Updated: Sep 27, 2020
Bright and early Friday morning, my favorite Canadian Christine and I left for the airport. My amazing roommate Shayna dropped us off at 5:30 for our 7 am flight. After making it through security in about 5 minutes, we anxiously waited to board our plane. Security in Australia is nothing like in the United States. There are no liquid limitations, emptying your pockets, taking off your shoes and belts, or even showing proof of identification! Quick and easy, but also slightly scary considering everything that could have made it through. Yet another example of how much safer Australia is.
After a half hour maintenance delay, we arrived in Launceston, Tasmania at 8:30am. Tasmania is an island located just 300 miles south of Melbourne. It is small in size, measuring in at just 26,000 square miles. The route we planned on taking would have us drive around 23 hours in a matter of 56 hours in a circular pattern. Since the trip was a bit spontaneous, we both did a little research of must see places and plotted points along the route we thought were worth stopping for. It all began after we got our cute little Hyundai rental car.
The first stop on our adventure was Cradle Mountain. To get there Christine drove 3 hours southwest through many very windy, narrow, and roadkill covered roads. In just the first hour we counted over a dozen dead Tasmanian Devils on the road. For anyone who doesn't know what one looks like, they're about the size of a small pug or large rat. They're carnivores and known to be one of the most vicious animals in Australia. They only roam in the wild in Tasmania. Unfortunately besides the many dead ones we saw, we never did see one alive. Maybe that's a good thing... Back to Cradle Mountain! Due to the increase of elevation and Tasmania's lower temperatures, Cradle Mountain has snow at the top of its peak. The national park where it is located also had some very crazy weather from being very warm and sunny one minute to pouring and sleeting freezing rain the next. Since Christine has a fractured foot we weren't able to do any long hikes, but we were able to take a bus ride closer to the peak and then go for a short hike and get some pictures. It will likely be the only time this year I'll see snow, and I'm not too sad about that!
After bundling back up and getting into our car we headed south for about 5 hours to Tasmania's capital, Hobart. That night we had plans of staying in an Airbnb just Southeast of the city in Opossum Bay. Since Tasmania has a very low population and most of the island is covered with farms and mountains, I thought it would be the best time to learn how to drive on the other side of the road. With about 2 hours left in our day's journey, Christine handed me the wheel. I wasn't all that afraid to drive on the other side, more just curious to how it would feel and be different. Truthfully, it was pretty similar to driving back home. The speed limit in Tassie for the most part was about 110km. (That's about 70 mph) If you know me at all, you know I love to drive fast... maybe too fast at times... Driving 110 around very narrow and windy roads was quite fun. I'm sure Christine probably didn't agree! There are no shoulders on the road so when you come in contact with another car you say a little prayer you don't hit because you really are just a few inches away. Luckily we made it to our Airbnb that night in 1 piece. Fixated on the beautiful scenery and getting to our place, we didn't focus as much on finding a place to eat. After checking in, our hostess shared that the closest place to grab a bite to eat at 8pm was about a 40 minute drive away. Famished, but tired, we shrugged it off and headed off to our car once again. Luckily we had an amazing hostess who insisted on us staying and making us dinner instead. She welcomed us into her huge beachside house located next to our studio bungalow for the night. While Gai was making us eggs, tomatoes, and toast (a very common breakfast dish here!) John, her husband, talked to us. We learned that this sweet older couple both also worked in the education field. Gai as a social worker and John as a recently retired teacher. What are the odds?! While learning of how they too have travelled different places around the world and hearing of their teaching endeavors, Christine and I ate the most delicious eggs and toast I have ever had. Before turning in for the night Gai gave us ice cream and shared that they had a hot tub we were welcome to use. What better way to end the night than sitting in a hot tub on a beach?! I still pinch myself that this is now my normal life...
The next morning began with a small breakfast left from Gai. After packing up and saying our goodbyes, we were on our way for Hobart. Just a short 30 minute drive later, we were downtown Hobart, the largest city in Tasmania with a population of 200,000. After parking our car we made our way to a open market in the heart of the city. There we were greeted with Scottish bagpipe players, old European buildings, tons of leather, handmade jewelry, and food stalls. Best part of it all, there were lots of free samples! After filling up on free chocolate, gin, popcorn, and potatoes, we made our way back to the car. Our big, and only purchases of the day were a pair of freshwater pearl earrings. They haven't left my ears since then.
Leaving the city we made a quick stop at 7 Mile Beach where we gazed into the crystal blue waters until they turned into bright blue sky. Everywhere you looked it was blue and beautiful. Back in the car we went after taking too many pictures. Our next destination, Wineglass Bay. On our way to Wineglass Bay a street sign appeared stating, "Tasman Peninsula, this way." After quickly looking up what Tasman Peninsula was and how beautiful the views were, we rerouted or destination and added another 2 hours worth of driving for the day. Tasman Peninsula was well worth the drive and reminded us both of the Great Ocean Road drive we did a month prior. On our way back to our original path before we took the detour, we came across a cute winery. Of course we stopped, tasted some amazing wines, bought a bottle for the night, and were on our way again.
After getting back on track and buying more snacks, we made our way to Wineglass Bay, Christine's one must see place all trip. Unfortunately we found out after arriving, that it also required a 1 hour hike to reach. After spending some time deliberating if Christine's foot would be up for it, some hikers just leaving the trail convinced us on going after stating, "It's not that bad! It's only really 15 minutes there and back!" We must really be out of shape because after 20 minutes, we only reached the halfway point and sadly Christine had to stop and turn back. Promising great pictures, I trekked onward another half hour uphill on a path consisting of just steps cut out of rocks. Thank God Christine turned around when she did! Reaching the top I quickly took some pictures before descending and wanting to catch up with Christine to make sure she was able to make it to the car in 1 piece. We met each other with about 5 minutes left of the trail and luckily we were able to finish the hike together. Since Christine was in some pain and I was anxious to get behind the wheel again, it was agreed that I would finish the last 2 hours of driving for the day, which would be done in the dusk. That night I saw 6 kangaroos and wallabies on the road, almost hitting 2. Although I'm thankful I didn't hit any, how great of a story would have that been?!
On Sunday we woke up in our Airbnb located right on the beach. I do have to say, I enjoy waking up seeing water and smelling salt more than seeing corn and smelling cows... Since we had no internet or phone reception, we drove north blindly hoping to find a town soon with a coffee shop and free wifi for breakfast and some much needed connection to the outside world. After croissants, eggs, and bacon, we got our next destination for the day plugged in our phones and headed off for the Bays of Fire. With having to be back in Launceston and return our car by 4, we had a shorter day planned with just 1 stop before the airport. That one stop ended up being both our favorite stops all trip!
Today was my day of driving. Obviously I must not be too bad at it since Christine did not put up a fit and lived throughout the 3 days. Driving for about an hour North, we were surrounded by the whitest sand and clearest water I have ever seen. To make the view and experience that much better, there were 0 people around. We literally had the most beautiful beach to ourself! Kinda like our own private island! I had way too much fun clamoring over the rocks and just staring down at the water and seeing coral and fish several feet below. My first time truly experiencing that. Sadly, after about an hour of exploring and basking in the beauty, we headed back to the coffee shop we were at that morning to get some more free wifi and directions for the airport. The importance of going back to the same coffee shop will be ironic as the day goes on... 3 hours later we were back in Launceston finding a place to eat before we flew out that afternoon. After parking the car and finding a cute little burger shop, Christine notice her purse was missing. After ransacking the car and all 2 of our bags for it, we retraced our steps trying to place just where it could be. The place it was last seen was the coffee shop, the first time, that morning. After calling them to hear that it was still there, and luckily they were willing to mail to to Melbourne for her, we laughed at how we could have just picked it when we stopped the second time that afternoon. Relieved that it was found, we had our "Chicken Little" sandwiches and reminisced on our great weekend. The end of yet another perfect, spontaneous weekend adventure.