TL;DR: Tasmania was amazing, here are the pictures.
Almost 400 years after Abel Tasman reached Van Diemen’s land we went exploring Tasmania as well. This state may be only 1.5 times larger than the Netherlands if you measure it on a globe, the actual surface is many times more than that of our Dutch pancake (poffertje) of a home country. It’s rimmed with beautiful beaches, but harbors nothing but mountains on the inside. This caused some challenges for our non-4WD rental here and there, but the landscape is simply spectacular and different behind every corner.
We had 10 days to do a circuit, which is just about doable because of said mountains. We set ourselves a berry and sheep mission, to eat and photograph (in that order). Along the way we fulfilled both, with the help of a farmer who looked like he came straight out of Amish country and a curious sheep. But it was on Bruny Island where we finally ate all the cheeses.
Australia has some nice cheeses to offer, but somehow hasn’t mastered the art of the cheese platter, nor the chatter to go with it. Munching on the delicious cheeses of Tasmania, we came up with the alternative to our engineering life. Delicatessen shop “Those Dutcheese” (TM) will offer a small selection covering the best cheeses this world has to offer. Think a piquant Gruyere, ripe blue cheese, creamy brie, and of course old and savory Gouda cheese, to name a few. But what really sets this shop apart is the full back story for every cheese, and the advice to combine it with the right sips and bites. But the best thing, we get to eat the leftovers :).
Below the map, you can find the full trip report.
The East Coast has beautiful beaches on one side, and meadows filled with cows and sheep on the other. Along the way we’ve scuba dived with seals (Eaglehawk Neck), soaked up some history (Port Arthur), watched Little Penguins use the stairs (Pirates Bay), climbed a mountain (Wineglass Bay), ordered diner just before 8 PM (Bicheno), left our car on the road to South Sister (St. Mary), felt at home in the dunes (St. Helens point) and looked at ocean (Bingalong Bay).
If you venture further inland, the mountains take over. Here we’ve marveled at the ability of cars to ignore gravity (Launceston), photographed the view (Brady’s Lookout), had coffee in a Lucky Luke-like saloon (Mole Creek), twinkled with the glow worms (Marakoopa cave), pretended to have a 4WD and made a campfire at James’ caravan, saw an echidna and missed a wombat (Cradle Mountain) and learned that roads with an A in their designation can still be tiny mountain roads.
The North Coast was more familiar to us Dutchies, being a bit cooler and with the sun setting almost in the water. Still plenty of beach, but a much less beach-friendly climate. Here Burnie was the highlight of disappointment, where even the Little Penguins sleep in concrete bunkers. Fortunately, Stanley was the complete opposite with its picturesque buildings and the deliciously weird Nut, which we ascended with some assistance of the chairlift, like proper old people. A trip to the Dismal Swamp (yes, we took the slide down) brought us to the West.
The West Coast holds the Edge of the World, where you can feel the full force of the roaring forties (Arthur River). From there it’s 80 km of gravel road to get to Strahan, which you need to traverse without delay to be able to catch the last ferry at Corinna at 5pm or 7pm, depending on which sign you believed. The views along the way are breathtaking, but so was the realization that the combination of a flat and no mobile reception would be a recipe for disaster. We saw 1 car and 2 motorbikes (!) on this particular stretch of road… The towns along the way show the eras when the local mining business was booming with their beautiful art-deco styles (Zeehan). The Empire hotel in Queenstown was established in 1901, with all the splendor that goes with it. However, the environmental impact of the mining boom has left the surrounding landscape barren.
Back on the South Coast we lavished in the art at MONA and looked at all the beautiful things for sale at the Salamanca markets, that we could not fit within our baggage allowance (damn you, diving gear!). From there it was a short trip to Bruny Island where, apart for the aforementioned cheeses, we also ate all the oysters (Jaap), all the chocolates (Simone) and all the berries and cherries. We ended our road trip with a visit to mount Wellington and the latest edition of Star wars. May the force of Christmas be with you, always.