
On the next day, we drove the short distance to the Styx River, another favorite of mine in Tasmania. The contrast between its intense red water (colored by tannin) and the green of the fern trees is really mesmerizing. I could easily spend days there.
After two days at the Mt Field NP, we continued our trip. The next destination was the Cradle Mountain NP. After a short stop at the Lake St Clair for breakfast and a quick view at the Iron Blow Lookout we in stoped in Queenstown for some scallops pie for lunch.
Late afternoon we finally arrive at the beautiful Cradle Mountain Hotel.
We had two days to explore the national park in winter conditions. If you start early you can drive with your own car up to the parking lot at Dove Lake. Later in the day, the road is blocked for private cars and only public busses are allowed to enter.
On one afternoon we experienced suddenly a severe blizzard for about an hour which created a fantastic and somewhat surreal atmosphere in the forests. Snow-covered wallabies and wombats are not something you see every day.
I really liked the Cradle Mountain NP in wintertime. Fewer people, more wildlife, and the combination of rainforest and snow looked awesome.
After two days at Cradle we drove to Launceston, the second biggest city in Tasmania. We stayed there at the Areca Launceston Hotel. In Launceston, we explored some of the historic buildings and the lovely Cataract Gorge.
As a day-trip from Launceston, we drove to the Liffey Falls and the Ben Lomond NP.
The Liffey Falls are my favorite waterfalls in Tasmania. The combination of a spectacular gorge combined with awesome temperate rainforest makes the Liffey Falls so unique.
While we had been to the Liffey Falls in the past, it was our first visit to the Ben Lomond NP. The road ends at an alpine skiing area. Halfway you have to drive through the spectacular switchbacks at Jacobs Ladder.
We spent the sunset at the viewpoint above Jacobs Ladders and enjoyed the glowing rock formation in the evening light.
From Launceston, we continued our trip to the Bay of Fire, where we stayed at the NRMA Waterfront Holiday Park in St Helens.
The nearby Binalong Bay has extremely white sand and in wintertime not many tourists.
The orange-hued granite rocks at the Bay of Fires are really spectacular, especially at sunset. The orange color is produced by lichens.
From St Helens, we also explored the nearby Mt William NP with its abundant wildlife.
My favorite place in the Mt William NP was Deep Creek. The beach is awesome and we were completely alone there. I would have loved to spend a couple of nights at Deep Creek. But since we had decided to not bring a tent on this winter trip our only option was to return to our hotel in St Helens. At least we spent the whole evening there and even enjoyed the full moon at the beach before very slowly and carefully driving back to St Helens. Driving at night in Tasmania is always very stressful due to the countless suicidal animals which always try to cross the road directly in front of the car. Next time we will definitely camp at Deep Creek.
On the next day, we left St Helens and drove to Coles Bay to visit the Freycinet NP. We stayed there at the lovely Beaulieu Apartment.
The Freycinet NP offers several nice short and long hiking trails.
My favorite places for landscape photography in the Freycinet NP are Sleepy Bay and Honeymoon Bay.
From Coles Bay, we drove back to Hobart, where we spent the last three nights of our visit to Tasmania. From Hobart, we did a day trip to the Tasman Peninsula, where we visited the Unzoo, specialized in local wildlife with lots of space for the animals. We joined an interesting presentation about the Tasmanian devils.
And afterward spent a lot of time with the very trusting and often funny Forester Kangaroos.
After the Unzoo we continued to the famous Port Arthur World Heritage Historic Convict Site. It’s a huge area with many interesting exhibitions and you could easily spend the whole day there. The entrance fee to Port Arthur is quite high, but it’s worth it.
The last day in Tasmania we spent at MONA, my favorite museum in the world. I’ve added the new images to my MONA blog post from 2014. You can find it here.
About two weeks later we had to leave Tasmania again. Our idea was to also make a five days stopover in Sydney on our way back to Germany.
Part 4 – Sydney
After a short Qantas flight, we arrived in Sydney and took a Taxi to the city center. We had booked a private room in the Sydney Harbour Youth Hostel.
It is perfectly located close to the Sydney Opera and the Harbour Bridge.
Also close to our Youth Hostel are The Rocks and Campbells Cove where you can find lovely renovated historic buildings with interesting (but expensive) shops and restaurants.
We enjoyed taking the city ferries from Circular Quay the reach Luna Park on the other side of the Harbour Bridge and the modern city areas Darling Harbour and Cockle Bay.
We also visited several of the great museums in Sydney like the MCA Museum of Contemporary Arts, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, and the Artspace Sydney at the Woolloomooloo Bay. Our favorite place in Sydney was probably the Saturday Glebe Market with interesting vintage stuff and good food.
On our last day, we took a bus to the famous Bondi Beach. It was extremely windy that day which led to huge crashing waves and an interesting atmosphere at the beach and the Icebergs swimming pool.
After a good lunch at the Trio Café (Campbell Parade), we returned to Sydney. The flight back to Munich was without problems. After four trips to Tasmania, it’s still one of my favorite places in the world. The combination with stop-over visits of Melbourne and Sydney was a good choice. Both are great cities and I can’t say which of the two cities I liked more.
Update 1 Nov 2020:
I’ve finally managed to produce two short videos of this trip, one about the wildlife in Tasmania and one about our impressions in the three cities Melbourne, Hobart, and Sydney.