Heading to a new destination usually involves imagining what it will be like. Frequently, those visions are based on photos, movies, and television shows you’ve seen from that locale. Which means I was very confused when attempting to envision Tasmania, since my only reference was Bugs Bunny.
What we found on this Australian island was different than anything I could’ve pictured even if I went beyond the Tasmanian Devil.
We flew into Hobart, rented a car, and drove to Orana House, our charming bed-and-breakfast on Lindisfarne Bay. Eager to explore Australia’s second-oldest capital and former penal colony, we woke early and hit the road.
Our first destination was Mount Field National Park, home to Tasmanian devils, wombats, platypuses, furry pademelons, and 11 of Tasmania’s 12 endemic birds. It was just over an hour’s drive, and the scenery along the way was nothing short of breathtaking.
There were several times we would’ve sworn we were in the rolling hills of Tuscany, with their hedgerows of towering cypress trees and lush fields and orchards.
The landscape was so idyllic that one stretch of the countryside was closed off and heavily guarded, since it was the site of an active film production, which will undoubtedly be as beautiful as Under the Tuscan Sun.
Entering Mount Field National Park felt as comfortable as walking through the front door of America’s best-kept national parks. The visitor center had fascinating information about the flora and fauna of the region, as well as a top-notch gallery of paintings and fine art photography.
We were delighted to learn that Mount Field is also wheelchair accessible. The main path to the iconic Russell Falls is an easily-navigated, paved and planked course that enables visitors of all abilities to enjoy the natural wonders.
Venturing further into the woods, we were quickly reminded of the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Verdant moss, along with enormous fern trees that felt straight out of Jurassic Park, lined the forest floor beneath hundreds of 300-foot-tall (92 m) swamp gum trees (Eucalyptus regnan). The world’s largest, known as Centurion, is 330 feet (100.5 m) tall, and these trees are second in height only to California’s redwoods.
Russell Falls, Horseshoe Falls, and Lady Barron Falls were the icing on the cake of a fantastic day of hiking.
On the other side of Tasmania, we toured past the original penal colony and ventured toward the Devils’ Kitchen with its stunning natural sea window. The waves breaking through it were reminiscent of the Durdle Door on England’s Jurassic Coast.
Just down the road are the striking Fossil Bay and Fossil Cliffs, which bear a bit of a resemblance to the Cliffs of Insanity in The Princess Bride. When the tide is out, it’s a lovely little cove. But when the tide is in, the landscape feels much more dramatic with the Tasman Blowhole in full, salty force.
Returning to Hobart and Lindisfarne Bay, we had another chance to enjoy Tasmanian farmland that could’ve doubled for the pastoral vineyards of France. However, these farmers weren’t always growing grapes. It was sometimes hops, tended by wooly sheep that reminded us of their brothers and sisters in the Faroe Islands.
We were blown away by the beauty of Tasmania and by the feeling that it was our kind of place. With incredible national parks, rugged coastline, tranquil beaches, bountiful farmland, and a full four seasons, it has a wide range of outdoor pleasures. In fact, it’s earned a spot on our list of potential new homes, and we can’t wait for our next visit.