Tasmania – Part 4, Maria Island

This may have been the highlight of the trip. Maria Island is a magical place – peaceful, beautiful, full of gentle creatures.

We took a ferry from Triabunna, which is about an hour drive from Richmond. We took the 1030 am Maria Island Ferry. It was a lovely 45 minute ride to Darlington, Maria Island.

When you first arrive, there’s a welcome center where you can learn about the rehabilitation of the Tasmanian devil population, as well as the life of the prisoners who were sent here in 1825. You’ll also read a little bit about the original land owners were the Puthikwilayti people, who lived here for more than 40,000 years! There’s more of the history here.

It was raining off and on when we arrived, so we spent some time exploring this old settlement. Once the weather cleared up a little, we headed out. We decided we would walk to Encampment Cove, which according to the map, was 3.75 hours away. Along the way are the Painted Cliffs, a sandstone formation with beautiful colors.

The rest of the walk had quite a diverse landscape, and was very enjoyable. It rained a little off and on, but it was a pleasant rain and it helped to keep us cool on the hike.

When we reached Encampment Cove, we sat down our belongings, and took in the setting. There were all kinds of kangaroos, and – the most amazing animal EVER – a wombat!

And then we set up the tent, and as we were getting the fire going, a rainbow came out over the water, with a kangaroo and a wombat in the foreground. It was the most picturesque Australian scene I have ever seen!

And the of course the sunset was great.

That night we saw two Tasmanian devils sprint through our campsite. We saw the flash of white on their fur, which helped us to know that they were the infamous tassie devils.

The next morning we lingered, enjoying the wonderful scenery before we headed back. We even saw an echidna on the way another first!)!

Once back at Darlington, we saw these cool Cape Barren geese, and then when we got on the boat, we saw dolphins! The perfect end to our Tasmania adventure.

Maria Island will always hold a special place in my heart.


Tasmania – Part 2, Tasman National Park

After two nights in Hobart, we made our way east to the Tasman National Park to hike along the Old Cape Pillar Track. Our itinerary had changed several times because of weather – snow at Cradle Mountain, rain in the northeast. Since we were in our tent, I didn’t want to have to camp in adverse weather conditions. We decided that hiking/camping along the Old Cape Pillar Track looked pretty cool. Recently, the Parks & Wildlife Service opened up a walk called the Three Capes Walk, which is a 3 day, 4 night trek across the peninsula. You have to book ahead of time to stay in the huts along the way – it looked like a great walk, but again, since we had our tent, it wasn’t exactly what we were looking for. Because the Parks & Wildlife Service had just constructed this new trail, there weren’t that many people who still used the Old Cape Pillar Track. It would be a two night, three day adventure for us.

I think we got on the road just before 11:30am. A little more than an hour into our drive, we were hungry for lunch, so I checked google maps for any restaurants that might be up ahead. There wasn’t a lot between us and the Tasman National Park, but we knew we needed to get lunch before we started our trek.


Our route, taken from TasTrails: http://tastrails.com/cape-pillar-circuit/

Fortunately, there was a cafe called Fish Lips that was open. It is owned and run by a Finnish couple, who live in Tasmania during the Tassie summer, and in Finland during the Finish summer. Sounds like a good arrangement to me!

We arrived at the start of our hike just after 3pm. Here’s a good description. With our packs on, we set out.  According to the map, it would take about four hours until we reached our campsite at Wughalee Falls. The hike was relatively flat until we came to the extremely steep decent down to a hollow where the campsite was constructed. This is the only place along the trail where you can camp if you are hiking the capes independently.

We arrive just after 6pm. After we set up, we boiled some water and cooked dinner that night.  We also walked a bit up a less used path that headed SE out of the campsite valley, we saw glimpses of the sea before turning around and heading back to the tent.

The next morning, when we woke up, it was incredibly rainy. So we waited a little bit to see if it would subside. We probably started on our hike to Cape Pillar around 9:30am. This part of the track follows the new Three Capes Walk. We stopped at Munro Hut for about 20 minutes to warm up our hands, have a small snack, chat with the resident ranger, and dry off a little. Then off we went, and amazingly, the wind died down, the clouds lifted, and we were left with these amazing views of Sheepish Bay.

The most stunning view were from “the blade”, which is at the end of the penninsula and overlooks Tasman Island and the Tasman Sea.

The next day we packed up and left the camp site around 10:30am. On our way, we decided not to take the detour to Cape Huay. It would have been a couple of hours, but we decided we wanted to spend our time down at Fortescue Bay instead.

We made it back to the parking lot just after 12:00pm. We splashed around in the water for a little bit, although it was freezing, so swimming in it was difficult.

We stayed for about an hour, and then we made our way off of the peninsula, and over toward Port Arthur for some local sightseeing. What a great three days!

John Hayes Rockhole

Last November 2016, we decided to visit a new place – John Hayes Rockhole. We hadn’t been before because it requires a 4×4, and we didn’t have one.  BUT, we had friends who did – so we planned a trip out there!

It’s just a little more than an hour away from Alice Springs, so it’s a great day trip. There’s also a camp ground out there, so if you want to make a weekend of it, you can, and it’d probably be a lot of fun.

You head south out of Alice Springs, make the first left onto the Ross River Highway, and then you continue on until the turnoff for Trephina Gorge, another favorite of mine.

Then you proceed for about 4km down a bumpy road. The sign says it’s for high clearance vehicles only (although, if you go slow, most vehicles will be able to make it. It’s bumpy and a little rocky, but the rocks aren’t too high).

Once you park up, you have a couple of options. There’s a nice 90 minute walk that takes you up and over and then through the chain of ponds (the hike’s namesake). If you’re not up for the walk, you can do the short walk into the rockhole. As long as it hasn’t been too dry, there’s usually water in there. For the trekkers and campers, you can hike the Ridge Walk to Trephina Gorge, which the sign says takes 6.5 hours. Make sure you bring water – I don’t think there’s much shade!

We decided that we’d go to the rockhole first. There was indeed water in the rockhole, and after climbing around for a bit, we decided to climb the rocks up to the trail. This is not an endorsement of our climb, since there’s a marked trail that actually takes you up to the top, but it seemed like a fun option at the time.

Since we went backwards, we walked though the chain of ponds first.

And then you steadily climb to the top of the ridge. The views were great!


The view from the top, looking down into the valley from where we started

And, at the end of the walk we almost ran into a perentie!

What a fun day!

You can find more information about the park here, on the NT gov website: https://nt.gov.au/leisure/parks-reserves/find-a-park-to-visit/trephina-gorge-nature-park.

Hiking part of the Larpinta Trail

20 May 2017:

At the end of September 2016, we decided to go on a camping trip. It was a little late in the day when we decided this, but the weather had been really nice, and we wanted to take advantage of it.

We decided to head west on Larapinta, and chose Glen Helen as our starting off point. They let us park our car there, and then we walked across the street, just a couple of minutes west until we saw the trail. At Glen Helen, there was a sign that said we were 4.3 km from the Larapinta Trailhead at Finke River. Once we reached the trailhead, we had to decide if we wanted to walk Section 10 or 11 of the Larapinta trail.

The path to the trailhead is vehicle accessible, and it meandered next to the Finke River. There had been some recent rains, so the river, while not full, did have some water in it. There were a number of people who had driven out to spend their weekend by the river. We walked along the trail for a while, until we came to a fence. Seemingly it was preventing the cars from going any further, as there was an opening for people. Since we’d left our map at home, we just continued to use the Finke River to orient ourselves.

After walking for about an hour, we came across a part of the riverbed with some water, and we decide to stick our toes in.

About ten minutes up from where we stopped was the trailhead for the Larapinta Trail. It’s about 4:30pm by this time, so we know that we won’t be able to complete either trail. We decide to head West to Redbank Gorge. Now that we’re on the trial, there are blazes that guide us along the correct path. We head west until about 5:15pm, looking for a place to set up camp. When we don’t find one, we decide to head back towards  the Finke River, where we know we can camp. Sun set around 6:15pm, so we didn’t want to still be looking for a place to camp once the sun went down.

We found this awesome spot along the river to set up our tent. Our tent is almost all mesh, so you have a fairly unobstructed view outside of the tent. Once the tent was up, we had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner, which we enjoyed as the golden glow of the sun descend upon us.

By 7:30pm, the sun was completely gone, and we enjoyed looking at the starry sky, trying to guess which constellations were above us.

That morning, after many hours of sleep, we had some granola bars for breakfast and then packed up our tent. We thought about walking further along the trail, but decided instead to have a lazy morning and head back to the part of the river that had water in it. We stayed there for a couple of hours, and then headed back to Glen Helen. We got some ice cream, and then walked out to see the gorge. Then back in the car for the hour and a half drive home. Weekends in the Outback don’t get any better than this one!