Good morning from Melbourne. 6:20am local time. I’m really not sure why I’m awake, like actually just not sure at all this time, but I’m beginning to see an update-this-blog-at-stupid-early-hours trend forming, so I’m just gonna roll with it.
Last Thursday, I flew to Hobart, Tasmania, to embark on a 4-day hiking trip with the RMIT Outdoors Club. Aside from my friend Mark Iamarino, I’d never met any of these people. This is always a situation I welcome, as people try extra-hard to be affable, to keep the conversations interesting, and to staunchly avoid negative interaction. This is an especially valuable dynamic on a hiking trip, I do reckon. Here’s a group photo to get things started:
Starting from the bottom-left we have: Anne Dang (Australia, trip leader), Mark Iamarino (Canada), Alex Kelly (New Zealand), and Pradeep Methukupally (India).
From top-left: Tung Truong (Vietnam), Trecia Lim (Singapore), Tom Young (New Zealand), Myself (THE STATES BABY), Vanessa Cao (Vietnam), and Sudharshani Ekanayake (Sri Lanka).
As you can see, the group was very diverse, which was very cool. I’m supposed to be in Australia to learn, right? Most had already graduated school, which was nice as well. They had many stories to share.
After landing in Hobart around 11:00pm, we rented cars, drove to a campsite, and went to bed for the night. The following morning, we began the journey.
Day 1: Tasmania National Park
After an early wake-up, we ventured back into Hobart to buy food and water. This was actually a rather unique shopping trip, as I had to be especially conscious of the physical weight of the food, which I’d be carrying on my back for the majority of the hiking. I finally landed on bagels (like a good Jewish boy) for breakfast, turkey/chicken wraps for lunch, and a variety of nature bars and nut mixes for snacks. In addition, I decided on a 4-liter container of water, which is kind of a pain to carry. But, as the greats of our time would tell me: no excuses, play like a champion.
After shopping, we drove about 100km to the National Park, where we’d be hiking for the day. Fortunately, we only had to carry day-packs this time, with water, food, and photography apparatuses. We quickly arranged our belongings, and got moving.
The beginning of the hike was pretty bland. The scenery was fairly monotonous, mostly bushes and trees, occasionally punctuated by a small lizard (referred to as a “skink,” which sounds strongly like some sort of derogatory slang) or snake. It was mostly uphill, with lots of roots and stones to avoid. I spoke a lot with Alex during this period, a 39 year old New Zealand native and a well seasoned hiker. He spoke enthusiastically of his other trips, including hikes in Scotland, Hawaii, New Zealand, Australia, Vietnam, and Russia (I think). Basically I wanna travel so much more. Traveling is where it’s at.
After about an hour and a half of stories, snakes and skinks, the trees finally cleared. This is what remained:
When I first saw this, I let out like a really high pitched Colin Roth / South Park-esque “ehoomiygeod,” and then just smiled really big for a while. It doesn’t look too ridiculously exotic, but it was an amazing site.
The thing is, Tasmania is an Australia state off the south-east coast of the mainland, with Tasmania National Park being on the south-east coast of the island. That probably doesn’t mean much though, so here’s a map:
The image is small, but in conclusion, the rocks ahead are legitimate end-of-the-world status. It’s really crazy to visualize, but the inherent beauty of this almost ungraspable reality had a lot to do with my excitement. I feel like there are many things that are supposed to be beautiful, believed by many to be beautiful, are widely accepted as beautiful, etc. However, your personal diagnosis of this beauty should be natural and objective, and when you happen to disagree with the masses, you are often compelled to ignore this feeling and conform. In this instance particular, there was absolutely no external influence, or internal rearrangement. This was a truly beautiful site.
Eventually, I started to hike towards the top of the far rock. Here are a bunch of shots taken along the way:
When we finally got to the end, the views were pretty amazing. In addition, sitting on the edge of one of those rocks, about 200 feet above a particularly painful death, was rather serene. Again, end-of-the-world status. Giggity giggity.
Day 2-3: Maria Island
The next day, we departed for Maria Island early in the morning. We took a ferry, which lasted about 45 minutes, and even saw some dolphins on the way.
Once we arrived on the island, we quickly began our hike, and headed towards the base of Mt. Maria. More pictures for the impatient:
About an hour later, we reached the base of Mt. Maria, and began our ascent. Again, the surroundings were predictably bland. Trees, bushes, more skinks. The hike was mostly just a steep uphill climb on a dirt trail, requiring you to duck in and out of trees and avoid rocks. In concert with the previous day’s hike, the trees eventually started to clear, giving a quick preview of the views to come. Approximately halfway up the mountain:
Shortly after, the trail swiftly converted into a steep wall of rocks, which lasted for the remainder of the climb. I feel like I should elaborate more on this, but hey, pictures are supposed to speak a bunch of words, and that’s what you came here for anyway. I also took a lot. Soo, here:
After about four hours of hiking, some surprisingly abrupt climate changes, a little complaining and a lot of sweating, we finally reached the top. The view. was just. Incredible.
Mt. Maria. Pretty amazing stuff. Upon climbing back down to the base, we quickly headed to camp for the night, which was about another three hours. Some of the group members were a little slower than others, which resulted in a frantic manhunt about two hours after sundown.
Ok yea..none were lost.
The next morning, we basically just hiked the scenic route back to the ferry, which took almost all day.
Day 4: Hobart
The final day, we were a bit too wiped to hike. We packed up our stuff, ferried back toward the mainland, and ventured to the Tasmanian capital of Hobart. Here, we went to the Cascade Brewery, which had some pretty delicious goodies. Here’s me with some bangin’ chocolate espresso cake and a chocolate stout, trying not to fall asleep:
Tasty. Overall, Tasmania was an amazing experience, one very different than what I’m used to.
Just before I left, I was actually reading a Q&A with an individual who plays that same stupid internet game as I. He was discussing the importance of mindfulness, which I suppose is synonymous with mental acuity. More practically, however, mindfulness means the ability to “live in the moment.” Our hero admitted that this was no easy task, but offered some words of guidance.
“Next time you are washing your hands, take a moment to listen to the water running before you start washing. Feel the water, take a few extra seconds to look at your surroundings, smell the soap. You will see that this experience is dramatically different from the million other times you have washed your hands. This, is mindfulness.”
Please feel to think this corny (haters gon’ hate), but I really tried hard to apply this methodology throughout the trip. Instead of focusing on the destination, the hours left to hike, or on the hiker in front of me, I really tried hard to concern myself exclusively with what was “now.” This meant taking more time to observe my surroundings through not just sight, but through smell, touch, and hearing as well. Unfortunately, basic safety rules would urge you not to exercise your sense of taste in this particular scenario. This extra bit of consideration proved really valuable and refreshing. So, next time you wash your hands, walk to school, or hike on massive rocks, perhaps try to more thoroughly digest that which is around you. Just a thought. And if you have a chance to get to Tasmania, I would more strongly urge you to do so.
Place is amazing.
I still can’t believe I get to live like this.
Life is good.
I just ordered Harry Potter 7 in French. Someone tell Monsieur Contassot, he’d be so proud.
I leave for New Zealand tomorrow. I’m far beyond excited.
I’ll be living in Toronto this summer, officially. Far beyond excited for this as well.
Miss and love you all.