Devilish Tasmania

Sierra Club Outings Trip # 15535A, International

Highlights

  • Experience the variety of Tasmania: beaches, rocky coasts, high mountains, and more
  • See unique wildlife: echnida, wallaby, pademelon, cockatoo, etc.
  • Meet aboriginal elders

Includes

  • All lodging in hotels and cabins
  • Hearty meals and all gratuities
  • On-trip transportation and local naturalists

Details

DatesFeb 17–28, 2015
Price$5,595 (9–11)
$5,895 (or fewer)
Deposit$200
Capacity10
StaffGene Goldberg

Trip Overview

Yes, it's a long way to go for one trip. Why not double up? If you sign up for both this trip and Mountains, Forests, and Beaches of New Zealand's South Island, you will get a $300 discount.

The Trip

Tasmania! The very name conjures images of the other side of the world. This wild island lies off the southern coast of the Australian mainland. Home to aborigines and former penal colonies, it now preserves a vast array of endemic wildlife and a near pristine World Heritage wilderness. We’ll be exploring sandy beaches (including the famous Wineglass Bay), high mountains (Cradle Mountain is the second tallest and most dramatic on the island), the cool temperate rainforest, and the rugged, rocky northwest coast. Besides the spectacular scenery, we get to meet with aboriginal elders, cruise on the Pieman River, and have opportunities to spot some of the unique wild animals of the Australian continent.

At 26,376 square miles, Tasmania is about the same area as West Virginia and is both the 26th largest island in the world and the smallest state of Australia. Nearly half of its 500,000 citizens live in the capital and largest city, Hobart.  When the land bridge connecting it to the continent disappeared some 10,000 years ago, it was left isolated with the aborigines, their culture, and the flora and fauna present at that time. These have maintained their separate identity from the mainland ever since, with much less change than on the mainland. 

Some of the unique wildlife of Tasmania are wallabys, pademelon, Huon Pine, echnida, black cockatoos, Tasmanian Blue Gum, platypus, quoll, wedge tailed eagle, swift parrott, King Billy Pine, waratah, many varieties of eucalypts, and of course, the Tasmanian Devil.

After meeting in Hobart, we start our tour around the island. Two nights at Coles Bay allow us to explore the expansive beaches of Freycinet National Park, including the world-renowned Wineglass Bay. 

A day at the Bay of Fires includes walking among the colorful rocks and meeting an aboriginal elder who will talk to us about her culture.  Next, we take short walks through the forests of Blue Tier as we make our way toward Launceston, Tasmania's second largest city.

Passing through Sheffield, famous for the murals on many of its buildings, we then go on to spend two nights at Cradle Mountain National Park and hike in its alpine setting. Scenic Dove Lake and a possible walk up Cradle Mountain itself are on the schedule.

Our next two nights will be in Corinna, an abandoned mining town now converted into an ecologically sensitive resort. This stay allows us the opportunity to cruise on the Pieman River and walk along the rugged, rocky northwest coastline. 

The trip winds up with a night in Stanley, where we can walk up the famous “Nut,” and a visit to Narawantapu National Park, home to kangaroos, before our last night in Launceston.

Itinerary

Day 1: We meet this afternoon at our hotel in downtown Hobart. We’ll have an orientation meeting, introductions to our local guides, and equipment check, and then the rest of the afternoon is free to explore Hobart before our welcome dinner, the first meal included in the trip. 

Day 2: After breakfast we board our charted van for the trip to Port Arthur Historic Site. This site is part of the Australia Convicts World Heritage Sites and was the original penal colony in Tasmania. Our tour by an onsite guide will provide a fascinating insight to its unique history. Afterward another hour on the bus brings us to Coles Bay, next to Freycinet National Park, where we can do a short hike along the beach before settling into our cabins for the next two nights. (Walking: 3 miles, 3 hours. Driving time: 2 hours)

Day 3: Today we walk to the world-renowned Wineglass Bay; its pristine beach is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. A wide sweep of clean sand frames the deep blue waters of the bay. Time and weather permitting, a short swim may be possible. Continuing on, we come to Hazards Beach and the Lemana Lookout. Along the way we may see Bennet's Wallaby, Tasmanian Pademelon, wombat, green rosella, black cockatoo, and swift parrot. (6 miles, 5 hours)

Day 4: This morning we go kayaking in Oyster Bay for a different perspective of the area, then head on north to St. Helen's on the southern end of the spectacular Bay of Fires, where we check into our new accommodations. A highlight of the trip will be an afternoon meeting with an aboriginal elder and a chance to learn about their eons-old culture and traditions.

Day 5: In the morning, we walk in the foothills of the Blue Tier, going through old-growth rainforest, including eucalypt and myrtle. We get to see "The Big Tree," some 60 feet in girth. Then, driving into the Blue Tier Nature Preserve, we can take one of several interesting walks for the afternoon. Options provide views of mountains, the coast, or mining impacts and restoration efforts. When done, we continue our drive into Launceston, the second largest city of Tasmania. (Up to 8 miles, 6 hours)

Day 6: A three-hour drive this morning brings us to our private cabins in the Cradle Mountain National Park. Along the way we stop for a stretch and quick walk through Sheffield, the “Town of Murals," where many buildings have primitive-style murals painted on their walls. After lunch, a walk to beautiful Dove Lake will provide a great view of the mountain. In the evening there is an option to visit the Tasmanian Devil Sanctuary (price not included). (3 miles, 2 hours)

Day 7: Conditions permitting, those who want can try the challenging ascent of Cradle Mountain (5,068 feet). The trail is about 7 miles long, and up and down 2,400 feet; we can expect to take 8 hours. For those not interested, or if the weather is not good enough, there are several less strenuous options, including visits to waterfalls, Crater Lake, or a walk in the cabin area.

Day 8: We take a few short walks today to break up the drive to Corinna. One walk will be the King Billy Track, where we can see some of the world’s oldest trees. Other stops along the way include the park visitor center, the historic mining town of Waratah, and a visit to the Philosophers Falls. Corinna was once a small community; the houses have all been converted now to sustainable guest lodgings. (3 miles, 3 hours)

Day 9: We get an early start so we can have a private cruise on the Pieman River aboard the Arcadia II. After dropping us at the mouth of the river, the boat will go on its public cruise while we explore the rocky coastline. After returning, if time allows, there are options for canoeing on the river or short walks. A platypus is known to live nearby. (5 miles, 4 hours)

Day 10: Back on the bus we continue driving, with stops to walk up Mt. Donaldson and/or at Balfour Track, Lake Chisholm, and Julius River Forest Reserve. Upon reaching Stanley, we will climb "The Nut," a 450-foot volcanic plug on the waterfront. Tonight's dinner will be a BBQ at the base of the Nut. (5 miles, 4 hours)

Day 11: Today we end with a drive into Launceston, stopping along the way for a walk in Narawantapu National Park, the only site on Tasmania where we might see kangaroo. (4 miles, 3 hours)

Day 12: The trip ends after breakfast. Transfer to the airport is included.

Photos

Details

Getting There

The trip begins and ends in different cities. We start on the afternoon of February 17 in Hobart. We end on the morning of February 28 in Launceston and airport transfers are included. Both airports have flights to and from Sydney and Melbourne, as well as a few Pacific Islands and New Zealand. Coming from the U.S., you are most likely to fly through Sydney or Melbourne. Airfare is not included in the trip price. When booking your flights, remember that you must cross the International Date Line. This means if you leave the U.S. on the 14th, you will arrive in Australia on the 16th, skipping a full day in flight.  On the other hand, returning you may land in California before you take off from Sydney!

Please make sure that your passport is valid at least six months past the end of the trip -- a requirement of many countries. You are responsible for having your own passport and obtaining any necessary visas or other travel papers. At last check, US citizens must have a visa before arriving; they are available online.  Travel insurance is strongly recommended. The leader will send out newsletters with additional travel information, and ideas of things to do in the area before and after the trip. You are encouraged to arrive at least a day or two early to help overcome jet-lag before we begin hiking. It would also help should your luggage be delayed in arriving -- unfortunately, not a rare occurrence. 

Accommodations and Food

We will be staying at a range of accommodations. Some nights will be in two- or three-star hotels, and others will be in cabins with varying amenities. All will be double or twin rooms; if you are traveling alone you will be paired with someone of the same gender. Some cabins have two bedrooms and a shared bath, while the hotels will have private baths. 

Some meals will be at restaurants, especially in the cities. In those cases we will order from the standard menu. Most meals will be prepared for us in the cabins by our local guides. Group members are encouraged to lend a hand. Expect local, fresh food with a concern for sustainable farming practices and local specialties. Vegetarians can easily be accommodated. Bottled drinks are not included in the trip price. There is no need to buy bottled water; the tap water is of excellent quality. 

Trip Difficulty

This is primarily a hiking trip, with typical days of 3-5 miles and elevation gains of less than 1,000 feet. It is intended for the experienced hiker who is able to walk about five hours each day. Our most difficult day is the optional ascent of Cradle Mountain, about 7 miles, with 2,400 feet of elevation gain. Expected daily distances and elevation gains are listed in the itinerary above, but may have to be changed depending on group abilities, weather, trail closures, etc.

Our walking will generally be on good paths, with some very steep sections that will be more challenging. You should expect some of the paths to be muddy. You will be carrying a day pack only, with foul weather clothing, water, and lunch.

Our morning kayaking in Coles Bay will be about 3 hours long.  Prior experience is not required, but would be helpful. We will not go out if the weather is threatening. 

It is best to prepare for this trip by keeping to a regular exercise schedule and taking frequent day hikes in hilly terrain. If you don’t live near hilly terrain, ask the leader for suggestions on a conditioning program. You need to be doing aerobic exercises at least three times a week, and, if hill- or stair-climbing with a pack is not included in that, you should at least be doing resistance training for your legs and core. You should be able to walk steadily on level trails with your pack at two or more miles per hour, and slower than that uphill for extended times without becoming overly tired.

Tasmania lies in the “Roaring Forties” where weather systems move through frequently. Expect at least part of our trip to have windy and wet weather. Remember, we are visiting the rainforest; it does rain. Normal temperatures will be between the low 50s and low 70s during the day. Nighttime lows could get down to 40 degrees. In exceptionally bad weather, we may have to change routes -- your safety is always our highest priority.

Equipment and Clothing

No special equipment is required. You will need the gear you normally use on day hikes. Lightweight, broken-in boots are the most important item.  Good rain wear is also critical.  Besides that, bring a day pack with your hiking essentials, including water, your rain gear, and something to keep you warm should the weather turn unexpectedly. The leader will provide a more detailed list later. Be sure you have enough extra room for your share of the picnic lunches.

References

Maps:

  • Tasmania State Map Hema Maps
  • Tasmania Atlas and Guide, Edition 2 Hema Maps

Books:

  • Atkinson, Brett. Lonely Planet Tasmania (Regional Travel Guide). 2011.
  • Shakespeare, Nicholas. In Tasmania.
  • Reynolds, Amanda Jane. Keeping Culture: Aboriginal Tasmania. 2006.
  • Flanagan, Richard. Wanting: A Novel. 2008.
  • Flanagan, Richard. Goulds Book of Fish. 2002.

Websites:

Conservation

Sierra Club is an environmentally focused entity. We are concerned about conservation and sustainability of resources, both locally and globally. Our work is accomplished by volunteers, aided by a salaried staff, encouraging grassroots involvement. Our outings seek to empower participants toward environmentally understanding parallel concerns at home and abroad.

Tasmania has large areas of pristine wilderness. At the same time, some very intrusive activities, such as open pit mining, are happening in close proximity to these wild places. Our knowledgeable local guides will be able to discuss the conservation issues facing Tasmania and how they are being dealt with. They will also identify and interpret the local flora and fauna. Additionally, we have the rare opportunity to spend a few hours with an aboriginal elder and learn about their ancient traditions and world view.

Staff

Leader:

Gene Goldberg has been leading Sierra Club trips since 1990. Now retired, leading is his principle occupation. His Club trips have included backpacking in the Colorado Rockies as well as trips to Italy, Nepal, the Swiss Alps, New Zealand, and Bhutan, among others. This will be his fourth visit to Tasmania. He now lives in Santa Fe with his wife, Gail, and dogs, Whisky and Bailey.

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