Former crayfisherman, Rob Pennicott, hands you the ginger tablets with a
smile. A veteran of wild seas, he enjoys the joke. His purpose-built vessel, Albatross, is
made for adventure of a more comfortable kind.
From Adventure Bay you head south along the coastline of Bruny Island,
less than an hourís drive and ferry ride from the capital of Hobart. Sea cliffs rear up
and vegetation clings above. Rocks lean precariously at the edge of vast beaches. Much of
the South Bruny National Park is impenetrable, with few tracks.
The boat noses into a massive sea cave. The slop echoes - a puny reminder
of the ocean fury that sculpted bluffs and blowholes.
Rob is a natural raconteur, one anecdote flowing into the next, while his
young assistant and seasoned explorer, Damien, is a moving feast of knowledge on geology,
wildlife, birds. The banter is thick in the air.
Hundreds of Australian fur seals lie in the sun at Friar Rocks. Dolphins
are oblivious to cormorants dive-bombing for fish. If you get lucky, youíll see penguins
hunting for food or southern right whales as they migrate from the Antarctic Ocean.
Back on dry land youíre transported to the majestic property, Hiba, where
you enjoy seafood treats, home-made fudge and cool climate Tasmanian wines in a
mansion-sized dining room set on the top of seacliffs. With a bit of luck, the bus will
leave without you.
Photographers rave about it - a certain quality of the light in Tasmania.
Craggy mountains loom closer, seas carve out a deeper coastline drama along wild beaches,
blue sky has a wider reach.
The island has the cleanest air in the world, so natureís palette shows
through without the contamination of urban pollution. And for colour, nothing beats
Tasmania in spring.
Smell the delicate aroma of tiny white Kunzea blossoms in the Narawntapu
National Park, where a family of wombats may amble past you in the coastal heathlands.
An hour later youíre surrounded by a riot of vivid red, yellow and blue in fields of
tulips and irises that roll across Table Cape, in the north west, to the edge of a sea
The contrast between natural beauty on a grand scale and gardens formed by
human hand exists throughout the State. Some of the oldest vegetation on earth, forests of
the ancient single supercontinent of Gondwanaland, flourishes in the Tasmanian World
Heritage Area, which has its northern boundary in the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair
Tasmanians love their gardens and in the centre of the State, European
cottage courtyards co-exist with exotic blooms. Delightful heritage gardens have been
protected over the decades in colonial villages along the Heritage Highway.
On the east coast, roam through the Freycinet National Park, watching
closely for native orchids. Paddle a sea kayak past the red granite peaks of the Hazards
Range. Then open a picnic hamper at Honeymoon Bay and watch the sun set.
Near Swansea, blossoms on the fruit trees and raspberry canes at Kateís
Berry Farm hold the promise of abundant summer fruits. In the meantime, try Kateís jams,
home-made ice-creams, sauces and popular strawberry wine.
Further north, follow the wine trail through the Pipers Brook and Tamar
Valley area. Sip a cool climate pinot noir from a balcony overlooking the Tamar River and
discover what a signature wine is all about. Chat with the winemakers about the regionís
superb sauvignon blancs and chardonnays, produced with passion in stunning locations.
In the south, 40 ha of English oaks and rambling gardens have been
carefully restored at one of Australiaís leading historic sites, Port Arthur. Its stark
convict past is evident in more than 30 buildings and ruins clustered near the edge of
a peaceful bay. At the snap of a playing card, the world-class Visitor Centre invites you
to step into the shoes of a convict to experience his life for a day.
The west coast fishing village of Strahan is on the banks of Macquarie
Harbour - almost six and a half times the size of the whole of Sydney Harbour but with
less than a thousand people living around its shores. It is the departure point for
cruises up the Gordon River into the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park, and for
wilderness flights. Step into the history of local Huon Pine gatherers, the early mining
boom and wilderness explorers at the Strahan Visitor Centre.
Tasmania is an ideal destination for self-drive holidays, with endless
reasons to stop, explore and create an itinerary as you travel. Bring your own car on the
overnight ferry, the Spirit of Tasmania. Or hire a car or campervan.
And when it comes to the clear air and light, thereís even more
opportunity to enjoy it in spring when Tasmania begins its six months of daylight
saving. Dusk doesnít begin till about 8.30 p.m. and itís a slow twilight - perfect
for evenings outdoors.