Petra O'Neill joins Coral Expeditions for a 10-day hiking/sailing adventure in Tasmania.
My adventure began the moment I boarded Coral Expeditions’ Coral Discoverer from Hobart’s Sullivan’s Cove. For the next 11 days, I’d be indulging my senses, as we cruised along the coastline, taking in the sights and sounds of Southern Tasmania, and learning about the wealth of its natural history, shared each night by our on-board lecturers.
Day 2: Bruny Island Bruny Island caters to multiple hiking abilities, with many walking-track options, from undulating to strenuous. Arriving by tender boat at Adventure Bay, we hiked to Green Point along a track that hugs the coastline, lined with sedgy grass, yellow banksias and she oaks.
At Green Point we joined the Fluted Cape track, the landscape becoming more dramatic, with waves swirling and pounding against the sheer dolerite cliffs below.
Day 3: Cape Hauy Cape Hauy forms part of the spectacular Three Capes Track that takes in tall eucalypt forests, coastal heath and Australia’s highest sea cliffs. Commencing at Fortescue Bay, the track is well constructed, made from cut stone and compacted gravel. Easy and flat to begin with, the track then dips like a rollercoaster before snaking between imposing cliffs, towards the famous dolerite stacks known as the Candlestick and Totem Pole, which soar 300m above the ocean below.
Days 4-5: Port Davey and Bathurst Harbour After cruising along narrow waterways by tender boat, we arrived at Melaleuca Inlet. Here we followed the Needwonnee interpretative walk alongside a forest and lagoon, the stories unfolding through installations of shelters, fish traps and other ways of life of the indigenous tribe that once lived here.
That afternoon we muddied our boots, arriving at Clayton’s Corner for a hike through damp forest and boggy grassland to the top of Mount Beattie.
Days 6-7: Freycinet National Park This panoramic coastline is dotted with white sandy beaches, turquoise waters and sits against a backdrop of dramatic granite peaks that make up the Hazards range. From Hazards Bay, we followed the marshy Isthmus track past a lagoon, with loud croaking frogs to picturesque Wineglass Bay. This is a well made but challenging track with over 500 steps leads through a forest of eucalypts, tea trees, she oaks and banksias to Wineglass Bay lookout.
The next day we arrived on tiny Schouten Island. As we walked onto the beach at Crocketts Bay, it wasn't sand we were walking on but fragments of oyster shells, given the area is abundant with shellfish.
Days 8-9: Maria Island The island is home to an abundance of wildlife, such as curious Bennett’s wallabies, wombats and Tasmanian Devils, and is also rich in geological and convict history. As we made our way from the jetty on day 8, we passed the Commissariat store built in 1825, to the former penal colony of Darlington of red brick and whitewashed buildings dating back to the convict era.
We capped off the day cruising past the jagged twin peaks of Bishop and Clerk, named because of the resemblance to a Bishop wearing a mitre, closely followed by a clergyman, which we’d walk to the following day.
Easy to begin, with flat open grassland, the Bishop and Clerk walking track then alternates between flat and uphill sections. Sheer cliffs rise from the rocky shoreline as the twin peaks come into view. The views across to the islands and the Freycinet Peninsula are breathtaking.
Day 10-11 Our final day was the most relaxing, with a leisurely cruise by tender boat past small islands, including ‘Isle of the dead’ followed by a tour of the former convict settlement of Port Arthur. To celebrate our final night, we enjoyed canapés and farewell drinks followed by a roast dinner of scotch fillet, roast lamb and pork shoulder that surpassed the delicious locally sourced food that had been showcased so far.
For more info click here.