Australia, some say, is a country best enjoyed from behind the wheel.
Its seemingly endless coastline and ubiquitous breathtaking scenery are strong reasons for any tourist to venture on a road trip.
Yet, our first road trip in Australia took us off the mainland, to Tasmania.
Located 240 kilometers to the south of the Australian continent, Tasmania is a perfect destination for tours on wheels.
According to the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service, around 45 percent of the island state comprises reserves, national parks or World Heritage sites to entice the adventurous to go on the roads and into the wilderness.
First timers need not to worry, as Tasmania’s 50 holiday parks offer great facilities for your convenience. In addition, Tasmania’s less-crowded roads are also a blessing. You can indulge in stunning landscapes without traffic hassles.
For this trip, we decided to try something different: renting a campervan equipped with beds, kitchen and toilet. It’s a van during the day; at night it turns into a house, sparing you from booking hotel rooms in different locations on the road.
‘Campervaning’ has become the favorite preference for people travelling in big groups, such as families, as it saves on accommodations. Economy aside, renting a campervan is recommended by the Tasmania tourism agency as ‘the perfect way to explore the island’s diverse scenery’.
We started from Hobart and moved north to the island’s second largest city, Launceston, then driving west to visit Cradle Mountain National Park, home of the famous Tasmanian Devil, before returning to Hobart. We covered a distance of 881 kilometers in five days.
We discovered that this traveling mode is not necessarily cheap — especially with a toddler.
Making comfort a top priority, we picked a “henty” model of campervan that was big, with a spacious bed, kitchen and toilet. We learned on the following days that the real perk of travelling by campervan is the freedom to decide on our own routes and schedule.
We were able to make numerous stops and unexpected turns just to savor the beauty of the surroundings.
Tasmania reminds you of picturesque hills in Switzerland. Endless greenery with small hills scattered here and there pampered our eyes along the road. You may first want to stop at every turn just to snap pictures and lock the sights into your memory, but soon you will grow tired, finding no end to the panoramic views
The gorgeous scenery never stopped. When objects are spotted, they come is slow motion: cows, sheep and horses munching grass in pastures. This adventure may have been expensive but the experience of being so close to nature is priceless.
Between our destinations, we had the chance to make some memorable stops, including Oatlands, about 84 kilometers north of Hobart. The small historic village has beautiful old colonial houses made of sandstone along its main road. Don’t miss the famous landmark of the village: Callington Mill, which has been restored to full working order since 2010.
We made another turn to Richmond, around 25 kilometers northeast of Hobart, home of renowned Richmond Bridge, believed to be Australia’s oldest bridge still in use.
Make sure you stop at Tasmania’s iconic Villaret Garden, 250 kilometers north of Hobart, on the way to Cradle Mountain, located on a hill surrounded by farmlands. We paid A$5 to enter and could rest our head on the grass and enjoy the stunning view.
Journey’s end: A stunning rainbow shows up in the Tasmanian sky on the last day of our trip. (Ika Krismantari)
Aside from gardens, road trippers can also visit wine valleys or cottage complexes. Green and brown signposts will lead visitors to those places, which offer not only Tasmania’s quaint landscape, but also accommodations and local delicacies.
It is a four-hour drive from Hobart to Launceston. We spent time in both cities to visit museums and other tourist attractions. In Launceston, we started with the Gorge Cataract before venturing to the city center for the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery.
Our next destination was Cradle Mountain. As campervans are prohibited, we joined a bus tour to reach the famous Dove Lake and the short Enchanted Walk track near the entrance, where we were greeted by wallabies, kangaroos and wombats.
Back in Hobart, we spent hours in the Museum of New and Old Art. The museum, which belongs to Tasmanian billionaire David Walsh, fascinated us with its vibrant contemporary collection and unique architecture. The next day, we went to Mount Wellington and reached the summit through Pinnacle Road built in the 1930s.
At night, we rested in holiday parks, allowing us to escape briefly from the confines of our vehicle. We stretched, took proper showers and prepared big dinner with all the facilities given in the parks. We paid between $30 and $40 a night for sites with electricity and less than that for unpowered sites.
After long days on the road, we deliberately choose holiday parks that offered scenic surroundings as a treat, such as Seven Mile Beach Holiday Park, located only 10 minutes from a serene beach.
Our last day was spent in a caravan park on the periphery of the Derwent River with majestic Mount Wellington in the background. As beautiful rainbow appeared in the sky, it was clear that the scenery and adventurous experience were worth the confines of the campervan.
It is the journey, not the destination, after all.
Tips for campervaning in Tasmania
1. Plan ahead and determine your routes (driveaustralia.com.au).
2. Visit drivenow.com.au or goseeaustralia.com.au compare rates and choose van that suits you.
3. Info on holiday parks in Tasmania is available from car rental companies or at discovertasmania.com.
4. Make reservations for holiday parks before they close at 6 p.m. Some parks require codes to open gates and passwords to use the facilities.
5. Do some smart grocery shopping at the beginning of your trip to save money and avoid making frequent stops to buy things.
6. Use the toilet in your campervan as last resort to avoid smells and the chore of cleaning up later on.
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