Before leaving Hobart, we hopped into a rented car and drove straight West of Hobart to see what there was to see. If you look at a map of Tasmania, the whole of the SouthWest corner is a dark green, with almost no roads and riddled with many river lines and ranges. Accross it is the label "Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area" (1). And that's where I wanted to get to. First stop was a wildlife rehabilitation sanctuary, where we got to watch a wild platypus swimming free in a nearby river, found that Tasmanian Devils are so much more cuter in real life, and sadly learnt that the Tasmanian Devil is declining by 50% in population over the last years, due to a cancer that could be linked to fire retardant used in the area. I don't know if it's anything to do with the fact that the forestry dep. has to combat rampant bushfires that are lit in State Forest in Tassie every Summer by bored and stupid teenagers. There was a week in December when we came to work and found the whole city down to the harbour, filled with smokey air and lit with a grey-orange tinge from one such fire.
Second stop was the Mount Field National Park where we bought a park pass and got carried away doing one after another walks in the mossy forrest and waterfalls, getting back to the car 1.5 hour later than planned, and then drove all the way to the top of the mountain on a narrow and unsealed super-windy road, round and round, goign through amazing vegetation changes. Starting off with thick mossy prehistoric looking fern cover, to decomposing bracken and brown viney trees, to masses of white skeletal gum trees and silouettes by the time we were almost at the top.
Then we began the journey into the deep of the West of Tasmania. We drove through the Styx valley and made a small diversion into the heart of it, where we could see the tallest hardwood trees in the world. The landscape was old and immense and beautiful. We saw walk cabins far off in the distance near more mountains, that I made a mental note to come back to one day if I ever wanted to trully getaway.
We drove until the sun dipped, and kept going, and we were the only car on the road for more than 4 hours now, and the road had gotten more unkept, and looked smaller, although it stretched out on and on in front for miles into the west. We were surrounded by mountain peaks that were far away, but so ancient that we could feel it's immensity as we saw the fading light touch them. We stopped at a poorly marked resevoir area that I can't locate on the map again (these are the best places to find in travels!), and Tim took a perfect photo of it from a point where I think we weren't meant to climb past.
Onwards we drove, and the old trees and plants all around us, looked and felt so QUIET and awesome as it surrounded us. It's hard to describe this Heritage Wilderness. Why its so different to National Park Forest, as beautiful as they are, this is distinctly different, and goes beyond that simple beauty, it goes into grandiosity. It's like nothing I've seen or felt. Maybe we were just lucky, that it was now dusk, and there were rows of clouds straddling the sky so that not only was the sky a brilliant orange and creamy blue-yellow, but there was neon pinks and fleurescent orange, creating this amazing light through the silent trees and dinosaur plants around us. I looked over to Tim and could not wipe the grin off my face I felt so happy. If I were to die then and see no more, I'd be truly happy. That is how amazing it was. I have seen many awesome things hiking in New Zealand for 30days, but this was MAJESTIC. Nothing else can describe it. Both our cameras ran out of batteries by then, but I think I wouldn't have even been able to capture what we saw and felt. It was humbling, it was inspiring, it gave awesome perspective, and it was the most Majestic thing I have ever seen.
We drove until there was no light and made it as far as seeing Lake Gordon, which was in the heart of this Wilderness World Heritage Forest from a hazy lookout point.
footnote (1): 1 of only 16 places in Australia that has been inscribed on the World Heritage List.