Having spent most of my time on exchange in the state of Queensland – bar a small weekend trip to New South Wales – it was time to see some southern regions of Australia. So, after spending 3 great and busy weeks in New Zealand (see previous post) the next travel destination was the small island of Tasmania that is located to the south of mainland Australia and remains the country’s least populated state.
Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much of Tasmania and knew very little about it; expect that renting a car with 3 friends is great way to explore the island while keeping costs at a fraction of what average bus tickets would cost. What I got to see completely surprised me and surely makes it one of Australia’s hidden treasures.
Unlike New Zealand during peak season, Tasmania was such a peaceful place with so many coastal areas to explore and have all to yourself. Best of all, there were loads of camping areas that were usually cheap or free, right on the beach and not as crowded as other places during the Christmas and New Year period. Having the freedom to drive a car wherever you wanted at whatever time was an added bonus.
From Tasmania we took a short flight to Melbourne (50 minutes) on Christmas Day and explored the city for a while before renting another car on the 26th to spend a couple of days on the Great Ocean Road and at a national park.
There are two ways to find out that even in Australia, during high summer, the weather is not always good: 1) you read this and heed my advice or 2) you find out the brutal way. Unfortunately, our first day on the Great Ocean Road was little more than a rain-drenched drive through the overcrowded coastal towns of Victoria. The weather was not our fault. Choosing to experience the Great Ocean Road during peak season, however, was a foolish mistake that shall not be repeated. The problem with cool places in Australia is that everyone wants to see them and as such cruising on a coastal road quickly turns into crawling along boring little villages.
Still, we did see some impressive rock formations but honestly: a lot of the time the Great Ocean Road lost its appeal with all of the crowds and I would have been quite happy to have gone back to Tasmania for some isolated coastal places.
We rounded off our trip with another night in Melbourne on New Year’s Eve where I got to experience the earliest New Year of my life (Melbourne is 10 hours ahead of the UK) and saw the fireworks over the CBD from a great location on a rooftop.