Well, it’s official. James and I are unemployed and homeless and have set out on our biggest adventure yet. I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet that we have left Melbourne, the beautiful city that we called home for the last 2.5 years. Still, we’re excited about what lies ahead.
I’ll be using this website as a travel diary of sorts; to keep you posted on our travels and share some tips along the way. In addition to sharing the locations during our gap year (who says 32 year olds can’t have a gap year?) I’ll also be going back and sharing some of my favourite trips we’ve taken over the last 6 years.
Our first destination was Tasmania. We’ve been to Hobart a few times (for Mofo and Dark Mofo – both of which are definitely worth checking out!) as well as Launceston for a weekend, but there were two places we really wanted to check out – Lake St Clair National Park (home of Cradle Mountain) and Freycinet National Park (home of Wineglass Bay).
We arrived mid-morning in Launceston and grabbed our rental car. The drive to our accommodation (Cradle Mountain Highlanders Cottages) was about 2 hours. The accommodation itself was pretty basic (we opted for the simplest cabin). However it does include a kitchen and there is a guest BBQ. Knowing that there is not a whole lot around the national park, we stopped in a town along the way and got some dinner and breakfast supplies which were pretty essential.
After checking in, we headed over to the National Park. Neither of us really knew what to expect as we set out on the Shadow Lake circuit walk, but it didn’t matter as the day was pretty foggy. It made for some beautiful, moody images but not much of a view.
Still, the hike was nice and it felt good to get some fresh air. What’s more, it wasn’t crowded (likely due to the inclement weather).
After some dinner back at the cabin, we headed back into the park in hopes of seeing a few wombats. Having lived in Australia for a few years we’ve seen our fair share of kangaroo (and even koalas) in the wild, but I’ve only seen one wombat. There are a few places to spot them and a quick Google search can give you the best spots. We headed to the Ronny Creek car park and lo and behold, 2 wombats just munching away on some grass. We had our headlamps, so were able to snap a few pictures and some video.
The next morning was clear, so we headed back into the park and I’m so glad we did because it was completely different from the day before! The morning fog was clearing, and by the time we got to the the circuit we had gorgeous views of Cradle Mountain.
After snapping some pictures and enjoying the scenery, we got in the car and made our way to Freycinet National Park, about 3.5 hours away. Luckily, there was a Sens game on so James was happy to listen to that while we drove. We made a few pit stops once we got close – Freycinet Marine Farm for some fresh Tassie Oysters and Devil’s Corner to try some wine.
Both were great stops and we picked up a bottle of wine to take back to our accommodation. We stayed in Coles Bay at Edge of the Bay Resort. There’s not much going on in the area in the evenings, and the restaurant at EOTB was rated one of the best places in Coles Bay. Plus, guests get a $30 credit toward dinner each night they are staying which made it worth it.
The next day we got up and headed into Freycinet National Park, just a quick drive from where we were staying. We had considered doing the Mt. Amos hike which is meant to have beautiful views, however I was slightly discouraged after reading reviews which went into details about the challenges of the hike, the use of handholds and how only experienced hikers should give it a go. Plus, the weather was a little overcast so we weren’t all that sure it was worth it. (Update: we met some wonderful Scots in Tanna who have done the hike and said that, while there are challenging bits, so long as you’ve hiked before and are relatively fit it’s easily doable).
We opted for the Hazards Beach Circuit, which is an 11km hike that ends at the Wineglass Bay Lookout. It was a beautiful hike and pretty quiet – we passed less than 10 people before reaching the lookout.
After our hike we were pretty hungry, and headed to Tombolo for a thin crust mushroom pizza. I reckon it’s one of the best meal options in Coles Bay, and the sizes are pretty large so one pizza suited the 2 of us just fine.
The next day, we headed for Hobart – our final destination in Tassie. We decided to check out some of the state’s history and so made our way to Port Arthur, which was once a penitentiary. The day was pretty perfect for visiting an old convict site – gray and rainy.
The site has a lot of history; even though it was in operation as a penitentiary for less than 50 years it has recent history as the place of Australia’s worst (post colonial) mass-murder event in 1996. Though tragic, the event was also responsible for Australia changing their gun laws and effectively restricting semi-automatic shotguns and rifles. Pretty amazing for a country to see the negative impact of less regulated firearms and take action!
After Port Arthur, we made our way down to Hobart – but first a quick stop at Last Rites Brewing Company. It’s in an industrial park near the airport and it took us a few minutes to find it but I’m so glad we did! All of the beers were fantastic. There was a bachelorette party there who were fond of the Raspberry Ginger Beer and it’s no wonder why; at 8% ABV it packs a punch but tastes like fruit juice!
On previous visits to Hobart, we’ve stayed at Airbnbs but this time (particularly since it was just the two of us) we stayed at The Old Woolstore which was in a great location! That night we got take out from Veg Bar and grabbed some of our favourite Tassie beer from a local bottleshop – Moo Brew. This time it was the Belgo that caught our eye, but I also love the Pale Ale and Hefeweizen.
Before flying out in the afternoon, we went to the Farm Gate Market. If you’re there when it’s open, definitely check out Salamanca Market but, since it was Sunday when we were there, it wasn’t on. Even so, the Farm Gate Market is a great spot to grab breakfast, some fresh produce or a treat (the doughnuts are out of this world).
Tasmania, in my eyes, is the most underrated state in Australia. It’s not exactly what people from North America picture when they think of Australia but it has so much to offer. Though we didn’t go this time, flying to Hobart to go to Mona is worth the trip alone. It’s far and away the most interesting museum I’ve ever been to. Hobart has great markets, gorgeous food and wonderful people. And beyond Hobart there’s so much more to discover. I was so thrilled we were able to get to Tassie one more time before departing Australia. Just driving around the state gave me such an appreciation for its natural beauty. I can’t wait to come back one day!