Tasmania. The name itself is enough to conjure up images of vast wilderness, ravaging devils and untamed cavemen. Tasmania has held mystique in my mind ever since I was introduced to the Tasmania Devil cartoon character as a kinderbop. In all rights, who wouldn’t be fascinated with a place that homes whirling dervish marsupials called devils?
The flight from Melbourne is an hour long puddle jump and costs a mere $50. I wondered why more Melbournians didn’t take advantage of this and jet off on Tasmanian holidays every other weekend.
I don’t have a good answer to that question. My theory is that Melbournians are afraid of Tasmanians and their mysterious land. “Oh Tassie…that’s a special place,” was the only reply I got when telling friends of my upcoming travel plans.
To put it nicely, Tasmania falls at the bottom of Australia’s socioeconomic totem pole. To put it not so nicely, as my father quoted from an Australian man on his flight to Melbourne, “ask a Tasmanian to see the scar on their neck…the one where their second head was removed at birth.” Ooh Burn. Australians have quite a cynical sense of humour.
With a population of just over 500,000 confined to a small island, I can see where the mating options may have been limited.
Now, it was time to put the rumours to the test and see if Tassie truly lived up to its reputation. The flight into Launceston (the northernmost city) landed, and Dad and I were off, after getting an unsolicited (and well appreciated) “massive rental car upgrade” from Budget.
Armed with a few road maps and absolutely no plan, we settled on a highway that meandered through some foothills to the East Coast seaport town of St. Helens. Whoever coined the term open road must have been inspired by Tasmania. The drive was exhilarating sprawling through harvested hayfields, picturesque two-shop towns and musty forests of gum trees, all the while only seeing another car every five miles or so.
By the end of our first day, I was thoroughly impressed with Tasmania. We had made it to the coastal town of St. Helens, stumbled upon possibly the tallest waterfall in Tasmania (as the sign read, they clearly don’t want to commit to anything controversial), made small talk with a general store owner, and encountered an echidna (think marsupial porcupine) crossing the road!
The vast openness of this land intrigued me and I couldn’t ignore the constant draw of the rugged wilderness.