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Cradle Mountain trail

Moody Cradle Mountain

The weather forecast didn’t look great.

While the sun was shining brightly in Launceston as we walked to the car, I knew that things would be different 200km to the west. The area around Tasmania’s Cradle Mountain is renowned for having highly changeable weather, and even though it was the middle of summer, and I’d had great weather on my last visit, expectations weren’t high.

Those expectations were right.

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Beach enroute to Bicheno

Tasmania’s incredible east coast beaches

When most overseas visitors think of Australia, one thing springs immediately to mind.

Beaches.

Tourism Australia spends millions on cultivating the country’s image as the home of pristine patches of sand, and with good reason. There are a lot of great beaches around the edge of that enormous country.

I’m embarrassed to say, though, that before visiting Tasmania I had no idea that some of the best stretches of that sand lay in that island state. As soon as I started driving up the east coast, mile upon mile of deserted coastline stretched before me with barely another person on it.

Last time I was there, the weather didn’t always play its part – the beaches were still beautiful, but rain and wind often meant that I didn’t spend much time exploring them. On this visit, however, the weather gods played their part and I was blessed with blue skies from start to finish.

Finally, then, I could get the photos I was hoping for. Here are a dozen of my favourites.

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Bloated car, MONA

Hobart, you’re a great little city

I’ve got a soft spot for Tasmania.

Maybe it’s because the scenery and weather remind me a lot of New Zealand – rolling hills, rain forests and an unpredictable climate.

Maybe it’s because, like New Zealanders, people from the Apple Isle get a lot of grief from the rest of Australia. Whether it’s supposed relationships with their cousins (Tasmanians) or sheep (Kiwis), those sophisticated folk on the mainland are never short of something to say about their island neighbours.

Maybe it’s just because I love empty roads and deserted beaches, and Tasmania has those in abundance.

Whatever the reason, I had a wonderful time in Australia’s smallest state a few years ago and was very excited to head back.

And then I almost didn’t.

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Beauty in the Blue Mountains

It was a long way from Port Macquarie to Katoomba.

Now that wasn’t a surprise – in a place like Australia, it’s usually a long way to anywhere. Any country that can measure driving times in days isn’t exactly small.

Even with only a short stop for lunch in the small town of Morisset (highlight: explaining the concept of coin-operated barbeques as we sat on a park bench), it was still late afternoon by the time we pulled up outside the Katoomba Mountain Lodge.

Katoomba is the biggest of several towns in the Blue Mountains, but most of the accommodation, restaurants and bars sit in a compact area that’s easily walkable. After several hours behind the wheel, that was fortunate – I wasn’t in a hurry to drive anywhere else.

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Kangaroo

Hello, Australia!

It was as if the travel gods were trying to tell us something.

We really hadn’t wanted to leave Saigon. We were tired after an epic scooter trip around the Mekong Delta, and with a few friends recently arrived in town, we would happily have stayed in Vietnam for several months more.

Still, onwards we had to go – in this case, to Australia’s Gold Coast via Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.

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The Friday Photo #145 – Wineglass Bay, redux

Three years ago I went to Tasmania for the first time. It was a wonderful experience, finding a part of Australia that felt a lot more like New Zealand than any other part of that big, dry continent … but that included the weather.

While I generally had at least watery sunshine for most of my trip, the day I went to Wineglass Bay was a lot more water than sunshine. It had rained heavily overnight, and the clouds and heavy showers followed me up the coast as I headed towards Wineglass Bay. I enjoyed the four hour hike in and back out immensely, but my photos of the bay were terrible.

This time around, it was nothing but bright sunshine and blue sky all day.

Hotter and sweatier, perhaps, but it definitely made for better pictures.

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Birds on the rocks, Hobart

The Friday Photo #144 – Birds on the rocks in Hobart

While wandering rather aimlessly around Hobart’s main port area earlier this week, I came across these two perfectly placed birds gazing out across the water towards the approaching rain clouds.

A little too perfectly, of course, because these two birds didn’t just happen to be standing there waiting for my picture. They were sculptures, part of a group with several other examples of the local Tasmanian sea life.

Still, either way they made for a good photo opportunity prior to turning around and trying to find a cosy cafe to shelter in before the rain arrived.

I failed.

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The Friday Photo #143 – Looking down the Yarra

I’m back in Melbourne at the moment, chilling out for a couple of weeks with my family and enjoying approximately 14 cuddles per second from my little nephew.

On New Year’s Eve I went for a walk around the city for hours, occasionally stopping for a drink at riverside bars but generally just enjoying wandering around my old haunts. I had nowhere in particular to be at that time, in that place, on that beautifully sunny day, and that was just how things needed to be..

On days like this, it is almost impossible not to love Melbourne. I didn’t even try to resist.

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