Outback Rains

The end of 2016, and the beginning of 2017 were wet here in the Outback. We went to Tasmania at the beginning of the month, and when we came back, the grass in our backyard was out of control. I’m talking knee length grass that took forEVER to cut.

So, by the end of the month, things were looking pretty green, and it would seem that a lot of the water tables were pretty high. On 28 December 2016, We made a mandatory trip out to Simpsons Gap to see what it looked like. Always beautiful, it was really neat to see it full of water.

We had gone right after work, and as the clouds started to roll in, we could tell we were due for some more rain. As we made our way back to Alice Springs (about 15km away), we saw the storm behind us. It was still pretty far away, and it was creating the most beautiful colors. We even got to see it lightening.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

On 30 December 2016, we decided to check out the Todd River, which we knew had been flowing. By now it had been a couple of days after the rain, and while the water wasn’t deep enough to swim in any more, there were places where the water went up to your knees.

On 1 January 2017, we climbed up Mt Johns to watch the sunset. This was also a good eagle eye view of how green Alice Springs was!

Not a bad way to start the new year!

Advertisements

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 3, Sightseeing

After our awesome trek in the Tasman National Park, hiking the Three Capes Walk, we packed up our tent, and did a little sightseeing in the area for the next two days.

First we went to the Remarkable Cave, which is about half an hour away from Fortescue Bay, and about 10 minutes south of Port Arthur Historic Site. Depending on the tide, there are really good views of the caves.

Then, from the same parking lot, we heading to the Maingon Blowhole. There was actually quite a lot to see, so we played in the area for almost two hours. We continued past the blowhole, along Mount Brown’s Track, and around towards Crescent Bay. It was gorgeous weather and we had a lot of fun. The trail goes through interesting vegetation to a natural pavement of rocks, and eventually leads up Mount Brown. For time’s sake, we skipped it, but I am sure the views from the top are stunning!

Then, we headed to the World Heritage listed Port Arthur Historic Site. We didn’t go in, but we did stop in the cafe for a light dinner. For those with more time, this is a place worth seeing, as it provides a detailed history of the penal colony that was first established in 1830.

 

DSC00244

That night we slept in the car far into the woods along a logging road. The next morning, we headed north, and stopped at Tasman Arch. It was raining, so we didn’t explore too much. Then we continued north, back to the mainland.

IMG_5617

We had lunch at Dunalley Waterfront Cafe & Gallery, and then onto Richmond, which was about 40 minutes away. We stayed at a great little B&B called Richmond Barracks, and then explored the historic town. Richmond is famous for having the oldest bridge in Tasmania, a gorgeous stone structure, still in full use today.

After recuperating from our 3 day trek with some sightseeing, we’re off to Maria Island for more trekking and camping!

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.

Cape-Pillar-circuit

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!