Over the two-week mid semester break, I had the opportunity to visit Tasmania, an island – state off the Australian mainland. What made this trip unique was that we were travelling in a group of ten (yes, ten!) people. Any Tassie trip is incomplete without renting a car, so our convoy comprised of three vehicles.
This post comprises of a summary of three Tassie destinations that I visited over the break: Hobart, Bruny Island & Cradle Mountain. Hopefully, by the end of this trip, you’ll get a quick snapshot of what makes Tasmania, well Tasmania.
As any ANU student can testify, Canberra’s accessibility is enhanced by its three-hour commute (relatively short by Aussie standards), to Sydney Airport. Sydney has a litany of budget flights out to all corners of Australia for fairly decent prices. As such, Canberra provides a good base to explore the rest of the country, without the accompanying urban madness of Sydney or Melbourne.
I reached Hobart at around two in the afternoon. From there, I met up with my friends and we set off for our accommodation. We rented a charming nineteenth century house in West Hobart via Airbnb. The beauty of staying in such houses was that we could enjoy their old-world charm. It was nice to stay in a house with an adjoining porch and lemon trees, a stark contrast to the dense apartments in Singapore.
Downtown Hobart was a nice change of pace from Canberra. As Australia’s second-oldest city, Hobart has all of the old-world charm of King’s Cross with lesser seagulls and bin chickens. I particularly enjoyed walking across the port and looking at supply ships bound for Antarctica. That’s when it hits you, that you’ve reached possibly the southern-most city in your life. This is Down Under, as they say.
After departing from sleepy Hobart, we moved on to Bruny Island. Bruny Island was a beautiful, untouched oasis of calm. We took a car ferry to reach the island, which gave us wonderful vistas on our approach to Bruny.
Bruny’s desolateness adds to its charm. This results in a wide variety of beautiful wildlife, some of which are unafraid of humans. A vivid memory I had of Bruny was seeing a hummingbird on the bonnet of my vehicle. I also chanced upon wild rabbits as well J. This rural charm culminated in a visit to Cape Bruny Lighthouse. Built in the nineteenth century, the lighthouse cuts an imposing figure amongst the lush green hills of its surroundings. While there isn’t much to do at the lighthouse per say, the real attraction of the lighthouse was exploring the adjacent hills.
Scaling down the hills made you feel like a real frontiersman, as there was nothing but the sea separating yourself from the Antarctic. Apart from my travel group, there was literally no one at the site. In a landscape dominated by green and blue, Bruny Island deserves a visit, should you consider travelling to Tasmania.
We subsequently made our way to Cradle Mountain. Being based in Canberra for the Winter Semester, I wanted to see snow. As a resident of a tropical country, which has two uniform states of weather (rainy & non-rainy), I was yearning to see snow during my exchange.
Winter in Canberra is cold. Being inland, the temperature can drop to as much as -5°C in July. However, while the heater was on full blast for the majority of winter, Canberra experiences snowfall only once every five years on average. Sadly, 2018 was not such a year.
Cradle Mountain however, was different. Driving into the Tasmanian interior, I was surprised to find snowfall warnings on the road leading up to the mountain. This was surprising, given that it was September, which was bordering on spring time. “Winter is going to end”, I thought to myself.
“It snows here even in summer”, replied the park warden to my enquiries. I looked outside and saw a balmy landscape, which was typical of a Canberran July. Will it snow? That was the question that was lingering on everyone’s minds.
We did a typical circuit of Lake St Clair. I noticed that frost was slowly forming on the floor. As I was walking through the circuit, there was a gradual buildup of snow on the ground. The picturesque setting of the lake certainly helped to brighten things up.
When we returned to the start of the circuit, the frost slowly transitioned to snow. This was the third time that I’ve seen snow, but every snowfall brings with it its own unique experience. For some of my companions, it was the first time that they’ve seen snow and they were visibly thrilled. This was the highlight of my trip, as we enjoyed the novel snowy weather.
As much as the scenery of Tasmania made this trip worth it, the friends that I travelled it made it even better. To Kyrie, Shernice, Stefanie, Cassandra, Zac, Thalia, Winson, Chen & Pang Ge, thank you for making this trip fantastic. Our group was an eclectic mix of undergraduates/postgraduates and exchange students/full timers, but we were all there to have fun.
My travel buddies for the trip
Tasmania in my opinion, showed the true beauty of Australia. One moment you could be in a bustling oceanfront city, the next moment you could be in snowy mountainous areas within a single state! This trip would not have been made possible without the generous funding from the Endeavour Cheung Kong Student Exchange Program Grant. My subsequent thanks to the ANU for giving me a comfortable base from which to explore the country (the capital, no less J). Australia has truly been a wondrous experience with pleasant landscapes abound.