I visited Tasmania as part of the Behind the Scenery campaign.
Day one of my whirlwind tour of Tasmania’s North West starts in a bit of a blur, strengthened by a missed connecting flight the night before to the small, regional airport of Burnie. Luckily, Don Monk, my personal tour guide for the next three days, is there waiting for my morning arrival. After doing the somewhat awkward is-that-you glance upon scanning the faces of the small group of people at the arrival gate, we confirm that we each are who the other is expecting and make our way to his lovely 4WD plastered with the logo for his Edge of the World Locations tour business.
Immediately, that tour company name rings a bell, and as I speak to Don about why he started his business with that name, I get a little pumped. I once wrote an article on unique place names in Australia, and yes, there is actually a place that honors the name of The Edge of the World. And… guess what… Don says he’ll take me there. To The Edge of the World.
As a traveler who has a special sort of fascination with places that tend to be remote, hard to reach, less traveled and miles away from anything I might normally know or associate with life when I’m sitting behind the desk at a computer screen – the opportunity to see and sense a place that has literally been named as such sent shockwaves of excitement through my system. Give me the choice between big city and complete desolation and I’ll go with the latter, stand on the highest hill in silence and stare into the never-ending distance thinking that life, the Earth and the universe – in their element — are truly grand.
The stop wasn’t listed on my targeted itinerary. Screw the itinerary; take me there. I make my wishes clear, and Don sets off with the mission of showing me his backyard, and, as if we’d stepped into some sort of historical fiction, the most untouchable bits at the world’s edge.
Immediately, the road outside of Burnie and Wynyard – the main service towns for the regional area – displays rolling hills of green farmland and cattle land, growing everything from corn and potatoes (reminding me thoroughly of roads out in the Midwest of America) to medical grade poppies. Out the window, my eyes are met with straight lines of fields in colors of dark red dirt to electric green, while to the right we catch glimpses of the sea and it’s rocky encased beaches – both of which (rich farm and rocky shores) are a throwback to this regions volcanic history.
Somewhere in the midst of this quiet rural bliss hides Table Cape Tulip Farm (Van Diemen Quality Bulbs), the home of one of the world’s best climates for growing bulbs (tulips being key here, but also Dutch iris and illiums). We speak briefly to David, the current owner’s son, who is in a bit of a panic given we’d popped by on the busiest day of their year: the day they ship out a year’s worth of bulb orders to customers across the globe. Also sad that we missed the tulip blooming season – from late September to October – when the fields explode with color, he suggests we have a peek at the Table Cape Light House which could be described as the 2nd most unique secret spot in the area. Climb to the top of this old lighthouse to see where the farm meets the sea in a 360 degree panorama. Not quite the edge of the world, but you could have fooled me into thinking otherwise.
Our day continues with a calm journey along slow winding roads that dip into small passes of leafy, cool temperate rainforest. I am content in the passenger side of the vehicle, listening to Don tell tales of anything and everything Tasmania related (he’s already proven to be the ultimate resource) in between blasts of cool air through the window – just what is needed to offset the strong, hot Tassie sun (you’ve been warned).
“This is a really specky place,” becomes a common phrase from Don’s mouth during our 3 days together, uttered first at the Rocky Cape National Park lighthouse.
With the stop at Rocky Cape, I am certain we have crossed into places that are hours away from civilization (if only I hadn’t seen the occasional house, car, and locals who would always acknowledge and wave to our vehicle). My worries, whatever those might have been back in Sydney, seem long gone.
The first part of the day was but a taste of North West Tasmania, and speaking of taste, lunch time makes its presence known in my gurgling tummy. The best place to grab a bite in the area is Stanley; we head there for some quick grub at a local cafe, but leaving is another story. Don, having lived in Stanley for several years before, is summoned for a chat with several locals, a couple of which we stumble into on the streets.
Meet Tom and John Osborne, the father and son behind the operation of Osborne Aviation Services located right on the edge of Stanley.
Tom, a fellow American expat, quickly takes interest in my American whereabouts and before I know it, we are being invited to lunch or dinner with these kind fellows to which we sadly have to decline given our schedule.
But, I do take it upon myself to see why these guys love Tasmania so much to continue to call it home. I ask Tom to sum up Tasmania in just 3 words, to which he replies – with a force and definition no one could argue with: “Absolutely beautiful.” See, he only needed two.
The son John, Aussie born, travels a lot for the company and finds himself spending time in bigger cities in Australia and even in America. So, I want to find out what it is about Tasmania that he – a young man with a lot of travel under his belt – really appreciates and thinks is unique.
“It’s like old Sydney and Melbourne . . . It’s still a bit wild.”
Having only been in Tassie’s North West for a matter of hours at this point, I still couldn’t have agreed more with that statement. Smaller service towns populate the rural region, and I love the vibe it produces. It reminds me of driving into the Outback, only on a smaller scale.
I, however, am more interested in the wild part, and, of course, our journey to The Edge of the World now with full tummies.
Direct from Stanley, Don explains it can take a mere 45 minutes to reach the Edge of the World, but I’m lucky; we take the scenic route. My peripheral is met with more of that cool temperate rainforest famous in the Tarkine region and even some cattle crossings to make life interesting.
Before I know it, we reach the point of no return… er, the point I’d been dreaming about all day: The Edge of the World.
And it’s breathtaking.
Or, more likely breath-giving. This area of the western coast of Tasmania is scientifically proven to hold the world’s cleanest air.
Breathe that in, folks.
That fresh air just might have come to you from 22,000 kilometres away — from Patagonia to the Great Southern Ocean. Now, how is that for the universe proving it is, in its element, truly grand.
To see more of my Tasmanian photos and stories click here to view the Behind The Scenery magazine blog.