After our time at Lake St. Clair, we headed south towards Mt. Field National Park. Our first afternoon, we drove out to this bizarre area in Western Tasmania to a town called Strathgordon. We hadn’t had much wifi and hadn’t done much research, so we thought it would just be beautiful and cool. Turns out, there isn’t really much out there. Back in the 60s, a dam was built, which turned the once-small Lake Pedder into a giant lake. The building of this massive dam created jobs back in the day, but these days, Strathgordon is like a ghost town. We still stopped to take a few photos and read the display in their “visitor centre”. The drive was pretty, though, and we enjoyed getting lost.
After our little jaunt out to Strathgordon, we came back for dinner at the pub where we were staying. The owner informed us there were glowworms in the park, which was about 5 minutes away. We decided to go around dusk (9pm on this side of the world). This ended up being our best wildlife viewing sesh of Tasmania! We saw kangaroos, wallabies, pademelons (like a tiny wallaby), brushtail possums, and of course glowworms. We were hoping to see a tasmanian devil while in Tassie, but sadly we had no luck.
The next morning we headed into the park to do a hike. We really had no idea what to do, so we asked the “ranger” (in Australia this is not the coveted job it is in the US) about hikes. She recommended we do the Mt. Field East loop – “do it clockwise,” she said, and another person there agreed. We looked at the track (about 5 hours, 10km) and thought “great!”, so we headed out. We had no idea what we were about to get into.
The hike started out great. We were on boardwalks and well marked paths for the first hour going up through brush and streams.
It started to get windy towards the top as we entered what is called the “Windy Moor”. It was beautiful – lots of orange (as you see in Tasmania) and brush and streams everywhere. We were the only ones on the track, and it was hard to see the trail markers, even with the good visibility we had. There were lots of streams all over the place, so our feet were getting soaked.
As we got to the end of the Windy Moor, the wind had picked up even more, and we found a sign pointing to “Mt. Field East”. There was another sign pointing towards “Lake Nichols”. We followed the sign to Mt. Field East because that was the name of the hike we were doing. Turns out it was a side track to the top of the mountain. This last part was a rock scramble to the top of the ridge – lots of uneven rocks and no trail or cover. At this point, it had become really windy, but we had come so far that we didn’t want to turn back. By the time we got to the top of the ridge (about 10 minutes in), I was spent. The winds were so strong and the footing was so unstable that I ducked behind a single nearby bush and cried. When Shawn joined me, we realized we still had another small ridge to get up. Even though the winds were strong, we pushed forward and made it to the top. Luckily there was a small turret at the top that we climbed into to shield us from the wind. We ate some sandwiches, braved a couple photos, and after a few deep breaths, headed back down.
This is a video of what it was like to scramble over the rocks towards the peak:
Here’s a video Shawn took from the turret:
Going down was a bit easier because the wind had died down slightly, though it was no walk in the park. At this point, I just wanted to be done with this stupid hike. Why did the ranger tell us to do this hike with 100kmh winds?! The rest of the loop took us down through a eucalyptus forest to Lake Nichols, which was pretty, but not that spectacular. The trail was steep and hard on our knees, and also still a bit rocky. This terrain would have been much better going up than going down. There was one nice part – there were flowers that smelled like cake!
The trail markers were practically non-existent at this point, so we took some lucky guesses (I’m so grateful for my mountain man) and found our way back towards the end. We then had to walk along the road for 2km to the car park, uphill. At this point, I was so annoyed with the ranger. When we finally got some wifi, I did some research and every single thing I read about this hike said to do it counter-clockwise. This would have been easier on our knees, and not given us a giant uphill battle at the end of our hike. On top of this, the forecast, which we didn’t have access to (wind speeds, etc), should have kept the ranger from sending us up on this trail.
All in all, the hike was pretty, but scary and dangerous at the top, and not well-marked. We made it out alive and I’m glad nothing bad happened, but I never want to do a hike like that again. If one of us had fallen on the rocks, it could have been really bad.
After a good night’s sleep, the next morning we headed to Hobart, the big city in Tassie. We liked it instantly. Our first stop was the chiropractor. Our chiropractor back home told us if we were ever in Tasmania, he had a friend from school in Hobart that we should visit. We were very excited to get adjusted after nearly four months on the road and we loved Dr. Haslett at Outback Chiropractic! Thanks Dr. G for recommending him!
After chiro and returning our rental car, we headed down to the harbor to catch the ferry to MONA. MONA is the Museum of Old and New Art. It’s new, beautiful, and pretty fantastic. They have their own ferries from downtown because the museum is located a bit outside of town. The ferry takes about 25 minutes and is super hip. I’m going to let the photos do the talking, but if you’re in Hobart, definitely check out MONA!
We had a lovely south Indian dinner (dosas!) and went to bed early for our 4am wake-up to fly to New Zealand! Coming up next you’ll hear about our time in NZ and we’ll even have a guest blogger – my sister, Morgan!