I was really looking forward to this day of travel. After spending the last few days being cold and wet as we explored Cradle Mountain and Lake St Clair, I was relieved to wake up and see the sun shining. And today, we were going in search of waterfalls!
I made sure when planning this trip that our route back to Hobart would lead us first to Mount Field National Park with a few hours to spend walking and checking out the magnificent (and very popular) waterfalls. Russell Falls in particular is spectacular and I have seen so many photographs on Instagram that I couldn’t wait to see it for myself.
Driving through the bright green fields I was so happy to see the sun and the blue sky again. The land once again turned to farms and we drove through a combination of pine forests used for the production of timber and paper, as well as fruits, cattle and hops. We also drove through a hydro plant which shows how they generate power by the flow of the water rushing through enormous pipes down the side of a mountain. This ever changing scenery is what makes this small island state so unique, and it is just one of the things that I grew to love about it.
We arrived at Mt Field National Park at around mid-morning and set off straight away on the walk towards Russell Falls. Looking at the signs at the entry of the walk we decided to do the 6km Lady Barron Falls Circuit which would take us past the ‘big three’ waterfalls in the area and take us around 2 hours to complete.
After a short walk through the rainforest we came face to face with the giant 3 tiered cascading waterfall that is Russell Falls. I can see why this is so popular. It was incredible and so easily accessible!
Next it was time to walk up ALL THE STAIRS to get to the top of the falls. The top of the falls is just an innocent little stream which you wouldn’t expect to have such a giant and powerful drop at the end. It just does not make sense to me how it can consistently produce enough water for how extreme those falls are, but I guess that is one of nature’s little curiosities!
We then continued along the path towards Horseshoe falls, which I had been almost more excited to see. While not as amazing as I had thought (I think I was still overly impressed with how giant Russell Falls was) it was still so nice to sit and have a snack listening to nothing but the sound of the water rushing over the rocks.
We continued along our walk, enjoying the warmth of the sun that we had come to miss over the past few days. We walked through some true giants of nature. Trees that continued high into the sky, all as we walked along a path that lead us up and down and over a rushing creek before finally arriving at Lady Barron Falls.
To be honest I really had not heard of this one. I think it must be because it is just that bit further away from the other two therefore not as easily accessible. It was definitely worth the extra few kms as once again the recent rain treated us to a powerful rushing waterfall. I never get sick of seeing a waterfall, and I am so glad we made this detour. I love when things just exceed your expectations!
On our drive we had passed a sign which said ‘Salmon Ponds’. Obviously this was something that would interest Jarryd, so quickly checking online that they served lunch we decided to make our way back to Hobart with a quick detour to check out the fish! After lunch we went for a walk around the ponds ready to feed the fish and take a look at the different species. We enjoyed the quiet stroll through the pristine grounds, occasionally throwing handfuls of food into the water and watching the colourful fish jump and splash out of the water.
We jumped back in the car and continued the drive along the Derwent River into Hobart to meet our host at an Airbnb apartment (use this link to get $50 off your first Airbnb stay) which we would call home for the next 2 nights. Our host gave us some great tips on places to eat and drink, so it wasn’t long before we wandered down the road into the heart of North Hobart in search of a place to unwind.
After sampling some of Hobart’s craft beer (there are sooo many places) we enjoyed a big, rich, Italian dinner. One thing I didn’t expect from Hobart is that dinner reservations on a Friday and Saturday night are essential. Over dinner we discussed the mornings plan of heading up to the top of kunanyi/Mt Wellington (kunanyi being the traditional Aboriginal name for the mountain) to check out those crazy views for ourselves.
With a brisk start to the morning, we rugged up and headed outside first in search of breakfast. I wanted to try a place I had read about which was just down the road from our Airbnb in North Hobart. As we walked towards Berta, warming our hands in our pockets, we glanced at the dominating kunanyi/Mt Wellington that was watching over the city. It was snow capped! It certainly wasn’t like that we we arrived the day before, which meant all that snow had fallen overnight. We were certain that the roads would be closed. A quick phone call confirmed that yes, due to snow and ice the road to the summit was closed. If we had only gone the afternoon before when we arrived!
Pretty devastated by the derailing of my plan, we debated over breakfast what we should do. Jarryd ended up finding a bus services that runs twice a day in the afternoon to the top of the mountain. The lady on the phone was pretty sure the road would open by then although the weather is always pretty unpredictable. We decided to book our seats just incase as it would be worth the money to not have to worry about driving a hire car up a narrow, icy road, particularly because it wasn’t insured above 800metres (something they neglected to tell us when I booked).
With nothing to do now until the afternoon we decided, with much hesitation, to check out the very famous Salamanca Markets as it was Saturday. After nearly giving up on finding a park, we finally got one and ventured into the market. Now I have been to a lot of markets in my life, and while I usually like to wander, I do not like the way markets have turned from unique, individual stalls with people showcasing their passions, to mass produced, tourist orientated souvenirs. This market, was both. If I hadn’t had a huge breakfast and could have eaten some of the food, I think that would have made it more enjoyable because there was A LOT of food available. I don’t like crowds so this really was not a place I should have gone. However I did walk away with a cute pair of handmade clay earrings which made my market visit worthwhile. If you like markets, check them out, but if you don’t like the local market down the road on Sunday’s, don’t expect this one to be any different.
After the market is was time to jump on our bus and head up the mountain. As I gave the driver our money I asked if the road was now open. He said yes, but who knows what will happen in the 20 minutes it takes us to drive there. Not feeling very comforted that we would get the view I wanted, we boarded the bus and began our journey.
Now I knew that it is always roughly 10 degrees colder at the summit of kunanyi/Mt Wellington than it is in Hobart, and I could see the snow sitting on top so I was fairly prepared for the cold. I had my warmest jumper on and my waterproof jacket and hiking boots.
I was not prepared.
As we made our way up the mountain we began to see the landscape change around us. The blue sky became grey, and the ground was scattered with snow. Visibility was very minimal. The entire drive our driver was talking about the conditions, trying to make us realise what was going on outside. I don’t really think anyone was paying attention though.
When we arrived at the summit we could tell it was windy, and we expected it to be cold, so with my jacket on but not yet done up I jumped off the bus. I nearly blew down. 100km winds (I found out once I was back on the bus) were blowing, preventing me from being able to do up my jacket, from being able to move and walk properly, and even to breathe. As fast as we could we headed to the enclosed lookout area to seek shelter from the harsh conditions. I was pretty sure I would just stay in there for the 30 minutes we had before the bus returned. Visibility was about zero so it wouldn’t matter anyway.
Just like that the clouds cleared. They moved so fast that they literally all just parted and moved away and we saw the view. And then it got clearer. I needed to take this opportunity to get at least a couple of photos! With both the hood from my jacket and my jumper on, and my camera secured (very) firmly around my neck, we braved the icy conditions again.
I could barely stand up to take photos. Jarryd had to hold me as I walked to the edge of the standard railing as I still felt as though I didn’t have my feet firmly on the ground. My hands were numb, and each time I turned to face the wind it would knock the breath out of me. Having had enough, we slowing made our way back to the bus against the wind.
Just as we were about to get on the bus Jarryd yells over to me, “I’m going to the Pinnacle are you coming?” I turned around and got a face full of snow – yes, it had started snowing. I promptly said no and attempted to get on the bus without being blown down. The Pinnacle is a metal rod at the top of a pile of rocks that marks the highest point of kunanyi/Mt Wellington (and is situated in the middle of the carpark). In the hectic snow and wind, Jarryd did scramble up, didn’t fall down (thank goodness) and after a celebratory fist pump, made his way back to the bus where we had all been cheering the crazy dude on.
As we started driving down, the weather ramped up and it looked as though we were in a blizzard as it was white in every direction. Weather reports are transmitted in real time from the top of kunanyi/Mt Wellington and our driver was happy to share with us not only the wind speed, but the temperature which was -1C but felt like -18C due to the wind. It was pretty cold.
The shock of arriving back in Hobart, a good 10 degrees warmer with sunny blue skies was a bit too weird, and I was still freezing. It was also 3pm and due to the large breakfast we hadn’t had lunch. There was only one option – Ramen. It was perfect.
We had a little bit of a walk around the harbour at Hobart while the sun set as we were waiting for our late dinner reservation at the Drunken Admiral. It was an interesting place, insanely decorated with every bit of nautical and fishing related item. There were even boats that were chairs! I probably wouldn’t return for the food, but it was a pretty interesting place.
Overall Hobart confused me a little. I think it was my least favourite place from our trip but there are little things that I think could make me return. The weather however, is not one of them!
Here are the most asked questions from my Tasmanian road trip, and my answers. Please let me know if you have any others!
What was your favourite place?
I absolutely adored the East Coast. I really enjoyed St Helens as it was a pretty chilled town and there seemed to be so many interesting places nearby. Freycient National Park though I think would have to be the winner. While I wasn’t a big fan of the town of Coles Bay, the area is crazy pretty. I want to come back here and spend longer exploring it more.
How was the food?
I was actually slightly disappointed. I had this expectation of ridiculously fresh seafood and produce that just jumped off the plate but I found we ended up eating a lot of carb heavy foods like burgers and chips. The best meal by far was at Mohr & Smith at St Helens as it ticked all the boxes – local produce, fresh and delicious! I think the fact we stayed in some places that didn’t really have many food options, such as Coles Bay & Lake St Clair played some part however I was pretty disappointed by the quality of the seafood in Hobart. I would love to go back and try a bit harder to follow the food trails and experience it a bit more, because the tastes we had were pretty darn good!
Did you hire a car?
We sure did! 100% best way to do it. I don’t even know what public transport, if any, exists. We hired through Red Spot and they were really easy to deal with. The car was comfortable and so cheap on fuel! I do think you need a car to truly see Tasmania. I just loved the freedom it gave us to stop when we saw something interesting and to easily change our plans or our route to check out something we hadn’t before heard of.
Read more from my Tasmanian Road Trip: