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Hi folks! You are probably tired hearing from just me, so today I have a special guest post from an Australian travel blogger, Amber, about Tasmania — super cool! Read more from Amber here at fromdesktodawn.com.
New blogger, old writer. I’m an accidental financial professional trying to find my calling in life. I enjoy going places and learning as much about them as possible. Passions include cycling, reading, exploring, travelling and finding out what you’re passionate about.
Tasmania – Australia’s Most Underrated State
On maps of Australia I’ve seen when travelling overseas, Tasmania is sometimes literally not there. Absent, clean forgot. An afterthought. Not worth the ink. The proverbial semicolon of Australia’s geography – often forgotten and rarely used properly.
It is not only cartographers, but also travellers who forget about the island state to Australia’s south. Moreover, anyone who knows a mainland Australian knows that some of us tend to look down somewhat on our southern brethren. They’re not actually inbred or illiterate, but we like to joke that they are.
Tasmania’s colonial history is pretty gruesome. The reason there’s no full blood Tasmanian Aborigines left is because they were slaughtered even more brutally and thoroughly than their mainland cousins. During European colonization, Tasmania (then known as Van Diemen’s Land) became the prison of the prison. Australia was the jail of Britain, and Tasmania was the jail of Australia. My parents have always said Tassie has a “sad feel” to it – and whilst I don’t go in for spiritual stuff, I can see what they mean. Its history is soaked in blood and if you go there knowing this, it’s hard not to feel a bit of melancholy.
That said, modern-day Tassie is a stunning, unique place which any traveller to Australia should set aside an extra week for.
Why should a traveller make time for Tasmania?
Simply put, Tasmania is astoundingly beautiful. A cooler climate than the mainland means that Tasmania’s vegetation and biodiversity is more akin to that of New Zealand than to other parts of Australia. It’s a totally different world down there. Tasmania is home to rain forests, irreplaceable old growth forests, and a stunning suite of wildlife that call these wild places home. Unfortunately, these forests have been under threat from logging for as long as I can remember, and logging in old growth areas continues to this day. Environmental groups like The Wilderness Society do great work to protect and promote the irreplaceable forests. Sadly, many jobs hinge on the longevity of the forestry industry.
Admittedly, if you’re a city slicker, Tassie might not be your patch. Tasmania is the active traveler’s paradise. I’ve written previously about mountain biking in the island state. Tasmania is a veritable cornucopia of fun for any type of cyclist, whether road or mountain, beginner or veteran. As an avid rider, I’m basically in love with Tassie. I’ve been twice and I want to go back for more.
Tasmania is also a big favourite of hikers, with several multi-day, world famous hikes on offer. The most famous hike is the Overland Track, an 80 km trek from Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair. It’s suitable for beginner bushwalkers, but I’d recommend going with a guided tour if this is you. That way you’ll only have to carry perhaps 13kgs, as the tour company will provide support vehicles which will carry a lot of the requisite supplies. If you go alone, you’ll be carrying 20+kgs – the additional weight is your food for the 6 days!
Tasmania is home to loads of weird and wonderful creatures. Tasmania is also home to several species which do not exist on mainland Australia – or anywhere else in the world.
One such species is the Tasmanian Devil. A carnivorous marsupial about the size of a small dog, it has a loud screech and smells extremely unpleasant. It’s black and white too – so basically it’s like a Tasmanian version of a skunk. With fangs.
More mysterious is the existence (or non-existence, depending on who you believe) of the Tasmanian Tiger, aka the Thylacine. Also a carnivorous marsupial, this particular animal supposedly went extinct in the early 20th Century. Essentially, it was like a dingo or dog, but with a pouch (like a kangaroo). Its rapid decline in numbers due to hunting after British colonization caused its extinction. However, to this day people have reported sightings of the Thylacine both in Tasmania and on the mainland. Whilst possible that this animal still exists, all sightings are unconfirmed.
There are no trains in Tasmania except the West Coast Wilderness Railway, which is a scenic rail only. Many visitors to the state hire a car, which is definitely the easiest way to get around. You can drive from one side of the island to the other in only a few hours. I’m stingy so last time I went (with my mountain bike in tow), I rode some and caught the Tassielink coach the rest of the time.
I recommend the Tassielink coach service because it’s cheap. Ideal for the budget traveler. Details of the schedules and pricing can be found here. It’s a great option if you’re on a budget or have your bike with you, as they’ll let you carry it in the coach storage compartment for only a few extra bucks. Be warned though, you need to book ahead if you’re bringing a bike along as there’s only room for two bikes per coach.
Few international visitors make it to Tasmania. Shamefully, heaps of Aussies haven’t even been! They’re all missing out! It’s a real one-of-a-kind place and brilliant for some novel, active and wild travel experiences. Best for hikers, cyclists and outdoors-enthusiasts, Tasmania is surprisingly charming. The love of the place can sneak up on you. I’m keen to get back ASAP. One more trial to ride, one more mountain to hike….