A photographer's guide to exploring Tasmania's wilderness
Tasmania is about a 1.5 hour flight from Sydney to the city of Launceston and for the last 10 years I have been regularly visiting this remote and pristine island state. The diverse choice of landscapes and close proximity by car make this a unique and accessible environment still largely untouched.
Around 40 percent of Tasmania is protected National Parks and Reserves. If you are looking to get off the grid and discover a magical wilderness, this place is filled with adventure and convict history. Here are some of my favorite spots to photograph in spring or autumn. I have also added a few other locations as side trips that are also worth a look.
1. Cradle Mountain National Park
A two-hour drive from Launceston Airport will take you to Dove Lake and a spectacular view of Cradle Mountain. Like most mountains, it can be difficult to predict the weather. Tasmania National Parks have various walks that can take two hours or six days, depending on your level of fitness. You can expect to see a few wombats, wallabies, and Tasmanian devils (in captivity). Unfortunately, there is a lot of road kill so best not to drive through these parks in the dark. The local wildlife tend to freeze and stop in the middle of the road when blinded by car lights.The weather can turn on you at any moment so best to come well prepared with warm clothing and weatherproof gear.
The area is covered in a variety of alpine and sub-alpine vegetation. Alpine coral fern and button grass dominate the alpine wet sedge lands near the mountain summit. Tasmanian snow gums can be found at slightly lower elevations alongside pencil pine and waratah. Within the valleys surrounding the mountain, species such as myrtle beech and pandani (unique to Tasmania) form thick temperate forest with dense, mossy undergrowth. The geology of the mountain is Jurassic dolerite.
Bicheno is located 176 kilometers (109 miles) southeast of Launceston. It used to be a whaling town in the early 1800s. Today it is a charming seaside resort town and the local fishing industry's catch includes substantial quantities of abalone, crayfish, scallops, and trevally. In the photo below you can see the famous Rocking Rock (80 ton piece of granite). There are a number of interesting access points onto the rocks which have a distinctive red color as a result of deposits of red lichen; All perfect for a slow shutter and a 10-stop filter if you choose to shoot in the middle of the day. There is also a blowhole nearby that shoots out water up to 10 feet high. Many of these rocks resemble sea creatures such as whales and sea lions. At night along the coastal beaches you might spot some fairy penguins coming in after sunset.
3. Sleepy Bay, Freycinet National Park
Just a 30 minute drive from Bicheno is Coles Bay. Famous features of the park include its red and pink granite formations and a series of jagged granite peaks in a line called "The Hazards." If you are lucky you might spot some Bennet's wallabies, brushtail possums, eastern quoll, echidnas, and wombats. Out in the ocean you might spot some humpback whales and bottlenose dolphins.
Up in the sky or perched on trees are white-bellied eagle, black-browed albatross, brown falcon, and fairy wren to name a few. Banksia and Eucalyptus Gum trees dominate the area. There are various walks but the most common would have to be Wineglass Bay which has been voted in as one of the top 10 beaches in Australia.
4. Tessellated Pavement
The Tessellated Pavement State Reserve is on the Tasman Peninsula near Eaglehawk Neck. The region is popular with a short drive from here to Port Arthur Convict Settlement. Also known for a massacre in 1996 of 35 who were killed by a mad gunman. It is the deadliest mass shooting in Australia's history. Since then, our gun laws restrict the private ownership of high-capacity semi automatic rifles and shotguns as well as introducing uniform firearms licensing. The area has a melancholic feel. The best time of year to photograph the chess board like pavement is in May when moss on the rocks is more abundant.
5. Horseshoe Falls
Only an hour and a half drive out of Hobart is Mt. Field National Park where you will find Russell And Horseshoe Falls. Nestled in a moss forest are towering swamp gums, the tallest flowering plant on earth, and species typical of wet forests and cool temperate rainforests, such as dogwood, musk, and myrtle. Towards the falls, the track is framed by stunning tall tree ferns. The falls themselves are impossibly picturesque.
6. Other Points of Interest
Liffey is an area where many farms have abandoned houses and sheds. Rumored to have paranormal activity, this wool shed stands on its last legs. Liffey is also known for its cascading waterfalls.
Derwent River Poplars in May is when autumn and all its colors come to life in the Derwent Valley only an hours drive from Hobart.
Arthur's Lake is located only an hour and 15 minute drive from Launceston up in the highland lakes. The area is also known as the drowned forest because of the trees that were flooded for Hydro Tasmania. The lake is filled with trout and also makes for the perfect spot for some eerie shots.
Does Tasmania remind you of any other place in the world?