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Route: Parking Lot –> Swing Bridge –> Series of Mini Waterfalls –> Elevated Track –> Lake Marian –> And Back
Total Distance: 2.4 km (1.5 miles)
Average Walk Time:

~ 4 hours or slightly less

(with plenty of time to take great shots, light snacking & a quick swim)

Seasonal Restrictions: Do not walk around the edge of the lake during the snow/avalanche season (winter and spring)
Difficulty: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
Scenery: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

How to get there? 

Highlights and Views 

TIPS? 

Well, I reckoned New Zealand needs no prelude whatsoever. Everything about it just never stops to inspire me in a frivolous way. And it was probably the first time I jaunted through trails and treks every other day for a month until my feet got sore and blistered. I would imagine this to be otherwise for anyone else. So yes, a weakling I was?

But it was all worth every drop of sweat to climb. It was all worth every minor or major slipups along the way. And it was all definitely worth (at times) sacrificing sleep for the enthralling views that time sleeping will never give. Lake Marian is imperatively impeccable, and I would recommend this trek to anyone, that is without a doubt!

The closest town to Lake Marian would be Te Anau. It is also the closest town to the famous Milford Sound attraction in the South Island of New Zealand. Te Anau is a quiet, humble little town, with quite a selection of restaurants and smaller eateries. A nice place to be away from the buzz of city life, and still be able to enjoy amenities of excellent food, accommodation and at the same time satisfying those basic grocery needs.

 

How to get there?

Though Te Anau township is the closest to Lake Marian, the drive was still quite a far bit long from our accommodation at Kingsgate Hotel Te Anau near the town centre. A straightforward driving route on the main Te Anau-Milford Highway 94 would basically take you there in approximately 1 hr 20 mins.

Just remember to make a turn right soon after Pop’s View lookout, onto Hollyford Track when you see the signage ‘Lower Hollyford’, otherwise, you would be on your merry way to Milford Sound, which is also not a bad option. Haha!

Drive down about 1 km on the unsealed gravelled Hollyford Track a.k.a Hollyford Road and you would reach the Lake Marian carpark!

 

Highlights and Views

1. Swing Bridge

The start of the trek to Lake Marian requires the crossing of the swing bridge which hovered above the Hollyford River (Whakatapu Ka Tuku). The river was in its clear refreshing blue and the sounds of the waters crashing against the rocks as it rushed down with gravity was invigoratingly welcoming! What an excellent way to start a morning! 😀

I recalled I was so tempted to go down to douse my hands in the refreshing and presumably cold waters. But as I made my way down gingerly across large rocks and boulders to the edge of the river and I squatted down, I realised my hands were too short to reach into the waters. Haha! Yup, woes of having short hands.

Looking to both of my sides along the river, it seemed very unlikely I could reach down into the waters unless I sat down on the rocks or something like that. Hence, I decided to give it a miss and head back up, for the waters at Lake Marian would definitely be as refreshing too right? And definitely easier to reach in…

2. Series of Mini Waterfalls

About a short 10 minute stroll on the boardwalk past the swing bridge was the next highlight of the Lake Marian trek: the exhilarating rush of the waterfalls. It was quite thunderously deafening when we walked deeper into the track; closer to the top of the waterfall. With the morning sun beaming all so strongly, the waters that flowed down glistened crystal white. Which really was not a bad sight for a morning!

There were some people who visited this place just for the mini waterfalls. Because it was a relatively easy paved short walk, some would decide to have a nice easy morning stroll and would give the slightly more advance tramping track a miss. That could be an option, but if you are more able-bodied, then continue on the elevated track to Lake Marian ‘cause the reward at the end is just mind-blowing! Period!

3. Elevated Track (through the forest)

After the end of the series of mini waterfalls, where the initial road underfoot was still well-paved and easy to walk on, came the start of the elevated tracks to Lake Marian! Which by then, consists of gravel roads, steep inclined and at times, wet and muddy pathways. From here on, it was approximately 1.5 hours to the beautiful Lake Marian as stated on the signage.

So into the native forest we ascended, starting with steady inclines up on uneven rocky road. It was still relatively manageable at the start, with very obvious reasons. It was enjoyable and exciting to wander through the amazing forest. Even the sweat and the panting from climbing up against gravity were all part of the package of adventure! Totally enrapturing!

But the climb soon became a little relentless as time passed. However, thinking about it now just made me missed manoeuvring through the dense forest like some explorer on a mission; a mission to find the hidden gem of a lake that is! Haha! 😀

After trotting through the rocky, and at times narrow paths, feeling all sweltering, we arrived to an area of openness. There weren’t any shelter from the sun by the trees like before, and if one would just have a quick glance at the entire peripheral view on its own without being meticulous in the details, one would totally missed out the orange beacon (which we all know is there for the very reason to guide trekkers in the right direction)!

And we decided, of all places, to take respite in an unshaded open piece of area surrounded by trees and huge logs. Hhhmmm… And the idea of respite is to dance silly as if the trees were the compelled audiences there to stay. Haha… You can see the embarrassing footage in the video linked below.

Click for Lake Marian video!

Following the orange beacon prudently along, we were on our merry way back into the forest under the cool shelter from the sun. But from this section on, the path was definitely way more exciting to manoeuvre through. Much more narrower pave, and even at times having to balance on thick tree trunks and all. I imperatively enjoyed my climb for this particular trek during my whole stay in the South Island of New Zealand. I found the zeal and passion just moving through the forest. Yes, it was tiring, but I found the joy in it. I felt so alive and just plain satisfied. I really don’t know how else to explain this feeling but it was pure simple happiness! 😀

I recalled we did asked other trekkers who were descending back from the lake, how much more distance we had to cover. And the answers to that were always, “Oh yeah yeah, soon, very soon.” And after a while, we figured, “… soon, very soon.” was but a mere sentence. Totally inaccurate. Well in their defence, probably the distance was short, but maybe we were already quite worn out that “… soon, very soon.” seemed “… far, all so very far.” Haha!

We just had to ramble through and press forward!

So trust me when I say that these huge pieces of logs that you have to cross over, is a pretty good indicator that the end is near. The end to eternal ethereal beauty of Lake Marian was just so close within our reach. Honest!

4. Lake Marian

Lake Marian is an alpine lake in a hanging valley formed by glacial action. This lake lies above the bush line and is surrounded by the amazing Darren Mountains. The Lake Marian region probably provides the most enticing setting of a hidden gem in the Fiordland National Park region. Perfect for photographers!

Albeit jaded, the breeze from the lake just doused the tiredness and rekindled a whole new feeling of enthusiasm and glow! When we first saw the sight of Lake Marian, we were awestricken. Speechless. Dumbfounded.

I needed a moment to soak in the wondrous beauty of it all. The distant partially white snow-capped Darren Mountains as backdrop and the undisturbed clear waters were just in a perfect cosmos. It was really impressive how incredible Mother Nature was. And time and again, she never failed to amaze and blow me away. It was like a wallpaper that I would only imagined and dreamed about, but there it was, sprawled right in front of me in my peripheral vision, unimpeded!

The hours of climb through the forest and all the pushing through was all worth it. Worth it to be in the moment as such, and to have that memory to have at least seen and felt it just once was bliss enough.

We spend quite a long time by the alpine lake. Having our packed lunch of sandwiches, admiring the beauty, and of course taking loads of photos. Haha!

It was so beautiful, we were quite reluctant to leave. But we did have quite a journey back to the parking lot. Alas, we had to leave to make up for the time before it turned dark.

 

TIPS?

(a) Start the trek EARLY

Before embarking on this Lake Marian trek, I already knew we had to start the trek early. But because we were beat out from previous nights, we decided that we would still get up early, but… just not so much earlier.

Hence, we missed out on the magnificent reflections of the Darren Mountains on the lake waters; which could be seen when the weather was calm making the waters in Lake Marian very much still. And that usually happened at dawn when the air would be crisp and the breeze at its minimal. When we were heading towards the lake, we stopped to have a conversation with a couple from Israel. They headed to the lake extremely early in the wee morning, and were already on their way back. We saw some of the shots they took of Lake Marian early in the morning, they were GORGEOUS! Words cannot describe.

So if you want to have amazing reflection shots of the mountains imprinted on the lake waters, a good timing to arrive at Lake Marian would be around 8 – 9 am? That was according to the Israeli couple.

If not, Lake Marian is still a gorgeous sight in the late morning early afternoon; which was what we got to see. Still ain’t half bad you know. 😀

(b) Go for a SWIM

Minor regrets in life comes when you thought you were all packed for a trek, but didn’t occur to you that you could actually bring your swimming gear. I didn’t know swimming was allowed at Lake Marian, well… apparently so it seemed. If I had a do over, I would make sure I pack my swimming essentials that’s for sure. I am positively sure the waters would be so refreshing after a long arduous climb up. Totally energising!

But because we were not prepared for a swim, we only doused our hands in the waters, which was extremely chilly!

(c) Beacon of SAFETY

The start of the tramping track on this Lake Marian trek would be after the series of mini waterfalls. The pathway started to get more uneven underfoot and the route was not at all straightforward. Hence, it would definitely be advisable that one should be of moderate to good level of fitness and also have a certain level of navigation and survival skills.

Getting to Lake Marian was still somewhat manageable. We just had to find orange beacon arrows mounted on tree trunks, or any form of track markers or indicators. Of which, some were very obviously spotted, while others required a wee bit more eye for details. But either way, it was still alright, coming from someone who really do not have much jungle experience.

However, on the way back, we had probably missed a beacon and sort of side tracked a little. The pathway did not seemed at all crossable. Hence, in such situation it would definitely be wise to trust your gut, retract your steps and find the orange beacon or any indicator that you might have missed, sometimes it could be a red ribbon or something like that.

Always remember to be safe. If you don’t feel that it is right, even the slightest bit, to move forward… don’t. Trust yourself.

The Department of Conservation Te Papa Atawbai, a government agency in charge of conserving New Zealand’s natural and historic heritage, placed Lake Marian Track to be in the ‘Advanced: Tramping track’ category.

In New Zealand, tracks that are listed in this government agency website, are placed in one of six categories. And to be placed under ‘Advanced: Tramping track’, indicates that the Lake Marian Track is considered to be the second most demanding track, with ‘Expert: Route’ being the most challenging one.

Click for more information about the six walking track categories.

Hence, it is always wise to stay safe and be mindful of the surroundings!

Trekking is always a good way to avoid huddled groups of people, and a great way to find solace. I always relish the moments spend trekking. The serenity of it all just cannot be bought with money! And I do hope to conquer more treks in the future.

Hope this prods you to get yourself out of bed early to capture some awesomeness, and just be around nature!

So remember to Travel Whenever!

Dee

Day 1 Highlights

Snorkelling at Bunaken Island + TIPS? 

Christ Blessing Statue 

Dinner at Wisata Bahari Seafood Restaurant 

Manado, capital city of North Sulawesi province of Indonesia. With majority of the locals being Christians, it is not uncommon to see so many churches just within walking distance from each other. Sitting in the van, passing through a village or city centre, the number of churches that zoomed us by was just endless, initially befuddling I have to add. A peaceful place to visit for a nice relaxing getaway with the entire family.

Blessed with weather that was perfect enough despite being close to wet/rainy season (November – April), was something I cannot complaint about. Surely it was not blazing shaft of sunlight piercing through the cloudless sky, such that the waters in the surrounding seas are crystal clear with no washed up debris. But at least, it was not raining or melancholic that water activities would have to be unfortunately cancelled.

It was a short family vacation of just a few days, and 2 of those days were imperatively well spent with Safari Tours & Travel Co. in Manado. So let’s jump right into Day 1 of it!

 

Day 1 Highlights: Snorkelling at Bunaken Island + TIPS

To me, snorkelling was the highlight activity during this entire Manado trip. I was very much excited for it. This was my first time snorkelling with my family as sidekicks. The most recent snorkelling was in the Philippines- whale shark watching (which I hardly feel it was snorkelling at all, considering the fact that I was trying to brave through my fear, haha!)

Click here if you are interested in my whale shark watching experience!

For those ardent scuba divers, Bunaken Island which is just a quick boat ride away from Manado, would definitely be a top diving spot. I am not a diver, but even just mere surface snorkelling and glass bottom boat viewing was quite enough to entice me. Could only imagine a whole new world if I would be able to dive into the sea at least 1000 metres down under to appreciate the walls of the magnificent coral gardens and the amazing biodiversity!

IMG_7554

The Safari Tours & Travel Co.’s van came to pick us from our resort at around 9.30 am to the jetty, and by 11 am (ish), we were engaged in the first mini activity of the day: glass bottom boat viewing of the corals and marine wildlife!

The boat ride to the viewing vicinity of corals was about a half hour or so. It was definitely a nice start to the morning with the sea breeze just howling and pressing against your skin as the boat advanced towards Bunaken Island!

The glass bottom boat viewing was pretty nice; we get to see some vivid colours of coral colonies, fishes, turtles, and even blue starfishes! It was pretty cool. And for members of the family not into snorkelling, at least they wouldn’t miss out on this aspect.

After glass bottom boat viewing, we disembarked on Bunaken Island for just a short while to get our entrance ticket/tag to the Bunaken National Marine Park. It was IDR $150k per person, and the validity of it is an entire calendar year. You will get a waterproof laminated entrance tag that you will need to bring along with you as proof when there would be any random checks by the park rangers on land or at sea. The laminated tag was also a nice souvenir to bring home! 😀

Then the main highlight of the day: snorkelling! YAY! 😀

We got geared up with life vests provided and into the ocean we went! While everyone was all busy fitting into their life vests, first into the waters was my elder brother- all so very eager to try out his new snorkelling gear in the ocean.

It was an enjoyable and definitely memorable snorkelling experience, for the fact that my father got drifted quite away from the main coral colony; and the boat man had to throw in a safety float to pull him in towards the boat.

It was close to wet season, thus the water current was a little strong. We all had an arduous swim just to remain in the same position and not being carried away by the current. I, myself, was inching away slowly despite swimming hard and looking at the corals. #multitasking

It was how calm my father was at that moment when he realised he physically wasn’t able to fight against nature’s current that he very much so casually called out for help. And because he did it so casually, my brother’s girlfriend, who was up on the front deck, thought that he was joking, and didn’t thought it was a crisis.

As a result, she did not really panic to get help from the boat man. My mother, who wasn’t out at the front deck, even thought that it was my younger brother who wanted the float instead. Basically, I could only imagine the whole scene on the boat to being very calm, while my father was out in the open sea drifting away, and away… …

It was hilarious, just thinking of it now- how dramatic!

It was only until much later when we all went up to take a breather for all the arduous swimming that we realised what had happened. It was hilarious because of how calm my father was; and not alarming the masses when he needed saving! Hah… …!

After all the swimming and fighting against the current, oh boy were we jaded and mad hungry. On Safari Tours & Travel Co., lunch was provided back on Bunaken Island. A nice simple meal of rice, fish and vegetables to share. It was a nice satisfying lunch, excluding the fact that stray dogs and cats were lurking around us for scraps of our food. 😀

TIPS?!

(a) Combat motion sickness?

The boat ride can be a little bumpy; so for those who are seasick prone; do get ready some small puke trash bags, and prior to the boat ride you could pop in a seasick pill if you need.

I am quite prone to motion sickness; and I recall the most recent encounter was en route to Phi Phi Island, back in Krabi, Thailand. I wasn’t prepared then; and neither was the guide on board. Haha! Luckily she managed to find a giant trash bag for me or I might had puked all over myself on board.

So this time, yes, even though I didn’t pop in any seasick pills, I decided to try a method I like to call: Getting on with the flow… … Though it wouldn’t work for all situations; so maybe popping seasick pills and trash bags are your next best friends.

So how this works is; when I feel like sitting on the boat was making me soon-to-be queasy, I stand right at the front deck of the boat. You know like in the movie: Titanic, when Jack opened Rose’s arms, and she thinks she was flying scene? Yeah, but not asking you to re-enact the scene with your lover, ‘cause that could be very dangerous considering the fact that you would by now be feeling dizzy and all. Haha!

Just stand near the front deck with no peripheral obstructions, grabbing on to any handgrips, and just look towards the sea horizon right in front of you. Look far and wide. Get on with the flow of boat; moving up and down, according to the waves as it crashes against the boat. And at the same time, just enjoy the unimpeded view! Going with the flow of the boat, and seeing the motion of the boat helps your body and mind adapt to it, and hence, voilà, no feeling of puking! What’s not to love about this method right? 😀

Of course this method works only if you are on a private tour; where all the passengers on board are basically people you know; and of course if you are not on a fast chase speed boat. I reckon this method would totally be disengaged when I was on the group tour on the way to Phi Phi Island in Krabi, Thailand. The guide would imperatively tell me to sit my arse down like everyone else, as we were on a speed boat and all.

(b) Do not panic, just call out for help

When it comes to you against nature; what I have learnt from this trip and seeing how many father handled it amazingly is to be calm. Panicking will make everyone panic along with you and getting those who can save you (probably) have a mental block; which doesn’t work in your favour. Of course, it is definitely easier said than done. And I wonder if I was the one in my father’s shoes how will I react.

Hhhmmm… … Maybe I will just scream for help; and drown my lungs with salt water; and yup… … the rest is history.

 

Day 1 Highlights: Christ Blessing Statue

We returned back to shore on Manado towards the late afternoon. Seeing that we still had some time before dinner, my father told our tour guide, Freddy, to drive us to the Christ Blessing statue located at the peak of the CitraLand residential estate.

This Christ Blessing statue stands at 98.4 ft which is fairly much comparable to the world most iconic Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro. Built by a protestant property developer, this statue has now become a new icon of Manado city as of the recent years!

A very calming sight to see on top of a hill; where the local residential houses were sprawled all below your peripheral vision; and with what it seems like Bunaken Island as the backdrop? Though I am not too sure if it is really Bunaken Island or some other.

 

Day 1 Highlights: Dinner at Wisata Bahari Seafood Restaurant

Address

Bahu Mall Complex, Jl. Wolter Monginsidi 1, Kota Manado, Sulawesi Utara, Indonesia

Personal Rating

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Total damage (per pax)

~ IDR $227241.66

Oh seafood oh seafood; glorious fresh seafood! Dining at Wisata Bahari Seafood Restaurant was basically having dinner with a view and amazing sea breeze! It was so cooling that evening after a slight rain earlier, that everything was just perfect.

There was a variety of fresh seafood, from crab, to mantis shrimp, to lobsters for your choosing. We ordered 2 crabs cooked in different sauces, 2 grilled mantis shrimps cooked in butter garlic, grilled fish, a mixed vegetable dish and 1 hotplate bean curd. It was the a satisfying seafood dinner after a long day at sea. Really delicious!

With the amount of seafood we had ordered at such a reasonable pricing, and with a view so beautiful, there really isn’t much complaints at all. Just all in a perfect cosmos.

The epically dramatic snorkelling trip with the family, the nice mini city sightseeing to Christ Blessing statue, and amazing seafood dinner at Wisata Bahari Seafood Restaurant; all these just sums up our first day trip with Safari Tours & Travel Co. in Manado!

Oh boy, wait till we experienced what was installed for us the next day! That would be interesting!

Picture does speak a thousand words, but you need to be there to really believe it. Even for the not so avid divers, Manado is a nice place to chill, have relaxing snorkelling (on dry season; when the sea current is not strong) and have yummilicious seafood everday! Manado is imperatively a nice getaway for the whole family!

So let’s believe that there’s just so much more out there in this world. Believe that there’s so much beauty in this world and Travel Whenever!

Dee

Prelude: Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge

Snake Hill to Ronny Creek Walk

The Enchanted Stroll (Guided Walk- Lodge’s Complimentary)

If you are a novice in walks/ hikes, then a great place to start would imperatively be at the Cradle Mountain vicinity. This place offers grade 1 walks to higher level intensity and challenge. After some hikes in Hobart, up Cape Raoul and Fluted Cape, the walks and hikes in Lake St Clair National Park does seem to be really no kick at all. Not trying to vaunt, but it is what it is. 😀

Of course, I am not referring to the Overland Track which requires me to pitch tents, bring my own food/ water supplies and live in campsites for days as I (that is, if I can) advance further up the mountains.

This national park has made the trails tracks within the Cradle Mountain vicinity so family-friendly. With most trails on levelled boardwalks (J’s favourite walk paths), a few uneven inclined steps and rocky fissures, this is definitely child’s play- literally. We saw many families on the hikes, with kids as young as 5? 6 maybe?

I remember vividly of a family of 5 from Hong Kong – Dad, Mum, Grams and 2 kids. The preschooler in the family was adamant he was the next Christopher Columbus that when his Pops made a wrong turn sending them in the opposite direction, “Little Columbus” decided it was time to take charge and exclaimed, “Dad, I told you, it’s this way. This way!”

Exhilarated, the little boy trotted along the path and passed us. His dad meekly allowed himself to be led, while the other 3 family members jaunted some distance behind. What a heart-warming sight I must say.

 

Prelude: Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge

We arrived at our stay close to late afternoon. By the time we settled the checking in and other miscellaneous, I was already quite bushed (probably from the long ride from Launceston city). Too beat to even feel enraptured by the largest stay we ever had.

Frankly I didn’t even want to go out after we checked it. I laid on the day bed facing the somewhat angular high ceiling and the picture mounted to the wall- I could fall asleep then and there.

“So what now? Do you want to go out?”

I ignored J’s question. Shut my eyes and try to find some sort of serenity.

She asked again. Duress to reply, we ended up heading out for an evening walk towards Ronny Creek.

 

Snake Hill to Ronny Creek Walk

Route: Snake Hill -> Ronny Creek
Distance: 2 km (1.3 miles)
Average Walk Time: ~ 35 mins
Difficulty:
Scenery: 🙂

As it was evening, taking an easy walk seems the right way to end off a languorous day. We took the free shuttle service from the Rangers Station/ Interpretation Centre, which was just a 5 minutes’ walk from the Lodge. The walk from Snake Hill is super clear cut; boardwalks throughout. In truth, I was kinda taken aback by how easy the walk really is. I am sure J would differ otherwise- she really adores boardwalks. I reckon the only 2 worries you need to fret during this harmless walk are:

Animal poopies Don’t want to soil your track shoes, now do we? Prime suspect? Wombats, maybe? I’m sorry cute stuffs, but I seriously believe the poopies left at intervals on the boardwalk belongs to you guys! Haha! 😀
Black Currawong (a.k.a Black Jay) Black Currawong (a.k.a Black Jay)- My first encounter with this bird was during this seemingly risk-free evening stroll. I was walking way faster than J, and unfathomably I didn’t notice the Currawong standing stationary on the perch at the end of the bridge! So I continued on, and by the time I noticed it, I was about an arm’s length and half away from it!It glared straight into my eyes as I did in its.  Only difference was, mine was more of gawking than glaring. What a fearsome looking creature it was. I sort of froze for a few seconds, uncertain of what to do next. I turned behind, and saw J paused at the other end of the bridge as she espied what was ahead. I gingerly made my way towards her, and we waited for it to take flight.

 

I can still remember distinctly the death stare it gave me. I   read in a hotel brochure somewhere that Currawongs can recognise faces? So whether or not it is true, better be save and not stare at one for it may register you- if you are hapless!

After an approximately half hour’s walk, we arrived at Ronny Creek. The view at Ronny Creek is definitely way better than during the walk through Snake Hill in my opinion.

With large pasture of open spaces filled with patches of button grass (Wombats’ food source, FYI), this is definitely a nice place to respite and soak in the moment in all its glory.

It is mentioned by the driver in the shutter service that Ronny Creek is the best place to spot Wombats! And aren’t we lucky? Our first day in Lake St Clair National Park, and we saw cute stuff! 😀 Just soak it all in people. Just soak it all in… …

 

The Enchanted Stroll (Guided Walk- Lodge’s Complimentary)

Route: Front of the Lodge (Circular Track)
Distance: 1 km (0.62 miles)
Average Walk Time: ~ 20 mins
Difficulty:
Scenery: 🙂

What I love about the stay (aside the huge room), is the activities the Lodge provides, and the very strategic location. After our walk through Snake Hill, we decided to go on this guided stroll since it is just located adjacent to the Lodge. How very so convenient huh?

Even the King Billy Track is just a few metres from our room! We popped by and went on this walk on one of the other evenings before dinner. I still remember I could even go back to our room and grab an apple to munch as we meander through the rain forest! Haha…!

The guide was really amiable and informative as he got the group engaged- for me at least; since I love to listen to stories and histories- even the histories of the ancient rain forest and the Pencil Pine river seemed to intrigue me somehow! He talked about the age of trees that he pointed to, and plants to look at in detail etc.

During the tour, we all spotted another wombat (minding its business) and the entire group was all busy gawking at it instead of listening to the guide. So he decided to pause a moment and let us be amused by the cute stuff before he continued. How thoughtful! 😀

We were on a streak here when it comes to spotting Wombats! Yay!

Hope this inspires you to do more walks in Lake St Clair National Park! Travel whenever and spot for cute stuffs (a.k.a Wombats) at Ronny Creek!

Dee

Route: Stormlea Road -> Summit -> Cape Raoul (lower plateau) -> Summit -> Stormlea Road
Distance: 14 km (8.7 miles)
Average Trekking Time: ~ 5.5 hrs
Difficulty: 🙂 🙂 🙂
Scenery: 🙂 🙂 🙂

How to get there?

TIPS (Toilet, Log Book, Lunch)

Trekking Route

 

How to get there?

The journey from our stay (Port Arthur Motor Inn) to the trail head of Cape Raoul was approximately a half hour’s drive away. Do drive prudently on the narrow gravel roads, and be vigilant for any wild creatures- bunnies, echidnas etc. You DO NOT want to run over these cute animals down. Trust me, YOU DO NOT. The empty roads with cars occasionally passing by, makes the drive pleasantly comfortable- not to mention good company with good music jamming over the radio. Aaahhh… … That was the life… …

The route to Cape Raoul is somewhat similar to the journey to Coal Mines Historic Site. We drove on Nubeena Road, but instead of continuing on (as with Coal Mines Historic Site), we made a left turn onto Stormlea Road. Just travel on to the end and voila… …

The trail for the trek starts at the end of Stormlea Road, next to the Raoul Bay Retreat- a wooden cabin standing tall on the fairly much open field. Parking spaces are available just at the mouth of the starting trail.

Another structure that stands tall on the open field is the toilet. Yes, people, a toilet.

 

TIPS (Toilet, Log Book, Lunch)

The Toilet

I have no qualms having an open concept designed toilet, you know; like the ones at a SPA- breathtaking and fresh. However, this is way too medieval. I may be an inch overboard on this divisive issue, but I can’t, I just can’t go into cubicles like this. Period. I couldn’t face the latrine- awfully too much of a city girl for that. There is no flushing system installed, and who knows what creepy crawlies have been there.

Of course, I pressed J into going in first to recce. She knows she can’t win in the battle or who goes first when it comes to this kind of situations. Haha… 😀 Thanks girlfriend! I will never forget the many unwilling times you wished you didn’t have to go first, but you know I am too stubborn to barge unless you took the lead.

After a few seconds (definitely less than 2 minutes), she came out. And then the decision. I was in a catch-22. Either I tighten my incredibly small feeble bladder for the next 5 hours during the trek, or I put aside the cleanliness freak inside of me, and just do it!

The latter option seemed more wise.

I went in, shut the door for 2 seconds, then dashed out gagging at the revolting smell from within the cubicle walls. To be fair, the cubicle wasn’t so bad, it was… …decent, if I must say, as compared to other toilets in the wild of course. I mean, there wasn’t any flies hovering around (thank goodness), maybe a few spider webs and ants, but it was decent. It was all in my mind. The whole idea of not being able to flush after use, and thinking of all the waste left by previous occupants just sends shivers down my spine.

I decided to try once more. Hurriedly, I did what I had to do, shut the toilet seat behind me, and scrambled out gagging for the second time. Oh boy, an experience, I may not want to relive unless imperatively necessary.

But I would like to say, thank goodness for the free use of toilet facilities provided by the Retreat, for if it wasn’t there, I would have to endure 5 hours or more of excruciating torment.

A word of advice? Use the bathroom before you leave your hotel/motel if you are like me, a cleanliness freak. Otherwise, the toilet facilities are actually quite alright. I mean, J could take it, and there aren’t any flies or flying bugs, so that’s cool right? Oh, did I mention there’s a sink to wash your hands. 🙂

The Log Book

This is probably the most fundamental thing to do BEFORE any trek in Tasmania! Sign it/ register your treks before embarking in your odyssey.

The log books are kept inside a metal container bolted to the signboard at the head trail.

This is a great preventive measure to ensure our safety, just in case we got lost in the woods, the rangers can come and get us. When will they come to our rescue? Well, I’m not sure how often they check the log books. Probably not that soon, I reckon. A few days, maybe? I do not ever want to find out either.

The Lunch

Pack some energy foods (bars, sandwiches, drinks), you need it. With loads of oomph spend climbing, and manoeuvring on the patchy ground, we needed a break on the summit to embrace nature, have water break and, without saying, to take photos of course. I brought along my favourite carton of hydration drink- COCONUT WATER! Obsessed. Invigorating and thirst-quenching with every gulp. 😀 I got mine at Woolworths in Sorell Township en route to Port Arthur.

It is vital that we constantly stay hydrated throughout the trek. We may be too engross and exhilarated with the scenery that we may forget to hydrate our body, and this can be dangerous. Bring a huge bottle or two of water in your bag pack!

 

Trekking Route

The trail starts of intimidating, with many muddy “carpets” sprawled at intervals to welcome us into the inland. This was the part J loathe the most, and I have never seen her so irritated before. This was definitely pushing her buttons. As we travelled on, we jaunted through very narrow walk path surrounded by overgrown tall grass, what seemed like a never ending route of tall bushes.

Once out, we inclined up a gentle slope and cross a fallen log bridge. I would say this was the most galvanizing part of the trek, and I adore this part the most. The log was huge, steady and covered in slippery green moss and algae. With lack of experience crossing something like this, I did it on 4 limps cautiously. Haha…! As I crossed, I imagine myself as a little rascal on a great adventure with my buddy, with a mission to find hidden treasures in the enchanted woods. How enthralling! I LOVE IT! 😀

Soon enough, going through the woods on a wider path, we reached a junction with a huge signboard (left heading to Cape Raoul and right towards Shipstern Bluff). This was also our indication to take a water break.

Following the left hand trail upwards, the forest bore our first magnificent view of the incredible dolomite cliffs of the Tasman National Park! Also another indication for a break! Haha… The view was breathtaking and so worth it. All the effort of braving through the mud, grass, moss, and algae seemed to all melt away with the sweat that trickled down our backs and foreheads. We took a moment to catch our breath and snapped pictures (well, mostly J did the snapping) simultaneously. While she was capturing the views with the lens, I was out and about exploring the other side of the lookout and absorbing every moment my eyes can capture and store in my brain.

At the summit, to the left, we could see the heathland on the lower plateau (Cape Raoul)- our end point before retracing our steps. To the right, the lookout opens to a stunning view down to Shipstern Bluff.

Continuing on, the trail leads along the cliff top before descending the steepest section of the trail onto Cape Raoul plateau. Trekking along the cliff top provides many amazing angular views of the sea against the cliffs. With the blazing sun dazzling the sea into sparkles, the vista is just beyond words. No camera can do justice.

We did some climbing on 4 limps near the edge of the cliff as it was pretty rocky and windy, but the journey near the edge of the cliff has the perfect view- no obstruction by those wretched trees. I was so thrilled by God’s creation, that J was yelping at the back asking me to be cautious with my steps in fear I would fall to my death! Haha… …

On the lower plateau, hurls of hostile wind gusting pushing us two steps back as we advanced one. In the middle of the plateau, lies a small lake. We didn’t venture towards the lake for the high winds were going through great lengths to prying our feet from the sandy ground. We pushed on further towards the edge of the plateau to get a better view of the rock formations. Not too close to the edge though- you never know when the wind could really pry your feet from the ground!

As we detoured, the view of the summit seemed so far-fetched that we were reverent we actually climbed that high prior! On the flipside, we languor at the fact that we had to ascend that much to reach the summit once more.

A 14 km expedition to the end of Cape Raoul (inclusive of returning the same way) and 5.5 hours(ish) spend with my best friend, trekking until we both looked half dead was so worth it! 🙂

Just a word of caution- DON’T FALL OFF THE CLIFFS! Tremendously hostile weather conditions like high winds can occur near the cliff edges and on the lower plateau! STAY SAFE PEOPLE!

Hope this inspires you to go be a nature lover, do some trekking, and travel whenever!

Dee

The Coal Mines Historic Site is definitely a tranquil place to immerse in picturesque sights of quaint rustic ruins. A peaceful few hectares of space to ramble through the uneven remnants as I mulled over how the place was run in the past. Imagine how this place was once occupied by few hundred convicts and families. Imagine how life was for them, though my imagination could only take me so far as books and TV go. How hard life must had been for them then.

This was around a 20- minute(ish) ride from Port Arthur Historic Site. A smooth drive on a cool breezy late morning as we embarked on our journey. The ride was breathtaking as we were greeted with pastures of land with herds of fluffy sheep and lush tall green grass sprawled across the horizon. The clear cerulean sky accentuated the salient beauty of nature. A beautiful sight that the camera just cannot do justice to.

What enticed us most was the emerald waters of Norfolk Bay we saw along the stretch of Saltwater River Road. It was the most serene moment to capture and store in our permanent memory. Maybe it was the position of the sunrays and the current of the waters such that there’s a cosmos, but every moment of the journey was just reverent that we had to take a few miniature stops to contain the awe.

We don’t get a lot of/ any scenic view back home you see, so such moments of pauses are imperatively necessary. 😀

There was not a single soul (excluding wild insects and bunnies) when we arrived. We took time to enjoy the sweet lonesomeness… …

 

Definitely a relic to remember the rich history of how the convicts lived, worked and were treated. Kudos to the people who well preserved this place!

(A continuation of the itinerary will be in the future posts.)

Hope this inspires you to go on a road trip to explore the history of an unknown, and remember travel whenever!

Dee

Bronze, Silver or Gold Pass?

Isle of the Dead

Lunch

Port Arthur Historic Site

Ghost Tour

 

Bronze, Silver or Gold Pass?

We were contemplating between which passes would make our experience at Port Arthur most fulfilling and memorable. At the crowded ticketing counter, as I recalled, in the Port Arthur Historic Site Visitor Centre, we were still indecisive. Finally we decided to settle on the Silver Pass (with Isle of the Dead Tour).

Reasons?

  1. The 2 differences between a Silver and Gold Pass are that there is Morning and Afternoon Tea, along with Point Puer Boys’ Prison Tour in the latter Pass.
  2. The difference in prices is AUS$30.
  3. With the limited days we had in Port Arthur, we felt that forgoing the visit to the Point Puer Boys’ Prison Tour, in exchange for more time to saunter through the Site and doing something else (like trekking) would be more worthwhile.

So what exactly is included in the Silver Pass (with Isle of the Dead Tour)?

Inclusions

 A 45- minute Introduction to Port Arthur guided walking tour The zealot guide on the site was just amazing. I could feel her ardent in her job, and it was really contagious. Very informative. 😀
The Isle of the Dead Cemetery Tour, including a harbour cruise aboard the MV Marana There are a few timeslots for the harbour cruise (cum The Isle of the Dead Cemetery Tour). Just bring your ticket to the jetty and join the queue. There are many approachable guides on Site to assist you if you do not know which to board or you are somehow just perplexed and inundated with the massive crowd surrounding the jetty.
Self Guided Audio Tour iPod + earpiece loaned to us as we self-toured the Site. Just return them back to the counter at the end of the day. The good thing about this is that, we could loan the iPod again the next day! ’cause the Site is just too huge to complete in a day!
Lunch on-site at the Museum Café or Port Café We had lunch at the Port Café (in the Visitor Centre).FYI, the Museum Cafe is located in the Asylum building adjacent to the Separate Prison.
Access to more than 30 historic buildings, ruins and gardens

 

Isle of the Dead

We spend 2 days soaking in the rich history of Port Arthur as a convict settlement. It was the time of my life. I love exploring old rustic ruins especially when they have so deep meaning. I was just venerated.

On the board the cruise en route to the Isle of the Dead was our first stop on that glorious morning. It was buzzing with loads of tour groups, school kids and individual visitors at the jetty as it was boarding time. Talk about perfect timing! We did not have to wait at all! We just got into the queue like everyone else (of course with the kind assistance from the guides on Site- as it was a major fluster then).

It is really heartening to see that Port Arthur has such a historic place for younger Tasmanians to embrace and have a school fieldtrip to greater understand their own history.

It was tranquil and hopeful onboard the mini cruise. The captain gave a little morning introduction while we enjoyed the breeze and fresh air on the upper deck. All that was lacking was a nice cup of hot mocha and maybe some marshmallows on top- sipping al fresco style. 😀

The captain explained about the seas surrounding Port Arthur, islands in the distance and what made it the ideal place to house convicts. What seemed like a real short while of embracing the morning with educational commentary, we alighted on a tiny island- Isle of the Dead.

Isle of the Dead is graveyard for anyone (I mean, anyone) who died in Port Arthur. Regardless of whether the person was an officer or a convict, they were all buried on that island. Our guide was really informative and I was imperatively enraptured by the place.

Was it weird that I felt more galvanised than lugubrious? After all, it is a graveyard. But I was absolutely intrigued by the details the guide was saying! And please tell me how not to start my wild imagination in my head when he was telling us stories about the people who were buried?!

According to the guide, a headstone can tell you lots about the person buried. Headstones with detailed embellishments were probably well respected people when they were alive. Officials, soldiers and their families have headstone situated on the high end of the island.

On the other side of the island (the lower end), convicts were buried. They were not allowed headstones. However, there were exceptions.

Every headstone has a story to tell. Alas, if only time permits, I really wished I could have the luxury of having some time to explore. To really read the headstones in detail rather than having to skim through them real quickly.

 

Lunch

After the harbour cruise, we went for the 45- minute Introduction walking tour. Again, we didn’t wait long at all. It was such perfect timing- one tour after another! I guess the management may have thought the timing schedule for tours through. Haha… 😀

We had, I would say, quite a scrumptious lunch. We weren’t expecting very much from the lunch that was included in the Silver Pass, ’cause well… … lunches that were inclusive don’t usually hit our expectations. But this time, Port Arthur amazed me.

The meal portion was big, and there were a range of beverages to choose from (regular coffee, latte, cappuccino, hot chocolate, and mocha). Usually such lunches would not allow one to choose a choice of beverage, so I was stunned for a spilt moment when the counter asked me to choose from the list!

We both were happy customers then. Our belly were filled and we were all ready for our next round of exploration!

 

Port Arthur Historic Site

The Site is really enormous. If you really want to ramble through the ruins, immerse yourself into the past, and read the descriptions bolted to the walls or on signages, then starting the exploration after lunch would need you to go back there again the next day.

The Convict Church was built by the convict builders. Officers and convicts all attended mass on Sunday in the same church. However, they would seat separate. The objective of this church was to use religion as a platform to reform convicts- making them better people spiritually.

Fun fact: In modern era, people actually come here to get married!

During the ghost tour, the guide warned us that creepy incidents happened here. On the left corner of the church near the church bells, a convict builder fell to his death, and from then on, his spirit haunted the church with his hefty footsteps. And on some nights during the ghost tour, you may actually hear those footsteps if you are LUCKY. Hhhmmmmm… …

Convicts with notorious behavior would be sent to the Separate Prison, where they would be stripped off their identity. Nameless; they would be labelled using numbers. Here, officers communicated with them using hand signs. Talking was strictly prohibited. Faceless; they were to wear cap-peaks when they left their individual cells from an hour exercise everyday.

The dingy ruins of the hospital can be easily differentiated from the others by its unique 3 arch “doors”.

According to the guide, no convict would want to be send to the hospital as medical treatments during that time was pretty bad. Convicts who went there never made it out alive. Hence, people prefer dying to be send to the hospital.

I reckon The Penitentiary should be the icon of Port Arthur Historic Site. It just beckoned me when I first entered the site. It was so marveling, as it was the largest/longest building that sprawled on the open field. To think that the main bulk of convicts actually lived and ate in there, is just reverent.

I just adore how the entire structure of the building is so lopsided, due to the many fires that happened ages ago, yet minimal construction is done to preserve most of the remnants.  Though it is not a complete structure, The Penitentiary is really put together through my eyes. 😀

We stayed on until sunset. The lonesome moments sauntering through the site is definitely a good way to embrace the past. No distractions, and noise. Just you and your iPod playing a short prelude of each attraction on the Site.

 

Ghost Tour

The ghost tour was definitely the highlight of the 2 days on Site. We never participated in such a tour before, and we were in it to see how it works and all that jazz. Like… were we going to be scared by people in costumes? Or were we going to be locked in a haunted house or something or that sort? Or were real ghost going to haunt us? We had no idea.

Of course the counter told us there would not be any people dressed in costumes to scare the living daylights out of us. But well… you never know until you are there…

Again, I have to rave about the guide on this tour. He was spectacular. Funny, and full of stories to tell. Just splendid.

Going on this tour really brings out the dark side to Port Arthur, literally and not. And as I recall now, it was pretty hilarious that people were scaring themselves more than the guide’s stories had intended. Haha… It’s all in the mind… It’s all in the mind…

In all, this was a pretty momentous tour. Good to experience if you have never participated in one. 😀

Hope this inspires you to go on a road trip to explore the history of an unknown! You never know what intriguing ideas the unknown may leech on you! 😀

So travel whenever!

Dee

Travel Tips: Sorell Township

Tessellated Pavement State Reserve

Eaglehawk Neck Historic Site (The Dog Line)

So here’s a little background prelude of my virgin road trip from Hobart city to Port Arthur. Exhilarating, I must say. It was filled with perennial anticipation and inundated with zeal. Why all that exaggerated feelings and emotions?

Well, I was the one who planned this mini road trip! It was strictly a BFF affair. As the ‘event planner’ of the trip, I would (obviously) be the first one (between the both of us) to see all the sublime vistas and rich historical ruins on my laptop as I did my travel research weeks prior to the trip.

Oh boy, how I wished I had a magic portal at that instant to teleport me into the glorious pictures I saw. I guess it was all the arduous planning that made this road trip all the more hopeful and meaningful. It was the feeling of satisfaction, that at long last, I could get to see the landscapes and ruins in real life! I could actually touch it!

Well, not literally touch it ‘course, you know, historical ruins are not really for commoner tourists like me to touch. Haha… 😀

As I dredged deep into the research, I found out that Port Arthur is a place of rich history- once a convict settlement. It is always invigorating to go to places with deep richness in history and culture. I adore nature, but sometimes, an infused educational cultural endeavour is really healthy for the soul if you know what I mean.

I felt so connected with the people of the past as I walked down, into, and through the ruins. I know how sappy this sounds. Like, what…? Connect with the people of the past? Talking and seeing wraith?! That’s totally insane.

I don’t know, maybe it’s the vivid imagination that I have or I’m just plain weird, but I would imagine myself as a person living in that era, doing the things that they did as I toured through the ruins. It’s really magically I’m telling you. I would get lost in a limbo of space and be in that moment as I skimmed through the descriptions bolted to the walls.

I knew immediately it would be imperative that I could gain a lot of insights about Port Arthur’s history on this road trip! I was fervent and really looking forward to this educational adventure! (#TeamNerd- don’t judge :D)

So here’s our itinerary for this trip!

(FYI, we spend 6D5N on this trip. Yup… no typo there. 5 nights (and it was still not enough). Also, this itinerary is not exactly in the order of events.)

 

Travel Tips: Sorell Township

Our road trip began from the city and as usual, we made stops en route. We all got to use the bathroom and eat right? We pit stopped in Sorell, just approximately 30 minutes or less from the city.

Travel tip? Port Arthur has no major grocery store, so I suggest you stock up on food and drink supplies here. There’s Woolworths supermarket. We stopped by for lunch and bought 5 days worth of food and drink supplies.

Sounds like we were all ready for a trip into the isolated wilderness. Don’t get me wrong, there are small cafes, and provision stores there too.

After lunch and a trunk stuffed with supplies, you can also pop by Sorell Fruit Farm for a nice stroll or pick a punnet or two worth of fresh berries and other fruits!

 

Tessellated Pavement State Reserve

Driving towards Port Arthur, you would pass the Tessellated Pavement State Reserve. So why not check this out before heading to Port Arthur town?

By the time we got there, the sun was already in its slight orange colour getting ready to hit the hay. The sea breeze was just splendid, and a jacket would suffice.

A 10- minute walk from the parking lot would lead to a welcoming placid plot of nature’s creation. Small waves were crashing onto the shores and hitting on boulders, but from my view, it was like in all chaos, there is a cosmos. It was really surreal, and no description would replace the experience I felt at that point of time. The view was absolutely impeccable. Everything just seemed to work together- they all complemented each other in every way. The waves, the naturally “craved” pavement, the seashells, and even the algae. It was marvellous.

In a nutshell, the Tessellated pavement is formed from sedimentary rocks modified by sand and waves crashing on them. The fracture of these rocks led to a unique formation of repeated polygonal units throughout the pavement. Hence, the name “Tessellated Pavement”. Definitely a good outdoor site for the learning of Mathematics, huh?

 

Eaglehawk Neck Historic Site (The Dog Line)

This site, like all the other historic sites in Port Arthur really, had swirled my imagination greatly. Located within the vicinity, is the Officers’ Quarters- a little long cabin with rustic exhibits bringing you into the era of the convicts.

As I recalled, we were greeted by creaking floorboards, spider webs and rusted doorknobs that gave an eerie cracking sound as you turned it to open the entrance door into the mini museum. Maybe my imagination had taken the surroundings to a new level of exaggeration, but oh boy was it enticing in every way! 😀

Imagine. Just over a hundred years ago, this cabin was alive. Occupied by officers to ensure convicts did not escape! And not to mention the pack of feral dogs that roamed the paths just approximately 100-m or less outside the quarters. The Dog Line.

The Dog Line is located along the Arthur Highway heading to Port Arthur town. A statue of a beastly dog and a lamp to showcase and remind us of the great obstacle convicts needed to overcome in order to abscond. As I walked through and passed the Officers’ Quarters and The Dogline, stories came popping up in my head.

So here’s one of the little stories that was plotted inside my eventful brain… …

“Okay, the coast is clear.”“Wait! Are you sure about this? Things don’t end well for people like us who try to escape. We could be thrown into the Separate Prison! And who knows if we would come out alive then. Remember Marcus… He… …”“So?! Do you wanna’ stay here and die in a foreign land, you coward?” James snapped.

I was in a predicament. I did not want to be eaten by the infamous feral dogs, neither did I wanted to go back to the life as a prisoner. In the end, my inner paranoiac and coward were defeated by James’ constant blabbing and assurance about a better life after we escape this wretched place.

To stay hidden from both patrolling officers and the crazy man-eating dogs, we dived low in the meadows, inching step by step, as slowly and as soundlessly as possible. Too afraid to be picked up by the razor sharp ears of the hounds. And who knows what would become of us then.

Oh curse those dogs for being so good at their job… …

As we crept through the tall grass, I began to ponder on how did I even landed in this situation. Sure I was a perpetrator, a depraved criminal. But everyone deserves a chance to redeem themselves first. And here I was- send to a far away land to be punished! For a crime I can’t even remember committing!

We waited on the muddy soil tucked low on the ground for what seemed like hours. Waiting. Waiting for the officers to reduce on patrol. Bedraggled and unkempt. My legs were all numb from the minimal movement.

Then I felt something wet and warm dripping on my thigh.

“Shawn… …”

“Is it drizzling already? Maybe the officers will take shelter and we can make a dash for it… …” I whispered.

Suddenly I felt a glimpse for hope. Finally, we could have a better life away from this. The freedom was just so close I could feel the frivolity!

I added, “We should both run separate, and meet again after. Remember the big oak tree… …”

“Shawn… … SHAWN,” James interrupted adamantly. “DO NOT. DO NOT move a muscle.”

I knew then and there that all hopes were relinquished in a split second. We were a dead goner.

Hope this inspires you to go on a road trip to explore the history of an unknown! You never know what intriguing ideas the unknown may leech on you! 😀

So travel whenever!

Dee