I’m lucky enough to have a job that requires travel, so when I saw I had to be in Hobart on a Monday, I immediately committed to a weekend exploring Tasmania.
I chose a few places I wanted to visit along the western side and then made an effort to leave the rest of the weekend completely open to whatever came up, not knowing where I’d sleep or which walks I’d do.
At 9am on Saturday morning I landed in Launceston, hired a car and drove 2.5hrs West to Cradle Mountain National Park. Arriving at the Visitors Centre I was advised to catch the shuttle to the lookout due to the amount of snow in the area. Delighted I hopped on and made the most of my window seat, gawking as we passed the start of the Overland Track, being a hike I’ve always wanted to do. Arriving at Dove Lake I walked the 6km circuit with no sign of Cradle Mountain in sight through the fog and heavy snow. The ground was so wet with slushy snow my shoes were soaked within minutes and my face stung as wind whipped me with snowflakes in the 2 degrees temperature. Yay! I’m really doing this – out exploring Tasmania on my first solo trip. Conditions might not be perfect, but I’m safe in a fairly controlled environment. As quickly as it started, the weather calmed and some fog lifted. I didn’t get a full view of the Mountain, but there was still enough scenery to get some gorgeous shots at the Boat Shed.
Back at the car by 2pm I decided to make the 3hr drive via Queenstown to stay the night at Lake St Clair Lodge. In hindsight I should have got more fuel in Queenstown, realising that night I only had a quarter of a tank left. Chatting with lodge staff I learnt there was a petrol station just down the road which opens at 11am. With winter being the down season I felt incredibly lonely being the only one having dinner in the restaurant so took it back to my room, where I continued to feel just as lonely with no phone/internet reception. At least I got an early night, and had a heater to dry out my shoes and clothes.
At 6am I woke and after lying there snug for a while I looked out my window to see the sun starting to rise over the mountains with a fiery red glow. Immediately I jumped out of bed, threw on some warm layers and ran out the door into a chilly 3 degrees at the lake and watched the most amazing sunrise I’ve ever witnessed. Not only did it have dramatic colours, I watched as the first rays hit Mount Olympus causing a glow I’ve only ever seen in photos. It was magical.
Lake St Clair continued to be stunning, covered in a layer of snow and vibrant moss. Again I gawked at the end of the Overland Track, which I’ve promised to come back and do one day. To pass time until the petrol station opened I took a short walk along the lake. It was so beautiful, making me so relaxed I experienced the most overwhelming sense of appreciation that I was there, and enjoying the time alone.
The lodge staff had forgotten to mention the petrol station was closed on weekends, so chatting to locals passing through who also planned on filling up they suggested I try Bronte Park, a town 30kms off the highway. Words cannot describe my relief when I found the little general store where the man at the counter used binoculars to read the price off the fuel pump. The next 2hrs were spent singing along to the blaring radio as I drove to Hobart.
Once in Hobart I checked into my hotel dropping off my bags then heading up to Mt Wellington to see it in the snow. Driving up the mountain I saw cars coming down with little snowmen surfing the bonnet until they would eventually slide off and melt to their death on the side of the road. As it turns out this destination is popular in Winter, with traffic queued back for a kilometre to enter the turnoff. Since I’ve been there before I decided the crowds wouldn’t be worth the time so watched with envy as muddy mountain bikers rode past while I queued to then drive back down the mountain. Marking the end of the adventure I headed to Hobart airport to drop off the car, then caught a cab back to the Hotel to shower and prepare for Monday morning after my micro holiday.
I am absolutely thrilled after exploring the West Coast of Tasmania in 48 amazing hours, driving over 500km, and loving the ever changing scenery.