Although this is my third visit to Tasmania (from the UK), I had never heard of the Tasmanian Trail until my brother-in-law Art suggested a three-day hike along the most southerly section. We started just outside Judbury, watched by a couple of wallabies as we swung out on the slowly rising track through mixed forest.
The Trail is clearly a well-kept secret, as the only other people we met on the track were three cyclists who caught up with us on a long uphill stretch, and walked alongside chatting as we passed between towering eucalypts. One monster had fallen across the track, and to negotiate it we had to scramble right through the middle of the giant trunk.
That afternoon the track emerged from the forest and we strode down gentle country roads into Geeveston, hoping for a teatime treat. Although the ‘Bears’ cafe was just closing, they took pity and fed us tea and delicious homemade cake. We pitched our tents in the ‘Heritage Park’ by the river, then wandered along to the ‘One Stop’ shop, a quirky Turkish restaurant where we tucked into Moo Brew and a tasty pide big enough to feed a family.
Geeveston has many attractions, but for us the highlight was what we spotted as we strolled back along the river – two platypus paddling and diving in their pool, quite unconcerned by our presence. This was a first for me, and also for an excited Australian visitor who stood beside us on the bridge, exclaiming into his phone “No honestly, I’m looking at them right now!”.
A dawn departure followed by porridge and tea brewed on the slopes overlooking Geeveston gave us a perfect start to the day, though we faced a long haul until we finally reached Swearing Bobs Plain, where plantation forest gave way to open scrub and graveled road turned to rough sandstone track. How much swearing was involved, we wondered, for Bob to earn his nickname?
Our second night was spent at Esperance River campsite, where we cooked up a curry sitting alongside the pools and cascades of this delightful spot, and watched a flame robin darting in and out of the bushes. The next day we walked down into Dover, happy to discover that the local RSL offered meals, seven days a week, with panoramic views of the turquoise waters of Esperance Bay.
The Tasmanian Trail was originally established for horse riders, so the sections are quite long. This makes it suitable for seasoned walkers, and perfect for cyclists who fancy bowling along the forest tracks taking time to enjoy the scenery and wildlife without the risk of blisters!
Words & Images: Sarah North
More information: http://www.tasmaniantrail.com.au/