Tasmania: the air down there (Part III)

Tales from my feet

WE WOKE up to a day that had us venturing out into the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area for a couple of short walks that would allow us to experience what it was like to be in its midst, so removed from the modern trappings of our daily life.

Our guide picked us up on time. When we entered the van, we were caught by surprise because we had five guides with us! Apparently, we were the only ones who had signed up for this particular tour, so the agency decided to use the opportunity for our experienced guide to train the newer ones.

Our first stop was an introduction to Tasmania’s hydroelectric history, which dates as far back as the 1930s in this town called Tarraleah, where pioneering man-made feats of human engineering resulted in the creation of two, first-ever power stations that used the hydroelectric scheme. To have created all of this more than 80 years ago really amazed us that it was so interesting to hear how it all came to be.

Upon arriving at Lake St. Clair (local name Leeawulenna), it started to rain. Then came the howling wind. We had not yet begun our hike and we were already cold and shivering, but we marched on, completing our first walk of the day in less than an hour. We had a quick lunch at the visitor center and proceeded westward to enter the Franklin Gordon Wild Rivers National Park. This was already within the World Heritage Wilderness Area so Clint, our guide, did his best to explain to us the qualities of various florae we encountered on our path. He was the perfect host for this park, which he loved, taking the time to point out things that seemed ordinary to the untrained eye, but turned out to be quite interesting. He also shared with us events in history that played out on the river, whose impact will be felt by generations to come.

And just when we thought we were done for the day, we made one last stop to hike up to Donaghys Hill Lookout. What was supposed to be an easy three-kilometer walk was made more challenging by the fact that it was raining hard, making the path quite slippery, but it was so enjoyable for me – to be walking in the rain in a rainforest. I had never felt as one with nature as I did while doing this, especially since Clint had told us at the start of the trail that the area was wilderness in the literal meaning – untouched territory. There was no electricity, our phones lost their signal, and our reward was the view when we finally got to the top. Three hundred sixty degree views of mountain ranges, rivers, forests comprising 30,000 years of Aboriginal history was right before our eyes! It was humbling – to say the least –I felt so honored to be on such hallowed ground.

We headed back to Hobart thankful that we got to experience what we did in the best way possible. If you ever find yourself in Tasmania one of these days, they have 60 Great Short Walks to choose from. We did three this day and wanted to do more.


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