Tasmania was the final destination on the long list of fieldwork for my PhD (see my previous post about all my other fieldwork fun here). I had the time of my life in Tassie and wanted to share my travels with you! Here’s what I got up to:
Let’s fly, Jetstar!
After a flight with too many screaming toddlers but a good book (Plant Conservation: Why It Matters and How It Works, By Timothy Walker), I arrived in the picturesque city of Hobart. I arrived in the late afternoon so I had time for a quick stroll along the harbour-side, gelato in a floating cafe, take away dumplings, a grocery shop and then bed.
Hobart is awesome, it feels like city that’s still connected and intertwined with the natural environment. It sits so perfectly nestled in the surrounding mountains that are still covered in their native vegetation. There’s also a lot of native bird life around the city and some of the species I saw included the green Rosella (Platycercus caledonicus), Dusky Robins (Melanodryas vittata), Yellow wattlebirds (Anthochaera paradoxa) and loads of water birds too!
Today I had two species to collect on Bruny Island which south-east of Hobart. I took the Bruny Island car ferry over and spent the day collecting seeds and doing a bit of sightseeing on the island.
I collected seeds from Melaleuca gibbosa (pictured on the left) and Allocasuarina monilifera (pictured on the right). Both were easy to find on the island and I was able to get a bunch of seeds. Melaleuca gibbosa is a sweet little shrub that produces purple floral heads. Allocasuarina monilifera is a typical casuarina plant but grows shorter than most, only to around 2m tall.
After I’d collected the seeds I got to see “The Neck” lookout which is a vantage point to see the whole sand strip that connects the northern part of the island with the southern part. I then went along to Adventure Bay for a quick coffee stop and a stroll along the beach before heading up to see the iconic Bruny Island lighthouse. The view of the cliffs from the lighthouse was breathtaking. At the end I snuck in some cheese tasting and a sneaky post-fieldwork G&T at the Bruny Island Distillery before catching the ferry back to Hobart.
Wine and berries
A group of friends happened to be in Tasmania at the same time as me. They were travelling around in a camper van and we got the chance to meet up in Launceston. It was so good to see them and we spent the day moseying across the country side in the Tamar Valley region, tasting wine and picking delicious berries. We cruised across to the East Coast and I snuck a free nights sleep squished into their van in the National Park at Bay of Fires.
We watched the sunset over the amazing coastline whilst eating cheese and sipping on all the wine we’d bought that day.
After watching the sun rise over the water from the van window, we had a slow breakfast and morning walk along the beach. I then waved goodbye as they headed further south along the East Coast and back for their flight the next day.
I saw a bit of the town of Launceston and spent the afternoon in Cataract Gorge which is just on the outside of town. It is such a beautiful natural wonder that is open to the public for swimming and bushwalks! I took a mandatory tourist ride on the chairlift and witnessed the spectacular view from above.
Today was bigger than I had planned… I’d spent the previous night in a lovely lodge 20min from Cradle Mountain so I woke to birdsong and Pademelons rustling just outside my door. I let myself sleep in, sip on coffee on my balcony in the trees, taking my time as I had planned on heading to Cradle Mountain to just do a shorter walk (due to my feet having problems lately).
I got to Dove Lake and looked up at the mountain and was immediately in awe of the natural beauty. To top it off, I got to the top of Marion’s lookout (the short walk I thought I was only going to do) and just thought “Why not?!” and then climbed all the way to the summit of the mountain!
The walk and climb was intense and at some points, frightening, but the view at the summit was well worth it. I can finally tick off the Cradle Mountain walk from my bucket list.
However, it wouldn’t be blog on my page without a few photos of the diverse wildflowers on Cradle Mountain, here are just a few (click through the slideshow for more images).
I spent day six driving with extremely sore legs (thanks, Cradle Mountain) up to Stanley, a town on the very North-western corner of Tasmania. It is a beautiful town with crystal clear blue beaches and a cool geological landform called The Nut. It is a shear sided bluff that is what is left of an old volcano plug. Again, I took the tourist chairlift to the top of the bluff (I also probably couldn’t have climbed the hill once again due to stiff and sore legs!) and walked around to all the lookouts. It is a stunning 360 degree view of the Tasmanian coast and Bass Strait from the top! A small town that is out of the way, but totally worth it for a Tasmania road trip.
I then drove back across to Devonport, saw a bit of the towns Wynyard, Burnie and Penguin. I saw loads of clear blue beaches and lighthouses. I even snuck in a bit of PhD writing in the evening.
But the cherry on top of this day was watching the sunset at Lilico Conservation Reserve and then spending the evening watching Fairy Penguins from a viewing platform. The chicks came out of their nests just before it went dark and then the adult parents come up the beach, take a minute to preen and stretch their wings, before being chased around for food by their chicks. It was a such a magical experience and was made even better by the fantastic National Parks Volunteers who are there, for free, helping you see the penguins and explaining facts about their behaviour and habitat. Go Tassie National Parks!
I drove from Devonport to Launceston for a quick coffee at Sweet Brew and a stroll through the shops. Then I headed east and spent an afternoon in the sun at Binalong Bay. The water is crystal clear blue and the sand is white, it felt like a different world!
I had more fieldwork to do in the morning on Day 8 near Little Swanport. I was collecting Eucalyptus obliqua seeds from Bulters Ridge Nature Reserve. This is a brown top stringybark eucalypt that is found all along the east coast of Australia and is used for hardwood timber. Interestingly it was the first Eucalyptus species found by Captain Cook and sent back to England by a botanist, and he found it right here in Tasmania! Even though this species can grow to more than 50m in height, luckily, I found a few trees with branches hanging just low enough for me to grab some seeds (I didn’t have my seed pole with me as I flew from Sydney).
Then I got to spend the afternoon relaxing by the beach and doing a bit of work in my hostel.
Day 9 – my birthday!
Freycinet National Park and MONA
To spoil myself for my birthday, I decided to do Freycinet National Park and wineglass bay at sunrise, hoping to get an amazing view and not be amongst all the crowds. I raced up the hill at 5am in the dark for the sunrise at 6am. It was one of the best birthday experiences I’ve had; spending time admiring the beautiful view and watching the mist clear over the valley whilst the sun rose over the water.
To finish off my birthday, I drove back to Hobart and hopped on the crazy MONA ROMA ferry and rode a sheep across to The Museum of Old and New Art (MONA). I had a fantastic day, strolling through the gallery at my own pace (I highly recommend going to art galleries on your own) taking in all of the art. MONA is not only a magnificent curation of a diverse range of art, the architecture of the building and the level of interaction of all the different sections and pieces make it a great experience. They also have a cool device that has audio and text about all the art works instead of signs on the walls. I am not very art knowledgeable, nor creative, but I honestly had a great day and it is definitely my favourite art gallery (minus the Louvre haha).
A bit more fieldwork and Mount Wellington
I had to collect my final species, Acacia dealbata, from Dee Lagoon about 2 hr north-west of Hobart. I spent the most of this morning driving up and getting a whole heap of these seeds, the trees were dripping with them!
I then headed back down to Hobart, and took a trip up to the iconic Mount Wellington. The view from up here is incredible. In the evening I finished packing (with an extra few kilos from the wine and champagne I’d bought in the Tamar Valley, yay!).
Salamanca markets, Hobart Botanic Gardens and finally home
My final day was bittersweet, I was excited to go home to my husband and puppy, but so sad to be leaving such a beautiful state. I think by this point I’d had fallen deeply in love with Tasmania!
To start the day I had a coffee at Jackman & McRoss – the best coffee in Hobart, it is a must do if you’re in town. I then braved the manic Salamanca markets on the waterfront. They were huge and there was loads of cool art, food, jewellery and more!
My favourite travel habit in every country, state and city I visit is to spend a few hours perusing the botanic gardens. So I finished the trip with a few hours in Hobart Botanic Gardens. Here is a few photos of the beautiful flora they have on display!
If you haven’t already, hopefully now you’re inspired to go to Tasmania too!