Bicheno is a sleepy little town a few kilometers north of Freycinet Peninsular. It was rather by chance that I ended up staying there; driving north from Port Arthur, it had become dark and that made it difficult to find a place to pitch the tent. Eventually Birgit and I decided to call on of the backpackers that were listed in Lonely Planet and got lucky at Bicheno Backpackers.
I woke up to a rainy day. The plan had been to visit Freycinet Peninsular with its world famous Wineglass bay, from where I would start another overnight hike. However in this weather I did not feel like camping at all and decided to change plans a bit and hang out in Bicheno for a bit. As soon as the sky seemed to be clearing a little, Birgit and I drove to Coles Bay in Freycinet National Park and climbed Mt Amos (454 m) which is a central feature of The Hazards, a range of granite mountains that dominate the skyline of Freycinet’s Coles Bay. The track to the summit is steep and strenuous, but the reward is a stunning panoramic vista over Wineglass Bay to the further reaches of Freycinet National Park which extends southward along the entire Freycinet peninsula.
Even in this grey weather the Bay looked amazing fromt the summit. Luckily we got down before the next downpour started as the smooth granite rocks would be rathery slippery when wet.
Back in Bicheno I was just about to start wondering what there is to see when I spotted some tiny black dots off the rocky coast: whales! Indeed Bicheno was long used as a whaling port and during the summer months, humpback whales can frequently be seen along the coast.
Once the sun has set, you can see (and hear) the second animal that Bicheno is famous for among travellers and locals alike: penguins. It is quite incredible how loud these little things can get when hungry. To see them, all you have to do is walk along the beach in the dark and sit on a rock. After a while the parents will come out of the water to bring fish to their little ones which are hiding pretty much in every bush and under every rock.
The rain only got worse the next day, and hoping for better weather towards the end of my trip I postponed the real Freycinet experience a bit. Instead I continued north along the east coast. The rain didn’t stop that day and neither did we. Alas, we ignored many must-see beaches such as Bay of Fires and headed straight for Launceston instead.
But Tasmania proved itself all set for lousy weather and presented beautiful scenery on they way.
Surprise, surprise – the sun was shining in Launceston as if it hadn’t be any different the whole day and I went for a short stroll around town before cooking some dinner at Launceston Backpackers where I stayed for the night.
Birgit had arranged a walk for the next day in nearby Cataract Gorge Reserve with Lynette, a girl she had met on couchsurfing.com. A network of trails provides great opportunities to get out of the town and into fresh air.
Having missed out on hiking in Freycinet National Park I was eager to get going again and left Launceston in the afternoon for Walls of Jerusalem National Park.
I arrived at the car park when the sun already began to set and quickly packed my things to get to the first hut before dark. It turned out to be only an hour or so steeply up the hill. It had gotten cold and I was a little worried about the performance of my sleeping bag.
With an additional layer of thermals I was able to sleep okay for most of the night although the temperatures actually dropped below freezing. But keeping a cheeky mouse out of my food bag kept me warm at night.
I had a late start the next morning and continued past a bunch of beautiful little lakes named Solomon’s Jewels
The track continued through alpine tarns and bush land past Wild Dogs Creek. All the nice campsites were already occupied so I went on.
At the Pool of Bethesda I stopped for lunch and a little rest. By now the sun had come out and brought out the real colors of the area.
I still had lots of daylight left and added short sidetrips to the summit of Solomon’s Throne and The Temple which rewarded me with great views.
The last hour of the walk towards Dixon’s Kingdom was a pleasant stroll along wooden plankways and through pencil pine forests. Some of these trees are already more than 1000 years old!
I had a few encounters with tiger snakes but none of them was coming too close. I soon reached Dixon’s hut which actually looks nicer from the outside than it does inside and I opted for the tent this time. After a delicious dinner I hiked to the summit of Mt. Jerusalem from where you can see far across the central plateau.
A sunny morning was perfect for the return trip, this time not through the Walls of Jerusalem but past Lake Ball and Lake Adelaide. The first part is unmarked and until you reach Lake Ball you have to kinda guess the easiest passage through the woods.
Once you reach the lake, a well marked track leads back towards the car park. The scenery was no less stunning than the previous day and every few meters was a spot that made me want to stop for a short break.
At times it got a little muddy but following good bushwalking practice I tried to stay on the track to avoid further damage to the fragile environment. The gaiters proved themselves very useful here.
Eventually the track led me back past Trapper’s Hut and down to the car park. From there it took around two hours of driving to get to Cradle Mountain National Park. It’s a nice drive through green countryside and some small villages. From a lookout along the main road I got a first glimpse of tomorrow’s target – and it was a beautiful glimpse!
Following the recommendation I had gotten online I drove into the conservation area opposite the National Park and camped at the shore of Lake Lea.