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So you got the gist of my “birthday” hike on Cradle Mountain from a previous iphone posting – a spot of rain perhaps?

But what you didn’t see is that despite that spot (OK, more than a few drops) of rain we had an absolutely beautiful weekend in the rugged Cradle Mountain National Park, including blue skies and sunlight days and nighttime treks to get up close and personal with Tasmania’s nocturnal wildlife.

I’ve posted before about my love for this tiny island state off the southern coast of Australia – it’s a wild and untouched place with national parks so vast you can really get lost, in every sense of the word, in your surroundings.  Cradle Mountain National Park, home of the famous Overland Track (a 6 day hike), provided a gorgeous background for a weekend of hiking with my Dad and donna, who were equally in love with this special place.

Cradle Mountain is also home to an amazing abundance of wildlife – with a greater concentration of wallabies, paddymellons, wombats, and possums than I’ve seen anywhere else in Australia.  We went on one organized “night tour” and FINALLY encountered Tasmanian Devils (resolution: complete!), and our own midnight walk, complete with headlamps.  The iridescent glow of my headlamp landed on literally dozens of glowing eyes in the darkness.  ‘Course it was too dark for any good photo shots, but I’ll include this one anyways.

 (wombat!)

Check out full pictures on the out and about page.

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It’s a funny thing about birthdays, they keep rolling around year after year. But how many people can say they spent their last 2 birthdays in Tasmania??? (other than a few of its 500,000 residents…)

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My birthday weekend view, from the face of Cradle Mountain. Yep, that whitewash in the upper corners is lightly pelting rain and mist, but still no place I’d rather be…

Week 6 coincided with a lovely Valentine’s Day weekend in the remote and rugged town of St. Helens, on the southernly edge of the Bay of Fires Conservation Area.

Week 6:  Beach tramping in the Bay of Fires
Distance: 8-10kms (4 hours)
Grade: Moderate
Weight: 3kgs

An afternoon hike in the Bay of Fires was the perfect “us” weekend moment – 4 hours of sand, surf, brush, beach, blazing our own trail in the sun. 

The Bay of Fires is known for its rugged coastline, white pristine sandy beach, turquoise waters, and orange lichen stained boulders.  Needless to say, gorgeous but challenging hiking terrain.  We beat the beach by spending much of the trail in the brush that took the place of normal sand dunes, and side detours through and to a large inlet lagoon.

After our exertions, we sat down at a bayside cafe for a drink and leisurely reading session.  Happening to be in the right place at the right time, we watched a school of dolpins play in the surf (and surprise a surfer!) in the shallow waters just 10 meters off the beach. 

It was a lovely weekend in St. Helens, and reminded us all the reasons we love the great state of Tasmania!  Full pictures on the out and about page.

For my birthday this year, the State of Victoria was kind enough to declare a holiday and Steve was kind enough to take me to Tasmania for the long weekend.  We spent 3 glorious days in Hobart and on the Freycinet Peninsula in TAS.  In sum, so beautiful. 

There are in our existence spots of time,

That with distinct pre-eminence retain

A renovating virtue…

That penetrates, enables us to mount, when high, more high, and lifts us up when fallen.

~ William Wordsworth

My recent reading material has awakened in me much contemplation on the subject of travel.  So it is not without pause and contemplation that I say that this was, perhaps, the most beautiful place we’ve ever been in the world.  It is certainly one of those spots in time that I will retain.  

 Annotated and pictorial story of the weekend on the out and about page; full pictures on photos page.  (Oh and, for anyone else out there for whom traveling and exploring the world around is a defining personal characteristic, I highly recommend Alain de Botton, The Art of Travel.)