Trip Report: A Tasmanian Adventure

Hiking Travel Trip Reports
February 29, 2016

NicoleM_WombatNicole Mautino is a midshipman at the United States Merchant Marine Academy and a member of the Navy Reserves. She is currently serving as a deck cadet on the US Coast Guard Cutter POLAR STAR.

We’re following her voyage to Antarctica. Three weeks into the trip, her ship stopped in Hobart, Tasmania. Nicole spent the holidays exploring the island.

Hobart, Tasmania

After six weeks underway – and crossing the Equator and International Date Line at the same time! – we arrived in Hobart, Tasmania. With Christmas just a few days away, the other Junior Officers and I packed our bags and headed to a charming little rental house in the countryside.

The house came complete with a miniature horse, a cow, chickens, roosters, and geese. Located near the base of Mount Wellington, there were endless hiking trails accessible right from the house. It was just the escape we needed.

Swimming at the Equator and International Date Line

Swimming at the Equator and International Date Line

After a few days relaxing in the countryside, I headed back to the city to do some sightseeing for the remainder of my time in Tasmania. The first tour took me to the historic town of Richmond, home to the oldest standing bridge in Australia.

The Richmond Bridge was built in 1823. It crossed over a small river and gave a beautiful view of the town’s chapel. The best view of the bridge was at the top of a very steep hill, I probably looked crazy climbing the side of the hill with my camera in my hand!


The Richmond Bridge, Tasmania

After getting the perfect picture, I headed to the shops in town. There were a number antique shops in town, each full of Tasmanian history. The shops were each so unique, I ended up buying all of my souvenirs in Richmond.

The next stop on our tour took us to the ZooDoo Wildlife Park. I had seen a few wild kangaroos and wallabies hopping around Tasmania, but I had never seen one so close up.

My favorite part about the park was that it wasn’t like a zoo, where all of the animals are caged up in small pens or behind glass. Instead, the animals were in very large fields and could come and go as they pleased. You could go in the fields with the animals to feed them and take pictures of them if they came up close to you. The kangaroos really liked to pose for selfies!


Kangaroo selfie at ZooDoo Wildlife Park

I got to see Tasmanian Devils, wallabies, kangaroos, emus, llamas, zebras, wombats, meercats, camels and peacocks. Between wandering around the quaint town of Richmond and getting to visit the wildlife park, this was the most memorable day in Tasmania.


Camel close-up at ZooDoo Wildlife Park

Our week in port overlapped with the Taste of Tasmania, a food festival located right in Hobart and within walking distance of our ship. I went the first night it was in town and fell in love with the macaroni and cheese pie. Whoever thought to take macaroni and cheese and put in a pie is pretty much my hero.


Sampling the local food in my Flight Jacket

There were so many different types of food I wanted to try, it was hard not to just go to every food stand and order everything. The festival also offered complimentary wine tastings of all of the wines made right in Tasmania. It was such a unique experience. The Sydney to Hobart yacht race was also happening while we were in Tasmania, so we got to see the winning yacht (USA!) cross the finish line right across from the festival.

On my last day in Tasmania, I took a tour to Freycinet National Park, home to Wineglass Bay. It was about an hour and a half from Hobart, but we stopped a number of times for sightseeing and snacks. The drive took us through breathtaking views of the countryside, vineyards, quaint little towns, and the bay.


Wildflowers in the Tasmanian countryside

When we finally arrived at the park, we headed out to hike to Wineglass Bay Lookout. It was about a 3 mile hike uphill to the lookout, with little glimpses of the bay between the trees along the way. When we finally reached the lookout, the view was breathtaking. It looked just like postcard, it was almost too beautiful to be real. The water was the most perfect shade of blue, fading to turquoise as it got closer to shore, mirroring the sky perfectly.


Hiking to Wineglass Bay

We were then given the option of driving to a few more lookouts, or hiking down to Wineglass Bay to go for a swim. The hike down to the Bay was very steep and rocky, but I knew it would be worth it. Only four of us opted to make the hike down to the bay. Since we only had 2 hours until we had to be back at the van, we started our hike right away.

After about 30 minutes of climbing down the steep, rocky slope, we finally made it to the water. Wineglass Bay is rated one of the top 10 beaches in the world, so of course I had to go for a swim. The water was freezing cold, but I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to swim in one of the best beaches in the world!


Wineglass Bay, Tasmania

After a short 30 minutes swimming, exploring, and just taking in the view of the bay, we hiked back to meet the rest of the group.  The hike back up the mountain was just as steep and rocky, and we made it back right on time.

I headed back to the ship and had one last dinner on land. I would love to go back to Tasmania some day and explore more of the island. I think the perfect way to do it would be to rent a car and drive all over the state, staying in a different city every night.

I was sad to leave Tasmania because there was still so much left to see and do, but I was excited to make our next stop in Antarctica!