TASMANIA ROADTRIP CHRONICLES (DAY 10)

My last day in Tasmania *sighs*. Feels like an age ago now, pretty much has been. But got to finish one adventure to begin another, or so i’ve been told.

Cool things I saw on my last day. Lots of bikies getting onto the spirit of Tasmania. A whole flock of geese on the side of the road, a really cute kitty cat, lots of cows, really cool stacked firewood piles-yes mum I was thinking of you, a mailbox fashioned out of a horse feed bucket, so many gorgeous roads and trees.

The day started with rain yet again. Tasmania certainly does love its rain. While I also love rain, I do not enjoy the packing up in the rain part. I won’t lie and say I was eager to get on the road. Similiar to yesterday, I was feeling a bit legless with fatigue. But I knew I would still see some beautiful things today if I managed to get my show on the road.

Once packed up and ready for my day I drove to a roadhouse, knowing the general direction I wanted to head. Once there and eating breakfast I got to googling. Sitting on my phone in the dry of my car trying to figure out where on earth I was going to go in the rain. I picked a waterfall to chase and headed off. It really wasnt far so I got there in no time. Did a short walk and walked around what had to be one of the biggest trees i’ve ever seen. Even in the rain, I appreciated Tasmania once again and all of its beauty as I wandered.

My next stop was a bit more of a challenge but eventually I picked a Gorge that had very good reviews. It was a bit more of a drive but the drive was stunning. I had my first maccas in over a week because I just couldnt resist as I wound my way to the gorge. When I arrived, there was a small walk to the gorge which was definitely a stretch for the legs. Lots and lots of stairs. But I got to the first lookout and the view was breathtaking. I took it all in.

I descended further down what felt like a million stairs before arriving at another lookout. The mosquitos came for me then, which was motivating for me to move. The next lookout was lower but still beautiful. I would definitely recommend this as something to see if you are in the area. It is called Hellyers Gorge.

I was a reluctant traveller by this point. I had squeezed so much adventure into my ten days and so much beauty I was beginning to feel numb to it all. But regardless I was still incredibly grateful to have seen yet more of beautiful Tasmania.

Once I climbed back up to the car. I sat on a picnic table for a while, absorbing the nature around me and reflecting before reluctantly getting in the car. Despite exhaustion every step that led me closer to home was hard to take, I never was good at goodbyes.

I spent my last few hours in Tassie organizing my car, getting a rather delicious dinner at Zambreros, and then eating my burrito on a beach in Devonport as I watched the ferry sail in. I slept hard on the way home and woke up in Melbourne.

What an incredible adventure. Tasmania, I will be back.

For those of you who have been reading along, thanks for coming!

TASMANIA ROADTRIP CHRONICLES (DAY 9)

Alrighty. Two days left, lets finish this series, it has taken me long enough.

This was a hard day for me mentally. I was starting to feel a little bit homesick, missing Finn and knew that all the major highs of my trip were over and that I was going back to some tough weeks. All of that was hanging over my head.

I did not set an alarm for the morning. I deserved a sleep in after yesterday’s effort and so I did sleep, for about 12 hours. I had plans of lounging on the beach with my banana lounge and reading my book. But it was not a particularly warm or sunny day when I awoke. I packed up and left my home, the first place I had stayed two nights in for my entire trip in tassie. So, it was the closest thing I had to home. I almost thought that this was to be my last day, but I was not booked on the spirit until Monday night. So, two days for some R and R.

First up on my agenda for the day was a good breakfast, which was more challenging to find than you might think. On my way into town, I wandered into a farmers’ market. I mostly browsed; I saw lots of people walking their dogs which just made me miss mine. I went to three cafes in town and none of them had anything I felt like eating which is crazy. Eventually I just gave up and left town to go to the beach which I had ran through the day before. A sleepy little town called Boat Harbour with a beautiful beach. It was the beach I ran across at the halfway mark.

I ended up giving in and getting a fish and chips by the beach, it was incredibly bougee though and not all that great, but it was food, and I was very hungry by that point. Afterwards I wandered along the beach barefoot and confirmed how freezing the water was which only made me not feel like swimming even more. Yesterday mid ultra-I wanted to jump in, but today I was feeling less hot as I was not in the middle of running an ultra. Go figure.

After the beach, I drove along the coast towards the Nut (see above). Got yet again more petrol and ice and a lady at the petrol station also driving a RAV4 asked me what sort of petrol to put in her car. I traversed the other end of the 100km race. Driving all that way really highlighted how far it was. On the way I drove past a campground and checked it out as a potential place to camp for the night. It was on a beach and you had to pay a small fee to stay. It was busy so I was not sure if there was a lot of options for me. I continued driving and reached the quaint little town of Stanley.

When I got to the car park at the base of the Nut, I was faced with a dilemma. The Nut is a volcanic plug, a huge rock formation jutting out into the ocean. There was both a chairlift to the top, for a short fee of course and there was also an option to walk a steep path directly to the top. Even though I would have full permission to catch the chairlift. I decided to walk, maybe I am insane, but I cannot resist a good summit. I was not as sore as I thought I would be post run, but I still moved slowly. Going down was harder than going up. Did two and a bit kms slowly. It was the highlight of the day, the view of the north coast from the top was beautiful.

When I got back down, I was still determined to go for a swim in the ocean sometime today. I drove down to the beach and jumped in the water. It took a fair bit of effort, but it felt refreshing. When I got back to the carpark, I observed a lady in a brightly painted van cooking dinner with her doors and windows. Her dogs lounged, one of them outside in the grass and another inside on a bed. They looked so completely at home and happy.

I drove back to my camping spot I had scouted earlier in the day and set up. I had more space than I had at any of my other spots and was sheltered by the trees, which made it feel semi safe. I wanted to go watch the sunset, but my tired legs just did not have it in me. The challenging part of being on the road but with no real go in my legs post-race. It is hard to explore when you do not feel like moving as much. On the plus side I was not as delusionally tired like I was earlier in the trip.

I finished the day sitting out on my chair eating my wrap as the sun set. Listening to the sounds of nature around me and recording the day’s events on my voice recording. While I talked to myself, I made a list of all the things I was grateful for. Because today had been a hard day mood wise, I needed to practice gratitude. Here is what I said to myself that day:

“I’m looking forward to getting the photos off my camera, I think there will be some really beautiful ones.

I am grateful for my podcasts.

I am grateful for the freedom and confidence to explore and travel solo, I think it takes quite a lot of guts, so I am proud of myself.

I am grateful for everyone who supported me and congratulated me on my ultra.

I am grateful for all my feelings; all the places I’ve seen on this trip and all of the people I’ve met.

I am grateful for my badassery of asking myself what if. What if I CAN run 50kms? And turns out I can. So proud of myself, even though I was underprepared and questioned it 1000 times whether I should drop down and do less distance. Although I still would have struggled through the 25 without a doubt. At least I knew I was going to struggle through 50ks, no illusion there. Incredibly happy that I did it. Ticked off a big item on my bucket list. Excited for UTA but not keen to a 50k super soon. Been good to get out of my routines and shake it up.

I really like living like this, despite feeling a little homesick. The planning aspect is hard, but I really like this. “

TASMANIA ROADTRIP CHRONICLES (DAY 8)

`”GONE NUTS”

“When it’s your Time, is the goal to leave behind a well preserved body, or do you really want to use it?” -Billy Yang -The Why-

Groggy. I was groggy when I woke up. But the day awaited me and I wasn’t about to snooze the alarm. My anticipation and nerves got me out of bed, I’m a little surprised that they let me sleep at all. I knew I needed food, but that was the last thing I felt like as my stomach roiled. I had some caffiene to look alive. And snacked on a random assortment of foods. Really I knew I should be eating something hearty like porridge but my time and options were very limited. So, I winged it, not probably the wisest decision, but the only one I had.

Luckily I could leave my camp set up, and simply get changed and leave my stuff there. I dressed warmly, as it was cold at 4am. I drove the short way into town, listening to some tracks to pump me up as I went. Leaving my car I had to make final decisions about what gear to take with me on the bus, as I would not see my car for many hours. In the end I probably took too much clothes, only because it was so cold and I would have froze at the startline without my longsleeve. And of course raincoats were mandatory gear, although there was absolutely zero need for them that day.

Loaded onto the bus, I breathed a sigh of relief, at least I had made it this far. Everyone was in different moods, but I laughed at an overly exuberant girl who was chatting to the lady in the seat next to her. She was very much like me. I wanted to pipe in on their conversation the entire time but thought the better of it. Funnily enough, I ended up talking to the young girl when we got off the bus. I never saw her again though after the start line. She had never run a trail race before, or run further than 20kms. I thought she was brave and maybe a little crazy. But I saw her later on the race photographs, and she made it to the end. She looked like she had been through the wars, but she had made it.

There was a wild line for the three portapotties they had deigned to place at the startline, not enough for about 160 ultra runners who needed a nervous pee. I got in first luckily. But I groaned looking at my watch, we had 45 minutes before the start of the race, and it was cold. What did they expect us to do with 45 minutes? Eventually they lit a fire, which everyone huddled around desperately. But time went slowly as I made idle chit chat with others. Finally it was time for the breifing and we huddled around the start line. Although it was still so dark I wasnt sure what direction we were even heading in.

I dont even remember what signal they used to set us off, but everyone started moving and I figured that was my cue. It was a relief to finally be moving, to be starting, to be going somewhere. And the start was easy as we ran down a wide gravel road, the group stretching out as we went. I spoke to myself out loud to slow down, as the starting pace as everyone bunches together can be a bit wild, and I knew I was going far too fast. I found a nice break between big groups where I had space to run and just chilled there. Another lady joined me and we started chatting, I was feeling confident. And then we hit the single track. The gravel road sloped down towards a spectacular sunrise as runners started to wind up a rocky track that led into the hills. That was the end of most of my conversation as all of our concentration went into the trail before us. And so we climbed.

I was hot very quickly. Layers stripped even as the air was still cold. The sunrise over the water was blindingly beautiful. The power of the sun indicating we were in for a pretty warm day with blue skies ahead. There was someone in front of me, and someone behind me, but it didnt take long for the group to spread out severely. I was definitely at the back of the pack already I knew. And before long I was essentially alone out there, which was how I would spend most of the day. A fact that surprised me in the moment.

I gave in on listening to nothing but nature after about an hour and got my earbuds out to listen to my book. Despite being in my own little bubble, I was not in paradise, I was tripping on the narrow single track as I went, and i couldnt stop tripping. I faceplanted once. Then continued to try and avoid tripping, to which I was deeply unsuccessful. My frustration grew and I was swearing as I continued to make my way. Ive run a lot of single track, but no one so narrow and overgrown that only one foot could fit directly in front of the other. I ended up walking some of it, just to save myself from breaking my ankle too early in the race, that would not be a worthwhile way to end the day.

It just went on and on though. And so did I. Plugging away at the first 10kms. Finally the track widened out and I was so excited to actually stretch my legs and find a bit of stride. Some others were with me and we all enjoyed the openess. We both encouraged the other. “Girl you are smashing it” they said and it made me smile. Made me remember to smile. This was my day. And I wasnt going to let some trippy roots stop me from having a good time. Shortly after the trail opened up I found myself running across a beach, then the beach led back up a rocky trail, then back onto a beach, and so it continued.

About 20kms in, I came through a small township, and found my first aid station run by the firehouse in the town. I filled up my water eagerly and grabbed some lollies to much on as I continued on my way. From there I ran on some road, I enjoyed road running for the first time in my life because of how easy it was to put my feet down and find an even surface. Although I was in deep doubt the entire time that I was on the correct route, luckily enough I kept seeing the telltale pink markers every now and then that signalled I definitely was. The oddest feeling was just passing all the normal people going about their daily walks while I was just casually struggling past them.

Getting to the halfway mark felt like a grind. I was eager to reach the point but the trail had other plans. Namely a few rocky beaches that really tested my sense of self preservation. It was very dicey going in terms of foot placement, and often I picked a rock only for it to move on me unexpectedly. When I did eventually stumble into the aid station, running to look like I was trying. I was very excited. I didnt stay long though, I was afraid if I stopped moving that I would never start again. While I was there I overheard a guy dropping out. It hadn’t even crossed my mind, so onwards I went, after grabbing some potatoes of course.

I ran across the beach, doing my best impression of an ultra runner as I passed many beachgoers who cheered me on. But I could see that the only way out of the beach was going to be up, and I was not looking forward to it. I began climbing again, and at some point I came back down, the second half of the race was set mainly on private property that was totally innaccessible to the public. I was excited for this section of the course, little did I realize how brutal it would be to run on literal paddocks.

I could go on and on about this second half. I was starting to feel the struggle by the 25k mark thats for sure. I was expecting it too as I had never run further than that before. But the next 25kms were some of the toughest mentally that I have experienced in my time of running. It went on and on. I scrambled down sideways on single tracks that my feet wanted to murder me for. I hammered my knees on the downhills, too tired and letting gravity take me. I had my head down as I climbed up millions of grassy tracks, convinced that I was going to run into a snake as the sun beat down heavily. In hindsight I had a little bit of heatstroke. I ran down gravel roads and past cows, through sown paddocks and random side of paddock areas. At one point I reached an oasis of chocolate and ice and gatorade and I stuffed my bladder with the ice, loving the freezing cold water it produced.

I saw very little others during this time, and I didnt have enough energy to really do anything other than nod in acknowledgement. Getting out my phone was an effort. And I decided not to really update anyone until I was closer to the finish. Climbing yet another dusty switchback that had me slipping and sliding through the trees, I promised myself that I just had to get to 40kms and then it would be all downhill from there, I mean not literally, but surely the last 10kms would be a breeze, I knew I could run 10kms, was my rationalization.

My weary butt stumbled into another aid station with a little over 10kms to go. I was fighting negative thoughts left right and centre. An old dude I had been chasing since the start dropped right out. He was done. I had no idea why but I walked out of the aid station and kept going. I celebrated at 40kms, but it was far too premature. I passed a couple and they said it would be cruisey rolling into town. I believed them, but in my opinion it was not çruisy at all.

The paddock tracks destroyed me, I know what paddock ground is like, and these were anything but even. Every single step threatened to roll my foot in a new direction. Pain lanced through my feet and through my entire body. I jolted along awkwardly. Running and singing for a bit to keep my morale up. To get across the fences we had to climb these little step ladders. I couldnt lift my legs high enough to get over them. And jumping down on the other side I winced hard every time.

Town was finally visible as I left the paddocks and I was excited. So close. So close to the end. A runner passed me and I was so in the zone that they scared me. They were flying. “Good job, good job”. I almost stopped in shock as I realized the first of the 100km runners was overtaking me. They had started at the same time but 50kms behind us. And he was running like he was fresh out of the gate. A wave of imposter syndrome hit me like a ton of bricks. Who was I to be out here thinking I could actually run? I was just a glorified walker. I would never be that fast, that effortless. But this race was not going to beat me. I was going to finish this, even if I had to crawl across the finish line.

I hit the river as I came into town. And I will be honest, any other time I would have loved it. But I loathed that river as I followed it further and further inland, leaving the coast behind. Every step I took I could see that I would have to come all the way back down the other side of the river. And I just kept thinking that surely I was about to cross it. But no, on I went. I started walking, but that hurt just as much as running, so then I went back to running but it looked more like hobbling at this stage. Each footfall was a stab through my body no matter what pace I was moving at. I stared longingly at dead leaves and forest on either side of the trail, thinking all of it looked like a good place for a nap.

I crossed the river at last, knowing pretty much that it was a long way back down the river before I got to the end. I started crying softly as I went. Exhausted and spent. I looked at each new tree and tried to get to it. Then would set my sights on another tree. Finish line thoughts and mental stubborness kept me going. I would never tolerate “almost finishing” a 50k. That was just not what I wanted. Not after this. I fantasized about jumping in the river too, it was still so hot, and I was sweaty everywhere. But my fate was to keep moving. Finally I recognized my surroundings, and my pace increased a tiny bit as I saw my car in the distance, and knew I was almost there.

I pounded the concrete through town, knowing what lay at the end, finishers already walked away, heading home. I ran through the gates at the club, and the soft grass of the oval greeted me as I finally saw what I had been longing for the last year. The finish line.

New energy flooded me and I ran. I gave everything I had left on that victory lap around the oval. The announcer was commentating as I came around. They actually got my last name right, for once. The sheer effort of it brought tears to my eyes as I neared those arches. Ten more metres, then five, then two, then nothing. Finally I stopped and stood still, fully sobbing as I put my hands on my knees and braced. A microphone was shoved in my face and a photo snapped, I remembered to smile. How was that? I was asked. “Hard” was my response.

They asked me a bunch of questions and I felt like I was some famous ultrarunner. Not just a random mid pack runner who had struggled through her first 50kms. I stopped to take it all in. I did it. I made it to the end. It was somewhat unbelievable even with all the evidence in front of me. I limped to the car with my medal around my neck to get some change for a coke. I sat on the grass of the oval and drank my coke. Absorbing the finish line atmosphere and cheering other finishers on. Sitting down for the first time in about 10 hours. The ground had never felt more comfortable.

I was cool fast. And with no one to really talk to and fatigue setting in, I headed off. I called my mum, and then a friend, to tell them of my adventures. Back at the caravan park, I attempted to shower but basically sat down in the shower for 20 mins before finally taking my shoes off and marvelling at my filthy feet.

I got a hearty pub meal for dinner and got an early night as my body was screaming for rest. What a day.

Hindsight: Overall I am incredibly proud of how well I handled this race. I stayed positive even in my darkest moments. And I handled my pain cave with mental fortitude and resilience. Part of the reason that I decided to do this was just to see how I would react to being in a tough situation mentally and physically. Given some of my life has been painful and hard to endure, I drew strength from that. Looking back I do think this was one of the hardest things I have done in my life so far. It could have been made easier if my training and leadup had been better, partially a timing issue and partially a me issue, given that training for an ultra while always on low battery is going to be hard regardless. But I came out of it with no injuries, just a little bit of soreness and importantly, I want to do it again.

Listening to my voice recording of the day from that very day over a month ago now, I finished with a “Fuck yes, go me!” Which I think just about sums it up.

TASMANIA ROADTRIP CHRONICLES (DAY 7)

Cradle Mountain –> Launceston –> Wynyard

After the huge day of hiking previously, we were entitled to a small sleep in. We got up around 8.30am and made quick work of packing up in the frosty morning chill. After settling up at the caravan park office, we dressed for walking and headed straight down the road to the Dove Lake carpark. However we were dissapointed to find a locked boom gate with no access. Instead we had to drive back to the visitors centre and catch a shuttle bus to take us down the narrow roads to access Dove Lake. It turned into a bit of a drama because of me. I forgot my parks pass in the car and so when we had lined up and had to present it to the get tickets for the bus, I did not have it. I got all flustered and then we had to walk back to the car to get it and line up again. Eventually we got onto the bus, after my fun overreaction. I like to think I add spice to the simple things.

What struck me the most while visiting Cradle Mountain was just how well the infrastructure had been set up for this world heritage area. For the thousands that visit it, they had really set it up so that they could protect the area and the people visiting it. But personally I really did not enjoy that we could not explore at our own pace as much. I also dislike large tourist traps. I am impressed by Tasmania’s National Park culture though. Clearly they spend a lot of time and money maintaining them.

After all that, arriving at Dove Lake the views were very pretty. The world heritage area is rugged and pristine with huge towering rocks over the alpine lake. Once again though, Tasmania showed me that it was a windy place. The weather being what it was and our legs being in the shape that they were, we opted for a simple circuit of Dove Lake. An easy and well maintained boardwalk that gave us some nice views of Cradle Mountain. A summit was in my heart, but I still had to run 50kms the next day and we had a lot of driving to do still and not a lot of time. Perhaps I will return one day to do one of the summits around Dove Lake.

The walk was simple, and sweet, and very beautiful. I challenged Tash to come up with new words to describe the scenery as we went. We finished it in good time, and it was a great way to stretch the legs. I did not envy those going up even higher to windier wetter areas.

My next stop was a reluctant one. After another car boot sandwich lunch, we headed off towards Launceston. Out of the mountains and towards the city. I still had a few hours left of driving so I let Tash drive herself to the airport. Hard to know what to say at the end of a few days of exhausting adventures which had some trying times to say the least. Roadtripping is an intimate activity but overall if you can tolerate living in a car with someone you can probably tolerate anything.

The airport drop off was practical and short. Tash was off for a fun weekend and I was already mentally absent as I tried to prepare myself for the next days activities. I decided with myself, in my head, that this was not an ideal lead up to my first ultramarathon, but also that this was what I had chosen, so I would have to face my fate regardless. I drove north, not knowing where I would stay when I arrived in Wynyard, and a little bit worried that accommodation would be booked out due to the race. I was worried for no reason though, and I found a super cheap caravan park that was happy to put me up for the night. The lady at reception was so nice, and even had a gorgeous dog.

Once camp was set up, I went off to get some supplies for the next day, and to get some dinner. The North Coast was different to the East and the South. It was very rocky, but a different type of rock, that I would experience a lot of the next day in the Rocky Cape National Park. I was excited to see more of it.

I wandered town for a short time. But knew I needed to get an early night. So after packing all my gear for the morning in the boot of my car using my headlamp, I headed to bed. It was not early enough I thought, as I set my alarm for 3.30am. Before I went to sleep, for motivation, I watched Billy Yangs youtube special on “The Why” where he runs 100 miles. It definitely inspired me and mentally I felt ready for the next day, if not nervous.

TASMANIA ROADTRIP CHRONICLES (DAY 6)

Liffey Falls to Cradle Mountain

I sighed as the alarm went off. Yes even on holidays I set alarms, I just be out here without a body clock of any sort. Welcome to my life. It was wet again when we got up. Just a light rain, but a little frustrating given I had just dried everything out the day before.

Once again, Tash was the perfect helper for packing up. I would 10/10 take her anywhere again. She is a worthwhile team member to take places. We rolled the swag-a team effort on either end and had a rough breakfast. I didnt quite get breakfast right for this trip, but I struggle with morning eating anyway so its hard.

We were underway not long after. Rattling out the road on the gravel. It was nice to hit the smoothness of paved roads again. Before not too long we hit Deloraine, and I already had an idea in my mind: small town bakery. So I found one with ease, we had a second breakfast. I tried what was essentially a bacon and egg pie, it was incredible.

The drive into Cradle Mountain was a treasure in itself. Huge towering outer mountains loomed on the bright sunny morning as we drove in. It just made me want stop and take photos every 10 seconds. Instead we took a quick car photo which is one of my favorite photos of the trip.

But alas, we had a mission to do. As we entered the mountains the weather changed drastically. By the time we reached the carpark at cradle mountain it was raining and deeply overcast. The beautiful day was gone up here in the mountains. We lined up at the visitors centre to talk to the rangers. They said that the visibility was about 40 metres and extremely windy and cold. After a brief discussion we decided it was just not worth it. The wind in the carpark alone threatened to bowl us over. So we decided to drive out of the mountain again, back to the sunny day on the outskirts. We decided if we couldnt climb the mountain we wanted to, we might as well climb one nearby. And the beautiful mountains on the edge of the range were still a worthy challenge.

We set off in the early afternoon to attempt to summit Mount Van Dyke. After a quick sandwich lunch at the dam. We packed some snacks and water for the trip. Tash sang bad Taylor Swift as we walked up the road to the trail. But quickly the singing ended as the path took us up. Straight up. We were panting and sweating pretty fast. Many breaks were had on the way up. The leaves were slippery on the path as we climbed. After about an hour, the trail changed, turning into a steep rock scramble. It was nice to have something different to focus on, and we could tell we were getting much higher due to the insane wind whipping through the trees. I was beginning to think maybe we had bitten off more than we could chew.

As we started to reach what we assumed was the summit, we reached a new challenge, instead of the endless climbing with pounding hearts and burning legs. We faced a very overgrown track, scratching at our legs as we tried to figure out where the path went. Turns out it went on and on. Huge boulders were on either side and we started to see some obstructed views as we peeked through them. But as we continued on, we had no idea if we were anywhere near the summit, the mountains seemed endless. We attempted to go off track at one point and climb up but that was a fools errand and we returned to the track. The wind was like nothing ive ever experienced up there as well. It took all the heat from our bodies and also threatened to throw us off the edge. Running out of light and with no end in sight, we decided to call it a day and head back. We had been hiking for a few hours, and the way down was perilous even in full light. We looked for a safe spot to have a snack but the wind was everywhere. Finally we were just too hungry so we just ate right there on the track, at the beginning of some of the boulder scrambling on the way down. There was no view, just the alpine forest surrounding us on all sides as we chowed down on salted nuts and m&ms. We made it back down a few hours later, and followed a creek trail back to the car, it was beautiful and peaceful, and a stark contrast to the harshness of the mountain. We found out later that we never made it to the summit, we were close, but not quite there. It was a decent hike none the less.

I decided that we deserved a pub dinner after our adventure and my suggestion was greeted enthusiastically. We drove into the pub and it was absolutely packed. Clearly a hot spot for the locals. The food was delicious and the people watching was spectacular. We were fully knackered by the end of it though. The adrenaline well and truly wearing off and the food coma setting in. Its a a feeling of deep satisfaction I find, when you have exerted yourself physically and pushed yourself.

We didnt get far out of town before we pulled over and swapped the jeans for pajamas. We had decided that even though the weather on the mountain was terrible we would drive back in as that was where our accomodation was for the night (a caravan park spot 2 metres x2 metres), and that way we would have close access in the morning to the mountain. It was about a 45minute drive though, so we settled in. I of course, put on a dog training podcast.

Upona arrival, the setup was swift, and it was heaven to take off my contacts in front of an actual mirror instead of using my rearview. We hopped into bed with relief. And left some of the flaps of the swag open so we could stare at the stars. The cold was no joke but the view was incredible. We knew we had made the right decision coming here.

TASMANIA ROADTRIP CHRONICLES (DAY 5)

Hobart –> Mt Field National Park –>Liffey Falls

I was extremely reluctant to get out of our very comfortable hotel bed but it was for a good cause. We packed up mostly in silence as we got organized. Walking back to the car we scored a morning coffee and breakfast. We had planned to eat on the way up to the mountain but turns out the drive up was no match for our appetites. We were more than finished by the time we arrived at Mt Wellington, we had debated walking up but I am glad we did not.

Once again Tasmania made it clear that it was serious about its wind, I could barely open my car door thats how strong the wind was. I added several layers before removing myself from the car, an act that was deeply necessary. The sunrise took our breath away.

We said goodbye to the coast today, and I would deeply miss it. All of the beaches I had been to in Tasmania I had loved, but I would return to the coast once I journeyed North. So we wound our way into the hills. Stopping to get some fresh raspberries and raspberry jam for the road. The scenery though, was a bit derelict-as Tash described it. A lot of houses looked like they could use a coat of paint.

After not too long of a drive we arrived at Mt Field National Park, we were the reluctant adventurers as we sat in the car outside the visitors centre. Finally we rallied and gathered ourselves for a walk. I was rather slow even though the trails were easy and moderate at best. We wound around the rainforest, passing waterfalls as we went.

Tash powered along the trails ahead of me while I struggled to move at any sort of signifigant speed. My legs were a little tired and my enthusiasm doing the same. But nature is always the winner and before long we were warm and chatting as we walked along and as a bonus found a few less crowded trails.

Food was very much needed after the kms so we prepared our picnic then sat in a field-appropriate given the national park we were in and its name. As we ate we watched some people playing disc golf and practicing throwing frisbees, I thought of Finn and of our disc skills.

I feel like we never really saw the true inside of Mt Field, as we were very much on the outskirts of the vast forest. But we decided to carry on instead, keeping it as more of short day stop than a sink your teeth into it kind of vibe. The only issue was I had no idea where we were going next. I knew that we had about 3ish hours or more to Cradle Mountain, the next days destination. We sat furiously googling free campsites in an attempt to find somewhere on the way. Eventually I reluctantly picked a spot on a lake and we began to drive towards it to check it out.

Tash napped as we drove through rolling hills as I listened to my book about thru hiking. Winding our way into what could only be described as the “middle” of Tasmania, although signs described it as the central highlands. More rocks started to appear as we approached the spot, and finally we wound our way towards a lake. We arrived though, to a weird vibe. The site was mostly weird old caravans with fencing around them, and it seemed deserted. And it was not even free, it was a 3 dollar fee. We did an awkward lap around but I was not feeling it. It gave me murder vibes. So we drove back out again, still no idea where to camp.

Back out on the main road, we began another research attempt. Tash found a place that sounded and looked decent so we plugged in the new destination. Finally well and truly sick of driving, I allowed Tash to take the wheel and it was a much needed break. Coming out of mountains I hadnt even realized we were in, the views were “pretty” as Tash would begin to describe everything. Sheep dotted pastures like grass. When we finally pulled in it was a very different vibe. Heaps of nice empty flat spots along a beautiful creek and travellers just like us, camped for the night in a van, tent or even a hammock. We made quick work of making camp, although Tash had to watch me reorganize everything in the car again while she helped dry out the swag, which was still soaking wet from the bath it had taken in Fortescue Bay.

A wooden sign on the edge of camp pointed to a waterfall, Liffey Falls it read, 3 hours return. So we headed off down the track towards the waterfall. Not knowing what we would find. The track followed the creek all the way, and it was a stunning walk. The last little bit I ran to the falls when I could hear them, so excited to reach them. Clearly my legs were not too tired to chase waterfalls. We sat for a while just breathing them in.

It was hot work all that hiking, even as we raced the sunset. As the light left the forest we dipped ourselves into the water. It was so cold that for a moment I couldnt breathe. But it was invigorating in every way. Luckily we still had a few more kilometers to traverse before making it back to camp, so I hoped it would warm us up as we went. The headtorch came out now, as it was hard to see anything in front of our feet, and it was a highly trippable trail.

Finally we made it back and prepared yet another good sandwich dinner, before getting into warm pajamas and crawling into bed. Another day done and dusted. Sleep took us both quickly.

TASMANIA ROADTRIP CHRONICLES (DAY 4)

Fortescue Bay to Hobart

The morning dawned. With rain still pattering on my swag. I had not had the restful night that I had expected, but the day was here whether I was ready or not. I was certainly excited to spend the next night in a hotel, as I had booked in. And most of all, I was excited to see Tash! Who I would be picking up at the airport that evening in Hobart.

But I wanted to enjoy this beautiful place while I was still here. My first goal was to get out of the campground. And there was no avoiding the rain, so I got on with it. And once I had wrestled my swag into my car, I sat in my car for a good 30 minutes, rallying myself for the day.

Once I could muster the energy, I drove the short distance to the daytime carpark. Had a cup of tea with the ladies I had met the day before. I was not carrying even a stove, so it was my first hot drink in as many days, a lovely gesture. I chatted and lingered with others, still not really ready to get on with things. Also I was in good company, all hikers discussing all things hiking.

Eventually I gathered my wits, farewelled my new friends and went to my car to get ready for my run. Everything was a bit of a mess but I had to stay focused. I donned my running gear, I overdressed as it was a cold morning, something I would come to regret a bit later. I did not need as many layers as I brought. I even started out with a rainjacket, but when I forgot my headphones I returned to the car and dumped my rainjacket in the car. In my world, I never want to be stuck in my own head without an escape plan.

Cape Raoul the sign said, 4 hours return. And off I went. The track was part of a longer 3 day hike in the south known as the three capes, and therefore it was well maintained, with lots and lots of stairs. It was a beautiful morning, and I saw almost no one as I made my way up the trail, climbing and climbing. Then down, for the first time I actually was bold on my descents, flying down the stairs like I had a full death wish, concentrating hard as to not take a single mistep. It was a true high I experienced, feeling powerful and I made my way down the stairs, passing others as I went. I fell once, but it did not shake me.

When I finally reached the edge of the Cape, the wind nearly blew me away, and so did the views. I took a short rest at the end of the trail, sitting down with others to take in a gel. They were mostly senior, and I was impressed they had made it out here. The stairs were no joke. Unfortunately I could not stay out here all day, so I made my way back. Enjoying the views as I went and loving every minute. By the time I made it back to my car, I had been gone for just over 2 hours, well under the 4 hour recommended time.

Unfortunately my spirits were dampened by a fine slapped onto my car, simply because I forgot to display my national parks pass. Luckily, It was easily resolved. I wanted to go for a swim in the bay, but by the time the thought passed me I was a bit chilled, so I took in the view from the beach one more time and then reluctantly made my way out of the park.

I cruised out on the dirt roads, taking my time and feeling excited for the day ahead. I definitely started my day right. Food was my immediate priority though, though I did have to pull over once again to get my bearings, a common theme. I pulled over at the first place I saw and decided to try a scallop pie. It was actually incredible and a Tasmania specialty. Again it was my first hot meal in days, so I may have been biased. I also just got to enjoy some nothing time. To just relax.

I decided to spend my afternoon chasing some of the sights in the area. I traipsed to the Tasman Arch, Blowhole and the Devils kitchen. I was tired and not all that enthusiastic in my sightseeing. I also somehow enjoy a view more when Ive really had to work for it. But it was some good light walking to stretch out my legs. I also ran into an older couple who were amazed that I was travelling by myself. They couldnt quite beleive it. The highlight of course was also a delicious berry ice cream that I purchased at one of the sights.

Finally well and truly done with my sightseeing, I pulled over at a beach to reorganize my car, otherwise there would not be room for Tash when I picked her up from the airport. It was satisfying, as always, to recapture some sense of organization. Then I set off to drive the 1 hour to Hobart.

Once again, I thought it would be an easy drive, but I was rather exhausted and as soon as I sat down in the car for a long period of time, I was sleepy. I fought it off and made it to Hobart, stopping for some caffiene and sugar on the way, and of course got a surprise caramel slice for Tash. Driving in to Hobart my jaw just about hit the floor. I was in awe of the city. Huge bridges and water crossings, rolling hills with houses dotted on them, it was stunning.

I sat outside the airport for a time. Joining a string of cars clearly all avoiding having to pay for parking, as I was. And then once I got the signal from Tash that she was off the plane, I headed in. Having someone join me was very exciting, and I was talking a million miles a minute. We stretched our legs on the seven mile beach, taking in the sights as we did.

We faced a challenge when we reached our accomodation though, parking. Our hotel was inner Hobart and we circled the one way streets many times before finding a solution. The hotel, which I had booked on a recommendation, was super persoalized and gorgeous. It was a hit. We grabbed some dinner and wandered down by the waterfront before aiming to get an early night but then of course stayed up too late talking. Setting the alarm for sunrise was ambitious. But that had never stopped us before.

Probably one of my favorite days yet.

TASMANIA ROADTRIP CHRONICLES (DAY 3)

Friendly beaches to Fortescue Bay

I did not aim for sunrise, as the hiking I had done the night before demanded resting. And so I woke at a leisurely hour, with the sun beaming down on me once more. Excited as to what a new day would bring. Almost immediately I was greeted by the “camp manager”. Someone who stays at the campsite to keep an eye on things. He was an odd dude, with a t shirt that said “Dont Mess with Moose”, which I liked immediately as a Canadian. He suggested I go take in the lighthouse before I left, and I agreed it sounded interesting.

After packing up I had to go for a swim again, so I dipped myself into the ocean once again. It was freezing again but I loved it. Hitting the road, I aimed myself back towards the national park, regretting it with every minute as it took much longer than I expected and it was already midday. But I went to the lighthouse, and the walk was honestly not even a walk, I added maybe 40 minutes of driving just for a 5 minute walk. The views were of the coast (see below) and were nice, but I could have missed it. Definitely if you are already in the National park it is worth a visit, but not just for that.

Finally feeling on my way, I headed south. With another National Park my goal, and thinking that if it was anything like this one, it would be well worth the drive. I was headed for Tasman National Park, at the south East tip of Tasmania, another huge landform that juts out from the mainland, with a skinny peice known as Eaglehawk Neck attaching them. But my problem was I had no idea where I would camp.

I ended up pulling over partway through the drive. My options seemed limited. I ended up booking in with the official campground at Fortescue Bay, and agreeing to paying for my camping for the first time. Only thirteen dollars, surely it would be tolerable. The driving was rather painful once again, especially as my GPS took me on a strange route that went through some odd dirt roads that seemed in the middle of nowhere. While I was in the charming middle of nowhere, the weather also turned in a dramatic way. Sheets of rain pelted my car and thunder and lightning boomed in the background.

I did experience some country hospitality though, as a lady chased me out of the petrol station with money that she had accidentally charged me for. And I did think while I drove that this would be a brilliant place to live.

When I finally reached the Bay, hours later, I faced a new challenge. It was school camp season, and large busloads of kids were camped right where I was supposed to camp. I was horrified, the noise alone was enough to put me off camping anywhere near them. I ran into two ladies who were similarly unimpressed.

I made a risky decision to camp in a different area-even though it was not my allocated position. But that way I could not hear the noise of the camp and it was beautiful and peaceful, still too many people around for my liking but sometimes thats just what you get. After setting up camp I did a small explore to stretch my legs out.

I took in sunset on the bay (see below) and walked along the beach. It was a beautiful spot.

In the interests of how exhausted I was from my day of driving, I wanted to get an early night. So I headed to bed as soon as the sun came down. I was just drifting off when I heard a knock on my tent and people saying “hello”. Turns out that my un-allocated spot was apparently their spot to park their car. So naturally I moved, literally 3 metres to the next vacant spot that they probably could have parked their car in, but alas I was still in the wrong.

I got back into my swag, and the rain started to pour down. But I was super uncomfortable with the idea in my head that perhaps I was in someone elses spot again and would be woken up in the middle of the night. So eventually after grappling with my anxiety for a good hour or so. I reluctantly put on my raincoat and went to move camp.

The process was the most painful thing ever. I had to pack up a soaking wet swag, roll it covered in mud and put it in my car. Then drive down to the other campsite, carry my swag like 20 metres and reset it up. I was filthy and my pajamas covered in mud by the time I finished, I was also pretty wet. By the time I finally fell asleep, it was about midnight. So much for an early night.

This was probably the lowest day I had so far on the trip. What goes up must come down.

Tasmania Roadtrip chronicles (day 2)

I awoke at sunrise, albeit reluctanctly, and made for the beach to take some stunning coastal shots. I tip toed through a hippy camp of combi vans to get out on the rocks for the best view before making my way across the rocks and onto the huge beach on the other side, planning to walk as far as I could. Spoiler alert: It wasnt very far.

The sunrise was gorgeous, but the moon was also almost equally stunning as I looked across.

I wound my way across the rocks, no small challenge with camera in hand, and after snapping good shots everywhere I went, I began to trudge along the beach. This is the part of the movie with the romantic music and the moment of truth, but the reality is walking across sand is really hard and it was hard for me too. I had slept well but yesterdays and the previous weeks madness was catching up with me and I was pretty well exhausted despite the stunning views around me.

So in true holiday style, after about 30 mins I turned around and trudged back in the other direction. I headed for my swag, determined to take a nap, it was more than needed. And so I cosied back up and took a nap.

Some hours later, sunshine and noise of people woke me up, I was hot with the sun beating down on my canvas sauna. I wish I could say that I felt more rested than I had in the early hours of the morning, but I only felt slightly less nauseaus, such is the life of being chronically fatigued. I opened the esky and downed a red bull. Time to pack up camp. I swiftly packed up my swag and organized my car, the first of many attempts to keep some sense of organization within my car. Many failed attempts as living out of your car is pretty challenging to keep the car organized, I thought of many systems while I was on the road.

But before I left camp I had one more item to tick off my agenda, I had not yet tasted the salty ocean in Tasmania. SoI donned my bathers, only hestating for a moment, and I forced myself into the water, because it was cold water and not an overly warm day. But that woke me up better than the sugar and caffiene I had earlier. After a stealthy car change (a specialty of mine) I headed into town for petrol and ice. I tried to find a good bakery but alas my mission was largely unsuccessful. So I continued down the coast, seeing breathtaking views as I drove past beach after beach, using all my self restraint to not stop at each one. Below is one I did stop at.

As I drove toward Freycinet national park, I could see it long before I got there, it is a huge peice of land that juts out from the mainland. I arrived there a lot later than originally planned, but was still determined to fit in a hike as I checked into the visitor centre. I neglected to tell them which hike I was planning on doing. I had done my research and I knew I wanted to do the hardest hike. The one with all of the warnings and that they try to discourage unprepared people from doing. As I approached the path, a sign warned me again that this hike was only for the experienced. I was semi confident I had the skills needed to tackle it. I ran into a group of girls who looked largely inexperienced and underdressed and they decided, wisely, not to attempt Mt Amos.

I was feeling pretty confident as I wound my way up the track, as I saw more and more people on their way down from the track. Including a couple with kids who were busy swearing violently at each other. The track quickly became technical, turning into a full on boulder scramble before I was even 30 mins into it. I began to understand what I was in for as I panted and puffed my way up the hill, muscles complaining already and my focus intense on picking the best/non slippery course of action. I distracted myself as I always do, with a book in my ears, focusing on dog training stories rather than what I was dealing with in front of me.

Covered in sweat I reached the top, and was rewarded with a stunning view of the beach they call Wineglass bay and more of Freycinet. I had the summit to myself, until a Scottish couple joined me. I had packed my dinner with me, so I sat down and enjoyed every bite, soaking up the satisfaction of making it, even if I knew the downhill awaited me.

After I finished my dinner, the mission became to get an iconic photo of the view with me in it. So I began my glorious dance of self timers and running down to be in the shot. I even managed a shot without my shirt on, all while the Scottish couple took no notice of me and my shenanigans (pictured below). And I didnt even fall off the cliff edge, proud.

Alas after I had my fill of ridiculous photos, I reluctantly headed back down. I knew that the sunset would have been spectacular but not worth the treacherous climb back down the mountain in the dark, even with a headtorch. And in the back of my mind I still had to find a campsite, which going off the previous evening could end up being quite a challenge. So I began the descent, tripping, sliding, falling at times, and often just sliding straight down on my butt. Whatever works right? Whatever you do, do not attempt this hike if it is wet, as the rocks are slippery enough without water.

I made it back to my car in one peice. I had planned to camp at a place known as friendly beaches, about 20 mins drive out towards the highway, but still close to the national park. It was truly dark when I arrived at the campsite, my headlights my only way to see if there was available campsites. I prowled through the campsite, seeing a stretch of free space, only to find a car or van parked further into it. My hopes were dashed many times. I returned to the day carpark to contemplate my options, eventually deciding to do one more loop, to see if I could fit into a really tiny spot somewhere. It was very fortunate that I did, as I found an official site, although it was only one that was suitable for a smallish vehicle and tent setup, as the parking area was seperated by large rocks from the tent area. I was thrilled to have found something, and I set up quickly.

Bed never felt so good as I wrapped myself up. Yet another night of falling asleep to the sound of the oceans waves crashing against the beach. I could get used to this.

Tasmania Roadtrip Chronicles (Day 1)

Hello and welcome,

Recently I went on a roadtrip around the island and state of Tasmania in the south  east tip of Australia. It was my first trip there and I enjoyed it so much I want to write about it.  So I will be posting a short series day by day to document my adventures, both for myself, and for anyone who is interested. My itinerary was basically a lap of Tasmania, with a friend joining me for a few days and an ultramarathon at the end. I also want to use this as a way to share some of the photos I took on the trip. 


 

My adventures began with a sleepless night on the spirit of Tasmania (a ferry), I arrived in Devonport tired and disheveled, but excited to be there. I hit the road to Launceston, admiring the views as I went. I had many missions to accomplish due to my disorganzation prior to setting sail however it was so early in the morning so, I had to drive for an hour before anything was open, and Launceston was the next major city I would hit before leaving it behind for much smaller towns. It was my best shot at getting supplies and completing my errands. 

Arriving in Launceston, two things struck me quite immediately. One was that it was incredibly hilly, the second was that there seemed to be a lot of one way streets, something apparently common in Tasmanian cities. I drove in a rather odd loop, tossing up which errands to do first and driving up one of the terrifyingly steep streets that made me feel like my car would topple over backwards.  Spoiler: it didn’t. 

Driving past a petrol station, I started there, my poor car was not yet equipped for its journey so I checked the essentials: tyre pressure, petrol, oil, water and some ice for the empty esky. The supermarket happened to be right across the way as well so I was able to stock up on food for my adventures and the obvious essentials: roadtrip snacks. 

My next mission was an odd one, my hair was already ratty despite being washed the night before. I was seeking a hairdresser that would accept a walk in. It took me many attempts of poking my head into the many hairdressers of Launceston for me to finally find one. And she did a fabulous job of taming my wild hair into neat braids that would weather the storm of adventures to come. I dallied in a few more essential errands, eye drops for my contacts-something that would prove life saving as I subjected my poor eyes to 10 days straight of wearing contacts for 8+ hours a day, and some merino gloves with an emergency whistle-items required for later adventures as “mandatory gear”. 

The hard work done, I drove to the closest nearby attraction, in the heart of Launceston: the Cataract Gorge. I did a short walk around the gorge on the suspension bridge, admiring the scenery before continuing on my roadtrip. This was looking back: one of the easiest walks I did and I still really enjoyed it despite it being very much a tourist hotspot. 

tasmania-adventures-2021-march-047tasmania-adventures-2021-march-007-1

I headed East, hoping to wind towards the Bay of Fires, but I had read about a waterfall called Ralph Falls in my research, and I decided I would head there on my way, what a detour it turned out to be. Right away, the road turned bendy and challenging, as I wound my way into the hills. Delusionally tired as I was, I was gobsmacked by the beauty of the scenery and the picturesque farm cottages I drove past. I stopped more than I planned, something that would become a bit of a habit on my travels, but after 2 and 1/2 hours of strenous driving that stretched my eyes and stiffened my legs, I came upon the road to Ralphs Falls, and it was of course: closed. Luckily I pivoted and found another waterfall down another road, might as well give it a go I thought.

Columba falls is one of those waterfalls you hear before you see. And I heard it on the walk down and it did not dissapoint me. The track was easy but a welcome stretch of the legs. I sat for maybe 30 mins, maybe more, while in between people arriving I attempted to get a self portrait of me with the falls. But I was also just basking in the gloriousness of it. The sound of the falls thundering down that drowned out everything else, I beleive I could have sat there forever. Eventually an american guy and his wife took pity on me and offered to take a photo. But alas after much commitment from them to get the perfect shot, (the gentleman literally bent over backwards and sat down to get the perfect angle). The only good one is this shot I took below, while balancing my camera on a rock, which still by no means does justice to the beauty or power of the falls.

Moving on from the falls, I knew I had a decent amount of driving to do before I reached my true destination: the East coast of Tasmania and an area known as ‘The Bay of Fires’. I drove rather exhausted at this point and was excited to dip my toes in the white sand of the beaches. Upon arriving though, my relief was short lived as I attempted to find somewhere to camp. I drove to 7 different campsites, prowling through them looking for anywhere which I could roll out my swag in the trees next to the beach. Finally when I had just about given up, I drove into one of my last options and saw a weird hilly spot in the trees. There were people around, but it was more than enough space for me. Tired, hungry and defeated, this was my spot. And it was right next to a little cove, with stunning orange rock formations that are what the bay of fires are known for. Across some more rocks lay a vast beach, that I made a note to explore in the morning.

Once I made camp, I made for climbing up these rocks to a high point, my hoodie pocket stuffed with snacks and juice (a different person probably would have swapped a juice for a beer, but I know myself well). I sat up here and admired the view, deeply exhausted but satisfied. Then I cosied myself up, made myself a wrap, and crawled into my swag, under the stars, setting an early alarm for sunrise.

What a start to my adventures!

"Until one has loved an animal, ones soul remains unawakened"