I think it’s clear that the trip to Tasmania is one we’ll never forget. The land is incredibly beautiful and the culture and atmosphere warm and welcoming: the rolling farmlands in the northeast, the rich history and fishing villages of the south and southeast, the healthy rainforests in the west, and the … interesting people right smack in the middle. If I could do it again I wouldn’t change one single thing, that is, of the things within my control.
That’s Right, The Weather
Had we known the weather would be so bad, we would have re-scheduled the trip for another time (naively believing the weather in Tassie is so predictable). But even so, the weather in Tasmania is so fragile, so fickle, that complaining about it is useless. And wishing it would change is dangerous: it will change, shortly, and you better just wish it changes in a positive direction. Incidentally, Steffen and Ben reported that immediately after we left, the weather in the mountains cleared, giving them ample time to do walks in the area and snap some great pictures.
I would defy anyone to argue that there are friendlier people in this world than Tasmanians. Australians are very friendly in general, more so than anywhere I’ve been yet, but Tasmanians are friendly to depths I’d only heard about in fairy tales. Take, for example: the staff in visitor’s centers who wouldn’t let us walk away without until they felt they made a beneficial impact to our trip; the mechanics in Campbell Town; Jan the hostel owner in Hobart who sat and told us about everything there is to see in the area with a personal conviction like she was coming with us; the park rangers in Cockle Creek who were just checking for national park passes, but chatted with us for 20 minutes; the hostel owner in Geeveston who let Jake and Ben crash in the hostel at no additional cost because it was so cold and wet outside; the cafe owner and her German chef in Maydena who chatted us up about what to see in the area; Tamika, my future sugar momma and her lesbian partner, the 4-fingered harvester, Simon and all the folks in Ouse; the caravan park owners in Roseberry; the visitor’s center staff at the Cradle Mountains; Rebecca, Jai, Matthew and his dad in Sheffield.
They are so proud of their land, so happy to see people visiting it, that they want to get involved and make sure you have the best time possible. You’d be hard pressed to find even customer service that good, and they get paid for it.
You know how when you’re sitting on the couch at home in Houston or Boston or Ann Arbor or wherever, and you think about rainforests you imagine this humid, moist environment where you’re surrounded by strange animal sounds, lush vegetation and walking trails that are often only barely visible? That’s exactly what it was like. I’ve never experienced nature in that form, almost untouched and a dominant force when compared with humans.
And only a short drive away are beautiful coastlines of white sand beaches, farmlands that grow everything from olives to opium (the Cap’n told me that the area around Geeveston is one of the major suppliers of opium to the medical industry), deep gorges, and tall, treeless mountains.
There is a national park almost every 50 kilometers, and as they should be, they’re relatively untouched by man.
And if you get tired of the outdoors? Well, there’s always Hobart, larger than you would think a town in Tasmania would be.
I’ve already thought about when I’ll come back and what I’ll do. The Overland Track from the north of the Cradle Mountains to the South is a popular trek, and I’d love to devote the time to do it properly. The northwest area is also supposed to have spectacular parks and cultural areas and it was the one part of the country I missed. I’d also consider coming to Hobart, or a small town like Geeveston, and doing some work for a while. Hobart is actually a very nice little town. Not too big that you get lost in it, but not too small that there’s nothing to do.
But in the end, what I’ll miss the most is driving around in that beat up car with those three guys, trying to navigate our way around a foreign land. I am so grateful that I got to share that experience with them.
My recommendation? Just go. And you know what, don’t bother checking the weather, don’t buy a waterproof tent, don’t take your car in for a tune-up, and for god’s sake don’t plan a thing until you’re 20 km outside the city. Talk to everyone: the guy at the gas station, the lady in the pharmacy, the owner of the hostel; they’ll give you the best advice about how to spend your time. Just make sure you change your socks often, you have plenty of CDs for the road, and you have some people with you. Adventures like this don’t need anything more than that to get started, call it a cheap thrill. You can thank me later. On second thought, just promise me you’ll send me all of your stories and we’ll call it even.