Snapshot: Super easy ways you can have a trip which combines minimal impact with maximum enjoyment!
Wilderness crunches under your footsteps. The path narrows, disappears under branches, and tests your skills in the heat. You’re keeping to a barely existent path whilst avoiding vines coated in serious barbs – those type that’ll simply tear your clothing to shreds. The air’s dense, locked beneath a deep green canopy of sub tropical rainforest. You hear your feet stepping, heavy breathing, and the thud of you beating pulse pounding in your ears.
You pause, to catch a breathe and wait for the team to make some ground.
Sudden movement, somewhere in you peripherals. It takes a moment, until you realise you’re eye to eye with a owl who looks just as surprised as you are for a few glances. It’s a rapid stare off, before it silently slides off into the depths of the darkness. Five minutes later down the trail, a lengthy goanna creeps out from behind a massive buttress root.
It’s real wild this place. A trail not often taken. Alone, and surrounded by life.
There’s a tiny clearing between a few eucalypts and grass-trees that looks out over rarely penetrated forest. You pull up at the highest point, and drink in the view with half-full bottle in hand.
How many small actions would it take to put an end to this scene?
Our natural areas are a public asset to be protected. Our national parks – covering land and water – can be the most special spaces on earth, but only if we treat them with the respect and foresight they require.
Having a few simple tricks up your sleeve to lessen your footprint is an awesome way you can help put an end to places being ‘loved to death’.
Walk it in, walk it out
If it’s in your pack to begin with, then it’s there for the trip home. Waste you carry around can be minimised by taking food and items free of plastic wrapping, instead wrapped in paper, and by taking your reusable containers (ie. your own drink bottle). Over time, you’ll know what not to take, and become an expert at low-weight hiking packs!
Tip: Visit a zero-waste food store for packing ideas and foodstuffs before your trip!
Sticking to the track
It can be tempting. So very tempting, to search for another view, that other angle, to get somewhere ‘wilder’ and ‘off track’. Chances are, if you’ve thought of it, someone else has too.
But you can’t see everything and you never know what’s under that leaf litter – walking off track could easily disturb minute creatures and plants that are rare, endangered, and potentially dangerous. Likewise you could cause irreversible damage to areas of cultural significance.
Animal, meets human
Wildlife’s the best. Frequently, if not always, your favourite/most exhilarating highlight of a trip is an interaction of some kind with an animal. Be it a snake sunning itself on the path, a pair of kangaroos boxing, a whale crashing down off on the horizon – the story told ‘back home’ is always “and we saw a (insert animal here), it was awesome!”
That’s special, and there’s a few ways to ensure we keep these special interactions awesome for you and the creature. Be selfish, keep your food and food scraps for yourself – wildlife can either become dependant on humans for food, or very sick from what they’re fed.
If the animal is heading off into the bush from you, it’s probably for a reason hey?! Enjoy it from a distance and please don’t touch/trap them.
Tip: Have a camera in tow to capture those animal sightings. You’ll have the moment forever, and the animal won’t even know it.
By the Firelight
Setting up camp in the bush around a crackling fire is one of life’s most simple pleasures. An experience to be relished. There’s nothing like staring into the flames, passing ’round conversation or a guitar, and forgetting time until the small hours of the cool morning.
In parts, Australia burns like crazy, with exploding oil in eucalyptus leaves that can fill the sky with the densely Australian smell of the burning bush. So be fire smart! When prepping a fire – know if its cool to have one. Is it a Total Fire Ban in your area? Is there a fire pit? Can you pack in your own wood, rather that using native vegetation?
Most importantly: Make sure your fire’s out 100% before trekking off! Only if it’s cool to touch, is it cool to leave!
With great memories comes great responsibilities. After all, we don’t want our favourite places to be ruined for us later in life, or for any generations to come..
Day breaks over the ocean in a golden wash of light. Waves end softly below as you welcome another day on the coast, with a cuppa in hand, hidden in the sand dunes. Typical Tassie.
You’ve been up for halfa, awoken by maggies, cockies, and a myriad of other birds calling you up for sunrise. No Tassie adventure is complete without trekking through the hardy coastal vegetation to arrive at a sweeping beach of gorgeous white sand and the cleanest, clearest waster in the country that makes for the most invigorating morning swim.
Once sun’s up, it’s not long ’til you feel the burn, the summer sun of Tassie. Despite its reputation of short, cold days of aurora australis and snow capped mountains, the state’s east coast summers are sharp and the UV burns through classic blues skies.
This is a starting guide to your East-Coast Tassie Roadtrip – it works best over 4-5 days, taken slowly to achieve maximum relaxation. Don’t let Tassie’s (relative) small size fool you – its a massive place, and one not built for rushing, hurrying, or cramming too much into a day.
Kick things off from St.Helens. This is a top hub to start from – there’s fuel, food, a pharmacy – you name it! Given the sometimes scarce nature of services down the east coast, we find it best to stock up here, especially if you have a fridge with you.
Binnalong Bay, the southern point of the Bay of Fires, is only a short drive out of St.Helens. This is a collection of bays that stretches up the coast, filled with beautiful white sandy beaches in stunning contrast to the red lichen-painted rocks. Back over Georges Bay is the turnoff to St. Helens point, which is equally as impressive! These are both great spots for swimming, snorkelling, or simply catching some sun.
From here, make your way down to the south part of the Douglas Apsley National Park, only a minute or so north of Bicheno. Here you can pull up stumps for the night. Take the coastal route, it’s far less windy, and there’s beaches for everyone and plenty of views to take in. There’s a short walk in to the top little campsite.
Once you’re set up, check out the Apsley Waterhole in summer for an evening dip. Classic. With a bit more time, hike the great half day walk around the Apsley Gorge Circuit.
Note: You’ll need Parks Passes in any of the national parks you visit. When visiting over a few days, pick up a holiday pass. Heaps cheaper.
Start day two right in Bicheno, at the east coast renowned Bicheno Bakery! Then it’s only a short drive and you’re pulling into Friendly Beaches, in Freycinet National Park, and it’s just the beginning. Amble up magnificent empty beaches, or set up for a morning of waves. Eventually head into the heart of the park, and if camping, find your campsite and free up your afternoon. Sites are super popular here, so you’ll most likely have to book in peak periods. You’re not going to want to miss the sunset from here either, it’s always a stunner! Top spot to check it out is the balcony at the lodge bar with a cool beverage, or chilled out on rolled out towels at Honeymoon Bay or Richardsons Beach.
Get a good kip, tomorrow’s world famous Wineglass Bay!
My tip is to get up early and greet the suns rays as you’re gazing out over the perfect waters of Wineglass Bay. The Wineglass Bay-Hazards walk is an awesome day trek, usually walked in clockwise direction. Be sure to pack plenty of water and time so you’re not rushing it and keeping those hydration levels up. If it’s hot, the western portion packs a punch in the arvo!
A side trek with a bit of elevation is up the gnarly granite bulge that is Mt. Amos. It’s tough (and near impossible to hike if raining/wet, given the slippery nature of the rock), but hands down the best view in the park. If your hiking shoes are going to pay for themselves, this is the hike they’ll do it. Grip=Stability=Good times on the slopes!
Enjoy another sunset from Freycinet or roll down the coast to Swansea or Mayfield Bay campground, and dig the spectacular Freycinet silhouette from another angle.
Note: **Don’t drive at night! It’s stupid!!** By now you’ll have noticed the high amount of wildlife and higher amount of road kill. You might on the mainland, but not in Tassie. The place is lucky to still have an abundance of wildlife – kanga’s, wombats, quolls, and of course devils – but driving at night is a sure way to contribute to the populations demise. So don’t be stupid – get to where you’ve got to be before the sun goes down!
An island national park – what could be better?! Maria Island National Park (confusingly pronounced Mar-eye-a) is a half hour ferry ride from Triabunna. Timing and bookings are made here.
You can day trip or stay longer in hostel accomodation in the old goal, or camping at various spots. There’s no cars or food on the island, so pack smart if you’re camping (remember this list as a guide). Plenty of parking at the ferry terminal in town to leave your car too.
Lots of classic Tassie hikes, vistas, and guaranteed wombat sightings here! Stroll on a clifftop overflowing with fossils, walk under the amazing swirling painted cliffs, or climb/scramble the peaks of Mt. Maria or the Bishop and Clerk. For multi-day adventure, walk down to the remote bottom end of the island and have the park to yourself..
Note: There’s a population of Tasmanian devils on Maria Island and you might be lucky to spot them. The numbers of devils have declined dramatically due to the Facial Tumour Disease wrecking havoc on the population. Maria Island was chosen as a site for captive breeding, and 15 disease-free Tasmanian Devils were introduced to the Island in 2012.
Back on the mainland, still bearing south. Depending on what car you have, there’s a few ways to get to the Tasman Peninsula National Park, be it to Eaglehawk Neck or on to Fortescue Bay for camping. FYI You’ll need to drive on gravel road out to Fortescue.
D’you dive? Eaglehawk neck is amazing diving, largest cave system in Australia in waterfall bay! Give Eaglehawk Dive Centre a call and go check them out, the caves are mind-blowing!
Tessellated Pavement is a little cheesy, but make the drive out to the Blowhole and Waterfall Bay and you won’t be disappointed! Towering cliffs sheering off into the ocean, pillars of volcanic rock and layers of ancient ocean sediments laid down millions of years ago create one of the grandest cliff lines in the country.
When you’re done with cliffs and hikes, settle in to Fortescue Bay campground, and reflect on your journey so far!
You’re probably rolling into day six by now, and it’s time to cruise back to Hobart. In Tassie you’re spoilt for good quality local produce – cherries, apples, whiskey, cheeses – keep an eye out for roadside stops along the way and don’t shy off from treating yourself to quality food!
Good luck on your Tassie adventure! This East Coast Roadtrip could easily be longer, wider, quicker, or include more stop offs. There’s boat trips and multi-day hikes, conservation centres, wineries, and so much more.
But in Tassie we roll with quality – remember, it’s not not built for rushing, hurrying, or cramming too much into a day. Take your time, reacquaint yourself with the little things, and be blown away by the island state..
It’s been three years (!) since my sister and I embarked on international sojourn and the forty day trek across Spain, bruising our ankles as countless others had done for many lifetimes before. One foot then the other, day after day, for over eight hundred kilometres westward. The simplicity of walking brought us back down to what we were walking on.
This lanky, bleached haired Australian trekked sometimes in thongs, with camera in tow and notepad in pocket. And with the help of all those we befriended on the way, I captured what I could from the adventure, in my own, erratic special way.
I’d recommend this to anyone, in a heartbeat.
This piece is brought across unchanged from my old website, appearing just as it was broken into five parts and composed on a trusty travel laptop seemingly forever ago. Enjoy!
Camino de Santiago (Pt. 1)
Begin our walk across Spain – setting off from the foothills of the Pyrenees, heading ever west to Santiago de Compostella, and further on to the Atlantic Ocean..
The Camino stretches as far as you wish – for us, a good eight hundred kilometres from east to west. Here, there’s plenty of time for reflection and thought..
For those on the trail, you face a period of your life stripped back to near-bare essentials. A time where all you have to worry about is placing one foot in front of the other. A time when the most important moment of your day is your next meal. A period of vast socialisation. I chose also to make it a time without technology, in particular social media, creating a disconnection between those I know back home, leaving me with only those around me at any particular moment..
Here, begins a collection of notes ripped from my ripped, tattered, back-pocket diary. Thoughts of home, thoughts of the road. To give one of my favourite lyrics my own twist: ’empty wine bottles, full hearts, sore feet, and no regrets’..
As i hit the hay at the conclusion of day one, the tiredness gave into my thoughts of home and how we’d just walked twenty odd kilometres..So, now it’s night, I’m driving out through Warrnambool, out of Dennington, past Tower Hill and the revegetated patch for the local ‘big three’.. Oh the songs, and my home. Fields of cut straw forever as the sun set and I sat. Sat staring a a windmill, his silhouette, and the future of always walking always leaving, but growing ever attached. With feet out the window too, and the odd cat a’passing, I realised this is real. I am real. Human life is just emotion – and no emotion is stronger than love. I love my land, and I love this music. Come, feel the eight o’clock breeze as we march into the ocean, shake the clean crisp southern ocean water from our hair, and smile the biggest smile – now you’re starting. I’ve started. now we’re living..
Camino de Santiago (Pt.2)
Fields. Fields! Birds, birds, birds! And a broken lamp shade above us. Sun sets into my shockingly long, fading, bleached hair. I sit on a ruin, maybe a few hundred years old, and break down my hasty, loud, typical scarce vegetarian dinner. Escape the sounds of town by skirting the outskirts, and it’s.. (notes lost)
(A day later) my feet are a little worse for wear. No sleep, to the bar, where the group at large gathered naturally, and laughed and laughed and laughed over a pint or two, before receding back to the albergue for a vast communal dinner nobody could complete. Awesome, so awesome. Multiple ages (though typically young), and multiple backgrounds, multiple languages, yet one goal – happiness..
Now after shooting some hoops, a beautiful cup of tea and teeth cleaning, I create in the moment: the sky still alight towards the obvious horizon, even though it’s ten thirty. Only two stars light it up, and we expect tonight be cold like yesterdays. It’s cold up here on the plateau! The spasmodic yet intrinsically detailed spanish town sits mostly quiet and inexpensive around this upper storey staircase – rolling tiled roofs, their peaks like unbalanced spines; one tree peaks out behind the nearer house; a crane hints at redevelopment; and across, a light turns off, the last to do so in the complex – all that’s left is a European clothes line, clothes dangling until ‘manana’. It is night here in Spain, a good night for good people (even if I don’t agree with the pathetic cooking synonymous with the pilgrim menu – the ‘menu del dia’), and now we shall sleep a sleep in our single beds, before we do it all again tomorrow..
Goodnight! It feels great!
And I think, and sing: ‘let’s start something, bigger than us’
Camino de Santiago (Pt.3)
Lying in bed – I’m somewhat sleepy, somewhat eager to go out exploring. I know that rest for me is right, especially in my deteriorated state. And, what is more, the weather has blown in overcast from the south-west, and who would want to hang around an empty town in that? So, instead, I sit full of beans, shook beans, in fact more like a can of beans that’s been dropped on the supermarket floor and kicked three isles away.. and here, I let the thoughts wonder at the conclusion of an hours reminiscing – an hour of photos, music, and old text messaging – mostly those sent to Brendo en route to a gig or sent whilst the incomplete group sat wondering where he may be, whilst compiled in the regular booth, draped in the same winter glow and feel of ‘The Curtin’.. I think, we wanted to be there..
Along the Camino de Santiago, an old Roman route, lies Leon. The place is such a beautiful city! The language barrier we were up against made it difficult to absorb the history of the route freely – in Leon, however, we made our way to the Leon museum, for an injection of the regions history. Romans, Moors, Visigoths, and so on! Incredible! The European melting pot of history..
We spent ours here, but the following quote caught my eye more than any fact. Words..
“Landscape is memory. Beyond its limits, the landscape bears the marks of its past, it reconstructs memories, it projects the gaze of the shades of another time that now exist only as a reflection of itself on the memory of the traveller or on anyone who simply remains faithful to that landscape”.
Camino de Santiago (Pt.4)
‘To know, is to remember’.
This evening I’m feeling a little stretched. I sense the scarce, terrible excuses for vegetarian meals are taking their toll come week four..
The walk today was incredible – the fazing out of the crops, as we rose into the scrub/bushland, and further on into the heights of the mountains! I sit and I hope that this, this scenery, is what I can come to expect (and receive) for the remainder of the walk west..
A beat day. The most tired I’ve been in ages. Utterly spent. I found relief and distraction under a fruit-filled cherry tree, with an American smile, and I climbed a suspicious table to reach beyond the previous tallest person to grasp for hanging bundles of fruit..
Into the pages of ‘The people of the abyss’ I plunged – writings of hunger, pain, tiredness, sadness and complete loss. From the pages of a novel printed over one hundred years ago I escaped refreshed, embarrassed from my temporary ‘pain’. Well in to the fourth week I needed a wake up, a refreshment. This was it, and I left the day with this quote..
‘If one man lives in laziness, another dies of hunger’
It’s so green – a refreshing green, unlike the glaucous, bleached, hardy, and battered green of home. A new green, at least to my eyes, but no doubt an old green. Up ambles a path walked by us and those prior for over a thousand years. It winds around the trees. It’s framed by an ancient, crazy old wall, one so much so that the vegetation, the mosses, ferns and various plants I’d probably call weeds in another country, only rarely reveal that the wall may even exist..
In the under-darkness, here, the odd leaf catches the six o’clock Spanish light; the floating green..
Here, is a well trodden path – this is the single greatest, most beautiful segment we’ve encountered on the camino..
‘We must first forget, to access memory’
Camino de Santiago (Pt.5)
Galicia – the country of a thousand rivers (“o pais dos mil rios”)..
Each step couldn’t be counted. The eucalypts flicked past, so’d the hillsides of gorse (of which, the flower, or ‘chorima’ is considered the national flower) and pine, and so did everybody else on the way when we stopped for a light lunch and to throw banana at each other..
From the mind of Jack London, words to the effect of ‘a man needs his own castle’. I’m yearning or a day of privacy (or maybe three!)..
The end. One thirty in the morning. Realised when pen hit paper we’ve been awake since five yesterday, and I really smell like smoke.. There’s ‘soothing ocean sounds’ piping out of a phone on the simple bedside table, probably unnecessary considering the bottle of vino, the friends, unexpected roasted marshmallows, and the fire – in a traditional galician style, using the dead wood from the gorse shrub atop Cape Finisterre – the end of the old world..
Pamplona to Finisterre: eight-hundred kilometres. We felt the scope of what we achieved only somewhat. No breakdowns at the conclusion, no massive realisations. Just a seat with the view, at the base of the cliff away from the rushed crowd of tourists, with ‘March into the ocean’ playing though just once..
It’s the people who’ve made the walk so special..
I’m done: there’s no more descriptions, thoughts, observations of this here life along the Camino de Santiago..
To a playlist of Chuck Ragan, Gaslight Anthem, and Ceres, it ends. I want some new clothing, I’ve earned it! A new shirt, something that can survive the next two months through Europe. If I’ve learnt nothing, I at least now truly appreciate clean clothing..
Three years (and counting) have passed – blows my mind how quickly time flies.
For something more recent, how about some photos from my recent trip on the Wilderness Coast trail in eastern Victoria, here?
I took a morning off from working on our video exploring the benefits of mapping marine species movement, and drove out and into the Sugarloaf catchment – Christmas Hills area – and the Warrandyte Kinglake nature conservation reserve (that abuts the Kinglake National Park)..
This is the Happy Valley track – it isn’t a long walk, or even a difficult one, but it is certainly beautiful, ascending up one tree hill through beautiful dry sclerophyll forest. At first, you could think it a place of uniform, consistent bushland. However, taking a refined look will expose a stretch of gully woodland, red box dry grassy forest, herb rich foothills, and messmate damp forest – seamlessly blended together as only nature can..
I’d been here before, and knew exactly where I was going, allowing me to amble knowledgeably uphill. The weather and time of the week provided me one of the best days of the year so far – low twenties, crystal clear blue skies with not a cloud in sight, plus it was a tuesday. perfect..
Pausing for drinks, I pulled out the notepad and started writing: sounds, colours, the absence of immediate personal despair. the sun was painting the world the colour of autumn – that golden wash – amid the returning greens that summer had scorched, and the shadows not yet coated with cold as it soon will be. caught sound of frogs in the distance – water trapped somewhere ahead..
A clearing opens away to your left – unlike the other side of the road where open dry forest stands with little to no under storey, this anthro-gully sits lush with rushes and reeds, quietly fenced with three to four metre ferns. Moss covers the immediate earth, and the layers pile on top of each other until the canopy. Birds weave in and out of the vegetation – wrens, honeyeaters, wagtails, whilst a pair rosellas join in from above, feasting on a growth of mistletoe. Sitting atop the up-turned roots of a rough-barked eucalyptus, i admire and learn from my surroundings..
Much of this vegetation is listed as vulnerable, in that only ten to thirty percent of what existed prior to European settlement remains. Areas like these provided early colonisers with a brilliant selection of timbers, and hence their decimation. Places like happy gulley can help you imagine what the whole outer north/north east of Melbourne used to/could be like: smooth, white trunks of the manna gums, coarse dark barks of the peppermints, or, my personal favourite (the dominant reminder of home) the solid red box..
Last night my sister and I talked our way through a myriad of topics, one of which was the increasing intensity of appreciation that coincides with the gaining of specific knowledge..
One skill I’ve picked up in the past few years, one enhanced remarkably with even a basic knowledge of flora growth, is acknowledging signs of human disturbance – however aged. A mine shaft, or a upturned rusty water tank are somewhat obvious remnants. They may have been there for a couple of decades (or in the case of a mine, a hundred or more years – gold mining begun in christmas hills in the late eighteen-fifties). There’s the remnants of roads once carved into the hillside, now an elongated slope or step in the bush. scarred hills bare of certain vegetation. Or slump piles from the still-operating mine upstream covered in mature, and yet by no means massive, eucalypts. (I wish I could say human disturbance is confined to the past, but unfortunately at times you can still catch the sound of distant farmers, drivers and aeroplanes)..
There’s a tree above the banks of the Yarra River, on the hills where the river cuts through from yarra glen, that is thought to be a few hundred years old. It is massive. Absolutely massive – a size probably non-existent anywhere anymore. Once observed, you can appreciate then the youth of the bush surrounding you, as well as the extent of timber harvesting in the area..
However, disturbance aside, it still remains a brilliant spot in the outer north-east! Remember, there aren’t many places (if any) where you can escape completely from society in the Port Phillip catchment..
With this writing complete, I return to my hot crossed bun, and the thought of a bigger breakfast..