All good things must come to an end. After an incredible 10 weeks touring around New Zealand, the next phase brought us to Australia. Emer's brother, Eoin and his girlfriend Emily live in Melbourne so armed with a plan for Christmas away from home and a family reunion, we arrived to Melbourne in mid-December. Emer's sister, Caoimhe also met us there too!
Not fond of spending the next 3 weeks solely touring around the city, we all traveled to Tasmania for the week before Christmas. We rented a van (a 6 berth hotel on wheels) which was a far cry from our humble van in New Zealand and spent the next week driving around sightseeing and doing shed loads of hiking. Our first stop was Cape Hauy with it's incredible rock formations and endless views. Of course, it being Australia, on our first 20 minutes of the hike we encountered 2 venomous snakes on the trail! A scorching hot day and a great hike was all topped off with a swim once we got back to the van and our campsite beside the beach.
Cape Hauy. If you look closely you can see loads of rock climbers all along the wall!
And literally a 180 degree turn from the previous photo, this was the view!
After an unexpectedly long 5 hour drive, the next day we climbed Mt. Amos overlooking Wineglass Bay, the most famous beach in Tasmania. A very warm and overcast day meant for a very sweaty hike but the views were so worth the steep climb! No snakes today thankfully and once again we finished the day on the beach with another swim before a delicious dinner. Once the sun went down we went back down to the beach to be met with wallabies, wombats and possums! It didn't take long to start ticking off the Aussie Wildlife sightings!
Emily makes her way up Mt. Amos.
The view of Wineglass Bay from the summit of Mt. Amos. Some of the bluest water you'll ever see!
One of the very many inquisitive wallabies we saw around Tasmania.
The next day was even hotter and we decided to hike all the way down to Wineglass Bay itself to go for a swim. We knocked out the signposted 1hr 30 min walk in 40 minutes to get to the beach for some sun bathing and swimming. Even with the hot weather the water was still freezing but it was such a nice reward for the effort to get there.
The pre-swim cold water contemplation.
After a few days by the ocean we drove on a bit and went to visit Liffey Falls. A 12km narrow dirt road isn't the place to find yourself in a 5 ton camper van but there we were driving around blind corners praying we wouldn't encounter any other vehicles. Luckily our wish came through and we were able to go for a walk to the falls without issue. A beautiful lush forest led us to the falls which unfortunately were almost empty due to the dry weather.
The walk back to the car park at Liffey Falls.
After Liffey Falls we drove to our next campsite where we saw loads of kookaburra. The next day we got up extra early and made our way to Cradle Mountain National Park. Where to even begin!? At first a promising forecast turned quickly into Mordor style conditions. By the time we reached the visitor centre to get the shuttle bus to the park, the wind was howling and it had started to rain. The rangers were advising against anyone going to the summit today due to the danger of being blown off!! We changed our plan and decided to connect a few of the other lower elevation routes around the park to fill up our day.
The grey day that met us in Cradle Mountain National Park.
As we set off, the rain had stopped but the thick low cloud and crazy strong winds weren't going anywhere! We walked for about 40 minutes up to to Marions Lookout where we caught out first glimpse of Cradle Mountain. As we soaked in the views, the clouds began to clear revealing a beautiful blue sky and views for miles in every direction. As we made our way to Kitchen Hut at the foot of Cradle Mountain, we were treated to extraordinary views of the mountain right in front of us. Unfortunately the wind never died down but we kept going and completed a circuit of Dove Lake before heading back to the visitor centre that afternoon. We decided there and then that we'd be going back to Tasmania to do the Overland Track in 2021 which starts in Cradle Mountain National Park and continues for 80km through the Tasmanian countryside. The next few days were filled with more exploring, swims and Aussie wildlife before we spent our last day in Hobart exploring the city. We handed back our hotel on wheels and caught our flight back to Melbourne to prepare for Christmas!
Layers of hills as far as the eye can see!
Kitchen Hut at the base of Cradle Mountain.
Our view from the circuit around Dove Lake.
Christmas and the following week in Melbourne involved plenty of tasty food, days at the beach and water park when the heat was bearable and days spent in shopping centres and the cinema when it wasn't! 45C and 80km/hr wind (it's like a hair dryer being blown into your face!) is one type of weather I never want to relive! New Years Eve was spent playing board games and watching the fireworks from the apartment. As the bush fire smoke in Melbourne became worse we decided to get away from it and sample The Great Ocean Road on our last day. A long day in the car was topped off with stops at The 12 Apostles, a beautiful swim in the warmish water at Lorne and sightings of loads of koalas and kangaroos on our drive back to Melbourne! Another fantastic day and a great way to end the trip! We packed our bags and made our way to the airport the next morning for the long flight home!
It's been the most amazing 14 weeks on the road exploring Australia and New Zealand and it'll be very difficult to ever top it! Thankfully we had no major disasters along the way and got to see and do things we had been dreaming about for years! Since we've been home people have asked us what our favourite bit was and it's very difficult to choose a single place or activity. New Zealand blew us away with everything there was to see and do and we both know that what we experienced was only a sample of what the country has to offer. Everything about this trip exceeded our expectations. Getting away from the rat race for a few months and traveling around in a van with no responsibilities was an absolute dream come true and something we'll both miss very much! Everyone should give it a try!!
If you've made it this far, we hope you enjoyed the blog posts and photos and thank you for following our trip! Now that we're back home, there'll be plenty of Irish adventures documented on Gavin's Instagram and Facebook over the coming months! In the next few weeks, many of the best photos from the trip will be available to purchase as prints over on his website too. Check out the links below!