Robert King’s Postcards from Tasmania – Week Two

Last week we introduced you to Australian photographer Robert King. Come along for the ride as he continues his Tassie adventure…

Beautiful walks…and wombats?

Hi from Tasmania! The wombat motif almost sums up Maria Island, just off the mid-eastern coast of Tasmania, for natural wonder and originality…if you discount the island’s fascinating history, painted cliffs and spectacular sunsets.

Getting to know Maria

Maria Island is a ferry ride from the town of Triabunna, a days drive from the Tasman Peninsula. The fabulous ferry ride is just a taste of the experience to come. The island is the traditional land of the Puthikwilayti people, who had lived there for over 40,000 years before white colonisation. It was declared a national park in 1972.

Wombat Divine

Once you land on the island you make your own way around the various walking trails. I’d heard a lot about the wombats of Maria Island and as I’d never seen a wombat in the wild, I was really excited to see some. Unfortunately for me, the day I chose to visit was so warm that most of the wombats were napping under trees and reluctant to come out and pose, even for Coastbeat – go figure. I saw a ton of Eastern Grey kangaroos, wallabies and Cape Barren geese, but the famous wombat was eluding me. I’ve heard of elusive nocturnal critters, even the legendary Tasmanian tiger, but wombats?

A close up of a wombat

If a picture paints a thousand words, how much for a cliff?

Luckily for me, Maria Island has plenty to see apart from wombats, particularly the Painted Cliffs. These island landmarks have been formed by water seeping through the sandstone, leaving swirling patterns in outrageously bright colours of cream, ochre, caramel and raspberry – delicious. After making my way past the painted cliffs, I headed down past the campsite to where I could see what looked like a few bushes moving in the wind. As I got closer I realised that they were all wombats! I really enjoyed watching them graze with a view of the island and the beach in the background. If you’re going to see the wombats you want to go early or late, and on a day that’s not too hot.

By the way, before you visit Maria Island, I’d encourage you to take the Maria Island Pledge. This place is awesome and wouldn’t it be cool if it was awesome for our grandchildren, and their grandchildren too?

Wide shot of Wineglass Bay in Tasmania

Dinner and a show

From Maria Island I travelled to Freycinet, where I did the Wineglass Bay overlook hike that evening. The hike takes about three hours and involves a fair amount of scrambling. I made the top by the end of the day, dinner safely packed in my FCS backpack, ready to enjoy the best seats in the house. Sunset over the bay was gorgeous, and the light show that followed – spectacular.

Best laid plans…

The very next morning I made my way to Bicheno, where I photographed the blowhole at sunrise. As I’ve mentioned before, capturing a sunrise in a spectacular location is always worth the early start and the Bicheno blowhole is a super easy location to get to. My plan was to wake up early to photograph the sunrise, then go looking for waves up the east coast. What do they say about plans? 

Unfortunately, I backed the camper into a tree (it wasn’t my fault – the tree moved, I swear) and was delayed. Luckily the damage was minimal, so I figured I’d get it patched up when I reached Launceston.

Relaxing in Paradise

I made it to the Bay of Fires, where I was able to photograph the red rocks that give the bay its name. The rocks are covered in orange lichens, which offer a strikingly beautiful and unique contrast to the white granite boulders of the bay. After the stress of crashing the camper (did I mention it wasn’t my fault?), I was able to find a great little wave in the National Park, so spent a relaxing few hours surfing and swimming at the beach. This was an epic afternoon.

And more relaxing…

After the Bay of Fires I went to the Tamar Valley to try some wine, all in the course of a hard day’s work for Coastbeat. My sacrifice (sacrifice…really, Rob? Really? Ed.) was blessed with one of the most epic sunsets I’ve ever experienced. It was amazing seeing the clouds glow over the farm land of the valley and I thanked whoever it was who has helped to protect this place.

Wide shot of Jacobs Ladder a winding road

Not so relaxing?

The next morning took me to the Ben Lomond National Park, where I drove the camper up Jacob’s Ladder, one of the windiest roads I’ve ever experienced. The National Parks calls it: ‘quite possibly the most hair-raising and impressive alpine road in Tasmania.’ I’m not arguing, except to say that from my experience they should include the entire world in that definition. But it was well worth it when I got to the top – how many spectacular views can a person take?

It’s been a jam-packed week to say the least, but I’m feeling…how can I put it…nourished by this amazing place. Next step is the west coast via Cradle Mountain.

Robert King