After hearing some really positive things about Tasmania, we decided to switch it up and fly there for a week instead of driving the whole East Coast of Australia.
Tasmania was first sighted by a Dutch explorer by the last name Tasman in 1642, however indigenous people lived on the island for an estimated 30,000 years before colonization. Like the turbulent history of the rest of Australia, the British came in around the 19h century and took over the land, killing the indigenous people and claiming it as their own.
It was initially used for convicts and their military guards, with the objective of developing agriculture and industries. Later on, penal colonies were developed around 1820 and it was considered the most terrible of destinations, with disease, lawlessness and every other settler a convict. They stopped bringing convicts in 1856 in an effort to improve its reputation.
Since then, Tasmania has remained a fairly quiet and underpopulated island, being home to around 500,000 people. The southernmost state of Australia is known for it’s ruggedness, and has 42% of its land mass protected in National Parks. There has been an influx of tourism and immigration to Tassie recently, partially due to the rising house prices on the mainland. This, in turn, puts strain on the infrastructure, and limits the accommodation and food available (and inflates prices).
Unfortunately, the island has been experiencing a drought, and parts of the island are closed due to bush fires (or risk there of) limiting some of our exploring. We decided to stick to the East Coast, where a large amount of the “touristy” things are and where it is safely away from the fires. We heard about the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in Hobart, created by Tasmanian millionaire David Walsh. This computer science/math major created a gambling system and subsequently made millions of dollars as a professional gambler. He was as eccentric as they come; he spent large sums of money on ridiculous and abstract things. The museum was initially created just for himself to house his own art collection, but eventually decided to share it with the public. It’s a very creepy place, blasted deep into the earth and is entirely windowless, with chambers in varying directions so you never really know where you are. The “art” itself ranges from looking like garbage, to unique, to confusing, to just plain disturbing. Some things were neat, but we both left thinking “Man, there are so many better ways to spend that kind of money”. I guess we don’t have an “artiste’s eye”.
Tasmania is also home to the birthplace of the Blundstone boot. Here it is a workboot, not a fashion accessory and can be found primarily at work/safety depots. Tasmania does have a large amount of farms, mainly sheep farms, and there is an abundance of fruit trees. We stayed at an AirBnB at an old farmhouse in Bream Creek. With rolling hills, blackberry bushes, a friendly neighbourhood dog and a beautiful sunset, it almost felt like we were back home.
We stocked up on berries and kept moving down the coast, exploring the beaches, national parks, and animals of Tasmania.
The beaches throughout mainland Australia are the most beautiful we have seen in the world. Tasmania is no exception in that regard but does have a more “natural” feel to its beaches. Often rugged and completely virgin, they have jagged rock faces that accent perfectly white sand. The rocks are red in colour and are referred to as: “The Painted Rocks”. You can catch yourself walking along the shore of a remote beach thinking that you’re the only person who has ever walked here – at least for a very long time. The sugary, white sand is bleached by the powerful, unrelenting sun. When nature doesn’t offer you shade, you must make it and so we did. Building a driftwood shelter from washed up material and dry grass we made ourselves a little home. I made sure to remind Alayna to be thankful for our accommodation. I may not be able to provide housing in the Toronto market but a private beach resort in exotic Tasmania, I can do. She’s still firmly believes it’s better than living on a houseboat back home. I’ll convince her someday…