Thursday, 10 January 2008

The giant’s garden in Tasmania

I was exhausted, sore and desperately needed a shower.

But I also felt alive and strangely refreshed.

I had never done anything like this before. Throwing on big backpack and hiking in nature.

Being completely self-sufficient, relying only on what I can physically carry.

Pitching a tent virtually anywhere I wanted and setting up camp for the night.

I had just undertaken a three day hike into the Walls of Jerusalem National Park in Tasmania, an hour or so drive from Launceston airport.

For a girl who grew up in the city and worked in an office, heading into the Australian bush was an experience I would never forget.

I was afraid I would get gnawed on by a Tasmanian Devil, or even worse, be the one to discover that the Tasmanian Tiger isn’t extinct, by being eaten by one!

I consoled myself that at least I was on the hike with a friend who lived and breathed outdoor adventure and would most likely wrestle the thylacine away from me if that happened.

Unfortunately, my introduction to the hike was far from pleasant. The first morning was pure agony. The two kilometres of gradual uphill nearly killed me. After all, my only form of training for the hike was sporadic visits to the gym.

But everything changed when we emerged from the dense forests into a clearing.

The beauty of my surroundings hushed my voice but awakened my senses. The bright green of the grass,

the brilliant blue of the sky, the many clear trickling streams and the fresh mountain air caused me to wonder if I had stumbled into an artist’s painting.

There were moments when I felt like Jack in Jack and the Beanstalk, trespassing and exploring the giant’s magnificent garden.

All around me were trees and scrubs, some that I hadn’t seen before.

There was a sort of random order about the place. The cobalt blue lakes sparkled to my left,

the rocky peaks of the Walls towered over me on my right

and the scattering of pine and gum trees all around me made me feel as if, like Jack, I had entered a place I really shouldn’t, but it continued to draw me on because of its promise of more beauty.

We spent three days and two nights in the National Park, hiking, strolling, laughing, panting and simply soaking up the awesome beauty of a place relatively untouched by man.

Three days I will not forget in a hurry.

This is the second time that I’ve visited Tasmania, but I don’t think it will ever be the last. The beauty of the island continues to call out to me. The friendliness of the people will never fail to make me feel welcome. The amazingly sweet supply of fresh cherries, raspberries, nectarines and apricots available for purchase right by the road during summer will always be a drawcard.

Of course, there are also plenty of other hikes to conquer.

1 February 2010 update: This article has been published!

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