Under Down Under

Australia, RTW: 2007-2008 — By on March 27, 2008 7:01 PM

By the time I reached Launceston I was very comfortable driving on the other side of the road, except for at night when the animals are active! In hindsight, I wish I had rented the car for longer so that I could have explored the west coast at my leisure. Instead, I had booked a 3-day 2-night “Wild West Tour” tour with Under Down Under. I have found there are pros and cons to taking a group tour bus when exploring a new country. When traveling on a tour you are guaranteed to see all the main tourist attractions but not necessarily at your pace. Tour guides are usually very knowledgeable in the area and you will definitely learn something you wouldn’t have otherwise. It is also a really easy way to meet other travelers. For me, it really depends on my mood whether or not I will enjoy the full experience of an organized tour.

Jason, my Tassie tour guide, picked me up at DAY 1– We drove west to spend the day at Cradle Mountain. This large national park is part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. Its landscapes vary including rugged mountains, tall forests, deep gorges, and glacial lakes. We were each able to choose which hike we wanted to do. I decided to hike with three others to the Marion’s Lookout, which was a 3-hour return trip with an amazing view of Cradle Mountain and the lake. The Overland Track is a very popular track through Cradle Mountain but it takes 5 days to complete.

DAY 2 – I woke up to cold weather and pouring rain. The plan was to head from the mountains to a waterfall walk along the old train line to Montezuma Falls. It was still raining hard when we arrived and the last thing I wanted to do was to hike 3 hours in the pouring rain to see a waterfall. I decided that I had seen enough beautiful waterfalls in New Zealand and I could not be bothered to get wet in seeing another that most likely would not compare to the ones I had just seen. A few others and myself opted to stay in the bus for 3 hours instead of walking to the falls. When everyone returned soaking wet many said it wasn’t worth the trip in the rain. They had to ride 2 hours in wet clothes until we got to our cabins in the town of Straghn.

I actually enjoyed my 3 hours on the quiet bus. I was able to catch up with writing in my journal and I began reading a new book “Dreams from My Father” by Barack Obama. I have not finished the book, but I would highly recommend this memoir to anyone who wants insight into the the life of this presidential candidate. What struck me most about the book is how candid and honest Obama is about his life, providing details that many politicians would probably try to keep in the closet. Obama discusses trying to come to grips with his racial identity through a period of rebellion that included drug use, becoming a community activist in Chicago and traveling to Kenya to understand his father’s past. I appreciate his honesty and ability to own his experiences regardless of what people may think or judge. I doubt anyone will discover many “skeletons in his closet” as it seems to have put it all out there in this book. I admire and trust people who can be honest about their past, while being confident in who they are and what they stand for today. There is nothing I hate more than liars! So far he has my vote!

Day 3 – We headed south and on the way we crossed over Burbury Lake, which was a beautiful sight as the fog rolled over the mountains and the lake provided a stunning reflection. We stopped off for a short walk to Nelson Falls, which was very full and powerful due to the heavy rain the day before. We had coffee in the small town of Queenstown, which left you feeling like you had gone back in time! There was a home in town where a pit bull and a cow were fenced in together. The front door to the home was left open and the cow just walked right inside! The owner came out later, and didn’t seem phased that there was a cow in her house!

Next, we went to the Franklin River which offers intense 10 day rafting trips along the very dangerous river. White water rafting is one outdoor adventure I have yet to do, but the Franklin River is not the place to start! We had lunch at Lake St. Clair and then did a short walk to Russell Falls at Mt Field National Park.

The tour bus dropped us all off in Hobart where I spent my last night in Tasmania. Tasmania reminded me of New Zealand in some ways, as the majority of the state is undeveloped, wild and beautiful. I loved learning more about the early history of Australia and I left feeling I saw most of what Tasmania has to offer. It was another busy and exhausting trip but a must do for anyone who visits Australia!

To see all my photos of Tasmania CLICK HERE!

I flew to Alice Springs this morning, located in the middle of Australia. From the airplane I could see the flat red soil that gave a sense of the dry, arid land that is known as the outback. My friend Jenny is living and working here and we have planned to spend this weekend together. I am headed to her house now to do laundry and take a shower (I haven’t had a shower in 3 days)?!?! Is it bad that I just don’t care what I look or smell like these days?

Tomorrow Jenny and I leave very early for a weekend of camping in the outback! Should be fun!

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