Friday Foto: Blyde River Canyon

Three Rondavels

How long is a piece of string? How large is a canyon?

Visit almost any great or grand canyon in the world and there’ll be some kind of chest-beating claim about its size. It’ll be the largest in the world, or on the continent, or its depth will be compared to the Grand Canyon since we’re all desperate to know how it measures up against the most famous slot of all. Continue reading

Friday Foto: Three Hummock Island

Three Hummock

Every adventure deserves a cosy cave in which to recuperate at the end, and few places stand more enticingly off the modern grid than Three Hummock Island.

Pinched between King Island and the northwest tip of Tasmania, in the wild waters of Bass Strait, it plays to the notion of the deserted island that sits deep in the travel psyche. Only its two managers, John and Beverley O’Brien, live on the 70-square-kilometre island, surrounded by dense mobs of kangaroos and squadrons of Cape Barren geese. One night I bumped – literally – into a little penguin wandering past my room. Planes land in a propeller-churned flurry of feathers and roo poo in a former paddock, and 30 empty beaches ring its edge, all lined with bouldery headlands.

It’s a place that inspired a rather famous Italian named Guiseppe Garibaldi to quixotically write: ‘O desert island of the Hunter Group – how many times have you pleasantly excited my imagination. When tired of this civilized society, so full of tyrants and gendarmes, I have often transported myself in my imagination into your gracious bosom.’

Last week I spent a few days on the island and, to me, you can keep the likes of Bermuda, Boracay or the Maldives. I’ll take the wildlife, vast night skies and utter solitude of Three Hummock Island any time.

Friday Foto: Mt Anne, a great Abel

Anne2

Far-reaching mountain quests – aka peak bagging – are universal. Scotland famously has its Munros (mountains above 3000 metres in height), Colorado has its 14ers (peaks above 14,000 feet) and Japan has its 100 Famous Mountains. Even tiny Tasmania has a stake in this world of mountain missions, with its own list of chart-topping peaks known as the Abels. Continue reading

Friday Foto: Mt Roland

View along the summit plateau of Mt Roland, Tasmania

Think of great mountains across northern Tasmania and most people think only of Cradle Mountain. But to reach Cradle Mountain, you invariably drive past another imposing and isolated line of rock that is the breastplate of Mt Roland, a mountain that’s arguably the equal of its more famous neighbour.

To most who drive through here, Mt Roland is just windscreen scenery, a moment of ‘I wonder what that mountain is called’, before it’s forgotten in the quest to reach Dove Lake and Cradle Mountain. Continue reading

Friday Foto: The Wombat that Crashed

Wombat

Narawntapu National Park is rather fancifully known as the ‘Serengeti of Tasmania’ for the profusion of its wildlife. The critters in this park on Tasmania’s north coast, once known less romantically as Asbestos Range National Park, aren’t lions or elephants, but most commonly wallabies and wombats that browse each dawn and dusk through its open, grassy plains.

A few days ago, approaching dusk, I lay in the grass and flowers observing this wombat, one of around half-a-dozen that were in sight. I lay still for so long that the wombat eventually forgot I was there. As it grazed, it moved to within a metre of where I lay, the sound of the tearing grass growing louder as it came. Something happened, something outside of the wombat and me – a twitch in the wind? the distant movement of a wallaby? – and the wombat bolted. It did so without looking up and, before I had a chance to move, it ran headlong into my camera and my shoulder.

I’d been attacked (of sorts) in the Serengeti and I lived to tell the tale…

Friday Foto: Wallaby Bay, Tasmania

Wallaby Bay

I spent most of last week hidden from the world, kayaking on the waters of Bathurst Harbour and Port Davey in Tasmania’s World Heritage-listed Southwest wilderness. It wasn’t the first time I’d paddled here, but familiarity did nothing to blunt the impact of this utterly wild area. A second time here is effectively twice as good. Continue reading

Friday Foto: Tunnel Bay

Tunnel Bay

Often the finest discoveries you make in the outdoors are the ones close to home that you didn’t know existed. Two days ago I ventured to the Tasman Peninsula in Tasmania’s southeast, a filament of land best known for its convict history, though among the climbing and surfing fraternity it’s also an undisputed adventure icon. Continue reading

Friday Foto: Polynesian Strength

photo-5

The human spirit is so much stronger than even the toughest body. This photo is of Thomas Wynne, one of the crew members on the Marumaru Atua vaka – a traditional Cook Islands canoe – on which I sailed last week. A giant of a man, he’s also one of the nicest blokes you’d meet. A counsellor at a Rarotonga school with that uniquely Polynesian ability to make tattoos look natural and right, he was struck by the sailing and vaka life after a fleet of seven vakas sailed around the Pacific Ocean in 2011 and 2012. Quickly after, he signed on to crew on local voyages. Continue reading

Top 10 Mountain Treks: (#3) Torres del Paine

I’m getting towards the pointy end of my list of favourite mountain treks…and quite literally with this entry. Chile’s multi-pronged Torres del Paine are one of South America’s pin-up images, with the massif’s sharp peaks rising as bent and broken as a fisherman’s fingers. Continue reading

Friday Foto: Friendly Beaches

Friendly Beaches

The ocean has figured heavily in my life this week. Two nights ago I was sleeping beside it, on the wonderfully named Friendly Beaches (above) on Tasmania’s Freycinet Peninsula, sleeping like I haven’t slept in weeks, lulled by rhythm of the waves and the sea. Continue reading