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Wide World Blog: Tasmania, AUSTRALIA

Blog by S. Adam Granato

“Ah Japhy, you taught me the final lesson of them all, you can’t fall off a mountain.”
-Jack Kerouac Dharma Bums

I am not a huge Kerouac fan.  And I am even less of a fan of people who quote Jack Kerouac on travel blogs.  But recently, as I was scaling boulders solo on the peak of Cradle Mountain, this quote resonated in my head.  I’m not sure if it was supposed to be comforting or if it was more of an internal taunt.  Nevertheless,  it did the trick and my reward was this incredible view of the Tasmanian Western Wilderness.

But I have jumped the gun a bit.  Rewind to the first week of March when I am trying to plan a driving trip from Brisbane to Sydney.  Enter: cyclone.  Exit: that idea.  So, instead of taking the beaten path North, I purchased what turned out to be a relatively inexpensive plane ticket south.  To Tasmania.  Now, as an American here is what I know about Tasmania:

And that about sums it up.  So as you can imagine…there was a certain amount of intrigue.  Fast-forward now, and I am sitting in a huge botanical garden in the quaint little seaside port of Hobart on the southern coast of Tasmania with cockatoos flying over my head trying to decide which of the ”60 Great Bushwalks” in the more than 20 national parks I would try to hit in my week-long circumnavigation of what I would soon coin: “Nature’s best kept secret.”  With no time to waste, I headed to my first chosen destination:

Cape Huay, Tasman Peninsula, Tasman National Park

Believe me, it’s even higher than it looks.  Which is particularly harrowing when you consider the fact that I was racing sunset and spent the last 45 minutes of my bushwalk in the dark.  After a great start, I set off up the coast and found a great place to camp right on the beach.  Ultimately, I hit nine national parks in five days.  Here are just some of the highlights:

Tasmanian Devil Crossing, Tasman Peninsula

Apparently they are real…and ferocious!

Wineglass Bay, Freycinet National Park

Often ranked as one of the world’s top 10 beaches.

Douglas Apsley National Park

Where I may or may not have gotten scared of snakes and turned around…

Bay of Fires Conservation Area

At sunset the rocks glow orange and red and if you take enough picture your camera will run out of batteries….oops.

Cradle Mt. from Dove Lake, Cradle Mountain National Park

My 11 hour hike went from where I took this photo to the top of the first hill on the right, back behind to the base of Cradle Mt., up to the furthest peak to the right, back down to the dip of the cradle, across to the peak on the left and then back down around the left hand side of the lake.

 

Cradle Mt. Summit Trail Marker, Cradle Mt. National Park

You can’t fall off a mountain, but you can roll your ankle twice once you’ve gotten back down to the bottom.  Thank God for icy mountain streams…

Dove Lake from the Cradle, Cradle Mt. National Park

Day 74 is definitely in my top 5

Fallen Log over River, Wild Rivers National Park

The diversity of ecosystems on Tasmania is incredible.  Whether in the mountains, dense forests, wine country, sea cliffs or dangling over roaring waterfalls and rivers, it is easy to get away from civilization

and into the wild.

Platypus Bay, St. Clair National Park

Platypus observation is great…you should try it…it’s very similar to dancing with fairies and riding unicorns, all you need is some water and a couple free hours to waste staring into oblivion.  But make sure you are very very quiet…we wouldn’t want to scare away all the nothings.  (Apparently I was there at the wrong time of day…not even slightly bitter).

Mt. Field National Park

If you want to see Australian wildlife, Tasmania is the place to be.  Wombats, echidnae, wallabies, yellow-tailed cockatoos, kangaroos, quolls and of course my buddy the pademelon.  This guy let me hang out with him from about 2 feet away while he munched on the grass.

Strathgordon, Southwest National Park

This place is so remote that the only radio station I got on either AM or FM was in Spanish.  Bromas aparte.

After just one week, I felt I had soaked up the beauty and diversity of Tasmania, but I’m quite certain I could have stayed for the rest of my life.  Tasmania is a place to re-connect to the outdoors and experience the fullness of nature.  Forgive me, but I feel a Kerouac quote emerging:

“I felt like lying down by the side of the trail and remembering it all. The woods do that to you, they always look familiar, long lost, like the face of a long-dead relative, like an old dream, like a piece of forgotten song drifting across the water, most of all like golden eternities of past childhood or past manhood and all the living and the dying and the heartbreak that went on a million years ago and the clouds as they pass overhead seem to testify (by their own lonesome familiarity) to this feeling.”
-Jack Kerouac Dharma Bums

And while I never did come across one of these:

I did get the opportunity to meet this fella:

“In fact with one of my greatest leaps and loudest screams of joy I came flying right down to the edge of the lake and dug my sneakered heels into the mud and just fell sitting there, glad. Japhy was already taking his shoes off and pouring sand and pebbles out. It was great. I took off my sneakers and poured out a couple of buckets of lava dust and said,  ’Ah Japhy, you taught me the final lesson of them all, you can’t fall off a mountain.’

‘And that’s what they mean by the saying, When you get to the top of a mountain keep climbing, Smith.’”

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