We got up groggily at some unholy hour and began the slow drive to the Tarkine forest because my sister (in her infinite wisdom) had booked us 2 places on a guided tour of the Tahune airwalk at 9am. The drive was very pleasant, I must say. The road climbed out of Hobart and amongst Mt Wellington’s foothills, then south with the rivers and sea on the left and hilly farmland with quaint little towns nestled within in on the right. This is the drive that made me determined to own a house somewhere in Tasmania someday. Each one we passed was more quirky than the one before.
On the way, the roadsigns kept us well entertained. Tasmania has astonishing signs, even by Australian standards. There’s one that looks like a warning of a giant rat (must be meant for some sort of marsupial, but driving along in a car tats not what the animal on the sign looks like!). Outside of Huonville, some wit had added a ‘P’ and ‘T’ to an “overtaking lane” sign, so that you rounded a corner and were faced instead with “Overtaking Planet”.
Picturesque as the drive was, I was relieved when we finally got to Geeveston, outside of which is the Forestry Tasmania managed Tarkine forest area. This part of the drive was a nightmare; narrow, steep and twisty roads, framed by gigantic trees that let little light in and looked like they were ready to topple onto our little car with scant provocation from the wind whistling up and down the mountainside. It was a relief to draw into the car park. We were (of course) the only ones there, and showed our prebooked tickets and went to await the tours start at the Huon river. It was to begin at 9; at 915 I went and enquired after our guide only to be told that these tours were now self guided. So off we went to walk the Tahune airwalk. I personally found it a disappointing experience, a tree being much more impressive from the bottom up, than from the top down. My fear of railing may have detracted from my enjoyment…
After the airwalk, we decided to go to the Hastings Caves, a further 50km drive south. These are dolomite caves, as opposed to most others in Australia, which are limestone caves. Unfortunately tripods weren’t allowed, so most of my images were too shaky to use, however this one turned out passably.
The caves were a thoroughly enjoyable experience; the tour took 45 minutes and it was bitingly cold inside, but there are thermal pools attached to the Hastings cave complex, which make for a very pleasant warm up.
On the drive back we were astonished at the numbers of little stalls along the roadside selling fruit directly from farms. We bought the world’s yummiest apricots from an Amish lady (6 for $2!) and mixed berries from the verandah of some random house.
(the white ones are white currants, my first time ever trying them. Quite tart.)
We got back to Hobart in time to watch the end of the Sydney-Hobart yacht race and have another waterfront dinner (Investec Loyal won the 2011 cup).